Opinion

Transit benefits users and non-users

Everyone benefits from subsidized public transit, says a letter-writer arguing against a suggestion the system be funded entirely by its users. -
Everyone benefits from subsidized public transit, says a letter-writer arguing against a suggestion the system be funded entirely by its users.
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Re: “Don’t use? Shouldn’t have to pay,” Letters, The Leader, April 24.

Some weeks ago I expressed my opinion on how a user-pay basis is reasonable basis for infrastructural investments such as toll bridges. The same ideology does not apply to transit.

Transit benefits all people – even non-users – by being there, and it benefits everyone even more so when the service provided is competitive and usable.

If transit were not subsidized with taxes, TransLink would have to cut a huge amount of its services.

Think of the consequences. Many people would lose their only option and would lose jobs or be forced to switch to automobile commute, dealing with increased living costs and increased congestion throughout the region.

Most especially, think of the constraints that students and other people who do not have regular access to a vehicle will face as a result of a removal of competitive mobility options. How would your kids be able to get around unless you drive them at your own expense?

Almost every city in the world is subsidizing transit with taxes. Saying that people who do not use transit should not paying for it is not far from saying that other essential public services which include education, health care, crime control, fire protection and waste removal should also not be subsidized.

There are people actually using our usable and competitive transit system; so many that at the moment, more than 60 per cent of TransLink’s annual operations and maintenance costs for the transit system are paid for by fares or advertising revenue. This rate puts TransLink among the highest in North America.

Only 40 per cent of those costs are coming from taxes. At the same time, TransLink’s system is also much more affordable to ride than systems in other Canadian cities of similar size and nature such as Toronto and Montreal.

 

Daryl Dela Cruz

 

Regarding Frank Bucholtz’s column in the April 19 edition titled, “Transit Snub: Plan an exit from TransLink.”

Mr. Bucholtz writes, “It’s time that the South Fraser MPs, MLAs and mayors rise to protest the complete snubbing of this community”... and  “It’s simply wrong that the mayors of Burnaby, New Westminster and Vancouver... can so capriciously cut off a service here that many were planning to use.”

It might serve Mr. Bucholtz well to find out how Dianne Watts voted on this issue (vote cast by proxy Marvin Hunt). Surrey’s mayor’s vote was also to cancel the proposed property tax funding to TransLink and so she is equally guilty in capriciously cutting off service to her own constituents.

 

Joanne DeVries

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