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A SkyTrain commuter train travels into downtown Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday April 11, 2012. The province announced a referendum on financing new transit, though no date has been set. (DARRYL DYCK For The Globe and Mail)
A SkyTrain commuter train travels into downtown Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday April 11, 2012. The province announced a referendum on financing new transit, though no date has been set. (DARRYL DYCK For The Globe and Mail)

CITY LIMITS

Province tells transit riders where to get off Add to ...

Hello, Transit Rider. It’s me, the province calling.

We need to talk. The way things have been going lately … we just can’t continue like this. It’s not working and I think you know it. We’ve been dancing around this for a while and I think we’ve both felt weird. At least I know I have, and …

Look, this isn’t easy, okay? So just listen. I’m just going to come out and say it and it’s going to hurt and you’re not going to like it but it needs to be said, so here goes: I don’t like you. I’ve never liked you. I don’t care about you and I wish you’d go away.

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Oh, don’t be like that – I’m just trying to be honest here, okay? It’s too late to be playing games – we just need to get it out. I am so tired of listening to your whining and complaining and I really do not care what happens to you. I know, all of this sounds pretty cruel, but seriously you need to give this up.

Look, this can’t be coming as surprise, right. I mean, I’ve been sending you signals for years.

Think back to the 1990s, back when the TransLink board was made up of mayors and councillors. Remember when they voted for a vehicle levy but it was just before an election so I canned it? Or when we built the Millennium Line but then never finished it so it pretty much went nowhere? And then we said we’d finish it out to the northeast at the same time as we built the Canada Line, but then we spent all the money on the Canada Line so we could have it in time for the Olympics?

What did you think was going on?

When we got rid of the elected officials on the board and replaced them with “professionals,” you know, corporate lawyers, accountants and real estate developers, did you think, “Wow, the province must really be thinking about my needs?”

Then the vehicle levy came up again and I said no again? In fact I rejected just about every suggestion anybody had for how to make things better for you. I mean, how may headlines did you read that began with the words, “Province rejects …”

I was so sure you were going to walk then. How could you not have gotten the message?

But you didn’t. Nope, there you were standing in the rain because I wouldn’t even build you a shelter, waiting to get on a packed bus. You looked pathetic, by the way.

And then another election campaign comes along and I figure, okay, here’s my chance to cut you loose once and for all. I tell you that if you want more transit everybody’s going to have to vote on how to pay for it. The people who haven’t been on a bus in 40 years? They get a vote too. The Question? I don’t know; who cares? I was just throwing it out there.

Then I announce I’m building a 10-lane bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel because people trapped in their cars trying to get past the bottleneck deserve to spend more time with their families. What’s it going to cost? I haven’t got a clue. How’s it going to be paid for? Beats me.

But you, getting passed up at a stop on Broadway, or trying to get home to Surrey without a car?

Could what I think of you be any more clear?

Now the mayors are calling me going, “Come on, man, back off with the referendum, think about the poor Transit Rider.”

As if.

The less I hear from you the better.

I know this is all pretty harsh but I didn’t know what else to do. You’re not exactly a master of reading between the lines. I figured the direct approach was the best. I know it hurts now, but it’ll fade.

And before you go thinking there’s anything you could have done to make things different or to make me care about you, there isn’t.

Or, I don’t know, maybe you could buy a car.

Okay, gotta go.

Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver. @cbcstephenquinn

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