Transport Action BC

2014, March 21

Tolls and the Transit Referendum

Recent comments by Todd Stone, BC’s Transportation and Infrastructure Minister,  on tolling a new/refurbished Pattullo Bridge further muddy the issue of tolling and road pricing as a TransLink revenue source. He says a tolled Pattullo Bridge “…would seem…” to contradict the province’s tolling policy that a “free” (i.e. taxpayer subsidised) alternative must be available to any tolled structure

The Minister also hints that federal contributions to the Pattullo Bridge project may be jeopardised by proposed tolls as “… the feds have tended not to invest in [tolled] projects…”.  

Both statements are concerning because they contradict earlier indications that tolling was acceptable for the Pattullo Bridge project and, indirectly, insinuate the federal government into the transit referendum discussion.

In 2013 the Minister stated that tolling “possibl[y] … could” fund a new Pattullo Bridge. While not a ringing endorsement for tolling, the Minister’s statement did indicate that Victoria would not be averse to TransLink tolling a new bridge. And certainly, there was no mention of the Pattullo as a “free” alternative.

Concerns that tolls could jeopardise federal participation in the Pattullo project are misplaced.  The federal government is building the Champlain Bridge replacement in Montréal and it will be tolled “to minimise use of public funds”. Similarly, the Evergreen Line project has significant federal involvement and its users will be tolled (through their fares). So there seems to be no reason to assume the federal government will not participate in the Pattullo Bridge project, tolled or otherwise.

So what changed in the intervening months to cause the Minister to re-think Patullo Bridge tolls and also imply the provincial tolling policy also applies to TransLink?

A number of possibilities come to mind.

  1.  Is the Minister laying the groundwork to keep road pricing and bridge tolls out of TransLink’s funding options in the upcoming referendum? But this would contradict statements he made in the Globe and Mail  indicating regional Mayors could include road pricing and tolls in their transportation funding proposal.
  2.  Does his emphasis on the Pattullo Bridge as a “free” alternative indicate that TransLink is expected to provide the “free” alternatives to provincially tolled projects such as the Port Mann Bridge and the new George Massey crossing? Are Metro Vancouver’s taxpayers to be triple-taxed (provincial taxes, tolls, and TransLink taxes) to support purely provincial projects? And if the provincial tolling policy applies to TransLink, what are the “free” alternatives for transit riders who are tolled each time they use public transit?
  3. By limiting TransLink’s funding options on the Patullo project, is the Minister forcing TransLink to seriously consider a smaller replacement bridge – 4 lanes vs. 6 – or even a re-furbished bridge? A smaller Pattullo could increase traffic and revenue on the province’s Port Mann Bridge. This could also drive a wedge between Metro’s mayors. Surrey favours a 6-lane replacement while New Westminster wants only 4-lanes.

These are highly speculative considerations. The likely reason for the Minister’s changing statements is ongoing provincial uncertainty on the entire issue of transit funding, tolling and road pricing and the TransLink funding referendum.

The Liberal promise to hold a referendum on future sources of TransLink funding had a populist appeal during the heat of an election. TransLink was the ideal organisation to bully on the campaign trail; it spends a lot of money, it is perceived as unaccountable and not transparent, and allegations of waste regularly receive heavy media coverage. The fact that its structure is a provincial responsibility was simply ignored.

 However, the referendum discussion has opened the door (Pandora’s Box?) to serious public debate around tolling, road pricing, usage fees, vehicle levies and other revenue sources.  These new revenue sources appeal to the true believers in free market economics, a source of significant Liberal support. Unfortunately for the provincial government, they are anathema to much of the voting public – particularly motorists.

The province may have created a dilemma that will prove difficult to resolve – how to retain support from these two opposing and significant constituencies?

Thus it continues to bob and weave on tolls, road pricing and the transit referendum, with conflicting statements and positions being put forth. The unfortunate lack of provincial leadership on this issue is going to make getting a winning referendum question and winning the referendum much more difficult.

2013, October 1

Re-scheduled AGM Monday October 7

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: , — Matthew @ 10:06 pm

We had to re-schedule the AGM originally scheduled for the spring to fall.

Transport Action BC

Annual General Meeting 2013

Monday October 7th

Vancouver BC

http://bc.transport-action.ca/

18:30 – 18:45 (6:30 – 8:30 PM) (Room Available at 18:15)
Terry Salman Library, 4575 Clancy Loranger Way (Route 33 eastbound from King Ed Station)

Terry Salman Branch of the Vancouver Public Library
http://www.vpl.ca/branches/details/terry_salman_branch

TransLink Bus #33
http://infomaps.translink.ca/Public_Timetables/89/tt033.pdf

Open Public Transport Lines Map
http://openptmap.org/?zoom=15&lat=49.24564&lon=-123.11279&layers=0B000TFTT

2013, May 29

BC Premiere of De-railed film

Filed under: Announcement, Inter-city rail — Tags: , , , — Matthew @ 10:15 am

If you will be, or know of anyone who will be in Victoria on June 6th, the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains will be hosting the premiere screening of “De-Railed: The National Dream” on Thursday June 6th, 7:00 pm at the University of Victoria (David Strong Building rm C122). Opening remarks will be said by Dr. Linda Savory Gordon, producer and Irwin Henderson of IslandTransformations.org .

british_coumbia_de_railed

2013, April 22

Annual General Meeting April 29th in Vancouver

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Matthew @ 9:43 pm

Transport Action BC

Annual General Meeting 2013

http://bc.transport-action.ca/

18:30 – 18:45 PM (Room Available at 18:15)
Terry Salman Library, 4575 Clancy Loranger Way (Route 33 eastbound from King Ed Station)

Terry Salman Branch of the Vancouver Public Library
http://www.vpl.ca/branches/details/terry_salman_branch

TransLink Bus #33
http://infomaps.translink.ca/Public_Timetables/89/tt033.pdf

Open Public Transport Lines Map
http://openptmap.org/?zoom=15&lat=49.24564&lon=-123.11279&layers=0B000TFTT

 

2013, April 6

Western Newsletter 2013 Issue #1

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: , — Matthew @ 8:44 pm

Western Newsletter of Transport Action BC and Transport Action Prairie

Transport Action BC logo

This issue’s contents:

  • BC President’s Message – Grim future for VIA Rail
  • ARE TRAINS FOR CANADIANS?
  • Vancouver LRT thoughts – A counterpoint to the City of Vancouver’s endorsement of a subway to UBC
  • VIA Rail service divides East and West, rather than linking it – letter regarding VIA Rail’s focus on the corridor
  • Mid-Sized Buses Make Their Debut in Saskatchewan – Sask Transportation company new buses explored
  • Island Corridor Update – the restart of the Malahat train on Vancouver island is pushed farther into the future
  • Greyhound bus cuts – BC service has been reduced
  • Talk about spin – VIA’s president’s speech disected
  • IN BRIEF – Pattullo Bridge, VIA new hires, TransLink rapid transit studies
  • Transport Action Prairie AGM – Oct 5, 2013 in Regina
  • Cool! Trains! – Commentary on VIA Rail
  • Humble trolley bus reborn as climate superhero – Excerpt of article on using trolley buses on rapid bus routes. Guest article by Eric Doherty. For the full article on the Vancouver Observer site.

2013, March 2

The Future of Canada’s Passenger Trains. Are you on Board? Part 2

 

The federal government’s willingness to get rid of passenger rail extends beyond eliminating actual trains. Even symbolic references to passenger rail are disappearing. Passport Canada’s latest “Tips” brochure shows no rail pictogram on its cover. 

                                                    Passport Canada Brochure                                                                 

The federal bureaucrats responsible for approving the brochure have forgotten that Canadians actually can cross the US border by rail from Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal. An unintentional lapse, perhaps, but it indicates how far passenger rail is from the consciousness of the federal government.

Fortunately, many groups are defending passenger rail transport as a viable and sustainable transportation option. Transport Action Canada  and its regional affiliates, the National Dream Renewed Project, the Island Corridor Foundation on Vancouver Island and other local and national organisations are campaigning for more investment to improve and expand Canada’s passenger rail network.

Your support for these organisations is crucial in the fight for Canada’s passenger rail service. Please consider signing up.

2013, January 14

Google Transit available in Kamloops

Filed under: Buses — Tags: , — Matthew @ 5:01 pm

You can now find information about BC Transit buses in Kamloops from your smartphone or computer.

Example of BC transit routing

Example of BC transit routing

Links:

2012, December 31

Transport Action BC Summary of 2012

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: , , — Matthew @ 1:51 pm

Here are some of the issues we talked about at our meetings this year, what we focused on as a group, good news for public transport in BC this year, and some setbacks.

Transport Action BC Activities

  • We are opposing the City of Vancouver’s plan to permanently close Robson St (aka Block 51) between Hornby St and Howe St. This will negatively affect the #5 Robson trolleybus due to a circuitous re-route that leads to slower connections with the rest of the network. See our post on this topic.
  • We contributed $1000 of our funds to the National Dream Renewed Campaign. A series of town hall meetings regarding the future of inter-city passenger rail has been occurring successfully in Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the fall. Similar meetings are planned for the West in spring 2013. Stay tuned for more details.
  • We oppose a 6 lane replacement of the Pattullo Bridge. We feel that there is excess capacity on the SkyBridge and more traffic lanes in New Westminster are not a solution.
  • Transport Action BC is concerned with service on the 3-year-old Canada Line.

Good News

  • The Grand Forks Railway, under threat of abandonment, will continue in service. Shippers have agreed to maintain 2 trains per week.
  • Federal and provincial bridge inspection funds for the Island Corridor Foundation required all Regional Districts agree to pay for any necessary bridge upgrades; All Regional District’s agreed. The foundation expects work to start in spring 2013

Bad News

  • VIA Rail Canada has reduced service on many routes across Canada this year. In the west, the thrice-weekly Canadian has been reduced to twice-weekly from October to May.
  • Continuing mudslides on the Amtrak Cascades corridor, especially between Everett and Seattle are causing service disruptions. BNSF embargoes in-service passenger trains for 48 hours even though other trains can proceed.
  • Greyhound has cut bus service throughout BC this year. Communities are losing their connections.

2012, November 25

Transport Action BC opposed to closure of Robson Square to buses

Transport Action BC is concerned with the City’s decision to extend the Robson Street closure between Howe and Hornby Streets for an extended trial that is seems intended to become permanent. The closure has serious implications for transit users that must be considered.

The bus re-route around the closure is circuitous, particularly for those on Robson wishing to use the Canada Line or southbound buses on Granville Mall. TransLink schedules five to seven minutes travel time from Robson & Burrard to Pender & Granville. Transit users wishing to travel south then spend more time getting back to Robson Street. Thus, transit riders are penalised over ten minutes for every one-way trip compared to the direct route on Robson. Walking to Granville Street from Burrard & Robson is quicker for transit connections but this is unattractive for seniors or those with mobility aids, and even less attractive in the wetter, colder months. Additionally, the re-route forces an additional transfer on those who wish to board the Canada Line at City Centre Station.

The net effect of the closure from a transit customer’s perspective is highly unfavourable. Anyone with a choice between transit and driving will find driving relatively more direct and attractive while those without access to a car are taken needlessly out of their way and forced to make additional transfers.

Creating active, pedestrian plazas is laudable. However, it is ironic that in a city aiming to be “green”, the two streets chosen for long-term “activations” are major transit corridors. By routinely diverting transit from these streets the City is reducing the legibility, directness and overall attractiveness of transit. Meanwhile, no effort is spared in providing on-street parking on other streets where corner bulges and wider sidewalks could make permanent improvements in walking conditions throughout the city. Existing plazas, such as those at Robson Square, the Art Gallery and Main Library function far below their potential, presenting off-street opportunities for improving pedestrian amenities.

We suggest that the City take a more holistic view of its transportation priorities before making a final decision on permanently closing the 800 block of Robson to transit. Such considerations must also figure prominently in Viva Vancouver’s seasonal closures.

Buses will play a major role in Vancouver long into the future. It is time surface transit received more respect from City Hall.

Adapted from a letter Transport Action BC sent to Vancouver City Council
More on this topic on Price Tags blog. Circling the Square.

2012, November 15

URGENT! The future of Canada’s passenger trains is on the line. Are you on board?

Filed under: Announcement, Inter-city rail — Tags: , , — Matthew @ 1:21 am

Today, VIA is once again being forced to chop services on what many consider to be already a minimal rail passenger system. A federal government cut of $41 million in VIA operating funds over the next three years has already forced the discontinuance of several VIA trains. More cuts are coming.

Behind this decision is a long list of vested interests who are – and always have been – hostile to VIA’s existence. They include numerous high-ranking civil servants, certain freight railways and tourist train operators, and some of VIA Rail Canada’s air and highway competitors.

If they get their way, Canada will be the only industrialized nation without modern, effective rail passenger service. It will make us totally dependent on less efficient and unsustainable forms of transportation. We will be socially, economically and environmentally uncompetitive with those other countries that are investing today in
expanded and improved rail passenger service.

What can you do about it? You can join us for one of the numerous National Dream Renewed town hall workshops we will host across Canada this fall. This is your chance to learn more about VIA and voice your opinion about its future. Details of this joint initiative by Transport Action Canada and its five regional affiliates are available on the project’s dedicated website at http://nationaldreamrenewed.com

What else can you do? You can become a National Dream Renewed sponsor. Your donation will help Transport Action take the workshops across the country and give all Canadians a voice in this latest attack on VIA.

The easiest way to donate: By PayPal.ca to ndr@transport-action.ca (PayPal also accepts Visa or MasterCard).

By cheque: for this important public education, consultation and outreach project should be marked National Dream Renewed and made payable to:

Transport Action Canada
Box 858, Station B
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5P9

(Registered Charity 119268571RR0001)

An official receipt for income tax purposes will be provided.

We need your help to save VIA and all rail passenger service across Canada!

Please join us in ensuring we finally have the efficient, affordable and sustainable rail passenger service that Transport Action has called for since our 1976 inception as Canada’s only nationwide public transportation education and advocacy association.

Your donation will help to make the National Dream Renewed a reality!

All inquiries regarding donations to National Dream Renewed should be directed
to Elizabeth Hill at lhill@istar.ca or (416) 497-6090.

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