Surrey transit advocate fears plans to expand bus service in jeopardy

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      A Surrey transit advocate fears the suburbs could lose out on desperately needed improvements to bus service because of recent uncertainty over TransLink’s funding.

      The TransLink mayors council announced yesterday it had voted to withdraw the option of using a municipal property-tax hike to partially fund a three-year transit-expansion plan.

      The move came after Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom ruled out using new revenue sources like the carbon tax, additional fuel taxes, or vehicle tolls to fund TransLink.

      In part, the regional transit-expansion plan would see new rapid bus service along King George Boulevard, across the new Port Mann Bridge, and in other areas.

      Stephanie Ryan, a council candidate in the last Surrey election, expressed worry the planned service increases are now in jeopardy.

      “I expect that the expansion of services will be scrapped and that existing services will be at risk as well,” Ryan told the Straight by phone today (April 13).

      “I think that it’s a real shame because it’s just one more example of the suburbs losing out within TransLink.”

      In a statement yesterday, TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis said a review of the decision by the mayors council is needed to determine the impact on the transportation authority.

      Ryan didn’t blame the civic leaders for protecting a key municipal revenue source. However, she said not enough time was set aside to find alternative funding options.

      “If Surrey’s truly striving to become urban, people need to have transportation options outside of just driving.”


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      Apr 13, 2012 at 4:56pm

      "desperately needed improvements to bus service "

      Can this be quantified, what is the revenue generated per km on existing routes? Last I checked these outlying routes were Translink's biggest money drain, ahead of even the region's bridges.

      There's too much politics involved. The Broadway-UBC line would have the biggest ridership of any skytrain on day 1, and because it's profitable since it doesn't use drivers , tires, and diesel that would provide the money and buses for routes elsewhere.

      But we're stuck with the Evergreen line, which got bumped up to #2 in priority in exchange for bumping the #2 Downtown/YVR/Richmond line to completion before the Olympics. 30 years after the first Skytrain line, the most in demand and most profitable line remains to be built.

      6 7Rating: -1

      Stan Mortensen

      Apr 13, 2012 at 7:56pm

      You can always tell when someone lives north of the river when they comment on transit and by gosh we just can't let those poor yokums south of the river even have a system comparable to that which Vancouver had in the 1950's which by the way Vancouver's population was a scant 350,000. Today, Surrey as an example has a population approaching 500,000 and will pass the so-called big city within the next 10 or so years. Surrey has less access to transit internally today than Vancouver had 60 years ago.
      Interestingly, Surrey is not asking for the expensive Skytrain technology as we recognize that while it is ideally suited for the area north of the river, we need the infinitely more affordable surface LRT which will work better with our wider streets and boulevards.
      As to expansion of the Millenium Line out to UBC, that can still progress, but it needs to be done on a pay/go basis and station by station rather than the let's do the whole thing now. At this point the next point for that line to move to should be to Cambie to join up with the Canada Line.
      In the short to medium term, effective transit in the lower mainland is not going to be profitable our overall population base when compared to say Japan is too small and will not reach those levels for a very long time. What we need to do here is accept the fact that transit will always be subsidized to some extent by government, be that federal, provincial or municipal. We also need to rein in government when it comes to planning expansion with a reality check, that sometimes (most times) you do not need a Rolls Royce when something less expensive and less extravagant will do just fine.

      7 7Rating: 0

      Reality Check

      Apr 13, 2012 at 10:53pm

      Too bad she didn't show some leadership a couple of weeks ago and rally support for the vehicle levy or some other way of funding badly needed transit improvements. She is not alone though. All Watts has done is complain about tolls instead of fighting for more transit funding.

      5 3Rating: +2

      Evil Eye

      Apr 14, 2012 at 1:32pm

      @ SharonM

      A UBC light rail line. costing about one tenth of that of a subway would attract the greatest ridership. The problem with Skytrain, it just attract ridership, just recycled bus riders forced to transfer to the mode.

      Modern Light Rail has several advantages over bus and SkyTrain, including lower operating costs and the ability to create a modal shift from car to transit (if designed right). Let us not forget that modern LRT can achieve greater capacities than SkyTrain, because the driverless SkyTrain is constrained by its automatic operation.

      For the cost of a UBC SkyTrain subway, one can build:
      1) The full build, Vancouver/Richmond to Chilliwack RftV/Leewood interurban.
      2) A White Rock to Surrey Centre LRT
      3) A BCIT to UBC/Stanley Park LRT/streetcar

      and still have change left over.

      Which optionserveld seve the transit customer best?

      4 6Rating: -2

      @sharon clueless

      Apr 14, 2012 at 11:33pm

      bee line moves 20,000 people daily. the ubc skytrain-subway line will never get built. TransLink is paying off $260 million in interest payments every year for the dumb skytrain lines to date.

      translink will not be around much longer.

      7 4Rating: +3

      p lg

      Apr 16, 2012 at 12:42am

      "The Broadway-UBC line would have the biggest ridership of any skytrain on day 1, and because it's profitable..."

      Profitable? You've been listening to Translink's "communication" team of Drew and Ken too much.

      Since when has any of the urban rail projects in the region been profitable?

      I know Translink does a great job of combining all its expenses in broad line items in its financial statements but that's no reason to have any fantasy that urban rail is profitable.

      With deeply discounted fares through the U-Pass system there would be no way of ever recovering the operating costs let alone servicing the debt from the capital costs of more than $2 billion.

      For those wanting more and more rail perhaps you should pay the full price for this service or perhaps doubling your property taxes or doubling fuel taxes would be to your liking.

      This RedInk beast is insatiable. Transit users, property owners and vehicle drives are doomed to more taxes, fees and fare increases forever.

      9 7Rating: +2