Gordon’s Transportation Legacy

September 28, 2009

Below, a little breakdown of the provincial transportation infrastructure investment in the Greater Vancouver area (Translink jurisdiction) under Gordon’s Campbell reign so far (note that we discount most of the road infrastructure project to retain only the Gateway related and currently engaged one)

Project Current cost (in Billion)[1] Estimated original cost (in Billion)[2] Over budget share of the Province[12]
Port Mann Bridge / Highway 1 $3.3[3] $1.5[4] 114% 100%
South Fraser Perimeter $1.1[5] $0.8[4] 37.5 % 100%
Pitt river bridge $0.108 $0.130[6] -20%[7] 55%
Total road $4.508 $2.43 86% 98%
Canada Line $0.430[8] $0.415[9] 3%[10] 21.5%
Total Public transit 0.430 $0.415 3% 21.5%

Under the Campbell leadership, The BC government is spending on road infrastructures   10 times more than on public transit ones, and still counting…and  that

  • In the Translink area jurisdiction alone
  • Taking account only the “gateway” project!

Is it justified by a transportation mode split reason?

Not really:

Public transit Drive
Commuter Mode split[11] 16.5% 74.4%
Province investment 8.7% 91.3%
$ per commuter $2667 6201$

When come transportation infrastructure, the provincial government spend nearly 3 times more per driving commuter than per transit user

One could note that road are not only for commuter use, but also for goods movement etc…, we have to answer that in Vancouver area, road infrastructure are added to address congestion essentially induced by commuters use since there is no congestion due to good movement on the road enhanced by the province government. The picture below can give an idea of the congestion type:


congestion related to goods movement in UK


traffic on the highway one

Does someone still believe that the BC government is promoting Transit use?

[1] It is the cost effectively paid by the province to the project so far

[2] It is the cost made public at the time of the political decision to go ahead with the project, and committed provincial contribution at this time

[6] The Pitt River bridge and Mary Hill Interchange, has been budgeted as part of the North Fraser Perimeter Road and not individually. North perimeter road extending from New Westminster to Mission is budgeted in total at $0.4 Billion, including the Pitt River and Mary Hill Interchange (see [4])

[7] The overall cost the project is $198 million, so well over what has been budgeted under the Gateway Project at time of political acceptation, but thanks to a contribution of $90 million from the Federal government, the cost for the province has been reduced accordingly (http://www.tc.gc.ca/mediaroom/releases/nat/2007/07-h020e.htm).

[10] This is in fact the difference between the number published by the government, and the one reported by an audit agency of Canada Line Rapid Transit Inc.

[12]represents the share of the province in the financing of the overall project


10 Responses to “Gordon’s Transportation Legacy”

  1. Stephen Rees Says:

    Census data on mode split only applies to the journey to work. When all trip purposes are taken into account, the transit share falls to around 11.5%

    • voony Says:

      thanks, for the accuracy that I have integrated in the relevant table.
      As mentioned, I use the commuter split, because most if not all of the road investment are justified by congestion which appear typically on the journey to work (commuting)…though that I agree this can be discussed, especially in the Port Mann bridge case.

      However, I don’t have the more general split exact data, but the number you give doesn’t invalidate the general conclusion.

  2. […] did some excellent work over the weekend to put this in perspective.  He figured out just how much the Campbell […]

  3. Rod Smelser Says:

    I think you’re comparing some non-comparable figures. You’re comparing estimated total costs for PMH1 and SFPR with the PROVINCIAL SHARE of the RAV line.

    PMH1 will be tolled, so it’s not really a draw on general revenue in the same way as some of the other roads.

    Also, you’re only doing new projects, not additional rolling stock for existing transit systems.

    In any case, that’s part of the game in Vancouver, the anti-car, anti-highways secular religion that Vancouver and now Burnaby have used to stall and delay industrial and commerical developments in the outer suburbs. It’s a game of almost colonial mercantalism, and the odd thing is that it held sway for as long as it did.

    • voony Says:


      I am placing myself from the province perspective
      I compare the provincial investment in both case, it appears that in some case, the province supports 100% of the project financing PMH1, SFPR) while for other (RAV) it is supporting only 21.5%…(that means something by the way;)

      Regarding the toll: it is a very valid comment, but no matter how the province thinks to repay the debt (toll is an option still carrying a risk), the debt will be still in the province book, affecting its debt/GDP ratio, and its ability to finance further investment.

      for a matter of comparison, if an individual bought an investment house paying the mortgage with a rental income. the mortgage will be still regarded as a liability by the bank, which makes loan decision in regard of the debt ratio of the individual. it works the same for the government….

      I will have opportunity to redevelop the topic in the future, stay tuned 😉

      it is also true that the exercise lack of rigor, but i don’t think that the addition of provincial investment in the rolling stock, will alter significantly the figure. Though, it could be interesting to sum it up too (for sake of accuracy, I have restraint it to investment in transportation infrastructure)

  4. Amazing Article , I considered it marvelous

    I look ahead to more interesting postings like this one. Does This Blog have a newsletter I can subscribe to for new posts?

  5. Robyn Says:

    Hi Voonie,

    I work in the transport industry in Australia, and we are seeking an image just like the one you have posted in this blog (truck_congestion1) for use in a brochure to promote modal shift from road to ship. Was wondering if you had a high res (minimum 1MB) version of said image available for use?

    Really appreciate any assistance you can offer.


  6. Robyn Says:

    A propos of last message – apologies on the incorrect spelling of your name, Voony.

  7. […] between transit and road investment could call for a better equilibrium as we have already noticed…but to add insult to injury, the government is not hesitating to make up the number for […]

  8. […] has skyrocketed at more than $3.3 Billion, while the government has divided per 2 the […]

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