The Fraser Valley, not Vancouver, will be on the fast track if Metro decides
Last week Metro Vancouver chief administrative officer Johnny "Cash" Carline weighed into the growing debate on where the regional transit authority Translink should devote limited capital dollars after Evergreen Line to expand its network. According to a Vancouver Sun report from last week –
The recommendation, included in Metro's new 2040 Shape our Future draft regional growth strategy, suggests TransLink give priority to connecting Surrey city centre to other growth neighbourhoods following completion of the long-awaited Evergreen Line, which will link Port Moody, Coquitlam and Burnaby.
Only after Surrey gets improved transit should TransLink consider extending rapid transit along the Broadway corridor, the draft strategy says.
We've discussed several times before Vancouver's waning influence within the region. Vancouver has virtually no support within the Metro Vancouver board of directors except on minor issues. On the waste incineration question, for example, Vancouver has taken a "go it alone" approach to their policy. It's unthinkable that if this were a couple decades back and Vancouver Mayor Gordon Campbell was still GVRD Chair that the top bureaucrats would turn its back on the region's biggest city.
However, under Mayor Gregor Robertson's comparatively unfocused and weak leadership, Metro Vancouver has no problem giving the Coov the big kiss off. Couple this with Robertson's inept handling of the Bombardier Streetcar line, and you've got a political double-whammy.
Mayor Gregor claims that his goal is to make Vancouver the greenest city this side of Mars. He will accomplish that how? It appears by getting us onto bikes, and not rapid transit.
Now, it should be pointed out that Metro Vancouver will not have ultimate decision-making authority on the matter of where rapid transit goes. That call goes to Translink, with the Ministry of Transportation having the most influence in the end. There's also the Council of Mayors, which as part of Translink's governance structure must approve annual budgets and has a dominant role to play in approving any supplemental funding.
Not getting some kind of improved transit out to UBC and onto the Broadway corridor (low densities will make putting Skytrain unlikely past Arbutus, but a rapid bus network will supplement the route from there) will be problematic for the City and the university in the long term. An amazing twenty-five percent of Vancouver's economy is held within the Broadway corridor. For the sake of jobs and stable growth for the City, it's imperative that we drive ahead with plans for rapid transit.
Vancouver needs a true advocate for improved rapid transit, not just someone with their hand out all the time like Robertson. Michael Geller, a prospective mayoral candidate, even made the suggestion today on the Bill Good Show that Surrey deserves to be "first in line" over the city we both live in. With the greatest respect to the efforts of the City of Surrey and Mayor Dianne Watts, you would be in effect rewarding bad behaviour by putting rapid transit into comparatively low density Surrey and Langley over Vancouver.
What I think should be emphasized in outlying town centres is so-called BRT (bus rapid transit), with dedicated bus lanes and high frequency lines to link bus networks. With the billions poured into auto-dependent transportation infrastructure along Highway 1 and Fraser River crossing improvements, it's time to turn the emphasis back to the part of the region where rapid transit makes most economic sense.
What perturbs those who understand the politics at the regional level is that Gregor Robertson and his Happy Visioneers are just not building any bridges within the region. They've arguably poisoned the well between Vancouver and other cities and municipalities more than its ever been, if the back chatter I've been hearing is true.
Vancouver's "go it alone" approach doesn't only apply to Metro Vancouver issues. Gregor Robertson is in China at this moment supposedly promoting the City's economy at the exact same time the Province of BC is also conducting an economic mission to China with other regional leaders. $120,000 of Vancouver's taxpayer dosh are going toward the Mayor's trip, which had modest coordination with the Province's delegation. Perhaps it would have had a greater impact if Vancouver would have openly collaborated with the City of Burnaby, the Provincial Government and others to carry the "open for business" sign to China.
We don't need another self-promoting and costly photo op for a local elected official overseas (we've criticized several of these junkets by Metro mayors in the past), and no progress on real efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, like improving transit in our city. It's time for Vancouver to advocate harder for the UBC Line.
- post by Mike