IN a letter sent on Monday to federal ministers and shared with local Members of Parliament, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation called on the Government of Canada to use its upcoming budget to quickly commit its recently announced new transit funding to Stage 2 of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain, the acceleration of the Low-Carbon Fleet Strategy, and other shovel-ready projects in the region’s transit plans.
The call comes just weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $14.9 billion in new transit funding over the next eight years, including $5.9 billion for stimulus projects and zero emission buses, and funding for a permanent transit fund to support longer-term transit expansion planning. The Mayors’ Council and TransLink have worked with the Province of B.C. to maintain transit service during the pandemic crisis in the face of plunging ridership revenue, and continue to work together to return the agency to financial sustainability and continue to expand transit in the longer-term, the Mayors’ Council said in a press statement.
“The Mayors’ Council welcomes recent federal announcements of new transit funding as a game-changer for transit in Metro Vancouver,” said Jack Froese, Mayor of The Township of Langley and Vice Chair of the Mayors’ Council. “This funding, if committed in the coming months, will clear the path for shovel-ready projects like the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain and our Low-Carbon Fleet Strategy to help our region expand transit service, create new jobs, and recover from the pandemic more quickly.”
In its submission to the Government of Canada ahead of the 2021/2022 federal budget, the Mayors’ Council recommends that:
1. Recently announced stimulus and zero-emission bus funding be committed as soon as possible to $2.1 billion in already planned and widely supported shovel-ready projects in Metro Vancouver’s current transit plans:
* Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Stage Two (Fleetwood to Langley)
* Low Carbon Fleet Strategy (Phase Two)
* Expo-Millennium Line Upgrade Project (OMC4)
* Active transportation projects
* Project plans and studies to advance development of future transit expansion projects to be considered in the Transport 2050 planning processes
2. The federal Safe Restart Agreement be extended beyond 2021 to deliver additional operating relief funding towards TransLink’s ongoing pandemic-related losses.
“In the short-term, we are focusing on pandemic response and recovery which will require ongoing senior government operating relief funding, but looking ahead beyond the COVID-19 crisis, we remain committed to delivering the region’s transit expansion plans,” said Jonathan X. Coté, Mayor of New Westminster and Chair of the Mayors’ Council. “The Government of Canada has been a key partner with us in expanding and greening transit in Metro Vancouver over the past 5 years, and this new funding paves the way for us to get our plans back on track sooner to help our region rebuild and grow.”