… if it hopes to win the transit referendum.  From a friend of a friend in White Rock:

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WHITE ROCK FRIEND:
About the need for enhanced transit on Broadway, I think that the City of Vancouver has a transportation problem and that they should do something about that.
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I wonder if it is fair to  ask me living in another city an hour away to pay for the problems that have been created by jamming too many people together along Broadway. I can get to Hope quicker than I can get to Vancouver yet I don’t see the Mayor of Hope asking me to help them with their local issues.
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Sounds to me like the city of Vancouver has a city of Vancouver problem.
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An Update below:

WHITE ROCK FRIEND:

I think you are wrong when you say that I can’t see the relevance of transit. I can see it. I was talking specifically about the need for improved transit on Broadway in Vancouver. Makes sense to me.  However I see it as a Vancouver specific issue that has been created by densification.

I bet today was the first time that I have been to Vancouver in six months. What I am saying is that investing billions on Broadway is not important to me as I live in an area that barely has bus service and before we recently moved from Surrey to White Rock I lived in a 20 square mile area that did not have any bus service.

I wrote down the names of the ten people that I know the best and who are still working. Of the ten, none travel to Vancouver to work. They seldom go to Vancouver. They go to Langley. They go to Delta. They go to Surrey. They go to Richmond. But they don’t go to Vancouver itself. Isn’t that interesting? To us today, traveling to Vancouver for a meeting was like a field trip to another part of the world.

Yes, we are all under the Metro Vancouver umbrella but the reality is that people in White Rock and Surrey are no longer dependent on Vancouver for anything. We have so much in our own communities that we are losing our connection to Vancouver.

So do I see the relevance of transit in the areas that they serve? Rather than something that you are “up against” I think that what I am exhibiting is the reality of how many of us who live outside of Vancouver and no longer travel to Vancouver for services of any kind are thinking.

Comments

  1. IMO someone from north surrey would say something different about transit than south surrey/white rock.

    I don’t think that the referendum has created a new ‘us versus them’ issue. Even building the canada line (and all other skytrain lines) was divisive.

  2. This to me emphasizes the importance of tying specific funding to multiple specific projects. And in terms of population, low-density fringes are a small number of voters. As Mezz says, North Surrey is more likely to be pro-streetcar, and pro skytraining all the way to Kits.

    (Nefarious thought: maybe we should restrict parking at the easily transit-accessible voting booths. In fact, that would be an interesting activist tactic…)

  3. It is indeed tempting to consider Broadway corridor issues as ‘Vancouver’s problem’, especially if you live elsewhere in the sprawling Metro Vancouver region. The same could be said (and has been, many times) that drivers don’t really care very much about transit services and especially don’t care much about the idea of helping to pay for them.

    I had the principal of a car dealership write to me on that last point, and I responded that while it was true that he didn’t ever use transit, his taxes were paying for roads that he also never used, but without which ‘his roads’ wouldn’t work. Looking at the transportation system on its own, we have to consider it as a network, where every element from left-turn bays and traffic signals to transit vehicles and radio traffic reports are all necessary for the network to operate.

    If you look at ‘peak hour’ traffic flows, transit buses make up two per cent of traffic across the Lions Gate Bridge but carry 28 per cent of the people making that crossing. The ratio reported for the Massey Tunnel is one per cent buses and 26 per cent of commuters – again in the peak period. Clearly, those who need to drive benefit from the road space cleared up by transit.

    An examination of the Broadway corridor expands this. A great many of our regional medical specialist services are located along the corridor and, as BC’s ‘second downtown’, so are many other businesses and agencies that provide for the whole region. So, while individuals from White Rock, Langley, North Van or Pitt Meadows might have no obvious stake in how well that corridor works, their neighbours very well could.

  4. How does your friend of a friend feel about paying for transit in Victoria? Or roads in Kelowna? Or education in Dawson Creek? Or health care in Tofino? Or unemployment insurance in St John’s?

    By the same token, how does he feel about people in Vancouver paying for roads in Delta? Transit in Surrey? Medical clinics in North Van?

    We are all in this together.

    Besides which, the Broadway corridor is only one of the many, many transit improvements that are needed across the region.

  5. It’s easy to condemn the person in White Rock as not being able to see the bigger picture. But maybe the people in downtown Vancouver need to see a bigger picture too…

    Whenever we talk about major transit improvements, it’s really about transit that serves downtown Vancouver and the (comparatively) well off people who live on the West side and those wildly expensive neighbourhoods close by.

    I would imagine that if the highest priority rapid transit link was something that looped from New West through the southern half Burnaby, over to Richmond near the Knight street bridge and then back to towards Surrey near the East-West connector, you’d get significantly higher support from a significantly larger group of people.

    What’s killing the transit debate is the reality that if you don’t live and/or work in the downtown core, neither Translink nor the movers and shakers in the great livable/new urbanization movement care about you or your transportation problems.

    1. “Whenever we talk about major transit improvements, it’s really about transit that serves downtown Vancouver and the (comparatively) well off people who live on the West side and those wildly expensive neighbourhoods close by.”

      Not at all. Historically, the major transit improvements in the region have benefited not only Vancouver, but also Burnaby, New West, North Surrey, and Richmond. Now we are seeing the construction of the Evergreen Line that will benefit the Tri-Cities.

      The demand and the density are already there for a SkyTrain down Broadway. It would more than likely have ample ridership to pay for itself. Not counting the regional impact it would have on travel patterns.

      And to say that “people in downtown Vancouver need to see the bigger picture too…”, well, we do. As a Downtown dweller, I can say that the replacement of the Massey Tunnel, and Pattullo and Port Mann Bridges are/were necessary. For the functioning of the region and for our connections to external markets.

      What you need to recognize is that the majority of the population, jobs, and educational areas remain North of the Fraser. We pay taxes too, and that includes the taxes that have paid for road improvements in the suburbs South of Fraser. Improvements that have subsidized the choice to live a great distance form amenities.

      It’s not that I have a problem paying for those subsidies. Not at all. That’s the nature of taxes. I take issue with the claim that the transit needs of the region are somehow out of touch with reality. That people need to see the “bigger picture”.

      In fact, the bigger picture includes improvements to both roads and transit. They are both of equal importance when it comes to improving movement around the region.

      Why, then, is it only transit that is up for question in the impending referendum?

      1. Well said, Mathew.

        I would argue, however, that the lion’s share of public resources has historically gone to creating and subsidizing more road space. This is a new century with distinctly different challenges compared to the last, and thus we need to bring transit funding (and all its benefits) into today’s world.

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