Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Transit

Federal transit funding and Translink’s efficiency gains are good news; now we just need a Yes vote

Ottawa’s modest but important budget commitment to transit funding has one important catch, thanks to the provincial government: Metro municipalities need a Yes vote in the current transit and transportation referendum to match senior government contributions.

That was Mayor Gregor Robertson’s message yesterday, but there was more good news in a recent assessment of Translink’s efficiency gains by Victoria transportation analyst Todd Litman.

As Burnaby News Leader reporter Jeff Nagel wrote yesterday, Litman’s review of Translink’s costs found it was more efficient that most North American cities and can compare itself to transit veterans like Chicago and San Francisco. What’s more, transit riders themselves are bearing 55 percent of Translink’s costs with fares, a higher share than most other jurisdictions.

More efficiency, federal funding beginning to flow . .  . all that’s needed now is a solid Yes vote to begin long-awaited investments in Metro transit infrastructure.

 

 

April 22, 2015

Thousands of conversations: notes from the #yesfortransit campaign trail

“Where can I get my Yes button?” demanded the woman next to the back door on the Number 50. “You can have mine,” I told her. “I can’t wear it where I’m going now,” she told me in a low voice, “but I”ll put it on right after.”

It was just one of many conversations in the last week that tell me a real debate is under way across the region about the Better Transportation and Transit Plan as ballots reach every household. (Everyone is supposed to have one by tomorrow, but a number of UEL and UBC residents at a meeting last night were still waiting.)

It’s still unfashionable to be out and proud about supporting the Mayors’ Council plan, but many people do want to see congestion reduced, commuting times slashed and all the economic benefits that flow from the proposal.

The Translink haters have had their day. I think many will be voting Yes in the privacy of their homes.

Will it be in time to put the Yes team over the line? That remains to be seen, but in the course of four public forums in the last week and a number of other encounters, I find lots of room for optimism: [Read more →]

March 26, 2015

With cost of driving about 21 cents a kilometre, or $16.69 an hour, a “No” vote will be expensive

Buried deep in the new Mayors’ Council assessment on the cost of congestionabout $2 billion if the Mayor’s Plan investments in transportation and traffic are not approved — is the conclusion that the cost of driving for the the average driver is about 21 cents a kilometre. Stated in time, it’s about $16.69 an hour.

Cut congestion and you save plenty, easily a couple of dollars a day compared to the roughly 38 cents a day the Mayors’ Plan would cost.

Am I missing something here? Shouldn’t that make a No vote out of the question?

Total cost of congestion to drivers is thought to be more than $400 million, including a “deadweight cost” of more than $200 million. (If the referendum fails, that deadweight cost should be renamed the Bateman Factor to commemorate anti-transit campaigner Jordan Bateman.)

The No advocates say they’re not in favour of congestion, they just want to teach Translink a lesson. Isn’t that kind of like voting to cut the police budget because the crime rate is rising? Or slashing health care because you don’t like the health minister?

Enough. Here’s the calculation for the economists in the crowd, from page 29: [Read more →]

February 16, 2015

Christy Clark voting “yes” because she knows any “Plan B” with a big lift in property tax is a non-starter

Thanks to Premier Christy Clark for clarifying that Metro Vancouver municipalities would have to resort to a property tax increase — a very significant property tax increase — to fund the Mayors’ Council transportation and transit plan if the Yes side fails in the upcoming referendum.

As she well knows, that’s a non-starter.

Metro Mayors have long been unanimously opposed to any such levy — above what is already included in Translink’s funding sources — for very good reason.

That’s because property tax is the only source they have to raise very large sums for critical future infrastructure investments like water treatment, solid and liquid waste treatment, local roads and, let’s not forget, police, fire and all the other municipal services taxpayers expect municipalities to provide.

No wonder anti-transit, pro-congestion “No” crusader Jordan Bateman insists Plan B would require heavy cuts in municipal services. He knows Metro Mayors and their citizens have already rejected a property tax increase for transit and transportation services, which he would oppose in any case. His only exit: cuts to key services, like police and fire, which no one seriously believes are possible.

So no property tax increase, no voter support to cut municipal services. That sounds like no Plan B, which is what the Mayors Council has been saying from the beginning. A Yes vote is the only way forward to achieve long-term stable funding with a .5 percent sales tax increase that will cost the average citizen about 34 cents a day.

No wonder the Premier has decided to vote Yes.

February 9, 2015