Transit Referendum

Please complete this form to receive information regarding the upcoming Lower Mainland Transit Referendum.

Translink operates public transit like buses and Skytrains. While it is run by a private company, it is owned and ultimately controlled by the provincial government[1]. Its 3 main funding sources are a gas tax of $0.17/litre, a 3% property tax, and fare revenues. Translink has seen increased transit ridership while revenues from the fuel tax are declining, putting it in a funding crunch.[2]

During the 2013 Provincial Election, the BC Liberals promised that any new funding for Translink would have to go to a public vote, or referendum in November 2014. This was supposed to occur at the same time as the Metro Vancouver municipal elections[3]. The plans for the referendum were complicated by the fact that Metro Vancouver Mayors did not support holding the public vote on transit alongside municipal elections[4].

After several meetings with Translink and MLAs that represent SFU’s campuses, we were tired of being told that there was simply no money for the improvements that SFU students need. We decided to promote the transit referendum which was then scheduled for November 2014 as way of getting increased transit funding for projects like the Burnaby Mountain Gondola, the 135 Hastings B-Line, and improved bus service to our Surrey campus.

Details about the referendum were few, so we sent a letter to Minister Stone on Dec. 10, 2013 to clarify how we can help this referendum succeed.  We requested collaboration with the Ministry around four important areas: (1) communicating with students about the referendum (2) the identification of student needs and how this will be reflected in the referendum question, (3) the timing of the referendum, in light of the reduced student presence during the summer months and exam periods, and (4) logistics of polling stations and voter registration. Please see attached for the letter we sent.

Although we never received a response, we continued to promote the transit referendum to students.

In early February, we found out that the Mayors of Metro Vancouver have been given new powers over Translink and the funding referendum. They will have until June 30, 2014 to clarify details of the referendum, such as what projects would be funded, and what the funding tool would look like (for instance, a sales tax, increased property tax, etc). The referendum would have to take place no later than June 30, 2015.  The Mayor's must decide the referendum date, and if they don't it will default to the November 2017 municipal election.

What YOU can do to get better transit:

  • Keep reading these emails – more to come soon!
  • Vote in the November 2014 municipal election for the candidates who are pro transit
  • Vote in the transit referendum whenever it happens (likely June 2015)
  • Forward this email to your friends, family, colleagues, etc

What we are doing to get you better transit:

  • Continuing to keep students updated on the referendum
  • Coordinating get out the vote efforts for the November 2014 Municipal Election 
  • Meeting with relevant Mayors to ensure projects that will benefit SFU students like the Burnaby Mountain Gondola (aka Skybus) and more busses in Surrey are included in the referendum
  • Planning further action items! 

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us back, or see the attached document for a complete ‘’media round up” of all the news on the transit referendum.