Thoughts For November

As 2017 wanes in the days of September and October and  now the chill winds of November are upon us , the unprecedented dry spell, reeks of global warming. 7mm of rain in July and August must be setting off alarm bells in the various forestry and environmental ministries.

This summer and autumn I had the pleasure of talking to a great many people about our current transit mess, TransLink and their thoughts on the mess.

To try to get a measure of peoples feelings, I have condensed the answers to something that is certainly not scientific, but I believe gives a good insight on our current regional transportation situation.

And please, don’t shoot the messenger.

TransLink: Almost universally hated by all, with very few defending it. It seems TransLink has alienated itself from almost everyone, which is a sad commentary on the organization.

Politicians: They follow party lines with the Liberals supporting highways and the NDP/Greens supporting transit. There is a general distrust of all politicians.

SkyTrain: All rail transit is called SkyTrain with not people not knowing of mode. Build more is the theme.

The Massey Tunnel replacement bridge: This is a 50/50 split, but with the majority voicing the need for either better transit or more bridges into Vancouver/Burnaby

Tolls: Almost unanimous that should be tolling of bridges and tunnels, but including the major bridges in the City of Vancouver and the Sea to Sky Highway and the Coquihalla Highway, but with a caveat, tolls should not be more than a$1.00 a crossing and surprising, no electronic tolling.

Road pricing: Almost a universal nyet! Unlike tolling, road pricing is seen as a massive tax gab and a tax grab by TransLink is seen as money completely wasted.

Rail transit south of the Fraser: There is general support by all I talked to for this link, many people are unaware that there is an existing rail line and are surprised that it is not being used.

Broadway subway: It is strange that except for a few, the Broadway subway is seen to be a transit “overkill”. Many people think that subways the “gold standard” of transit and unaware of the vast costs involved. The few merchants I talked to were dead set against a subway, probably because of the Canada Line/Cambie St. fiasco.

Traffic: Almost unanimous that traffic is seen as a problem, but what is is great interest, many people I talked to are planning to leave or have already purchased a retirement house outside of metro Vancouver, with traffic being one of the reasons why. Expanding on this, many people who would use transit are leaving Metro Vancouver to live in areas with no transit at all.

New highway construction: Bring it on, as almost everyone I talked to wants new highways.

The Arbutus Corridor: It’s for light rail, silly. The Arbutus, once used for “rail” transit is still seen as a future route for “rail” transit.

Surrey LRT: This is a strange one indeed, those who live in Surrey hate the project and those who live outside Surrey like the project, with a SkyTrain for Vancouver and LRT for Surrey theme.

Bus Rapid Transit: A lot of people like the idea of BRT, but would not take it. BRT is seen as “someone else’s” transit.

Light Rail: Most people perceive that LRT is an inferior mode and are surprised to learn that it has a higher capacity than our SkyTrain and a lot more LRT lines have been built when compared to SkyTrain. I guess forty years of anti-LRT rhetoric by the media, BC Transit, TransLink, and the various political parties has done its work.
To sum up, people want better transit, but do not want to pay more. Many people are voting with their feet, leaving Metro Vancouver. The general dislike of TransLink is a constant theme and if there is to be any improvement to regional transit or to curb any major electoral push-back with TransLink’s planning, Horgan’s NDP must make changes and fast. If not, the public just might perceive TransLink and its next round of projects as another FastFerry fiasco.


One Response to “Thoughts For November”
  1. Haveacow says:

    I honestly believe that in greater Vancouver the main issue is that of the existing rapid transit operating technology is slowly becoming too expensive for the job most want it to do. The technology and operating philosophy behind the SkyTrain and Canada Line forces TransLink and its ancillary operational divisions to react in a certain way to problems and challenges that makes it very unlikely new ideas can be considered. Even when it’s becoming quite clear that a different set of answers is needed.

    I know everyone gets upset when I side with Zwei but he is right when he says that a tunneled extension to the Millennium Line is just too expensive for the small amount of passengers the line will generate. This is a professional opinion based on the expected construction costs of this line and it’s very low passenger capacity limit.

    Is a surface LRT line the best use of rapid transit operating technology in the central area of Surrey, no, not if the line’s subsequent phases are operationally limited to Surrey and only the communities bordering it. As designed it will become too expensive to expand unless the people behind it are ready to consider very different ideas about how and where to expand it to.

    As for the debate about whether the second LRT line (Langley) should be an extension to the existing SkyTrain (using the existing operating technology), ask yourself if you lived in Langley, would you want to spend an hour plus packed into a relatively tiny train traveling towards central Vancouver, not including the transfer from a car or bus onto the SkyTrain and possibly having to do another transfer to another train line or bus? That’s not even considering that this SkyTrain extension will cost about 1-1.5 Billion more than if you had used LRT technology. An extension which is presently not covered by any funding from any level of government.

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