BC NDP Leadership Candidate Dana Larsen today [31-Jan-2011] pledged to eliminate fares for using Skytrain if elected Premier. The proposal would bring funding of the regional Skytrain system into line with the those of local highways, through the provincial highways ministry.
"As Premier, I would designate the Skytrain as part of BC's Highway system," said Larsen, "and then get rid of fares for users. We don't charge a tariff to use the road, and we shouldn't charge a tariff to use the Skytrain."
“BC spends hundreds of millions of dollars subsidizing a free road system for car drivers," continued Larsen, "meanwhile Skytrain has a fare. The average lower-mainland resident must travel through two cities to get to work. Why should we selectively subsidize car travel, but not Skytrain?”
"Transit systems from as far away as Belgium and as close as Washington State have eliminated transit fares and save their taxpayers millions of dollars every year" said Olsen. "For me, there is no doubt about extreme weather changes being caused by greenhouse gas emissions. If our children and future generations are to have a chance at survival, we need to move towards sustainable transportation systems now, not later. Let's use the transit infrastructure we have more efficiently and encourage people to get out of their SOV. I am truly heartened to see a politician finally standing up for common sense on transit."
When asked about the cost of fare-free Skytrain, Larsen explained that the proposal is designed to be revenue neutral.
"We're not talking about increasing taxes, instead I would refocus our Provincial funding away from subsidizing car drivers, and move to a sustainable system of publicly funded Skytrain." said Larsen. “Going forward, we need to expand rapid-rail projects like Skytrain into the Fraser Valley, and also into the other larger centres around the province. The future of our cities is in rail.”