It makes sense for Joe Trasolini to make noise now about Evergreen Line

Last November, Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini  expressed fears  about the future of the proposed $1.4-billion  Evergreen Line to Coquitlam in an interview with the Straight's Travis Lupick.

I notice that Trasolini echoed those concerns today in the Vancouver Sun.

There's a good reason for Trasolini to ramp up the pressure now. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is putting the final touches on his January 27 budget, and the Port Moody mayor would no doubt like a firm commitment for some federal funding.

So far, the Conservatives' point man for the region, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, has managed to duck criticism for the failure to deliver rapid transit to the Tri-Cities area.

The reality, however, is that Moore was the Conservative transport critic from 2001 to 2004  while the debate over the $2-billion Canada Line took place.

Moore never criticized the notion of putting a north-south line to the airport at the front of the queue, ahead of  a line  to Port Moody and Coquitlam.

When the Straight asked him about  this at the time,  Moore said decisions over the routing should be left to the region, even though the feds were sinking hundreds of millions into the deal.

Guess what? Moore was later elevated to become the federal minister responsible for the Olympics--a role he filled until Parliament was dissolved before the last election.

My bet is if Moore had stood up for his constituents back during the early debates over the Canada Line, he might never have become  the minister responsible for the Olympics.

But the Conservatives made a tactical decision to support the Canada Line, perhaps because they had their eyes on Raymond Chan's Liberal seat in Richmond, which the Conservatives eventually won.

The  Olympics was really about moving major capital projects to the front of the queue--including the $628-million upgrade of the Sea to Sky Highway, the $800-million convention-centre expansion, and the $2-billion Canada Line to Richmond and the airport.

These megaprojects were not getting the green light on their own merits prior to the decision to try to lure the Games to Vancouver.

Moore  would have sabotaged  his  political career if he had upset the boys at the Vancouver Board of Trade by getting in the way of this kind of spending. He  stayed  silent  about all of them, including the Canada Line.

Taxpayers will be paying for these projects long after the 2010 Olympics become a distant memory.

And one day, Tri-Cities  residents  stuck in  gridlock might  realize the reason they don't have rapid transit is because their politicians foolishly thought that if they kept  their mouths shut about the Canada Line and  if they just waited long enough, their turn would come.




Jan 8, 2009 at 8:31am

Who says the Evergreen Line will solve auto congestion? It's all about land development.

The case for the $1.4 billion SkyTrain Evergreen Line is terribly weak,
despite all hype and hoopla by local politicians, TransLink's version of a
P-3 is more like a ponzie scheme rather than an astute investment.
International banks, who have a long experience with transit P-3's, found
that light metro's like SkyTrain are not good investments and if the
private sector were to invest in a transit project, much cheaper LRT is the
mode to go. With examples of Dublin's and Nottingham's new P-3 LRT lines are operating at a profit, even after paying debt servicing charges. SkyTrain's flim-flam should be treated as a Nigerian E-mail scam.

Then there is the strange case of Gerald Fox, a well respected American
transit specialist, shredding TransLink's business case for the Evergreen
Line, in a widely circulated letter. Fox states;..."the analysis had made
assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain......It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding."

The Evergreen Line project is like the the Titanic with Joe Trassolini, Kevin Falcon, and the entire TransLink Board at the helm, racing through the fog, headlong into a financial iceberg.

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