Stephen Rees's blog

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

TransLink warns of cuts without more cash

with 6 comments

Jeff Nagel  BC Local News

Well that didn’t last long

It was not so long ago that I was writing about a surplus at Translink. But now the new board is back in familiar territory – dire warnings of the need for more cash or service cuts.

“If the consultation process indicates significant resistance to expanded revenue measures, TransLink will begin implementing cost reductions that would impact all program areas, not just transit operations,” it says.

The cuts would be equivalent to a 55 per cent reduction in bus service.

Of course it always has to be bus service that is highlighted. You want to make sure you get the attention of possible supporters, and without doubt every transit proponent will fall in line and start saying that transit here has always been underfunded and we need to pay more for better service. BUT it is also very clear that the recent splurge of spending not only has not done very much to cure overcrowding, or spread service into underserved areas, it has also hardly moved the one key indicator that Translink always tries to ignore. Yes ridership is up – but market share isn’t. Translink has been running hard just to stand still. What none of the current list of projects underway has achieved is get us off the old declining spiral – raising fares to meet rising costs and going for more taxes while failing to get into growth mode.

It is also probably very significant that some of the biggest capital projects are roads – including The Golden Ears Bridge that is supposed to pay for itself but somehow seems to be

“well challenged” completing existing projects like the Golden Ears Bridge

Note also that cancelling road construction projects is apparently not even a possibilty. Including this little goodie

Roberts Bank rail overpasses

Now these are news to me. And actually the Roberts Bank railway line has several of these – all of the main traffic arteries are carried over the line – and the line itself is raised to cross Highway 99. The only level crossings are on accomodation roads – access to farms basically. Can someone explain to me why these are a regional transportation priority? It’s a bit like the way Westham Island Bridge is a regional responsibility when it only carries local traffic within Delta – and that to a dead end. The only explanation that I can come up with is that once again the province is downloading costs that shoudl be borne by its idiot child the Gateway Program.

Yes we need more money for transit. And if the Gateway was cancelled and that spending diverted to transit, there would be no problem. But of course the province maintains the fiction that the Gateway will pay for itself – and the private sector is going to “help” – even though there are to be no tolls on the SFPR.

What you are watching is a variation on the three card trick. This scam is still running successfully in street markets in Montmatre and you would not believe the way the suckers still line up for it.

And do not forget that Kevin Falcon has already announced that he is going to be in charge of the Evergreen Line but somehow that has not been taken out of the Translink budget. Not that it matters, since Translink is now firmly back under provincial control but they cannot even be bothered to conceal the way the cards are being shuffled.

There is, of course, only one tax payer. And you are lining up quietly to be plundered, yet again.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 8, 2008 at 9:54 am

Posted in Gateway, transit

6 Responses

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  1. Just a note:

    Today on Brand-X, I heard Vaughn Palmer say that the Expo Line will see $3 billion in refurbishment!!! Also he said that SkyTrain’s construction costs are almost $200 million/km. No wonder TransLink is short of cash!

    Malcolm J.

    August 8, 2008 at 10:01 am

  2. Another blow to the arguments for Gateway and its exhorbitant costs:

    As you have argued, make use of existing infrastructure by demanding flexibility of the publicly subsidized trucking industry (nice to have free public road use versus the rail industry which pays taxes on their rail lands and maintains their infrastructure) and port industry – requires movement to 24 hour operations. If road pricing (too capitalist for 1950’s highway style Kevin Falcon) were correctly implemented (not a flat tax, but a sliding-scale price), night trucking would surely be used. Can we not learn anything from other Olympics. Sydney banned trucks during the day and after the reduced congestion, people wanted the ban to remain, limiting trucking to night hours.

    Greater use of freight rail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a no-brainer. Providing federal funds for the South Perimeter Road is beyond me, especially since the trucking industry is suitable locally, but inefficient mode of transportation for the “national Gateway”. David Emerson hatched this project. It is too bad that John Cummins did not draw a little more from his Reform roots and decry this waste of public money more stridently.


    August 8, 2008 at 12:27 pm

  3. Sorry Stephen, the previous comment should have been entered in the last Gateway-related posting. However, the trouble at Translink and plethora of spending on Gateway infrastructure surely overlap.


    August 8, 2008 at 2:13 pm

  4. I find it funny that Mr. Falcon wants to see Translink service improved and pushes Translink to fund his projects but when THEY need money suddenly “It’s not my problem.” That’s a huge problem with our regional bodies (Metro and Translink) is that they are touted as somewhat independent and therefore the government is off the hook for the problems that they incur. Just like BC Ferries, too. You can’t blame the government because they raise their fares.


    August 8, 2008 at 6:00 pm

  5. Hello freinds—Call me crazy but the evergreen line won`t have a shovel in the ground until after the olympics,( then who knows after that it may never be built under Campbell) no other skytrain projects will start before mid 2010 (that will be the Campbell spin) and I assure you that the only transit related item skytrain moves on before 2010 will be fort knox security gates and turnstiles.

    When is this province going to wake up to the fact that Campbell is a liar and crook and his only priority is winning the next election,after the olympics Campbell resigns and leaves the unfunded mess and smouldering wreckage of a plundered and looted province to a junior pathetic explainer.

    Campbell and company today gave (bribed) senior public officials with a massive raise (the deputy minister to the premier went 240.000.00 a year to 349.000.00 a year)
    Why,where,how did the rest of the province of BC just vanish off the face of the earth,this Campbell corporate theiving goverment,like MR. Rees says,aren`t even hiding the phoney shuffle,WHAT A SAD JOKE ON BC. cheers!

    Grant g

    August 8, 2008 at 8:00 pm

  6. >Roberts Bank rail overpasses

    Perhaps these are in the City/Township of Langely, not that this negates your basic point that this isn’t a “regional” concern.

    David Banks

    August 8, 2008 at 11:13 pm

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