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Feb 14,2007

Mayors make another Evergreen Line appeal

By Leneen Robb - Staff Reporter

With a federal election call rumoured to be just days away, local mayors met Friday in a last-ditch attempt to get the federal government to fill a $400-million funding gap for the region's proposed Evergreen Line.

TransLink chair Malcolm Brodie has said efforts to build the line will be abandoned if the money is not found by April.

Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini said Tuesday that TransLink is also looking at ways to shave $100 million off the line's estimated $970-million cost.

"We are showing that we're doing all that we can to build an affordable, effective rapid transit system," Trasolini said.

He said the cuts could come through changes to the way bid and procurement policies are carried out, as well as by reducing operational costs (which are not included in the $970-million figure).

In a news release issued Tuesday, the mayors say "private sector equity opportunities" could also lead to a cost reduction.

Trasolini said last Friday's meeting was held to "dispel myths" about the Evergreen Line, including that some federal politicians believe light rapid transit (LRT) is not rapid enough.

Trasolini said LRT is used in "99.99 per cent" of all cities in the world that have rapid transit, while SkyTrain is used in only two or three.

"Are they all wrong?" he asked of other cities.

The Port Moody mayor also said SkyTrain bypasses and impacts communities in "a very negative way," while LRT "builds communities."

He said the fact that travelling via an LRT line from Coquitlam Town Centre to Lougheed Mall would take "two or three or four minutes" longer than SkyTrain is "not a big deal," since surveys indicate that 82 per cent of all trips made on the line would be local, rather than long-distance.

While many opponents of the line have said the B-Line bus service achieves the same goal, Trasolini said buses are hampered by lights and are obstructed by other vehicles, meaning that as traffic congestion grows, it will take longer to get from point A to point B.

published on 02/14/2007

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