Campaign a major screw-up
After more than $200,000 in campaign spending, the south-of-Fraser area has the region’s lowest “yes” support rate for the upcoming transit referendum.
As a yes supporter this leaves me unamused. Who do we blame? Who screwed up so badly that in a city where residents had been so concerned about transit improvements, this is how it has turned out?
Mayor Linda Hepner should have realized that when she told citizens her big-ticket Light Rail Transit plan could proceed without the proposed Congestion Improvement Tax it would interfere with her efforts to support a yes vote. Now, instead of motivating citizens to support transit expansion, she has left them confused.
Her last letter to the editor (“Transit vote will shape Surrey’s future,” Feb. 26) won’t help this at all. This is because it exhibits a common flawed argument that really shouldn’t be a part of the funding debate: that we’re getting a better value because two LRT lines cost the same as one SkyTrain line. Even though the truth is, LRT will be saving King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue riders only one minute versus the current 96 B-Line. It’s a horrible use of funds.
When TransLink conducted the joint-study on Surrey’s rapid transit options, they found that for the same cost as LRT, a SkyTrain extension on Fraser Highway, combined with a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network throughout the city, will do more to shape communities, get twice as many people out of their cars and into the community, and save people twice the time an LRT system would.
The city’s ignorance of this and continued insistence on LRT is part of why so many more people are voting no.
In dealing with this, the provincial transportation minister, who supports a yes vote, has had to remove the lock-in to “Light Rail Transit in Surrey” from the referendum ballot, replacing the description with “rapid transit.”
Hepner must follow the minister’s leadership and stop focusing on LRT as part of the referendum campaign. Her insistence on LRT is destroying the transit vote and our transit future.
Daryl Dela Cruz, Better Surrey Rapid Transit
Paying two CEOs
Let me try and get my simple mind around this. The Mayors’ Council has asked Jimmy Pattison, together with an advisory board he will gather, to oversee how the tax money collected will be spent in the event of a yes vote on the new transit levy.
So Mr. Pattison, one of Canada’s most astute and respected business leaders, is going to be asked to ensure money collected by the provincial government from our taxes actually goes for the purpose it is being collected? And then to ensure it is spent in a fiscally responsible manner?
The question of course is what does the TransLink board do if not charged with the responsibility to oversee how the business is run? It is not bad enough we are already paying for two CEOs – now we need an advisory board to watch the government and also oversee the TransLink.
Just vote no.
R.W. Davies, Surrey
Just another tax grab
Now is the time to really start looking at the proposed 0.5-per-cent tax for transit. This is just another tax grab as politicians beat around the bush, not telling us where the money is going.
Vote no when your opportunity arrives.
Ron Eichhorst, Surrey
Vote yes for more of the same
Vote yes on the transit referendum, if you’d like more executives working for TransLink. We need executives. They make wise decisions, like the Compass pass. And executives don’t make enough. Take the replaced CEO Ian Jarvis who made a measly $422,407 in 2013. And Cathy McLay, with a pay of only $342,601.
How can people live on salaries like that?
Vote yes so our executives can take more trips to other cities to see how their transit works. In Los Angeles a day pass for seniors and the disabled costs $2.50 – here it is $7.50. A monthly pass in Cleveland, Ohio costs $85. In Montreal it’s $82. Compare that to Vancouver’s $171 for a monthly pass.
If we vote yes, TransLink promises rapid transit to Surrey and Langley, rapid transit along Broadway, buses everywhere and a Sky Train to Banff.
Ed Griffin, Surrey
We need SkyTrain, not LRT
I read with horror that Surrey proposes to build LRT instead of SkyTrain. I am totally opposed to Mayor Linda Hepner’s plan to build an LRT at grade on 104 Avenue.
Right now, 104 Avenue has four lanes. Will be it be reduced to just two lanes if the LRT is built there? Even now, 104 Avenue is jam-packed during peak hours. Imagine the chaos once the road is narrowed.
SkyTrain ends at King George Station. We need to push for more SkyTrain stations all the way to Langley. Why do cities like Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby get special treatment by having SkyTrain stations built for them? Our population is growing at a rapid rate and we need SkyTrains more than an LRT.
TransLink is already well funded
Let me see if I have this right. Our Metro Vancouver municipal governments are spending millions of dollars of our hard-earned tax dollars to convince us to add another 0.5 per cent on to our tax bills. Also, they are spending a large sum of money to do all the mailouts for this plebiscite.
Metro Vancouver residents are already paying more for gas, parking and property taxes than any other area of B.C. Many smaller communities have bus systems fully paid for by the provincial government, and the bridges are not tolled.
TransLink is already well funded and I would not trust them with a penny more until they have proven themselves as fiscally responsible and wise in their decision making.
Currently, there are two CEOs for the cost of close to a $1 million. Mayors Gregor Robertson and Linda Hepner are each being paid an extra $50,000 a year to sit on the TransLink board on top of their generous mayoral salaries.
The Compass card was a fiasco, and cost a great deal of money. The poodle statue cost $30,000. I’m not quite sure why people are still able to ride the SkyTrain for free, and are not paying their tickets when they are fined. Have they not heard of turnstiles, like the Tube in London? There, if you don’t pay, you don’t ride. Simple.
Surely at this point, money could have been invested in a more secure system to get “On the Buses.” TransLink is a joke and I will be voting no.