A couple weeks ago, it was announced that Translink CEO Tom Prendergast was quitting his position, and accepting a job as president of New York City’s Transit Authority. He had only joined Translink in July 2008, and now he has left! I am guessing he didn’t like what he saw.
Prendergast was as positive a force as could be expected in such an organization as Translink, run under the tightest of control of Premier Gordon Campbell.
Here’s an illuminating excerpt, his parting words on the possibilities of light rail for the valley (Surrey Leader, Nov. 24):
Kwantlen Student Association rep Nathan Griffiths said improved transit is needed to serve campuses in Cloverdale and Langley and asked about the potential to extend passenger light rail to the Fraser Valley.
“There’s really no impediment,” Prendergast responded. “It’s overcoming the cultural embracement of SkyTrain that has existed to date.”
He said TransLink is seeking to cut through the pro-SkyTrain “cultural bias” as it embarks on a careful examination of rapid transit technologies for line extensions west along Broadway and south of the Fraser.
Prendergast predicted the first light rail line that comes to the Lower Mainland will lead to much greater appreciation of its potential.
It’s interesting to think about this “cultural bias” towards Skytrain. Who actually has this bias? It isn’t residents or even politicians in the Fraser Valley: Not a single municipal candidate in Surrey the last election supported Skytrain expansion over light rail. Not a single candidate. Not one!
No, it’s the old-guard politicians of Vancouver, who were around for the previous Skytrain expansions and have the most personal stake in continuing to expand the Skytrain money hole. It’s Mike Harcourt, it’s Gordon Campbell, and others involved in Vancouver’s transportation decisions of the last 25 years.
To anyone who wonders why the problems with Skytrain often take centre stage on this blog, Prendergast answers the question.
To get light rail for the valley, we absolutely must cut through the pro-SkyTrain “cultural bias” that exists, not among the populace of the Fraser Valley, but among Vancouver’s political elite, who all-too-often take it upon themselves to make all the decisions for the rest of us.