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TransLink pressures, cancellations shred unity among regional mayors

April 19th, 2012 · 69 Comments

Divorces rise when the economy is bad. I’d suggest the same dynamic is at play among the region’s 21 mayors, who find themselves being squeezed by demand for more transit from residents, resistance to new taxes and fees from taxpayers, and a province that keeps hacking off more body parts in each go-round to find a solution.

As my Globe story highlighted this week, Langley mayors are deeply unhappy about the announcement from TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis that all the improvements not yet started from the agency’s three-year Moving Forward plan are now on hold.

Although that decision also affects North Vancouver, which now won’t get 15-minute SeaBus service for evenings and weekends, it largely impacts the communities south of the Fraser.

That has Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese even talking about pulling out of Metro Vancouver and joining up with Abbotsford — a move that likely won’t go anywhere for a long time, since Abbotsford’s efforts to leave the Fraser Valley Regional District have been shut down by the province.

The sad part of all of this is that people in Metro Vancouver largely support the idea of having more transit. (That’s in some contrast to where I am at the moment, Los Angeles, where I heard radio-show commentators yesterday slagging the mayor for his efforts to push transit. LA, they said, operates on the car and no one takes transit except for criminals, so why spend all the money?)

But, since the beginning, the agency has consistently found itself stymied in efforts to find funding models beyond ye olde property and gas taxes. Every time a new tax is suggested, the province, freaked out at the thought of a tax revolt, says no. In theory, everyone agrees there needs to be a new model. In practice, no one wants to take the chance.

Perhaps the NDP, if elected, can use up some political capital early by just putting in a substantively different system.

In the meantime, the pressure is causing mayors to splinter off into different groups — some leading the charge against the evil province, saying if only mayors were in charge, things would be better; some saying mayors should stop trying to do something they have no power to achieve; some unhappy about their region getting shafted; a few still hanging in, trying to keep the herd of cats together and headed toward a brighter future.

All such a shame, because any rational person knows that the cities that thrive and prosper in the coming century will be those that figure out how to build healthy city “bodies,” where people and goods can flow where they need to in the region.

That happens through good planning that facilitates people living in areas with easy access to work and the things they need to get to. Inevitably, it means good transit systems, which are like the veins and arteries of the metropolitan body. Building for cars only is like asking for cholesterol build-up.

 

 

 

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69 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Silly Season // Apr 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    As I have asked before: who here thinks that having the Mayors soley in charge of TransLink would improve the situation?

    Oh, those ‘Board is unelected!’ ‘Transparency’! issues don’t mean anything unless you can get people to actually agree on a course of action, then show they have the economic smarts and wherewithal to get it done.

    Er…these were the same people who forgot that they had been briefed about the cosots of new RCMP contract, right?

    So: TL board composed of some mayors, some biz types, some provincial people. Then we can see how all these representatives work and hang together, in the light of day! They can all be responsible, at the same time for any taxes, tolling, road pricing, technology choices, etc.

    Or, they can hang alone. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

  • 2 keith♠ // Apr 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    A way to pay for transit is with a one per cent sales tax for the Vancouver region. Revenue would be about $350 million annually.
    Next year would be a good opportunity to introduce this tax, when BC returns to the PST.
    At the same time, the transit property tax could be eliminated entirely, making property owners happy.
    Population growth and inflation would ensure increasing revenue for the future.

  • 3 Guest // Apr 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Yup, just look at the TTC (where there’ no Provincial guidance from MetroLinx). Ugh.

    I think it’s virtually a municipal conflict of interest that’s getting in the way of finding “new” funding.

    Municipal politicians are used to the municipal system of budgeting. They calculate how much money they need for their wishlist of projects, then they adjust the mill rate to generate enough property tax revenue to cover their budget. i.e. a backwards budgeting process. By refusing to allow increases in property tax, they are reserving their property tax ceiling exclusively for their own municipal wishlists, not the regional transit agenda.

    Is that a conflict – voting “no” to property tax increases for their own municipalities’ self interest?
    And how far removed is that from municipalities ganging up and denying one area rapid transit as was almost done with the Canada Line?

    As for a vehicle levy, what’s the problem with that? Seattle has had “car tabs” for years now. Again, that’s a political issue – and people want to put more power in the hands of politicians rather than planners?

  • 4 Guest // Apr 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I should have referneces the Province wrt the vehicle levy, as its provincial politics factoring in in that case.

  • 5 Richard // Apr 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    LA certainly seems to have its act together much more than we do regarding long-term funding for transit. Voters there approved a .5% sales tax amounting to $40 billion over 30 years for transit and other transportation improvements. Even better, there are plans to borrow the money through an infrastructure bank to complete the projects in 10 years instead of 30.

    Measure R was approved by 67.22% of votes proving there is a lot of public support for transit improvements. It is too bad certain provincial politicians only seem to listen to a small vocal anti-tax minority.

    Given the economic, environmental and social benefits of transit, it is a bit surprising that the province is not more supportive of transit. The province really should give the region the authority for more diverse funding measures with a requirement for inclusive public consultation.

  • 6 Max // Apr 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Provincial and municpal government need to start realizing that the ‘citizens’ – the ‘tax payers’ are not an endless black pit of money.

    Translink: Turn stiles should have been implemented right from the get go – there is no honor amoung thieves (or some NDP politicians) And for them to turn around and play the ‘black mail card’ about reduced /postponed services is BS.

    I think myself like countless others were GOB SMACKED to learn that fare evasion tickets weren’t being collected. I mean truly WTF??? What are the tranit police for then – a mke work project?

    There is no bloody way that Translink uppr management should be getting paid bonuses. Bonuses are for those that are running a company swirling the financial toilet bowl.

    The Translink Board should not be comprised of just Mayors who fall into a self interest group – there should be a mix of proven business people, community leaders and the general transit taking population. Get Jimmy Pattison to help straighten them out. The man is shrewd and knows how to run a business.

  • 7 Richard // Apr 19, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    @Max

    At least in Canada, police, transit or otherwise don’t collect the fines from tickets, they issue only issue tickets. If you have been paying “fines” to police, might want to report that.

    So far, it has been the provincial government that has refused to collect the tickets and give the money to TransLink.

  • 8 sv // Apr 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    The Translink Board isn’t made up of mayors-it’s made up of lawyers and business people.

  • 9 Bill McCreery // Apr 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Good ideas Max. I wonder what Jimmy would do.

    Perhaps, since the region and province have been constipated on this for years, and it appears this will not likely change because the context hasn’t, there are three ways to solve the problem:

    1) this becomes an election issue and the Libs, Conservs and NDP all must articulate a clear, binding solution that voters will vote on. The limitation for this is that there are other issues that are going to affect the peoples choices in the voting booth, consequently this might not produce a satisfactory solution;

    2) take Frances’ solution and give the NDP a mandate, providing of course they come up with an acceptable solution. This option has some drawbacks as well. 58% of voters will not have a say for starters;

    3) I’m no fan of referenda, but at important junctures they do have a role to play. Why not put, say, three funding options to voters after getting technical, staff, public and political input as to what these options are. Since this option is a ‘direct democracy’ method it is more likely that the preferred option will be acceptable to voters/taxpayers. If there are more than 2 options and there was none with a clear majority in the 1st round, it may be necessary to have a second ballot so that the final choice would be a clear majority.

  • 10 MB // Apr 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Richard 4:

    Given the economic, environmental and social benefits of transit, it is a bit surprising that the province is not more supportive of transit. The province really should give the region the authority for more diverse funding measures with a requirement for inclusive public consultation.

    Excellent comment.

    I would add that transit is an investment with an excellent indirect return in the form of development and tax revenue. The $1 billion cost of the Expo Line has stimulated perhaps $8 billion in construction and real estate in four cities to date — and counting.

    There is no reason to believe that LRT or BRT on suburban arterials or simply improving the bus service won’t do the same, albeit with less intensity.

    I would promote transit to the province as a job-creation and economic stimulus policy along with the environmental, energy and making-cities-more-resilient benefits.

    I also believe that TransLink’s and the Metro’s autonomy must be guaranteed in future. We are a fast-growing megopolis nearing 2.5 million people and are perfectly capable of governing ourselves through the democratic process. The governance model will have to change, but this isn’t an impossible task.

    Cities are literally the economic engines, and this fact nicely counters the justified Hewers of Wood, Drawers of Water, and Pumpers of Oil insult.

    You’d think with the huge source of wealth the Metro region presents to senior governments (e.g. for every 100c the feds suck out with gas taxes they return 8c … on top of income taxes and everything else) they’d have more respect.

    The fact remains that the provincial government would be cut in half economically and politically without the Lower Mainland. Well, maybe that’s slightly exaggerated, but there obviously needs to be a fairer return especially for non-automobile transportation infrastructure.

    If this crappy treatment by the province continues, then rather having the Langley’s separate, why not create an independent “province” out of the 21 municipalities that comprise the Metro and keep a higher proportion of the taxes within the region?

  • 11 MB // Apr 19, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Max 5:

    There is no bloody way that Translink uppr management should be getting paid bonuses. Bonuses are for those that are running a company swirling the financial toilet bowl.
    …The Translink Board should not be comprised of just Mayors who fall into a self interest group – there should be a mix of proven business people, community leaders and the general transit taking population. Get Jimmy Pattison to help straighten them out. The man is shrewd and knows how to run a business.

    Since when has the road system been financed and run like a business? Or government, for that matter? Business and government are two separate entities, and their interests should be balanced.

    I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the average benefits and bonuses paid by the private sector in equivalent private management structures were more, and that’s on top of payments in preferred shares for those who trade publicly.

    Pattison, BTW, is sole proprietor of his companies, so his hired directors and managers are probably salaried and bonused to their yin yangs … though the figures are likely kept under several layers of secrecy.

    I heard a rumour that Glen Clark was paid a big one for shaving off his socialist moustache, and he was allowed to ride in the big yacht ’cause he now looks like a Christain choir boy.

  • 12 Bill Lee // Apr 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Meanwhile in the ‘Other Vancouver’, they are fighting light rail extensions

    …”A group of Vancouver residents submitted 9,039 signatures on a petition calling for a vote to create an ordinance that would prohibit any city resources from being used to extend TriMet’s MAX line from Portland to Vancouver.

    After examining the signatures line by line, the auditor’s office found that 6,048 were invalid, leaving just 3,165 valid signatures, Vancouver City Attorney Ted Gathe said. The petitioners must submit 5,472 valid signatures to make the ballot.”
    http://www.columbian.com/news/2012/apr/18/anti-light-rail-petitioners-fall-short-of-signatur/

  • 13 Dan Cooper // Apr 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    It would be helpful if at some point the Provincial Government – whoever that might be – just laid down a consistent set of rules and then stuck with them so that people could plan. IMO, it is the constant, “Well, yes we gave you the power to do X under certain circumstances but now that you’ve actually decided to do it we are going to ram through a new bill changing the rules,” stuff that is especially deadly.

    (See also the teacher’s strike situation: The Gubmint, bless their little hearts, passed a law that teachers can only strike if they go before a board and get permission. The Gubmint appointed the board members. Then, when the union followed the law, went to the board, and it gave them permission…the Gubmint changed the law! I grew up in a US state where teacher strikes were perfectly legal, and yet I never saw one in twenty years. It wasn’t that the teachers were any better paid, either. Here, as I understand it, teacher strikes are illegal – or made illegal retroactively – but yet they happen almost every contract.)

  • 14 spartikus // Apr 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the average benefits and bonuses paid by the private sector in equivalent private management structures were more, and that’s on top of payments in preferred shares for those who trade publicly.

    By the statistics, this is true. (Yes that’s from the UK, but the same phenomena is true here in Canada, the U.S., etc…)

    In fact I got quite a laugh from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation proposal for a “Compensation Equity Act”. They used Translink executives as an example, but under their plan to tie public sector wages to the private sector our Translink executives would see a significant pay raise.

  • 15 ThinkOutsideABox // Apr 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Since when has the road system been financed and run like a business?

    Assuming you’re speaking locally, not universally, nonetheless actually there is a stretch of highway in southern Ontario that is run as a business: http://www.407etr.com

  • 16 Silly Season // Apr 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    @TOAB

    Wow!! They make it seem easy to register, helpful (oh, here come the ha8ers!), while offering inducements and benefits to pre-pay, too. Easy to navigate, dynamic layout of info. Easy, easy, easy to understand. Very good marketing piece.

    As opposed to what’s on offer re: Golden Ears bridge at the TransLink site: http://www.goldenearsbridge.ca/

  • 17 spartikus // Apr 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    there is a stretch of highway in southern Ontario that is run as a business…

    …complete with a non-compete clause in the lease that prevents Ontario from building any road that might potentially “compete” with the 407. For 99 years.

    Great business acumen…for the consortium. Doesn’t like good public policy though.

  • 18 Frank Ducote // Apr 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Richard@6 – valid point: the province, through ICBC, simply has no interest in collecting fines and returning the $ to TransLink, despite the fact that they (TL) sorely need every dollar they can get. Certainy could use it to pay the rising costs of transit police salaries.

  • 19 mezzanine // Apr 19, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    …complete with a non-compete clause in the lease that prevents Ontario from building any road that might potentially “compete” with the 407. For 99 years.

    Great business acumen…for the consortium. Doesn’t like good public policy though.

    Actually, even worse public policy IMO is to build an untolled parallel freeway completely at taxpayer expense. ;-)

    P3 projects are hit and miss, but no guarantee of a bad outcome. Public or private, the project is as good as the contract you make.

    Indiana leased a publicly owned toll road to a private consortium at great profit to the state. (1) Edinburgh’s LRT project is mired in lawsuits over-runs and delays, and it is a public project.

    1) http://www.urbanophile.com/2012/04/02/if-you-dont-like-privatization-youll-have-to-do-better-than-this/

    ——–

    hopefully, this funding impasse will be solved over the next few weeks. OTOH, if we do get a new administration in victoria, we will get new views on funding/ car tabs /road pricing, etc.

  • 20 ThinkOutsideABox // Apr 19, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    …complete with a non-compete clause in the lease that prevents Ontario from building any road that might potentially “compete” with the 407. For 99 years.

    Great business acumen…for the consortium. Doesn’t like good public policy though.

    Not really sure. I remember first hearing about that without knowing the full context, and being curious about the rationale for how they came to agree on that deal point.

  • 21 ThinkOutsideABox // Apr 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I just noticed on the 407′s website that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is 40% owner – which I guess widens the consideration out a bit further as to whether it’s good public policy.

    The 407 parallels the 401 just north of Toronto and is also a de facto spillover highway for those that would rather avoid the 401′s rush hour traffic. As such, I can’t see a scenario for creating a “competing” highway.

    Visiting at Christmas, I could see that there were more drivers using the 407 compared to its first few years, but rush hour traffic still moved freely compared to the crawl we are familiar with on local public highways (or in southern Ontario).

  • 22 voony // Apr 19, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    “…complete with a non-compete clause in the lease that prevents Ontario from building any road that might potentially “compete” with the 407. For 99 years.?

    Don’t know the details, but usually in those kind of contract, the government preserve the right to build roads able to compete with the one of the original contract (in this case the 407). The only thing is that the contractor of the original contract has priority to operate the new road.
    Whether it is not interested, then, and only then, others can bid on it. That is considered fair policy if you want to transfer the risk to the operator.

    I don’t know the detail, of the 407 concession, but from the surface, I believe it is a much better P3 scheme than the ones we have in BC…
    especially as compared to the Port Mann bridge, where the toll, will not be able to pay much more than the $1B on the $3B than cost the project, and where obviously all the risk is bound to the taxpayer, making the P3 scheme only an ideological, and not a rational economic tool.

  • 23 mezzanine // Apr 19, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    @Voony, IIRC, the PMB/Hwy1 project is not a P3, but completely public, after the P3 talks collapsed

    The $3 B cost accounts for the highway and bridge improvements. If we had the political courage, I’d toll the whole route.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/02/27/bc-falcon-ralston-port-mann.html

  • 24 Max // Apr 20, 2012 at 8:25 am

    @Richard #6:

    My point about transit police was not about paying the fines to them – but why bother having them if what they do is a moot point.

    Why bother have them issue tickets if the monies aren’t being collected.

  • 25 Max // Apr 20, 2012 at 8:28 am

    @MB #10

    I’ve been on that yacht… and it was a lovely fireworks night.
    Both Mr. Pattison and his wife were charming hosts.
    As for Glen Clark- funny how none of his union buds offered him a job once he was no longer Premier. Pattison was the only one and yes, he is making a crap load more money working in the private sector than the public. But then again, Pattison’s companies don’t under perform.

  • 26 subverta // Apr 20, 2012 at 9:52 am

    It would be fantastic if translink could figure out a way to take the incredible property values increases associated with transportation improvements and use them to finance the improvements. The property value increases are a direct result of having better access to transportation infrastructure and therefore should be used for creating this much needed infrastructure that is in the public/cities interest to provide.

  • 27 MB // Apr 20, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Think 20:

    I just noticed on the 407′s website that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is 40% owner – which I guess widens the consideration out a bit further as to whether it’s good public policy.

    Smart. The pension investment board recognized the value of car dependency.

    But that’s only to the day after the first missile soars over the Persian Gulf. Central and Eastern Canada’s fuels supplies come from the volatile Middle East and from Europe, the latter mostly in the form of pre-refined gasoline and deisel.

  • 28 MB // Apr 20, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Max 24

    Glen Clark was promoted to the western regional manager of the JPG. He must have learned a lot, and Pattison does not promote fools.

  • 29 Max // Apr 20, 2012 at 11:25 am

    @MB 26

    Agreed.

    As for Glen Clark – he has earned his place within the Pattison organization and from what I hear from insiders, Pattison looks at Clark like a son. He ‘gets away’ with things other ‘managers’ don’t…

  • 30 Guest // Apr 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    If I recall correctly, the 407 Concession Agreement is a notoriously bad agreement – as it gives the operator free reign on toll increases (unlike, say, the Canda Line agreement where TransLink sets the fares).

    ********

    I agree with the general sentiments that a “busienss approach” or even “highest and best use” are not necessarily suitable for public projects.

    i.e. Transit systems (in North America) lose money and need subsidy. End of story. Why do you think the private streetcar lines all went out of business and the transit system taken over by the government?

    BTW – the vehicle levy was an integral part of long term fgunding when TransLink was created – but the then NDP goverment killed it – as has the Liberal goverment. In the case of US systems, their reliance on sales taxes isn’t as reliable as you may think, since tax revenue drops significantly in times of recession.

    *************

    As for Proof of Payment systems – all LRT systems use Proof of Payment – you don’t see people lining up at the farebox boarding a streetcar or LRT in Portland or Calgary, do you? Docklands Light Railway (also an automated intermediate capacity system) is also Proof of Payment. Until recently, the Los Angles Red Line subway was Proof of Payment. The cost effectiveness of installing and operating faregates becomes viable when there’s greater ridership. SkyTrain is in the middle somewhere – ultimately, it was a political decision to install them.

  • 31 Richard // Apr 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Well, from the results of the by-elections, it looks as if rejecting funding measures for transit is of no benefit politically and judging by the Conservatives 3rd place finish, actively lobbying against them is not a winning political strategy either. It is time all parties show leadership and support funding for transit. It actually might help them.

  • 32 Joe Just Joe // Apr 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I seriously hope you’re not naive enough to think people in Chiliwack voted out the Liberals due to their transit funding…

  • 33 Frank Ducote // Apr 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    JJJ – maybe not in Chiliwack but perhaps in Port Moody, where former mayor Trasolini was an outspoken advocate for the Evergreen Line, and if I remember correctly, also threatened a development moratorium there until there was a provincial commitment to the line. And guess what, there was. (Of sorts.)

    Makes me wonder what role he will play in the shadow cabinet. Transportation, perhaps?

    In historical terms, the NDP from Barrett onwards has always sought to bring rail transit to the tri-cities area, and the right parties (Socreds and Liberals) always want to cross the Fraser River. The NDP has never stayed in power long enough to see this vision through, and there is no way a right-of-centre party would build their adversaries’ dreams for them.

    Now that the Fraser has been crossed with rail in two places, with extensions of some sort (LRT? BRT?) yet to come, it is time for the provincial government to finish the Evergreen Line once and for all. Or give TransLink the secured financial tools to do it and get out of the way.

  • 34 Richard // Apr 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    @JJJ

    That is not what I said or meant. Read my last post again.

  • 35 Joe Just Joe // Apr 20, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Sorry I must have misunderstood, what where you implying ? I seemed to get that the Conservatives weren’t voted in due to their stance on transit, does that mean that the NDP was voted in due to theirs?

  • 36 Roger Kemble // Apr 21, 2012 at 5:29 am

    According to the Vancouver Rapid Transit 2050 map Evergreen (theoretically) and Millenium replicate service between UBC and Lougheed after which Evergreen (theoretically) connects to West Coast Express at Port Moody terminating at Douglas College.

    Evergreen, after Lougheed, moves through very sparsely populated sprawl of the Tri-cities. One has to assume no matter the destination passengers, after alighting, will need an auto to arrive at their final destination: so much for Skytrain greening the suburbs. None of the Tri-cities or their two villages has an urban focus that could play host to a viable station amenity! This concern then riposts that Vancouver is growing so rapidly the gaps will soon be filled: and that may be so but it will still be sprawl

    Los Angeles developed by establishing TX lines first then filling the gaps with, as it turned out, sprawl: I hope this is not the preferred future model here!

    There is another approach that puts the cart before the horse: i.e. develop the Tri-cities first, with amenities, jobs in situ, then apply the moving amenities. The ideal urban model remains, jobs/living/amenities within reasonable walking distance.

    So far Metro is badly planned and one has to wonder what its behemoth planning establishments have been up to: the same can be said for Vancouver city!

    So . . .

    Now is not the time to be bandying very expensive shiny trinkets when there are alternatives. Canadians are the most indebted in the world. The governor of the Bank of Canada worked fifteen years for Goldman Sachs prior and is mooted to be the next governor of the Bank of England. None of his experience bodes well for an awareness of the true nature of our finances. Vancouver is an unsustainable FIRE economy with what few well paying jobs there are churning money.

    Under such circumstances Evergreen should not be a priority!

  • 37 Frances Bula // Apr 21, 2012 at 10:21 am

    @Max. Just to point out a historical fact — it was the Social Credit government that built the first SkyTrain line and their decision not to put in turnstiles.

  • 38 gman // Apr 21, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Roger Kemble #36, LA has a very interesting history concerning their rail systems.They were originally built by developers who made buckets of money and then they were destroyed by General Motors and Firestone. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_American_Streetcar_Scandal
    Its a pretty interesting look at history and makes one wonder what happened to our own streetcar service and why.

  • 39 Max // Apr 21, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Hi Frances #37

    Regardless of who, it was s a huge and costly mistake. Not just the loss of revenue due to ‘fare evasion’ over the years, but having to now spend (waste) millions installing them.

    When the Millenium line was put in and the Canada Line, they should have been installed at time of building those lines rather than waiting to have all stations come on-line at the same time.

    For TransLink to state that two of the stations will not get the upgrades because they ‘can’t afford’ them is ridiculous – they will lose more $$ . Collect the monies owed by transit skivers – I don’t care how they do it, but get it done.

    And then TransLink, get your financial house in order.

  • 40 spartikus // Apr 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Originally posted by me at RossK’s:

    It will cost $100 million to install the gates.

    It will, according to Translink spokesman Ken Hardie, cost $7 million to operate the new gates.

    The high end estimate of the cost of fare evasion is….$7 million/yr.

    You would need to reduce fare evasion to 0% just to pay operating costs. Perfection. With the possible exception of the Pyongyang Metro something no other transit system, gated or no, has ever achieved.

  • 41 Tri Cities resident // Apr 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Roger, almost all of the future Evergreen Stations in the Tri-Cities are going through aggressive primarily residential and retail redevelopment, or there are development plans in progress. Coquitlam Centre is denser than much of non-downtown Vancouver and Burquitlam and Inlet Centre is following. Jobs are another matter.

  • 42 West End Gal // Apr 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    spartikus $40
    Hear, hear! 0% perfection can only be found in Christy’s and Gregor’s cabinets!
    That’s why thing s are going so great for the Province and for Vancouver.
    “With the possible exception of the Pyongyang Metro something no other transit system, gated or no, has ever achieved.”
    Exactly! :-)

  • 43 Richard // Apr 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    @Roger Kemble

    Looks like you may have not been to the Tri-cities lately. There is already a lot of high-density development near many of the planned stations in Port Moody and Coquitlam and much more planned. I expect the Evergreen Line will be quite successful.

  • 44 Roger Kemble // Apr 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    gman @ #38

    Yeah, my, now deceased American wife came from Griffith Park. Not her idea of neighbourhood. Nor mine!

    Richard @ #42

    I was in Le quartier français Easter weekend. Huh!

  • 45 Declan // Apr 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    @Roger Kemble (36)

    Your comments on the tri-cities just show you haven’t been there in a long time. I recommend visiting before commenting again.

    The only problems with the Evergreen line is it needs two more stops (West Port Moody and Lincoln) and it should have continued into Port Coquitlam from Coquitlam Centre.

    Also, Canada is one of the least indebted developed countries in the world (aggregating houshold, private and government debt).

    Penultimately, the cart is not supposed to be in front of the horse.

    Finally, you did make one valid point, which is that Vancouver has an unsustainable FIRE economy (based mostly on real estate), but that is all the more reason to build something concrete (literally) instead, like a transit line.

    (FYI – transit lines are not shiny trinkets – shiny trinkets are retractable roofs and empty slogans about gravy trains and tax cuts that pay for themselves ).

  • 46 Roger Kemble // Apr 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Declan @ #44

    For heaven’s sake, Le quartier français is the heart off the Tri-Cites and to get there we had to drive thru all the sprawl . . .

  • 47 Roger Kemble // Apr 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Sorry Declan you’re playing with moonbeams again . . .

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/editorials/banks-not-just-consumers-bear-responsibility-for-high-debt-levels/article2271494/

  • 48 Declan // Apr 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    @Guest 30

    “If I recall correctly, the 407 Concession Agreement is a notoriously bad agreement”

    Guest is right, the 407 agreement stands as one of the costliest, stupidest, most short-sighted decisions any government in Canada has ever made (up there with Newfoundland’s deal for the Churchill Falls – but at least they had no other options – the Harris government had no need to sell its commuters into poverty for 99 years – still 86 years to go on that contract – for a quick hit of cash).

    The only lesson to learn from the 407 is that putting public infrastructure in private hands can be a disaster if it is handled incompetently and/or corruptly.

    The anti-social efforts of the owner of the Ambassador Bridge (Matty Moroun) to prevent construction of another crossing from Ontario to Michigan is another object lesson in the risks of privatizing infrastructure.

  • 49 Declan // Apr 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    “Le quartier français is the heart off the Tri-Cites”

    I honestly can’t tell if you’re being serious or not. If you are, I reiterate my suggestion for you to visit the tri-cities, ideally part of it that is within 5km of the proposed Evergreen route (from that close you should be able to see all the towers).

    As for debt, try this:

    (and no, the picture hasn’t changed since 2009 – google: “Debt and deleveraging: Uneven progress on the path to growth” for updated stats that show the same picture.)

    I guess you must be playing with sunbeams or something (?)

  • 50 Frank Ducote // Apr 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Roger, please clarify. Are you talking about Maillardville? If so, it is nowhere near the centre of anything except perhaps itself. Even so, the City of Coquitlam and the residents and businesses in that community are planning for increased development capacity as well at this time.

    Too bad c. 1998 the decision was made by then BC Transit to not have a Millennium Line station there, as originally planned.

    The core areas of Coquitam, Port Moody and Poco for sure have been significantly densifying over the last 2 decades or so, with many developments reaching up to 4+fsr, all in anticipation of some form of rail rapid transit. Mainly residential and mixed- use for the most part, since it is notoriously difficult to attract office jobs to regional town centers rather than auto- oriented suburban business parks, and it certainly won’t get any easier without mass transit.

    So, IMO your dream of building complete communities in the absence of a transit network is nothing short of a fantasy. Towns and cities in this region started on transportation lines, ports and stations from day one and will continue to do so, if we can only get the bloody system built.

  • 51 mezzanine // Apr 21, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    If I recall correctly, the 407 Concession Agreement is a notoriously bad agreement – as it gives the operator free reign on toll increases (unlike, say, the Canda Line agreement where TransLink sets the fares).
    ….
    Guest is right, the 407 agreement stands as one of the costliest, stupidest, most short-sighted decisions any government in Canada has ever made…

    on what do you base this on? from what I can gather (1), the tolls are calculated in the short term on congestion. It seems that the concessionaire gets charged a penalty from the govt if there is ++ congestion and travel time slows, i.e., the more people want to access the road, a finite space, the price must go up accordingly until demand meets a balance.

    in the longer term, the concessionaire can extend the highway and add new lanes to defined terms, using toll revenue to fund construction.

    Isn’t that what true road pricing is? I suspect one reason people hate the P3 arrangement is that the concessionaire is more immune to political pressure to keep tolls down.

    ….

    I would like what evidence there is other evidence of this being bad policy. Chicago’s
    leasing of its parking concession is a good example of a bad P3 deal, as it did not specify possible future initiatives to reduce surface parking in the future, among other things. efforts of the city to shut down a street for a block party for instance, means the city paying the concessionaire for the lost revenue.

    That’s a bad deal. I’m not sure if the 407 concession is. I’d like to see evidence if there is.

    http://www.tac-atc.ca/english/resourcecentre/readingroom/conference/conf2008/docs/k2/ibrahim.pdf

  • 52 gman // Apr 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Declan #44,so in your way of thinking we dont owe as much as other countries,even though their economies are collapsing,we should just keep on borrowing. Here is a simple explanation as to why we should have no federal debt at all that most people have no clue about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68FM06JNibI

  • 53 Declan // Apr 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    gman @51

    No, not at all and in fact I suspect I agree with you more than most with respect to your link, am sympathetic to an MMT style viewpoint on government debt and have written against our debt levels in a number of places, including on my blog.

    I was just correcting Roger Kemble’s statement that, “Canadians are the most indebted in the world.”

  • 54 Declan // Apr 22, 2012 at 12:28 am

    mezzanine @50

    Not sure of the relevance of your link, they seemed to be arguing that tolls in general are a good idea, but that is a separate discussion.

    “I suspect one reason people hate the P3 arrangement is that the concessionaire is more immune to political pressure to keep tolls down.”

    Well, not me, anything that helps make drivers pay the true costs of their driving is OK by me, I just don’t like seeing the public ripped off.

    Granting a private monopoly without any effective provision for regulation of the prices charged is a bad idea in general.

    For more specific evidence of the ripoff, consider that the entire highway was sold by the province in 1993 for $3.1 billion (about $4.2 billion in 2010 dollars), and 10% of the highway sold in 2010 for $0.9 billion, suggesting a value of $9 billion at that point (with inflation of roughly 35% in the interim). So to date, Ontario residents are looking at a loss of about $5 billion on the sale (with 13 years down, 86 to go).

    Many people don’t know that the Harris government actually solicited bids for a 50 year contract and a 99 year contract. Because the private sector discounts anything happening over 50 years from now to basically 0, the two bids were almost identical. When I spoke to some of the purchasers a number of years back, I remember them expressing shock that the government took the 99 year offer (this is the reason most p3 deals don’t go out more than 30, or at most 50 years).

    But it’s not just me saying selling 407 was a terrible decision, use the google, and you’ll find lost of corroboration. For one, George Davies the deputy minister of transportation who was responsible for building the 407, referred to the sale as the worst provincial policy decision (in any province) of the last 50 years.

  • 55 Declan // Apr 22, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Sorry, 407 was sold in 1999, not 1993.

  • 56 Roger Kemble // Apr 22, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Frank @ #49 . . . et al

    To clarify, and thanqxz for responding. I thought I was permanently in your doghouse.

    Are you talking about Maillardville?” Yes! I was using center in a general metaphorical sense. We had to drive thru a lot of sprawling dross to get there despite the . . . errrr . . . towers . . .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tri-Cities_(British_Columbia)

    The core areas of Coquitam, Port Moody and Poco for sure have been significantly densifying over the last 2 decades or so, with many developments reaching up to 4+fsr, all in anticipation of some form of rail rapid transit.

    . . . and all of it at the behest of land speculators leaving a scatological (pun intended) mess wasteful of what meager resources remain after said land speculators have move on with their plunder.

    . . . A sprawling pop of 218,509 is unsustainable on all levels: amenities, work, TX, etc!

    So, IMO your dream of building complete communities in the absence of a transit network is nothing short of a fantasy.

    No fantasy Frank, being an experienced planner, you should know better. Look at LA.

    Indeed, go no further than the Fraser Valley: a veritable sewer of speculators and realtors.

    A suburb with out a fundamental wealth creating employment base (i.e. indeed, present day BC floggin’ its unprocessed raw resources to the first convenient bidders) becomes a dormitory (Google Milton Keynes UK) feeding wealth and prosperity somewhere else.

  • 57 mezzanine // Apr 22, 2012 at 8:40 am

    @Declan 50

    Not sure of the relevance of your link, they seemed to be arguing that tolls in general are a good idea, but that is a separate discussion.

    These are some quotes from the ON Ministry of Transport link in my 50:

    Further, an additional 343 lane-kilometers were added to the 407 corridor since the
    privatization of the highway in 1999. This addition of lane-kilometers to the GTA
    highway network would have taken longer to construct using traditional funding
    mechanisms afforded to the government. Privatization of the highway also precluded
    the government from annual maintenance and operational costs.

    An added benefit of private sector investment is that it has provided the provincial
    government with financial flexibility. Private sector funding for highway expansion and
    upgrades enables the province to otherwise redirect highway funding from Highway 407
    towards other worthwhile endeavors. While not directly related, it is instructive to note
    that the provincial government has made significant commitments to enhancing public
    transit.

    The toll rates for 407 are market driven, whereas the Reason Institute found that there
    is a considerable political interference in toll setting in US public toll authorities.
    ….
    Having the private sector assume financial risks for the facility ensures that toll
    rates strike an appropriate balance between maximizing revenue and optimizing
    road network flow limits and lessens subsidization of toll highway users. Even
    transit vehicles (Go Transit) are not discounted.
    …..ƒ
    The provincial government was provided with the financial flexibility if it so chooses to otherwise redirect highway funding from Highway 407 towards other sustainable transportation initiatives.

  • 58 mezzanine // Apr 22, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Granting a private monopoly without any effective provision for regulation of the prices charged is a bad idea in general.

    But road building, especially highway building, is a different product. Perhaps you and I can agree that regardless of tolls or P3s, good public policy to limit highway contruction. For me, building a parallel untolled freeway is a non-starter. The route isn’t monopolized, the alternate free route is the surface system of roads. For me the comparison is traffic and travel without the tolled 407, not a tolled 407 *and* a parallel free highway.

  • 59 mezzanine // Apr 22, 2012 at 9:21 am

    WRT the value of the 407 asset, this is a nice link from the text “The Handbook of Municipal Bonds”

    Remember that the 407 was the first barrier-free tolled highway integrated with the road network in an urban environment was novel. Even electronic toll collection was in its infancy and was prone to errors and missed tolls in the first few years. I’m no expert on p3s, but I would assume that the price at the time reflected that risk.

    The value of the 407 obviously is related to revenue it brings in, which is directly related to how they are able to charge and raise tolls, and fund defined expansions. To me the toll is demand based, which to me is fair. If you look at the ontario MoT link, traffic continued to rise annually in the mid-2000s on the 407 despite annual toll increases.

    That being said, I would agree a cap on annual toll increases would increase public approval.

    ……

    The above link also touches on the 50 vs 99 year lease term. The text also seems to agree that 50 years would be a more reasonable term. That being said, it suggests that some in the harris government would have preferred to sell the 407 outright (which would be worse public policy) and that the 99 year term was a compromise to that.

    http://books.google.ca/books?id=_c6jDRFGpo8C&pg=PT910&dq=407+tolls&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NyyUT4OoCer-2QXbnKiDBQ&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=407%20tolls&f=false

  • 60 Dan // Apr 22, 2012 at 10:46 am

    The latest provincial migration statistics show more people moving out of BC, than into, from other provinces. Only international in-migration is driving population growth. So the increased need for transit spending is directly related to federal immigration policy. The main benefactors of this policy seem to be the immigrants themselves and in Vancouver’s case, the above mentioned FIRE industry along with property owners.

    The increase in transit costs for expansion should be born by those who benenfit most: the FIRE industry and property owners. I hope once the NDP win the next election they’ll put a mansion tax in place for all property purchased in the last 10 years valued over $500k.

    That way even drug dealers, tax evaders and border shoppers will do their part to fund transit (unlike with a sales tax or vehicle levy).

  • 61 mezzanine // Apr 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    @Dan 59

    OK, i’ll bite.

    Why not implement a property tax increase instead to achieve your objectives for translink?

    and jebus, blaming foreign immigrants along with drug dealers for pressures on translink? i try really hard to be diplomatic, but that’s just stupid.

  • 62 Andrew Browne // Apr 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    @ Roger Kemble (#46) (…and others?)

    Maillardville is not the center of the Tri-Cities, judged either geographically or by importance. In fact, its peripheral at best in respect of geography AND relevance. Any sprawl you would have driven through to get there would have actually been Burnaby (assuming you are approaching from Vancouver, which, I think, is where you call home). Lougheed is Lougheed, no one is pretending its a pinnacle of urbanism. Every community has one. Think Clarke, Knight, Oak (south), Marine (any), Boundary, etc. Proximity to Highway 1 has largely shaped Lougheed, as this is where warehousing and other businesses located before they left for Surrey/Langley due to escalating land costs. Until recent controls on direct-access, Lougheed largely performed a “service road” role for Highway 1 for industrial uses on the river-side, too.

    The Tri-Cities are actually starting on relatively sophisticated station area planning exercises, in some instances to augment and strengthen the underlying form (e.g. PoMo central), in others to totally “reboot” an area in need of transformation (e.g. Burquitlam). Many nodes in the Tri-Cities compare favourably with non-downtown Vancouver for density (Coq. Central, PoMo Central, areas off Austin, etc.). I won’t say they’re yet firing on all cylinders with urban form, though, as the ground experience of the towers near Coquitlam Centre can attest.

    As for access to stations there will be ample “lateral” bus connections, as always. It’s like criticizing all of Vancouver because they’re more than 5 minutes from Skytrain? Tons of people take frequent arterial buses via walking trip from their home, to ultimately connect to higher order transit.

    Anyways I suggest you visit the more northerly-portions of the Tri-Cities as they definitely have changed in the past 5 years, nevermind 20. And, unlike Vancouver (where you can have a 500 sq ft condo or a 5000 sq ft house), there are a variety of unit types available, including -gasp- townhomes.

    Re: employment raised by others (?) – I agree, the variety of jobs in the area is an issue but not one which is solved by less transit. Even major regional centres like Metrotown have issues attracting employers, same with Surrey and New West. Employment clusters are really tough for any portion of Greater Vancouver. It seems clear that downtown Vancouver can’t ultimately absorb all employers, nor should it, and nor should we want it to, but it seems there is a lack of a clear heir-apparent.

  • 63 Roger Kemble // Apr 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Thanqu Andrew Brown @ #62 I cannot claim to know the Tri-cities as, apparently, you do.

    Last Easter Sunday, after picking up goodies at Ikea, we went for a joy ride around the “sprawl” before our family Italian Easter Sunday dinner in East Van.

    We saw enough that my 83 year old professional planner’s eyes rebelled: no matter what gadgetry and their connections Tri-Cities are a lost cause . . . are you a planner responsible for the mess? id so you have not a clue as to good spatial creativity . . .

    This conversation, and the simultaneous acrimonious Rize conversation too, go way beyond making excuses for a bad job.

    We do not need more crofter’s cottages, family tending the goat.

    Conventional planning as practiced, zoning, numbers, blame, has run its course.

    Point not taken: the conflict between private space and public amenity at ground level.

    We need less public participation and more public concern for creative input.

    That goes way beyond this conversation.

  • 64 Bill McCreery // Apr 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you Andrew Browne for your informed and instructive comments.

  • 65 Bill McCreery // Apr 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    The above comment should read:

    “Thank you Andrew Browne and several others for your informed and instructive comments.”

  • 66 Elizabeth Murphy // Apr 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Property taxes, DCLs, and CACs are the primary means for municipalities to fund their civic responsibilities. The province should look to other mechanisms to fund transit which is a provincial responsibility. Using property values to fund transit is provincial downloading.

    Currently, whenever a vehicle goes through AirCare there is a calculation of the amount of GHG’s based on mileage and vehicle emissions. It would be very simple from an administrative perspective to create a fee based on this number that would be added to auto insurance annually. This would be a reasonable polluter-pay mechanism that I believe most people would agree with. It could raise enough money for transit on a consistent basis to fund operations and expansion.

    Further, the existing Carbon Tax should not be “funding neutral” and subsidizing corporations’ capital improvements. The existing Carbon Tax should go towards public transit and energy efficiency of public buildings.

    Since most rail transit options are decades away from any significant expansion because of costs, we need to look at more reasonable options that can be implemented in the short term. The electric trolley bus system could replace diesel and provide an expanded grid system across the region for a fraction of the proposed amount on a single rail corridor. Electric trolley rapid bus system on key routes would substantially reduce the GHG levels of the region, especially if they are replacing cars and diesel buses.

  • 67 Eric Doherty // Apr 26, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Why not start talking about the truly obvious source of funding for transit, shifting spending away from roadway expansion (new Pattullo Bridge, South Fraser Perimeter Road freeway etc etc etc). I estimate that at least $1billion per year could be re-allocated across BC – see http://policyalternatives.org/transportationtransformation

  • 68 MB // Apr 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Elizabeth Murphy 66

    Property taxes, DCLs, and CACs are the primary means for municipalities to fund their civic responsibilities. The province should look to other mechanisms to fund transit which is a provincial responsibility. Using property values to fund transit is provincial downloading.

    I agree with in principle, but other jursdictions like Hong Kong have been very successful in building superb public transit by using their quasi-private transit agency’s development rights near stations.

    Not that we need to replicate HK’s intense densities and transit model, but a variation of this funding mechanism should not be casually flicked off the table in the light of the urban challenges ahead and senior government intransigence over the last half century when it comes to transit.

    Just saying.

    Your other ideas, Elizabeth, I think are very worthy of consideration, and I hope one or two with influence are reading this.

    BTW, I’ve noticed your comments more often on Fabula’s blog. A welcome voice, I must say. Thanks for running in the last election. I hope you consider running again with NSV next time. Contrary to other’s perceptions, I voted for a mixed council, and you were in the mix.

    Bill M., would you reconsider not running again?

  • 69 Elizabeth Murphy // Apr 26, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    The polluter-pay system to fund public transit through a vehicle GHG fee, shifting of current carbon taxes and gas taxes could likely cover an expanded electric trolley bus system, including electric rapid bus and some rail lines, all without a huge negative impact on the taxpayers, transit users or communities. We would not need to tap into property taxes or development related fees at all. And it could be implemented immediately.

    I am no fan of the Hong Kong model. Hong Kong is a city-state and what works there will not work here. Using development to fund transit is a complex model and it is unnecessary given that there are other much simpler options that the province could implement under their jurisdiction. No need for complicated regional or municipal agreements. No need to override municipal land use authority. Rather than shooting for the moon and getting nowhere, take a more balanced approach for something that is actually doable.

    Electric trolleys (both regular routes and rapid bus) are an economical way to reduce GHGs and expand transit for the whole City of Vancouver and most of the region. Trolleys are economical, quiet and clean so they do not generate the kind of pushback other forms of transit often do. However, I would even support as a compromise duel fuel electric trolley buses with diesel override for stretches that can’t easily accommodate the wire grid extension for part of the route. And when we can afford it, trams along rail corridors such as the existing Arbutus line can be added over time. Even extension of rapid rail transit to Central Broadway. But we need to think more practically at serving an entire network in an economical way that respects the diversity of communities and is not dependent on the station tower model that does not suit most communities outside of the downtown core.

    Transit should serve communities, not communities serving the transit system.

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