Thursday, November 15, 2018

Two Events to Get You into the Christmas Spirit

I know that it is still the middle of November, but the Christmas season is quickly approaching. There are a few events that are coming up that are sure to get you into the spirit of the season.

The first event is the 2018 Langley Children's Wish Breakfast.

Children's Wish Breakfast

Stop by Newlands Golf & Country Club on November 27th with a new unwrapped toy, and enjoy a free breakfast with live entertainment. I was at this event last year, and it really reminded me of the generous spirit of our community. The toys will be used by the Langley Christmas Bureau for families in need.

Date: November 27, 2018
Time: 6:30 am - 9:30 am
Location: Newlands Golf & Country Club, 21025 48 Ave, Langley, BC

If you would like to volunteer or have any questions, please contact wishbreakfast@newlandsgolf.com

The next event is the annual Magic of Christmas Day on Saturday, December 1st.

Langley City's Magic of Christmas

You can start the day with a kid-friendly Breakfast with Santa from 9:00 am to 11:00 am at Douglas Recreation Centre. You must pre-register for this event online or by calling (604) 514-2940.

In the afternoon, you can drop by McBurney Plaza to take part in family-friendly activities from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm.

The annual Christmas Parade starts at 6:00 pm, so be sure to grab a spot along the Fraser Highway One-Way.

After the parade, the Christmas Tree at McBurney Plaza will be lit and carolling will ensue.

For more information, please visit Langley City’s website.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Future of South of Fraser Rapid Transit on the Table Thursday

Thursday morning will be the first meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation since the local government elections. Normally, inaugural meetings including items like appointing chairs, allowing people to get up to speed on the details of the current work plan, and developing a work plan for the coming year. With 75% of the mayors serving their first term, this would be a significant meeting with just those items.

With the new mandate in Surrey to halt development of light rail along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue, and build SkyTrain along Fraser Highway instead, this meeting will also lay the groundwork for the future of transit for the over 800,000 people that call the South of Fraser home.

A typical cross section of SkyTrain as proposed for Fraser Highway. Select image to enlarge.

Mayors’ Council staff is asking mayors to approve the following recommendation:

  1. Endorse TransLink’s decision to suspend the Surrey-Newton-Guildford Project, stopping all expenditures of money and resources on the project, based on the request from the City of Surrey;
  2. Use the 10-Year Vision as the basis for South of Fraser rapid transit planning, recognizing the City of Surrey request to change the technology and timing of the Fraser Highway project from LRT to SkyTrain, and draw only on the available funding currently allocated for South of Fraser rapid transit in the Phase Two Plan, and the financial framework for the Phase Three Plan.
  3. Request the additional analysis and a work plan on “Option 2” in this report, for consideration at the December 13, 2018 meeting of the Mayors’ Council to:
    1. Start immediately with planning, consultation, design and procurement readiness works for the SkyTrain on Fraser Highway project, building on the 2017 SkyTrain design study; and concurrently to,
    2. Initiate a planning process to refresh the South of Fraser transit strategy.

What this means is that if the resolution is approved, Mayors’ Council staff would start the process of implementing SkyTrain along Fraser Highway in two phases. There is currently $1.6 billion available to build SkyTrain along Fraser Highway. The total cost to build SkyTrain is around $2.9 billion.

As noted in the report, “given the funding available in Phase Two [today], management advises that is likely that SkyTrain from Surrey to Langley would have to be constructed in two phases, the first using available Phase Two funding, and the second phase to complete the line to Langley, commencing once the Phase Three Plan is funded and approved.” Planning for SkyTrain along the whole corridor would start right away if the resolution is approved.

Additionally, there could be impacts to the timing of the Fraser Highway B-Line which was scheduled to start service in 2019.

In order for SkyTrain to make its way to Langley, new funding will need to be approved. Ideally, the federal and provincial governments would commit to an accelerated funding program. The Mayors’ Council would also have to approve a regional funding component which has historical been sourced by increasing property tax and gas tax.

Building SkyTrain to UBC has been expressed as a priority for the City of Vancouver. The Mayors’ Council will also need to figure out the priority of this project, how much it will cost, and how it will be funded. There is also the question of the future of rapid transit along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue in Surrey that will need to be answered.

The new Mayors’ Council will have a full plate over the next few years. If all the pieces fall into place, SkyTrain along Fraser Highway could start construction in 2021/22.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Battery-electric and double decker buses coming to a transit route near you

Every year, the federal government distributes around 2 billion dollars to municipalities throughout Canada. This program is called the Federal Gas Tax Fund, and can be used for a broad range of infrastructure projects. In Metro Vancouver, municipalities decided that 95% of the fund be dedicated for public transit projects. This funding is used almost exclusively to purchase new buses for TransLink.

Every year, TransLink submits a list of projects to the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board for approval. This year TransLink is looking to purchase the following:

Project Vehicles Cost (Millions)
2020 Conventional (Double Decker) Bus Purchases for Modernization 25 double decker diesel buses $32.32
2020 Conventional 60’ Hybrid and 40’ Battery Electric Bus Purchases for Expansion 62 60‐ft hybrid buses, 6 40‐ft battery electric buses $109
2020 HandyDART Vehicle Purchases for Modernization 42 gasoline vehicles $6.45
2020 HandyDART Vehicle Purchases for Expansion 10 gasoline vehicles $1.6
2020 Community Shuttle Purchases 9 gasoline vehicles $2.22

One of the interesting purchases is for 25 double decker diesel buses which will replace the current yellow highway coaches that run on routes such as the 555 between Carvolth Exchange and Lougheed Town Centre.

TransLink is also proposing to buy 6 40-ft battery electric buses. These buses are proposed to run on the 100 between 22nd Street Station and Marpole Loop. These battery buses could use rapid-charging stations on-route. You can read more about this in a previous post that I wrote.

Map of bus route 100, Marpole Loop/22nd Street Station. Select map to enlarge.

In total, 87 vehicles will be used to expand transit service in our region, and 67 vehicles will be used to replace end-of-life buses.

Transit expansion is dependent on the region still proceeding with the Mayors’ Council 10-Year Vision. We will know more in the coming months about any modifications that will be made to the vision per the wishes of the new Mayors’ Council.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Property Tax, TransLink, and funding the major road network in the South of Fraser

When most people think of TransLink, it’s buses and trains that come to mind. What many people don’t know is that TransLink is also responsible for enhancing and maintaining the major road network, and funding projects that support improving cycling and walking in the region.

Map of the Major Road Network in the South of Fraser. TransLink funded roads are in blue. Select map to enlarge. Source: TransLink

In Langley City, TransLink helps fund the maintenance of 200th Street, and sections of the Langley Bypass and Fraser Highway. TransLink is also responsible for the 204th Street Overpass. In addition, our community has received funding for projects such as for the 203rd Street corridor enhancements.

TransLink has three major sources of revenue: fares, fuel tax, and property tax. The following chart shows the amount of property tax that the agency received from municipalities in the South of Fraser in 2017.

Property Tax 2017
Delta $14,131,700
Langley City $2,699,413
Langley Township $12,801,000
Surrey $43,692,000
White Rock $2,210,261

The following table shows the funding that TransLink provided in 2017 to South of Fraser municipalities to fund the major road network, and other cycling and walking projects.

Road Network, Cycling, and Walking Funding 2017
Delta $2,834,243
Langley City $871,865
Langley Township $5,235,952
Surrey $10,000,757
White Rock $69,000

This final table shows the percentage of property tax directly collected in each municipality that is used for road, cycling, and walking projects in that community.

Percentage Returned to Communities 2017
Delta 20%
Langley City 32%
Langley Township 41%
Surrey 23%
White Rock 3%

Around a quarter of property tax revenue is invested directly into non-transit projects by TransLink in the South of Fraser.

The majority of funding does go into transit service. In Langley, we get more transit service than we fund via property tax and gas tax. For more information, please look at an infographic I created a few years back.