Opinion

EDITORIAL: Transit insults just keep on coming

The insults just keep on coming from TransLink and the provincial government.

The Port Mann Bridge and highway improvement project will soon be ready, but only the bridge will be tolled. All those Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver and Coquitlam residents who use the new freeway will pay nothing extra – unless they cross the bridge.

The fact that only the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges are tolled, and all others in the Lower Mainland are free, is of no consequence to the province or TransLink. Some people, like Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, openly cheer this unfair tolling policy.

Then a few months ago, TransLink said it would be unable to offer any bus service at all over the new bridge, citing budget shortfalls. This was announced despite minimal cutbacks of bus service in Vancouver and Burnaby. TransLink relented after a while, but with significant exceptions to the fast and frequent bus service initially promised when the tolled bridge project was announced.

There will be bus service from Langley every 10 minutes, as promised, but only during rush hours. Service at other times will be significantly less frequent – every 30 minutes during the day, and perhaps even less frequent in the evenings and on weekends.

Long waits at the Carvolth park-and-ride for a bus to SkyTrain are not likely to build support for the service. Many people will simply decide to drive – tolls or not. Then there’s the Carvolth park-and-ride itself. This project is just being completed, and will provide 650 parking spaces adjacent to Highway 1.

The province paid for the whole project, with not a dime coming from TransLink. It was to be turned over to TransLink on completion, and now TransLink has decided it will be a pay parking lot, along with other free lots.

This is the latest insult and needs to be stopped. If TransLink won’t reverse its decision, given the infrequent bus service that will be offered from Langley, then the province should refuse to turn the lot over to the transportation agency.

The province can retain ownership of the lot and allow people to park for free. Given the punitive tolling policy targeting Langley, it’s the least it can do.

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