What’s in it for me? I think that’s the most common question somebody asks themselves when faced with an election or vote like we’re facing in Metro Vancouver. I personally don’t usually vote that way, but I think it’s a very relevant question for the transit plebiscite.
So how will I personally benefit from a Yes vote?
Faster commute to work
I live in East Van along the Expo Line and work is in Kitsilano near Arbutus Street. My commute stands to improve immensely. One of the big projects to be covered by the 0.5% Provincial Sales Tax increase is a Broadway SkyTrain extension. It would transform my commute from a SkyTrain and bus commute to a much faster all-SkyTrain commute. I expect to save about 10 minutes if a Broadway SkyTrain extension were operational.
If the Yes vote wins and the Broadway extension is built, it probably won’t be operational until 8-10 years from now. If the vote is No this time around, a Broadway extension may not happen for another 15-20 years. If it takes any longer than 20 years, there’s a chance that I might be retired by the time any rapid transit heads down Broadway. That’s a huge difference in expected timelines between a Yes and No vote.
Heck. I’ve been waiting for some sort of rapid transit out to the West Side of Vancouver when I was a student at UBC 20 years ago. Still waiting!
Increased Property Value
I own property along the Expo Line – one is my residence in East Vancouver and the other is in Surrey. I stand to gain home equity, especially on the Surrey property. When the Surrey LRT gets the green light, property values in Surrey Centre will surely rise. That’s not great news for people looking for a home to buy, but it is good news for those who already own a place in Surrey Centre.
My Workplace Will Be Well Connected
My workplace has 3 offices right now. One of the offices is in the Central Broadway Core. It is a few blocks from the Canada Line’s City Hall-Broadway Station at Cambie and Broadway. That’s the only office with nearby rapid transit access. The Kitsilano office and the Cambie office are both along the #99 B-Line route. So at least there is bus rapid transit access. The third office is way out near Coquitlam Town Centre and is a few large blocks away from the future Evergreen Line.
If a Yes vote were to win and the projects were to go ahead. All 3 offices would be served by a single SkyTrain ride. Arbutus Street in Kitsilano is the anticipated western terminus of the Millennium Line extension. One could hop onto the train and head all the way east on a Coquitlam-bound train and go to our TriCities office.
Now, work doesn’t require us to travel from office to office, but our clients often come to us by transit, especially our two offices in Vancouver. Our clientele would benefit immensely by being able to access our services via rapid transit. We don’t have an office south of the Fraser River and I get complaints all the time about how long the transit ride was from Surrey to my Kitsilano office.
Rapid transit will allow folks to access key regional services like medical services in the Hospital District along Broadway. It will also be a big boom to businesses that need access to a steady stream of potential customers. Estimated ridership ranges from 250,000 to 320,000 passengers a day (depending on what source you look at). That’s a whole lot of potential customers being shuttled around to businesses doorsteps.
A Lot More Day Trips by Transit
I love transit day trips. I leave the car at home and hop on the SkyTrain to go somewhere different. I’ve gone to different parts of Downtown, to Surrey Centre, to the Olympic Village, to The Drive, and more, all by transit. If rapid transit spreads all the way to Langley, I could potentially spend a whole day on transit all the way to Langley. It’s not that I’m aching to go shopping at Willowbrook Mall, but at least I get the choice to get their by transit and not have to fight the awful traffic on 200 St in Langley.