Federal budget pegs $2.2 billion for Metro Transit Projects – By Ray Hudson

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Artist’s rendition of the LRT in the Central City area, from Surrey.ca “The Vision.”

Matching provincial funding commitments needed

Artist’s rendition of the LRT in the Central City area, from Surrey.ca “The Vision.”
Artist’s rendition of the LRT in the Central City area, from Surrey.ca “The Vision.”

The 2017 budget committed $2.2 billion for Metro Vancouver transportation requirements. Now all that’s required are the matching funds from the province and the remainder from the region.

The estimated contribution from the government’s Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF) builds upon an initial commitment of $370 million for local transit projects in 2016, which at a combined total of almost $2.6 billion, marks the single largest federal investment in Metro Vancouver transportation in at least 20 years.

Although the budget document online mentioned only the Vancouver Broadway Corridor/ Millennium Line, the Surrey Mayor’s office explained that the budget paper didn’t list all the projects due to space available in the paper document. The spokesperson assured that the funding was intended to apply to the ten-year plan for expansion and improvement of all of the projects in TransLink’s Phase Two.

In a media release from the TransLink Mayor’s Council, Gregor Robertson, Vancouver Mayor and Council Chair elaborated.

“Today’s historic federal investment in transit and transportation is a game-changer for our region and the largest in Metro Vancouver in 20 years. The Mayors’ Council appreciates the federal government’s commitment to improving public transit and reducing traffic congestion to keep people moving across our growing region. Metro Mayors are ready to roll-up our sleeves in partnership with the BC government and match this funding with additional dollars to deliver crucial new projects like the Broadway Subway, Surrey rapid transit and the new Patullo bridge.”

From the region’s second largest city, “TransLink is doing great work in rolling out the first phase of the 10-Year Vision which is adding more bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus service region-wide this year, but these new services are playing catch up from years of under-investment,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, Vice-Chair of the Mayors’ Council. “With today’s federal budget, we are closer than ever to putting shovels in the ground for Surrey LRT and the Broadway subway so we can move more people around our growing region on transit. The Mayors’ Council is looking forward to working with the provincial government to match the federal investment and have these projects ready to break ground in 2018.”

Although the Pattullo Bridge replacement is part of the regional plan, it doesn’t qualify for funding under the PTIF funding. However it could be funded through either the new federal Infrastructure Bank or Trade Transportation Corridor Initiative. The Province has committed to provide one-third of the cost of this project. The Mayors’ Council and TransLink are reviewing new details about these programs and will work immediately with the federal and provincial governments to finalize their investments in this project.
With the provincial election scheduled for May 9, the Mayor’s Council is calling on all provincial political parties to commit, as a first step, to match the federal funding dollar for dollar for construction of the Broadway and Surrey rapid transit projects, and to work with the Mayors’ Council to confirm other provincial and regional funding required to fully implement the 10-Year Vision.