What now for TransLink?

So the Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Plebiscite went down in a ball of flames. What now for TransLink? Their CEO said that the upgrades laid out in the Mayors’ Council plan still need to be done, and they’ll get done.

So where is TransLink going to find the money without any new funding sources? After all, by law any new funding source proposals need to be supported by a majority of electors in the region.

I have two ideas.

First: reduce service in municipalities based on their ‘no’ vote proportion. We’re going to mark on a curve here, so Bowen Island Municipality gets no service cuts, as they had the lowest ‘no’ vote proportion at 38.08%. Of the larger cities, Vancouver has its service cut by 12.73% (50.81% voted no, and 50.81 – 38.08 = 12.73), New Westminster gets cut by 16.47%, Surrey by 27.46%, the City of Langley by 34.21%, Richmond by 34.31%, and Langley Township by 36.89%.

Overall, the region should get its service cut by 23.6%. I’m going to use Jordan Bateman math here and say that 23.6% of TransLink’s $1.5 billion budget is about $350 million per year, which is more than enough to fund the Mayors’ Council plans.

(Of course it doesn’t really work that way as cutting 1% of service doesn’t necessarily correspond to saving 1% of budget, but we’re using Jordan Bateman math here — it doesn’t have to be right to make the news.)

My second idea is to abandon the Pattullo Bridge. No, I’m not saying turn it over to the province. I’m saying remove it from TransLink’s jurisdiction altogether by tearing it down and not replacing it. No more $100 million repairs, no more costly studies on what to replace it with, no more South-of-the-Fraser drivers complaining about yet another toll on a bridge. Bring it down and leave it down.

If you really want a car crossing there, buy back the Albion Ferries and bring back the K de K ferry linking Brownsville and New Westminster.

Problem solved. You’re welcome.

Eight thoughts on the transit referendum results

  1. Welp.

  2. Thanks Christy Clark for your stunning display of leadership.

  3. Congrats to the ‘no’ side for winning! But the joke’s on you: nobody wins.

  4. Hello to higher property taxes!

  5. Property near SkyTrain stations just got more valuable.

  6. Time to buy stock in Metro Vancouver road-building companies, car dealerships, and auto mechanics.

  7. Chilliwack people? Hey how do you like that smog that we keep blowing your way? HAVE FUN NOW, SUCKERS!

  8. I’m still glad I voted ‘yes’, and would proudly do so again.

Fun With Statistics, by Michael Smyth

In his most-recent column, Michael Smyth paints TransLink in a negative light, pointing to “surprises” such as Ian Jarvis’s compensation boost, increased administration costs, and Transit Police going over budget. This plays right into his “holy shit TransLink is wasteful” story that people of his ilk eat up with a spoon (just check the comments for good examples).

But you know what? It’s really easy to cherry-pick statistics to suit your narrative like Mr. Smyth has done. Of course he’s never going to mention anything that makes TransLink look good, because that would be balanced and is contrary to anything he stands for.

So let’s try using the same 2014 report he used, and now we can make TransLink look good.

For example, he’s right in that Transit Police cost more in 2014 than in 2013, with expenses up by $3.7 million, or 12.2 per cent. What he doesn’t mention is that this is because of a collective agreement signing going retroactive to 2011, along with filling vacant positions. The agreement will actually result in annual savings of $800,000 because they’ve eliminated some benefits. Of course, Mr. Smyth completely fails to mention this.

TransLink had budgeted $1.506 billion for expenses in 2014, but actually spent $1.427 billion, which is 3.9% under budget. Of course, Mr. Smyth completely fails to mention this.

Corporate expenses were 10.3 per cent under budget. Bus operating expenses were 1.2 per cent under budget. Roads and bridges were 24.2 per cent under budget. Of course, Mr. Smyth completely fails to mention this.

TransLink’s revenues were up 10.2 per cent over 2013, and TransLink brought in $26.9 million more than it spent in 2014. Of course, Mr. Smyth completely fails to mention this.

See Mr. Smyth? I can cherry-pick numbers too, and pluck statistics to suit my narrative. And as the saying goes, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Announcing the Plebiscite Predictor!

The Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Plebiscite is finally coming to a close. During the mail-in period, Elections BC has been releasing the interim ballot returns broken down by municipality.

You can find out all sorts of things, like which municipality has the highest turnout, or… which municipality has the highest turnout. Okay, it’s dull.

But the most recent data release allows us to try and guess what the result is going to be. To help us out, I whipped up the Plebiscite Guesser Program Thingy 5000.

All you have to do is guess the percentage of votes the yes side will receive for each municipality, and it’ll tell you which side wins!

Here’s an incredibly realistic situation: every municipality votes 40% no, except for Vancouver, which votes 77% yes. Yes side wins!

Keep in mind that the results you get are actually wrong: everybody loses in this stupid plebiscite that we never should have had in the first place because fuck you Christy Clark.

New Westminster Rumour Mill

This is first of what will hopefully be a monthly post here, where I report back on all of the rumours that are floating around the lovely city of New Westminster.

First up: the parkade. Rumour has it that Council has seen the light and they will not be tearing down half the parkade. Instead they are doubling-down and adding an extra three levels of parking! They will also be taking Columbia Street off its diet (come on people, everybody knows that diets don’t work) by removing the bike lanes and angled parking. It is expected that this will appeal to the mobile baby boomer, and the increased vehicle traffic and parking will return downtown New Westminster to the glory years of the 70s and 80s!

The canceling of the Royal Lancers dance has ruffled some feathers recently. While this is a sad end to a 100-year old tradition of grown men knocking on doors to ask fathers to turn over their 12-year old girls to go for a dance, some have felt that the dance has seen better days. Instead, the Royal Lancers will turn to the 1916 May Day celebrations for inspiration, where a demonstration of military maneuvers replaced the folk dance. Rumour has it that for the 100th anniversary of these celebrations, the Royal Lancers will shoot 12-year old girls out of cannons.

The Braid Street Bailey Bridge is open! As it is a new crossing, a modest toll of $5 for Coquitlam residents will apply.

The 2015 Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Plebiscite is underway, although you wouldn’t know it because nobody has been talking about it lately. Has anybody heard anything about this thing?

That’s all for now from the New Westminster Rumour Mill!