Transit coalition aims to fix “broken” model

A coalition of students, business leaders and residents is calling for a major overhaul of the Lower Mainland's public transit system. According to CBC reports ...

A coalition of students, business leaders and residents is calling for a major overhaul of the Lower Mainland's public transit system.

According to CBC reports yesterday, the Get on Board BC campaign launched Tuesday with a media event at UBC.

Campaign director Tanner Bokor says the group is frustrated by insufficient funding for public transit and is calling on TransLink to improve and expand rapid transit options.

"Obviously, TransLink has a broken funding model as it stands," Bokor said.

"We have a funding mechanism that's unsustainable and provincial officials are unwilling to fully utilize what powers they have to raise funds, which is why we are saying what we've been given is not good enough."

The group says buses — especially those that head along Broadway to UBC — are often too full to take on new passengers, causing students to miss class and leaving other commuters late for work.

Bokor says it's proof the transit system is broken and service levels will only get worse.

"Given where TransLink currently is at, if we continue with the current funding model we could see service being reduced even further."

The coalition is backed by mayors Gregor Robertson, Dianne Watts and Richard Walton, as well as Business in Vancouver columnist and founder Peter Ladner, and BIV columnist and SFU planner Gordon Price.

Get on Board BC argues the province is good at funding road projects like the Port Mann Bridge, but they're calling on the provincial government to make public transit a priority.

"It's okay to raise money for transit, because without decent transit we lose out on economic health, social health and environmental health in our region," said Ladner.

In order to fund transit improvements, Get on Board BC is proposing regional tolling and nominal tax increases, with any money raised in one region being spent in that region.

The group says the issue is about more than just getting more buses on the road. Instead, they want elected officials to find a way to improve the entire system — and fund it.

"We need the province, TransLink, and the municipalities of Metro Vancouver to come together and seek solutions to sustainably pay for our public transit system," Bokor said.

"Transit helps build our economy, lowers congestion, creates communities, lowers our carbon footprint, and has become increasingly popular, so much so that ridership levels have grown to exceed the number of buses and trains we have available."

The campaign is calling on voters to support candidates in the 2013 provincial election who publicly endorse sustainable funding for transit.

According to the group, Mayor Robertson plans to propose a motion for the City of Vancouver to formally endorse the campaign.

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