Voters in the Vancouver, B.C., region don’t want to pay more for transit opportunities. And now government officials throughout metro Vancouver and British Columbia aren’t quite sure how to take the next step for transit.
Voters rejected—to a tune of 61.7 percent—a half-a-percentage-point sales tax increase to fund at $7.5-billion decade-long plan to keep transit flowing in the region. Without that money, not only is TransLink unsure of how to continue operating, but also the system’s plans to pursue expansion take a hit without the needed funding.
But that hasn’t stopped some government officials from saying light rail will still come to their city—or see an expansion there. And they’ll find their own way of doing it.
In Surrey, for example, private partners have expressed an interest, according to The Vancouver Sun, of funding light rail, while Vancouver has debt-funding options to expand transit.
According to voting rules in Canada, with the voters rejecting the tax increase, the government and TransLink can’t ask for more money from the locals until 2018.
Feeling in the Lower Mainland of B.C. isn’t in favor of TransLink. Public opinion has risen against the agency created by the B.C. government, upset with public mistakes and inflated salaries for leaders. With mayors from nearly two dozen different municipalities offering an array of opinions—many of the mayors claim their say in the transportation structure holds too little weight—often those opinions go public and don’t help the public perception of the transportation authority.
TransLink is currently implementing its Evergreen Extension, connecting Coquitlam and Port Moody to Burnaby and Vancouver. Plans are also moving forward on two rapid transit projects for service in Vancouver to help in high-demand areas.
The 10-year vision introduced in 2014 includes an extension to the Millennium SkyTrain Line and 27 km of light rail service in Surrey, the portion that Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said during the campaign the city would go alone on, if needed.
At this point, going it alone appears quite needed.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.