Civic Elections Done, Now It’s Time For the TransLink Referendom

This spring’s TransLink referendum has a good chance of going off the rails, simply because the bureaucratic behemoth is sailing into very dangerous uncharted waters. Translation, the taxpayer wants to get even.

Why do I say that? TransLink has had “0” public input since its inception and today is so estranged from the public it is supposed to serve, that the organization has become a leper in the minds of the taxpayers.

There is great fear from all the piggies feeding at the TransLink trough that the gravy train is about to stop. Many regional mayors, despite having absolutely no knowledge of modern public transit and its practices, do not input from the taxpayer, rather they act as potentates and demand the ‘great unwashed’ do as they say. Such action is a clarion call for a taxpayer revolt.

The Surrey Leader has a good story, one of many to come, about the referendum, but the real story is very plain to see; TransLink operates a very expensive light metro system in the region that costs more to build, maintain and operate than light rail. By building with SkyTrain, we just keep digging TransLink into a deeper financial hole.

Kevin Falcon’s dirty little secret.

Kevin Falcon, Gordon Campbell’s Minister of Transportation has a dirty little secret which may be exposed in the upcoming referendum, the Canada Line, the only heavy-rail subway in the world that has less capacity than a streetcar!

The Canada line, which is not Skytrain and is not compatible in operation was built on the cheap, if you call $2.5 billion cheap. But the mini-metro has stations with 40 metres to 50 metres long and can only accommodate 2 car trains. Operating 2 car trains gives the illusion that the line is well patronized, but in reality it is not. I call this “Hocus-pocus” planning.

As built, the Canada Line was at capacity and the vast majority of it’s ridership comes from from forced transfers from bus customers who wish to go to Vancouver proper. The cost to increase capacity and rebuild station platforms and guideways, $1.5 billion to $2 billion. Thus to extend the Canada line, it will cost taxpayer’s dearly.

A recent FOI showed that TransLink paid the operating consortium of the Canada LioneP-3 $145 million to operate the line in 2012, which is two to three times more than the operating costs of comparable transit lines!

This makes the $450 million cost overruns of the FastFerry fiasco seem like small potatoes, but no because Vancouver wants a subway!

Vancouver wants a subway and will hold its breathe like a spoiled child until it gets one.

Vancouver wants a subway under Broadway, even though the route does not have the ridership that comes near in the investment needed for a subway. Even TransLink’s own modelling for 2041, shows that Broadway will not have the ridership to justify a A $3 billion to $5 billion subway. Instead of affordable LRT which may cause inconvenience to car drivers, the region’s taxpayers are expected to give until it hurts and then give more.

Surrey’s Poorman’s SkyTrain

TransLink has never understood modern light rail and has spent most of its times decrying the mode, but Surrey wants LRT and so TransLink has disguised Surrey’s proposed LRT as a poorman’s SkyTrain costing two to three times more than it should to build.

SkyTrain’s $2 billion to $3 billion mid-life refurbishment.

The title says it all, but TransLink and our regional mayors have been so ever quiet about this. The present SkyTrain system needs a very expensive mid life facelift which will add further to the tax burden.

Despite the hype and hoopla of those benefiting from TransLink’s largesse, one should consider the real issues and vote accordingly, but one thing is for sure, a no vote in the referendum will put a halt in TransLink’s spending habits and put a spotlight on where the cash really goes and that is into the SkyTrain/light-metro money pit, which greatly worries TranLlink’s executives and NDP/BC Liberal party members.

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