More SkyTrain cars are on their way, but commuters will have to wait until late 2018 before the new trains hit the rails.
Senior government and TransLink officials signed an agreement to purchase 28 new Mark III SkyTrain cars that will enter service in early 2019.
The $93 million fleet expansion is being funded 50 per cent through the new federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, with the province pitching in 33 per cent of the charge, and local municipalities covering the last 17 per cent.
Minister Responsible for TransLink Peter Fassbender applauded the new purchase.
“It is putting our money where it needs to be, and that’s on the rails in the communities in Metro Vancouver, and the other investments throughout the province,” Fassbender said at a press conference Friday morning.
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said the new cars are a welcome step, but more will need to be done in future years to meet growing demand.
“Today’s announcement shows that some of that help is on its way,” Desmond said. “In the meantime, we’re going to do our best to move our customers.”
The fleet expansion will be built by Bombardier in Plattsburgh, New York, with some parts, like the train’s linear induction motors, being made in Metro Vancouver. The increase in cars, Desmond said, will increase peak time capacity on the network for another 3,600 passengers, making it a 12 per cent increase over current stock.
The purchase is the latest effort to expand transit service in Metro Vancouver as part of the first phase of the Mayor’s Council’s newly-approved 10-Year Vision for transit expansion in the region.
Jonathan Cote, mayor of New Westminister, said while the announcement was a step in the right direction, 2017 will be a “critical year” for public transit.
“This is an important first step in moving our region forward with transportation, but there are many more investments that need to occur,” Cote said.
Discussions around how and when the second phase of the mayor’s plan will be decided upon, including the long-discussed Broadway SkyTrain expansion in Vancouver and Surrey light rail project, are still ongoing.