Letters to the Editor

LETTERS:Transit in the Valley non-existent

Well, how long has it taken for South of Fraser mayors to deduce the TransLink’s transit plans for the Fraser Valley are almost non-existent? Where were they when they voted yes for the Canada Line project?

Here is the problem. TransLink inherited and then continued with building obsolete, yet very expensive light metro, while at the same time, rejecting light rail transit. Vancouver is almost unique in the world doing this, which means TransLink and Metro Vancouver have opted to build with only extremely expensive light-metro transit systems.

Light-metro’s cost per kilometre, now over $90 million/km for SkyTrain, or over $125 million/km for Canada Line subway, has done four damaging things:

1). Compelled TransLink’s planners to plan for only light metro-style transit systems, even if it is LRT, example: the proposed Evergreen LRT Line.

2). Forced the now obsolete light-metro operating philosophy on the region, where all bus routes lead to a central light metro spine. This means transit customers are forced to transfer at least once to complete their transit journey and one loses at least 70 per cent of potential ridership per transfer.

3). Created the myth that there isn’t the density rail transit in the Fraser Valley, leading to the Gateway highway program.

4). Has a very large annual subsidy, now exceeding $200 million a year, to pay debt servicing charges, which siphoned off scarce transit dollars from the rest of the transit system.

Today in Spain, transit planners are building LRT, for just over $5 million/km. In Karlsruhe, Germany, with a regional population and size on par with the Lower Mainland operates over 400 km of LRT, greatly reducing costs by track sharing with mainline railways. The city of Ulm, population 110,000, is building a second LRT line to complement their existing line.

Regional mayors must concede that TransLink’s role was to build expensive Canada Line light-metro in Vancouver and now, politicos in Vancouver want an extremely expensive SkyTrain subway to UBC, and what Vancouver wants, Vancouver gets.

Kevin Falcon’s incarnation of TransLink is to continue the status quo of building expensive light-metro systems for only Vancouver, at the regional taxpayers’ expense. His hand-picked board of mainly Vancouver-centred political friends and politicos will ensure this will happen.

Who – especially Liberal Valley mayors, councillors, and even MLAs – are not afraid to tell Campbell to bell the Falcon cat and his Vancouver-only light-metro planning?

Malcolm Johnston

Light Rail Committee, Delta

Region’s system too expensive

Re: TransLink’s new members of the board.

Impressive, but at what cost to the already heavily taxed taxpayer? What Mr. Kevin Falcon does not tell the taxpayers is that our public transit system is the most expensive in North America.

What Mr. Kevin Falcon does not tell the taxpayers is that the biggest city in Canada – Toronto – has a bigger public transit system made up of buses, subways and streetcars and much smaller board, therefore providing affordable public transit at half the cost of ours.

This is just the beginning of modern dictatorship in this province and it all began with BC Ferries. What’s next? Maybe privatize the position of all those elected. Let’s not forget at election time what these B.C. Liberals have done to us.

Al Dinis, Delta

TransLink changes welcomed 

Re: “Let’s get rolling, (Editorial, The Leader, Dec. 5).

You won’t find me shedding any tears over the changes to TransLink’s board. 

The new legislation that removes TransLink from the control and influence of politicians is a welcome step and one that’s long overdue. TransLink’s existing board is one of the biggest reasons the Lower Mainland is so far behind when it comes to transportation infrastructure.   

If you want to see what having a professional board can achieve, just take a look at Vancouver International Airport.  Fifteen years ago they took the very same step and put a professional board of directors in place. Today, the airport is one of the most highly rated airports in the world with numerous awards. 

Why should the people of the Lower Mainland settle for the mediocre results we’ve seen from TransLink’s current board? 

The airport’s successes over the last 15 years more than demonstrate that a professional board is far superior when it comes to building transportation infrastructure.

Why shouldn’t we have an award-winning transportation system on par with our award-winning airport?  Why should we shoot for second best when we can have the best?

Solving the Lower Mainland’s transportation problems is going to require tapping into the best minds and resources available.  It’s time to put best practices to work for the Lower Mainland’s gridlocked transportation system by reinventing TransLink and putting some real transportation expertise in place.

Sheri Wiens, Mission

Get Moving BC

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