Act soon, Township mayor urges on transit funds

The TransLink Mayors' Council still needs to finalize its funding plan.

Municipal governments have to act soon to get the benefit of federal and provincial transit funding money, said Langley Township’s Mayor.

“The longer we wait, the more it’s going to cost,” said Mayor Jack Froese.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced the first phase of funding for an estimated 10-year, $7.5 billion plan to expand TransLink

The $740 million would go towards planning for new rapid transit lines, along with purchases of new buses, SkyTrain cars, and SeaBuses.

Now the Mayors’ Council which controls the purse strings of TransLink will have to finalize its financial plan.

The plan currently calls for a mixture of property taxes, development fees near transit corridors, increased fares, and money gained from boosted ridership to pay for its share of the projects.

One of the most immediate effects of the funding would be new buses for Langley and other underserved areas, noted Froese.

But even that can’t happen overnight. It takes about one and a half years from the order to the construction and delivery of new buses.

Some extra routes could be added in the meantime by increasing bus frequency, Froese said.

TransLink has been adjusting bus routes, and has announced a route will be moved from 200th Street to 208th Street in the near future, but no exact timeline has been given. Bus stops have been built along the route this spring.

Another portion of the money will go towards designing the planned rapid transit line from the existing SkyTrain stations through Surrey and into Langley City.

“Prime Minister Trudeau, when he first announced it, called it a down payment,” said Froese.

The mayor couldn’t say exactly when other local priorities, like buses to the Gloucester Industrial Park, might come to fruition.

 

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