Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

New TransLink under scrutiny

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Surrey Leader

Mostly Jeff Nagel is reporting Marvin Hunt’s concerns.

While the new board is one Hunt said will delight the business community, he said it doesn’t have enough people with transportation experience or environmental credentials – particularly as Victoria leans on TransLink to make a difference in the fight against climate change.

Actually that one is quite easy – spend money on transit and not roads. Unfortunately when the GVTA was created the province was busy downloading its roads – and some bridges in very poor condition – to the municipalities. And getting their hands on the gas tax to pay for road improvements was the main interest of the municipal politicians. This skewed the attention of the Board and the staff to road building, and left the operators like CMBC with much less direction. Honourable mention should go to the City of Vancouver: becuase its road network has been pretty well complete for a while, they were much more interested in getting Major Road funding shifted to issues like pedestrians and bicycles. The other cities’ engineers resisted.

SoCoBritCA will also have an in built pro-road bias. Firstly because they are business people which means that they will have much more knowledge around issues that the truckers and the Board of Trade will say merit attention. And secondly because they have always been too busy and too important to do anything like get on a bus or a bike to go to work. And they are certainly not going to defy Kevin Falcon. I doubt that any of them has ever thought of voting for anyone who does not represent the right wing, dominant view of the world and its economy. But that does not count as a conflict of interest.

Business sees all government as a way for them to make more money – either from government spending, or less business regulation. They certainly have no experience in the complexities of policy making – the kind of decision making that has to look far beyond the “bottom line”. The reason we have “authorities” and not companies doing this kind of work is that business decision making is, by comparison, very simple -how to make the most profit. Public policy is about how to satisfy the widest possible constituency while at the same time serving the best public interest in terms of sustainability or environmental stewardship or whatever the objectives are called.  And very often those issues conflict. At the same time the new Board will have to take some direction from a bunch of politicians who now have been relieved of all responsibility and just want something to get themselves re-elected. Like coverage in the local press.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 23, 2007 at 8:32 am

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