From Vanessa Calatano in comments:
The vast majority of no votes represent the public interest, and that has to be respected. …
The vote has been decided, and it is NO, not NOW. Get your house in order, come back in 3-5 years. Proof? Greg Moore was asked by Vaughn Palmer “What’s your Plan B” and Moore said he doesn’t have one. That’s irresponsible.
Oh, there is a Plan B. It is called “Default” – what happens automatically in the event of no further funding. As Vanessa implies, new transit investment will be deferred for 3 to 5 years to ‘get your house in order’ – whatever than means. And then if another referendum passes – a big assumption – orders for buses can be placed, planning for rail begun, consultation undertaken and plans revised. In other words, a decade is realistically required before we begin to get back to where we are today.
In that time, the population in Metro grows – roughly 330,000 more people. With them, about 200,000 vehicles (a straight line of parked cars from here to Saskatchewan), especially since the message will be pretty clear: there will be no increase in transit; buy a car.
As well, decisions must be made with respect to ongoing urban growth: commercial and residential developments, zoning changes, parking requirements, road expansions. They cannot be deferred for a decade. Not even a month.
The No vote does, however, confirm that transit service will continue to decline, as it has already started to do.
The number of people using transit is expected to continue to grow; however, current funding levels cannot keep pace with the targets set out in the Regional Transportation Strategy. For example, increases in transit services since 2009 have been overtaken by population growth, and per capita service levels* have begun to decline and will continue to do so without new funding.
Though the Base Plan is fully funded to maintain total service hours, that still means declining service levels for customers as competition for seats and standing space increases, as do pass-ups. Without any expansion, limited bus hours will have to be reallocated away from lower demand corridors – and the competition gets more brutal.
Here’s the takeaway: in ten years – about what it would take (assuming the passage of another referendum) to significantly expand transit delivery – service levels would be where they were in about 2003. A decade of expansion in the 2000s would have been lost and an increasingly densely populated region would have fewer options.
There is no status quo. There is, however, “Default.”
*Service Hours per Capita: This is the total number of service hours in the region divided by the total population in the region; this is not the number of people using transit, which is increasing.