Why is Metro Vancouver Alliance Campaigning for a yes vote in the upcoming transit referendum?
MVA members felt that transit was an issue that affected everyone, and agreed advocating for better transit options in the Lower Mainland was an issue that all our organizations could work on together.
Transit – presentation to MVA Municipal Accountability Assembly
Public transit service levels have remained practically unchanged over the past seven years. In that same period demand has soared. Extreme overcrowding has eroded reliability and safety, especially for those with disabilities or frailties. HandyDART service is limited and has seen an eight-fold increase in trip denials in only the last four years.
Increases in transit fares are also impacting peoples’ lives. Programs that benefited the public, the environment, and the economy have been eliminated, such as the popular Employee Pass and family discounts on Sundays and holidays.
TransLink, under provincial government direction, has taken several steps that have hurt the reliability of bus service. They have cut routes that people depended on, and reduced off-peak service to a point where people are left stranded at late hours. Translink calls these steps “optimization” – but it is certainly not our service that is being “optimized”.
This June, the Mayors’ Council released a 10 year regional transportation plan. This plan has much that is good and the MVA, among many other organizations, supports it. The plan advocates for more routes, more buses, more options for cyclists, and increased service all over the region. Is it enough? No. Even the mayors themselves describe the plan as “neither everything we want nor all that we ultimately need.” But it is a good start!
The remaining issue is how to fund this plan. Without additional sources of revenue, service will continue to deteriorate and Metro Vancouver’s transit infrastructure will not be able to accommodate our increasing population. MVA supports the Mayor’s first choice of re-directing a portion of the BC Carbon Tax to sustainable transportation improvements. We want to be a part of the discussion of funding options.
But MVA will not support an increase in fares, as this is essentially a tax on the poor, the working poor, the elderly, single parents, disabled persons, students and others who can least afford it.
In March of next year there is going to be a region-wide referendum to determine how to fund the Mayors’ Council transit plan. It’s about bringing our transit system back up to levels where it meets our needs. We challenge the mayors to craft a question that shows vision and concern for the citizens of this region. We challenge the province to open their minds to the transit needs of their public.
The citizens of the Metro Vancouver area must win this referendum. If we don’t, we will see further reduction in service. Metro Vancouver Alliance will be campaigning vigorously for a Yes vote on this referendum. We will be campaigning to get Metro Vancouver residents’ transit needs met.
With secured funding, we can build on the Mayors Council Transit Plan. Let’s look at what this could accomplish: While the plan only envisions maintaining our current carbon footprint from transportation, we believe we can find ways to reduce it. The defining ethical challenge of our time is rapidly reducing emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change.
The plan is also weak on affordable transit fares. Public transit must be accessible and affordable particularly for the most vulnerable of our residents.
We are calling on our member organizations to support our referendum campaign – to rally the people within our organizations, and then to carry the message forward into the greater community. It is within our power to win this vote.
We are asking candiates to:
- Actively campaign, and encourage your supporters to vote, in support of the Mayors transit funding plan in the upcoming Transit Referendum?
- Actively advocate for affordable transit in the region for all?
- Participate in Metro Vancouver Alliance forums on transportation issues before and after the referendum?