It’s time TransLink admitted that SkyTrain is a loser

The business and financial model used to justify adoption of the SkyTrain system was faulty out of the gate.

Editor: Isn’t it about time TransLink admitted it has backed the wrong horse?

Back in 1986, when the first section of track was opened on Terminal (how fitting) Avenue for Expo 86, then-BCTransit was told by the experts of the day that the SkyTrain system would never pay for itself. Twenty-six years later, TransLink is still trying to break even.

The quandary TransLink find itself in is obvious: if it raises fares to the amount necessary to recoup operating and capital costs through “user-pay,” the ridership will drop off dramatically and it may in fact collect even less revenue. This means the business and financial model used to justify adoption of the SkyTrain system was faulty out of the gate.

Someone did a snow job on the people of Metro Vancouver. TransLink realizes this, and that is why it is trying every trick in the book and then some to suck money out of the Lower Mainland residents to try (and I mean try) to make SkyTrain pay. The truth is it will never pay for itself.

TransLink has admitted as much in its statement that just to keep the system operating, never mind the Evergreen Line costs, it needs to raise another $30 million.

It’s time to do what other cities in the world have done: abandon SkyTrain and move to surface transportation. The Fraser Valley has a viable rail system for commuter traffic, not only to Vancouver but to other communities in the Valley and all the way to the coast.

Super buses can be a part of the new transportation system. The system needs to electrify as much as possible and move away from gas and diesel engines. Decentralizing transfer points (there would be no need to feed SkyTrain anymore) so it spreads the traffic rather than concentrating it will all lead to increased ridership and decreased pollution.

Then TransLink can stop squeezing blood out of the stones that are already crumbling under the strain of added levies and taxes.

It’s time for someone at TransLink to have the stones to stand up and admit SkyTrain is a loser.

Colin Atkinson,