Province, planning key to rail’s success

Kudos to B.C. Transit for endorsing light-rail transit.

Now it is up to the provincial government to step up to plate to make it more viable, in other words encourage greater ridership.

LRT lines need a critical level of density to achieve ridership volumes to make them viable. That could be encouraged by amending the provincial property purchase tax to stimulate construction of high-density housing along the proposed corridor. There are already certain tax exemptions that include first-time home purchases.

I propose an additional exemption based on the proximity to rail transit lines. This will encourage the required density. The province also needs to increase density along the Evergreen Line in Coquitlam and other lines yet to be determined in the future.

This proposal has numerous social, economic and health benefits. For instance, compact communities offer senior citizens a greater ability to retain their mobility over the current urban sprawl model.  Apparently, the Canadian Association of Retired People agrees with such proposals.

A recent, Harris Interactive poll commissioned by The Workforce Institute revealed that 48 per cent of people said commuting has a significant impact on their job satisfaction and 32 per cent considered the commute when they chose their current job.

Moreover, congested road facilities affect the efficient movement of goods and services and thus there is a further productivity impact of gridlock. We need to free up capacity for commerce on road facilities. Moving people onto mass transit is not just an environmental issue, it is more importantly a productivity issue. More specifically, congestion will affect our standard of living (GDP per capita) way before the greenhouse gases will have an impact.

Avi Ickovich

Langford