North American transit spending to hit record $80 billion in 2014; here in Metro, uh, not so much

Investment in new transit infrastructure across North America will hit a record $80 billion next year, according to a survey by Transport Politic’s Yonah Freemark, including about $1.3 billion for Metro Vancouver’s own Evergreen Line. (In reality, of course, the Evergreen money will be spread over several years,)

“This year, dozens of new lines will open to the public,” Freemark writes, “including light rail lines in Houston, Minneapolis, Edmonton, Dallas, Calgary; heavy rail lines in New York City and outside Washington; and streetcars in Tucson, Atlanta, Seattle, and Washington, among many others. Bus rapid transit — or some variety of it — will see its coming out, with new lines opening in Chicago, Fort Collins, San Diego, Orlando, Los Angeles, and outside Toronto.”

But the Evergreen Line’s opening remains at least two years away and, in the meantime, the operational and political aspects of Metro Vancouver’s transit system are trending negative. Despite the Evergreen investment, service availability is frozen while ridership rises.

Translink’s “service optimization” is jamming more and more riders on the existing fleet, transit operators told a forum organized Thursday by Unifor 111, their union, in New Westminster. And in Victoria, doubts are rampant that the provincial government has a coherent strategy to win November’s referendum on transit funding.

So while spending may break records elsewhere, here in Metro Vancouver the future is cloudy at best.