Thursday, June 9, 2016

Broken Promises: Transit Funding in BC

I remember sitting in a room almost a decade ago when Minster of Transportation at the time Kevin Falcon announced the Provincial Transit Plan. The plan would see transit service expanded throughout communities in BC. Some of the early projects included the Canada Line and RapidBus service along Highway 97 in Kelowna.

By the end of 2020, the provincial government committed to investing to:

-Build rapid transit to UBC
-Double the capacity on the Expo Line with a SkyTrain expansion into Surrey
-Procure new rail car
-Build-out RapidBus Service with seven new routes in Metro Vancouver

Map of rapid transit expansion as envisioned in the 2008 Provincial Transit Plan select map to enlarge.

Map of RapidBus service in Metro Vancouver as envisioned in the 2008 Provincial Transit Plan. Select map to enlarge.

Serious funding for transit was being poured into both BC Transit and TransLink. The province was going to contribute $4.75 billion toward the $11.1 billion Provincial Transit Plan. The province committed to funding 43% of capital cost with the remaining funding coming from the federal and local governments.

I remember talking to someone at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure who, at the time, half-jokingly said that they would become the Ministry of Transit after the completion of the Port Mann Bridge project.

Boy have times changes. Transit is chronically underfunded in the province, and it looks things aren’t getting better.

The David Suzuki Foundation recently released a report called “Breaking gridlock: B.C.’s transit investment deficit and what can be done to fix it.” The following graph from the report shows by how much the provincial government has underfunded transit in the province based on the promises made in the Provincial Transit Plan.

Provincial funding promised under the Provincial Transit Plan compared to actual funding. Select graph to enlarge.

So how do we fix the transit funding problem? With the federal government now committed to funding 50% of transit capital project costs, the Suzuki Foundation is calling on the provincial government to once again commit to contributing 40% of the funding required for transit expansion in BC. Local governments should pick up the remaining 10%. For more details, check out the report.

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