Last night, I asked what the point of the province’s review of Translink was, since at least so far, it doesn’t look like the point is to help solve Translink’s funding problems.  Today, in a column that’s mostly beside-the-point populist crabbing about government salaries, Miro Cernetig offers a couple of answers.  First, taking the torches and pitchforks to Translink executives’ pay will be a nice bit of optics after the province’s harmonized sales tax raises everybody’s taxes.

But more ominously, Cernetig says,

Then there’s taking back control of TransLink. The agency has long viewed lobbying government for ever more money as part of its mandate. That was okay in the good times. But it’s not much fun for Premier Gordon Campbell to have his own agency telling the public his government won’t supply the dough for new buses and trains.

Ah. So maybe the review kabuki is stage-setting for the province’s eventual denial of Translink’s needed money.

If that’s right, it’s hard to overstate what a terrible idea it is.  When times are tough and gas is expensive, more people take public transit.  But Lower Mainland buses can only take so many more passengers.  (It’s hard to know how the Broadway B-Line could take any more people than it does at rush hour.)  It’s imperative to have good transit running for the people who want to take it, so they get into good habits that will last even when times get better and they could afford to drive.  And besides, spending money on useful public infrastructure is one of the best things a government can do to help turn a sluggish economy around.

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