B.C. Liberal, NDP leadership hopefuls ignore transit funding

District of North Vancouver mayor Richard Walton says that most of the candidates in the B.C. Liberal and NDP leadership contests “aren’t really current” on the issue of long-term funding for public transportation.

“I think I haven’t heard of any really active comments concerning the funding here beyond the general comments of wanting to work closely with our level of government, which is a prudent thing to say and do,” the chair of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation told the Straight by phone.

Walton recently met with B.C. transportation minister Shirley Bond. According to Walton, Bond indicated that “it will be up to the new premier and the new executive council, which probably will be having their meetings in March, to even determine what priorities and time lines” they’re going to follow.

Bond previously extended the deadline for TransLink to confirm it’s paying its $400-million share of the Evergreen Line project to March 31.

Of the six B.C. Liberal leadership hopefuls, only former Parksville mayor Ed Mayne agreed to the Straight’s request for comment regarding TransLink funding.

“I’d like to sit down and have conversations with all of these people that are looking for funding and let’s set our priorities as to what’s going to be the best for all of British Columbia and not just for one area,” Mayne said by phone.

The mayors’ council needs to make a decision within the first quarter of this year on two supplemental plans endorsed by the TransLink board. Both plans identify property-tax increases as the main source of funding for transit expansion, a measure opposed by a number of municipal politicians in the region.

Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini told the Straight he’s encouraged by a statement from NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth that revenues from the carbon tax should finance public transportation.

Environmentalist Eric Doherty wants leadership hopefuls in the two parties to commit to shifting money from freeway expansion to transit.

“Politicians want to convince us that we can afford everything,” Doherty told the Straight by phone, “that this is sort of shovelling money off the back of a truck in multiple directions. People are starting to realize that we’ve got to set priorities.”




Jan 29, 2011 at 4:52pm

I want a reduction in GHG emissions without mindlessly spending money on transit which does not reduce GHG emissions significantly. You can run 1 million buses and you wouldn't be taking cars off the roads - it would do the opposite. If you want to reduce GHG emissions, increase the fuel efficiency of cars. You are well meaning but barking up the wrong tree.


Jan 30, 2011 at 10:07am

@ comments are erroneous. There would be no need to run 1 million buses in the region to effectively reduce GHG emissions.

Almost 50% of all the cars in the region are not used for commuting. Currently there are only 1200 buses in daily operation in the region. Many parts of the region are poorly serviced by transit. The three urban rail lines in the region may look busy but that's due to station design, small rail cars, small number of cars per train and not real numbers.

Had former transportation tzar Kevin Falcon, the Falconator, and his appointed directors of Translink dumped the Canada Line and taken that money and invested in 3000 buses there would have ample room to accommodate over 150,000 more passengers per hour on the transit system unlike the 6800 per hour the Canada Line is designed to accommodate.

The buses would not have been limited to a single track rail line going along only one corridor of the region.

Investing in 3000 buses would have provided a "B" Line type service on all the arterial roadways in the region at frequent intervals, much like the B-Line 99 service.

This would have done wonders to reducing the current convoy of 500,000 single occupied vehicles roaming the regional roadways during a single hour during the morning rush period.

And as long as we allow city's within the region to develop in chaotic ways, designing subdivisions far away from essential shopping, car based housing developments, commercial developments, employment centres far from transit services we will never have a transit system capable of reducing GHG emissions.

But we don't need a million buses to make good progress towards reducing and perhaps eliminating GHG emissions.

Building concrete and steel rich urban rail systems, both components not well know for being light on GHG emissions and tens of thousands of dump trucks loads containing millions of tonnes of dirt from underground or ditch digging along Cambie surely was not a low GHG project.

Adding 20,000 - 40,000 more vehicles a year to the already 1.4 million vehicles on the region's roadways, whether they be "fuel efficient" or even classified as zero emission vehicles does not seem a good plan for reducing GHG emissions. Every component on those cars has some form of GHG emissions attributed to them.

One would have to compare a zero emission bus or fuel efficient bus to 50 vehicles to determine which has the least GHG emissions. Each part or component must have its GHG footprint analyzed.

3000 buses or 150,000 more cars...really you can presume that buses create more GHG's than this many cars.

When you have fragmented development and subsequently fragmented and limited transit services you can't really presume that more vehicles, more fuel efficient or not, will render our region's air quality better.

Provide a comprehensive web of full transit services, only build urban rail systems when the buses are running bumper to bumper on a corridor and stop the Evergreen Line from being built right now, would go a long way to eliminate GHG emissions and create a more livable region.


Jan 30, 2011 at 10:28am

Another interesting fact...in the last 10 years Vancouver's population grew by 70,000. The number of registered vehicles increased in the same 10 years by 43,000!

It's not just the communities south of the Fraser that have increases in vehicle registrations.

Vancouver, only 1/3 the size of Surrey, has 55,000 more registered vehicles than Surrey.

Vancouver has 25% of the population of the region and has 25% of all registered vehicles.

Vancouver has a comprehensive grid of transit services on almost all of its arterial roads and has a significant number of transit service hours, much greater percentage for its population than Surrey (a truly transit challenged community partially due to the vehicle centric land use planning).