TransLink Board votes to approve plan
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
Peter Fassbender, the Minister of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development, announced on November 23 that the TransLink Board of Directors and Mayors’ Council voted in approval of the first phase of TransLink’s Ten-Year Vision.
“I would like to congratulate the Mayors’ Council and TransLink on its hard work and collaboration in developing a comprehensive Investment Plan that now allows the region to move forward on these important Phase One transit projects,” Fassbender said in a press release.
The first stage of the plan will be to increase bus service (such as adding new bus routes and increasing service on existing routes), and improve the frequency of HandyDart, SkyTrain, Seabus, and West Coast Express services. Renovations and improvements will also be made to exchanges. Outside of the public transportation networks, TransLink will also be making improvements to pedestrian and cycling pathways.
The plan is expected to be put into motion in January, with $246 million worth of funding coming from the provincial government, and additional $370 million worth of funding from the federal government, and $1.3 billion from TransLink.
Additional funding for future projects will be coming from homeowners, who will be taxed approximately $3 annually. Those who use TransLink can also expect to see fare increases in the near future.
However, mayors are concerned that some of the required funding sources have not yet been confirmed, and that this may lead to delays in the plan.
Discussions surrounding Phase Two—which will introduce new rapid transit options, like the Broadway Corridor and Surrey-Langley, and replacing the Patullo Bridge—will be taking place in 2017, with hopes to get the next phase started in 2018.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us in the next few months,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson to the Vancouver Sun in regards to the next phase of the plan. “We need to see a commitment from the provincial and federal government for the big piece of the plan. Those big projects need to be funded in the next phase and the next couple of months is when that needs to happen.”
While it remains to be seen how much the federal and provincial governments will be contributing towards Phase Two, some are speculating that mobility pricing—which would charge motorists a toll to cross into major and busy areas—may be implemented. However, mobility pricing remains a problematic issue. For one, the provincial government would need to approve it. Whether or not that occurs before the provincial election in May remains to be seen. Potentially, the government may hand the decision to BC voters through a referendum, similar to the transportation plebiscite in 2015.