Are selfish aging boomers going to deprive students and the young of better transit?

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      I'm starting to wonder if there's a huge generational divide in the upcoming transit plebiscite.

      Earlier today, a caller to the Straight informed me that his two elderly parents are both voting no.

      They have a car and don't need to use buses or SkyTrain to visit their doctor.

      Then I canvassed a half-dozen young people. They told me that most young people support a 0.5 percent increase in the sales tax to fund $7.5 billion in transportation and transit improvements in the Lower Mainland over the next decade.

      For many millennials, it's expensive enough to keep a phone and a roof over their heads, so they don't bother buying cars. In Vancouver, they're far more likely than baby boomers to rely on the transit system to get around.

      Statistics from ICBC show that the percentage of young people without driver's licences has increased sharply over the past 20 years.

      Part of the reason is that after these young people get a U-Pass card at college or university, they learn that buses and SkyTrain do a decent job of getting them around town.

      This generation is probably looking forward to a Broadway subway and light-rail from Surrey City Centre to Guildford, Newton, or Langley.

      These lines are far less likely to be built in the near future if there's a no vote.

      Many prosperous aging boomers, on the other hand, already own their homes. After they retire, they spend much of their time in their neighbourhoods or going on exotic vacations. They couldn't give a hoot about an expansion to rapid transit.

      Let's be really blunt: some of them aren't going to live long enough to get on one of these trains.

      These prosperous aging boomers have already turned the atmosphere into a garbage dump, ensuring that future generations will pay a high cost in the form of extreme weather events, droughts, and food shortages.

      This generation has consistently supported tax cuts, which have made postsecondary education more expensive and sharply increased child poverty.

      Now, selfish aging boomers just might vote down improvements to the transit system that would help their grandchildren deal with the mess that they've left behind.

      A no vote does nothing for traffic congestion. It does nothing to shorten the commuting time for students to postsecondary institutions. And it does nothing to give young people south of the Fraser River any hope that they'll spend less time on the roads reaching jobs in other municipalities.

      But to some of the early postwar generation, none of that seems to matter in comparison to paying an extra 50 cents in provincial sales tax on a $100 pair of trousers.

      My guess is that these no voters are too vain to feel any shame about this.



      Sharon Best

      Mar 9, 2015 at 5:08pm

      Really? I'm voting no.
      Because I do not believe that have a plebiscite for taxation is the way to go.
      If this plebiscite passes, then what?
      Plebiscites for roads, schools, hospitals?
      It's a slippery slope.
      And it's been a miserable failure in jurisdictions like California.
      If the plebiscite fails, government will need to step up and do their job.
      That's why they were elected in the first place.
      Your ageism is showing, Mr. Smith.
      Shame on you.

      David Hogben

      Mar 9, 2015 at 5:13pm

      Let's home these selfish seniors at least motivate young people to do something about the fundamental problem, that they get out and vote in the next provincial election. With youthful participation, changes can be made, quickly.


      Mar 9, 2015 at 5:49pm

      Dear Sharon

      On the contrary, if this referendum fails you will find we have referendums on lots of things our neoliberal rulers don't want to pay they can give the wealthiest another round of tax cuts.


      Mar 9, 2015 at 5:51pm

      anyone with a problem on translink - point your shaking fingers directly to christie's gang:
      falcon, then transit minister, roaded translink on any and all lousy costly 'great idea' and now an unelected homey, strong, is messing up ferries on a major scale, putting their tax base of 30% in the province at incredible risk, without a business plan. point your gripes straight to victoria, people. this vote is to own what we've paid for and have a right to. polls show 58% of mainlanders support taking our public infrastructure back from christies gang of incompetents


      Mar 9, 2015 at 6:11pm

      The older generation is to blame? Are you insane? The 1% is ruining the planet.

      Gen Y bother

      Mar 9, 2015 at 6:15pm

      The education they are getting costs 10 times what it did forty years ago when grandpa's summer job at the mill paid for UBC tuition and room and board and student bursaries were widely available to ease the pain of student loans. And now grandma's giving them the finger.

      Rea Lea

      Mar 9, 2015 at 6:24pm

      Really Sharon Best? Do you really think a "no" vote is going to send government scurrying off to do its job? Like as soon as a "no" vote rolls in, they'll see the error of their ways, stop meddling in Translink's affairs, stop wasting billions expanding highways and start governing as if the future mattered? Is that what you think your "no" vote is going to do?

      I'm amazed at the people who think "government" or "Translink" is like a bad child they can punish by taking away their tax increase. The people who make up government and Translink will carry on just like they always have. It's the rest of us who will have fewer buses and fewer options for getting around and more smog and higher rates of cancer. Yeah, vote "no". That'll show 'em.

      Sheldon Henry

      Mar 9, 2015 at 6:31pm

      Most of these young people that support this BS don't even pay taxes in the first place. They are getting U- PASSes from their school and don't even pay transits already ridiculous fares. They're just being used as political pawns in this fight. Maybe if some of the translink board of directors took a little bit off their gross yearly salaries we wouldn't have to be voting on this.


      Mar 9, 2015 at 6:48pm

      I don't live on the mainland,so i won't be voting.The general impression i get is the no side seems just not willing to give translink more money.It seems to be a general hatred of the way translink is run when it comes to spending in general.I think they have a point.


      Mar 9, 2015 at 6:55pm

      A no vote isn't voting down transit improvements its voting down a tax to an already overburdened public