Monday, March 19, 2018

TransLink Mayors’ Council, British Columbia agree on regional funding transit expansion

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TransLink Mayors’ Council, British Columbia agree on regional funding transit expansion TransLink

The TransLink Mayors' Council and the government of British Columbia have agreed on a plan to fund the CA$2.5 billion (US$1.91 billion) regional share of the Phase Two Plan for infrastructure.

TransLink describes the 10-year Phase Two Plan as a historic investment in the region's transit and transportation system and, once implemented, will help meet current and future demand. TransLink reported a six-percent increase in transit ridership in 2017 and expects the demand to increase as the region is expected to add more than 1 million people in the next 30 years.

"The region's mayors have charted a progressive path for our region that will help ensure the effective, efficient movement of people and goods and maintain our status as one of the world's most livable cities," said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond.

The Mayors' Council is proposing changes to five existing revenue sources including a two-percent increase to all transit fares over two years beginning in 2020, small increases on per hour parking and proper taxes, as well as an increase to the Development Cost Charge on residential developments. The plan expects CA$1.6 billion (US$1.2 billion) in fare revenues from higher ridership from Phase Two expansion and revenue from what officials describe as "a variety of transit-related commercial opportunities." Officials explained that it was imperative to the mayors and the province that the funding model be fair for transit users, drivers, property owners and developers alike.

Key elements of the plan for Phase Two include:

  • Construction of Surrey-Newton-Guildford Light Rail
  • Construction of Millennium Line Broadway Extension
  • Significant upgrade of existing Expo-Millennium Lines to expand capacity to meet and improve the customer experience
  • An eight-percent increase in bus service to address overcrowding, reduce wait times and bring bus services to communities with limited service
  • Improvements to sidewalks, bikeways, multi-use pathways and roadways

"It is important that we get moving on Phase Two of the Vision as soon as possible to get people out of congestion, so they can spend more time with their families and less time stuck in traffic," said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and responsible for TransLink.

TransLink notes that while securing regional funding is a critical step for Phase Two, moving forward in implementing this phase is subject to federal and provincial funding. Work continues between the province and Canada to finalize approvals, with more details on a senior government agreement expected in the near future.