This is where the 4 federal parties stand on Metro Vancouver transit expansion

Oct 16 2019, 11:58 am

TransLink’s Mayors’ Council is providing voters with a guide on where the four major federal parties stand on Metro Vancouver’s public transit expansion projects — whether the parties will or will not commit to funding the next round of projects.

Although the guide clearly outlines the transit platform of each party, it stops short of recommending a party to vote for, instead providing voters with an informed decision based on the submitted responses by each party.

The guide, a culmination of the Mayors’ Council’s election-time Cure Congestion campaign, singles out the Conservative Party for being the only party to not commit to a permanent fund for public transit investments. The responses by the Conservatives were markedly shorter than the three other parties.

On the other hand, the Liberals, NDP, and Greens have promised to introduce the Mayors’ Council’s permanent transit fund to provide predictable, stable federal funding for public transit beyond 2027, when the Liberal government’s $187-billion Investing In Canada infrastructure program ends.

“While we had hoped that all parties would recognize the importance of making federal funding for transit permanent, we’re pleased that all of the parties have shown a willingness to invest in transit and that three out of four parties have stepped up to make a long-term commitment,” said Mayor Jonathan Cote, chair of the Mayors’ Council, in a statement.

“Regardless of which party forms government, we look forward to working with them and hopefully seeing an increase in the federal commitment to transit so we can avoid congestion on our roads and transit system getting worse.”

While there is existing funding to construct key Mayors’ Council Phase Two projects such as key infrastructure upgrades to the existing Expo Line and Millennium Line, the Millennium Line Broadway Extension from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street, and the Expo Line Fraser Highway Extension from King George Station to Fleetwood, further funding is needed for the full extensions of these projects.

Phase Three projects entail the seven-km-long Millennium Line Broadway Extension from Arbutus Street to UBC and the nine-km-long Expo Line Fraser Highway Extension from Fleetwood to Langley Centre, with both projects totalling a combined $5 billion.

Other projects of Phase Three include five additional RapidBus lines, rapid transit on King George Boulevard in Surrey, and an acceleration of bus fleet electrification. Funding could also fulfill the SFU Burnaby Mountain gondola, and advance planning and technical work of yet-to-be-identified future SkyTrain projects under the current Transport 2050 program to 2022.

Conservative Party

The Conservatives will proceed with existing planned transportation infrastructure projects, but Investing In Canada would be extended from 12 years to 15 years — through 2030 instead of 2027.

No permanent stable transit funding is promised beyond the current federal funding program. The Conservatives would also expedite its review of the Expo Line Fraser Highway Extension project to Fleetwood — using funds from the cancelled Surrey Newton-Guildford LRT — to keep the project on schedule for a mid-2020 federal approval.

The Mayors’ Council says the party has a “welcome willingness” to invest in new public transit projects, but this would only prioritize two subway extension projects, totalling $16.5 billion, in Toronto.

Although the party will prioritize the George Massey Tunnel replacement project, it is currently a responsibility of the provincial government and does not fall under TransLink.

One other transit platform promise is their commitment to reintroduce the transit tax credit to make it more affordable for people to use transit, similar to the program that ended in 2017.

Liberal Party

The Liberal Party will provide a new permanent, stable federal funding program, with funding levels accounting for the inflation in construction costs over time. This amounts to $3 billion more per year for transit projects across the country after 2027, plus the existing transfers through the federal Gas Tax Fund.

The party is committed to the Expo Line Fraser Highway Extension project to Fleetwood.

NDP

The NDP are promising a permanent, direct, allocation-based funding mechanism for public transit, but no specific annual dollar amount has been identified. Their platform also includes $1.45 billion annually from 2020/21 to 2023/24 for “clean transit and transportation,” which would accelerate the adoption of zero-emission transit vehicles and develop a National Cycling Strategy.

The party is committed to the Expo Line Fraser Highway Extension project to Fleetwood.

Green Party

The Green Party has also committed to a permanent, dedicated public transit fund, allocating $3.4 billion annually to projects across the country starting in 2028 after the conclusion of Investing In Canada.

Other platform commitments entail doubling overall funding to municipal governments, making changes to the Canada Infrastructure Bank to reduce interest rates to municipalities on loans for infrastructure projects, and creating a national cycling and walking infrastructure fund.

The party is committed to the Expo Line Fraser Highway Extension project to Fleetwood.