Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for June 30th, 2010

Report says Evergreen Line is already six months behind schedule

with 12 comments

The Georgia Straight headline above refers to a City of Burnaby report. (City reports are a lot easier to locate than Translink reports!)

Construction of the 11-kilometre line was expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2010, but according to a City of Burnaby staff report, the project is already half a year behind schedule.

Even worse, members of Burnaby city council, who received the report at a meeting on June 28, believe that the line is actually going nowhere.

“If I can say from council last night, most people feel like it will never be built because there’s no funding, and now we see that Vancouver is pressing for the Broadway line to be a priority,” Coun. Colleen Jordan told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview on June 29. “It doesn’t look good.”

This seems to reflect the anxiety that I reported on last week, that was heard at the community meeting in Kitsilano. Quite why the province is supposed to be prejudiced in favour of Vancouver is not articulated, but I suppose that since the Premier runs everything in this province out of his office, and he represents a Vancouver constituency, then whatever was promised previously (the Evergreen Line was supposed to be built at the same time as the Canada Line) has no validity. Well that last bit is, of course, quite true. As we have seen with the HST. And BC Rail – I could go on but won’t.

Out of an estimated total project cost of $1.4 billion, the federal government is kicking in $417 million, while the provincial government’s share is $410 million. TransLink is supposed to pony up $400 million, while the provincial government is supposed to find private funding for the remaining $173 million.

As I keep on repeating, Translink does not have $400 million. Its current three year plan has nothing for transit expansion, and the major chunk of capital funding it is being forced to spend on the ridiculous fare gates project. That does nothing to improve service – or net revenue either. As Translink themselves state, there is no business case for turnstiles on Skytrain, and that does not change even if the province does kick in some additional funding. It might make Translink’s books look a little bit better, but it does not change the rate of return on the capital employed one bit. Since it all comes out of taxpayers pockets one way or another, there should be outrage. But the common misperception that no-one pays when they get on Skytrain persists – and it does not matter what anyone says to the contrary.

Dave Duncan, spokesperson for the transportation ministry, told the Straight by phone that the line is still set to be completed by the end of 2014. Construction will start in the spring of 2011, he said.

But he does not explain where the missing funds will come from. Until those are identified – and confirmed – do not expect to see anything started between Lougheed and Coquitlam. Unless the ministry is wiling to take the risk of there being one of those embarrassing projects that are started then abandoned. Toronto has had more than one of those. So far we have managed to avoid that pitfall – but there’s always a first time.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 30, 2010 at 10:42 am

Posted in transit