Talk about the blind leading the blind.
BC Transportation Minister, Shirley Bond (who knows little or nothing about transit), the besieged premier (who knows that building glitzy metro lines buys votes), and regional mayors (who are equally unread on transit) are going to have a private meeting regarding TransLink’s ongoing financial crisis. The first hing that must be done is to invite the public, simply because the public is public transit’s customers and politicians should value their input. Secondly, TransLink and the Premier must understand that TransLink’s perennial financial malaise is due mainly to the SkyTrain light-metro system and our perverse penchant to build very expensive to build and operate light-metro lines instead of modern light rail!
To date the taxpayer has unknowingly spent over $8 billion for our metro system, yet for less than one half the cost, by building with modern LRT we could have had almost double the route mileage – more trams, serving more destinations providing more incentive for people to use transit! Now there is a clever thought!
Added to TransLink’s woes, is the singular fact that the SkyTrain light-metro system has failed to attract the motorist from the car and it is just far too expensive to extend in lighter populated areas and has not proven to be a credible transit alternative for the car. The current hype and hoopla about the Canada Line is merely self serving window dressing to sell the public on building more metro, but in real terms, for about $2.8 billion costs to date, the new metro has attracted only about 4,000 to 5,000 new riders (which is about normal for a new ‘rail’ line) and the new riders are mainly the elderly going to the River Rock Casino or Asian shops in Richmond most using discounted concession fares and students using $1.00 a day U-Passes! The RAV/Canada line has yet to show that it has attracted the motorist from the car.
Yes, the airport is also garnering new ridership, but do not forget the 15 minute service Airporter bus the Canada Line metro replaced.
TransLink is in a conundrum; there is no money for new metro expansion and the bureaucracy refuses to plan for much cheaper light rail. There is no way out, either taxes must increase to pay for metro construction or the transit system stagnates and becomes even more unattractive product for customers.
Next week, Rail for the Valley will present an affordable alternative to TransLink’s present grandiose metro and subway plans, the problem is: Will the premier, Ms. Bond and regional mayors listen!
Mayors, Premier and Transportation Minister to meet next weekA closed-door meeting between Metro Vancouver mayors, Premier Gordon Campbell and Transportation Minister Shirley Bond next week is expected to go a long way toward settling TransLink’s financial woes.
Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, chairman of the Metro mayors’ council on transportation, can’t presume to say exactly what will come out of the meeting.
But he and TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis will both speak at the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce luncheon that follows the meeting. Cambell and Bond will also be in attendance.
When asked if there will finally be some news about TransLink’s long-standing cash crunch, Fassbender replied: “We will at least be demonstrating where we need to go and how we’re going to get there together.
“My hope is that Thursday will be a major step forward in finding the answer specifically to the question people have of ‘How are you going to do this?’” said Fassbender
“They’re not easy answers,” he said. “There isn’t a quick fix here.”
The situation has come to a crossroads.
“We’re either going to move ahead or it’s clear we can’t work together,” said Fassbender. “But you know what? I believe we can.”
The problem of TransLink funding was highlighted again Monday night when transportation commissioner Martin Crilly gave his seal of approval to the transportation authority’s 2011 plans.
Crilly pointed out that TransLink doesn’t have the money to do what its own long-range plans to 2040 call for or what the region needs according to Metro Vancouver.
“To gain ground on the background growth of the region, a greater portion of the region’s wealth will need somehow to be devoted to providing that [transportation] capacity,” said Crilly in a release.
“TransLink has yet to solve the conundrum of funding for capacity expansion, and cannot do so alone,” said Crilly.
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