BC’s TransLink taking taxpayers for a ride – North Shore News

It seems Ms. James now joins  the Georgia Straight's Charlie Smith, with her knowledge on regional transit issues and one hopes other commentators get up to speed on the subject of transit as well.

Yes, TransLink and the provincial government are taking taxpayers for a ride and have done so since 1980 when the then Bill Bennett Social Credit provincial government forced the proprietary SkyTrain mini-metro on the region. There is no logic why we continually build with SkyTrain and only plan for light metro, even when SkyTrain was just too expensive to build for the Canada Line, TransLink and the provincial government foisted a $2.5 billion truncated heavy-rail metro in its stead, hiding its real costs with a very questionable P-3 partnership with SNC Lavalin.

Zwei doesn't see any change in planning direction, with both the present Christy Clark Liberal government, nor with the Adrian Dix lead NDP, who are both fixated on the SkyTrain Evergreen Line. That TransLink's business case for the (N)Evergreen Line is full of holes, as exposed by US transit expert Gerald Fox, is quietly brushed aside as even more grand SkyTrain metro lines are being planned for by provincial and regional bureaucrats.

History is full of examples of hugely expensive metro projects bankrupting their promoters; in Europe in the 1980's, there was about 100 km of uncompleted subway tunnels for phantom metro lines that had run out of money. the Charleroi pre-metro system in Belgium still has a uncompleted metro line with three quarters of the route having track signals and stations installed, which has never seen a train or passenger in revenue operation!

The Evergreen Line debate is a line drawn in the sand, with the taxpayer wanting better 'rail' transit but not wanting to see exorbitant tax increases to fund gold-plated metro lines. As it stands, many of the regional politicians are just too weak to take on the SkyTrain Establishment and their tax and spend ways.

If affordable transit is wanted, then its time to say adiós to SkyTrain.

Though this cartoon is 13 years old, it shows that nothing has changed in the Vancouver METRO Region.

BC's TransLink taking taxpayers for a ride

By Liz James, Special To North Shore News June 7, 2011

Read more: http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/editorials/TransLink+taking+taxpayers+ride/4911953/story.html#ixzz1OhBcnaWe

"In the future, I am open to considering using the carbon tax to support regional initiatives, such as public transit. If we go this route, we must ensure that the allocation of carbon tax revenue respects regions and communities so that one region is not subsidizing investments in another."

Premier Christy Clark, May 6, 2011

How many questions can be raised in 49 words?

Premier Christy Clark believes regions and communities should be respected enough that one is not required to subsidize another.

Does that mean residents of the North Shore, Delta and the Fraser Valley will no longer have to fore go transit solutions as they subsidize multi-billion-dollar investments for Vancouver-centric SkyTrain?

What other initiatives would crowd TransLink for a share of carbon tax revenues?

How far away is our future? Will it only arrive after we have paid $1.4 billion-plus for the oft-delayed Evergreen Line?

And, speaking of Evergreen, who will have the last say? Will it be the premier or B.C. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom, who just last week told the legislature that although the province wants to work with the TransLink Mayors' Council, he does not want "to leave a grey area to think that if they don't come up with their $400 million, there's another $400 million from the federal or provincial government. There just isn't."

That sounds like a subsidize-or-else ultimatum to me.

The premier made no mention of the commitment she signed onto in 2001, namely that a BC Liberal government would "require taxpayer approval by regional referendums prior to authorization of any new type of TransLink tax or levy."

Perhaps the Mayors' Council will suggest it might be politic of her to honour that promise.

Because, in addition to the watchful eye of regional transportation commissioner Martin Crilly, TransLink's curtailed spending, particularly its capital spending, warrants a more thorough examination than the agency has ever received in its 13-year history.

At one point in his 2010 report on TransLink's 2009 Funding Stabilization Supplemental Plan, Crilly said: "Part of the Commission's role is to be skeptical. Is TransLink changing its deliverables so as to make its job less difficult?"

TransLink's "job" was to deliver projects and services, as promised, in return for 10 years of fare increases and the higher fuel and parking taxes approved by the Mayors' Council.

The examination might begin by asking how many chiefs TransLink needs.

Once an integral component of the provincial BC Transit system, TransLink must now answer to no less than nine drivers – Crilly; its own BC Liberal-appointed board; the federal and provincial governments; Partnerships BC and the corporations it favours; the Metro Vancouver board, the Mayors' Council and, with the least say of all, municipal councils.

The individuals who make up those groups have access to the most qualified of local and international transportation professionals. Yet decisions about our Lower Mainland transportation system have been largely political — and ruthlessly expensive as a result.

To justify those decisions, we have been consistently misled for more than ten years.

Snowed under by misinformation that claims passenger capacity and speed superiority of SkyTrain over light-rail (to be discussed next week), we continue to pay billions more than necessary for regional transit.

In their 2009 Foundational Research Bulletin No. 7, UBC professor Patrick Condon and Kari Dow confirmed that in total dollar cost per passenger-mile, SkyTrain and bus rapid transit far outstrip six alternative modes of transport.

In 2009 U.S. dollars the numbers were:

SkyTrain — $2.66

Bus rapid transit — $2.01

Light-rail transit — $1.68

Trolley-bus — $1.62

Diesel bus — $1.59

Ford Explorer — $1.35

Modern streetcar — $1.22

Toyota Prius — $0.90

Simply put, we are paying 58 per cent more for SkyTrain than we would for LRT.

And we still have not been told the extent to which capital, operating and, most seriously, the debt-servicing costs of our three rapid transit lines are bedeviling attempts to keep TransLink finances on the rails.

And again with regard to Evergreen: Reached for his comment, Bowen Island councillor and Mayors' Council member Peter Frinton wrote, "Lekstrom is absolutely correct that the primary reason for the delay is the funding gap, and that it is the local government portion — the $400 million — that is the primary missing piece."

Primary because, as Frinton added, "there is a putative $200 million extra needed as well."

So how are regional taxpayers to come up with what Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini asserts is their moral obligation?

Frinton believes "some kind of road pricing is the only real viable alternative to increased property taxation."

"What the mayors primarily want from the province," he explained, "is an assurance that ICBC would collect some form of road taxation, if that was approved by the Mayors' Council."

But that is a new type of tax that would require a referendum, right?

There is an easier answer: The premier could repay our $478 million — the first installment of a total $778 million — that the Campbell Liberals heisted from ICBC in order to pad its own general revenues account.

Problem solved?



2 Responses to “BC’s TransLink taking taxpayers for a ride – North Shore News”
  1. Evil Eye says:

    The boys on the Skyscraper page will not like this! They call anyone who supports LRT a liar!

  2. Graeme Ffosster says:

    It iis never too late to revolt.

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