Thursday, June 24, 2010

Light Rail News

Close to home, the Broadway merchants in Vancouver want light rail over SkyTrain according to an article in The Province:
Broadway merchants, such as Dobo, are concerned that SkyTrain construction like the Canada Line on Cambie Street would be detrimental to business. She, along with a contingent of like-minded merchants, would rather opt for a street-level electric system with stops to encourage passengers to use Broadway’s shops.

“I think [TransLink has] already decided to build a SkyTrain,” Lehan said.

But TransLink’s Ken Hardie dismissed the notion. “I honestly don’t know where they got that idea that a SkyTrain is the front-runner,” Hardie said. “We are looking at a variety of options.”
In the other Vancouver (Washington), a group of citizens is working on a ballot measure to block light rail from going into their community. According to The Columbian:
The petition, if approved by voters, would enact an ordinance prohibiting the city from taking any action related to light rail.

It’s not clear whether the petition would have any binding effect on the multibillion-dollar Columbia River Crossing project, even if it passes.
The other Vancouver is the complete antithesis of Metro Portland across the river: sprawling and light rail free. Light rail is part of the Columbia River Crossing which is the "Port Mann" of the Portland region that will bridge Oregon and Washington State. Light rail is likely to go ahead as it is being paid for with federal dollars. A recent poll of Vancouver residents suggests that there is 61 percent support for light rail. The main issue seems to be that people don't like the sale tax that pays for transit improvements. According to The Columbian:
Light rail has been something of a third rail in Clark County politics, ever since voters in 1995 rejected a proposed six-mile extension from Portland to Northeast 99th Street by a 2-1 margin. This time, the federal government would pay to build the line to downtown Vancouver with a new Interstate 5 bridge. Local residents will be asked to pick up the operating cost —$2 million to $3 million annually — on the Washington side of the river, using sales tax receipts.
Finally in Alberta, the provincial government has pledged $800 million for local transit according to the Vancouver Sun:
Calgary-area politicians had been expecting only a third of that fund, with equal portions going to the capital region and the rest of Alberta.

Instead, Ouellette devoted 40 per cent each to the province's two major centres, and less for smaller communities.

"We think that's reasonable, and we're happy to see the dollars actually rolling out," said Cochrane Mayor Truper McBride, whose city wants to purchase double-deckers for service to Calgary by 2012.

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