Fund the plan or strand 10,000 commuters: Mayors’ Council makes case for $21-billion transit expansion

file photo Jeremy Shepherd

A rising population coupled with frozen levels of service will result in an increasingly overcrowded and unreliable transit system, according to TransLink’s Mayors’ Council.

The collection of mayors from around the region renewed their call for senior levels of government to fund TransLink’s 10-year, approximately $21-billion, transit expansion plan on Tuesday.

“As mayors, we are concerned that any delays in expanding transit service will make it very difficult for city councils and builders to expand housing in our communities as quickly as is needed. The window for the provincial and federal government to take action is getting very small,” stated Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West in a release.


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TransLink data predicts that by 2025 nearly 40 percent of rush hour bus trips will be severely overcrowded, leading to: “tens of thousands of commuters every day watching full buses pass them,” according to the release.

The expansion plan, dubbed Access for Everyone, will help deal with affordability while “supporting provincial and federal climate goals,” stated TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn.

The plan would connect Coquitlam’s city centre with Maple Ridge via dedicated bus lanes and transit signal priority down Lougheed Highway. Coquitlam’s city centre would also have a direct bus connection to Surrey along Highway 1 and Highway 7.

TransLink would also “undertake an exploratory business case,” for bringing the Millennium Line to Port Coquitlam.

The plan would increase HandyDART service by 60 percent and fund a Burnaby Mountain gondola to Simon Fraser University.

The 10-year plan includes approximately 450 kilometres of separated cycling paths.

Population vs. service

Metro Vancouver has gained approximately 200,000 new residents since 2019. However, service levels have not increased since then. That combination has resulted in per capita service levels sinking back to 2016 levels, a situation that will continue to worsen without new service, according to TransLink.

Approximately 33.67 million commuters boarded TransLink in July, an increase of nearly five million riders compared July 2022.

Between February and July, an average of 31.9 million riders took transit each month. Over the same period in 2022, TransLink recorded an average of 26.3 million commutes per month.

TransLink needs to keep up with population growth “so we can ensure new housing is accessible and residents have affordable transportation options,” stated council vice-chair Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley in the release.

Funding commitments are needed “no later than June 2024,” according to the release.

In the Tri-Cities

Despite sizable drop-offs on several key bus routes in 2022, ridership in the Tri-Cities reached 84 percent of pre-pandemic levels last year. That figure represents a smaller bounce-back than Maple Ridge and Richmond, where ridership rates eclipsed pre-pandemic levels.

Earlier this year, a survey of 694 Tri-Cities residents 55 and older – most from Port Coquitlam – found that about 85 percent of respondents said they avoid taking transit. Approximately 86 percent of respondents said they usually drive to get around.


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