Stephen Rees's blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘PM2H1

Mann private-financing woes embolden NDP

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Michael Smyth, the Province’s  “provincial affairs” columnist decides that this week’s PM2H1 story has a political angle. He does not, of course, look at the vices or virtues of the project itself but concentrates on what mileage the NDP may be able to get out of it tomorrow. Because you cannot ask questions on Saturdays. (I did not know that)

“It’s absolutely an issue we’ll be raising,” acting NDP house leader Adrian Dix said yesterday, reacting to news that Australian toll-booth operator Macquarie Group is having trouble coming up with cash for the bridge, which was supposed to start construction by May.

There are actually some real issues here that the opposition should rightfully be able to raise not  the least of which is the new estimate of how much the project will cost. My friend Eric does a great job on this

Who does Highways Minister Kevin Falcon think he is fooling?

The U.K. business publication Project Finance reports the Port Mann freeway expansion needs $2.3 billion in financing, yet Falcon says it will only cost over $1 billion.

In 2004, Falcon said the freeway project would cost $800 million, so the project is now $1.5 billion over budget. At $2.3 billion, it is nearing three times the original estimate.

Borrowing $2.3 billion ($1,400 per B.C. household) for a freeway most Metro Vancouver residents and local governments oppose may not worry Gordon Campbell or Falcon. But we should all be worried about politicians who try to mislead the public.

Eric Doherty

Written by Stephen Rees

January 16, 2009 at 11:53 am

Posted in Gateway

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Financing fears grow over P3 projects

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Jeff Nagel

The world’s financial house of cards is tumbling down, but “Partnerships BC CEO Larry Blain said he is “pretty relaxed” “. So that’s alright then. There is no contract yet signed for the Highway #1/Port Mann twinning or the SFPR

Blain said the financial market upheaval may affect the P3 business moving forward.

He expects a continuing active market for smaller projects, but said that may not be the case for large ones on the scale of the Port Mann where many firms and banks must join forces.

“There’s some evidence around the world those types of projects are difficult to do,” he said.

The South Fraser Perimeter Road is one project that is still early in the procurement process, with bidders not yet identified.

The situation will stabilize at some point, Blain said, and at that time banks will be attracted to infrastructure projects that can count on B.C. taxpayers as long-term stable customers.

You know, at this stage it is not the banks and their future need for stable customers that is my greatest concern. The BC Liberals have decided to tie their fate to freeway expansions and road building – even though these two schemes alone will pretty much offset any benefit that might reasonably be attributed to the carbon tax. Though that effect is in fact very small, and is far overshadowed by the effect of a period of very high gas prices, the expectation of higher gas prices in future – oh and the little blip of a major world wide recession.

Because they are still committed to P3s there is actually no money freed up by the potential cancellation of both projects. And certainly there is not enough money to proceed with the transit projects that have been needed in the region for years and which the BC Liberals regard as a much lower priority. Or rather, that could be the case, but given the way the government has already started work on both road projects the reliance on private financing may well turn out to be as mythical as the promised environmental mitigation.  And we cannot know because all of this is wrapped up in commercial confidentiality. So we will not actually know how much we are on the hook for until it is far too late to do anything about it other than pay up.

UPDATE On October 9 the Sun ran a story on its front page headed “Local large-scale projects feel shock of global credit crisis” which pointed to funding problems experienced by some of the P3 partners of the Golden Ears Bridge

Written by Stephen Rees

October 8, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Gateway, privatisation

Tagged with , ,

The Monday Collection

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Quite a haul of transit stories today.

First up The Province has an op ed from Ian Bruce, a climate-change specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation. He has picked up on the idea that using the existing capacity on the SkyTrain bridge between Columbia and Scott Road could provide more people carrying ability than “20 lanes worth of traffic across the Fraser River”


SkyBridge, Patullo Bridge, New Westminster Rail Bridge 2004_0517

Over in Ontario, that province is looking a cutting back on its Environmental Assessment process to allow for faster implementation of its transit expansion projects. The Toronto Star has an approving column from Christopher Hume.

He says that transit is by definition good for the environment but

the subtext to the whole EA process had little to do with the environment and everything to do with politics. It can be manipulated to reach any conclusion, or prove any point. Mostly, though, it was a very effective way to delay, to stall indefinitely, to put off to the next decade what might cause political discomfort now.

Which is quite a contrast to the EA process we have here now. I would be a bit wary of going in our direction if I were them. But I do have to declare that I once worked on EAs in Ontario – one for the TTC. The “Rapid Transit Expansion Program” did not build much, but Howard Moscoe, a Toronto councillor, observed it was very effective as the consultants’ financial relief program.

TTC 4054 on Spadina 2006_0111

The “Business Newspaper for Suburban Chicago” has a supportive piece on Transit Oriented Development, and it is nice to see this in a business as opposed to a planning publication. Hopefully this will get picked up out in the Valley by some of our business oriented media. It is also nice to see some good news out of Chicago, as the press in recent months has mostly been about the imminent financial collapse of the CTA.

And transit ridership is continuing to grow in New York City.

“The continued investment in new subway cars and buses is not going unnoticed by our customers who are responding by increased usage of our system,” said MTA NYC Transit President Howard Roberts, Jr.

Well that is of course nice to know. Buying more buses and trains gets you more riders. I wonder why that doesn’t occur to our politicians.

Oh, and just to blow my own trumpet a bit, I am on News 1130 right now.



Written by Stephen Rees

February 11, 2008 at 3:00 pm