Letter: Translink must win back taxpayer confidence

It should first be noted that the referendum did not fail—the people spoke their mind and the referendum was defeated.

To the editor:

Mr. Wong raises some interesting points in his open letter to Premier Clark with regard to the “Failed Referendum”.  (Realtors Take Clark to Task After Lower Mainland Transit Referendum Fails, July 10 Kelowna Capital News.)

It should first be noted that the referendum did not fail—the people spoke their mind and the referendum was defeated. Therefore it was a success—not a failure.

It is understandable that those whose livelihood is dependent upon sustainable growth in Vancouver and the suburban real estate market would like to see a more cohesive and cost effective transportation system. Don’t we all?

However, the No vote was not rejecting this concept, they were exercising their democratic right by endorsing a vote of non-confidence in the bloated bureaucracy that Translink has become.

The constant breakdowns, the failed multi-million dollar tap card system now heading for the scrap heap, the obscene salaries and severance packages etc. Families and commuters are being crushed under the load of taxes, fees and add-ons while fighting to keep their heads above water and still live in the Vancouver core. The No vote reflects the fact that commuters are now demanding accountability and value for their transportation dollar.

One of the most overlooked transportation solutions to the gridlock is hidden in plain sight. I refer to the miles of green grass growing in the middle of the Hwy. 1 from Chilliwack to Vancouver.

My wife and I recently returned from a visit to France. We boarded the TVG train at Paris DeGaule and headed south to LeMans. The fare was very reasonable, the ride was smooth, with large windows and spacious comfortable seating and the trip was a pleasure.

What got my attention though, was that the track paralleled the motorway for several long sections and the cars and trucks appeared to be going backwards even though the highway speed limit was 100 km.

Quick reference to my handheld GPS confirmed that we were travelling at 250 km while sipping our latte’, enjoying the view and the charming conversation with an elderly lady seated across from us.

My mind went back to Vancouver. How many gridlocked motorists would persist in sitting in their cars, fuming at the endless delays, after they had witnessed the high speed commuter whistling down the middle of the freeway, into downtown Vancouver, its passengers sipping their Starbucks and getting started on the days laptop work?

It would be a no brainer. Further, with this kind of system in place, suburbia could easily spread to Hope as the 40 minute commute would allow for homes that young families could actually afford instead of being crammed into a 350 sq.ft. shoebox downtown. Another bonus? With the removal of a substantial number of cars, the bridge building and freeway expansion programs could be extended into the future.

Sustainable transit is possible, Europe and the UK have proved it. But, the Translink axe needs to start at the top, not with those that are constantly being bled white to support a non-workable model.

My wife and I moved to Kelowna in 1995. The Lower Mainland gridlock mess was evident then and will not be remedied until responsible and sensible use of transportation dollars wins back the confidence of those that depend on it.

Brian R. Mellis, West Kelowna