Opinion

EDITORIAL: Take lead on transit

Building a transit system is expensive.

Not building one even more so.

Last week the Mayors’ Council of civic leaders from all the communities that comprise Metro Vancouver laid out an ambitious $7.5-billion plan to improve public transit in the region.

They’d achieve that with more buses, a light rail line that would eventually connect Langley City, via Newton, to the Expo SkyTrain line in Surrey, an extension of the Millennium Line to Arbutus with further expansion to UBC in the future.

They also pledged improvements to the HandyDart and SeaBus services, as well as the construction of new four-lane toll bridge to replace the Pattullo.

Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan voted against the plan. He called it a “wish list” that was overly “ambitious.”

Unless the provincial government gets on board with the plan and makes some tough decisions to see at least some of it to fruition, it might never be worth the reams of paper it’s printed on.

To pay for the plan, the mayors want the province to implement a tolling system in which motorists pay to travel anywhere in the region, whether or not they cross a bridge. That would generate enough revenue to allow TransLink to reduce its gas tax from 17 cents to 11 cents per litre.

So far Premier Christy Clark hasn’t commented on the mayors’ proposals.

She seems to be hedging transit’s future on the outcome of a referendum that still hasn’t got a date, or even a defined question.

The mayors had the right idea to present an integrated, comprehensive plan for transit in Metro Vancouver.

It’s time for the provincial government to put the wheels in motion to begin realizing it.

Otherwise it will just end up costing us more to keep building bigger roads.

 

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