Absolute Madness!

Absolute madness from the Mayor’s Council on Transit.

The game has changed, the taxpayer is broke and cannot pay more. The transit customers are broke and cannot pay higher fares. Covid-19, like it or not has changed the transit game completely.

Spending a budgeted $4.6 billion to extend the Movia Automatic Light Metro lines (Expo and Millennium Lines) 12.8 km is nothing short of criminal.

Covid pandemic has shifted how people work and commute. Many people prefer to continue working from home; many former transit users will stick to the car and not return.

Shopping habits have changed, thus with fewer and larger loads of shopping to carry, the car or home delivery will be the preferred methods in the coming years.

Gas prices have seen a major tumble and one doubts that they will return to the former highers in the near future, this means less gas taxes to fund an extravagant transit system.

In the wide expanse of Metro Vancouver, the age of the light-metro must come to an end, as the public, the taxpayer can no longer afford politically prestigious, gold plated light-metro, especially operating in a subway!

This message must be sent to the mayors of Metro Vancouver, Premier Horgan and Prime Minister Trudeau.

All planning for light-metro expansion must be stopped and alternative transportation plans must make an appearance. We cannot afford what is being planned for today and future generations will be burdened, paying for very bad transit decisions made pre-Covid-19.

The silly notion that by throwing $4.6 billion at light metro will somehow make things better is absurd and grows more absurd with each passing month.

If we do not change or the politicians will not allow change, then only one conclusion can be made,

that the land speculators, land developers, criminal money launderers and their lackeys are dictating how transit is built in Metro Vancouver,

because current transit planning is based on absolute madness.

Can the taxpayer afford Movia Automatic Light Metro in the now post Covid world?

Major Metro Vancouver transit projects expected to proceed as planned

Author of the article:

Jennifer Saltman

Cancelling or suspending major infrastructure projects such as two planned SkyTrain extensions is not part of TransLink’s plans to save money during the COVID-19 crisis.

However, if it receives little or no financial aid from the higher levels of government, Metro Vancouver’s transit authority, which expects to lose $75 million per month, could be forced to revisit its big-ticket system expansions and improvements.

“The damage is going to be enormous, and we’re going to still need very, very significant external government support to help have a brighter future, otherwise it’s going to be a very, very difficult budget for 2021 that will affect service and almost certainly elements of our capital program,” TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said this week.

TransLink has announced a series of cuts that include rolling back service and temporarily laying off almost 1,500 people. It also said that some expenditures planned for 2020 will be deferred, including major road network operations, maintenance and rehabilitation program funding to municipalities, as well as 2020 service expansions, such as adding NightBus service.

Major projects that are outlined in the 10-year plan for regional transit are not on the chopping block, yet.

The three biggest undertakings are the $3.12-billion Surrey-Langley SkyTrain — the first phase of which will cost $1.65 billion — the $2.83-billion Broadway subway in Vancouver, and the Expo and Millennium line upgrade programs, which include buying new rail cars, system upgrades and more.

Desmond said in a recent interview that all of those projects involve significant federal and provincial investments. Ottawa has contributed a set amount toward the capital costs of a number of projects and the B.C. government has committed to contributing 40 per cent of capital costs for major projects.

“If we were to, let’s just say, cancel any of those projects, we might be saving the local share but then we’d be suspending or losing the provincial and federal capital dollars,” Desmond said. “So, at the moment … those types of projects we don’t think make any sense to put on (hold). At the moment.”

The share of capital projects financed by TransLink is mostly debt financed, Desmond said, so the short-term savings would be limited.

“In the longer term, cancelling capital projects, yes, that would help offset longer-term deficits, but at least in the immediate crisis that we have, it actually yields a surprisingly small amount of cash,” Desmond said.

Still, Mayors’ Council chair Jonathan Coté said recently that if TransLink’s difficult financial position continues, it will have to look at all costs and projects.

“There hasn’t been any definitive decisions made on any of those major projects, but I think it’s fair to say that they will all be looked at and there definitely could be some delays with some of these major projects,” Coté said.

By the fall, TransLink will have a better idea of the depth of the crisis and the region’s recovery, along with whether any financial aid is forthcoming. So far, the province has said that it will help TransLink restore normal or near-normal service by September, but Desmond said more is needed.

Chantalle Aubertin, press secretary for federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna, said in an email that public transit plays a vital role in moving British Columbians, and McKenna, the prime minister and deputy prime minister are working with provinces and municipalities to assess immediate needs and priorities.

Surrey Centre Liberal MP Randeep Sarai said Ottawa is committed to TransLink and making sure that it keeps running.

“I think they’re providing essential services and we’re always there to help in every which way that we can,” Sarai said. “I think that Minister McKenna is already in talks and I’m optimistic of some good resolution, with the combined efforts of all levels of government, that will be able to sustain them during this time.”

TransLink does not qualify for the 75-per-cent federal wage subsidy because it is a public body. B.C. Premier John Horgan has suggested that the subsidy should be changed to allow TransLink, B.C. Transit and B.C. Ferries to qualify. Sarai doesn’t believe that will happen, but “all options are on the table.”

“I think we’ve been very nimble in adjusting to virtually every variable that we’ve had to,” Sarai said.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has said he is confident the SkyTrain extension from King George Station in Surrey to Fleetwood and on to the City of Langley will proceed as expected. The provincial and federal governments are reviewing the business case for the project, which was submitted earlier this year.

He said last week that in his discussions with the federal government there have been suggestions that projects like the Surrey-Langley line should be expedited so that work can begin as soon as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, and that there may be more federal money available to do that.

“I think it’s very positive out there. I’m very positive that they’re going to move very quickly on that end because they do have to stir up the economy, and the best way to do it is create those kind of good-paying jobs to get going and get our economy going again,” McCallum said.

Another part of the capital program that could be on the chopping block is what the agency calls “state of good repair,” which involves making sure the system is maintained. As someone who grew up in New York and witnessed the fallout from deferring maintenance of transportation infrastructure, Desmond has strong feelings about delaying.

“If we start deferring those maintenance projects, all we’re doing is pushing to a later generation of TransLink leaders and maintainers a larger problem that will cause even more effects, and in the meantime you might start seeing implications to the system,” Desmond said. “So we, in my view … should not be thinking about that because that would be cutting off our nose to spite us.”

Leave A Comment