Yesterday, prompted by a release from Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s office, the media went after the transportation story. It’s the dog that, up to now, hasn’t barked: no major screw-ups, and general agreement that things have gone well on the transportation front.
In fact, the City’s plan – 30 percent reduction in traffic, 50 percent reduction in capacity to downtown, no venue parking – has worked spectacularly well. And TransLink has performed with remarkable flexibility and stretched itself to the limit.
So now what?
“You now have a public that sees the possibility,” said (SFU City Program director Gordon Price).
“We just conducted the greatest controlled traffic experiment in North America.”
But despite the optimism now, TransLink is about to return to barely adequate service and a probable new round of bickering between cities and the province over how to fund the system.
“Here’s the embarrassment – now they cut it all back,” Price said.
“They dock the third SeaBus. They can’t proceed with the frequent transit network. They can’t do what they say they want to do that we could do and that we know works.
“Maybe now a new political consensus will emerge that not only can we do it, we must do it.”
As BC Local News reporter Jeff Nagle notes, “the genie is out of the bottle.”
Mayor’s Council Chair, Peter Fassbender of Langley: “I’d like to believe we’ve developed a transit spirit that says this system can work and it can deliver so let’s find a way to move it forward on the foundation we’ve built in this short period of time.”
But Transportation Minister Shirley Bond is sticking to her marching orders: “She’s ‘pretty comfortable’ with the existing set of property, fuel and other taxes plus fares to fund TransLink…. The debate, Bond said, will be about ‘how much should taxpayers, who are actually served by transit, contribute.’ ” – i.e. let the mayors squeeze the property taxpayer ’cause there ain’t gonna be no move on vehicle levies or road pricing from us.
The only person more missing in action is Gordon Campbell, who as ex-Vancouver Mayor and GVRD Chair, would have been front and centre on this issue. As Premier, it will be up to him if there is to be any real legacy from the spectacular transportation success of the Olympic experience.
Otherwise, the only debate we’ll be having is how much we’re cutting back.