Liberals falling far short of public transit goals

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VICTORIA – An auditor general report that shows the Liberals are hopelessly off target on transit ridership is further evidence Premier Clark has no intention of living up to the government’s green commitments, say the New Democrats.

“In 2008, the government announced that its plan to double transit ridership across the province by 2020 was a ‘key measure’ in its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said New Democrat transportation critic Claire Trevena. “This summer the new minister reiterated that goal, but this week’s report shows the Liberals are hopelessly off their ridership targets for B.C. Transit. The minister needs to explain what went wrong and how he plans to fix it.”

A report released this week from the auditor general noted that B.C. Transit’s ridership numbers are expected to be nearly 50-per-cent below targeted growth in 2015, following lacklustre numbers and even a decline in ridership in 2012/13. Yet as recently as the summer session of the legislature, Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the government was still committed to the goals it set out in 2008, and “well on our way” to meeting them.

New Democrat environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert said this is one more example of the government’s failure to live up to its green commitments.

“This government told us it would make fighting climate change a priority, but under Premier Clark the Liberals are moving in the opposite direction,” he said.

Chandra Herbert noted that reducing carbon emissions through initiatives like public transit must be a priority. He added that under Premier Clark, the Liberals are also pulling back on other climate action initiatives like the carbon tax, redefining what ‘clean energy’ is to allow for more burning of natural gas for potential LNG plants, and even talking about burning more gas for electricity generation.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us that the time to act is now. Every day counts, and it is disappointing to see that the government has fallen so far behind on this basic commitment. No climate change plan can work without a successful public transit strategy.”