Opinion

What benefits of transportation plan?

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The Vancouver Metro mayors committee on transportation has recently endorsed a 10-year $7.5 billion plan that hopefully will never come to fruition.

The plan is so vague and funding so uncertain that it is a wonder it ever got this far.

If this plan were to be decided on in each individual municipal jurisdiction, it would probably require a referendum because it covers a 10-year span. Normally, municipalities must place such issues before the voters if the payment plan extends beyond five years. The other alternative would be to pay our estimated share out of existing capital reserves.

The local burden is going to be enormous because the province has several times rejected TransLink efforts to access the carbon tax. As sure as death and income tax, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows taxpayers will end up paying unfairly for services in Surrey, Vancouver and the other large jurisdictions west of us.

What it means for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is very likely higher taxes and levies on everything, including surcharges at the pump, with little or no improvement to the existing lousy transit service we already don’t enjoy.

There was some mention of a study to look at the feasibility of direct bus service from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to the Coquitlam/Port Coquitlam transportation hubs, but that will only happen upon the completion of the Evergreen SkyTrain extension scheduled for a few more years down the road.

That’s just peachy, isn’t it? Study and discuss something that has already been studied and discussed for more than 20 years with little or no progress to date.

And wouldn’t you know it, huge funding to further improve cycling routes, which will be utilized by a tiny percentage of commuters in the Lower Mainland.

Of course, with the possibility of new super bus service from Maple Ridge to areas west of the Pitt River Bridge, planning and design for such stops on the highway  must begin almost immediately.

There seems to have been little discussion or consideration of how people in Albion or Silver Valley are supposed to access the super buses, and those folks will probably keep right on driving their private vehicles to commute to points west of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

To be fair, Mayor Ernie Daykin said there will be improvements to Albion bus service and new bus routes to service Silver Valley, but I heard no mention of a start-up date.

There are also plans to add 10 cars and one engine to the Cadillac service offered by West Coast Express from Mission to downtown Vancouver.

Besides asking the province to share the carbon tax to help pay for needed transit and transportation improvements, the mayors have also suggested property taxes, road taxes, tolls on the proposed new Pattullo Bridge and a few other schemes, all of which are going to be greeted by a loud chorus of snorts and harrumphs by those of us for whom transit serves little or no useful purpose.

Mayor Daykin has represented us in an earnest but frustrating manner with TransLink, but to little or no avail. Perhaps it’s time to stand up and be heard and kick a little verbal butt so that folks out here in the boondocks will know how hard you are trying.

As a side note, Peter Fassbender, the former mayor of Langley, is the past chairman of the mayors’ committee on TransLink, a role in which he excelled in accomplishing nothing of note on behalf of communities on this side of the Fraser River.

He’s now the minister of education, and he is continuing to excel at demonstrating little or no leadership skills.

 

– Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former district councillor.

 

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