Stephen Rees's blog

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

REDIRECT FREEWAYS FUNDS AND SAVE TRANSIT SAYS WILDERNESS COMMITTEE

with 2 comments

Press Release

I have some sympathy with the idea that we should not be spending money on freeways but investing in transit, as the Wilderness Committee recommends.

But I am afraid that simply injecting more capital spending into Translink will not solve its funding crisis. Because what that would do is perpetuate and indeed enlarge the problem that Martin Crilly identified. Translink has been spending beyond its means mostly on major capital projects that it now cannot afford to operate and maintain. The crisis is not  in lack of capital funds – indeed one of Translink’s current strategies is to forgo proffered capital injections from both the federal and provincial governments, as it simply does not have the cash to run current services let alone new ones. What Translink needs right now is either a way of reducing its operating costs – although Tom Prendergast says he doesn’t think that they nor the province’s bloodhound will find much – or new sources of subsidy. Fares are going up – and so will the permitted taxes and there will have to be some replacement of the sales tax on parking fees. But that is not enough to cover the gap. So a one time capital injection of $1.5bn night get the Evergreen Line built but it will not keep the buses running – and that is what most of the transit system’s users rely on.

It may also be worth noticing that the Wilderness Committee is now concentrating on the SFPR. That may be good short term tactics – but it worries me that is seems to accept (if not exactly endorse) the much bigger project  to widen Highway #1 and build a new Port Mann bridge. Which is just as damaging and may have even worse long term implications for urban sprawl than the SFPR.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 8, 2009 at 9:32 am

Posted in Economics, Gateway, transit

2 Responses

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  1. I was driving through construction (now well underway) in Surrey/Langley on Highway 1 this afternoon. On CBC they were talking about $110 million being cut from school maintenance budgets in order to cut costs, as a $3.8 billion construction project unfolded around me. Considering that you could probably add “ten highway lanes” (or whatever it is that Gordon Campbell loves to speak about) for around $1 billion simply by reinstating the Interurban rail line, I find the priorities of this government very very odd.

    Could probably use a little of the billions left over from canceling the Port Mann/Hwy 1 project to finally fund the Evergreen Line too!

    Talk about crazy.

    Corey

    September 8, 2009 at 5:18 pm

  2. Yes isn’t it bizarre that new highway construction “stimulates the economy” while school maintenance and seismic upgrading employing doesn’t. Last time I checked building upgrades were highly labour intensive jobs requiring skilled workers for months at a time. Just the kind of thing the province needs.

    Transit investment creates significantly more jobs than highway construction yet there’s never any mention of putting rail transit into the Fraser Valley instead of more asphalt.

    I honestly don’t understand where our government is getting its priorities from. They seem to be at odds with every political ideology, basic capitalist concept and even most successful re-election strategies.

    David

    September 8, 2009 at 8:55 pm


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