Despite sharing some of the public’s negative views of TransLink, Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker said he’s voting ‘yes’ in the upcoming transit referendum.
The mayor said he’s setting aside his “distaste” for the funding process being forced on the public, and any skepticism around TransLink’s management, and responding to a pragmatic question: “Is this the best deal we’re going to get for the region for a while?”
If Metro residents vote no to a 0.5 per cent increase in their provincial tax rate, then they won’t get transit improvements, and they won’t get what Becker calls “general relief” from congestion in the region.
With a rapidly rising population, the Lower Mainland will see traffic congestion either get a little better, or continue to get worse.
“There is no such thing as a status quo,” he asserts.
Becker clarified he was speaking personally, and not on behalf of Pitt Meadows council.
Voters will decide whether to fund the 10-year, $7.5 billion transit and transportation improvement plan by mail-in ballot from March 16 to May 29.
Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are lumped together for the sake of transit planning, and Becker said those communities need to be heard by the transit authority.
“We need to work with TransLink to make sure our region is the subject of a proper transit analysis,” said Becker.
He serves on the Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation, but not the TransLink Board of Directors. Those two bodies govern TransLink, and Becker said there is “a lot of work to be done” on their relationship.
“When you look at issues like fare evasion and the compass card, you have to shake your head,” said Becker.
Fare evasion has been a major issue for TransLink. Bus riders didn’t pay for their ride more than 2.8 million times in 2013. The $194 million Compass card program to stop fare evasion is a year behind schedule.
TransLink management has been heavily criticized during the referendum, and on Wednesday replaced CEO Ian Jarvis, in a bid to shore up public confidence.
Jarvis stays on, at his full pay, as an advisor, but the new CEO for an interim of at least six months will be Doug Allen. Allen was the president and CEO of InTransitBC – a P3 company that built and operates the Canada Line. Allen will be paid $35,000 a month.