It looks like Kevin Falcon is having nothing to do with local debate and decisions about the next major transit line scheduled for Metro Vancouver. The BC Ministry of Transportation is taking over the reigns of the Evergreen Line project. The Evergreen Line is a new transit line to run from Coquitlam Town Centre via Port Moody to connect to the Millennium Line at Lougheed Mall. The article says that the Evergreen Line is now scheduled to start service in 2014.
This line is not a new concept. In fact, it was originally supposed to part 2 of the original Millennium Line construction. At the time, it was called the Port Moody-Coquitlam (PMC) line. Well, almost 6 years after the Millennium Line started service, the Evergreen Line has been delayed time and time again. At one time, construction was supposed to be concurrent with Canada Line construction. However, the Canada Line is such a money-hog that there wasn’t much money left to do another rapid transit line and expand bus service in Metro.
Also, before the Ministry of Transportation released their huge “$14 billion transit plan,” the Evergreen Line had gone through a two years of public consultation where they had settled on Light Rail Transit (LRT) at ground level with elevated portions. LRT may be slower in some respects, especially if there are no transit priority measures, but it is a heck of a lot cheaper than SkyTrain.
Now that Falcon has decided on SkyTrain as the technology of choice, we will have a very quick transit alternative to the Tri-Cities, but at a pretty high cost. Also, in order for the line to be SkyTrain compatible, meaning that the Evergreen trains will like be able to run on the Millennium line, then we can only turn to Bombardier. So don’t expect a huge amount of bidding to lower costs, for the trains, at least.
The article also discusses future rapid transit projects like the expansion of Expo Line stations and the an Expo Line extension to Guildford. Personally, I’m not sure that will be money well spent at this point. Sounds great and all to my megalomaniac transit side, but maybe we could serve Surrey better with LRT or Bus Rapid Transit before we start talking about SkyTrain to Guildford. Bus Rapid Transit, like the B-Lines, are good at creating the initial demand as in the case of the 99 B-Line along Broadway and the 98 B-Line along Granville and No. 3 Road.
There’s also mention of the UBC extension of the Millennium Line. I envision NIMBY galore as rapid transit starts to encroach on the West Side of Vancouver. In terms of existing ridership, the UBC extension would have a very firm foundation to start with. Visitors to Vancouver always tell me how surprised they are when they find out that there is no rapid transit out to the university. However, putting stations in the West Side and the perception of crime that comes with it, will draw out the “creme de la creme” folks in organized protest.
As a final point from the article, there’s this paragraph:
There are reports, too, that TransLink is facing a substantial operating squeeze over the next few years, as growth in demand and new services outstrips the available revenue stream by hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Not my table,” Falcon is inclined to say, amid reminders that TransLink is now responsible for its own balance sheet.
But each time he intervenes on something like the Evergreen line, he invites calls for further intervention and more provincial dollars down the line.
It feels like I’m listening to Lady MacBeth wash her hands of blood and responsibility.