TRANSIT & TRANSPORTATION – IT’S TIME TO CHOOSE
Last year at this time the debate was raging over the proposed vehicle levy, and we all know that proposal was “shot-down” by public opinion. The consequence of that out-come, however, is we are now facing the critical question of providing adequate funding for transit and transportation in the region. There are huge issues at stake for everybody, which includes all residents of the region, both transit riders and vehicle drivers. Issues of air quality, road congestion, increased commute times, movement of goods, economic well-being and quality-of-life. It’s not just a question about transit, but the ability to move within our region by whatever means we choose.
The need for additional funding for transit and transportation is self-evident, but everybody wants somebody else to pay. Transit riders have had two rate increases in the past year, but that barely starts to address the need. Without an immediate injection of $40 million per year, there will have to be significant cuts to both roads funding and transit operations, and $80 million per year is needed to fund even modest improvements to the system. Loss of roads funding would be a financial “hit” to Belcarra’s annual operating budget, but adding a transit and transportation levy to local property taxes is an out-come Belcarra Council endeavoured to avoid in the last round of debates.
We all recognize that the Federal Government has been negligent in providing necessary funding for roads and transit. In excess of $300 million per year is extracted from our region in federal fuel taxes, but almost none of those fuel taxes are returned to help finance roads and transit. The current funding challenge would be non-existent if the Feds returned even 50% of the fuel taxes, but it is unlikely that federal funds will be forthcoming to address the immediate short-fall in funding.
It’s time to choose! Over the past few weeks, TransLink has been holding information meetings around the region, and has circulated an information pamphlet entitled It’s Time To Choose, and an Adobe Acrobat .pdf copy (362 Kb) has been posted here on Belcarra’s website. The pamphlet answers many of the questions regarding transit and transportation funding, and includes information on how to provide your perspective to TransLink. Also available for consideration is the TransLink Presentation To Belcarra Council that contains additional information. I encourage everyone to review these materials and give this issue some serious thought. The transit and transportation funding issue will not “go away”, and we will have to live with the consequences for years to come!
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