Jonathan Cote and Peter Ladner: It’s time to make transportation a federal election issue [Vancouver Sun]

Published in the Vancouver Sun, July 11, 2019

Reducing traffic congestion and improving public transit are usually issues that dominate municipal and provincial elections.

But they don’t usually make headlines during a federal election campaign, where transportation often takes a back seat to national issues like climate change, the economy, trade and immigration.

Unfortunately, most voters don’t fully realize that the federal government plays a critically important role in funding transportation. Without its contributions, we would not have most of our SkyTrain system.

That’s why it is time to make transportation in Metro Vancouver a big issue in the 2019 federal election.

Transit and transportation are subjects much on the minds of Metro residents. A recent survey by Léger for the Canadian Urban Transit Association found that 75 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents believe road congestion is a problem, and nine in 10 agree public transit helps reduce congestion.

The ability to move people and goods where they need to go efficiently and affordably is an important key to our quality of life. Better transit gives people more choices for where they live and work and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

With demand for public transit growing at a record pace — and another million people arriving in Metro Vancouver over the next 20 years — the pressures on our transportation network will only increase.

That means this federal election is our opportunity to secure the commitments we need from the next federal government to continue making critical investments that will keep our communities moving.

We have seen the benefits of game-changing investments from successive federal governments that have helped make it possible to build rapid transit projects like the Canada Line and Evergreen Line. Improved transit has provided better access to affordable housing options and given people a way to leave their cars at home.

Now, with the 10-Year vision of the Mayors’ Council on regional transportation underway, thanks to investments from all three levels of government, TransLink is making historic increases to bus, SeaBus and SkyTrain service.

The public has responded to these new services, with ridership growing more than 17 per cent since the beginning of 2016 — more than anywhere else in North America. But this new ridership is swamping TransLink’s most optimistic projections. Completing the 10-Year vision is the next critical step that will help us to keep up with demand.

In this election, the Mayors’ Council and stakeholders, including the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition, are calling on all federal parties to commit to a permanent congestion relief fund that would maintain the current level of federal investment beyond existing commitments, and would help us plan and build new infrastructure when needed, thereby lowering costs and reducing service gaps.

At the same time as we increase capacity, we need to ensure transit remains affordable. Having a predictable source of federal funding would enable TransLink to limit future fare hikes. It would also avoid Metro Vancouver having to jockey for priority in competition with other major cities.

With so much on the line for our region, it’s clear that transportation should be a federal election issue. The fact is, decision-makers in Ottawa have to keep investing or we will face chronic overcrowding on transit, worsening traffic congestion, more air pollution and longer delays moving the goods our economy depends on.

Federal parties and candidates need to hear from voters. The Mayors’ Council’s Cure Congestion campaign is making it easy to send a message to MPs, candidates and party leaders by entering your postal code at

Together we can make a difference. Contact your federal candidates and help us cure Metro Vancouver congestion.

Jonathan Cote is mayor of New Westminster and chair of the Mayors’ Council; Peter Ladner is chair of the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition.

Peter Ladner: SkyTrain funding needed [The Province]

Published in the The Province, February 20, 2019

The University of B.C.’s and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s endorsements of the proposed UBC SkyTrain extension are laudable and exciting. However, the line will need funding and the incorporation of lessons learned from the other rapid transit lines.

One of those lessons is adequate public consultation in the planning and implementation phases, and ensuring the public know the full scope of the costs and benefits of the proposed line.

UBC president Santa Ono has taken the first step on the road to funding the project. The challenge is to ensure funding is provided by TransLink and senior governments.

Peter Ladner, chair, Better Transit and Transportation Coalition

LETTER: The B-Line will be good for business [North Shore News]

Published in the North Shore News, February 19, 2019

Dear Editor:

As the District of West Vancouver enters its public consultation phase on Park Royal to Dundarave B‐Line, it’s important that residents participate in this significant new transit option. The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition, comprising 135 Lower Mainland community, environmental, business and labour organizations, endorses the approach taken by the District of West Vancouver to ensure local residents make an informed decision about this B‐line.

The proposed B‐Line gives West Vancouver residents another way to feed into Translink’s system, outlined by the Mayors’ Council’s 10‐Year Plan for the region. It’s a plan that increases transit service, gives more options for transit to the public, and takes cars off the road. This results in less congestion, more efficient commuting, and more affordable transportation. It will form a vital link in North Shore travel. It ensures that West Vancouver has full access to Translink’s growing and improving transit system.

In short, it gives West Vancouver residents more access to the region, and gives people in the region, including many people who work in West Vancouver, better and more affordable access to West Vancouver. It’s good for local businesses and it’s good for West Vancouver commuters. It’s important to weigh initial fears about change with the positive cost‐benefits of the complete B‐Line to West Vancouver. The District of West Vancouver will be hosting a community meeting on Feb. 21.

Detailed information on the B‐Line is online at:‐line. We encourage people interested in this project to consider the facts and make their views known to the District of West Vancouver.


Peter Ladner, Chair,
Better Transit and Transportation Coalition

Peter Ladner: Time to make a decision [Vancouver Sun]

Published in the Vancouver Sun, January 28, 2018

Will Metro Vancouver’s new transit and transportation plan to reduce traffic gridlock itself end up in governmental gridlock?

That’s the fear of the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition. A credible transportation solution – a far-reaching plan to improve our region’s movability, environment, economy, health and quality of life – seems to be stalled between three levels of government.

Three years ago, the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition (BTTC), comprised of more than 140 organizations from labour, business, environmental NGOs, public health, anti-poverty groups, student associations, professional groups and more, rallied to support the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council 10-year plan to improve transit and transportation.

Our member groups saw the urgency of replacing the Pattullo Bridge, extending the Broadway SkyTrain subway line, building light rapid transit in Surrey and Langley and dramatically expanding bus services while improving cycling and pedestrian safety throughout the region. If this plan is fully-implemented, 60 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents will have access to frequent transit service – meaning service every 15 minutes or less, within walking distance.

Unfortunately that vote failed, but the pressing need for the Mayors’ Council’s 10-year plan grew.

There is no status quo with traffic gridlock — it will only get worse if it is not addressed. The region is at a turning point. This need to proceed with the Mayors’ Council’s 10-year plan requires the full cooperation and commitment of all levels of government.

For decades we’ve negotiated and pleaded for federal and provincial money. Now it’s there, waiting for us to make a simple decision on how to close a very small funding gap for the next phase – about $80 million a year.

Even with our limited capacity, the number of workers taking transit to work in Metro Vancouver jumped by 43 per cent over the last decade – the biggest increase in Canada. And our per capita annual transit trips are the fourth highest of any city on the continent, behind only New York, Montreal and Toronto.

But if government gridlock doesn’t end very soon – within weeks – our opportunity to reduce traffic congestion by 20 per cent while improving air quality could pass us by.

Momentum matters. We’ve still got agreement on the Mayors’ Council’s 10-year plan. Amazingly, this plan has been approved by the federal government, the provincial government, an overwhelming majority of the local mayors, the TransLink board and staff, tens of thousands of stakeholders, and the biggest non-partisan coalition in B.C.’s history.

Ironically, failing to come to a regional agreement on funding because of angst about the Broadway subway line could melt down the 10-year plan, opening the door for the federal government to pick the Broadway line as their favourite — and endangering indefinitely all the other vitally needed improvements throughout the region.

We need leadership here – at all levels:

  • from the region’s mayors – in danger of coming unglued by calls to go slow, rethink priorities and double-guess the city of Vancouver’s contribution to a regional subway;
  • from the Premier, who ultimately has control over this decision;
  • from anti-tax lobbyists who reject all funding possibilities with no suggestions on an alternate feasible, affordable and fair way forward;
  • from motorists stuck in traffic, angered by delays, forced to spew noxious carbon emissions;
  • from seniors and low-income people without cars, stranded in neighbourhoods where there is no transit;
  • and from the thousands of bus riders paying increased fares while they stand in the rain watching full buses splash by.

While it’s critical to pay attention to costs, taxes, fees and tolls, visionary leaders also focus on the benefits of delivering this plan:

  • increased affordability through immense savings for commuters and delivery vehicles not festering in traffic jams, and for people who can switch from cars to transit;
  • workers having access to a wider range of jobs;
  • employers having access to a wider range of employees;
  • cleaner air, fewer traffic deaths and injuries, and major improvements in public health.

The objective of the BTTC is to ensure that the Mayors’ 10-year plan becomes a reality, and that traffic congestion be dramatically reduced and that funding for this is sustainable, and fair. We welcome anyone to join us to help make this happen.

The time is now.