Surprise, Surprise, Rail For The Valley had it right all Along.

TransLink has now admitted that they are $4.7 billion in the hole and Rail for The Valley has told you so, many times in the past.

The $11 billion to extend the Expo and Millennium Lines has now landed, like the financial time bomb it is, onto the Mayor’s Council’s lap.

RftV has warned for over a decade that building a hugely expensive, yet obsolete light metro system instead as just as effective light rail, would haunt taxpayers and like a bad Halloween joke gone awry and now it has come true. TransLink’s inept planning and operation has plunged the region and its taxpayers into a $4.7 billion nightmare on East Columbia St.

Excuses and more excuses is all the taxpayer gets from TransLink’s well paid bureaucrats, which the word economy is not in their lexicon.

RftV has been chastised over and over again for asking “Show me the money.” Well, it now seems there was no money to show!

The Provincial government is also to blame because all this debt has been created by the premier’s Office using transit as a sort of pre-election photo-op gimmick to win votes.

Zwei sent a letter to now unelected Premier Eby (never has been elected as Premier) asking for a judicial inquiry on Transit and Transit planning, with all facts all based on published accounts by Canadian newspapers of note and all I got for my troubles is that all further correspondence must go through a provincial barrister.

Eby knows that this $4.7 billion financial hole is a politcal time bomb and he will hide behind the Mayor’s Council’s skirts like the politcal coward he is, even though the provincial NDP approved the spending of $11 billion (but never approved how to raise the funds) to extend the Expo and Millennium Lines, as reported here.

With financial restraint, now the politcal keyword in both the the next provincial and federal elections and the taxpayer getting more and more restless with proliferate spending by politicians and their bureaucrat masters on dubious projects. With more and more  people are living on the streets, ever longer lineups at food banks and fewer coins in one’s purse, $4.7 more billion for gold-plated transit schemes may just tip the balance at the ballot box.


TransLink facing $4.7B cash crunch, report to Mayors’ Council says

By Charlie Carey City News

TransLink is facing a huge cash crunch.

A report going to the Lower Mainland’s Mayors’ Council Wednesday shows that the transit authority is facing a structural deficit of $4.7 billion.

While that loss is a projection, that is the forecasted gap between its planned expenditures and expected revenues if nothing changes in the next few years.

The report notes that the deficit “appeared” at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, “where a significant decline in ridership resulted in suppressed fare revenue. While ridership has been recovering steadily, TransLink has been facing rapidly growing costs as a result of the inflationary pressures, particularly labour and construction costs.”

It says fare rates and property tax increases were kept lower during that time to “avoid adverse impact on the Region recovering from the pandemic.”

Funding from senior governments’ has helped TransLink over the last three years, however, the report notes that the deficit really “starts becoming apparent in 2026, and grows progressively.”

“For the years 2026 to 2033, based on the scope of 2022 Investment Plan and before any additional scope of the 10-Year Priorities is included, the total funding gap is $4.7 billion. To fill this gap, TransLink would need approximately $600 million per year in new revenues starting in 2026.”

The report notes that the main reasons for the cash gap are inflation, service expansion, and debt servicing costs.

“The largest expense increase is caused by inflation, contributing $839 million to the funding gap. Of this amount, the largest portion ($551 million) is driven by labour rate increases due to negotiated settlements,” the report explained.

“The next highest expense driver is expansion, at $408 million. The addition of Broadway Subway, Surrey Langley Skytrain and Expo Millennium Line Upgrade projects result in additional costs needed to operate and support the expansion.”

The cost of borrowing money has also increased, as interest rates have steadily gone up since March 2022.

“Debt service costs have increased compared to 2018 Investment Plan, driven by an increase in capital spending. This is partially offset by lower borrowing rates than those assumed in the 2018 Investment Plan. As a result, debt service costs contribute $459 million to the funding gap.”

The region’s Mayors’ Council will receive the report Wednesday, with actions to address the deficit to come at a later date.


2 Responses to “Surprise, Surprise, Rail For The Valley had it right all Along.”
  1. “The report notes that the [$4.7 billion] deficit “appeared” at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, “where a significant decline in ridership resulted in suppressed fare revenue.”

    Really? $4.7 Billion in lost fares to Covid? Who are they really trying to kid?

    With numbers from the ION line operating between Waterloo-Kitchener on the technology that was on display here 13 years ago during the Winter Olympics, its time to start waving a BIG RED FLAG about the cost of Skytrain vs. model Streetcar|LRT technology.

    We also need to spell out the alternatives:

    • Lonsdale Key – Chilliwack line over the Fraser River Railway Bridge where we own 30% wheelage for passenger trains (i.e. LRT).

    • UBC-Stanley Park line on 4th Avenue, South False Creek, Chinatown, Gastown, Waterfront and the Park with BRT service connecting over the Lions Gate.

    The Lonsdale-Chilliwack line can extend on CP tracks to provide a Whistler-YVR service straight from the airport by using Canada Line track for the first part of the journey.

  2. We need to wave BIG RED FLAGS at $4.7 billion and $11 billion price tags. And a discussion is brewing that will front stage these concerns.

    Let’s do a little math…

    On 13 September this year, CMCH doubled down on last year’s prediction that Canada must build an additional 3.5 million doors—over and above what the housing industry is providing right now—to beat what it calls the Housing Affordability Crisis.

    While that’s a big lift—it is but the tip of the iceberg.

    3.5 million homes = 7.7 million people
    7.7 million people = 5.4 million new cars on already overfull municipal road networks
    11,000 40-storey towers in core areas would be required to house 7.7 million
    Only 4 out of 20 currently building or funded rail transit projects in Canada can provide regional service

    Even if we can tool-up the industry to more than double production of homes over the next 7 years, if we build Subways-and-Towers, we will only succeed in exporting the housing crisis to places like Montreal and Calgary. Perhaps even further.

    What’s more, unless the 3.5 million doors are built as GAHP (CMHC’s ‘guaranteed affordable houses in perpetuity’), the new construction will merely be Putting Out the Fire with Gasoline.

    To build GAHP (houses, row houses, and courtyard houses, sold with contracts on title limiting resale values to purchase price + CPI) we need to access Crown Land.

    While there are more than a few government owned sites in all Canadian cities, dollars-to-donuts there will not be enough inside metropolitan boundaries to deliver 3.5 million additional doors into the marketplace in 7 years.

    To meet the call by Canada’s Banker we have to switch paradigms to NewTowns-and-Streetcar|LRT, from Towers-and-Subways.

    That will require modern regional service. That is a technology currently building (or funded) as the ION extension to Cambridge; as the Valley Line in Edmonton (scheduled to open in 5 days); the Mississauga – Brampton Line; and Quebec City’s Tramway.

    By my count, all other 16 transit projects in Canada—including Skytrain Broadway tunnel and Langley extension—are sucking an egg when it comes to Ending the Housing Crisis.

    The subway (or automated light metro/Skytrain systems) are part and parcel of tower paradigm. Cost of construction and operation restricts operations inside regional cores where land prices are on fire. These Urban Glam systems are far too expensive and/or under capacity to deliver regional service.

    For now, systems with interurban-capacity–Citadis Spirit or Flexity Freedom—are not building significantly longer routes in Canada. However, the story changes when we compare costs:

    Montreal REM = 6.9 billion/15 km, Metropolis (automated, grade separated)
    Ottawa O Line = 4.66 billion/12.5 km, Citadis (automated, grade separated)
    Quebec Tramway = 4 billion/19.3 km, Citadis
    Valley Line, Edmonton = 1.8 billion/ 13.1 km, Flexity [plagued by delays]
    ION Waterloo = 0.87 billion/19 km, Flexity

    The only feasible way to increase the production of homes in Canada by 3.5 million by 2030, and sell them at prices affordable to all Canadians, is to build GAHP doors as neighborhood infill, and in new TramTowns, along commuter rail corridors linking the urban periphery with Canada’s regional cores.

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