REDIRECT FREEWAYS FUNDS AND SAVE TRANSIT SAYS WILDERNESS COMMITTEE
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.