You’re only sticking it to yourself by voting ‘No’

You know that Surrey driver who tailgates you, makes aggressive lane changes and honks when you don’t respond within a tenth of a second when the light changes?

That Surrey road rage is based largely on congested roadways and underserviced public transit which contributes to the collective frustration of getting from Point A to B in a timely fashion.

It’s obvious that this city needs a better mode of transportation and we needed it yesterday.

In an experiment conducted by Kwantlen Polytechnic University students last week, it took over an hour and three buses to get from Surrey to Cloverdale.

But that same dangerous, aggressive and frustrated driver who is annoyed at students clogging up the roads because of unreliable bus service is going to vote "No" in the upcoming transit plebiscite. In fact, it looks like a bunch of us South of the Fraser residents are going to vote "No," even when it’s clearly not in our best interest to do so.

According to a recent Insights West poll, on a regional basis, the highest level of support for "Yes" is observed in Richmond and Vancouver, where transit service is already good. Fewer residents in the North Shore (39 per cent), Burnaby (32 per cent) and the municipalities located South of the Fraser River (24 per cent) are planning to vote "Yes."

Given that a bulk of critical infrastructure upgrades are planned for our region – more night and frequent bus service, light rail transit, cycle paths, Pattullo Bridge replacement – it seems odd that we’d want to shoot ourselves in the foot. But that’s what we’re about to do.

The thing is, every response I’ve heard from the "No" side is based on an emotional response to TransLink and the politicians pushing for the transit tax. And it doesn’t matter whether health care professionals, students, businesses, economists or anybody

else shows why it’s a bad idea to vote "No."

There’s a point to be proven here.

What’s the point? Well, for starters, TransLink is a joke. We all agree on this. It’s a bloated, wasteful, woefully reckless public company that seems to exude incompetence.

The company is paying two top executives the sort of money each month that makes you physically sick to read about, they can’t even properly implement a fare gate system that will recoup even a fraction of the revenue lost to fare evasion and even an independent report in November says its customer service is brutal.

So, this plebiscite is a means to "stick it" to TransLink by denying them the money needed for $7.5 billion in infrastructure upgrades over the next decade to maintain our transportation network.

But here’s what sucks about that. You won’t be sticking TransLink. You’ll be sticking yourself.

When you’re sitting in the Massey Tunnel, riding somebody’s bumper at 5 km/h, realizing you could get out and walk home faster, blame yourself. When you’re crawling along King George Boulevard, wondering

why that stupid green light at 80th Avenue is so damned quick, give yourself a quick smack. When you’re stuck in White Rock waiting an hour for the bus because you had too much to drink and had to leave your car behind, it’s your own damn fault.

Doug Allen will still make $35,000 a month, whether you vote "Yes" or "No." So will Ian Jarvis. You may as well take out your existential anguish on the Tooth Fairy for all the good it’s going to do you.

Does TransLink need to be reformed? Uh, yeah. Will voting "No" make that happen? Not unless the province wants it to happen.

What it will do, however, is delay the construction and deployment of critical transit infrastructure and service, lowering your quality of life and getting you home to your family later and more miserable than ever. And if it makes you feel better, you can blame TransLink, or Linda Hepner, or the whole concept of taxation. But it won’t change your commute.

Only one thing will do that. Voting "Yes."

Adrian MacNair is a Now staff writer. Email him at amacnair@thenownewspaper.com

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