It could be a long wait for this Delta transit user
For the last several decades we’ve heard about how Quebec has wanted to separate from Canada. We’ve seen our nation pushed to the brink with each referendum asking the thorny question of whether Quebec voters want to stay in the confederation or not. Many political pundits have asked whether all this talk of separation is really about building a new Quebec nation or simply strengthening their bargaining position with Ottawa.
You can imagine my dismay when I began hearing about the whole issue of separation once again. Only this time it’s Delta Mayor and Metro Vancouver Chair Lois Jackson threatening to pull her city out of TransLink. Delta is one of over 20 cities in Metro Vancouver that form part of the regional transportation body known as TransLink. They are responsible for the buses, roads, bridge and rapid transit network throughout Metro Vancouver.
Let me first declare that I’ve never been a big fan of Jackson. I think she has been a very ineffective leader at the regional level and I’ve called for her to step aside numerous times. She has sat idly by as various suburban cities sprawl and McMansion their way to economic growth. Mayor Lois was also the Chair of Metro Vancouver when they provided COPE Councillor David “Carbon” Cadman with tens of thousands of tax dollars in order to facilitate many of his worldwide junkets. It was only after we exposed this waste that Jackson put a halt to the expenditures.
Now we hear that Metro Vancouver’s top regional leader has decided that when it comes to TransLink she wants to pack up her bags and call it a day. She’s had enough of their terrible service in Delta and won’t take it anymore. Lois wants better transit now (i.e. more buses, rapid transit etc…) or else she is threatening to separate from the regional transit authority. Excuse me, but has Jackson quietly hired Jacques Parizeau as her senior political adviser?
It’s a bit rich for the Mayor of a city that doesn’t support any kind of real densification and where most people live in sprawling single family homes to complain about poor transit. I heard Lois on the radio yesterday complaining that her citizens are finding it hard to make it out of Delta on transit and into Vancouver to work. There simply aren’t any buses she bemoans.
Perhaps someone should give the Chair of Metro Vancouver a quick lesson in how public transit works. Low density sprawling neighbhourhoods = bad transit. High density compact neighbhourhoods = better transit. The economics of putting high service levels of transit in a low density sprawling type community like Delta simply don’t work – and Jackson knows it. If TranLink were to do it, before long it would be in an even more challenging financial position than it currently finds itself.
As the Chair of Metro Vancouver, Lois Jackson should be the last one threatening TransLink with separation. How would she react if Vancouver said it wanted to separate from Metro Vancouver because the “’suburban” agenda was taking over policy development? It helps to further confirm why she shouldn’t be in regional leadership position and should step aside to make way for some fresh new blood at the regional level.
The cold reality is that TransLink is financially strapped. Meanwhile, it also has serious issues servicing crowded routes like the 99 B Line in Vancouver which regularly have 400-500 people waiting in line to get on the bus. The last time I checked, there weren’t mass lineups of people begging to get on the bus in “downtown” Delta.
On some level I do sympathize with my sub-urban brothers and sisters who’ve chosen to move to the hinterland in pursuit of the dream of owning a single family home with a white picket fence. However, as you will soon discover, living in the hinterland can have its downsides and that includes crappy public transit.
I also blame cities like Vancouver for not doing enough to densify a number of neighhourhoods over the last several decades such as those near Skytrain stations, and even the discussion is moving slow regarding the Cambie corridor and Canada Line. Supporting low density neighbourhoods outside of Vancouver’s downtown core has played a big role in forcing people out into the burbs in search of more affordable housing options. As long as places like the West Side, South Vancouver and East Van remain low density, people will continue moving into cities where they are building cheaper housing.
The cynic in me think Jackson’s musings about separation are motivated more by the fact this is an election year, than any burning desire on her part to improve transit in Delta. However, before Jackson begins picking out the carpet for her new Delta Transit office, she may want to work on a few other related issues.
Why not start by looking at approving higher densities around areas that could be well serviced by transit and lend themselves to being pedestrian friendly. Then why not look at zoning for taller towers near those town centres. Without any real plan to densify Delta over the coming decades, I somehow think Mayor Lois will be hard-wiring poor transit into her poor planning decision for generations to come.
What do you think? Should cities like Delta break away from TransLink as a means of improving their transit service? Is it a political ploy or will it really work? There is a good debate about transit vs density going on at HumanTransit.org that we recommend.
Tell us what you think and leave a comment below.
– post by Daniel