It seems TransLink’s bureaucrats think that the METRO region taxpayer has very deep pockets; while I have a news flash for TransLink, they don’t. To save money, more and more of the region’s car drivers are filling up with gas South of the 49th, encouraging the business of US gas stations. One can save $0.25 to $0.30 a litre for gas in Blaine and when people travel South to buy gas, they also buy groceries, etc., thus increasing much needed savings from tight budgets.
Zweisystem predicted many years ago that TransLink’s insatiable need for tax monies will force consumers to shop elsewhere, yet the regional politicians remain oblivious as they OK more and more TransLink expenditures on ill preforming transit measures. What we see with TransLink is an extremely expensive bureaucracy who can not seem to grasp the basics of operating a transit system, instead insist on building vast ‘Ivory Towers’ to shuffle paper in. What is worse, civic, provincial, and federal politicians are woefully ignorant on the issue of public transit and fully believe that the more one spends on public transit, the better it will be.
We can’t spend ourselves out of TransLink’s current financial debacle, yet this message is lost.
Again, Zweisystem repeats the key for success for 21st century public transit: “To be successful, public transit must be seen as a product and if the product is good, people will buy the product. But if the product is poor, people will reject the product and the product fails.” Sorry to say that most people in the region give TransLink very poor marks and will take the car where possible. Raising taxes and increasing fares doesn’t improve transit, rather it just keeps the current transit system doing the same thing it has always done, plan for more metro lines and hope for different results in the future.
The message for Rail For The Valley is clear, to get a Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban service in operation, we must either avoid TransLink altogether or better yet, get rid of it and start anew.
Rapid transit extensions frozen under TransLink budget
By Jeff Nagel
TransLink will extract an extra $146 million from transit users and taxpayers in 2010, but don’t expect to see service expand as a result.
The 2010 budget calls for more belt-tightening at the transportation authority and advances no major spending towards the long-promised Evergreen Line to Port Moody and Coquitlam, nor for other rapid transit expansion in Surrey or along Broadway in Vancouver.
The more than $1.2-billion budget is in line with the 10-year plan approved by Metro Vancouver mayors in October, along with fare and tax hikes to avert huge deficits in future years.
“We’ve avoided service cut backs that would have been a real blow to Metro Vancouver’s sustainability and quality of life,” TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis said.
TransLink and the mayors intend to seek new revenue sources from the province for expansion.
“Our challenge is to build consensus around how we can make the road and transit investments needed to support our region’s growth,” Jarvis said.
TransLink is to collect $673 million in taxes next year – $100 million more than in 2009 – due to rising property tax, fuel tax and parking sales tax rates.
Motorists will pay three cents a litre more to TransLink when they gas up, and three times as much in sales tax on pay parking lots.
Transit fare revenue is also forecast to climb 11 per cent to $423 million as TransLink raises prepaid fares in April and adds a surcharge to take the Canada Line to the airport. The projection also counts on a 7.4 per cent increase in ridership.
Golden Ears Bridge tolls are forecast to generate $29 million in the first full year of operation, but more than that will be paid out to the firm that built and operates the new bridge.
Despite the increased funding, TransLink still expects to draw down its reserves by $79 million in 2010.
That’s because almost half the new money coming in will go to rising debt costs to pay for TransLink’s latest megaprojects.
Between the Canada Line, Golden Ears Bridge and the purchase of 48 new SkyTrain cars, TransLink’s annual debt repayments rise from $183 million in 2009 to $251 million next year.
The Olympics are the main challenge ahead for TransLink as the transit system ramps up handle up to a million passengers a day.
But some of the improved service won’t last long.
A just-launched third SeaBus will increase sailing frequency to every 10 minutes, but service will be cut back to two vessels once the Games end.
“That third one is in service because Vanoc is paying for it,” TransLink spokesperson Judy Rudin said.
West Coast Express service will also nearly triple during the Games, but be largely unwound afterwards.
Overall, Rudin said transit service in 2010 will be maintained at 2009 levels.
The Transit Police budget is to be frozen at $28 million.
And TransLink administration costs are being cut 18 per cent, with 23 staff positions to be eliminated.
Money will be spent on road work, with $10 million earmarked for the widening of the Fraser Highway in Surrey and Langley, $6 million for the Coast Meridian overpass in Port Coquitlam and $9.1 million to help build overpasses over the Roberts Bank rail corridor through Delta, Surrey and Langley.
Also on the to-do list is finding a buyer for TransLink’s two decommissioned Albion ferries, which stopped running when the Golden Ears Bridge opened.
Tags: Abbotsford, C-train, Chilliwack, cost per km, demonstration project, Diesel LRT, economic stimulus, Evergreen Line, Fraser River rail bridge, Fraser Valley, gateway, interurban, Karlsruhe, Langley, light metro, light rail, Monorail, NDP, Pattullo bridge, Port Mann, Rail for the Valley, UBC, UBC SkyTrain, VALTAC, Vancouver