In the last days of the 2010 Olympics, much has been made about how well our transportation worked during the event. What has been overlooked is that for the two week extravaganza, Vancouver had much warmer seasonal weather, meaning no snow to stall the SkyTrain metro and make a shambles out of the bus schedules. Added to this, many Vancouver downtown professional businesses closed or reduced hours of operations because of driving and parking restrictions. This was a win-win situation for TransLink as many people were forced from car to transit (active traffic calming), while at the same time, spring like weather created absolutely no problems in operations.
High ridership figures were reported for SkyTrain and the Canada Line and that was to be expected for such a large protracted event. In San Diego, their LRT system, which carries about 110,000 passengers a day, carried over 340,000 customers on Superbowl Sunday, when the city last hosted the event.
The SkyTrain Lobby have taken the metro’s high ridership numbers as some sort of reason to build more metro, while at the same time belittling light-rail. Though one disputes some of the ridership figures given by TransLink, it must be accepted that the metro carried record numbers of customers, the same would have been true with light rail. The SkyTrain lobby are trying desperately, while the Olympic memory is still fresh, to push for hugely expensive metro and subway projects, before the sleeping giant South of the Fraser awakens.
That sleeping giant? The Fraser Valley, which combined population is greater than Vancouver, Burnaby, and Richmond; which population is awakening to the fact that their transit taxes are paying for high priced metro for Vancouver, while they get scraps. Surrey residents in particular are beginning to realize that SkyTrain will not be extended in the near future (38 years according to one group) in their city, while learning that LRT/tram can be built for the fraction of the cost and quickly. There is an ever increasing call for the South Fraser Area to secede from TransLink and form their own transportation authority, which taxes collected will be kept in their local, to pay for the transit they want or can afford.
The provincial government must finally mature and let the people decide what transit mode they want and not keep on with a the very tired “You are going to get SkyTrain whether you like it or not” routine. What many South of the Fraser see, is that TransLink’s planning will further burdening the taxpayer with ever higher taxes to subsidize a costly “Edsel” metro system, that very few will actually use.
The one question that the SkyTrain lobby refuse to answer is; “Why, after being on the market for over 30 years, only seven SkyTrain systems have been built; all by private deals with little or no public scrutiny?” The answer of course is embarrassing to their cause and is swept under the carpet.
The SkyTrain lobby’s demands for more and more expensive SkyTrain, may be fortified with Olympic Hubris. Taxpayers beware!