Politicians talking about a split from TransLink

Politicians talking about a split from TransLink

Upset they’ve become a funding source for projects elsewhere, south of Fraser officials could form own entity

BY SANDOR GYARMATI, THE DELTA OPTIMIST JANUARY 29, 2011

Lack of transit services for the money has Delta politicians looking at their options.

Photograph by: Delta Optimist, file photo

It might be time for the communities south of the Fraser River to consider splitting from TransLink and forming their own transit authority.

That suggestion came up during Delta council’s discussion this week on TransLink’s funding proposals, which have drawn the ire of local politicians and bureaucrats who say they provide nothing for the community other than taking even more money out of taxpayers’ pockets.

“This isn’t a plan, it’s a way to finance major construction projects, and bear in mind there’s no improvements for south of the Fraser,” said CAO George Harvie.

“There is no hope on the horizon for TransLink to improve our bus service and it’s very sad.”

Harvie pointed out that in the last couple of months service hours in Delta and other communities south of the Fraser were trimmed.

Metro Vancouver’s board of directors last December was to have voted on TransLink’s request to raise property taxes to fund the $1.4-billion SkyTrain line into Coquitlam, but provincial Transportation Minister Shirley Bond granted an extension.

The Evergreen Line is part of two options TransLink put forward for the regional district to consider, but both rely on increasing property taxes, which drew an immediate negative response from mayors.

“The mayors’ committee has not approved any money from property taxes. There must be a better formula,” said Mayor Lois Jackson, who chairs the Metro board.

Her council colleague Robert Campbell said he finds it astounding TransLink doesn’t seem to bother exploring transit financing models around the world that appear to be successful.

According to Delta staff, one of the TransLink packages would result in an average property tax increase of $36, while the second would see an increase of $62. Neither is acceptable to council, which voted not to support TransLink’s supplemental plans.

“It’s obvious to the other city administrators the south of the Fraser is being used to finance the debt of the north,” said Harvie.

He said communities in the south might have enough in place to start their own transit system, which could be integrated to TransLink.

Jackson agreed, saying TransLink could then focus on its own territory in the north.

Harvie said it’s especially frustrating that TransLink immediately dismisses the notion of light rail south of the Fraser River.

Coun. Bruce McDonald, who sits on the South Fraser Community Rail Task Force, said it doesn’t make sense why the transportation authority doesn’t want to even look at reusing the old interurban line, which was discontinued for passengers in the early 1950s, even though no costly property expropriations would be required.

“In my view, the TransLink board is so Vancouver and Burnaby/New Westminster-centric that everything they do is focused there. Surrey is actually putting the interurban line in their official community plan but they (TransLink) are ignoring it,” he said.

Coun. Anne Peterson received concurrence for her suggestion governments in the south need to band together for a coordinated voice on transit issues.

In a letter to the mayors last November, TransLink board chair Dale Parker noted the recommended funding option for a supplemental increase would add over 425,000 hours of annual transit service to bus routes. Parker stated the South of the Fraser region would receive half of the additional bus service hours.

A Delta staff report, though, found TransLink is not planning any major changes to transit networks in Delta as it expects minimal future development.

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One Response to “Politicians talking about a split from TransLink”
  1. Dan R. says:

    I think it would be great if Delta, Surrey, both Langley’s and even Abbotsford formed their own transit company. The transit south of the Fraser to put it bluntly sucks. Only 4 SkyTrain stops in the second largest city in the province (will be largest in 10-15 years) and the utter refusal to look at any rail but SkyTrain. That has infuriated me for years, like why does everything have to be SkyTrain?

    Heck if the Evergreen line for example was suppose to open originally in what 2002 or 2003 as Light Rail, then Gordo said it had to be SkyTrain and still not built… Vancouver, Burnaby, New West is all that seems to matter. No extensions in Surrey since mid 90′s, Evergreen line should be called nevergreen line and yet Vancouver gets Canada line and no doubt one to UBC long before we will see any scraps out here.

    Light rail can go from near Scott road to Chilliwack (line is there) and even add new lines or double track it in places. Plus Street cars/Trams (like Olympic line demo) have a place too, like down the King George, 200th st, Scott Road even etc Yet Translink won’t hear of it and insist we use SkyTrain (which is used by what 4-5 other places, if so good why did not Seattle use it or way more other cities?)

    The south Fraser has enough population to go on our own and we need to start looking out for ourselves as Translink won’t…

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