Translink faces critical 90 days to achieve Evergreen funding, new long-term sustainability

With Campbell gone, is there anyone in Victoria who can deal on Translink funding for the Evergreen Line?

With the pillars of the new Port Mann Bridge soaring over the Fraser River, car commuters know some relief is on the way to speed up rush hour traffic jams by 2013.

The new 10-lane bridge is supposed to carry a new Rapid Bus from Langley to Burnaby in 25 minutes, but there will be no money for buses without a new funding source for Translink.

And if the province has its way, there will be no new funding source for Translink until Lower Mainland municipalities agree by the end of March to find $400 million in funding for the Evergreen Line from property tax.

The December election of North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton to head the Translink Mayor’s Council signalled a new determination by Lower Mainland leaders to demand a better deal from Victoria.

Victoria is facing tough, self-imposed deadlines for Evergreen construction that are already forcing businesses to move out of the corridor. The time is ripe to push for a new deal, or so the reasoning goes.

With BC heading into a potential electoral trifecta —  federal, provincial and municipal elections in a single 11-month period — Lower Mainland transit riders have an unprecedented opportunity to make the case for investments at least equal to the $3 billion Port Mann.

But will they? There is no organization of transit stakeholders.

The latest deadline for a solution to Evergreen is less than 90 days away and the words “public transit” have yet to enter the leadership debates of any party. Unless something changes, 2011 could be another lost year for transit investment.