The vast majority of residents in the Metro Vancouver region want more and improved public transit infrastructure immediately, according to a new survey conducted by Angus Reid Global for TransLink’s Mayors’ Council.
An overwhelming 90% of residents believe transit improvements are necessary and that a regional multi-year transportation plan should be rolled out immediately. Additionally, over 80% of residents want all elements of the proposed $7.5-billion plan to be built immediately instead of the traditional piecemeal approach for most of the region’s previous major transit projects.
The plan, as proposed during the transit plebiscite campaign last year, includes the underground extension of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line on West Broadway, Surrey light rail transit, 400 more regular service buses, 11 new B-Line routes, a third SeaBus vessel, more NightBus service, more cars for the Canada Line and West Coast Express, and a new Pattullo Bridge.
They survey also found that transportation is the second most important issue facing the region, with 41% saying it is second to housing affordability issues. As well, 65% think public transit could assist the region’s housing issues while 88% believe the housing crisis is making regional transportation problems worse by forcing people to live, work, and play farther away.
Nearly seven in ten residents say it is hard to get around the region and three quarters rate traffic as ‘poor’.
“Metro Vancouver is under tremendous affordability pressure due in part to the region’s rapid growth and worsening transportation options; we need the Province to come to the table to action the 10-year transit plan,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Chair of the Mayors’ Council, in a statement.
“A strong transportation system will go a long way to support residents of all 21 communities by giving people more mobility in where they live and work, and making it easier to get around the region.”
Last year, 62% of voters in transit plebiscite rejected a half per cent increase in the regional sales tax to help support the Mayors’ Council plan. If it had been successful, the tax was expected to generate $2.5 billion over 10 years, which covers TransLink and the municipal government’s traditional 33% share for transit investments. Under this model, the provincial and federal governments would each be responsible for 33% to cover the remaining balance of the $7.5 billion plan.
However, since then, the newly elected federal Liberal government has promised to increase its share of transit funding to 50%. With the provincial government maintaining that it will not increase its share beyond 33%, this leaves TransLink and the municipal government with the task to find a smaller share of 17%.
A solid majority of survey respondents agree with the notion that this new funding model is the way forward: 74% said the one-half-federal, one-third-provincial, and one-sixth-regional distribution is ‘fair’.
It should be noted that the transit plebiscite was a vote on how to fund transit, not whether transit improvements should proceed. The Mayors’ Council hopes to at least fulfill the major elements of their original transit plan, namely the Broadway subway and Surrey light rail transit system which will cost an estimated $4.5 billion combined.