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Archive for October 15th, 2007

Another Official Gateway Lie Nailed

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South Fraser Needs Massive Transit Investment Now: Gateway 40 Groups

Fast buses across the Port Mann are a positive but small part of a massive transit investment urgently needed in the south Fraser region, but must be provided now – along with major investment in local bus service and commuter rail according to public transportation advocacy groups in Surrey and Langley.

“Gordon Campbell must stop holding the people of the South Fraser hostage to his twinning agenda and provide buses across the Port Mann now,” says Deb Jack, President of Surrey Environmental Partners, a member group of the Gateway 40 Citizens Network.

“It is irresponsible not to provide commuters in this part of the region with an economical and environmental alternative to their cars.”

The bus drivers say the Premier is wrong to tell commuters that buses can’t make it across the Port Mann Bridge immediately. “Buses weren’t removed because of congestion,” says Patrick O’Connor, Surrey Political Action spokesperson for CAW local 111. “Buses were redirected from the Port Mann to the Skytrain when the Expo Line was extended to Surrey in 1990, just as the government is threatening to redirect south Fraser express buses from the Oak Street Bridge to the RAV line in 2010. Buses can and should be put across the Port Mann immediately.”

“Surrey is the second largest and fastest growing city in BC, but one would never know that by the state of our transit service,” says Donna Passmore, Coordinator of the Gateway 40 Citizens Network. “Vancouver has half again as many people as Surrey but five times the public transit.”

Cathleen Vecchiato, Chair of the Fraser Valley Conservation Coalition (FVCC) accused the Campbell government of misspending transportation dollars. “Instead of making the major investment necessary to bring transit service to an acceptable level for a population and region of this size, the Premier is doubling car capacity by twinning Highway #10, the Fraser Highway, King George Highway and creating four major new vehicle highways in the Gateway Program. There is an insurmountable divide between what he says he’s going to do on climate change and air quality and what he’s actually doing.”

Gateway 40’s member groups also claim that major improvements in local bus service are essential to enabling people in the south Fraser to live, work and transit in their own communities.

The groups point to lack of direct bus service between South Surrey and Cloverdale or East Clayton, Fleetwood or Port Kells, between Langley and White Rock, Langley and South Surrey, Langley and Delta, Delta and Surrey. They say trips made in minutes by car take 1.5 to 3 hours by transit, depending on the connections involved in many transfers required. And service to and within Abbotsford and Chilliwack is virtually non-existent making it almost impossible for people to get around without cars.

Poor local transit service was a key factor in Gateway 40 Coordinator Donna Passmore’s decision to leave a job in North Surrey for one in downtown Vancouver in August.

South Surrey to North Surrey took an hour and a half each way, two buses and a skytrain and I often had to stand half the way home,” reports Passmore, claiming it takes 15 minutes less each way and one coach bus to commute to Vancouver. “As someone who is committed to public transit, inadequate transit made living and working in the same community unattractive. If we don’t experience major transit improvements, employers in Surrey and Langley are going to lose in the stiff competition for workers that forecasters tell us this region will face for the next 25 years. Either that or people will be forced to drive to work.”

“The BC Government has chronically underinvested in public transit for 18 consecutive years and the worst investments have been during the Campbell government,” according to CAW 111’s O’Connor. “The south Fraser region has suffered the worst. To provide a safe and reliable level of service for Delta, Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford will require a major investment by Victoria. The money is there, the political will is not.”

Written by Stephen Rees

October 15, 2007 at 11:23 am

Posted in Gateway