TransLink Mayors’ Council approves first phase of transit expansion plan with new asks of federal government
November 23, 2023
(Vancouver, B.C.) – Today the TransLink Mayors’ Council confirmed the projects and investments to be included in the first phase of the Access for Everyone plan and approved a submission to the federal Minister of Finance calling for the government to join the region and the province in developing a new funding model for TransLink.
The federal budget submission requests funding to support the building of three new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects, expansion of TransLink’s bus fleet and additional bus depot capacity, active transportation and road safety projects, as well as initial funding for the Golden Ears Way BRT-readiness and goods-movement project.
With TransLink facing ongoing financial challenges and transit ridership increasing rapidly in many parts of the region, the Mayors’ Council is urging the federal government to join the provincial government and TransLink in developing a more sustainable, resilient and equitable funding model for transit that shifts away from regressive funding sources such as fares and property taxes.
“Today the Mayors’ Council has agreed on a plan for the new and expanded transit services we will need to accommodate population growth and put affordable housing within reach for everyone in our communities,” said Mayor Brad West, Chair of the Mayors’ Council. “Transit-oriented development is a key component of the province’s and region’s plan to respond to the housing affordability crisis, but without federal financial support and a sustainable funding model to help deliver additional transit into the future, we won’t be successful.”
Metro Vancouver’s transit services are essentially frozen at 2019 levels even as the region’s population has grown by almost 200,000 between 2019 and 2023. The Access for Everyone plan is designed to deliver new rapid transit routes and additional bus service to support growth, affordability and climate action, with benefits for everyone in the region.
In its submission ahead of the 2024-2025 federal budget, the Mayors’ Council is asking the Government of Canada to:
1. Support the building of three new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects in the region, to be completed by 2027. Initial cost estimates for the BRT projects are $250-$300 million each (to be confirmed in final business cases in early 2025), with additional funding also needed to expand TransLink’s bus fleet and associated maintenance facilities. The first three BRT corridors to begin construction, out of the nine proposed in the Access for Everyone plan, are:
- Park Royal (North Shore) to Metrotown (Burnaby) via Phibbs Exchange and Willingdon Ave.
- Langley to Maple Ridge along 200th Ave, the Golden Ears Bridge and Lougheed Highway.
- Surrey to White Rock along King George Boulevard.
2. Commit new capital funding by mid-2024 from the Permanent Transit Fund to support the immediate delivery of the first phase of the Access for Everyone Plan, including:
- Expanding TransLink’s Bus Fleet ($375 million).
- Additional Bus Depot Capacity ($1.4 billion).
- Active Transportation & Road Safety Projects ($70 million).
- Initiating the Golden Ears Way BRT-readiness and goods-movement project to open up access to industrial lands in Maple Ridge / Pitt Meadows and the Katzie First Nation Reserve ($120 million)
3. Join the working group between the Province of British Columbia and TransLink which launched in mid-2022 to develop a new transit funding model for TransLink. The Mayors’ Council is proposing the federal government’s contribution to the new funding model include:
- Complete the program design and intake process of the new Permanent Transit Fund (PTF) by May 2024 so that TransLink can confirm and begin planning its PTF funding allocation in a mid-2024 Investment Plan.
- Add an annual cost escalator of at least 5% to the PTF so that its allocation grows in line with TransLink’s other major revenue sources and increasing demands on the transit system due to population and economic growth.
- Work with the Province of British Columbia to expand transit fare discounts or refundable transit pass tax rebates for lower-income residents to offset the regressive impacts of future fare increases on those who can least afford it.
“Time is running out. For TransLink to reduce overcrowding as soon as possible, and enable the substantial service expansion we need in the coming years, we must have both federal and provincial funding commitments for this first phase of Access for Everyone, no later than mid-2024,” said Mayor West. “Provincial and federal governments are calling on municipalities to accelerate the approval of new housing to address the affordability crisis, but we need additional transit infrastructure to serve residents moving into new housing developments.”
More details can be found in the pre-budget submission available online at https://accessforeveryone.ca/
About the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation
The Mayors’ Council is the collective voice of Metro Vancouver residents on transit and transportation. Our members include representatives from each of the 21 municipalities in TransLink’s service area, as well as Electoral Area ‘A’ and the Tsawwassen First Nation. It is responsible for approving TransLink’s transportation plans, identifying local funding and negotiating with other levels of government to make those plans a reality.