Thursday, October 23, 2008

Transit and the Economy

Like many of you, I am following what the media calls the “melt down” of the North American economy. Between the US sub-prime mortgage problem, loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs in Ontario, and media hype, consumer confidence had been shaken. People and businesses will be spending less money. Should the government be spending less money too? Should we be putting our infrastructure projects on hold? I don’t think we should.

While I don’t think we are heading into anything like the Great Depression from the first part of the 20th century, there are some comparisons to be made.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was responsible for the New Deal. The New Deal programs provided a large amount of infrastructure for the United States, much of which is still in use today. I’m sure most of your know about the New Deal as it was required Social Studies 11 reading, but Wikipedia has a great page about it. What does this have to do with BC and today?

Right now the cost of construction is crazy: material costs and labour costs have skyrocketed. On a project I managed last year, the costs almost doubled from the time we started planning to the day we got a permit and broke ground. As the market cools down and the demand for labour and materials decrees, it would make sense for our governments to take advantage of those saving while providing good-pay construction jobs. It’s a win-win.

People will be looking for ways to save money. It costs a lot of money to operate a vehicle, and if a viable alternative was available, people would give up a vehicle or reduce use of it to save money.

Our government should be speeding up construction of infrastructure that includes things like light rail and better public transportation. Let's get light rail before 2030.

No comments: