The Metro Vancouver mayors' council has approved a $7.5 billion, 10-year transportation plan aimed at anticipating future growth and easing gridlock on the Lower Mainland
It calls for a new four-lane, tolled Pattullo Bridge and rapid transit to Surrey, paid for in part by a proposed new "mobility tax."
Entitled Regional Transportation Investments — a Vision for Metro Vancouver, the plan lays out a long-term transportation vision for the region that includes:
- construction of a new four-lane Pattullo Bridge that would be tolled
- underground extension (tunnelled) of Millennium Line down Broadway to Arbutus Street
- light rail to Surrey in the plan's first seven years and to Langley Centre in first 12 years
- 11 new express buses over the next 30 years
- SeaBus service increased 50 per cent
- increased capacity for West Coast Express (10 new cars and one new locomotive by 2024)
- 25 per cent more buses
New funding sought
The mayors are proposing that the plan — which must be approved by the province — be funded through a combination of the B.C. carbon tax, region-wide tolls and a new kind of tax: so-called mobility pricing, which would charge motorists based on the distance they drive.
According to the plan, that tax would raise about half the money required to fund the new transportation. The rest would come from other levels of government.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says it's a good plan.
"Moving forward with this plan after years of input is great news for Vancouver and our whole region," he said.
"This 10-year plan clearly outlines the priorities for new transit investment that will cut congestion, grow our economy and expand transportation choices."
Robertson says more than a million people are expected to move to Metro Vancouver in the next 10 years.
Under the plan, SkyTrain's Millennium Line would be extended from VCC-Clark to Arbutus Street and would be tunnelled, not cut and covered.
Even though the plan does not bring SkyTrain all the way to UBC, the university still supports it, but says it wants to work on an extension to UBC "as soon as possible."
In Surrey, new light rail transit service would be introduced along King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue between Guildford, Surrey City Centre and Newton within the first seven years of the plan, and along the Fraser Highway between Surrey City Centre and Langley Centre within the first 12 years.
The plan also calls for a 25 per cent increase in Lower Mainland buses with 11 more express B-line bus routes.