Pete McMartin again:
Without the projects the tax will fund, Metro will have many more cars and an increase in greenhouse gases
Cars create the hell that is commuting, but — and this is their self-perpetuating irony — what better way to escape that hell than to wrap oneself in a quiet cocoon of steel and glass while listening to the radio and sipping your morning coffee. What self-indulgence. What unthinking ease. Outside it’s hell, but brother, inside it’s heaven.
Call a commuter on that selfindulgence and you’ll hear all the excuses — I need my car during the day, public transit is too slow or nonexistent, I have to get home to pick up the kids from school.
For some, that may be true. But for the majority, it’s just blather. It’s the blithe self-justification for the fact that, at heart, they just don’t care to get out of their car.
None of this has entered the conversation in the debate over the upcoming transit plebiscite. According to the No side, the fault lies, not with human nature, but with the operation of our public transit system. To hear them, Metro Vancouver’s transit is on par with Baghdad’s, and so badly run that instituting a small tax to fund future projects would be throwing money down the drain.
This is, again, blather. Those rare times, for example, when the Expo line has malfunctioned have been blown way out of proportion, as if it were proof the whole system has to be abandoned and remade. It doesn’t. A transit line malfunction is not a disaster. It’s a glitch.
But human nature? That’s way harder to fix. …
Yet so far, the debate over the upcoming transit plebiscite has been all about money and the cost to taxpayers.
What you do not hear about is the cost of the havoc that cars wreak.
Aside from the enormous government subsidies that motorists enjoy, aside from the space they take up, their societal cost is primarily environmental. It is that enormous and imminently catastrophic cost the No side ignores. But a 0.5 per cent rise in the sales tax? Horror.
Projections have a million more people coming to Metro in the next 25 years. In the absence of the proposed transit plan, projections also call for 600,000 additional cars.
With the transit plan fully realized, Metro’s engineers estimate that in that time frame, the increased transit system will be able to effect an annual reduction of about 550,000 tonnes in greenhouse gases, or enough to keep it to present levels. Even with the transit plan, we’ll just be treading water.
All those car commuters strung along the highway? They might cocoon themselves from their daily hell but not the unnerving thought that, incrementally, with every mile, they’re hurtling themselves and their loved ones toward some greater disaster. I bet they wonder, as I do, if their car addiction isn’t jeopardizing the future of their children and grandchildren.
They should put their money where their doubt is.