The Penny Dreadful – The Transit Referendum Saga

The ongoing saga of the Mayor’s Council, TransLink, the Province, and the referendum reads like a ‘Penny Dreadful’.

The province has no money, the metro mayors have no money, yet the metro mayors have approved a hugely expensive Vancouver centric rapid transit plan focused on a $2 to $3 billion truncated extension of the Millennium Line, via subway to Arbutus.

Surrey gets slops with three poorly planned LRT lines, designed as a poorman’s SkyTrain extensions, with one line going as far as Langley, but no focus if there is the demand for such a line.

Except for Burnaby Mayor Corrigan, who knows something about public transit and its operation, the metro mayors with their blinders fully on, are taking the taxpayer on a dizzying ride into financial oblivion.

Todd Stone, the current Minister of Transportation, being from Kamloops, hasn’t a clue about regional transportation and one wonders if was he was purposely picked for the task by the premier to continue the TransLink charade. From what Zwei has seen, he is embarrassing ignorant about regional transit and regional planning. As it stands, the TransLink referendum will fail because the taxpayer is maxed out and any hint of new taxes, car levies, or congestion fees will be voted down by a huge majority.

Does TransLink have a plan B, like planning for more affordable transit options? Evidently not.

The $1 billion, full build, Leewood/RftV Vancouver/Richmond TramTrain study looks better and better all the time, but don’t look at the metro mayors supporting the shovel ready plan, because real transit experts planned it and not the rank amateurs are behind the metro mayors plan. Regional transit planners just could not let real professionals upstage them with a competent plan.

Province rejects Metroai??i??s transit investment plan

The funding assumptions donai??i??t add up,ai??i?? says transportation minister

By Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun June 24, 2014

B.C.ai??i??s Transportation Minister Todd Stone is sending Metro Vancouver mayors back to the drawing board, saying their proposed funding assumptions in a 10-year investment plan for transit funding donai??i??t add up.

But Stone said the vision could still work if the mayorsai??i?? council is willing to extend the plan over 20 years, scale back their priorities in the short term or increase regional funding sources to pay for it. And if mayors confirm they do want to pursue a regional carbon tax as a preferred funding source for transportation, Stone said, they would first have to get the publicai??i??s support in a referendum.

In that case, Stone said, mayors have been told they must set a referendum date by July 15. A referendum question wouldnai??i??t be required until this fall, unless mayors want to hold the referendum in concert with the municipal elections in November ai??i?? something the mayors have said they donai??i??t want to do. The mayors are slated to meet Thursday.

ai???I will be very clear: the province believes more work is required on funding assumptions to ensure an accurate and realistic plan for paying for this vision,ai??? Stone said Tuesday. ai???The funding assumptions donai??i??t add up.ai???

Metro Vancouver mayors earlier this month unveiled a $7.5-billion transportation investment plan that asked the provincial government to reallocate $250 million it collects in existing carbon taxes from Metro residents and businesses to TransLink, or ai??i?? barring that ai??i?? to increase the carbon tax to Metro Vancouver to fund transit projects in the next five years before moving to some form of mobility pricing, such as tolling every bridge or charging drivers per distance travelled, in the long-term.

The plan, which includes a new four-lane Pattullo Bridge, more buses and rapid transit projects in Surrey and Vancouver, also relies on $1.5 billion funding from both the provincial and federal governments for major capital projects over the 10-year plan.

Mayors argue the plan is desperately needed to handle another million people ai??i?? and potential three million more automobile trips per day ai??i?? in the region by 2041.

But Stone argued that while the province is willing to consider a regional carbon tax, it is not willing to reallocate its carbon neutral carbon tax for Metro transportation projects. And while the province is willing to pay a third of the costs for the Pattullo Bridge and the rapid transit lines ai??i?? as long they fit the provinceai??i??s plans ai??i?? the federal government has not made the same commitment. Indeed, he said, the federal governmentai??i??s Build Canada Fund only provides $1 billion per year for infrastructure projects across all of B.C.

ai???Thereai??i??s a significant gap in funding there,ai??? he said.

Stone insists the province isnai??i??t rejecting the plan, and is still willing to discuss the proposed mobility pricing options Metro mayors want to consider in the long term. But before that happens, he is encouraging the mayors to invite feedback from the public on the proposed vision.

ai???I have been clear that any new source of funding requested by the mayorsai??i?? council must be affordable for families and not impact the provinceai??i??s revenues,ai??? he said.

ksinoski@vancouversun.com

Follow me: @KSinoski

Ai?? Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Comments

3 Responses to “The Penny Dreadful – The Transit Referendum Saga”
  1. Not Rico says:

    So, what is the future for Vancouver? Do the powers that be honestly think a Broadway subway will solve all transit problems? Would it not be better to spread the $3 billion earmarked for the subway on several transit schemes?

    SkyTrain is great if you drive to it and take it to town, but other than that, transit in Metro Vancouver is piss poor.

    Why not a European streetcar, they seem popular and fast and cheaper to build, like all the cities in Europe have them and they are way easier to use.

  2. Haveacow says:

    Well guys there you go, you have got 2 weeks to get your people to set a date. Remember, if the referendum gets delayed you could be in transit funding limbo for at the least, a year. Perhaps far more, nothing gets local politicians focused as a provincial cut off date. Remember it doesn’t matter the technology this time, act as a single voice and put a fire under your local boys and girls get them moving. Whatever kind of transit you want, whatever the technology, whatever the route, if this vote gets delayed all your transit dreams will end and it will be 5 years till they figure something out and how to fund it. Tell your friends, tell your Skytrain enemies, this time you all have to act as one massive concerned block. Its actually quite easy to get locals (local politicians) feeling heat about this.

    If that doesn’t work threaten them with this, if you don’t set a date now and I mean now, the province won’t have to react to anything till the next provincial election comes along. Then it could take a year or more (time to study the problem),before they even have to act on something as basic as funding. That means you local politicians could go almost an entire term or more, with no photo ops with a shinny new transit toy, regardless of the technology. Just try and get reelected with a record that said when you (the local politician) had a chance to really do something important, you did nothing, absolutely nothing! Remember, the internet never forgets this stuff. When we had a chance to really pressure the province into funding something you didn’t even grunt. Tell the mayors committee, set up a conference call boys and girls, give the province your question, you got 2 WEEKS! Is your political career worth that! Remember, the province will blame you guys if nothing happens and thanks to us on the internet and social media, we won’t let anyone forget that you screwed up, good luck come the next election!

    Give them hell guys!

    Zwei replies: Here is the problem, the taxpayer will vote against the referendum and it will fail. If the referendum squeaks by, but with the majority of votes coming from the Vancouver, Burnaby Richmond are, the south Fraser municipalities will balk, forever fracturing TransLink. The light rail plans for surrey are a joke, being poorman’s SkyTrain to feed the mini-metro and will be next tio useless for anything else. The Broadway subway is a joke elevated to high farce, championed by a political group that is held in high odor by many, including their supporters.

    If the referendum fails, it would force the powers to be to think cheaper and out of the mini-metro box, well one would hope so. There are a few companies that would design cheaper transit alternatives but they have been given the cold shoulder by the powers that be and the Bombardier SNC strangle hold on TransLink is as strong as ever. This is act 3 in a 6 act play and the fun has yet to begin.

  3. Haveacow says:

    One more thing. I sent Zwei a copy of an article from the Ottawa Citizen about the direct local spinoffs from the start of the LRT phase 1, section 1 project. The mayor got to announce that because of this first series of projects around the LRT that, local companies have benefited from $360 million worth of spinoff business and we are only at the very early stages of the project. Now I’m not a big fan of mayor Jim Watson but, it sure looks good for him come this fall when Ontario muninpal elections happen. Its a very nice feather in his cap he can lord over anyone who challenges him as mayor.

    Zwei replies: I have added it as an addendum to the original post.