Metro Vancouver bus and SkyTrain service is expected to increase significantly in early 2017 if area mayors approve an expansion plan on Nov. 23.

TransLink plan now awaits green light from mayors

Vote set for Nov. 23 after mostly positive public feedback on service increases, funded by modestly higher fares, property taxes

TransLink’s new plan to raise property taxes, fares and create a new regional development surcharge to expand transit service appears to be on track to get final approval from Metro Vancouver mayors on Nov. 23.

That’s when the mayors’ council and TransLink board meet to consider the new investment plan, crafted to take advantage of the federal government’s more generous cost-sharing formula.

Public consultation wrapped up last Thursday on the planned funding sources and the specific proposals for rolling out more transit service in each part of the region, starting early in the new year.

RELATED: Metro Vancouver mayors push ahead with transit surge plan

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said she’s optimistic most mayors will approve the 10-year vision next week after receiving generally positive feedback from the public.

“I was pretty encouraged,” Hepner said. “Primarily what we heard was ‘Get on with it, we support what you’re doing, and we just really are looking for action.'”

The turnaround in fortunes for transit advocates has been swift despite the sales tax referendum defeat barely 15 months ago that some feared would freeze transportation investment indefinitely.

Instead, the new federal government pledged to fund half instead of the traditional one-third of major projects, reducing the regional share mayors had to find.

The plan leans on existing sources like property tax and fares, which mayors can raise without triggering another referendum under the legislation passed by the provincial government.

Public responses were mixed on the proposed property tax increase, which would add an extra $3 in TransLink property tax each year for the average assessed home, over and above automatic increases in property tax TransLink is able to levy each year.

More than 500 commenters opposed the fare hikes, saying the system is already expensive and any hikes would hurt low-income riders and potentially spur others to instead drive and add to road congestion.

“The message there was that it’s already a costly place to live and any increase in fares has to be done with great care and over a period of time,” Hepner said.

The proposed fare increases would require riders who now pay $2.10 for one zone of travel with stored value on a Compass card to pay $2.20 in 2017 and $2.40 by 2019. One zone monthly passes would climb from $91 to $98 over the same period. Fares were last raised in 2013.

The proposed development cost charge on new residential and commercial buildings would be designed to generate $20 million a year, although details have not yet been determined.

Some respondents said the 10 per cent transit service increase is good, but not enough.

Also proposed is a 15 per cent increase in HandyDart service and a 20 per cent boost for rail, including SkyTrain and West Coast Express.

MORE INFO: Phase 1 plan details

Many mayors are unhappy about being forced to raise TransLink property taxes, rather than use a different source.

But Hepner said she believes most will agree it’s worth it.

“What we we’re facing is we have this once in a lifetime opportunity of this money being available and we have to solve this. For $3 approximately per household, that’s worth the change.”

Assuming the first phase of the plan gets the green light, Metro mayors will still have to find more revenue in the months ahead to finance the second phase, under which major rapid transit extensions in Vancouver and Surrey would finally get built.

Hepner said it’s not yet clear whether those talks will focus on an option such as an annual vehicle levy, mobility pricing, or something else.

Phase One 10-Year Vision Public Consultation Display Boards by Jeff Nagel on Scribd

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kevin Fowler of Abbotsford won almost $57,000 in the Lotto 6/49 drawn from Aug. 15. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford man wins almost $57K in Lotto 6/49

Kevin Fowler matches five out of six numbers, using dog’s age and other numbers

Everett Silvertips’ Gage Gonclaves fights with Spokane Chiefs’ Filip Kral for the puck during the game on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mission’s Gage Goncalves invited to Hockey Canada’s World Juniors selection camp

Goncalves was recently drafted to the NHL in the 2nd round by the Tampa Bay Lightning

Mission firefighters in the process of hooking up a hose to a fire hydrant across the street. The fire was extinguished before it was needed. Patrick Penner photo.
Mission firefighters respond to house fire on Ferndale Avenue

Emergency scanners reported flames shooting out of bedroom window

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:56 a.m., Oct. 29.
TRAFFIC: Westbound Highway 1 crash between Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Left lane is blocked, traffic backed up to No. 3 Road

Staff at Lowe’s Canada stores contributed more than $2.1 million to charities across the nation through their Heroes Campaign. In Abbotsford and Mission, three charities received a total of more than $25,000. (Submitted photo)
Lowe’s Canada donates more than $25K to 3 local charities

Funds will support non-profits in Abbotsford and Mission

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Most Read