Vancouver transit | BCBusiness

Vancouver transit | BCBusiness
All the recent political jockeying for more transit in Metro Vancouver could be an election tactic.

With all the recent games being played over who should get transit upgrades, it looks like a provincial election issue is forming.

I found it interesting when the City of Vancouver announced it wanted TransLink to build a $2.8-billion subway line along the Broadway corridor. It’s been waiting for such transit for more than a decade.

Interesting because I thought Surrey, the second biggest city after Vancouver, is vastly underserved by transit and was up next for any transit spending.

It got even more interesting when it was revealed that Vancouver and Surrey are working together to push for rapid transit projects in Metro Vancouver.

All of this is going on while TransLink pleads poverty. Even simple attempts to raise funds have been vetoed by various councils, districts and governments.

Witness the recent torching of a proposed property tax increase (which was modest) by regional mayors. They were quivering on their mayoral thrones over their re-election chances if they approved even a dollar increase in property tax.

So, on the one hand, we have municipalities demanding more transit, and on the other we have TransLink, which is upgrading existing lines and nixing anything else until it gets more funding.

What’s going on here in the transit wars? I don’t know for sure, and I doubt if anyone else does. But I have my suspicions.

For the past decade, B.C. has been following pavement politics — planning for automobile transportation: highway upgrades, expensive bridges like the Port Mann and other projects that have generally supported those who don’t want to leave their cars.

Sure, Vancouver and Richmond got the Canada Line, but I doubt that would have happened if the feds hadn’t kicked in to make it ready for the Olympics.

There’s a provincial election coming up, and the current government has also pleaded poverty recently. One of its biggest source of income — natural gas revenues — is drying up, debt is rising and demands for money are increasing daily.  

Meanwhile, the provincial NDP is waiting in the wings to take power.

Could all this jockeying for more transit be an election tactic by municipal leaders who recently settled comfortably into two-year terms? Are they putting the NDP and the Liberals on notice that their support is going to require a shift in metro transportation policies?

Is metro’s need for better transportation going to be a major election issue?

It should be.