– Fraser Valley residents left out of the bus loop

Langley Times

By Frank Bucholtz

Langley and other areas south of the Fraser River are not receiving proper transit service, TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast told the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce last Tuesday (Sept. 15).

“There is really no transit service south of the Fraser,” he said. “It is almost impossible to take transit from Vancouver to here.”

TransLink has been trying to improve services, both south of the Fraser and in the core metropolitan area, but in doing so “has been living beyond its means for several years,” Prendergast said.

“The day of reckoning is fast approaching.”

He said that one reason he took the job with TransLink was the fact that it combined responsibility for transit and major roads. In a long career in both the public and private sector, including a stint as president of Long Island Railroad, the largest commuter rail system in the U.S., he has often been responsible for one or the other — but not both.

Prendergast wants to explore road pricing in the Lower Mainland as a possible means to raise enough revenue for TransLink to continue expanding its services. He said putting a value on services, such as the toll on the Golden Ears Bridge, is the fairest way to pay for those services.

With growth continuing in the Lower Mainland, Prendergast said it is imperative that there be better road and transit options, but TransLink will not consider expansion on a large scale until it can find a secure source of funding. It is holding off on signing onto building the Evergreen rapid transit line in Coquitlam because it does not have the capital funds for the project, even though the federal and provincial governments have pledged to provide some of the capital funds.

In response to questions, he said that he wants to see turnstiles at SkyTrain stations, in conjunction with Smart Cards for payment.

He is in support of a pilot light rail project using the Interurban line, and would back grant applications for a group that wished to take that project on.

He said it is important that Abbotsford eventually become part of the TransLink system, but he acknowledged that it is unlikely to do so when neighbouring Langley has not received much in the way of transit service.

Abbotsford will one day be the largest city in the Lower Mainland, he said, noting that Surrey will surpass Vancouver in 30 years and eventually Abbotsford will surpass Surrey.

Prendergast also said TransLink needs to change its attitude towards park and ride lots, which can boost transit ridership. TransLink historically hasn’t supported such lots.

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