The Canada Line P3: vindicated by success or just a more costly way to build good transit?

It was just four years ago that Translink’s gleaming new Canada Line began pouring Olympic visitors into Vancouver’s downtown core in a stirring display of transit muscle, backed up by a massive bus fleet and all the ridership the existing Skytrain lines could muster.

Now Vancouver’s Frances Bula is asking whether this Olympic legacy is a vindication of the P3 financing model that sparked turmoil during debate on the line’s construction between 2003 and 2005. That turmoil led to the massive Translink governance overhaul by Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon that Victoria is just now beginning to unwind.

The financial arrangement is now considered a model, she reports, and is being emulated across Canada and the United States. There’s no doubt riders love it.

But cheaper? That depends on how you do the math, Bula notes, with some experts arguing taxpayers could have saved as much as $140 million using regular construction and financing.