The TransLink Mayors’ Council has waded into the last days of the federal election campaign with a voters guide that outlines how the major federal parties will, or won’t, fund major transit projects.
While the guide doesn’t advocate for choosing one party over another, it outlines the parties’ positions on transit funding.
The Conservatives stand out in the document for providing the shortest answers, and for being the only party that has no committment in their platform to a permanent fund for transit.
Andrew Scheer’s party did commit to already-planned infrastructure projects, and their answers to the Mayors’ Council repeatedly note their promise to prioritize “those projects that reduce commute times.”
They also have promised to fund the Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, which would double the lanes at one of the major choke points for commuters heading to and from the South of the Fraser region.
The Greens, NDP, and Liberals are all on record as supporting some kind of permanent federal committment to transit funding. The Greens are promising $3.4 billion per years starting in 2028, once current transit funding expires. The Liberals are promising $3 billion more per year for cities on top of existing gas tax transfers. The NDP is offering “a permanent, direct, allocation-based funding mechanism for public transit” but has not named a specific dollar amount.
Local Conservative candidates have expressed strong support for the SkyTrain project reaching Langley.
“This is a high priority for our municipal leadership, so it needs to be a high priority for MPs who represent one of the largest metro areas in Canada,” Tamara Jansen, candidate in Cloverdale-Langley City wrote in response to a question from the Langley Advance Times. “As MP I will fight for predictable and stable funding for mass transit, including the SkyTrain expansion.”
The non-partisan Cure Congestion campaign was launched early this year by the Mayors’ Council in a bid to sway the federal parties into committing to ongoing funding.
Federal decisions on funding could impact when, or whether, SkyTrain reaches Langley.
Currently, there is only enough funding in place to extend the SkyTrain line down Fraser Highway to the Fleetwood neighbourhood in Surrey.
Extending the line to Langley City would cost billions more. TransLink has been lobbying for permanent federal funding for that project, as well as for extending a SkyTrain line all the way to UBC, adding five more rapid bus lines, creating a gondola to SFU on Burnaby Mountain, and accelerating the electrification of the bus fleet in Metro Vancouver.
TransLink estimates that one million new residents will arrive in Metro Vancouver in the next 20 years. That could mean 600,000 more vehicles on congested roads, and an overburdened transit system, according to the Mayors’ Council.