Our View: Should we scrap TransLink?

The local agency needs better funding, or what good is it?

TransLink doesn’t have enough money to build the full SkyTrain line to Langley.

That’s no surprise, because TransLink, whether by accident or design, has always been incapable of finishing any of its much-needed transit infrastructure expansions without going cap-in-hand to higher levels of government.

Before TransLink’s creation in 1998, we had the same bus logos here in Metro Vancouver as everywhere else in B.C.: BC Transit.

Then the government of the day decided to grant more local control to the mayors and councils of Metro Vancouver.

But control over planning meant a massive loss of control over purse strings.

TransLink has three primary ways to raise money: from fares, from property taxes, and from gas taxes. Raising any of them is unpopular, and raising them enough to finish what needs to be done would be political suicide for the mayors who call the shots.

In 2015, the mayors were forced to beg for a 0.5 per cent sales tax to help fund their expansion plans – which was sent to a public vote, with predictable results.

Maybe we should just get rid of TransLink altogether and rebrand back to the old BC Transit logos.

TransLink was meant to be more locally responsive and controlled, but local control is meaningless without more funding.

The province, though, is the one that controls the purse strings. Victoria has vastly superior funding tools, including carbon tax revenues.

And it’s not like we’d be turning TransLink over to an unelected board. MLAs across Metro Vancouver would be responsible for the needed improvements, every time an election was held.

– M.C.

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