Starting this week, if you live on the Lower Mainland you will receive an invitation to vote in the referendum on the future of the region’s transportation.
Some people want to vote NO.
Maybe they never lived in a city that failed to work out its transportation problems, as I have. Try London, England, in the 1980s, when the roads were so jammed with traffic that I had to plan on getting stuck for half an hour every time I needed to drive somewhere.
London, in the 1980s, where the buses and underground trains were so often late or delayed because of a breakdown or an accident that a 20’ delay was something I had to plan for whenever I needed to get to a meeting on time.
London in the 1980s, where to make cycling relatively safe I had to ride my bike aggressively, standing on the pedals to try to match the speed of the cars and trucks since it was the best way to avoid becoming one of the 5,000 cyclists who were killed or injured every year.
If you have some strange reason for wanting Metro-Vancouver to be like that, then go ahead and vote NO, because it’ll increase the chances that it happens.
Were we frustrated with London Transport, and with the crowds, the waits, the packed buses and tubes? Yes, absolutely. But would Londoners have voted against investing in better tubes, a better bus service and safe bike lanes as a way to improve the city’s transportation? Not for a minute. So when you’re experiencing frustration at TransLink’s service, do you vote against improving the service? It doesn’t make sense.
Here are my ten best reasons for voting YES:
ONE: MORE CYCLING MAKES FOR A HAPPIER CITY
A city that celebrates cycling is a happier, friendlier place to live—ask any Copenhagener. If you have not experienced the freedom of the saddle, take it from the thousands who have. And if you’re not a cyclist, remember that cyclists do you a huge favour by not competing with you for road space and parking. Vote YES, and Metro Vancouver will build another 2,700 kilometres of bikeways and 300 kilometres of safe, separated bike routes.
TWO: MORE TRANSIT MAKES FOR A MORE CIVILIZED CITY
A city that has made a decent investment in public transit is a far more civilized and easier place to get around in. Why are most European cities such great places? Because they have invested in better transit and cycling. Imagine a future Metro-Vancouver with quiet electric buses that run every 10 or 15 minutes. Imagine an electronic sign on every shelter that tells you exactly when the next bus is coming. Imagine buses that make it easy for parents with kids and people in wheelchairs to board. Vote YES, and you’ll enjoy a 25% increase in total service, 200 kilometres more of the faster B-line routes, and more frequent rush-hour services.
THREE: SHORTER WAIT-TIMES WILL BRING A LESS STRESSED LIFE
You don’t like the waiting and the crush of too many people trying to board? Vote YES, and you’ll get fewer line-ups, shorter wait-times and more services on the Expo Line, the Millennium Line, the Canada Line, the West Coast Express, the SeaBus, the HandyDARTs, the night buses, all the regular transit routes at rush-hour, and you’ll get a Millennium Line extension from VCC-Clark to Arbutus Street along the Broadway corridor, making travel easier along the region’s busiest bus corridor.
FOUR: YES, WE DO NEED TO CHANGE TRANSLINK'S GOVERNANCE
You’re fed up with TransLink itself, and you want better governance? Join the gang. The Metro-Vancouver Mayors themselves have made a strong request to the Provincial Government to establish an elected TransLink board with regular open meetings. Vote YES, and join every Mayor in seeking the exact same thing that you want.
FIVE: ONE DAY, YOU TOO MAY HAVE DIFFICULTY TRAVELLING
You have a disability of some kind or difficulty travelling without assistance, or you may in the future? Vote YES and Metro-Vancouver will get 30% more HandyDART services. Hands up all those who are not growing older, or who think they’re immune to the ailments that come with aging…
SIX: SOME OF US LIVE IN SURREY AND THE LANGLEYS
You live in Surrey or the Langleys? Vote YES, and you’ll find it much easier to get around, with Light Rail Transit lines along 104 Avenue, King George Boulevard and Fraser Highway, connecting Guildford, Surrey City Centre, Newton and Langley Centre.
SEVEN: YOU LOVE DRIVING
You love driving and carsharing, and you’ll love it even more when electric vehicles become affordable? Join the gang. Vote YES, and the roads of the future will not be congested and gridlocked with the million new people who will be arriving over the next thirty years, adding three million trips a day to the congestion. You’ll also get a new four-lane Pattullo Bridge between Surrey and New Westminster, and regular upgrading of the existing roads to keep everything moving smoothly.
EIGHT: YOU WANT A 21st CENTURY TRANSIT SYSTEM
You want better exchanges and better customer information services on transit and SkyTrain? Vote YES, and you’ll get 13 new or expanded transit exchanges across the region, and a 21st century integrated payment system.
NINE: YOU WORRY ABOUT THE CLIMATE CRISIS
You know the climate crisis is real, and you worry that it’s gathering like an enormous storm on the horizon? The chief cause of the climate crisis is our use of fossil fuels, and the air pollution from cars and trucks is also contributing to asthma, lung and heart disease. Vote YES, and it’ll be easier for people to cycle or take the bus instead of driving, reducing Vancouver’s future carbon emissions as well as its air pollution.
TEN: YOU WANT A BETTER FUTURE
You want a better future, which includes better management and oversight of TransLink’s management as well as a better system of transportation in general? There really is no comparison between the experience of living in a city which has invested in well-planned transit, light rail transit and bike lanes, and living in a city that has failed to do so. The one is so much better than the other. Vote YES, and you will be voting for a better future.
Guy Dauncey is an author, organizer and eco-futurist who works to develop a positive vision of a sustainable future, and to translate that vision into action. He is founder and Communications Director of the BCSEA, and author of nine books, including The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming (New Society Publishers, 2009). He is a frequent visitor to Vancouver, usually travelling by ferry, bus and SkyTrain.
- The vision, from the Mayors’ Council on Transportation http://mayorscouncil.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Mayors-Council-Vision-Document-Mar-2015.pdf
- The Summary Version: http://mayorscouncil.ca
- What’s What on the Transit Referendum? http://blog.modo.coop/whats-what-on-the-transit-referendum/