Double responses to Fraser Heights NIMBY/anti-transit letter

A transit bus waits during a "layover" at Surrey Central SkyTrain Station. Photo credit: CC-BY-NC-SA Flickr: Dennis Tsang
A transit bus waits during a “layover” at Surrey Central SkyTrain Station. Photo credit: CC-BY-NC-SA Flickr: Dennis Tsang

In what can be considered a major victory for Fraser Heights transit riders, there have been two responses to a letter to the editor/rotten tomatoes submission from a Fraser Heights resident, who dislikes the noise of full-size buses going through the neighbourhood.

One of the two was mine and was published today in the Surrey Leader…. (8/28 – The Now has also published a varied version I wrote [CLICK HERE])

Full-size buses welcome in Fraser Heights – Surrey Leader

Re: “‘Cast-off’ buses geared for Surrey riders,” Letters, The Leader, Aug. 15.

This letter is very insulting to the many Fraser Heights residents who are repaying the recent bus size increases with their patronage.

As a frequent rider of the 337 Fraser Heights (I get on/off at 156 Street), I can say from experience that the full-size buses on the 337 are indeed necessary. Peak-hour trips see standing-room only loads, and off-peak hour trips see more than the 24 people that can be accommodated by a community bus.

TransLink’s response has been justified. The recent bus performance report revealed that the 337 has the fastest-growing ridership of any bus route in Surrey, and the full-size buses are preventing pass-ups and keeping the 337 reliable for the demand……

See more at: The Leader website

…and the other was from another letter-writer who would seem to live further into Fraser Heights than I do; this was published on The Now Newspaper last week (but should also be on the same edition of The Leader – [CLICK HERE]).

Surrey bus service suffers from bottlenecks – Surrey Now

The Editor, Re: “A bus full of rotten tomatoes to TransLink for its decision to run intrusive, noisy large buses through Fraser Heights’ small streets, 16 hours per day. Most of these buses carry less than the capacity of our former small ‘community buses.’ This is a waste of money and an assault on our senses!” the Now Roses and Rotten Tomatoes, Aug. 8, and “TransLink gets credit while lowly subsidize,” the Now letters, July 30.

There have been comments published in the Now newspaper that said most of the buses servicing Fraser Heights were old and empty. Yes, many buses are “old” but then, age is just a number if they are well maintained.

Not knowing where on the Fraser Heights bus route the writer of this comment lives, he/she may not know the majority of people get off and on the buses within the first or last few stops in Fraser Heights, so the buses would have few people until they loop around to pick up those leaving Fraser Heights.

The buses are full with standees in the mornings heading out of Fraser Heights (even during the summer) and packed with standees in the afternoons, heading into Fraser Heights……

See more at: The Now Newspaper website

I think it was particularly interesting that I wasn’t the only one who sent in a response to this letter-writer, and that the other letter was based upon very similar concerns and experiences. It looks like it’s clear what are the priorities of Fraser Heights and area residents (especially transit riders).

Regarding the stats, this is the document you need to look at (on TransLink’s website – CLICK HERE). The 337 placed 3rd in ridership growth between South-of-Fraser bus routes in 2010-2011 with 13.3% growth, and placed 1st in 2011-2012 with 14.1% growth. It now services more than 750,000 boardings annually.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Low tax rate in high-growth Surrey appalling

Surrey City Hall construction. Photo credit: Neg Ratarajan https://secure.flickr.com/photos/regnatarajan/8021235672/
Surrey City Hall construction. Photo credit: Flickr – Neg Ratarajan

The Surrey Now has published my letter responding to Michael Booth’s awesome editorial [CLICK HERE] exploring how Surrey’s low tax rate could be adding to the city’s strain.

Low tax rate in high-growth Surrey appalling

The Editor,

Re: “Low tax rate adding to city’s strain,” the Now, April 11.

The fact that Surrey has the lowest tax rates in Metro Vancouver, in spite of not only fast growth but also infrastructure shortages, is appalling.

Surrey has more young people than any other city in Metro Vancouver, and every one of them is losing out on their futures because of the city’s current finance policies.

Low taxes create spending limits, which especially hurt children and the youth because they rely on the services provided by taxes. The city’s infrastructure investment plans seem aligned with low taxes, because they will fall short of what this city really needs.

With only five pools and five arenas, Surrey has less recreational facilities per capita than other cities’ average nationally. The current Build Surrey program has proposed only three major pool or arena projects – Surrey needs 11 by 2021 to catch up to the national average.

Surrey has suffered a significant disparity in the amount of transit service hours and buses per capita when compared to cities north of the Fraser.

Surrey wants to address transit issues by building at-grade Light Rail Transit (instead of SkyTrain expansion). However, light rail will provide slower and less reliable service compared to SkyTrain, and will be less attractive and useful to riders. According to TransLink’s final study, not even three light rail lines will meet a shift commuters to transit objective that was set before the study began. The city hasn’t revealed this to the public because it is opposed to SkyTrain (mostly for visual and cost reasons).

It’s time for a significant increase in infrastructure spending in the City of Surrey, which is going to require an increase in tax rates. Both are long overdue.

Daryl Dela Cruz, Surrey

© Copyright (c) Surrey Now

Surrey Now: Low tax rate adding to city’s strain (editorial)

Guildford Rec Centre. Photo: Wikimedia Commons - Leoboudv
Guildford Rec Centre. Photo: Wikimedia Commons – Leoboudv

This is probably the best editorial or article about Surrey that I have read in the local papers lately, because I think that the points and the pains that have been mentioned are absolutely correct, and are legitimate concerns that need to get more attention.

I’ve had a feeling that spending limits have been a part of what I perceive as a city-wide infrastructure shortage on many fronts. Many new growth areas are so far from existing services because they haven’t been serviced with new ones, and many of our services (i.e. roads… sidewalks anyone?) are crumbling and underbuilt. I’ve pointed it out a few times in other newsletters and I’ve been hoping for more people to bring it up to light. I guess that with this excellent editorial by Surrey Now’s Michael Booth, the battle can begin.

I submitted a follow-up newsletter response to this editorial that points out how low taxes have created spending limits that are affecting our young population. I hope it gets published.

By Michael Booth, Surrey Now April 11, 2013

In the world of politics, nothing turns off voters like the notion of raising taxes.

The very notion of giving more of our hard-earned money to government at any level evokes a reaction not unlike a small child encountering a large bug – shrieks of terror followed by a determination to squash the source of the anxiety.

And woe be unto the politician who has the temerity to suggest a hike in the tax rate may be a prudent move to address a given fiscal problem. Such a statement inevitably brands the poor soul with a stigma that makes Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter look like a participation ribbon at an elementary school’s sports day. The day after the next election, voters can observe the crows picking at the desiccated corpse of the offending suit’s political career.

These thoughts come to mind after reading Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts’ latest State of the City Address, which she delivered last week.

Watts heads the Surrey First civic political party, a group that holds every single seat on Surrey city council.

In keeping with the party’s title, Watts’ speech is littered with rah-rah, civic-booster language, including such delightful terms as state-of-the-art, world class, culturally vibrant, brightest minds and, of course, “the largest construction and investment plan in the city’s history.”

New civic plans include renaming a stretch of King George Boulevard (last year it was King George Highway, but hey, signs are cheap) as Innovation Boulevard and investigating the expansion of a Canarie fibre network from SFU to Surrey Memorial Hospital.

What’s a Canarie fibre network you ask? Well, it’s not a carrier pigeon network using canaries. Nope, it’s an “ultra high-speed fibre optic digital infrastructure” that is “highly coveted in the health technology and research community.” Nothing but the best for Whalley.

The city also wants to “leverage new opportunities in the arts and culture sector” as well as foster growth in the aerospace industry. On top of all this, Surrey will strive for improved transit service with a light rail transit system, create “significant infrastructure projects” such as the new city hall, two new swimming pools, a new community plaza and a “district energy system” in City Centre (ie: Whalley).

And don’t forget the new walking and cycling trails that will link up the 8,000 acres of parks in the city.

Now juxtapose these grandiose plans with a niggling little phrase mentioned in passing near the start of the mayor’s speech: Surrey has the lowest residential taxes and second lowest business taxes in the region.

Now I’m no math wizard, but something has to give here…..

[CONTINUED – READ MORE AT THE NOW WEBSITE]

Michael Booth can be reached at mbooth@ thenownewspaper.com

© Copyright (c) Surrey Now