Is TransLink like the Titanic, sailing full steam ahead into a "financial" iceberg?
If one really wanted any more evidence that our regional politicians are completely out of touch on regional transit issues, this item from the Georgia Straight should put that to rest.
The financial problems with TransLink are simple:
1) It operates light-metro (an obsolete transit mode) on routes that do not have the ridership to support it. Result – high annual subsidies must be paid to sustain the light-metro.
2) Operates buses on routes that have little or no ridership, while ignoring bus routes with endemic overcrowding. Result – bus service is diverted from high demand areas to areas of low demand. High subsidies must be paid to sustain less than marginal bus operations, while at the same time limiting revenues from high demand bus services.
3) Offers deep discounted fares while at the same time providing a very expensive ‘premium’ transit service with light metro. Result – Over crowding of high demand services and limiting much needed revenue from full fare paying customers and again demanding large subsidies needed to sustain the premium transit service.
Huge annual subsidies for SkyTrain and RAV/Canada Line, in excess of $200 million annually and a growing deficit as scarce transit monies are poured into unworkable transit solutions has created a burgeoning deficit. TransLink has run into a financial iceberg.
And regional politicians want more of this hocus-pocus planning?
Regional politicos suffer from complete ‘transit denial’ in the region, where the SkyTrain myth reigns supreme and combined with a complete lack of accountability by TransLink to the taxpayer, has left us in a regional hubris. Despite over $8 billion spent on light metro to date, for three metro lines of which one is incompatible in operation with the other two, has not created the all important modal shift from car to transit.
And regional politicians what more of this?
Do they not realize that with the impending HST and other downloaded provincial taxes onto regional taxpayers, there is no money left for this “pixie dust’ TransLink planning.
What should worry advocates for the return of the interurban is that regional politicians want to continue TransLink’s extremely expensive, yet grossly inept transit planning and not wanting to pursue more affordable transit solutions. To be blunt, by voting to fund TransLink, regional politicians have voted to leave South of Fraser residents out of the mix, while gladly tapping their wallets to pay for dated transit plans that have proven unworkable.
Man the lifeboats!
Metro Vancouver board pushes for $450 million a year increase in TransLink funding
By Matthew Burrows
Metro Vancouver directors voted today (September 25) to push for the best-case TransLink funding scenario.
Burnaby councilor Sav Dhaliwal was the only politician who voted against Vancouver mayor and director Gregor Robertson’s motion.
Now the board will send the message to TransLink’s private board of directors and its mayors’ council that it should implement $450 million in annual funding above current levels—the most generous of the three options presented in TransLink’s 2010 10-Year Plan to address funding constraints at the regional transportation authority.
The Metro motion originated through its regional planning committee earlier this month. At the latest meeting at Metro headquarters in Burnaby, directors also expressed concerns over the first business-as-usual “base plan” funding scenario proposed, which would lead to “drastic cuts”, according to TransLink.
TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast was at the meeting, and said he wanted to avoid the potential “chaos” the base plan would unleash on transit riders across the region.
Robertson said at the meeting that significant consultation had taken place to get to the Metro consensus. He said it was important that directors “don’t fold tents now” and “remain united”. In response,
Corrigan said he understood why people would want to avoid cuts, but said the $450 million had to come from somewhere. The former B.C. Transit chair also cautioned that “there is a limit to what the taxpayer can expect”.
He said that, like with the discussions around the previous 10-year plan in 2004, there is a temptation to be overly optimistic on the accounting side. “We keep on supporting things; then we don’t know how to pay for them.”
Surrey councillor and director Linda Hepner moved an amendment, which passed, that—in the event funding is constrained—priority be given to the northeast sector and areas south of the Fraser.
Corrigan added his own amendment, which stated: “Without additional funding any 10-year plan cannot be successfully implemented.” Corrigan’s motion passed ahead of the main motion.
Will the regional taxpayer go down with the 'TransLink' ship? Will politicians and bureaucrats get to the 'financial' lifeboats first?