Thursday, January 8, 2015

TransLink Referendum: more funding needed but TransLink execs must go

As we get closer to the upcoming vote on the TransLink Referendum, Metro Vancouver taxpayers will be required to vote on whether or not they want to pay more taxes in the form of a half percent increase in the Provincial Sales Tax. In a region where housing costs alone have soared out of control leaving wages in the dust, it is going to be a hard sell.

I am not alone when I say that I have a problem with the underlying principle behind transit funding  when compared to the underlying principle behind road funding.

Let's be clear; I am in favour of increasing rapid transit and bus service in the region. A well developed transit system (which ours is not) is something that Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley needs. I have no problem supporting increased funding for transit. However,  the TransLink Executive that consistently squanders hundreds of millions of dollars is making it difficult for people to support giving TransLink more money to squander. The current turnstile debacle is one prime example (of many prime examples) of how incompetent the TransLink Executive is. But back to the underlying principle.

Why a referendum for transit funding when road expansion does not require referendums?

The BC government has recently announced a bridge replacement for the Massey Tunnel at taxpayers' expense without a referendum. The bridge will benefit the billion dollar shipping and trucking industry but the average taxpayer will foot the bill. Likewise, increased transit funded by taxpayers will benefit the shipping and trucking industry in the form of less traffic on the roads for container trucks using those roads.  Why is it that public road expansion requires no referendum and a seemingly endless supply of funding but public transportation does not get even close to the funding that road building gets and now we need a referendum to decide if our public transportation system can receive a little bit more money to help it along?

Can we expect a better, well reasoned option to expand a needed transit system than what is currently being presented by our decision-makers? Obviously the people in power are unable to provide better and we as taxpayers are obviously unable to vote better. So here we are. We have a region where the population will increase, resulting in more commuters driving cars all while our decision-makers continue to argue about the details. Unfortunately with this referendum, we are voting on the better of two undesirable outcomes. So here we are.  And which is better?

Why voters in Burnaby should vote "Yes" in the referendum

The areas that have little to no transit options are the sources of the traffic congestion in Burnaby.  Commuters from under-serviced regions like Surrey and Langley need a rapid transit system that connects into the existing Millennium and Expo lines running through Burnaby. A prime example of non-Burnaby cars clogging Burnaby roads is the Port Mann Bridge and Hwy 1 expansion that has resulted in massive local traffic congestion on Canada Way as car commuters are avoiding the tolls on the Port Mann Bridge in favour of using the un-tolled Pattullo Bridge.   Had rapid transit been part of the Port Mann Expansion, we would not have been required to spend as much then as we do now. Regardless, expansion of the rapid transit system connecting into the existing SkyTrain lines from outside Burnaby will significantly decrease automobile traffic running through Burnaby as a viable commuting alternative.

TransLink Executive must be fired

It would be great if a "Yes" vote also meant that the current TransLink Executive is removed.  But that would require admitting that a lack of integrity exists among those that spend our money and make decisions on our behalf. I would love to be able to tell the execs that they are fired. Only in my dreams.

A "Yes" vote may get us part or all of the following but a "No" vote will definitely get us nothing more than what we already have which isn't much considering the growth path Metro Vancouver is on.


  1. I'm interested as to why you consider the current TransLink executive to be wasteful. You bring up the faregate project, but that was something forced upon TransLink by the province. The delays associated with the project are certainly ridiculous, but they are the fault of Cubic, the contractor, which is certainly a proven company when it comes to installing such programs, but appears to have agreed to provide something that they are unable to (mobile bus tapoffs). Additionally, Cubic is responsible for any extra costs associated with the delays as it is a fixed cost contract.

    1. When soliciting for bids on the Compass Turnstile Project, TransLink was responsible for understanding the factors regarding transferability between buses, SkyTrain and seabuses before conveying those requirements to the bidding contractors. Once the bids were received, TransLink was responsible for ensuring that the shortlisted contractors clearly articulated how they would meet the prescribed requirements and budget. Either TransLink failed to understand how its own transit system works, it failed to articulate its needs to the bidding contractors, or it failed to adequately screen the winning bid to ensure that it clearly showed how the project's objectives would be met. TransLink should have a paper trail of the bidding and awarding process. The details of that process should be made public.

      Here are some links to some other examples of TransLink wasting money at our expense and why the Executive should be fired: