It is these debt-servicing costs that are contributing greatly to the need for the additional taxes

A little food for thought.

From Liz James and the North Shore News.

From the North Shore News
JAMES: Get facts before marking your ballot
Elizabeth James , contributing writer / North Shore News

March 4, 2015

- See more at:

Emotion will trump facts every time.ai??? ai??i?? Keith Baldrey, North Shore News, Feb. 11, 2015

Nine days after Global BCai??i??s chief political reporter compared the current transit plebiscite campaign with the one that ended with voters axing the HST in 2011, North Vancouver resident Mike Barrenger outlined the confusion shared by many Metro Vancouver voters.

In essence, both men made a plea for reasoned consideration of the facts surrounding the $7.5-billion transportation and transit plan proposed by TransLinkai??i??s Mayorsai??i?? Council.

In his Feb. 20 letter to the editor (Transit Plebiscite: Vote Yes or No but Base it on Facts), Barrenger wrote, ai???Should we make this important referendum decision on the basis of incomplete and inaccurate facts? Absolutely not.ai???

And therein lies the reason for the growing heat being generated in the campaign ai??i?? what are the facts?

Remembering the 16-year history of TransLink and the 14-year history of broken promises by the B.C. Liberals we see little to persuade us to trust that the plebiscite language, as amended by Transportation Minister Todd Stone, is anything more than politically tweaked wording on a piece of paper.

The long-standing reasons for my distrust are many and still not as complete as Mr. Barrenger deserves them to be. Nonetheless, here are a few of the most important issues voters need to have addressed if they are to make an informed decision on their mail-in ballot:

The first few jump right off the pages of a side-by-side comparison between the mayorsai??i?? wording and the final version approved by the minister:

The mayorsai??i?? version called the vote a referendum on its proposed 0.5 per cent increase in the sales tax to be dedicated to the plan.

Stone not only altered ai???referendumai??? to read ai???plebisciteai??? he removed the words ai???independent audits and public reportingai??? from the question. Why?

To use Baldreyai??i??s analogy, the HST vote was binding; yet despite all the rhetoric flying out of the Yes side, the only thing certain about the ministerai??i??s version is that, should the vote go his way, youai??i??ll get an increase to the sales tax. But wait! That isnai??i??t even a sure thing because the minister changed its name to read ai???a new 0.5 per cent Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Taxai??? ai??i?? is that because itai??i??s easier to manipulate a congestion or carbon tax than the PST?

Next, Stone omitted ai???tunnelling along Broadwayai??? in favour of the fuzzier term ai???rapid transitai??? and, similarly, changed ai???Build light rail transit to connect Surreyai??i??ai??? to ai???build rapid transitai??i??ai??? Why?

To leave plenty of room to substitute still more overly-expensive SkyTrain projects to be built by SNC-Lavalin ai??i?? the corporation thatai??i??s challenging serious charges laid by the RCMP regarding its overseas dealings?

Then thereai??i??s the Compass Card.

Aimed at saving an annual $7 million in fare evasions (buzzer.translink.ca/2012/02/the-costs-of-fare-evasion/) we were told Cubicai??i??s system would cost $100-million. But as happens too often in this walk-all-over-us province, 100 soon became 171.

Today, $171M still not being enough for the San Diego company that specializes in ai???military defense equipment and fare collection systems,ai??? the cost sits at over $190M. Thatai??i??s 27 years of lost fare revenue before we break even. Why? Did none of our politicians think of ignoring past and present lobbyists and putting projects to a fair tendering process for a fixed-price contract?

For North Shore readers ai??i?? $75 million of those dollars would buy three new SeaBuses, leaving $115 million for a revamped Taylor Way intersection and other regional needs.

Now letai??i??s talk ai???improvedai??? congestion:

The Expo, Millennium and Canada Lines reduced congestion, right?

Please donai??i??t shout; itai??i??s rude.

If efficient public transit systems prevent congestion, the City of London I left in 1956 should have been a beacon to the world.

If transit was the be-all and end-all, why did traffic flow so smoothly during Vancouverai??i??s four-month bus strike in 2001?

The facts show that the root cause of congestion has many faces ai??i?? uncontrolled growth; failure to co-ordinate construction projects; developersai??i?? carts put before local infrastructure horses, lack of emergency controls and designated alternate routes in the event of major obstructions, out-of-date traffic-light sequencing, inflexible work schedules that cause daily peak rush hours ai??i?? all play a part in creating congestion.

Some interesting discussions of congestion issues and deterrents can be found at: roadpricing.blogspot.ca/2013/02/10-years-of-londons-congestion-charge.htmlAi?? and by Googling ai???Central London: congestion charging impacts ai??i?? sixth annual report.ai???

Finally, only because full commentary would be book-length, it is well worth considering an answer given me by Patrick Condon, a University of British Columbia professor with more than 25 years of expertise in sustainable urban design.

ai???The plebiscite,ai??? Condon said, ai???is a terrible idea.

ai???By foisting this on us, the province has abrogated its responsibility. It is the province that runs TransLink, not the mayors and it has been the province that has consistently chosen expensive transit systems ai??i?? the Millennium, Canada and Evergreen lines ai??i?? based on SkyTrain when local authorities, again and again, have favoured much cheaper light-rail systems,ai??? he said.

Explaining that those poor choices mean TransLink must pay for them ai???each and every year for decades,ai??? Condon concluded. ai???It is these debt-servicing costs that are contributing greatly to the need for the additional taxes that are now the subject of this plebiscite.ai???

How true.

Comments

One Response to “It is these debt-servicing costs that are contributing greatly to the need for the additional taxes”
  1. eric chris says:

    In truth, the problem with transit is the centralized s-train network by TransLink concentrating transit along three major trunk lines. There is no buffer capacity in the transit network by TransLink and the entire transit network here is on the brink of disaster – daily. Gordon Price (TransLink adviser) and friends are behind transit by TransLink: three major trunk lines (Expo, Millennium and Cambie) for all of Metro Vancouver.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/transit-plebiscite-if-history-any-indication-many-ballots-cast-last-minute-1.3084786

    In other cities, dozens of LRT lines are used to spread out the demand (at a far lower cost than s-train) and LRT lines are closely spaced for the remaining LRT lines to take up the slack when one LRT line has an “incident”. This is an engineered and smart approach to transit design rather than the amateurish and gimmicky haphazard transit design in the “air” by TransLink.

    People who still believe that we are on the right track with more funding to TransLink for more failure prone s-train lines might think it over to vote No: to reform transit. Giving TransLink more money is like paying to go on a cruise in a leaky boat, it will only lead to one thing…

    https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=778713558832780

    Transit is the backdrop for TransLink. TransLink is primarily a taxpayer fleecing operation funneling money from taxpayers to SNC Lavalin building the s-trains and Bombardier supplying the s-trains (at an inflated cost to taxpayers). This has to stop, in my opinion.