Vancouver council backs “yes” vote in transit referendum

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      Vancouver city council has officially thrown its support behind the “yes” side in the upcoming regional referendum on transit funding.

      Councillors unanimously approved a motion brought forward by Non-Partisan Association councillor George Affleck today (January 20), which calls for the mayor to establish a “broad coalition of interests” and for staff to recommend measures to ensure the referendum’s success.

      “It’s really crucial that we as a city take a leadership role in this,” Affleck said as he introduced the motion.

      Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs said a “very, very strong yes vote” is needed in the city.

      “Because even if we’re successful at getting a strong yes vote, we can’t be sure that this referendum will pass,” he said. “And the stronger that we do it here, the easier it’ll be for some other municipalities."

      Meggs added city staff should feel comfortable to “bring forward a fairly robust set of initiatives,” including some funding if necessary.

      “Because we’re only going to get one chance at this and it’s crucial for our city for this to be successful,” he said.

      Mayor Gregor Robertson noted that Surrey and New Westminster councils have also unanimously approved motions supporting the “yes” side of the referendum.

      “We all recognize how crucial this is for our city and our region, and in fact our province and country, when you look at how important Metro Vancouver is to the economy of our province and country,” he said. “That economic success is certainly at risk if we don’t invest in our transportation network.”

      Metro Vancouver residents will vote by mail from March 16 to May 29 on whether they support a 0.5 percent tax to pay for a 10-year transportation and transit plan.

      The plan seeks to increase service for crowded bus routes, SkyTrain, Canada Line, Sea Bus, and West Coast Express, add new B-line rapid transit bus routes, upgrade major roads, build a new Patullo Bridge, and add light rail transit for Surrey and a Broadway subway from the VCC-Clark SkyTrain station to Arbutus Street.



      Finbarr Saunders

      Jan 20, 2015 at 4:15pm

      Sorry folks, it ain't going to happen. Accept it and make a plan B.

      Get rid of Translink completely and remove the ridiculous notion of a subway along Broadway and we'll talk. I still won't vote for this silly tax, but we can talk.


      Jan 20, 2015 at 4:24pm

      Taking big money out of politics...
      What about getting big developers pay for mass transit cost.
      Let them build proper infrastructure and then make billions in profits from selling condos.
      It has been done in HONG KONG for many years.

      Steve y

      Jan 20, 2015 at 4:58pm

      both Surrey light rail and pattulo will get built regardless and the Broadway sky train should go to ubc all the way or not at all.


      Jan 20, 2015 at 5:03pm

      Hong Kong also has crazy real estate costs, gentrification, and lack of public spaces.
      It's also been constantly criticized for being too pro-developers.

      I don't want Vancouver to become Hong Kong.


      Jan 20, 2015 at 5:18pm

      This is only a START for what needs to happen. I don't know how you can't vote for increased public transit, even if it increases tax. So many benefits.

      Eric Doherty

      Jan 20, 2015 at 5:23pm

      This is our public transit system, and it is worth supporting. Council made the right decision here and it is good to see all parties pulling together on this one.


      Jan 20, 2015 at 6:49pm

      Why do so many of you imply that a person can't be an advocate for transit while being a no voter? I personally believe that a fiscally irresponsible body such as TransLink, shouldn't get to piggyback on public dime until some serious reforms are adopted.


      Jan 20, 2015 at 8:13pm

      we need public transport today. Tomorrow will be a disaster.

      Sales taxes are regressive.

      This tax just transfers wealth from the poor and lower middle class to the property owners and developers who will see huge increases in property values and make a fortune off of density. Investments in the city benefit the property owners, even if they'd never use public transit.

      Data for Politicians

      Jan 20, 2015 at 9:03pm

      Translink wastes as follows;

      - $194 plus Million for Fare Gates, this will never pay for itself even with 100% Fare collection,

      - $15 plus million per year to operate the the Compass / Fare Gate system, this will never pay for itself even with 100% Fare collection,

      - This does not include all the other waste.

      The additional 0.5% would like wise be WASTED by Translink. So I'm voting No.

      You can see this Data from both Translinsk own Financials and analysis from other credible third parties.

      From Translinks Financials itself Compass allocated Funds for 2014 as follows;

      1. Administration (not incl. all Wages) $80 Million, Compass - $11.4 Million,

      2. Page 16 - Contracted Services - to Cubic (Compass Contrator) - $13.4 Million,

      3. Salaries & Wages - $ (not broken down by Translink) but add at least $2.5 Million per year as an ultra conservative estimate.

      This is what Translink said...

      " positions related to the Compass Card and fare gates implementation, and merit and length - of -service increases."

      Even if you just add # 1 & 2 above from Translinks own figures - $11.4 + $13.4 (Million) = $24.8 Million per year in operating Costs just for Compass!!!

      This is to Collect $7 to 8 Million in "Fare Evasion" mostly from the homeless.

      Oh by the way this does NOT include Transit Police ($32.2 Million per year) or any other Salaries related directly to Compass!

      I support Policing for real Crime within the established Police forces in the lower mainland not Transit mostly Fare Checker Police at $120,000+++ per year each.

      That money could go to fight real Crime 24 / 7 instead it's wasted on Transit.

      Regular Police can & do attend emergencies on Transit no need for Transit only Cops.

      Conservatively you are looking at between $30 and $40 Million are year to operate Compass! It is a financial BLACK HOLE!

      After 0.5% PST they are going to ask for Road Tolls additional Taxes etc without making a real effort towards efficiency.

      We don't need $100,000+ per year Bus Drivers, Fare Checkers or Fare Gates that never pay for themselves. Compass instead creates $30+ Million more per year in deficits.

      2014 budget for Translink here;

      dave in Langley

      Jan 20, 2015 at 9:37pm

      Translink fares are highly subsidized. A taxi costs $3.20 just to get in. Total cost for a taxi is about $18.60 for a 10km ride. Translink costs $2.75 to $5.50. A car or truck owner pays 100% of the costs of operating the vehicle. Translink fares bring in less than a third of the bus/Skytrain/boat operational expenses, the rest is subsidized. Raise fares to be fair.
      No to a brand new tax that will never do anything other than rise, that will never go away. Recent news articles on YVR about the Airport Improvement Fee that was orinially brought in to pay for extended runways, but have been since been used for terminal expansions, renovations, and excessive design elements and art installations; and the news clip had multiple YVR execs saying that the AIF will never be dropped and aghast at the idea of doing without. Translink execs are more high handed and feel at least as entitled; giving them this taxation power will be worse as a multifaceted regional Translink will eat far more money than the one location one function airport.
      Translink has always given us the carrot and stick; they give us a shiny transit plan and predict doom if we don't buy their plan. The shiny plan never seems to have anything to do with sound financial basis. This plan is a new .5% sales tax, a hope of billions of dollars from each of the fed and prov govts, new road pricing at the end of this decade, and no real guarantee that all the new light rail, subways and extra busses in their plan will materialize on time, on budget, or if at all.
      I'd rather my tax dollars go Health, Education, Public Safety (not the $100,000 a year Translink cops) and Social Services rather than a Translink that is reticent to raise fares (which would reduce the demand for their service and thus their needs for extraordinary funding) and cavalier about collecting fares that should fund the system.