CANNABIS CULTURE – Cannabis activist turned BC NDP Leadership Candidate Dana Larsen has pledged to eliminate fares for Vancouver’s SkyTrain if elected Premier.
The proposal would bring funding of the regional SkyTrain system into line with the those of local highways, through the provincial highways ministry.
“As Premier, I would designate the SkyTrain as part of BC’s Highway system and then get rid of fares for users,” said Larsen, who is a well-known activist in BC’s marijuana community (and the founding former editor of Cannabis Culture). We don’t charge a tariff to use the road, and we shouldn’t charge a tariff to use the SkyTrain.”
“BC spends hundreds of millions of dollars subsidizing a free road system for car drivers,” continued Larsen, “meanwhile SkyTrain has a fare. The average lower-mainland resident must travel through two cities to get to work. Why should we selectively subsidize car travel, but not SkyTrain?”
Larsen received support for his call from Dave Olsen, an urban planner and researcher who has written extensively about the benefits of eliminating fares from public transit.
“Cities from as far away as Belgium and as close as Washington state have eliminated transit fares, and saved millions on their road systems,” said Olsen. “To me the choice is clear: on the one hand we have a cheap, clean and efficient train system, and on the other the daily gridlock on our roads and resulting smog in our skies. I am glad to see a politician standing up for common sense on transit.”
When asked about the cost of fare-free SkyTrain, Larsen explained that the proposal is designed to be revenue neutral.
“We’re not talking about increasing taxes, instead I would refocus our Provincial funding away from subsidizing car drivers, and move to a sustainable system of publicly funded SkyTrain.” said Larsen. “Going forward, we need to expand rapid-rail projects like SkyTrain into the Fraser Valley, and also into the other larger centres around the province. The future of our cities is in rail.”
Larsen has also promised, if elected, to end the war on marijuana in British Columbia. Since announcing his candidacy in late December, he has received endorsements from marijuana icon Tommy Chong and pot-puffing pro wrestler Rob Van Dam.