ELECTION 2015: Transit pledges unlikely to clear impasse

One-third contributions from Ottawa were widely expected for Surrey, Vancouver rapid transit lines

Federal parties are racing to pledge support for rapid transit, particularly in seat-rich Surrey, where the city council continues to push its plan for light rail lines.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said Thursday the Surrey lines, Vancouver’s Broadway subway and more SeaBus service would likely get federal contributions from an extra $20 billion his party is pledging for public transit over 10 years.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been expected to unveil Conservative commitments for transit a week earlier at a campaign event in Surrey, alongside former mayor turned Tory candidate Dianne Watts, until the announcement was bumped by the Syrian refugee crisis.

But support for transit from Ottawa has never been a big question mark for Metro Vancouver mayors.

They’ve assumed one-third federal contributions for the rapid transit projects will come regardless of which party wins.

Unless a federal leader offers more than one third – and none has so far – the big roadblock to new transit lines will remain this summer’s referendum defeat by Metro voters of a small sales tax hike to cover the region’s one-third share of transit expansion.

Surrey is still aiming to advance its $2.1-billion light rail project as a P3. But it has yet to produce a business case. And it remains unclear how the city’s taxpayers would eventually repay costs financed by a private partner.

Nor is there any sign of a new deal afoot between the mayors and the province to deliver an additional TransLink tax source and get the new lines get built as part of a coordinated regional transit plan.

MORE ELECTION ISSUES:Politicians pitch to parentsEconomic slump dominates campaign

The campaign promises stacking up for the Vancouver and Surrey lines are likely to remain vague, leaving many questions unanswered after Oct. 19.

One is whether the Surrey project will definitely be ground-level light rail instead of elevated SkyTrain.

SkyTrain, at least down Fraser Highway, would allow a faster, seamless ride without transfer to the rest of the system for passengers boarding in Langley and Cloverdale.

It would be more costly up front, however, and is resisted by Surrey politicians who say light rail better connects residents to local destinations.

Also unclear is the timing of federal grants – could that delay or help accelerate construction?

Then there’s the question of where federal grants might actually flow. To TransLink, possibly conditional on a broader regional transit solution? Or to Surrey and Vancouver to cover just their Plan B schemes?

The devil will be in the details.

For now, upbeat transit funding promises offer no surprises and no breakthrough to the impasse left by the failed referendum.

Dianne Watts spearheaded the push for light rail as Surrey’s mayor and is now running for the Conservatives in South Surrey-White Rock.  Black Press file photo

 

Just Posted

Surrey’s new Age-Well hub receives $3.5M in government funding

Hub is meant to drive development of healthy tech solutions to support healthy aging: SFU

Surrey public event to explore transition from RCMP to city police force

Surrey Board of Trade continuing its ‘Hot Topic Dialogue Series’ with this issue, on Tuesday Jan. 29

Dancer gives props to Surrey school program for allowing him to leap to world stage

North Surrey grad Bynh Ho in ‘Loop, Lull’ show at Vancouver’s PuSh festival

KidSport’s Nite of Champions to honour championship Coastal FC squad

Annual South Surrey event will feature Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green as keynote speaker

Surrey RCMP investigating alleged ‘stranger assault’ in Tynehead area

Police say a 14-year-old girl was walking home from school at the time of the incident

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

BC Hydro scammers bilked customers out of nearly $45,000 in 2018

Nearly 2,000 people reported scams to the utility, as they continue to be more common

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Manure company causing ‘toxic’ stink at Abbotsford school seeks permit

Property across from King Traditional Elementary cannot operate manure facility without permit

Most Read