4 things you need to know about Metro Vancouver's $7.5-billion transportation plan

4 things you need to know about Metro Vancouver’s $7.5-billion transportation plan

On Thursday, Metro Vancouver mayors proposed a $7.5-billion transit expansion plan they say will solve transport problems for the next decade.


The deadly and aging Pattullo Bridge linking New Westminster and Surrey would be replaced with a new, four-lane, $980-million toll bridge, with the possibility of expansion to six lanes. It will have wide lanes, centre barriers and space for pedestrians and cyclists. The 68-year-old bridge has been a headache for TransLink for years, due to its dangerous design and most recently the fact the bridge is crumbling. Cyclists throughout the region will see 2,700 kilometres of new bikeways created, including 300 km of fully separated lanes.


The plan includes 27 kilometres of light-rail transit through two news lines south of the Fraser at a cost of $2.1 billion. One will be on King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue between Guilford, Surrey City Centre and Newton to be built by 2021. The bigger line will run between Surrey City Centre and Langley Centre and be completed by 2026. Communities south of the Fraser are expected to have 380,000 new residents by 2044. It’s estimated 195,000 people will live within walking distance of the two lines. Three times as many express B-Line buses will also be added to the region.


Instead of a subway to UBC, the mayors want to extend the Millennium Line from the VCC-Clark Station 5.1 kilometres to Arbutus and Broadway. This will require six new stations be built, including one that will join up with the north-south Canada Line near Vancouver City Hall. From Arbutus and Broadway, commuters would take existing B-Line express buses to UBC. SeaBus is planned to increase sailings by 50 per cent, the HandyDART service will be expanded by 30 per cent and four new B-Line services will be added in Vancouver. There will be an extra $36 million spent a year on roads throughout the region.


The mayors hope their ambitious plan will be funded by an allocation of $250 million from the B.C. Carbon Tax, bridge tolls, new forms of driver taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, $5 million a year in increased fares and cash from the provincial and federal governments. TransLink’s annual budget would need to increase from $1.4 billion to $2.2 billion a year to make good on the mayors’ promises.

The report doesn’t offer a backup plan should the carbon tax be rejected by the province, nor does it suggest a vehicle levy would be a viable option. Mayors say that if the plan is approved, it would reduce traffic congestion by 10 per cent and that drivers and transit-users would save 20 to 30 minutes per day on some of the most congested corridors.

The mayors’ major stumbling block is that on Thursday afternoon Transportation Minister Todd Stone said there is no way the provincial government will hand over carbon tax dollars to TransLink. But he did say the province would be willing to discuss with mayors the option of forming a separate regional carbon tax for Metro Vancouver, to help fund the mayors’ proposed $7.5-billion transit investment plan.

For more stories from the Province, click here.

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