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Metro Vancouver transit and transportation gets $2.2 billion from federal government

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The TransLink Mayors’ Council is moving forward in negotiations with Phase Two of their 10-year Metro Vancouver transportation plan thanks to a federal investment of roughly $2.2 billion.

The announcement was made during the Liberal government’s unveiling of the 2017 federal budget on Wednesday and according to the council, marks an important step in building two “critically important” rapid transit projects in Vancouver and Surrey.

“Today’s historic federal investment in transit and transportation is a game-changer for our region and the largest in Metro Vancouver in 20 years,” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Chair of the Mayors’ Council, said in a release.

The federal government’s contribution builds on an initial commitment of $370 million for local transit projects in 2016, which brings the combined investment to $2.6 billion.

This new federal financial commitment allows the provincial government to start working on securing matching funds for Phase Two of the 10-year plan, which includes construction of the Millennium Line Broadway extension in Vancouver, the Surrey LRT, and the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge.

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In addition to the two major rapid transit projects, the Mayors’ Council says the provincial government’s money would also go towards increased service on existing SkyTrain lines, continued expansion of bus service and new funding for major roads, as well as walking and cycling infrastructure.

The TransLink’s Mayors Council voted unanimously to approve Phase One of the 10-year transit plan for the region in November 2016 and in January 2017 started a partial roll-out.

“TransLink is doing great work in rolling out the first phase of the 10-Year Vision which is adding more bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus service region-wide this year, but these new services are playing catch-up from years of under-investment,” Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, vice-chair of the Mayors’ Council, said.

“With today’s federal budget, we are closer than ever to putting shovels in the ground for Surrey LRT and the Broadway subway, so we can move more people around our growing region on transit. The Mayors’ Council is looking forward to working with the provincial government to match the federal investment and have these projects ready to break ground in 2018.”

In September 2016, NDP leader John Horgan promised, if elected, his government would commit to providing 40 per cent of funding for transit and major infrastructure projects, leaving Metro Vancouver with a 10 per cent funding responsibility.

With the provincial election coming up in May, the council is calling on whoever wins the election to match the new federal funding dollar for dollar to fully implement the 10-year plan.

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