VANCOUVER - Thank you!
The phrase resonates from the exit of every public bus, at every stop, every time.
Commuters automatically move to the back of the bus without having been asked to, leaving the front to the elderly, the handicapped and mothers with strollers.
The friendly voice on the other side of the Trans- Link Service line patiently entertains repeated questions and provides information without a hint of annoyance.
Is this Utopia? Nope. It is Vancouver.
This perennial contender for the title of world's most liveable city came in third in the ratings by The Economist this year, behind the No 1, Melbourne, Australia (97.5), and No 2 Vienna, Austria (97.4).
The magazine's Intelligence Unit has defined liveability by the following criteria: stability, health care, education, infrastructure, culture and environment.
Vancouver achieved an overall 97.3 rating out of 100. (See graphics on facing page.) It looked like the Canadian city has accomplished what many other cities can only dream of.
In terms of infrastructure, it has managed to reduce traffic on its major roads even as its population has grown.
Its policies, going as far back as the 1970s, meant that its roads were not widened to accommodate more single-occupancy vehicles. Also, Vancouver prioritised and established a strong transit system with light rail, buses, ferries and walking and biking connections, making the city healthy.