The indispensable Jeff Nagel, who covers transportation issues for the Surrey Leader (and should be doing it for a larger audience), quotes me in bclocalnews on the departure of TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast:

SFU City Program director Gordon Price says the funding standoff with Victoria and now Prendergast’s departure signals a “tragic” turning point for the region.

“As of this moment, our future is going to be auto-dependent,” Price said. “The truckers have won.”

He said he has no hope the province will now seriously come to the table.

Metro Vancouver appears destined to have transit services capped, he added, while roads and bridges expand to carry cargo and livability deteriorates.

“We’re being hung out to dry on the future of the region,” Price said. “All the sustainable region initiatives, all the transit-oriented communities – all the stuff we talk about – we have to be honest about it. At best, it’s on hold. At worst, it has no future.”

Price predicts the province will push the Evergreen Line construction through, but without sufficient funding, forcing other transit cutbacks coupled with steep property tax hikes.

Other proposed rapid transit extensions will likely falter.

“Prendergast is the best judge of this,” Price said. “He looked at the situation, saw this wasn’t going anywhere and said ‘What am I doing here?'”

No quibbles with the quotes.  But the headline says “Departure of TransLink’s CEO ‘tragic’ turn for region.”

Not quite.  The CEO of  TransLink doesn’t make the decisions; he implements the direction of his board – and whether Tom stays or goes doesn’t determine the future of the region. 

But the decision by the Mayor’s Council late last month, supported by the appointed board, to choose “Funding Stabilization” as the choice for the 2010 ten-year plan, even at another $130 million, is effectively a cap on transit expansion.  No way will we be shaping the region’s growth with a sustainable transportation strategy.   The growth south of the Fraser and east of North Road will be shaped by the expansion of the roads and bridges now underway.

This is what their future is going to look like:

Port Mann ramps - north end

An autocad image of the north end of the new Port Mann Bridge.

In that sense, the truckers won.  Paul Landry, writing for the B.C. Trucking Association in the Sun this week, called for maintaining the status quo on transit while striking “a balance” – i.e. more roads and bridges.  And that’s what we’re getting: roads and bridges.

Sea to Sky, finished.  Golden Ears Bridge, up and running.  Pitt River Bridge, just opened.  Port Mann Bridge, under construction.  Highway 1 expansion, underway.  South and North Fraser Perimeter Roads, in process.  Interchanges, arterials, the Fraser Highway, the Lougheed Highway, the border access roads – the list is staggering and hardly complete.  And, given the current political realities – the refusal to provide TransLink with new funding options – there won’t  be many more buses running on all those new roads.

Simply: our transportation infrastructure for the next decade has already been determined.  The options for the next generation have been chosen.  We’re going full speed ahead, backwards.  To the world of the 1950s and 60s, when we assumed that we would be driving everywhere for everything, and went out and built it that way.   Now, in most of the region, we’re doing it again.

And that’s tragic.