Improved transportation infrastructure is among the BC NDP’s suite of comprehensive election platform promises, announced this morning by party leader John Horgan.
There will be free public transit for children aged 12 and under on TransLink and BC Transit services. Currently, both transit operators offer free transit fares to kids under five years old.
A re-elected BC NDP government would also increase TransLink’s network connections to the Fraser Valley and the Sea to Sky Corridor, including expanding the West Coast Express commuter rail.
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On completing further SkyTrain extensions, Horgan stated during today’s press conference that the focus is to bring the Expo Line extension to Langley Centre. The Millennium Line extension from Arbutus Street reaching the University of British Columbia will have to wait until the provincial government gets further direction from the Mayors’ Council for the future Phase Three regional transit expansion plan.
The Expo Line extension reaching Fleetwood requires both provincial and federal governments to approve the transfer of $1.6 billion in cancelled Surrey-Newton Guildford LRT funding to the SkyTrain project, plus an additional $1.5 billion for the remaining journey between Fleetwood and Langley Centre and the overall project business case. The final leg of the Millennium Line extension from Arbutus Street to UBC is roughly $3 billion.
“We believe sending the signal that we want to get to Langley, that’s where the fast-growing populations are that need to get back into the city,” said Horgan.
“Getting to Arbutus is the first priority here in Vancouver, and then extending on to UBC will be the next phase, and we’ll await that to come from the Mayors’ Council after we get started on Phase Two.”
On specific new project planning, the BC NDP platform states it will “work with communities and regions” to support the development of key projects such as a rapid transit link to the North Shore and the expansion of commuter rail up to the Fraser Valley.
In other areas of public transit, BC Ferries will be made “more accountable” by improving service at peak times, and allocating more space to reservations and allow walk-on reservations. BC Transit and TransLink bus schedules will be coordinated with the provincial ferry system to better align scheduling and provide a more seamless passenger experience between modes.
When it comes to road infrastructure, the party’s platform entails widening Fraser Highway between Surrey and Abbotsford by 2026 to reduce congestion and making safety improvements to the Malahat Highway on Vancouver Island. The George Massey Tunnel replacement project is not mentioned in the platform.
For ICBC, a new enhanced care model will meet the target of reducing premiums by an average of 20%, while increasing the care available for those injured in accidents.
Other platform promises include making electric-battery vehicles more affordable through rebate programs, increasing public vehicle charging availability in residential buildings, and making e-bikes more affordable by removing the PST on the devices.