Thursday, September 21, 2017

This fall will reveal the future for transit in Metro Vancouver

For as long as I’ve lived in Metro Vancouver, funding for transit expansion has been challenging. Since the launch of the 10-Year Vision for Transportation in Metro Vancouver, our region is closer than ever to finally getting stable, long-term funding required to move forward on much needed transit expansion. With the change in provincial government, we will know within the next six months if our region will be moving forward with the Vision, or if it will be business as usual.

The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation is meeting today; on the agenda is an update on the 10-Year Vision for Transportation. The business cases for the Broadway Extension of the Millennium Line and Surrey-Langley Light Rail will be finalized this fall. Based on those business cases, the Mayors’ Council will be working with the provincial government to find a regional funding source to pay for transit expansion.

Current overview of 10-Year Vision including phasing. Select table to enlarge.

The provincial and federal governments have agreed to pay for 73% of the costs to building rapid transit, and the provincial government has agreed to pay for 40% of the capital costs for other projects in the 10-Year Vision out of their own revenue sources. This leaves the region on the hook for the remaining costs to building rapid transit and other projects, plus 100% of the on-going operating costs.

As a first step, the Mayors’ are looking for the provincial government to authorize a regional Developer Cost Charge for Transportation in the spring 2018 legislative session. If this is not approved, projects currently underway in phase one of the 10-Year Vision will have to be cancelled or deferred. The Mayors’ are also hoping that the provincial government will announce a fair, affordable regional revenue source to help fund the remaining phases of the Vision this fall.

The following table outlines the preferred timing for phase two projects.

Timeline for phase two service expansion and new rapid transit investments. Select table to enlarge.

On the Pattullo Bridge, with the removal of tolls in our region by the provincial government, the Mayors’ Council is looking for confirmation that the province will straight-out pay for 40% of the capital costs, plus provide an annual operating subsidy in lieu of toll revenue for the replacement bridge. The toll revenue was to be the way that TransLink was going to pay for the new Pattullo Bridge.

On another interesting note, it looks like the Burnaby Mountain Gondola is back on the table.

We will know if the new provincial government is committed to getting Metro Vancouver residents out of congestion by funding much need transit expansion by the end of this fall.

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