Reality Check

Transit rule number 1:

You got to have funding to build and operate a transit line.

The Mayors Council on Transit, is a little weak on this issue, especially after a mostly federal/provincial funded $4.6 billion grant to build 12.8 km of extensions to the Expo and Millennium Lines.

They also approved an increased of salary for TransLink’s CEO, by $111 thousand, to $517 thousand a year to keep him on board and not to abandon the current charade of transit planning. A persistent rumour had it, he wanted out of the “ship of fools“.

No wonder union bus drivers and maintenance workers want a hefty pay rise, the CEO got one!

A financial reality check is soon to hit the Mayor’s Council square in the face, and that is operating costs.

The era of free money is coming rapidly to the end and with mounting operational costs  (the 5.8 km Broadway subway will add about $40 million annually to TransLink’s budget) as aging infrastructure and higher wages will make current plans unobtainable.

That 2015 plebiscite result, where almost 62% of metro voters voted against additional funding for TransLink, hangs like an Albatross around regional mayor’s neck, today, I believe a larger percentage of people would vote against giving more money.

TransLink is held in high odor by more people than one would suspect.

TransLink’s financial ills are due to spending on needless ‘prestige’ projects and the public has had enough with this secret sociability planning and operating transit.

Scaling back transit expansion ‘off the table’: Mayors’ Council chair

Chris Campbell

 Burnaby Now

November 4, 2019

New Westminster Mayor and Mayors’ Council Chair Jonathan Coté says the idea of cutting back on transit expansion is “off the table.”

Unifor, the bus drivers’ union, has suggested scaling back transit expansion projects in order to pay for increases in a future drivers’ contract. The two sides are struggling to reach a new contract and drivers have been escalating job action.

Coté issued a statement Monday morning saying expanding transit service is crucial to Metro Vancouver.

“As Chair of the Mayors’ Council, I am disappointed that we have not been able to resolve the current labour dispute with Unifor,” he said. “It is disappointing to hear Unifor leadership suggest that bus expansion be scaled back in order to pay for their wage demands. Scaling back transit expansion in this region is completely off the table. With North American-leading ridership growth, a climate emergency and growing road congestion, now is not the time to slow down transit improvements. Cutting the funding used to buy additional buses and hire more bus drivers will also do nothing to improve the working conditions of our valuable transit operators.

“The Mayors’ Council has worked almost single-mindedly the past four years to improve and expand our transit network through its 10-Year Vision. Well over 90% of the bus service expansion we have approved in the first two phases of the Vision in 2017 and 2018 has been directed at our most overcrowded routes to provide more frequency and more passenger capacity. Over 20% of these service improvements is to add run-time to improve reliability for customers and recovery time for operators.

“If the Mayors’ Council were to roll back these bus service improvements in order to pay for what the union is asking, bus overcrowding would increase, which is exactly what union leaders claim they want to see reduced.”

Leave A Comment