Metro Vancouver, according to a 2012 TomTom Congestion Report, has the worst traffic congestion of any other city in North America except Los Angeles. And the region is slated to absorb another one million new residents by 2030.
Drivers in Metro Vancouver, says the report, currently spend an estimated 83 hours a year in traffic delays.
Ridership levels are exceeding projections. Protrans BC, the company that operates and maintains The Canada Line SkyTrain, reports the line is now currently operating at close to 2021 projected capacity levels.
Another 50,000 residents are projected to move into the Canada Line service area once major condo developments along the line reach completion.
The Broadway corridor, purportedly the busiest bus route in Canada and the US, transports 100,000 people along the route each day. The 99 B-Line buses which run this corridor (between Commercial Drive SkyTrain station and UBC) hold 120 passengers each— and are notorious for passing up passengers at stops during peak hours due to overcrowding.
Both traffic congestion and transit overcrowding are putting a strain on Metro Vancouver's economy, according to a 2015 study by economists at HDR Consulting. The study pegged the costs of lost productivity, excess vehicle operation and pollution from vehicle emissions as one billion dollars each year.
Meanwhile, TransLink, the corporation responsible for Metro Vancouver's regional transportation network, is struggling with budget shortfalls.
Translink estimates an additional $450 million will be needed annually to deliver adequate transportation and transit services and to prepare Metro Vancouver for a healthy, sustainable future.
The voting process
Eligible voters in Metro Vancouver will receive a mail-in ballot delivered to their mail boxes between March 16 and March 27, 2015.
Residents will be asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' to support a .5 per cent increase in the provincial sales tax (PST) to fund better transit for the Greater Vancouver area.
Elections BC, or a Plebiscite Service Office, must receive completed ballot packages before 8 p.m. on Friday, May 29, 2015 for votes to count.
The question will read:
"Do you support a new 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax, to be dedicated to the Mayors' Transportation and Transit Plan?"
Mayors suggest voting "YES" to the Transit Plan for more jobs + better transportation for region
TransLink's Mayors' Council— a group of 21 Metro Vancouver mayors, as well as the Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation and representatives from UBC and other unincorporated areas—approve TransLink's plans and appoint most of its board members.
The Mayors' Council, along with the TransLink Board and the provincial government, have developed the Transportation and Transit Plan to improve transportation in the region. The plan will prepare Metro Vancouver for the population and density increases forecasted while promoting "livability" by decreasing congestion and pollution.