By a majority vote, Metro Vancouver mayors voted in favour extending the Expo Skytrain line to Fleetwood.
The expansion will be part of Phase Two of Translink’s 10 year transportation plan and come at a cost of $1.6 billion dollars.
However the go-ahead thurs far comes with a set of conditions.
Mayors asked TransLink to:
- Complete the project business case by January 2020.
- Complete a refresh of its South of Fraser rapid transit strategy.
- Limit funding available for the first phase of project to the $1.63 billion already secured
Last week it was announced there aren’t enough Translink funds to fulfill Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum’s election wish of extending the Skytrain all the way to the City of Langley. To do that, $1.6 billion dollars worth of funding needs to be drummed up by the feds, province and other regional funds.
As it stands there’s no additional funding available for the extension.
It may be a dire challenge to find $1.6 billion in cash, but it’s at least some members on the board aren’t shying away from.
The board plans are to revisit funding options at the next council meeting in January, with Board Chair Jonathan Cote openly expressing his support for the project after seeing the recent business case on the project from Translink.
“No doubt I have struggled with this previous change of direction,” said Cote referring to the board scrapping the LRT back in the fall. “I still believe the previous plan would’ve had a lot of benefits south of the Fraser River. But to me, given some of the changes in direction, I think the work Translink has done over the last couple of months has demonstrated the revised plan is a very good transit project. To me, that was the main thing I was looking for to really convince me whether we should be making a significant change.”
In the Translink report released last week it showed the project had a solid benefit-cost ratio at 1.24 and projected ridership in Langley is expected to increase to 71,200 by 2050, thus many benefitting from the new line.
“Benefits come in the form of new transit riders, travel time savings by those riders, as well as other benefits that accrue just generally,” Jeff Busby, TransLink Director of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project told Pulse FM in recent interview. “Added to those benefits, are economic boosts in the region and environmental considerations. SkyTrain to Langley has $1.24 in benefits for every dollar spent, and the line to just Fleetwood has $1.12 in benefits for that same dollar. That means the project is a good investment overall.”