Martin Crilly’s report on TransLink came as no surprise, TransLink is in deep financial trouble and needs a major infusion of cash to keep it in operation. The question should be asked: “Should the Valley Municipalities walk away from the transportation agency and let the chips fall where they may?”
TransLink, despite all the revisionist history, was cobbled together by then GVRD Chairman George Puil and the Glen Clark NDP as a last ditch attempt to secure a SkyTrain Millennium Line. The icing on the cake for Mr. Puil was that the province would pay two thirds of SkyTrain only construction West of Commercial Drive. Translation: Puil secured an agreement for expensive subway construction on Vancouver’s West-side at the expense of the region.
Now fast forward to 2009, the RAV/Canada Line, the first of Vancouver’s desired subways has opened; the Evergreen line to the Tri-Cities is in deep jeopardy; and there is ever increasing talk of a $4 billion UBC subway or the ‘Campbell Line’. TransLink needs vast sums of taxpayer’s money to complete its pie-in-the-sky metro and subway planning, which now may come in the form of road pricing or congestion charges. Again, Greater Vancouver politicians see Fraser Valley taxpayers as a ‘milch-cow’, or rustic rubes with deep pockets to pay for Vancouver’s grandiose subway plans.
Vancouver’s politicians and planners are flirting with bridge tolling and road pricing; trouble is, road pricing and/or congestion charging will only success if there is a viable public transit alternative and buses are not a viable public transit alternative, nor are three truncated metro lines. But one doubts that our band of civic politicians will sacrifice their political careers advocating road tolling or bridge tolling and the same can be said for their provincial counterparts, especially when one sees what has happened to English politico’s who supported road pricing, in the UK.
Projects like Rail for the Valley’s ‘return of the interurban’ need funding, but no funding will be made available for the projects unless the ‘valley‘ ditches TransLink and forms its own tax base to fund its own transit projects. Let Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and Richmond taxpayers fund expensive SkyTrain or RAV metro and let the valley taxpayer fund much cheaper light-rail. I would wager that the Tri-Cities would abandon the SkyTrain Evergreen line in a shot, if they were offered (or should I say their taxpayers were offered) much cheaper light rail projects.
The TransLink model for regional transportation planning is broken and TransLink’s planners are stuck in the 1950, planning for more subways and expensive metro systems. Roads must be kept clear for the car and ‘rubber on asphalt’ transportation planning reigns supreme. The provincial government, abetted by the ‘roads lobby’ happily forces new metro construction on regional taxpayers and its time for Fraser Valley mayors to stand up to TransLink and the provincial government and say “Enough is enough, we are leaving TransLink and forming out own Valley Transportation Authority, investing in transit projects that meet our needs.”
Let Vancouver taxpayers pay for expensive subway projects forced upon them by ex-Vancouver mayors!
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