The federal government has officially locked in $1.37 billion for a light rail transit line in Surrey and the Broadway subway line in Vancouver. The funding commitment has been previously announced but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Surrey on Tuesday ensured there is no going back on the promise.
“What we are doing right now is making sure that in advance of the municipal election we have locked in this funding for the next 10 years,” Trudeau said. “These are announcements that will make a huge difference in people’s lives across the Lower Mainland.”
The Broadway subway project will add 5.7 kilometres and six stations to the existing Millennium line and will run from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus.
WATCH HERE: Prime Minister Trudeau announces new federal money for transit
The Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT project will create the province’s first light rail transit system. With 11 new stations along 10.5 kilometres of street-level track, the LRT will provide services in Surrey not connected by the existing SkyTrain.
The B.C. government will contribute $1.82 billion, and TransLink, the City of Vancouver, and the City of Surrey will contribute $1.23 billion.
The Broadway subway line is the more expensive of the two projects at $2.83 billion. That works out to about $500 million per kilometre. The Surrey LRT project is estimated to cost $1.65 billion.
WATCH HERE: B.C. Premier John Horgan on transit funding
“The cheques are in the mail and we are going to be building. This is the first time I’ve said it,” said B.C. Premier John Horgan. “For what it is worth this is my first announcement on LRT in Surrey.”
“This is about locking this down. This is happening. It is good for the economy. It is good for people.”
There are still questions about the timeline for both projects. Surrey LRT Project Director Stephan Mehr will be making a presentation Wednesday that should address issues around construction timelines.
Metro Vancouver mayors struggled for years to figure out how to pay for their share of the projects. In March, the mayors announced that starting in 2020 transit fares in Metro Vancouver are going to go up by two per cent to help pay for the region’s share of Phase 2 transit projects. The increase works out to a five- to 15-cent increase for adult and concession transit fares and $1 to $3 increase to adult and concession monthly passes.
WATCH HERE: Premier Horgan on the effects of the new funding on students
TransLink is also chipping in $1.6 billion in fare revenues that it expects to collect through higher than expected ridership.
One lingering question is whether the Broadway subway line will ever extend to the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus. Trudeau and Horgan both expressed interest in the project continuing to the province’s largest university but it would require an additional 8.4 kilometres of track. There is no funding currently in place to continue the line that far west.
WATCH HERE: Mayor Robertson on the capacity of the new line to UBC
“Hopefully it will go right out to UBC in the years to come, as the premier stated, connecting the dots between our colleges and universities,” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said.
Later in the afternoon, Trudeau attended a roundtable discussion on gangs and gun violence in Surrey.
WATCH: Trudeau talks gangs and guns in Surrey