LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Don’t expect the Surrey Board of Trade to care about nature

Panorama of Crescent Beach and nature in the fall. Photo credit: CC-BY-NC-SA - Flickr: Jeremy Hiebert
Panorama of Crescent Beach and nature in the fall. A Fraser River coal terminal proposal will result in coal trains regularly passing this area. Photo credit: CC-BY-NC-SA – Flickr: Jeremy Hiebert

I wanted to remind our citizens what the Surrey Board of Trade really stands for.

They will not side with you, and they will not side for sustainability, if doing either of those means having to side against their own primary mandate and purpose: to protect money.

Apart from any of mine, there have been a lot of great letters sent into the Surrey/North Delta Leader in the past few weeks. Do check out the Letters page [CLICK HERE] for more.

Don’t expect the Surrey Board of Trade to care about nature – Surrey Leader

Re: “Money over environment – again,” The Leader, Letters, May 30.

Your readers shouldn’t bother expecting the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) and Anita Huberman to have any legitimate, consistent concern for the environment.

When the province announced the Gateway Program, despite the cries from activists regionwide on its unsustainability, cost, and potential to offset transit investment, the SBOT ignored those concerns and fully supported it.

When Gateway Casinos proposed a massive casino at the edge of South Surrey – in an unsustainable, outer-city greenfield location with no transit access – it spawned marathon council meetings where hundreds spoke out against it, many for the reason of its unsustainable location.

Siding against concerned citizens, the SBOT fully supported it.

Their other new endorsement – Light Rail and the Light Rail Links coalition – has largely ignored studies and finished research on Surrey rapid transit, which have found that a Light Rail network will fail on modal-shift from car to transit and will not cause any net reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions.

The SBOT has long dismissed the only option that will actually reduce emissions, which is SkyTrain expansion.

I’m not surprised that the SBOT is now supporting the Fraser Surrey Docks coal terminal proposal. Our business leaders clearly prefer money at any environmental expense.

Daryl Dela Cruz, Surrey

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: TransLink referendum disregards young population

Photo credit: Flickr - Stephen Rees
Buses waiting to depart at Bridgeport Station. Photo credit: Flickr – Stephen Rees

The same text below has been sent as a newsletter to newspapers reporting on this issue.
First published by: Surrey Leader

I would like to express my outrage as to the fact that transit funding has been placed in the hand of several million voters, none of which are going to be under 18 because those people are regarded as underage and have no say in their provincial government.

Public transit needs to be treated as a first class transportation system, not only because it’s the most sustainable and efficient way of moving people, but because it is relied on by many groups of people (particularly young people and students) who will be hurt by the lack thereof.

By turning to a decision option that excludes the voices of the young population and creates the risk that those who do not care about young people will be favoured, the B.C. Liberals are continuing their consistent disrespect of the young population.

Remember the liberals’ Bill 22? Because of their incompetence, B.C. now has the worst student-to-teacher ratio in Canada. The situation being faced by young people in B.C. today is already very tough, and a denial of their voice in defining their transportation future will only make it worse.

Investing in transit is crucial to giving young people mobility choices that they need to pursue the opportunities and connections that will allow them to become productive members of society. Prioritizing young people is important, because they can become the innovators that this world will need to solve global issues.

I will be voting for another party this season. Well, I would if I could, but I cannot vote. Unfortunately, I’m under 18.

Daryl Dela Cruz, Surrey

Surrey Leader – Referendum on new TransLink taxes has fans, foes

The BC Liberals’ surprise pledge of a referendum in November 2014 on any new taxes or tolls for TransLink is getting mixed reaction from transportation watchers.

Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation B.C. director Jordan Bateman said the election promise unveiled Monday would give local voters the power to block any new revenue tool for transit expansion they decide is unjustified.

“That will really change the tenor of the discussion around TransLink,” Bateman said.

“From my point of view, that’s great. Direct democracy is always the best democracy.”

Metro Vancouver mayors have asked the province for new funding sources – a vehicle levy, a share of carbon tax, a small regional sales tax or some form of road pricing – to give TransLink the money for a massive transit expansion that would include rapid transit through Surrey to Langley and west on Vancouver’s Broadway corridor to UBC.

But some Metro Vancouver mayors are critical of the promised referendum, saying it threatens to dumb down the important debate over the future expansion of transit and put the long-term future of the region at risk.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts warned it could divide the region, with voters in cities that already have SkyTrain lines refusing to vote for the higher taxes needed to build new lines in the remaining underserved parts of the region.

“There are going to be people who don’t want to have any expansion in the region whatsoever and that leaves the communities that are growing that have had no investment in rapid transit at a disadvantage,” Watts said.

“Surrey has paid for significant amounts of infrastructure north of the Fraser,” she said. “Now that we’re looking to expand south of the Fraser, where 70 per cent of the region’s growth is coming, we just really need to stop playing politics and get the job done.”

Watts said the debate over funding for TransLink has dragged on for years and waiting until November 2014 would keep the region at a standstill until then.

“Not to be able to do anything for another two years for us in Surrey is simply unacceptable,” said Watts, who questioned why there isn’t a referendum on Liberal plans for changes to income tax levels or the sale of Crown land.

[READ MORE ON THE LEADER – CLICK HERE]

LETTER: Unfair proportions or land use planning choices?

Photo credit: Flickr - Stephen Rees
Photo credit: Flickr – Stephen Rees

I submitted this letter today (EDIT: LETTER WAS PUBLISHED AS OF MARCH 3) to the South Delta Leader in response to an editorial claiming TransLink would “face a mutiny” if it didn’t “shape up”. [LINK HERE]

If you don’t make the right land use planning choices, you are unlikely to get the right transit – and I wanted to point that out, because it seems that a lot of the people I have heard speaking about transit-related matters have not studied the relationship between land use planning and transit planning. It’s an unfortunate but true reality.

Unfair proportions or land use planning choices?

RE: EDITORIAL: TransLink faces a mutiny if it doesn’t shape up
Currently not published

The editor,

I’m all for better transit for everyone, and while it is not my intention to create counter-productivity for the push for better transit in Delta… to put it bluntly, much of Delta (well, apart from North Delta, which like Surrey is actually serviced by very cost-efficient, well-used and not-overused TransLink routes) is a conglomeration of small, far-away and outer-area communities that are difficult to service with quality transit because they were not really designed to be reliant on transit commutes.

Greenfield developments in outer areas of Surrey such as in Grandview Heights aren’t getting the proportionally good transit that taxpayers help pay for either; again, that’s because of land use choices.

The 600 series routes serving Delta are some of the region’s least cost efficient and least productive transit routes. According to a data-set released on Voony’s Blog, they generate a much lower proportion of the region’s bus boardings, despite requiring a higher proportion of the region’s transit service hours. These transit service hours could be spend far more productively addressing pressing needs in other parts of the region like Surrey… instead, they’re rather generously being given to South Delta.

I question whether the real problem with transit in South Delta is a disproportionate return from TransLink…. or is it the choices that have been made in terms of land use planning?

Daryl Dela Cruz, Surrey

Letters: SkyTrain fare-gates key to better transit

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Photo credit: City Hall Watch

I thought there was something missing when I was looking at what seemed to instantly come to mind when everyone thought of the new SkyTrain faregates in Metro Vancouver, so I decided to write a newsletter about it. Four versions of my newsletter appeared on newspapers around the region as of recently. One of them (the Vancouver Sun) I cannot post here, as I do not subscribe to the Vancouver Sun and do not have regular access to their articles. For the ones I can find, here they are below:

Key to improvement

Seen in: The Province

Most people who oppose the coming SkyTrain fare gates seem to have not realized that part of the reason that TransLink and the B.C. government want to introduce them is so that integration with the coming Compass transit fare card can be achieved.

The Compass Card and the data it obtains from its ability to track the beginning and end points of all transit trips will spawn huge improvements across the region in transit-service optimization and cost-efficiency. And these are what is going to offset the capital and annual costs of the fare gates.

Once the Compass Card becomes a part of our transit system, everyone’s going to have a better experience on transit in Metro Vancouver.

Daryl Dela Cruz, Surrey

Fare gates optimize transit service
Fare gates ensure transit consistency

Seen in: Vancouver Courier, Coquitlam Now, Richmond News

The Editor,

Most people who oppose the upcoming SkyTrain fare gates seem to have not realized that part of the reason that TransLink and the BC MOT want to introduce fare gates is so that integration with the upcoming Compass transit fare card can be achieved.

The Compass Card and the data it obtains from its ability to track the beginning and end points of all transit trips will spawn huge improvements region-wide in transit service optimization and cost-efficiency, and these are what is going to offset the capital and annual costs of the fare gates.

Without the fare gates, there would be no way to figure out what trips occur on the SkyTrain and no way to optimize based on those trips.

That would be counter-productive, as SkyTrain is a part of so many transit trips in the region.

The Compass Card concept is the same concept that has already been introduced on the transit system in Montreal, and is used worldwide in transit systems.

For example, in Tokyo, a single money-containing fare card will grant you access to not just the local metro, JR commuter rail and local bus lines, but also vending machines if you want a snack or a drink or whatever of the many unique items dispensed through vending machines in Japan.

Once the Compass Card becomes a part of our transit system, everyone’s going to have a better experience on transit here in Metro Vancouver.

Daryl Dela Cruz, Surrey

Fare Gates a Key to Better Transit
Compass Card will improve Transit Service

Seen in: Burnaby Now, Surrey Now, Langley Times

The Editor,

Most people who oppose the upcoming SkyTrain fare gates seem to have not realized that part of the reason TransLink and the B.C. MOT want to introduce fare gates is so that integration with the upcoming Compass transit fare-card can be achieved.

The Compass card and the data it obtains from its ability to track the beginning and end points of all transit trips will spawn huge improvements region-wide in transit service optimization and cost-efficiency, and these are what is going to offset the capital and annual costs of the fare gates.

Without the fare gates, there would be no way to figure out what trips occur on SkyTrain and no way to optimize based on those trips. That would be counterproductive, as SkyTrain is a part of so many transit trips in the region.

The Compass card concept is the same concept that has already been introduced on the transit system in Montreal, and is used worldwide in transit systems.

Once the Compass card becomes a part of our transit system, everyone’s going to have a better experience on transit here in Metro Vancouver.

Daryl Dela Cruz, Surrey

Letter: Proposed casino not accessible

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Here’s a letter to the editor I wrote last month about the South Surrey casino, its 7-story parkade, and its inaccessible location.

Proposed casino not accessible

Seen on: Surrey/North Delta Leader

Driving to the proposed casino complex in South Surrey is a 27-minute trip from City Centre. This same trip would take at least three times as long by current transit options.

By placing such a large trip generator far away from the built-up city or any forms of reliable access other than a freeway, Gateway has not proposed a sustainable or accessible development for Surrey citizens.

The $3 million annually that the City of Surrey expects to raise from this proposal could be more than offset by the costs to provide this casino with reliable means of alternate transportation options (i.e. transit).

I am curious what part of this money might possibly be taken away from other pressing Surrey needs, such as the missing bus stop for the Port Mann/Highway 1 Rapid Bus.

To give everyone an idea of how much driving there is expected to be to this complex, a huge part of this proposal is a massive parkade – a seven-storey building dedicated exclusively for the storage of cars.

If the city claims (according to a brochure) that sustainability should involve reducing single-occupant vehicle use, then approving this proposal would be hypocrisy. In a city that is supposedly being lauded for attracting “sustainable development,” this complex will stick out like a sore thumb.

If the mayor and council were consistent and actually committed to the city’s sustainability practices, then they would not approve this casino being built here. They would be encouraging its construction on a more accessible and sustainable location.

Daryl Dela Cruz, Surrey