Not much will change for beleaguered taxpayers as long as things stay the same at the top at TransLink.
That's what Delta Mayor Lois Jackson had to say about the latest controversy with the transportation authority following last week's rejection of a substantial fare increase by TransLink commissioner Martin Crilly.
"It really is a very large problem and I don't see any will to particularly change the governance the way we know it today, but that is the true problem," said Jackson.
A report released by Crilly notes TransLink is a well-run organization. The report, however, said the system has an "abundance of equipment and staffing levels" compared to systems in Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria and Toronto, resulting in higher costs and lower efficiencies.
The report concluded there is potential for new cost savings, suggesting TransLink find ways of saving $40 million to $60 million in operating costs over the next three years.
The region's mayors have been working with TransLink to come up with new money to fund trans-portation improvements. The Mayors' Council last year approved a two-centsa-litre gas tax increase to generate $40 million annually for the Evergreen Line. The mayors also agreed to a property tax hike to fund further improvements, but first other avenues would be sought. The levy for 2013 and 2014 would work out to a $23 hike on the average home in the region.
Several mayors have voiced their displeasure at the latest development, saying they are being forced into property taxes they have been trying to avoid.
A majority of mayors went so far as to also vote to try to cancel the $30 million in extra property tax they had originally approved.
In response, TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis said the transportation authority fully supports an open review of its operations, and its board of directors has asked for "an expeditious audit so that we can return focus to delivering the services people of the region told us they need."
Jackson, long voicing her displeasure at transit services south of the Fraser River, said it's clear no further hikes should be introduced anywhere until the public is guaranteed it is getting the "best bang for the buck" with transit.
"I've said tolling the Golden Ears (bridge) to the tune of $4.25 for one way, or $8.50 two ways, is ridiculous, will not attract people, and it's not. We have this great structure sitting there empty and that is not responsible on behalf of TransLink. Now it seems every time you talk about them something else is coming out," Jackson said.
"It really illustrates that having the governance model the way it's set today is probably one of the worst models you can find. There's no transparency, nothing is held in public. Even the mayors were relegated to have only eight meetings a year and have no part in the planning, no part of the discussion of future services. The only thing we're asked to do is find the money," she said.
On the issues of tolls, Jackson said she wasn't pleased to hear the Ministry of Transportation plans to put up signs advising drivers of alternate routes to the tolled Port Mann Bridge.
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright recently conveyed concerns about the safety of 75-yearold Pattullo Bridge, the next closest crossing.
Jackson said many will want to avoid the Pattullo congestion, so would move to the Alex Fraser Bridge and even the tunnel.
© Copyright 2013