Delta residents should move to Seattle to have a better commute to Vancouver: MLA

Tianjin Railway Station for high-speed trains in China | Shutterstock

Perhaps Delta residents should move to Seattle to have a faster commute to Vancouver.

Delta South MLA Ian Paton has that to once again suggest in response to a recently released report on a proposed high-speed rail link connecting Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, which found such a system would cut the travel time between each city to under an hour while providing a big boost for the economy of the region.

“The big joke was when I told the government that with the congestion at the George Massey Tunnel, I said, ‘You’re telling me that at 400-kilometres-an-hour you could be from Seattle to Vancouver in less than an hour? Maybe the people from South Delta and Surrey should move to Seattle and take the train every morning to Downtown Vancouver because you’d get there sooner than waiting to get through the George Massey Tunnel.’ It’s ridiculous,” said Paton.

The B.C. government last year contributed $300,000 to the Washington State Department of Transportation business case study which has found the high-speed rail system could be self-sustaining by 2055 or sooner.

In a joint press conference last year, Premier John Horgan and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced a partnership to conduct the study on the trans-border passenger rail service. Oregon and Microsoft also participated.

The train would be capable of speeds of 400 kilometres per hour linking the Pacific Northwest cities with intermediate stops yet to be determined. A previous study estimated the cost of the project between US$24 billion and US$42 billion. Construction could begin as soon as between 2027 and 2034.

Noting there’s a plethora of much needed transportation infrastructure projects that are needed in this region, let alone future projects that would serve more local residents such as light rail into Delta and the valley, Paton said the NDP government “is completely out to lunch” on the idea.

“When you look at the issues we have just within British Columbia with Highway 1 heading out towards Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack, which is a complete nightmare of a traffic parking lot, and the North Shore, the George Massey Tunnel and even Highway 1 on Vancouver Island, these are huge priorities of traffic,” said Paton.

“B.C.’s already put money toward studies of this high-speed rail to Seattle, but the obligation to these other things are way more important. How many people on a given day will tell you they want to go to Seattle that morning? It’s just a non-starter,” he said, adding there’s already an Amtrak train from Vancouver to Seattle.

“Does the B.C. premier suggest we should go working down there or do our shopping down there?” asked the Liberal MLA.

Asked for his take on the study, Delta Mayor George Harvie said the province should be focusing on the George Massey Tunnel replacement because it’s urgently needed now.

Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, in a statement last week said, “This study is part of the necessary good work that’s being done to give us a clearer picture of the feasibility of ultra-high-speed rail service between British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Improving the connectivity in the Pacific Northwest region presents enormous potential for job creation, economic growth and environmental benefits on both sides of the border…. B.C. committed $300,000 to develop this study in March 2018, and in February 2019, committed an additional $300,000 to the next exploratory steps. As this work continues, we look forward to continuing discussions with the State of Washington and other partners.”

Delta Optimist