Stephen Rees's blog

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

More on Translink funding

with 9 comments

Jeff Nagel keeps plugging away at the Translink funding issue. Now he is talking to Lucy – erm – make that Shirley Bond

The premier last month agreed to wide-ranging talks to find innovative new ways to finance TransLink.

The mayors now say they’re taken by surprise that only property tax increases are proposed to cover the Evergreen Line.

Bond, however, accuses the mayors of playing politics on the issue, adding she “finds it hard to believe” they genuinely misunderstood the province’s intent and thought a full consultation on new sources could happen before Christmas.

“Once again the mayors are positioning themselves in a very combative way and that’s disappointing,” Bond said.

She said it was made “very clear to the mayors” that a TransLink funding supplement for the Evergreen Line would be before them for a vote by December using existing sources and that a search for new ways to fund more priority projects would be a longer process.

“I am absolutely happy to have a discussion about additional tools,” she said. “But we can’t do that in a thoughtful way before December.”

Why not? Because of the fear that the feds will take their contribution to the Evergreen Line off the table if no agreement is reached before then. That is not what Bond says – or Nagel in this piece. But otherwise the notion that “everything is on the table” – except the Evergreen Line apparently – only starts after the new year was not – so far as I can recall made clear anywhere in the province’s statements.

Pitt Meadows Mayor Don MacLean … said the province could still save money on the Evergreen Line by switching the project back to cheaper light rail technology, rather than SkyTrain.

Well they could but they won’t. Though the “business case” that Jarvis cites seems a bit less than clear to me. But what he really means is that it is not open to debate – and once again that is because the feds bought in, and might use that sort of scope change as an excuse to back out. The Tories in Ottawa like buying military hardware and new prisons: they are not really that keen on something as mundane as decent urban transit.

UPDATE  Wednesday  October 13

Mayors push for gas tax, not property tax to pay for Metro Vancouver transit projects

Vancouver Sun

Written by Stephen Rees

October 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Posted in transit

9 Responses

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  1. I really doubt much if any money would be saved by switching yet again to LRT. After all the consultation, environmental assessment and design work is redone, which costs money and the project is delayed for a couple of more years causing cost escalation, little money would be saved. Then factor in the increased ridership revenue from SkyTrain, the yearly cost to TransLink would not really much less with LRT.

    Lets just get on with it.


    October 12, 2010 at 9:25 pm

  2. Its great to watch the merry go round of “He said She said” Going round and round and round.

    Hopefully people can tell I’m being highly sarcastic. 🙂

    Paul C

    October 13, 2010 at 3:28 am

  3. Richard – you are playing into their hands. That is exactly what they want us to believe. Of course any project can be made to look too expensive and doubt can always be thrown on any estimates and ridership forecasts. That’s because the reverse is true too and too often projects turned out to be over budget and under performing. An objective assessment was carried out by Translink around 2004/5 and concluded that LRT was the best alternative from those examined – which included BRT and LRT as well as SkyTrain. Thereafter, the province got involved to make sure that SkyTrain would be chosen instead. Pretty much a rerun of what had happened on the first go round with the T line five years earlier.

    We cannot “get on with it” until the question of how to pay for it is resolved. While some may be willing to see property taxes increased, the Mayors – with good reason – doubt that is a majority view with voters.

    Stephen Rees

    October 13, 2010 at 9:35 am

  4. Here’s a question or issue that I haven’t seen directly addressed – if the funds are raised by a property tax, are the mayors up in arms because it’ll be a residential only property tax?

    Given that commercial property taxes pay for – what I hear is a disproportionately large amount of property tax revenue (more than half?) – and commercial property owners do not have the right to vote merely by virtue of owning property in a municipality (which some people are apparently pushing for), by scuttling the entire revenue stream by pandering to voters who represent less than half the revenue stream the mayors are showing how warped things get when politics and appeasing the voters comes into play. (or maybe they’re pandering to business (unlike Vancouver) but blaming it on the voters).


    October 13, 2010 at 12:08 pm

  5. I agree with Stephen 100%.
    The greatest mistake that institutions and people can make, is too keep doing something because one has already spent lots of time and money. One has to know when to bite the bullet and face the unpleasant truth while taking the bull by the horns..etc.

    Bordeaux was supposed to have an underground VAL type metro (an automated system similar in size to SkyTrain but with rubber tires on the wheels. They are used in several French towns. The Japanese came with a similar system at the same time, early 1980s)

    The town of Bordeaux spend many years and a fortune trying to solve the problem of how to build tunnels in an unstable soil crossed by several underground rivers without spending a fortune AND also built stations at street level (and underground) in an area with nothing but protected historical buildings tightly built against one another along narrow streets.

    A new mayor was elected (the previous one went on from 1947 to 1995), took a good look at the file, went to Strasbourg (another town with lots of historical buildings in its downtown area. In Strasbourg they are half-timbered framed ones going back to the 1600s)to have a look at their brand new and–at the time–unique looking tramway and decided that Bordeaux would get a tramway.
    End of the discussion.
    Of course being not only Bordeaux mayor but also the local MP and a former prime minister, he carried some political weight..

    Red frog

    October 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm

  6. $54/yr on my property taxes, 15cent/day to put another important piece of our transit network together…

    While this might not be the right way to fund transit infrastructure, let’s get on with it. We can try to fix the funding mechanisms in the next election. In the meantime I’ll get by with one less stick of gum per day.

    Compared to all the other wasteful and senseless transportation investments currently being made in our region this is way off the scale the right thing to do.


    October 13, 2010 at 9:17 pm

  7. Here’s a link to a recent Paul Krugman NY Times article on the nonsensical notion that rail transit should pay its own way, even though roads and congestion don’t.

    Priorities … that word again. Think how much transit in all its forms the six billion spent on Gateway could’ve provided, with all its attendant benefits in urban efficacy and human health it brings.


    October 14, 2010 at 11:51 am

  8. Why is the funding of the North Fraser Perimeter Road now attached to funding of the Evergreen Line?


    October 14, 2010 at 1:31 pm

  9. @fersure – Federal money that vanishes at the end of this year if not matched

    Stephen Rees

    October 15, 2010 at 10:42 am

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