CONTACT: MALCOLM JOHNSTON
EMAIL: Malcolm Johnston http://uk.f326.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Tofirstname.lastname@example.org
MAIL: Light Rail Committee, Box 105, Delta, BC V4K 3N5
SUBJECT: LIGHT RAIL COMMITTEE CALLS ON FALCON TO RESIGN
DELTA, BC February 4 -- The Light Rail Committee has called for the immediate resignation of BC Transportation Minister, Kevin Falcon. This follows what the LRC says were misleading, politically-motivated statements made last Friday, during Falcon's re-announcement of the Evergreen Line.
"The Minister's claims are not supported by modern, global, transportation knowledge," said LRC Chairman, Malcolm Johnston.
"SkyTrain - Falcon's automated, driverless, light-metro transit system - does not carry more people. It is not faster and worse, it actually costs more to operate than modern light-rail transit, not less," Johnston emphasised.
The LRC points out that, in 1993, GVRD reported an annual subsidy for SkyTrain of $157 million. Since the opening of the Millennium Line, the annual subsidy quietly paid to support the proprietary light-metro has risen to over $200-million a year.
"Yet again, we hear an unelected, unaccountable TransLink Board, pulling reasons out of the air to justify its decision, as it announces plans to force a gold-plated metro-transit system on the region - the fourth since 1980," said Johnston.
The LRC opposes outright the decision to force what it says will be another unaffordable SkyTrain line on regional taxpayers. It is being done with little planning, and no real consideration of internationally-popular and cheaper alternatives."
Since SkyTrain was first marketed in the late 1970s, only five such systems have been built. Two, Vancouver and Toronto, were forced on the operating authority. During the same period, over 100 new LRT systems have been built and more are under construction.
At a time when economy in construction, operation and debt-servicing are prime considerations for transit planners, SkyTrain and SkyTrain light-metros have failed to find a market. The LRC says that, in effect, they have been made obsolete by modern LRT.
The following quote from LRC Chair Malcolm Johnston sums up the situation:
"Building light-metro, on transit routes that do not have the ridership to support the mode, guarantees that the portion of property taxes paid to support TransLink will not double; it will not triple - it will quadruple over the next decade.
"The lack of clarity, and auditable fiscal responsibility in our regional transit planning is telling - worse, it is a financial time bomb for taxpayers."
Using figures gleaned from TransLink's own reports, the LRC said that despite the over $5 billion spent on SkyTrain, the percentage of people in the region who use public transit has stagnated at about 12%.
"To pour more money into the SkyTrain 'pit', at best, demonstrates Minister Falcon's total ineptitude. His claims are not supported by the facts. In short, he is unfit for the office."
Kevin Falcon must resign!