Re: “Gas-tax hike to fuel region transit boost,” Feb. 22.
As an occasional bus commuter, I heartily approve of the gas-tax increase to expand our local bus service, which has suffered severe and counter-intuitive blows by cancelling the seniors’ discount fare and transfer possibilities. I have already welcomed an increase in my property taxes to expand commuter service, and as a car driver I embrace this new tax to alleviate vehicle traffic on our congested streets by expanding bus options.
I agree, however, with Mayor Lisa Helps’ statement that “our transit system is 20th century at best.” Almost any European city of comparable size has an integrated light-rail system serving the city and connecting with interurban rail systems. Yet the provincial government, be it B.C. Liberal or NDP, continues to neglect the treasure that is the E&N rail corridor. The provincial government funds transit studies (the Stantec study in 2006), builds more roads and transit services in the Lower Mainland, and forgoes hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue by cancelling bridge tolls, but there is never funding to revitalize the Vancouver Island rail corridor or integrate rail services with bus transit in Victoria and the Capital Regional District. Such a service would provide much-needed relief to traffic congestion, ensure continuity of service when yet another accident closes the Malahat, prevent out-of-control road-building gobbling up yet more land, and reduce greenhouse gases, all economic and social positives we can ill afford to neglect. The myopia of provincial governments is truly depressing.
Hendrik de Pagter