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What do the transit plebiscite results actually mean?

July 6th, 2015 · 80 Comments

Oh dear. I come back from Paris, a transit paradise, to this: 62-38 vote against funding new transit through the sales tax.

I have to say, I was surprised by the results. Not that it was No, but that the numbers were so far apart — that means that in months of campaigning, with bus ads and telephone townhalls and you name it, the Yes side was not able to move the dial at all.

And now, the problem is, how to interpret the results. So many possible explanations: just the hate-on for TransLink, antipathy to sales tax, resentment over the way the Vancouver and Surrey mayors grabbed the leadership of the mayors’ council, resentment over the provincial-style, robocalling campaign that the Yes side’s Vision-dominated team ran, not the years needed to really run an effective campaign, a bad plan, people voting No because they thought the plebiscite was a terrible idea, dislike of the plan for a subway for Broadway, dislike of the plan for light rail for Surrey, anger because “transit sucks in my suburb now so why should I pay more.”

Makes it very easy for everyone to draw the conclusion they like.

And now what? I fear that what will happen is a focus by particular politicians and groups on getting the two big mega-projects going — Vancouver and Surrey — which could potentially be paid for, at least in part, through development around the lines. But the rest of the region, which needs buses and upgrades, will get nothing.




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