My Business in Vancouver column – Part 1:
TransLink has no more money. Gas-tax revenue is down, there’s no new source of funding from the province, no more property tax from the municipalities and not even approval for an anticipated fare increase.
Indeed, one wonders whether Martin Crilly, the TransLink Commissioner, realized he was giving cover to all the authority’s critics when he turned down the fare increase and sealed TransLink’s fate: it was now “officially” inefficient and would have to find any new money internally.
That took any expansion plans for already-promised transit off the table.
So why is TransLink moving forward on planning for a new Pattullo Bridge that will be one of the widest structures in Western Canada?
Before the Golden Ears Bridge opened, there were nine lanes across the river. When the new Port Mann Bridge opens, there will be 19 lanes. With a new six-lane Pattullo, that would be 25 lanes – all for cars and trucks.
As experience with Golden Ears has shown, tolls might even reduce demand below conservative projections – this at a time when vehicle use by the younger generation is dropping, energy prices are volatile and every regional and local plan has sustainability as a priority.
The message couldn’t be clearer: transit is not to be taken seriously, especially south of the Fraser. Suburban growth will be mainly car-dependent sprawl. Regardless of our visions and plans – and even the promises (like express buses on a widened Highway 1) – the Fraser Valley will be built out like a typical American urban region: freeways, arterials and parking lots.
The Lower Mainland will consist of two overlapping and conflicting urban environments: car dependence where growth is greatest, and then places like Vancouver and New Westminster, where the freeways stop.
Part 2 tomorrow: Questions for TransLink on the Pattullo Bridge, and for Surrey.Read more »