TransLink Mayors' Council proposes $7.5 billion, 10-year transportation expansion plan

SkyTrain SkyBridge Pattullo Bridge Fraser River Vancouver / Shutterstock

The Mayors’ Council that oversees TransLink has proposed a $7.5 billion regional transportation infrastructure expansion plan that will include expanded transit service and new bridges.

The plan was drafted over the last four months after BC Minister of Transportation Todd Stone announced that the Mayors’ Council would be given more authority over TransLink’s long-term planning.

As part of the lead-up to the upcoming referendum on funding for transit expansion, Stone also requested that the Mayors’ Council compile a single vision for Metro Vancouver’s regional transit system no later than the end of June 2014.

The plan tabled earlier today during a press conference consists of a new $2.1-billion light rail transit network in Surrey, a four-lane $1-billion replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, 11 new B-Line routes, 400 new buses to increase service by 25 per cent, and an 80 per cent increase in night bus services.

Specific new B-Lines will include major routes from downtown Vancouver to SFU via Hastings Street, downtown Vancouver to Southeast Marine Drive via Victoria Drive and Commercial Drive, Joyce Station to UBC via 41st Avenue, North Vancouver to downtown Vancouver via Lonsdale Avenue and the Lions Gate Bridge, Metrotown to Capilano University via Second Narrows Bridge, Richmond Brighouse Station to Metrotown via Knight Street Bridge, Surrey City Centre to Langley, and an extension of the existing 96 B-Line to White Rock.

There will also be an $2-billion, 5.1-kilometre underground extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line using tunnel boring methods, with the first phase consisting of six stations beginning from the existing VCC-Clark Station and ending at Arbutus Street via Broadway. A second future phase will complete the line’s route to UBC.

The SkyTrain Expo and Canada Lines as well as the West Coast Express will receive capacity upgrades. SeaBus service will also be increased by 50 per cent, increasing regular frequency to every 10 minutes.

“Moving forward with this plan after years of input is great news for Vancouver and our whole region. This 10-year plan clearly outlines the priorities for new transit investment that will cut congestion, grow our economy and expand transportation choices,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

“We need to prepare for more than one million more people moving into Metro Vancouver in the next 30 years. This plan addresses today’s challenges and lays the groundwork for the strong transportation network that we need to meet that new demand. We simply cannot afford to go backward with reduced transit service and crippling gridlock.”

Federal and provincial governments will be asked to cover $3.95 billion of the costs. The Mayors’ Council will also request the provincial government to direct $250 million of the provincial carbon tax towards covering the remaining budget. If the provincial government does not support this, the Mayors’ Council alternate option is to request for a raise in the carbon tax.

A toll will be placed on the Pattullo Bridge to cover its construction costs over time, and over the long term regional mobility tolling on major bridges and roads could be introduced as a means of funding transit while also reducing traffic congestion.

Full list of transportation expansions and improvements:

  • 25% increase in bus service across the region: Adding 400 more buses to the existing fleet of 1,830
  • 200 more kilometres of B-Line routes: 11 new limited-stop services that can be faster than driving
  • More frequent all-day service: More corridors with service every 15 minutes or better, seven days a week
  • More frequent peak-hour service: So that commuters spend less time waiting
  • 50% more SeaBus service: Every 10 minutes during peak hours, and 15 minutes the rest of the day
  • More service to new and growing lower-density neighbourhoods across the region
  • 80% more NightBus service: Increased service for those who need to get around late at night
  • 30% more HandyDART service: Improved service for those who cannot use transit without assistance
  • Upgrades to the Expo, Millennium and Canada Lines: 129 additional fleet vehicles and stations upgraded to meet growing demand
  • More West Coast Express service: 10 additional fleet vehicles and one new locomotive
  • 13 new or expanded transit exchanges across the region to serve growing demand and to make the system easier to use
  • 2,700 kilometres of bikeways, including 300 kilometres of fully traffic-separated routes
  • Better connections to transit through pedestrian improvements at or near transit stops and stations

Underground SkyTrain extension to Arbutus on Broadway

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Surrey Light Rail Transit

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The Plan (Infographic)

Featured Image: SkyTrain bridge via Shutterstock

About the author

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Kenneth Chan is Vancity Buzz's Deputy Editor and Social Media Manager. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, business, retail, economic development, infrastructure, politics or anything that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]

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  • guest

    Vancouver is an overpriced shithole.

  • RealityCheck

    Considering the overall cost of the rest of the big project mentioned, the North Shore should constitute 1/5 of the budget allocation. Do you currently see that with this proposal? Yet the tax base of the north shore is vastly higher than other areas getting more infrastructure upgrades. Yes I’m talking about doubling the bridge capacity because in the next 20 years the north shore population is supposed to DOUBLE also! And looking at traffic NOW, we have problems due to ignoring the North Shore’s road needs. The North Shore is NOT metro Vancouver, either in demographic makeup or vehicle ownership due to the type of living WE prefer to have with larger detached homes and less density. Given how many people from Vancouver cross over to go play at Cypress or Whistler the traffic from THEM is ALSO going to increase. Add it all up, and it has NOTHING to do with more transit. Period. So yes, we need all of my suggestions for those citizens too.

  • RealityCheck

    Specifically regarding the LionsGate, we need a sister bridge that is identical located directly beside it on the South. 3 lanes in each direction with a dedicated bus/HOV lane (NOT just bus). With proper design and re-engineering the current on/off ramps on the north shore it will drastically reduce congestion there. Additionally, there should be an on/off ramp directly north up onto Highway 1 directly, which will reduce congestion along Marine Drive. But that would take leadership from the mayors who don’t possess the stones to stand up to the Nimby’s for the greater good.

  • Brycon Slaughter Casey

    There is plenty of work in metro Vancouver.

    We have an unemployment rate of 5.5% in metro Vancouver which is one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada.

    Just pointing that out.

  • Donn

    “Do you have any idea how much money your proposals would cost?”
    This is the wrong question to be asking.

    If you want public transportation to work it needs to be available everywhere, be comfortable, allow one to sit, allow one to carry what reasonably needs to be carried (including luggage for walking travelers) and it should not be user pay. The cost to maintain cash collection, ticket production, ticket/card reading, along with bus drivers having to be enforcers, is high. It would be better to spend that money on actual direct service.

    The scarcity of cash in our system is false – cash is as we produce it, either through printing or minting. The cash in our system represents approximately 3 percent of the total currency – the other 97% existing as loans in the form of computer deposits. If one believes there is a shortage of cash, we should have the Bank of Canada produce what is needed, and spend it into the economy, or distribute it directly to citizens to spend. If one believes there is enough cash in the system already, who is holding it? Whoever it is should be made to spend it in ways that benefit society at large, or have it taken as some form of tax to balance the currency requirements to run the country. We either have enough money and it’s not distributed correctly to run the country, or we don’t have enough.

    Public infrastructure like transportation, healthcare, housing, etc are all good ways to introduce cash into the system. This is what provided the healthy growth of Canada following the second world war. The Bank of Canada was nationalized (becoming an asset of the people of Canada) and was used to fund public infrastructure. It was successful until corporate takeover of government, with Canada’s signing onto the IBS as one of the nails in sovereignty’s coffin.

    For those in cars and complaining of tolls – how is that any different than charging people to ride on buses. WE built the roads that you travel on and WE maintain them. I don’t agree with paying a user fee to ride a bus, I also don’t agree with charging a toll on roads and bridges (nor fees for riding the ferries). We need more jobs, we need higher wages so that everyone can afford to live beyond mere survival. As a businessperson, I need customers/clients with money to spend. When they have it, I benefit along with all other businesses, especially within my own community. Run more buses more often, hire more drivers and ensure their shifts allow them to work in a safe manner. All of us would benefit, even those who decide they still need to drive a car.

  • Dave

    Nothing for maple ridge. What are we paying for?

  • Dave

    Bike lanes ARE a waste, go look at the usage of the Hornby st lanes.

  • West Final

    Stopping rapid transit at Arbutus and not taking it to the university is the most embarrassing thing about this proposal. It’s the B movie of transit planning and the blockbuster of short-sightedness and cheapness. Bravo.

  • West Final

    Austin, your suburban/small town attitude is just the sort of thing that the powers that be are counting on. Many transit systems in the world (even in Canada e.g. Rosedale) run through all areas of the city not just working class or middle. Transit is taken by all walks of life in other countries. If this city and yes, this province wants to be taken seriously it should have world class transit or at least big city rapid transit going to UBC (and SFU for that matter). Taking a train and then a bus is what we have now. Finish the whole street for the future, now!

  • Fed Up.

    Three lanes on each side? Why so few?

  • Quasar

    Sorry Matt, but it’s a bit of a stretch to assert that bikeways (and bike lanes) are a good investment for BC. The relatively few who commute by bike frequently enough to make a measurable improvement in health likely won’t save BC much in the grand scheme of things. Furthermore, how many of these few committed bikers would be doing it anyway if there weren’t bikeways there to begin with? I gather quite a lot. Furthermore, how many of these committed bikers would be active in other ways if biking wasn’t an option? Again, I gather quite a lot. Yes, the bikeways “promote” bicycle commuting and that’s a simple concept to understand; however, the truth is we have no idea if this causes any measurable savings in health care costs for the entire province. Bike everyday if you please, just don’t jam this unfounded rhetoric down our throats.

  • captain irrelevant

    You’re a Vancouver citizen, too. If you don’t use the bike lanes, it becomes unused. Don’t blame the city for building something that’s unused.

  • James

    So now it’s everyone’s civic duty to ride a bike? What utter nonsense. There are many reasons why Vancouver isn’t a bikeable city; lack of bikes lanes isn’t one of them.

  • Gengar

    that’ll cut down on taxi usage slightly too with people hitting the clubs on fridays too

  • Gengar

    why can’t the last trains come at 2:30-3 instead of 1am?

  • captain irrelevant

    I ride my bike every day even through rain and fog 40 km to and back from work from Burnaby to Vancouver. Unless you’re handicapped, there’s no excuse to bike especially on warmer days like now. It’s because of people like you the traffic during rush hours is literally frozen, buses/transits are packed that I had to wait 2~3 buses to drive past and be late for wherever I’m going. The bike lane is there, you’re just not using it. Instead, you expect the government to put more money into the transit system, yet you complain about fare hikes. Get real and stop being a crybaby.

    If you’re going to wait for the government to do something nice for you, you’re going to have a bad time.

  • Matt Foulger

    It’s not just commuting by men in lycra. Bikeways make cycling far more accessible to families, senior citizens, and “regular” people. They make it safe for people to use a bike to go shopping, visit a friend, take their baby to the park, etc.

    Unsurprisingly, research does indicate that cycling reduces health care costs. If you’re interested in the studies, here’s an article to get you started.

    An excerpt:
    “When Dr. Meghan Winters, assistant professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University, used the tool to crunch some numbers for Toronto Public Health last year, she found that city’s cycling levels prevented 49 deaths per year, representing between $54 and $200 million in health care benefits.”

  • Matt Foulger

    I’m a huge proponent of public transit. I’m a transit advocate first, cycling second. And this ten year plan is a move in the right direction on transit. However, cycling and public transit are mutually reinforcing, not exclusive. They both reduce car dependency and are vital to a multimodal transportation strategy.

    If you’re interested in advocating for improved public transit without alienating some of your best allies, check out GetOnBoard BC, a pro-transit coalition that works with cyclists, not against them.

  • Matt Foulger

    Transit takes cars off the road and lets trucks move goods freely. That’s why the Port is in favor of transit investment. They don’t want their highways and roads clogged up with single occupancy cars.

    All forms of transportation are subsidized and not fully paid for by user fees. In fact, cars are the most subsidized form of transportation we have. But the key point is that, collectively, we’ve decided to subsidize transportation because it helps the overall economy (Is that assumption accurate? I don’t know).

    Tolling of roads, or road pricing, is a way for road users to pay more of the direct cost of their wear and tear on roads. Transit users pay for a portion of their transportation cost, through transit fares. Car drivers do pay a gas tax, but that tax does not cover the massive costs of highway and bridge construction/maintenance. With tolls, the price you pay better reflects your cost to the system.

    Of course, you’re already paying for those highways, through your income taxes. The existing system gives you the illusion that your highway use is free, but really you’re subsidizing people who drive more than you do.

  • James

    You’re a perfect example of exactly why people dislike cyclists. If you really ride your bike 40km a day (or did you mean 80km?) you’re part of a very, very, VERY small minority of an already very small minority of people who have the time, physical ability and type of work that allows them to commute by bike, or who have the luxury of living close enough to work or school to even make that feasible. For the vast majority of people commuting by bike every day is not an option, and your claim that it’s because people drive cars that the transit system is such a mess is simply laughable.

  • captain irrelevant

    So people dislike cyclists like me because I cycle everyday, wow, most people must be a-holes. If you think I’m those cyclists wearing spandex riding through red-lights, don’t assume. I dress normally riding my Walmart road bike. I know those d-bags, I dislike them too. Unless you work in construction, factory labour, or the fact that you have to commute from Surrey to downtown, or possibly that you have newborn babies, then you’re just finding excuses.

    The first day I rode my bike to work, I blacked out after hopping off my bike right there at the bike lockers. Now I ride it like a walk in the park. Time? Did you know that it takes me almost an hour to get to work via transit but only 35 mins to bike? Then there’s also the fact that I have to allot even more time just to walk to the station/stop and possibly not being able to get on 2~3 buses that will most likely be late. Cars that make the traffic terrible? Why actually yes. Would you like me to tally the number of 1-person cars next time I ride to work?

    I won’t argue that the transit routes aren’t the best. There’s a reason why I stopped taking the transit. I’m tired of waiting for “good news” from Translink. Like I said, if you’re sitting around waiting for the city to build something nice, good luck with that, you’re going to need it.

  • James

    No, I meant people dislike cyclists who, like you, make ridiculous sweeping statements claiming that everybody else has no excuse for not riding a bike and is somehow a bad citizen if they don’t. But it’s nice to hear that you’re an another vanishingly small minority (of cyclists who actually follow the rules of the road).

    As for your claims about cars being the cause of transit problems, you have no idea what you’re talking about. To begin with, trolley buses travel on average at about 15km/hr, and regular buses at about 20km/hr. This is the nature of those particular beasts: trolley buses just aren’t designed to travel very fast, and buses have to make frequent stops. In fact, far from cars holding up buses, it’s buses that are holding up the rest of the traffic, a situation that is worsened by the idiotic placement of stops at major intersections. On average regular vehicle traffic is more than twice as fast as a diesel bus and more than three times faster than a trolley.

    Of course, Sky Train travels at an average of 40km/hr, but it doesn’t serve the entire city. So let’s assume you’re one of the thousands of people who commute to UBC each day from the outskirts of the city. If you want to take public transit, first you have to get to Commercial and Broadway and wait for the 99. From there, that “express” bus takes easily 40 minutes to arrive at the university. Factor in your travel time to Commercial and the time you spend waiting for the bus, and even someone who lives near the Drive can easily take well over an hour to make that trip. A person riding a bike would easily take a similar amount of time. Most average people will take about 40 minutes to ride just over 14km (the distance from Commercial and Broadway to the UBC Bus Loop), plus you have to factor in the additional time to get from wherever you live to near the starting point, and the time to lock up your bike, and to change your clothes and possibly to shower as well, so you’re easily facing a one hour commute. If you drive, on the other hand, you can expect to make it door to door in 30 minutes.

    You’ve saved at least an hour of commuting time in just one day by driving versus taking the bus or cycling, and that doesn’t even begin to factor in issues like (to mention just two): it’s harder to transport anything by bus or bike; and it’s more inconvenient and adds significant extra time if you need to do anything other than travel directly to and from your workplace/school, such as grocery shopping or banking or other errands.

  • captain irrelevant

    So, you’re saying 10 people on one bus slows down traffic significantly more than 10 people driving 10 cars. On my commute to work, other than near highschool / elementary vicinity, I pretty much only see one person in 8 out of the 10 cars. Next time you’re stuck in slow moving traffic, count the number of cars vs the number of buses. Stops at major intersection is the logical thing to do, isn’t it? If people are to transfer, you expect them to get booted off at a non-major intersection and force them to walk and most likely miss their transfer bus? Trolley buses are slow, but name me one major road with only one lane and you can’t get around a trolley bus? Oh right, you can’t get around it because of all the other one person cars in the other lanes. Also, on average one bus shows up every 10 minutes.

    You forget that with bikes you don’t have to take major roads. You’re assuming that if I were to ride to UBC, I’d be taking Broadway with a buttload of traffic. But I wouldn’t, I’d take 10th or 8th where you don’t get as many long waiting traffic lights. I also don’t have to “get to the starting point” because I can take a short cut through back alleys or residential streets. 30 minutes by driving is if you assume there’s absolutely no traffic. I ride to work at the hospital right past all the cars stuck in traffic. Then you have to park at the parkade, slugging your way through Wesbrook Mall with all the students walking about. Whereas a bike brings you right to your building you want and you lock up right in front of building. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying biking is always faster, but with rush hour traffic, cycling is never affected. I know people who drive 5 mins to work. You really believe the percentage of Vancouver population that doesn’t live close to work or have other reasons that can’t cycle to work to be 99%? Because I see less than 1% of people cycling on the road every day.

    Okay, I can see the inconvenience of grocery shopping or banking, but you really have other errands every day? I do half of my grocery shopping with my bike, and every banking trip via my bike, but I can definitely see the inconvenience so I won’t push that one on. But between spending money on bus fare, parking tickets, and gas money. I’d rather expend a little time and energy to get to work for free and hassle-free.

    Look man, all I’m saying is. if it gets cold, you put a jacket on. If it gets warm, you drink some cold water. I’m not going to sit around waiting for somebody to cater to me.