The City of Vancouver needs to play hardball with an out-of-control provincial transportation authority, COPE director Stuart Parker explained this morning.
“The creation of the Translink, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, was a consensual act in 1994, whereby Lower Mainland municipalities joined with the provincial government to create a new form of political authority. While subsequent provincial legislation has sought to strip away the essential character of that partnership, it cannot extinguish the original foundation of the authority two decades ago. Such a relationship,” he argued, “can be ended.”
While Vision Vancouver has created a partisan political “campaign” to collect the e-mail addresses of people interested in improving transit service, funding new rapid transit and opposing fare increases, the city’s government has been far less aggressive in its advocacy than Diane Watts’ centre-right regime in Surrey, which appears to have won significant concessions for homeless and low-income riders in recent days. “While Vision has been cynically using the botched and discriminatory roll-out of the Compass System to try and recruit new campaign workers, Surrey has been stepping into the breach,” Parker added.
“If Vancouver is serious, what we need to use our muscle as the biggest municipality in the region and begin preparations to pull out of Translink. A strong argument, legal and political, can be made for an independent authority at the centre of the system, similar to the Toronto Transit Commission’s place at the centre of the Metrolinx authority in the GTA. When it comes to fares, Vancouverites pay more into the system per capita than anyone else. If we want the fare increases, double-charging, exclusion of low-income people and massive queues at fare gates to be averted, we need to be willing to pull out of Translink.”
COPE notes that federal and provincial funding for new rapid transit may actually become more likely in this new relationship, as evinced by recent federal and provincial moves to provide supplementary funding, outside the authority, for Toronto rapid transit.
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