– The propaganda campaign for the UBC subway has begun

Rail for the Valley

On September 8, the first day of regular commuting, after the summer break, in the region, the Vancouver Sun had a “Canada Line” Live chat where a poll question pops up “Should SkyTrain continue to UBC” and not surprisingly 59% have voted, “Yes get on with it”. Here we have the the first push of a massive propaganda campaign to win public approval for building Vancouver’s UBC subway. Certainly the mainstream media, both print and electronic, loudly banged the drum for RAV/Canada line and now banging on the drum for the UBC subway.

Not only should a UBC subway worry residents in the Tri-Cities as they see their long promised Evergreen Line dismally fade away, it should worry residents in the Fraser Valley, that once again Vancouver is getting a politically prestigious subway at the expense of regional and provincial taxpayers. The promoters of the a UBC subway and the SkyTrain Lobby will delight at the fact that once again taxpayers who live outside of Vancouver, with no say on how transit is provided inside Vancouver will see massive tax and user fee increases to fund a subway to UBC that they will seldom, if ever use.

It will take about one year before the hoopla of the RAV/Canada Line dies down and a meaningful statistical analysis can be made. Many questions must be answered, including:

  1. How many RAV Line customers first took a bus to the metro?
  2. Is TransLink apportioning fares between bus and metro?
  3. What percentage of RAV Line customers use deep discounted U-Pass?
  4. What is the real daily ridership?
  5. Is there an independent audit of RAV service?

Before we invest any more money on a very expensive subway, we first must have solid evidence that the RAV/Canada Line has indeed attracted new customers and that it has created a discernible modal shift from car to transit, in the neighbourhood of at least 30%. If not, then a subway, under Broadway, will be a colossal waste of taxpayers money.

Just what sort of ridership justifies subway construction? About 400,000 to 500,000 passengers a day, far less that what the Broadway buses carry on Broadway today. TransLink and SkyTrain/metro lobby are again, selling ‘pixie dust’ planning as real the real thing, with faux arguments supporting a SkyTrain subway!  One must stop and pause for a moment to reflect, that despite now investing over $8 billion of taxpayers money on light-metro, TransLink share of regional ridership is still a dismal 11% to 12%, a number that has remained almost unchanged for almost two decades!

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, is TransLink’s modus operandi!

Gordon Campbell, with full support of Liberal ‘West side types’, Vancouver politicians, UBC academics, and the mainstream media will champion a nearly $4 billion subway because Vancouver is a ‘world-class city’ and as everyone knows ‘world-class cities’ all have subways; whether the subway will actually attract the motorist from the car is a different matter.

Premier Gordon Campbell, with a disastrous start to his third term as Premier and with the CN Rail-gate trial beginning to stink like three day old fish, is looking for a legacy or two before he departs for more leisurely pursuits in Maui. Could it be that the new replaced Port Mann Bridge will be called the Gordon Campbell Bridge and the new UBC subway will be called the Campbell Line?

One thing is for certain, if the Campbell Line subway is built, watch for TransLink to implode, as Fraser Valley politicians shun the transit authority like a leper, and call for a new South Fraser Transit Authority. If that happens, then wait for shrill screams of Vancouver’s taxpayers as they have to pay the real cost of a very expensive, yet needless politically prestigious subway.

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