VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – An increase in transit fares, parking fees and property taxes, as well as a fee for developers, will help pay for phase two of the Mayors’ Council transportation plan.
Phase two of the 10-year transit plan includes the construction of light rail in Surrey, the Millennium Line Broadway extension in Vancouver, as well as upgrades to the existing Expo and Millennium Lines.
Developers will have to pay up to $600 more per home they build, parking rates are going up at least 15 cents per hour and transit fares will also climb about two per cent starting in 2020. Despite these changes, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan –who heads up the Mayors’ Council– says bridge tolls are not coming back. “I’m comfortable this is the right way to go and I don’t think there is an appetite around the Lower Mainland for road pricing or tolls at this point and I think it would run contrary to the government’s view of making things more affordable for working people.”
Today’s announcement is the largest transit-funding one in BC history, and one of the largest ever across this nation, Corrigan says. “Residents have been asking for more transit service for many years and we are now in the position to get that service where it’s needed.”
Phase Two of the 10-year transit plan is slated for completion in 2021. Metro Vancouver’s share of the next phase is expected to be $2.5 billion of the total $7 billion, and the rest of the money is expected to come from the BC and federal governments.
“We know that the feds and the province have got a shelf life as far as providing this funding and if we didn’t grab it, as we got the opportunity, we weren’t going to get it at all,” he says.
Metro Vancouver’s share will also cover an eight per cent boost to bus service, aimed at reducing wait times and overcrowding.
“This partnership wouldn’t be possible without the initial partnership of mayors, which has allowed us to be able to advance the mayors’ vision and the plan,” he adds. “It’s hard to get a consensus among so many different mayors from across the region with so many disparate interests, but I can tell you we should be very proud of the region for coming together in the way it has to find a consensus in bringing forward this plan.”
Corrigan calls this latest agreement a “huge win” for transit users, drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond says this next step represents a “major milestone” in years of transit project planning. “In fact just a year ago, we were standing in this very place as we announced the first wave of transit improvements delivering on the Mayors’ 10-year vision. We are now in year two of our Phase One plan.”
Desmond says the region needs to keep up with a growing population around Metro Vancouver, and believes the funding announcement will help make that happen. “We’re going to see construction of the long sought Millennium Line extension which will add rapid transit service to the second busiest commercial corridor in Vancouver. We will begin construction on the first 10.5 miles of the planned… light rail system in Surrey and eventually on to Langley down Fraser Highway.”
The Mayors’ Council proposes the following in order to make planned projects as part of the next phase a reality:
- $1.6 billion in fare revenues expected from higher ridership resulting from service expansion in Phase Two, TransLink resources and efficiencies.
- A 2% increase to all transit fares over two years beginning in 2020. This amounts to a five to 15 cent increase to adult and concession transit fares and 1 to 3 dollar increase to adult and concession monthly passes to pay for more bus improvements.
- 15 cents per hour increase for an average $5 per hour parking. This is an increase from 21% to 24% to the existing parking lot rate. Legislative amendments would be required to enable TransLink to make this change.
- $5.50 increase in property taxes per average household each year or about 46 cents a month, beginning in 2019.
- About $300 to $600/unit increase to the Development Cost Charge on new residential developments depending on type of dwelling. Legislative changes are required to enable the Mayors Council to levy the DCC.
- Revenue from a variety of transit-related commercial opportunities.
Legislative changes as part of this new agreement between the Council and the provincial government are expected to be finalized in the near future.