Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Transit Funding

Today the mayor’s council will be meeting and possibly coming up with a solution to fund the missing $400 million to build the Evergreen Line. The Evergreen Line has been in an almost ready for construction state since 1995. The construction of the original Millennium Line was supposed to include the Evergreen Line bits, but it was decided to loop back to New Westminster as there was an upcoming election and the government of the day wanted something completed. Then the line was supposed to be built as a phase two, but of course the Canada Line trumped that. We are still waiting. It has become a hot potato along with transit funding in general. If I was a cynic, I’d say that TransLink was created as a way for the province to get out of having to make a full commitment to transit and download the cost to local government.

Even if the mayors and the province come to a funding solution for the Evergreen Line today, there is still billions of dollars in unfunded transit expansion that is needed for the South of Fraser. I don’t know about you, but I’m not prepared to wait another 20 years for it if the timeline for the Evergreen Line is any indication. The federal government really need to have a stable and long term transit funding program like in the US. The province already has the provincial transit plan which includes $12 billion for public transit improvements. Our local government will need to find a stable source of funding for transit since I doubt the province is interested in taking back the responsibility of providing transit in our region. While tolling roads and charging gas tax are good ways to pay for capital projects, they are unstable funding sources. Property tax in the most stable funding source that I know of in the region and would be the best source to provide stable funding for TransLink’s operating costs. Of course, the mayor has dug their heels in and said there will be no property tax increases for TransLink.

Maybe today’s the day that all our transit funding woes will be solved. I not holding my breath.

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