INTERVIEW WITH PAUL BEDFORD
In May, Metro Vancouver will hold a referendum on whether or not to raise the sales tax for transportation improvements. If the answer is “no,” warns Bedford, then citizens “better be prepared to live with the increasing consequences of endless road congestion and no new transit.” Since his days on the Metrolinx board, Bedford has stressed that all transportation planning processes need to start with a frank discussion of the “choices and consequences,” informing the public of the trade offs inherent in each decision. Over the years, Bedford has found two questions extremely helpful in guiding this discussion: “What’s in it for me?” and “What’s in it for us – as a society or a city-region?”
When it comes to transportation planning, people want to know what’s in it for them – how exactly their daily life experience will be affected. This involves translating large-scale transit decisions into everyday terms. So, Bedford has crunched the numbers to do just that. According to the CAA Driving Cost Calculator, it costs approximately $12,000/year to own a car in Toronto, which adds up over a 40-year working life, especially if a family happens to have 2 or more cars. But of course this isn’t the only cost, points out Bedford; there’s also the frustration of sitting in gridlock during the average two-hour daily commute.
“I have a great billboard in my imagination that I would love to see erected on highways,” says Bedford, and it would read “‘How would you like ½ million dollars in your RRSP and 3 more years of healthy life?’ Then there would be a number: phone here. That’s very personal—Who wouldn’t make that choice?”
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