Translink Mayor's Council Hunting for Money

Remember the $14-billion public transit plan announcement of January, 2008? The mayors of Metro Vancouver will begin scrambling to find a way for Translink to fund itself through that period to 2020 and beyond - starting this Wednesday. The mayor's council (which used to make up the Translink board until they were relegated to an 'advisory' council by Kevin Falcon), has until October 31 to approve a plan for the next decade.

There's not one mention in the Globe story about Translink's continued hinting at entering the development / real estate game - I expect that to become more front-and-center once the idea of increased fees really begins to meet resistance.

Here's the basic problem, as summed up by Surrey mayor Diane Watts, head of the council:
“We need to have other funding options if we're going to have this fully built-out system .... It will cost us $450-million to do what the province announced last January. We need to sit down and look at good public policy to pay for that.”

Not to sound like a broken record (of course I will though), but it's interesting that the government found nearly $3billion to build the wrong bridge, but they can't find $450 million to fund major public transit projects, never mind the $14 billion they announced 18 months ago. (The fact that much of that money was and is to be spent on wasteful SkyTrain expansion is another matter entirely).

Kevin Falcon has now moved onto cause the same kind of havoc with the Provincial Healthcare system, but his replacement (Shirley Bond) seems to feel that Translink has all the revenue sources it needs.

Does this whole struggle seem insane to anyone else? The provincial government and Translink have never been able to make real progress in the region since Translink's inception. Translink seems to be hamstrung by design, incapable of meeting the pork-barrel goals set out for it by the provincial government.

I would say that three major points have become obvious out of all this: first, that the decision-making power at Translink needs to be returned to elected officials, or at least arms-length appointments of elected officials; and second, that a change such as that has to be made with the understanding that Translink is not functioning as it should and needs to be rebuilt; and third, that Translink needs new sources of revenue to be made available.