If you’ve read, watched, or listened to any media outlet in Metro Vancouver, you’ve likely come across a story inspired by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation about TransLink. The CTF has been on a multi-year campaign to discredit TransLink and slow down transit development in Metro Vancouver. You’d think that the CTF was funded by the automotive industry by the way it goes after TransLink, but the reason for the CTF going after TransLink is much simpler.
TransLink is taxpayer-support, but arms-length for the government. It is an easy target for groups like the CTF which, let’s be honest, tend to attract supporters that would vote BC Liberals or federal Conservative. It would be much harder for groups like the CTF to actually go after government mismanagement without cutting-off the hand that feeds it.
The CTF is relentless in its messaging about TransLink being a wasteful organization, and that messaging has worked. Transit service is now getting worse in the region. While the CTF has been selective in the past about the information it provides about TransLink, it has never outright lied.
Last week, the CTF put out a press release about their “Teddy” award which is meant to highlight government waste. Not surprising, TransLink was on the list for “shelling out $4.5 million for a parking lot with a $2 toll that nobody ever uses.” This is not the truth.
The fact is that “the government of B.C. [expanded] the Park and Ride facility on Highway 99 at King George Highway to improve access to public transit.” Sadly some media outlets did not fact check before releasing the story provided to them by the CTF.
Interestingly enough, the CTF didn’t point out the successful Carvolth Park & Ride and 555 bus service of which TransLink actually provided funding towards. The Carvolth Park & Ride also has a $2 user fee.
The South Surrey Park & Ride went from 481 parking spaces to 840 parking spaces, and from having no user fee to a $2 fee. It is no surprise that the lot appears emptier and that some motorist are now parking on the street to avoid paying $2.
Having free on-street parking while charging for off-street parking is poor policy. This is something that only the City of Surrey can correct. Surrey can either charge on-street parking at a rate higher than the Park & Ride lot, introduce time restrictions, or ban on-street parking outright.
If the CTF was actually concerned about government waste in transportation, it wouldn’t be focusing on a $4.5 million parking lot, but on the $70.4 million annual subsidy that all taxpayers in BC must foot to support the $3 billion Port Mann Bridge with $3 toll that no one wants to use. But it seems highway spending is off-limits for the CTF.