Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The next three years for transit

Since 1999 our region has been trying to build a fully funded transportation system that gives people the choice no to drive a car. First there was supposed to be a vehicle levy to pay for transit expansion which the NDP cancelled, then the BC Liberals restructured TransLink a few times to make it more “professional” and gave it the ability to become a developer, but still things fell through. I think the next two years will be a tipping point for transportation in our region: we are either going to get a transportation system that gives us real options like rapid transit in the South of Fraser or we will have another decade of business as usual. This time around, I actually thing we are going to get a system that give us options.

When the mayors recently voted to increase taxation to pay for bus service expansion and the Evergreen Line, many said that there would be punishment at the polls. The reality is that this did not happen. With the vote to increase tax so close to the civic elections, I think many (including the Province) saw this as a referendum on alternate transportation. With the election out of the way and the pro-transit mayor emerging with a strong mandate, I think we are going to see a long-term funding solution for transit. I also hear that TransLink and the Province have the best working relationship in the history of the organization.

Mayor Dianna Watts is rumoured to be severing her last term at Surrey City Hall and is looking for a light rail legacy. I also think that Christy Clark is looking for something big for the 2013 election. Could the South of Fraser finally get the transit is deserves? I think so!

The big issue, of course, will be funding and I know that there will be a lot of whining by some in the press about "punishing the driver", but at the end of the day people (who drive, walk, take transit, and cycle) want better transit and are willing to pay for it.

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