Letters

Look to Seattle for a transit structure

Todd Stone. - BLACK PRESS FILE PHOTO
Todd Stone.
— image credit: BLACK PRESS FILE PHOTO

The Editor,

Re. “Mayors in charge: Stone” (The Tri-City News, Feb. 7).

Todd Stone, like all the previous ministers of transportation in B.C., can’t get TransLink governance and funding right. His latest fiddling, unfortunately, proves it.

Unlike TransLink, the transit authority of the Greater Seattle area, Sound Transit, has a governance structure that has long been used in many towns in the western world that have great transit systems: local politicians are in charge of transit, along with one or more representative of the political entity that govern a specific area of a country (state, province, region, etc.).

From www.soundtransit.org:

“Sound Transit is governed by an 18-member Board made up of local elected officials and the secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“The board establishes policies and gives direction and oversight. It is empowered under state law to identify ballot measures for voter approval of regional transit projects and maintains the long-range plan that identifies potential projects to submit to voters.

“At critical milestones of every voter-approved project, the Board makes key decisions by adopting budgets, identifying alternatives to include in environmental review, selecting the preferred alternative, determining the final project to be built and establishing baselines for project scope, schedule and budget. The board also approves major contracts.”

The difference between European towns that have a similar governance structure to that of Sound Transit is that their transit funding is a given, coming from the various levels of governments. (On the other hand, divided motorways are usually built by private companies and are tolled.)

Obviously, there is not in B.C. the transit culture one finds not just in Europe but also on other continents and even in Montreal, Toronto and major U.S. cities. Yet Portland, Ore. — with a transit system that spreads in all directions (unlike Metro Vancouver), steady funding and low fares — “got it” and Seattle is on board, too.

 

J-L Brussac, Coquitlam

 

 

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