Editorial— Lekstrom delivered on TransLink

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom has shown a rare ability to get things done in a forthright manner.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom has been as good as his word.

When he first learned that transit fare evaders who received tickets did not have to pay them, he vowed the situation would change. He said if legislation was necessary, that’s what he would introduce. And he also said he would do so this spring, not leave it until some vague future date.

He’s done all that and more. He’s made the ability to collect overdue fines retroactive for 10 years, and he has ensured that there are a multitude of ways to go after fare cheats — including ICBC renewals, collection agencies and even prohibitions from riding transit.

Lekstrom has shown a rare ability to get things done in a forthright manner, without a lot of grand political posturing. This emphasis on results is impressive.

This newspaper, and we suspect most Langley residents, totally support the emphasis in getting people to pay the fares they are supposed to pay. This will help the transit system, because those who don’t pay will no longer be seen as being above the law. They won’t discourage those who pay their fares and are responsible citizens.

Last year, TransLink Police issued 57,000 fare evasion tickets. Only about 15 per cent were actually paid.

Lekstrom estimates that an additional $4 million will be collected, and he says that money will eventually all come to TransLink. That means less urgency in raising taxes and fares, and it also means that riders actually pay for the top quality service they are getting.

This will also help TransLink ease its way out of some of its current public relations problems. While TransLink still needs to commit to offering the rapid bus service over the new Port Mann Bridge which many Langley residents are counting on, this will give the agency some additional funds. Hopefully, a clear commitment to bring in the rapid bus service isn’t too far behind.

Straight-talking cabinet ministers like Lekstrom are a breath of fresh air. The people of B.C. have been looking for leadership from the provincial government, and unfortunately, it only seems to come in fits and starts.

This type of approach to a serious problem is needed in many other areas of government. Lekstrom has set a good example for other members of cabinet, as well as other levels of government.

—Frank Bucholtz