Watts expected to vote down proposed King George B-Line
Despite years of rhetoric touting the expansion of transit within Surrey, now that a reasonable and affordable option is on the table that would, among other things, begin a long-planned B-Line service down King George, Mayor Watts has decided that she cannot support such plans. In just three weeks, the Mayor’s Council will be presented with two supplemental plans for TransLink – the first, which will pay for the region’s share of the Evergreen Line and a section of the North Fraser Perimeter Road, is expected to cost an average $36 to property owners; the second, which includes the former two projects, also adds a number of other region wide improvements to the transit system, including:
- King George Boulevard B-Line service, every 7.5 mins from Guildford to White Rock, starting in 2011
- White Rock to Langley bus service, every 30 mins, starting in 2011
- Expansion and upgrades to transit hubs and SkyTrain stations, including: Main Street, Metrotown, Surrey Central, New Wesminster, and Lonsdale Quay
- Additional bus service to accommodate U-Pass expansion, population growth, and increased demand along crowded routes Highway 1
- Rapid Bus service, every 10 mins from Walnut Grove to Lougheed, starting 2013
- Restored funding to TransLink’s Bike Capital program
- Restored funding to TransLink’s Major Road Network program
This second package in front of the mayors is expected to have an average cost of $61 on property owners – that’s just $5 a month for the significant transit expansion, region-wide, that many have been calling for, including myself.
As of now, there are only two mayors expected to support the proposal: Council Chair and Mayor of Langley City, Peter Fassbender, and Mayor of Coquitlam, Richard Stewart. All other mayors have publicly stated, or are expected to, vote down the supplement, leaving the Evergreen Line on hiatus indefinitely and stalling much needed transit expansion. These mayors need to wake up to the reality of this situation.
Fact: There is only one taxpayer. Transit expansion costs money and we will pay for it, one way or another. The mayors want the province or feds to cough up additional money. The reality is that both provincial and federal taxes have decreased over the last decade. With this in mind, there is more than enough leeway to increase municipal taxes – the mayors simply don’t want to pay the political price of doing so. They want to have their cake and eat it too. Well, it doesn’t work that way. The taxpayer understands that they will pay, one way or another, regardless of whose tax pool it comes out of. All they want is to see actual value for their tax dollars – something sparingly evident for those of us South of the Fraser. TransLink’s proposal changes that entire calculation, finally giving us some viable alternatives to the automobile.
Fact: There is so much for Surrey to gain from this supplement. Not only do we get our first B-Line route, a service that was supposed to arrive after the 2010 Olympics, but we also will get renovations to Surrey Central station, a long awaited transit connection through Grandview and Campbell Heights, increased bus frequencies on Fraser Highway and 104th Ave, Rapid Bus on Highway 1, and money to continue the Fraser Highway expansion. That’s a tall order and a significant service increase for just $5 a month.
Fact: Throughout the past decade, all municipalities in the region have collectively paid for the Millennium and Canada Lines, major rapid transit services that have benefitted the western cities of Vancouver, Burnaby, and Richmond. Now, those same mayors are refusing to chip in for the Tri-Cities to get their SkyTrain connection. Now, those same mayors are refusing to help pay for Surrey’s first B-Line service. If we are to maintain the integrity of regional relationships in Metro Vancouver, those cities must understand that it is their turn to contribute to the pot.
Long have we complained that TransLink has neglected our neck of the woods – they have finally listened to our cries and responded with this proposal. For $5 a month, we get a boatload of immediate transit improvements – a King George B-Line, SkyTrain station upgrades, the Evergreen Line, Hwy 1 Rapid Bus, and more.
And Dianne Watts is going to let it pass us by.