COLUMN: Improvements to drive vote

South of Fraser residents need to see progress sooner than later

TransLink thinks a recent poll demonstrates that a referendum on transit spending is winnable.

Despite the naysayers among the region’s mayors, who sometimes seem to be the biggest obstacle to transit improvements, the idea of a transit referendum makes a great deal of sense. Instead of ad hoc tax increases like the two cents a litre which mayors came up with at the last minute to help fund the Evergreen Line, residents will get a specific list of suggested transportation improvements and how they can be funded. They can then choose to accept or reject that proposal.

The poll results indicate that a majority of those paying attention to this issue would likely support added spending on transit.

There is significant support in areas where transit is already a reasonable alternative to driving. But even in areas like Surrey and Langley with fewer transit options, there is a decent amount of support.

However, the poll indicates that south of the Fraser residents are more opposed to additional taxes to fund TransLink than in other areas.

This is not surprising. People in this area are already paying bridge tolls – something that drivers in other parts of the region do not have to deal with, except on the rare occasions when they venture out on Highway 1, or cross the Golden Ears Bridge.

The 35 per cent of south of the Fraser residents who oppose tax hikes also likely pay more in car expenses than many others. They likely pay higher insurance for driving to work, put in more gas and pay more to maintain their vehicles, which likely run up mileage faster than many cars owned by people in Vancouver.

Interestingly, the two most popular tax options in the poll were universal bridge tolls, which would even out costs among all vehicle owners, and a $75 vehicle tax, also a more evenly-distributed tax burden. Both received 27 per cent support.

A one per cent rise in the regional sales tax was less popular and a carbon tax had only 15 per cent support.

Unlike many mayors, residents know the province isn’t giving any carbon tax revenue to TransLink and they will simply pay even more for fuel.

Simon Fraser University City Program director Gordon Price, a former Vancouver councillor and transportation expert, says the referendum has a better chance of winning if it is framed about building for the future. If TransLink becomes a focal point, it has less chance of success.

That’s likely even more true after a series of SkyTrain breakdowns and the revelation that TransLink senior staff got hefty raises when there was supposed to be a pay freeze.

Surrey could benefit from more transportation funding. The mayors’ ambitious plan calls for more rapid transit and significantly more bus service south of the Fraser.

For many Surrey residents, those improvements must be seen soon.

There have been too many promises over the years that have been slow to materialize – such as rapid-bus service over the Port Mann Bridge which only began for Surrey residents last week, with the 555 bus now making a stop at 156 Street. It took the concerted efforts of an 18-year-old, Daryl Dela Cruz, to push the city into spending $193,000 to make the stop finally happen.

Dela Cruz deserves thanks. Hopefully he and other transit advocates will be paying close attention to the promises made about transit here, as the referendum date nears.

Frank Bucholtz writes Thursdays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Times.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A new 23-storey condo development – which might also house a new White Rock city hall space – is proposed for the current site of 3 Dogs Brewing on Johnston Road, and will be discussed by the Land Use and Planning committee on Oct. 26. (File photo)
Civic centre could be part of new 23-storey White Rock condo tower

Development proposal to be discussed Oct. 26 by council’s land use committee

(Image: CDC)
Fraser Health orders Surrey food-processing facility to close amid COVID-19 outbreak

Staff member at Surrey long-term care facility also tests positive for the virus

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Fraser South region has doubled in the last two weeks. The number of cases in the Fraser East region has tripled.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
COVID-19 surge in B.C. fuelled by spikes in new cases in Fraser Valley & Surrey area

Number of newly confirmed cases has tripled in Fraser Valley and doubled in the Surrey/Langley area

Lotto winner Erwin Espiritu. (submitted photo: BCLC media relations)
$1M lotto surprise for Surrey dad buying takeout food for son’s birthday

‘When I went to show my son, he said that there was six zeros on the screen, not three’

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Most Read