TransLink is broken.
Don’t get me wrong – I think we have a very good transit system in the lower mainland. In some ways, TransLink is a victim of its own success. Its routes, the SkyTrain and the Canada Line, all make it seem like a desirable alternative to driving. In an age where we’re encouraging people to drive less for environmental reasons and people are looking to save money in one of the most expensive places on earth to live, more and more people want that option.
The problem is, at peak times, the buses and trains are packed. Funding hasn’t kept up with demand. The hours aren’t what they need to be for a growing city.
After 12 years of B.C. Liberal government, TransLink has become dysfunctional. It’s unable to get agreement between the municipalities they coordinate with for service. The B.C. Liberals have alternately ignored TransLink and the mayors’ constant calls to fix it, or tried to play them off each other for political gain. A great example of that is the Evergreen line, which took years longer than necessary to get started.
In this election, as their solution, the B.C. Liberals have promised a referendum on TransLink funding in Metro Vancouver. The reaction to this promise from the mayors tell you everything you need to know about why TransLink under this government isn’t functioning properly.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson called the plan “ridiculous.” Surrey Mayor Diane Watts said, “We’re trying to build a city. To delay this even further [with referendums] is something I know our residents are not happy about.” Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said, “We need a solution, we don’t need political posturing.” Basically, no mayor in Metro Vancouver thought the B.C. Liberal solution would solve the problems faced by transit users.
In their platform, the B.C. NDP took a different approach to provide meaningful change, and provide real support for transit.
The B.C. NDP will reform TransLink to allow elected municipal representation on the decision-making board so the planning can be done in a more logical fashion.
Unlike the B.C. Liberals, the B.C. NDP has committed more resources to transit – promising to providing a portion of the carbon tax to enhance transit service and transit options.
And the B.C. NDP will sit down with Metro Vancouver representatives to discuss transportation financing so we can get on with improving transit service and expanding options across Metro.
For more information on the B.C. NDP platform, visit: www.bcndp.ca/plan.
Marcella Munro is a BC NDP strategist and a principal with Earnscliffe Strategy Group. Connect with her on Twitter: @marcellam.
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