March 15, 2019 8:30 pm

TransLink looks to get Phase 3 of Metro Vancouver’s transit plan rolling, despite federal funding gap

The TransLink Mayors' Council is looking for ways to get started on Phase 3 of its 10-year-transit plan.

Simon Little / Global News

Call it Phase 2.5 of the mayors’ 10-year plan.

TransLink Mayors’ Council Chair Jonathan Cote says officials are looking for ways to bring in elements of the third phase of the council’s transit and transportation plan —before full funding for the initiative has been locked down.

Following Friday’s mayors’ council meeting, Cote said TransLink was seeing record ridership growth across the region, putting more pressure on the council to try to speed up implementation.

READ MORE: Mayors’ Council votes to proceed with planning for Surrey SkyTrain extension

“The main discussion point we had today really related to breaking up Phase 3 because some of the larger projects are going to be very contingent on senior levels of government funding,” he said.

WATCH: TransLink Mayors’ Council approves SkyTrain to UBC

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“As soon as we can get that we will try and move ahead with that, but not precluding us being able to move forward with an initial phase of Phase 3, which might be some of that more smaller local bus service we might be able to move forward with without the partnership of the provincial and federal government.”

Cote said the provincial government has already committed to covering 40 per cent of the cost of Phase 3, but the federal government has not.

READ MORE: B.C. introduces legislation so TransLink can charge developers to fund transit plan

He said the region will be focusing on trying to win a federal commitment over the next year.

Metro Vancouver’s share of funding for Phase 3 will also need to be hammered out and Cote said, in the long-term, TransLink could look to mobility pricing or land value capture as a source of revenue.

WATCH: TransLink Mayors’ Council votes on Surrey SkyTrain extension

“With the electrification of vehicles and that trend moving forward over the next decade one of our most stable funding sources, the gas tax, is something that is going to no doubt decline in the coming years,” he said.

“We’re going to have to have some serious conversations about how we’re going to replace that.”

READ MORE: Fears of Vancouver SkyTrain speculation frenzy prompt debate on rezoning freeze

TransLink has already implemented Phase 1 of the 10-year plan and is currently in the process of implementing Phase 2, which includes the Broadway subway for Vancouver and part of a rapid transit project for Surrey.

Phase 3 of the plan includes a seven per cent increase in bus service along with five new B-Lines. It also includes second-stage funding for Surrey rapid transit and possibly a subway to UBC, upgrades to Canada Line, Expo Line and Millennium Line SkyTrain stations and 10 new cars for the West Coast Express

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