Bill 43 foes applaud NDP promise to return TransLink board to elected reps

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      If Carole James becomes premier on May 12, she and her party will dissolve TransLink’s current handpicked board and replace it with elected representatives.

      On page nine of its 56-page election platform, the NDP has promised to “repeal Bill 43 to restore democratic control and public accountability to local government and taxpayers”.

      “I think it’s a good move,” Dave Fields, a long-time critic of the Gateway Program and a B.C. Green party volunteer, told the Straight by phone. “I fully support and endorse that element of the NDP’s platform. What we desperately need in this region is an authority that can implement its plans and fund them fully, and not be in the pocket of the highways minister. TransLink has always been challenged, but it’s primary challenge has been interference from the provincial government.”

      Patrick Condon, UBC’s James Taylor chair in landscape and liveable environments, told the Straight the NDP’s plan would be “a positive step”.

      Condon, who opposed the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act, said in a phone interview that the previous board was maligned by Falcon as being too parochial, especially after it voted down the RAV Line (now Canada Line) twice in 2004.

      “The accusation that they were parochial was unfair,” Condon said. “The regional elected officials that comprised that previous board had a courageous debate around the Canada Line and they put their careers on the line.”

      B.C. transportation minister Kevin Falcon had approved the board rejig in 2007, after he set in motion a year-long TransLink governance review in 2006. His primary complaint had been that the board did not function well with elected regional representatives.

      In November 2007, NDP transportation critic Maurine Karagianis told the Straight that Bill 43 was “the most insidious piece of legislation” the B.C. Liberals passed since winning their second majority in 2005.

      That month, Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog demanded an apology from Falcon during a furious legislative debate on Bill 43.

      “I am not going to withdraw this bill, and I have nothing to apologize for,” Falcon told the Straight in November 2007 in reference to Krog’s comments.

      Fields said that if TransLink can be freed from “interference”, it will be a far more successful organization.

      “TransLink has identified the need to double our transit ridership by 2020 in order to meet our greenhouse-gas emissions, and they simply can’t do that from inside Kevin Falcon’s pocket,” Fields said.

      B.C. Liberal campaign staff told the Straight that Falcon was unavailable to comment today.



      Ken Hardie

      Apr 15, 2009 at 6:21pm

      Hi Matt,

      While we do not have comments on the positions taken in your article, we do need to address the 'hand picked board' reference. TransLink's Board is appointed by the Mayors' Council from candidates that have been pre-qualified (IE shown to meet the criteria) by an independent Screening Panel. BTW, the Screening Panel has sole discretion to set Directors' remuneration.

      Had this discussion with Charlie Smith over the weekend and he edited his article accordingly.

      Call me if you need further background.


      Evil eye

      Apr 15, 2009 at 8:23pm

      As it stands, King Gordo runs TransLink and from what the 'eye' has been told, he just loves to run Canada line trains and toot their horns, just like a kid's Xmas train set! Yippee, we spent $3 billion on a train set for Gordo!

      Evil eye

      Apr 15, 2009 at 8:35pm

      Needing background from Ken Hardie, is like asking for background from a revisionist historian.

      Hardie is a high paid TransLink shill and his job is to spin stories to favour TransLink.

      TransLink's board is indeed handpicked, by Campbell cronies, overseen by a hapless Harcourt (who seems to not come to his senses after his fall). Gordon Campbell runs the show, make no mistake and he tells is inept hacks on the board to do what he wants or lose that free cash they get for doing nothing.

      Last week Gordo ordered $100 million worth of turnstiles for SkyTrain and today he promises U-passes for TransLink board decision there. Corpses have more life in them than the current board members!

      Want truthful information about transit, ask anybody but don't ask TransLink or there employees, telling the truth is not in their mandate!

      Ken Hardie

      Apr 16, 2009 at 7:24am

      Poor Mr. Evil, I invite you to read the legislation and then describe the board selection process. It will be interesting to see how you connect the dots back to your premise. I'm going to go revise my salami sandwich now while we wait.

      Evil Eye

      Apr 16, 2009 at 11:44am

      Really, if the TransLink Board was so independent Kenny me boy, why did Gordo & Co. announce two big TransLink initiatives and not the highly paid TransLink board? Did the Premier think that his cronies are not worthy and merely figureheads, paid to keep quiet?

      Let's see $100 million Fare gate system with $20 million annual operating costs and the hugely expensive U-Pass fare scheme.

      Funny that! Now Kenny, give the Eye some background on that!

      Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of TransLink - The Evil Eye knows!

      Ken Hardie

      Apr 16, 2009 at 2:01pm

      OK...while we wait for you to reconcile your position on how the Board is appointed with the legislation, here's the deal on fare gates:

      TransLink has always maintained there is not an economic argument for it to install fare gates -- the recovery from fare evasion does not equal the capital and operating costs. However, the federal government has committed $30 million and the province another $40 million to buy the gates. Sounds to me like a pretty good reason for them to do the annoucement.

      BTW, the reno's needed to existing Expo Line stations for fare gates will be covered by the bigger plan to expand their capacity. If they had to be done for fare gates alone, the costs would have been more than TransLink was willing to spend.

      TransLink is putting $30 million into the mix for Smart Cards. Now, if you're ever going to put in fare gates, the best time is to do it along with a Smart Card system. Timing is even better if the capital and renovation costs are going to be covered by someone else, which they are in this case.

      Ongoing operating costs for gates are estimated at $11 mil/yr -- subtract recovered revenue from lower fare evasion plus additional revenue from better ridership at night, and you're still not even, but close enough to make it worthwhile...especially given the public's perception on the matter.

      The U-Pass is a proposal at this point...costing, capacity and all of the other issues will be dealt with in the fulness of time if the idea ends up as policy. Don't forget, the concept is for all of BC, not just Metro Vancouver.

      Always a pleasure, "E"...

      Evil Eye

      Apr 16, 2009 at 3:58pm

      Why fare gates in the first place? They will cost more to operate than revenue protected. On other blogs, the operating costs are in the order of $20 million annually and the revenue lost to fare evasion is a paltry $6 million. Hmmmmmmmm wonderful management.

      According to European transit blogs - sur gut! - that European metros are trying to do away with faregates and turnstiles as they have nothing to do with safety and deter ridership. Hmmmmmmmm

      Faregates = better ridership at night - you just got to be joking, how can faregates do that? Your dreaming in Technicolor! Hmmmmm more TransLink spin.

      How are the SkyTrain station renovations going to increase capacity? And how will faregates help, when they constrict capacity? The only way to increase capacity on SkyTrain is to extend the station platforms, are they? If not, the SkyTrain station reno is BS - a con-job. Funny that European metro stations last for generations but not so in Vancouver; guess more friends of the government are involved.

      What I see is a major scandal by friends of the government getting their way to do what they want with the taxpayer. Huge sums of money are being squandered on frills and inept operation, costing the taxpayer Billions of dollars.

      You know what, I find the bus and metro system user unfriendly and being forced to buy smart cards makes the system even unfriendlier - I'll just take the car instead and I hope the municipalities with SkyTrain, pay for SkyTrain and do not tax the rest for your bosses games!

      Actually Kennie, you are a frill (I guess the Campbell cronies on the Board haven't a clue about transit) and I wouldn't be surprised if you fired and replaced with a turnstile! Once a shill, always a shill.

      Apr 16, 2009 at 4:29pm

      Mr. Hardie:

      There is a tone of vulgarity in your second update I find offputting. Kindly refrain from talking up your salami sandwich and I'll get my mind back to the business at hand...

      Ken Hardie

      Apr 16, 2009 at 7:48pm

      Well, I can report that the salami sandwich is now an ex-salami sandwich, so it's not to be spoken of again, I promise.

      Now, Evil, Evil, Evil....part of the master transit plan for the region is to double capacity on the Expo Line. That means more SkyTrain cars (the latest batch is currently arriving) and longer platforms at our old Expo Line stations (yes, you nailed it!). if we are going to be moving more people in and out of the stations, the entrance ways will need to be larger, ergo the reno's that will accomodate fare gate arrays.

      More ridership at night with fare gates? Most likely yes. Riders tell us they avoid the system at night because of the presence of undesirables on the system, and experience elsewhere shows that the undesirables who act out and make others feel uncomfortable are more likely to be fare evaders. The other aspect of the equation is that with fare gates you need more staff to monitor them...that factors into the cost, for sure, but they also provide more eyes and ears on the system and that too has been called for by SkyTrain passengers for a long time.

      Fact is, E old sock, is that there are many unbelievers out there. You may not believe anything I have to say...but there are even more who don't believe our fare evasions stats (upon which you rely), regardless of the source or the number of times any number of different audits produce the same figures. The whole fare evasion perception is one of the most durable I've ever seen, exceeded only by the belief that anyone in public sector management is paid way too much for all the fun they get to have.

      And this has been good sport, E...although I don't doubt your sincerity or belief in your point of view for a moment.


      Evil Eye

      Apr 16, 2009 at 10:48pm

      Just where have fare gates made a transit system safer? Nowhere? Even London which have faregates going in and out of the system, has a high crime rate. Really, we don't need this propaganda.

      Funny about increasing station platforms along the SkyTrain Line, it isn't needed, really, something doesn't add up and me thinks there is a secret agreement to purchase ART cars (only Vancouver calls ART SkyTrain) and when viewing the original specs for the Expo Line, it should be able to carry 15,000 persons in an hour going in.

      On another blog, there is all sorts of interesting info on SkyTrain and TransLink and me thinks, you are full of hot air, well paid hot air.

      As for the transit system, tried it, don't like it, not going to use it, faregates or no. What the Evil Eye sees is an organization desperate to spin nonsense, because nonsense repeated becomes fact.