TransLink supports West Coast Express expansion

The contract with CP Rail for using the mainline from Mission to Vancouver and operating the trains expires in 2015

TransLink’s top brass supports expansion of West Coast Express service – some day.

“It’s needed,” CEO Ian Jarvis said Wednesday at a chamber of commerce luncheon in Maple Ridge.

If energy costs double or triple, people won’t be able to afford to commute and they’ll be wondering why the service wasn’t provided earlier, he said.

Even if the ridership isn’t at ideal levels, the service could still be expanded beyond the current five rush-hour trains to assure future capacity, added TransLink’s board chair Nancy Olewiler.

TransLink could be criticized for running a service that doesn’t have enough ridership, “but if we don’t get it in now, and we never get it in, we’ll never have the opportunity to have that efficient service.”

“We’ll be relegated to serving people by other means.

“If we don’t build it now, we may never be able to.”

The contract with CP Rail for using the mainline from Mission to Vancouver and operating the trains expires in 2015, so TransLink has started a strategic study of the 16-year-old commuter rail service, including the possible effects on ridership of the Evergreen Line SkyTrain, if that’s built in Coquitlam.

But he wouldn’t say how much money has been allocated for that study.

Jarvis said negotiating with CP Rail is a “delicate process,” but it will be easier with new federal legislation that requires commuter rail to be treated more fairly when allocating track time.

TransLink is on a consulting tour as it seeks approval for its “Moving Forward” supplemental spending plan that will pay for its share of the $1.2-billion Evergreen Line, upgrading of five SkyTrain stations and increasing bus service in Surrey, Richmond, North Vancouver, White Rock and Langley. No improvements are listed for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

A two-cent-a-litre hike in the gasoline tax next April has tentative approval, while other revenue sources, such as a vehicle levy or property taxes, remain undecided.

Jarvis also said smaller tolls could be levied on the Lions Gate, Ironworkers Memorial bridges and Sea to Sky Highway. “Those are things in terms of road pricing that we’re examining.”

While no decisions have been made tolls on bridges, the topic has greater public acceptance, Olewiler added later.

“The good news is, it’s on the table for discussion. The attitude has changed.”

Meanwhile, the Evergreen Line is awaiting resolution of the funding formula that TransLink will use to pay for its $400-million share of the project. If the mayor’s council approves that, then the provincial government can issue a request for proposals for bids on the project.

Maple Ridge Coun. Cheryl Ashlie asked if washrooms were part of the upgrading of SkyTrain stations.

That’s an issue “we cannot ignore,” and they’re being considered in the station upgrades, but costs for that have to be balanced with the need to spend money on transit services.

He told the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce crowd that despite steady growth in Metro Vancouver in the past 10 years, commuting times have grown only slightly, which means the service is coping.

Olewiler noted TransLink use is up by six per cent already this year, compared to 2010, which was “off the charts” because of the Winter Olympics. She said the public is opting for transit as a way to reduce personal budgets.

One of TransLink’s goals is to have half of all commuting trips be by other than by automobile by 2040.

It points out the Expo and Millennium SkyTrain lines are the most efficient and low-cost light rail operations in North America.

However, TransLink infrastructure is also aging. The Expo Line is 25 years old, Jarvis pointed out.

Transit users pay about 52 per cent of transit operating costs, he added.

Just Posted

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Mission students hold rally, say everyone welcome at school

Ecole Christine Morrison Elementary School hosted an Anti-Racism Day on June 15

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

Quarry Questions: Supreme Court ruling spells concern for Mission bylaws

Judge ruled that provincial permits overrule municipal bylaws relating to mining activity

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read