At a chamber meeting last week, a visiting NDP MLA heard familiar cries that Maple Ridge is woefully underserved and feels forgotten when it comes to transit.
Liberal MLA Doug Bing, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, was at the same meeting and reminded the others that his provincial government built new bridges in both communities in his riding in the past decade. He neglected to mention that the federal government provided almost half the funding for the Pitt River Bridge, or that the Golden Ears Bridge was the first to have tolls in the region.
The federal government is now promising funding for five new West Coast Express cars, but the province and mayors’ council still haven’t agreed how to come up with a third more of the funding for TransLink’s regional transportation strategy, for which voters rejected a half-a-per-cent sales tax increase last year. Maple Ridge was virtually left out of that plan – except for a loose promise to add an express bus to SkyTrain in Coquitlam.
Chamber president Mike Morden pointed out that some Maple Ridge neighbourhoods are not even served by bus service, and that it’s difficult for residents to support a plan that sees a bulk of the funding spent on projects in Vancouver and Richmond and Surrey.
No one is asking for a SkyTrain, or LRT line in Maple Ridge any time soon. But a resolution to the long-standing request for more track time for West Coast Express would appease many. That can’t happen until a new deal is reached between TransLink and CP Rail on track rental time. The last contract expired Halloween night 2015.
A deal for more track time won’t be cheap. But the infrastructure is in place. The demand exists. It could ease congestion on our roads, and pressure and expense to build new ones.
The local chamber advocates for equal application of mobility pricing across Metro Vancouver. That consists of a user-pay approach to funding TransLink that involves auto and bicycle users, as well as those on public transit.
As Morden said, Maple Ridge doesn’t ask for a lot.
Just its fair share.
– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News