When TransLink was created back it 1999, a new deal was struck between the provincial government and local governments in Metro Vancouver. Our region would be responsible for funding the operation of the transportation network in our region, but would have the authority to manage that network.
Unfortunately, the provincial government only seems to recognize the independence of TransLink when it serves their best interest. For example, both the NDP and BC Liberal governments have proven that they have no desire to approve the funding required to expand the base bus transit network which serves the majority of transit customers.
The provincial government has put up successive roadblocks to adequately funding transit service in Metro Vancouver. Want more bus service? Have a referendum!
When the province does want TransLink to do something, it will get TransLink to do it. The province is able to do what it pleases with TransLink even though it has no legislative direct control over the agency.
The region wanted to build the Evergreen Line before the Canada Line. The provincial government ensured the Canada Line was built first.
The Evergreen Line was supposed to be light rail. The provincial government did a business case, which the BC Auditor General later found some issues with, that said SkyTrain should be built. The province proceeded to take over the construction of the Evergreen Line with SkyTrain.
TransLink said time-and-time again that fare gates were a bad idea. The provincial government got fare gates installed.
Fare gates create a barrier to accessing transit service. For some people with limited-mobility, fare gates create a barrier to accessing transit period.
Currently, people with limited-mobility can request SkyTrain staff to provide assistance. TransLink was proposing to expand this service in time for the complete fare gates closure next month. The key will be to ensure that people with limited-mobility don’t have to wait a long periods of time to get help. More SkyTrain staff is being hired to deal with the fare gates, and as a result of the SkyTrain meltdown a few summers ago.
You can read Access Transit’s Guide to Getting Around Metro Vancouver for more information about accessible transit options.
Peter Fassbender, Minister Responsible for TransLink, said yesterday that the agency could not close all the fare gates until there is “unfettered access to every person no matter what their circumstance.” While Fassbender technically has no authority to order TransLink to do anything, I’m sure the agency will leave the gates open.
Since the provincial government ordered TransLink to install the fare gates, the provincial government should also pay for the cost of providing “unfettered access”.
If the provincial government can’t keep its hands off TransLink, it should just make TransLink a provincial agency. Of course this won’t happen as the provincial government doesn’t want to take responsibility for funding the system nor for the difficult decisions that must be made when running a large transportation agency.