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Transportation, Urbanized, News

TransLink launches public consultation for 30-year public transit expansion plan

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Kenneth Chan May 03, 2019 12:29 pm

Should there be a new SkyTrain extension to serve the North Shore? How about an underground SkyTrain extension under Hastings Street and light rail transit along the Arbutus Corridor?

Is it time to provide Waterfront Station with a new and expanded transit concourse? Will there be more SeaBus ferry routes across Burrard Inlet? Should TransLink support the City of Vancouver’s streetcar network plans?

What kind of rail transit should be built on the King George Boulevard corridor in Surrey? Perhaps there could be more commuter rail lines stretching as far south as White Rock and as far east as Langley Township?

Would a new bridge across the Fraser River from Boundary Road to Richmond address regional transportation goals? Is there a need for new roads purposely designed for driverless vehicles?

As TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said this morning: “Every idea is welcome. There are no bad ideas.”

TransLink opened the flood gates for the public to submit their ideas for the region’s transportation future, kicking off the first phase of its Transport 2050 public consultation — billed as the largest public consultation in TransLink’s history.

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During a press conference held outside Waterfront Station, Desmond called Transport 2050 a “once in a generation opportunity” for the public to provide their input.

The last time such an engagement was made was in 1993, which provided the guidance that eventually led to SkyTrain projects such as the Canada Line, Millennium Line and its Evergreen Extension, and the future Broadway Extension and Fraser Highway Extension.

Transport 2050’s public consultation will lead to the creation of a new regional transportation strategy that will guide the decisions for the next 30 years.

“We’re anxious to hear lots of feedback… whether they are small things that make your mornings just a little easier or if they’re innovations that revolutionize the future of our region,” said Desmond.

“We’re posing questions such as what are your bold ideas for transportation future? What are your thoughts on driverless cars, electric bikes, and electrical scooters? What is your vision for expanding active transportation modes like walking and cycle paths?”

Vancouver Central Waterfront Hub Framework

Artistic rendering of the transit concourse at Waterfront Station. (City of Vancouver)

Vancouver Central Waterfront Hub Framework

Site plan of the expanded Waterfront Station, with the underground link between the expanded station and the new marine terminal. (City of Vancouver)

Metro Vancouver is expected to see significant population and employment growth over the coming decades, with its population increasing by one million from the current 2.5 million to 3.5 million by 2050. The Lower Mainland overall, with the Fraser Valley included, is expected to see a population of over four million people by then.

Demographic makeups are also expected to see major changes from an ageing population.

Selina Robinson, the BC Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said the provincial government will also be fully involved in this process and emphasized the need to create a plan that establishes connectivity within the region and beyond.

“We need to ensure that we have a transit system that helps enable affordable housing options. This is a great opportunity to help shape transportation and development over the next 30 years throughout the region, and not just in downtown Vancouver or even in the inner suburbs,” she said.

“We need to build strong connected communities right across the region and even beyond, and that means starting to talk about how the transit system engages with the areas outside of TransLink’s boundaries and making sure more people can benefit from these investments.”

Conceptual routes for downtown Vancouver streetcar network. (City of Vancouver)

TransLink’s public engagement will reach out to residents of all 23 of the region’s municipalities and their respective municipal governments. There will be interactive exhibits at public events, meetings with multicultural communities and new Canadians, stakeholder and industry roundtables, and social media campaigns.

Public feedback can be submitted through surveys at Transport2050.ca, and the first phase of the public engagement will end in September.

TransLink will use the ideas from the first phase to develop and propose new strategies and priorities for the 30-year plan, which will go through new rounds of public consultation. The third and final phase in late 2020 will finalize the new regional transportation strategy.

Over the interim, Desmond says TransLink’s current biggest challenges are with overcrowding on the system. The regional transit system has been experiencing record ridership over the last three years, and the public transit authority is struggling to push out enough new transit to meet the growth in demand.

He also highlighted the greatest transit ridership growth was in the Surrey and Langley areas, and acknowledged the significant transportation problems that require resolving on the North Shore.

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