Originally Posted by spaustin
On transit, the federal government is completely ineffective. The federal answer to public transit was to give everyone a transit tax credit that has taken billions out of the federal treasury over the last several years. No one is going to start taking transit because they'll get some tiny tax break several months down the line, so the public transit tax credit basically rewarded people for doing something they were going to do anyway. In other words, it has zero impact. Now consider if they had taken that money that was given up on the wasted tax credit and actually invested it in public transit. That would have produced way more bang for the buck! Even if widely spread across the country, it could still have made a difference because municipalities and provinces would have matched the funds. Our Metro Link routes are a good example of that. They came about because of fairly modest federal investments. Don't expect the Tories to change tact anytime soon though as tax credits are their answer to everything (even when they don't work).
There's a huge amount of inequality between different parts of the country because of the ad hoc nature of federal transit funding. Projects are not necessarily treated equally based on their merits, so they are often funded based on political opportunism and sexiness.
On top of this in NS the provincial government does not fund Halifax projects in the same way that BC, Ontario, or other provinces fund their major cities. It is amazing how much of a difference in attitude there is between BC and NS despite the fact that BC covers a larger geographic area.
To put things into perspective, you can look at financing of specific projects. MetroLink was a $13.3M project. HRM paid $8M of that, the federal government picked up $4M, and the province picked up about $1M.
In Vancouver the Canada Line received $450M from the federal government. That is like about 8 MetroLink projects, if we correct for the population of the two cities. The Canada Line opened in 2009 and they are already building another line, the Evergreen Line, in 2012. The Evergreen Line is getting $400M from the federal government, $600M from the province of BC, and $400M from Translink. Of Translink's money, a good chunk is from special parking and fuel taxes.
This disparity is enormous
. No wonder why Vancouver has better transit -- Translink is receiving 10 to 20 times more money per capita from the province and federal government for capital expenses. On top of that, Translink has extra powers of taxation.
Part of the blame lies with the federal government, part of it lies with the province for pandering to rural NS, and part of the blame lies with HRM for failing to propose and go after funding for larger projects. HRM leaves a tremendous amount of money on the table due to its lack of vision, direction, and competence.