News Views: Off the rails

Long-suffering West Coast Express train needs a champion, will MP Ruimy be the one?

Local Liberal MP Dan Ruimy foresees SkyTrain or light rail transit replacing the West Coast Express, one day.

It’s an admirable thought, and surely a popular one with commuters tired of train delays in recent months.

Ruimy has said the delays are unacceptable, and certainly if people are inconvenienced by transit, they will look for more expedient means of travel.

But given the trouble finding ways to fund transit improvements in Metro Vancouver the past 15 years or so – for which there remains no solution – and the lack of existing transit options in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and that SkyTrain and LRT for this area are in nobody’s plans, nor on the radar of either local mayor, such talk may be jumping the tracks.

Even if the region’s population is expected to double in the next 20 years, a new transportation line out this way would run about $10 billion, according to Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker.

More realistic may be his suggestion of twinning the CP Rail tracks, from Vancouver to Mission, to accommodate more track time for commuter rail.

CP has expressed an interest in constructing an over- or underpass on Harris Road to allow it to assemble longer trains, and more often, and Becker said another dedicated track has been part of the discussion.

He said the right-of-way exists.

CP has a multi-year agreement with TransLink and has stated it will continue that long-standing relationship while balancing the needs of freight and commuter customers.

But how?

Implementation of Phase 1 of the 10-year transportation plan announced this week catered to SkyTrain and SeaBus riders.

The West Coast Express was delayed again on Jan. 10 and Jan. 3. And the West Coast Express train bus service ended Dec. 30.

What are local commuters to do?

Talk is cheap. Transit is not. It’s time to negotiate with CP. Maybe our MP could lead the way.

 

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News