South Fraser should leave Metro
Editor: The root of many of our transportation woes (bridge tolls, lack of buses, congestion, cost increases) in the Lower Mainland, particularly south of the Fraser River. seems to lie in the transfer of transit from BC Transit (a provincial Crown corporation) in the 1990’s to TransLink (which calls itself Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation authority), meaning that it operates within the Greater Vancouver Regional District (informally known as Metro Vancouver).
In all other parts of our fair province, BC Transit still operates the bus systems, while the various municipalities and the provincial Ministry of Transportation are responsible for the roads and some other ancillary functions.
Transferring the responsibility of public functions like regional transit, cycling and commuter options, AirCare, Intelligent Transportation System programs, the Major Road Network and regional cycling might have been seen as a good idea in the socialist mindset of the provincial government of the day, but I believe it is no longer a workable model.
The reasons for this are not only the amount of growth during 15 years, but also what I would call an internal “conflict of interest” between these various functions. There is also conflict because certain areas within the GVRD have different needs. These are just incompatible.
How can a non-elected board make a credible management decision between “road improvements” for the automobile and truck drivers on the one hand, and “transit improvements” of all kinds for the (mostly captive) users of bus, Seabus and SkyTrain? How can directors make decisions between various modes of transit?
I believe that dilemmas of this kind (and note that it deals with money as well, in fact, lots of dough) have also caused much of the perceived conflicts in various programs where TransLink co-operates with other partners, like the Gateway Program and the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor Program.
Perhaps this is what former TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast saw, tried to cope with, could not, and left. Perhaps the current top management sees this as well, but do not want or cannot address it like Prendergast, who was an outsider.
It would of course be extremely difficult to try and change the clock forwards without losing time. I am not promoting a return to the previous system that lacked some vital coherence in the early 1990s.
But I do believe that South of the Fraser deserves better, and cannot remain to try and try and try to have at least some of their concerns addressed adequately by those in Metrotown and their political masters who have no real interest in what happens on the fringe.
Splitting the GVRD along the centre line of the south arm of the Fraser River would be a logical development, one that would at least eliminate the dilemma. A South of Fraser Regional District would, with its own transportation authority, have more local responsibility and accountability between the various modes of transportation, including the restoration of the longed for community rail along the track of the Southern Railway of B.C., which the area north of the Fraser River can never have.
This is not an impossibility at all. So let us work for it.
Jacob de Raadt,