COPE's transit plan defies common sense

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      The Coalition of Progressive Electors is running some exceptionally intelligent candidates for council.

      Mediator Lisa Barrett, lawyers Tim Louis and Gayle Gavin, community organizer Sid Chow Tan, and arts manager Keith Higgins have as much intellectual horsepower as any group of five council candidates running for Vision Vancouver or the NPA. (I won't comment on the other three COPE candidates for council because I'm not in a position to judge their intelligence.) 

      So if COPE has people with brains, why has the party brought forward a transit policy that's downright idiotic?

      COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong has announced a voluntary plan in which Vancouver adults would pay $30 per month for a transit pass.

      If everyone signs on, it will raise $160 million per year.

      Wong has said that this is $10 million more than the $150 million that TransLink collects in fares from city residents.

      First of all, COPE is not going to get 100 percent of adults agreeing to pay $30 per month for a transit pass, so the amount collected would be considerably less than $150 million.

      Secondly, if all those people received cheap transit passes, it would make the bus system even more overcrowded, resulting in more transit vehicles passing by stops without picking up passengers.

      Thirdly, there's been zero indication that TransLink will go along with this idea. And TransLink operates the bus system.

      Even if TransLink liked the idea, it probably doesn't have nearly enough buses to accommodate the rising demand that would come from so many new transit riders.

      Furthermore, TransLink relies on fuel taxes to cover nearly a quarter of its costs.

      That's why TransLink doesn't want too many people switching from cars to transit. If this happens, it blows its budget to smithereens.

      So what should COPE have done instead?

      Its candidates with experience in legal affairs, governance, and business (Sid Chow Tan was once a stockbroker) should have proposed a realistic funding and governance model for TransLink that will provide achievable incentives to get people out of their cars and help save the planet.

      If their brainstorming had any merit, it would have been picked up by the Greens and been promoted by the media, generating public momentum for it to become a reality.

      Instead, COPE is offering voters a mirage that has zero chance of coming to pass but which might win votes by misleading some naive transit riders.

      Voters deserve better than this from a party that claims to represent the people.




      Nov 6, 2014 at 2:52pm

      I think a few of their policies suffer from the same problem. They will be popular in a 'gee-wouldn't-it-be-great-if-everybody-got-along-and-there-were-no-more-wars' kind of way, but they defy logic and don't take into account normal human behaviour. Their empty property tax has the same problem. They think that it will be easy to find these properties and that the people who own them will just roll over and expose their necks. The list goes on.

      Thank you Charles

      Nov 6, 2014 at 2:56pm

      Pleasantly surprised at this analysis. Hard working earnest people who face uphill battles using Transit daily need to hear this.

      Can't quite COPE with reality..

      Nov 6, 2014 at 3:56pm

      "Instead, COPE is offering voters a mirage that has zero chance of coming to pass but which might win votes by misleading some naive transit riders."

      You could broaden that statement quite a bit.

      Not sure if making across the board comments on the intelligence of candidates is wise though. Smacks of someone using the term 'Crusty Clark' or 'Gordo' - only serves to undermine the point you're trying to make.

      Former student

      Nov 6, 2014 at 3:57pm

      I was at UBC when right-wing students mocked the idea of a UPass, but then once it was in place they all supported it, and lobbied for more buses.

      ursa minor

      Nov 6, 2014 at 4:00pm

      $30 a month would work as long as there was no opting out.

      At that rate, it's either affordable transit for people who need it, or a monthly surcharge for the 'elite' who can't be separated from their vehicles to have less congested streets.

      COPE's policies make perfect sense for people at the margins in this city. Unfortunately, it's not the homeless and working poor who line up at the polls.


      Nov 6, 2014 at 4:07pm

      ursa minor - I assume you consider anyone making more money than you 'the elite'. I also assume that includes just about everybody.


      Nov 6, 2014 at 6:26pm

      This is probably the crappiest thing I've seen all week. How unbelievably rude - you're calling people IDIOTS because you think their policy is wrong? It's just just wrong - it's IDIOTIC? Man, what is this - some half-assed attempt to look non-partisan? I looked at their website and I had the UPASS at UBC. How is it difficult conceive of a bulk purchasing discount for bus passes? It's not voluntary either WHICH THE WEBSITE CLEARLY SHOWS! Good lord.

      Sid Chow Tan

      Nov 7, 2014 at 3:04am

      It's difficult to address your points Charlie as they are well made give the presumption of the current economic environment. Who generates the financial scarcity and austerity that mostly affect the working poor, low income pensioners and bottom swath of the middle class?

      I recall your points used a half century ago in the medicare debate. I see a dollar a day public transit as a boon in many ways and worth a try. Your numbers may say no but people want and deserve less expensive and more efficient public transit. Why can't we try and give it to them?

      I believe Nelson Mandela had it right - "It always seems impossible until its done."


      Nov 7, 2014 at 3:31am

      The UPass demonstrates that this idea is counter-productive. Every school day buses along corridors to UBC are so packed non-students can't use them to get to work etc. Packed buses constantly pass by those waiting at stops in the rain. Being revenue neutral does not mean the idea has to be intelligence neutral. And it's not the residents of Vancouver that need more transit. It's those living outside that drive in that cause much of the congestion.

      The transportation system is too complex for simple-minded thinking and if this were a great idea, it would have been considered years ago. Why do people all of a sudden have revolutionary ideas this time of the year every every 3 years? Oh ya, it's election time: time to trick people into ticking your ballot box through cheap, 1/2 baked ideas that pander to similarly simple-minded folks. I guess you deserve who you vote for...

      Imtiaz Popat

      Nov 7, 2014 at 5:03am

      The COPE Universal Pass is based on the successful University pass. Students can still opt out as they will be able to under the COPE plan. It didn't clogg up the buses and students still drive. It is a very realistic and thought out plan designed by COPE researchers who have crunched the numbers not the so called idots Smith attacks. Like the University Pass, even if residents opt out, it will still raise enough money to buy more buses and not waste money on the Broadway line. A lot of last minute attacks coming to COPE now. Why attack the COPE plan now? Why not attack the Vision plan to build and the Broadway line to nowhere clogging up as system that has failed time and time again? The Compass card has failed because people wanted go after fair evaders. More waste of money. This attack on the COPE plan just as we are about to go the polls is a act of desperation by Vision to attack COPE by getting failed COPE councilors like David Cadmans support. This attack is clear defamation and bad journalism with clearly bad timing. Its good plan in good faith that should be considered by Translink even if COPE does not get a majority. But it won't make money for Vsions corporate friends who will build the expensive Broadway line to Arbutus.