Members of the Cambie Village Business Association have voted to proceed with their lawsuit against TransLink for damages caused by construction of the $2-billion Canada Line rapid-transit project.

Because of the complexity of the case, theatre owner Leonard Schein of the association said a decision was made to go with two law firms, Arvay Finlay and Hordo and Bennett.

There was “overwhelming support,” to proceed, said Schein.

Damages being sought are in excess of $20 million.

[Frank Luba for The Province]

Read the full article here.


According to recent news reports, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation has asked chair Dianne Watts to press transportation minister Kevin Falcon over the transit authorities need for more funding from senior governments as they can no longer go back to residents for increased funding via levies or increased taxes. 

One potential source of funding at the federal level is the new Building Canada fund, which is billed as a 7-year plan providing stable, flexible and predictable funding to Canadian municipalities to support a stronger economy, cleaner environment and better communities.

Public transit is a key element of this plan, which states: 

Public transit is a key part of urban transportation infrastructure. Sound investments in public transit can improve mobility and help get people out of their cars, which reduces traffic congestion, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and air pollution.
[Building Canada – Public Transit]

The governments of Canada and BC signed the Canada-British Columbia Framework Agreement on November 6, 2007 worth $2.2 billion under Building Canada.

However, a look at the list of BC priorities for funding shows that the priorities lie primarily in highway improvement. The 4 priorities include:

  • Improvements to Highway 97 near Prince George and the relocation of the commercial vehicle inspection station near Red Rock Road south of Prince George. [news release]
  • Improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway through Kicking Horse Canyon include the construction of approximately 12 kilometres of twinned highway. [news release]
  • Upgrading a 7 kilometre section of Highway 97 between Bentley Road and Okanagan Lake Park to four lanes. [news release]
  • Flood mitigation initiatives to help communities address existing flood concerns and take proactive steps toward preventing flooding emergencies. [news release]
Not one of the four stated priorities concerns public transit. 

During the summer months, I often  ride my bike to work rather than ride the bus, in large part to take a transit break to help alleviate my frustrations with the transit system in Vancouver. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of public transit – there’s nothing I’d like to see more than a clean, safe, well-run, functional system in what’s been called one of the most livable cities in the world – but I just can’t take the disappointment with the current system on a daily basis.

I live in Southeast Vancouver, and work at UBC. You’d think I’d have plenty of options to catch a bus going west – we’ve got the #49, the #41, and the express #43. I’ve pretty much given up on the #49, though, since I get passed by several times per week and it’s just not reliant. The #43? Can’t get on it as it’s already full by the time it reaches Knight Street and it just sails on by. 

Today I thought I’d take my chances and try the most convenient bus – the  #49. You’d think there would be no problem; after all, school is out, people are on holidays, folks are cycle-commuting.  Well, you’d be wrong, and how very optimistic of you. Two buses passed me by before I could get on. And despite TransLink’s recent update announcing increased service on the 49 (among others) to at least every 15 minutes as of June 23, that’s not yet helping the overcrowded morning commute. I still waited 12-15 minutes for each subsequent bus, making me 25 minutes later than I had planned to get to work, and about 35 minutes later than if I had just ridden my bike.  

While this is frustrating, I do have some flexibility over my work hours and don’t need to be there at a specific time. (And folks at work sure get a  kick out of my never-ending supply of bus stories.) But what about the many folks who work at UBC and elsewhere who need reliant bus service to get them to work at a specific time? How many people  lose their jobs because they are late because they couldn’t get on the bus and can’t afford – or don’t want to drive – a car? Yes, we can leave an  hour or two early in order to factor in the inevitable pass-bys, but that’s not a sustainable option for working parents, and certainly not functional for a city that expects transit ridership to increase in the coming years.

Transit Etiquette

I received an email today from the folks at MuniManners, a new transit etiquette blog from San Francisco that aims to pick up where Miss Manners leaves off, and “modernizes what our moms taught us in grade school about riding the Uncle Gus”. They write:

With more and more people around the world riding transit, we felt it was time to introduce some simple ‘rules of the road’ into our daily commutes. We thought your readers might enjoy a refresher course with our etiquette rules as we all aim for a safe and courteous ride on transit! 

Go over and visit! I’ve added a link to the list of transit blogs on the right. We’ll definitely be sharing some of their transit etiquette tips on this blog.

Area mayors say they simply can’t impose higher taxes – including a higher gas tax or a vehicle levy – to bail out TransLink.

And they plan to take that message to transportation minister Kevin Falcon.

“There’s no appetite to go back to the residents and raise taxes,” said Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.

She chairs the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation and said the group has asked her to press Falcon over TransLink’s need for more funding from senior governments.

[Jeff Nagel for the Surrey Leader]

Continue reading this article here.

Christopher Leinberger, author of The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream, writes about walkable urbanism and public transit in Vancouver in an article for the latest issue of BC Business magazine. 

While Leinberger praises Vancouver for the steps it has taken to date in creating a walkable urban city, he points out that we still have a lot to do. Most of our neighbourhoods known for great walkable urbanism are in the city of Vancouver, but there are still few walkable urban places in the rest of Metro Vancouver despite “significant transit investment over the past generation”. He writes:

Most of your suburban transit stations have not witnessed the complex, vital, walkable places that the City of Vancouver is known for. Burnaby and Surrey are attempting to retrofit low-density suburban places with walkable urbanism and seem stuck in between. While the great urban bones of Surrey Central have seen encouraging reinvestment, there is a long way to go.

Further on in the article, Leinberger offers suggestions for improvement:

Around existing and planned transit stations, there needs to be legal and financial encouragement to promote high-density, walkable urban places. Within 500 to 1,000 metres of each of your current and proposed transit stops there should be “special transit zoning,” which allows for mixed-use, high-density development (apartments above coffee shops, office space above grocery stores). Hopefully, mechanisms will also be put in place to encourage and financially support mixed-income housing. This is the necessary precondition for the real estate industry to produce the low-energy and low-carbon development required and demanded by the market today.

Read Leinberberger’s full article in BC Business magazine here.


I was browsing the comments made to the CBC news site on the article about Cracks found in SkyTrain bridge when I noticed several comments made by one Arthur Dent.

This Arthur Dent further identifies himself as Ken Hardie, TransLink spokesperson.

It’s a little disconcerting to see the hapless protagonist from the series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy posting as a TransLink spokesperson, especially when that fictional character escapes the destruction of the Earth as it is demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. What exactly is Ken trying to tell us here?

I’m in favour of anonymity or fictional names when one is posting comments to a website, but not when one is speaking in a professional capacity as TransLink spokesperson! C’mon Ken, please post informative TransLink comments as Ken Hardie, and leave your alter ego for non-TransLink commentary. 

Over at the Georgia Straight Politics blog, Charlie Smith takes Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie to task on his recent concern that property-tax payers could face higher costs because TransLink will run out of money in a few years. As Smith points out, Brodie was a strong supporter of the Canada Line project despite studies showing higher than projected costs in most megaprojects.

When Brodie was on the TransLink board and voting consistently for the Canada Line, directors claimed that the estimated cost was $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion.

Back then, Cambie Street merchants were under the impression that it would be a bored-tunnel project, which wouldn’t cause disruptions to their livelihoods.

Only later in the process did TransLink fess up that the cost was closer to $2 billion, and only then with a cut-and-cover tunnel that wreaked havoc on Cambie Street businesses.

Read Smith’s full post here.

Some Metro Vancouver mayors are calling on TransLink to get its finances in order after figures released this week show the public transportation provider will be short $300 million per year by 2012.

“This is a plan for absolute disaster in my mind,” Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said Friday. “Metro Vancouver continues to have a very real reason to be concerned about TransLink finances because we are on the hook for it.”

Speaking at the Metro Vancouver Board’s meeting, Brodie said TransLink seems to be oblivious to the urgency of the situation.

The figures released Tuesday show TransLink will use up much of its $400-million reserve over the next four years, despite bringing in millions of dollars in surplus revenue in 2007.

By 2012, TransLink will need $150 million each year just to fund existing services, plus an additional $150 million for planned expansions.


Read the full CBC News story here.

Over at Stephen Rees’s blog, he writes about his visit underground to see the ongoing Canada Line construction site under False Creek.  Stephen writes:

Work is still continuing. Track is laid in only one of the tunnels, and there is no electrification yet. Work is currently busiest in the station boxes, but in general the project is actually ahead of schedule. 

Check out the full posting, along with Stephen’s photos of the work in progress, here.