TRANSPORTATION and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone said on Thursday that the Mayors’ Council needs to re-think its plan and funding sources with affordability in mind and with the result of the transportation plebiscite in Metro Vancouver.
He added: “B.C. remains committed to investing in major new rapid transit and in a new Pattullo Bridge – the Province’s 1/3 capital remains on the table. With clear and strong indications of similar support from the federal government, it remains for the region to determine how it will fund its 1/3. We will continue to engage with the Mayors’ Council and look forward to hearing from them as to their next steps.”
In a statement, Todd said: “We respect the decision of the voters and are proud that we fulfilled our commitment to give people in the region the final say on any new taxes proposed by the Mayors’ Council.
“It’s critically important to continue to see investment in transit and transportation in Metro Vancouver. Knowing that we are expecting a million additional people in Metro Vancouver over the next 30 years, congestion challenges and costs are going to continue to increase if there is not new investment. Doing nothing is not an option.
“The focus now needs to be on what TransLink can do in the short term to improve service for the travelling public where it’s needed the most: dealing with the most congested bus routes, bus pass ups, and the need for more HandyDART service.”
Todd added: “We also understand and share the public’s concerns about TransLink, particularly when it comes to accountability and transparency. TransLink must become more focused on the goals of delivering improved customer service and reliable service levels. They now have an excellent opportunity to take a big step in this direction as they recruit a new CEO.
“In the months ahead, we will give this more thought, and we will discuss this with the Mayors’ Council, the TransLink board, other stakeholders and most importantly the public, to find other potential measures or strategies that could be implemented to achieve these goals for the travelling public.”
NDP Leader John Horgan said that the overwhelming ‘No’ vote in the transportation plebiscite is the result of 10 years of meddling and broken promises by the B.C. Liberals in a system that more than 418,000 people rely on every single day to get to work, to get to school, to live their lives.
He added: “Now we’re about to enter into another round of finger-pointing and second-guessing while people all over the region wait for buses and SkyTrains that don’t come, break down or are so crowded they pass by.
“Transit riders and car drivers didn’t vote against better transit in the Lower Mainland. They voted against political gamesmanship and unaccountable management at the expense of average people who rely on this service to live their lives.
“British Columbians know it doesn’t have to be this way. A properly funded, properly managed transit system in the Lower Mainland would improve the lives of transit riders and drivers alike.
“The premier needs to show leadership, not play political games. She forced this referendum in the first place. She can’t keep throwing it back to the mayors. They have done their job, now she must do hers.
“If her contribution to this important issue continues to be limited to rejecting every proposal the mayors make, our economy and Metro Vancouver residents will continue to suffer.”