Clark’s demand that Translink “audit” find $30 million for Evergreen Line can only mean service cuts

Premier Christy Clark’s shock announcement Thursday, ruling out a vehicle levy to close the last $30 million funding gap on the Evergreen Line, will certainly mean service cuts for transit riders unless the Translink Mayor’s Council agrees to find the money from a property tax increase.

(Clark and Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom later clarified that Evergreen is fully funded by a gas tax increase but other capital projects are not. Either way, finding $30 million through cuts would hit services.)

The whole point of the vehicle levy proposal was to avoid a property tax increase, so Clark’s pronouncement would force the mayors to green light the tax increase or approve the service cuts to finalize the Evergreen package.

Transportation minister Blair Lekstrom found himself learning about the Premier’s views from reporters, not for the first time. Lekstrom himself had been disdainful of the vehicle levy, but Clark has killed it.

Was it dead on arrival because of public outcry? Hard to say. And Clark’s subsequent claim that Evergreen was fully funded compounded the confusion.

Whether it’s to fund Evergreen or other projects, Translink is looking for $30 million. If that money doesn’t come, the “audit” will be more of a cutting exercise, unless you believe there’s that much fat in head office. I doubt it.

Still to come: transit commissioner Martin Crilly’s review of Translink’s proposed fare increase, which will be backstopped by an “efficiency study” of his own.