Vancouver's TransLink Faces Serious Funding Gap

» Meeting long-term transport needs will require a major new governmental commitment, as well as new financing options like central-city tolling.

This week, metro Vancouver’s TransLink presented three options for the region’s elected officials: with an infusion of new cash, the transit authority could dramatically improve service and expand rapid transit along three new corridors; it could maintain the status quo and cut bus service by 40%; or, it could do something in between. Politicians in the region’s cities and in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, have until October 31st to make up their minds. They’ll either have to find significant new funding sources or face dramatic cuts in transit service.

Though Vancouver is currently building a new rapid transit project called the Canada Line and is investing in a downtown streetcar project in time for the 2010 Olympics, the picture isn’t all rosy. TransLink faces a $4.6

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American Transport Policy, Stuck in Highway Mode

» The highway and transit lobbies are mutually dependent, with the much more powerful roads interest playing the dominant role.

Beginning in the early 1960s, a coalition of mayors, environmentalists, neighborhood groups, and other supporters of cities worked to expand federal aid to transit, arguing that the massive investment in the Interstate Highway System was depriving urban areas of their well-being. They suggested that more investment in public transportation was a necessary antidote to the destruction caused to inner-city communities as a result of megalomaniacal post-war planning efforts. In many ways, their work was successful even in the early years — Congress invested in new rapid transit networks in Washington, San Francisco, and Atlanta, and by 1975, the government was contributing 28% of all nationwide spending on public transportation. Its share had been only 1% just ten years before.

Yet, as Alan Altshuler and David Luberoff describe it in Mega-Projects: the Changing

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University of Minnesota Wants More Mitigation for Central Corridor LRT

Proposed “floating slab” is claimed necessary to protect lab space.

When it’s completed in five years, the Central Corridor will connect downtown Minneapolis with the state capital 11 miles down the road in St. Paul, and it’s expected to become the Twin Cities’ most popular transit line. But opposition from prominent landholders along the route — including the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Public Radio — continues to challenge the project proponents’ contention that they will be able to maintain reasonable completion costs.

A little more than five years ago, Minneapolis opened its Hiawatha Light Rail line to great acclaim, and the project has been very successful. So much so, in fact, that the Metro Council, which directs transportation expenditures in the Twin Cities and the surrounding region, is currently extending station platforms along the line to support three-car trains.

You would think, then, that the completion of the area’s next

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Veolia and Transdev, Transport Operators, Propose Huge Merger

Domination of new company puts into question the role of private operators.

Neo-liberalism has become the defining approach most western political systems take to developed their economies after the fall of the Berlin Wall The repeated failure of left-oriented regimes to articulate a popular alternative to corporate welfare and reductions in government size hasn’t helped much. One prominent consequence in Europe and North America has been a privatization of formerly public services. This embrace of the so-called Washington Consensus has had a major effect on public transportation systems, which remain largely owned by local, regional, and national governments, but whose operations increasingly are being transferred to private firms.

I have no interest in extolling the value of these corporations, and their profit motive is likely resulting in less-than-ideal service provision, but the outsourcing of transit operations is undoubtedly producing a massive new industry whose business should be of interest to those

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MBTA Moves Forward With Blue Line Extension Planning

Long-planned link between Revere to Lynn, however, still lacks funding source.

Yesterday, the Government of Massachusetts announced that it would sponsor the completion of a planning report on a northeast extension of the MBTA Blue Line. The completion of the Draft Environmental Impact Study, which is a required step on the path to building a major infrastructure project in the United States, will demand about $300,000 in consulting fees. Yet this new guarantee of planning funds in no way ensures the eventual completion of the project, which would stretch from the Blue Line’s existing terminus at Wonderland to Lynn, several miles up the North Shore. Boston’s transit agency is mired in billions of dollars of debt and has a number of projects that are being prioritized over this extension.

The Blue Line opened in 1904 to streetcar operations and was converted to rapid transit technology in 1924. It

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The Site / The Fight

  • by Yonah Freemark
  • Twitter: @yfreemark
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