New North Vancouver MLA to oversee TransLink

New parliamentary secretary will grapple with mobility pricing and other thorny issues

North Vancouver’s newly elected NDP MLA Bowinn Ma has been named the parliamentary secretary responsible for TransLink.

As the parliamentary secretary, Ma will answer to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson, but her main job will be overseeing the transit authority as it goes through a critical phase of expansion.

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Ma said she received word on Monday from John Horgan’s chief of staff that she was being asked to take the post, which she was “thrilled” to accept.

“I was not going to say no to this file. TransLink is so crucial to us being able to resolve the traffic congestion issue here on the North Shore,” she said.

Ma, an engineer by training and a daily SeaBus commuter prior to entering politics, has specialized in transportation in her academic study.

“It is an issue that I am passionate about. I am an avid public transit user. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to serve B.C. and the North Shore,” she said.

The NDP has already committed to funding 40 per cent of the TransLink Mayors’ Council vision, which includes another SeaBus and 10-minute service, a B-line bus from Phibbs Exchange to Dundarave and an increase in regular bus service.

It’s still early days to know exactly what the portfolio will have in store beyond that but Ma said her government will start consultations soon on what’s on Metro Vancouverites’ transit wish list beyond the current Mayors Council vision.

“We also acknowledged that it’s not enough. The public consultations will be about the long-term vision. Where do we go beyond the 10-year mayors’ plan? It doesn’t talk about rapid transit to the North Shore. Is that something we want to pursue? These conversations will come out from the public consultation and help inform how we go about developing a long-term plan,” she said.

City of North Vancouver Darrell Mussatto, who was at the swearing in ceremony, said he was “extremely happy” with the choice of Ma.

Ultimatley, it will benefit local residents and commuters to have Ma in that role, he added

“I think it will mean that TransLink is going to better understand the issues on the North Shore, which are getting worse by the day,” he said.

Mussatto said Ma will face a steep learning curve but he has every confidence in her. “I’m very impressed with her abilities. She’s very talented,” said.

Ma received words of encouragement from North Vancouver-Seymour’s Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite, who welcomed her to the job on Twitter.

“Congratulations on your appointment. Looking forward to working on #transit issues in #northvan+ #northshore,” Thornthwaite posted.

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