The TransLink Debacle – Brought To You In Part, By Mr. Factbender

Nothing new here.

TransLink was conceivedAi?? by the NDP to get then GVRD Chair, George Puil on board to support the now renamed (ALRT to ART) Millennium Line. No one in the NDP at the time had any thought of making TransLink independent as control of major transit projects would remain in the Premier’s office. In Short, former Premier Clark and his side kick, Joy McPhail, conned George Puil into buying into TransLink with a carrot ofAi?? the provincial government paying two thirds the cost SkyTrain subway to Arbutus.

Puil’s popularity tanked soon after and he was voted out of office, yet the City of Vancouver clings to the Broadway subway dream like a starving Leach.

In my opinion, the region faces seven major transit problems:

Problem #1: All R/T projects build to date were expensive vanity projects, which cost two to three times more than they should. This has drained tax monies from the rest of the transit system.

Problem #2: Our regional rail planning is based on the extremely dated light-metro/rapid transit model, using the equally dated, even obsolete proprietary ALRT/ART (only 7 such system built in 40 years.). TransLink refuses to”move on” continues with bad transit planning.

Problem #3: Many academics, bureaucrats and politicians have followed the density model for transit, where rapid transit is built to create higher densities and not move people, thus our transit model (not copied by anyone around the world) subsidizes developers, but does not efficiently move people. Until this changes, there will be no change in regional transportationAi?? planning.

Problem #4: BC’s ‘carbon tax’ is used as a general revenue tax and not like other countries where it is used to fund transit. In reality, BC’s ‘Carbon Tax’ isn’t.

Problem #5: Despite investing now over $10 billion on three (soon to be four) light-metro lines, mode share by auto has remained around 57% in the Metro Vancouver Region for well over 20 years. Despite ample proof that our transit model is not working, TransLink is doing the same thing over again, hoping for different results.

Problem #6: We do not have real transit experts planning our transit, rather a lash-up of planners and engineers with little knowledge of transit mode or modern public transport philosophy. In short, those planning for transit haven’t a clue what they are doing. Again, no one has copied Vancouver and in Europe, Vancouver is a sort of example that is politely ignored.

(Note: our current crop of engineers and planners are calling the newAi?? MK. 3 Skytrain cars, “articulated” which they are not. To use the English vernacular, the cars are gangwayed, but not articulated.Ai?? All Bombardier did with the new cars is to further take out seats and add another vestibule at the car end. If these birds do not understand what an articulated car is, how can one have any faith in their planning.)

Problem #7: Lack of any planning vision. TransLink seems to lack any overall vision and clings to planning that is decades old. This is true of the Broadway subway and the Surrey LRT, which are both based on political thinking from the 1990′s, yet the transportation realities of 2016 are not dealt with.

Add this together and it equals a public transit and transportation debacle and Mr. Factbender is doing nothing to improve the situation.

Pete McMartin: No plan, no cooperation, no clue with B.C.’s unrapid transit

Pete McMartin
Published on: May 27, 2016 | Last Updated: May 27, 2016

As Minister Responsible for TransLink, Peter Fassbender is at the wheel of the provincial governmentai??i??s transit portfolio. On Thursday, he ran a red light, roared through the intersection, and T-boned Metro Vancouverai??i??s mayorsai??i?? council. What remained from the ensuing collision was a write-off.

Fassbender, through the media, and without the mayorsai??i?? prior knowledge, announced the provincial governmentai??i??s ai???commitmentai??? to fund $246 million worth of improvements to TransLink over the next three years. All the mayors would have to do to fundAi??their share of the plan, Fassbender said, would be to raise property taxes ai??i?? a suggestion they had previously refused to consider ai??i?? and levy development cost charges onAi??developers who benefitted from increased density around transit stations.

The timing of the announcement, the apparent generosity of the $246-million commitment and the factAi??that a provincial government minister was making the announcement by himselfAi??while the mayors were nowhere in sight seemedAi??designed to suggest that the provincial government was being proactiveAi??on transit while the mayors were being obstructive and uncooperative.

What the public didnai??i??t know was that it was the mayorsAi??who originally suggested raising property taxes, and that it was they who suggested it to Fassbender. After last yearai??i??s disastrous referendum, which saw the mayorsai??i??Ai??$7.5-billion, 10-year transit plan rejected by the public in an overwhelming No vote, a select group from the mayorsai??i?? council held a series of private meetings with the provincial government in hopes of salvaging something from the wreckage. Their suggestion to raise property taxes, which they had been previously refused to do, was a concession to the province to break the policy impasse. Several mayors I talked to felt Fassbender saw the opportunity to play politics, instead.

ai???This,ai??? wrote Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore in an email to me, ai???was a betrayal ofAi??the Mayorsai??i?? Council.ai???

Moore, who is in China at the moment, wrote that Fassbender had been well-apprised of the councilai??i??s intentions.

ai???TheAi??(council) passed a resolution regarding the funding source at our meeting in April and sent (Fassbender)Ai??an official letter with all the details and asking for a response. After which, we had two meetings with (him). Our goal, collectively, was to work together and announce a funding solution together ai??i?? he knew this at both meetings. We originally planned to have the Mayorsai??i?? CouncilAi??meeting May 10, but (Fassbender) wanted more time to respond, so we adjusted our meeting to May 26. Why (he) decided to negotiate through the media is beyond me. In fact, he has yet to officially respond to our letter even though he asked for more time and agreed to our date of May 26. All we know to date is what we read by his comments in the media.

ai???From my opinion, this is no way to build partnerships and work towards solutions. I question why we continue this strategy.Ai??The mayors are looking to deliver services for our residents, but the province is stalling. I am not sure what their motivation is.ai???

Heai??i??s not the only one. New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote, who did a lot of groundwork on the transit plan, met with Fassbender earlier in the year. On Thursday, Cote saw the previousAi??commitment to fund one-third of the entire plan shrink radically to much, much less.

ai???Weai??i??re getting a lot of mixed messages from Minister Fassbender and the provincial government on this. The mayors had always gone under the assumption, going back to the last referendum, that the province was committed to 30 per cent of the capital for the entire plan. And since that time, weai??i??ve continued to work under that assumption.Ai??Itai??i??s only moreAi??recently that the wording has slightly changed to ai???commitment to a third of the funding for the major projectsai??i??, which have never been defined what they are. Then yesterday, really the only thing he was stating was that they were going to commit to one-third of Phase 1, which is only 10 per cent of the mayorsai??i?? plan. So from our perspective, it seems like the commitments are shrinking as opposed to finding a way to close the gap to move forward.ai???

Thereai??i??s a lot at stake. Prime Minister Justin Trudeauai??i??s government has promised $370 million for transit improvements in Metro. But that money comes with a due date. It wonai??i??t be on the table forever. And it comes with the proviso that the provincial and Metro governments can reach a consensus.

Fassbenderai??i??s preemptive strike might have shattered that consensus. The mayors, who have worked hard to come up with a capital plan time and again, were blindsided Thursday. If they walked away from the table andAi??let the provincial government take over all the planning and all the political heat that comes with planning public transit, I wouldnai??i??t blame them.

Meanwhile, plans proceed to build Premier Christy Clarkai??i??s $3-billion 10-lane bridge to replace the Massey tunnel ai??i?? the cost of which some private contractors are now suggesting will end up being north of $4 billion. What an appetite it has. What a testamentAi??it will be.

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