A few years ago TransLink staff met with owners in our apartment building, located along the route of the Evergreen SkyTrain line. During the discussion the staff mentioned several times the severe financial constraints TransLink was facing so several persons asked the "suit" in charge why TransLink wasn't developing the land around, above and under the stations with all sorts of buildings that would produce a steady income.
His answer was that it was not TransLink's mandate, it was up to developers to build something by a station — or not. Surely, we said, wouldn't it make more sense for a perpetually short-of-cash transit system to own income producing buildings than to let others get the profit generated by transit stations they didn't — even partly — finance?
It became obvious that, like many of the TransLink staff at the lower management level I have talked to at open houses, like the various B.C. ministers of transport (remember [Kevin] Falcon [Liberal Minister of Transportation, 2004-2009]) discovering turnstiles in the London subway a few years ago, unaware that Toronto had them before he was born), he and the other staff in attendance had little experience of transit as "she is done" on the other side of the mountains...or the ocean.
The New Westminster SkyTrain station is now part of a complex of three-highrise condominium towers plus a shopping mall — with a Starbucks and a Safeway — built around the tracks. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure that TransLink hardly gets any money from it. Not as much as if it owned the whole kit and caboose anyway.
Japanese trains and bus companies are owned by private companies. They have developed major stations to an amazing level (with giant stores, shopping malls, hotels, offices etc. right around the stations). As a result the fares have hardly increased in the past 15 years.
Many European railway companies, including government-owned ones, started turning major stations into shopping malls several years ago and are making a nice income from it (besides the income that companies like the French National Railways and the Paris transit system make by managing transit systems in foreign countries).
A bus garage in a corner of Whistler will likely never become a favorite shopping destination for Vancouverites, or even Whistlerites, but any amount of money earned will help BC Transit.
Luge worth supporting
I do not habitually reply to columnists or write to the newspaper. I usually take what I like and leave what I don't like. However, this being said, I took offense to your "Maxed Out" article "Time to choose your battle?" of the Sept. 6, 2012 Pique paper.