British Columbia

$1B rapid transit line suggested for Victoria

Greater Victoria residents will soon be asked if they want to spend close to $1 billon on a light rapid transit line.
A light rapid transit line like this one proposed in this artist's rendering for Vancouver's Broadway could be the right solution for Victoria, B.C. Transit says. (TransLink)

Greater Victoria residents will soon be asked if they want to spend close to $1 billion on a light rapid transit line.

The capital's transportation planners are recommending the construction of an LRT line running between downtown Victoria and the suburbs of Colwood and Langford.

The planners argue that expanding public transit by buying more buses isn't sustainable, given projected population growth and limited road space.

The LRT would take five years to build and could increase property taxes by an average $260 per household.

Despite the potential price shock, B.C. Transit President Manuel Achadinha believes it will be supported — and notes that the plan wasn't created in isolation.

"This isn't been led by transit," Achadinha said. "This has been holding hands with the Capital Regional District, with the province, and really looking at this region and saying, 'What does the future look like, and what does the public want it to look like.'"  

Planners acknowledge that light rapid transit has the highest up-front costs, compared to an investment in more buses and dedicated bus lanes.

However, LRT has the lowest long-term operating costs, meets provincial goals for greenhouse gas reductions and would be the fastest way to get to and from downtown, according to Achadinha.

B.C. Transit will host meetings in Victoria and Colwood next week to gauge public opinion on transit expansion.

With files from the CBC's Lisa Cordasco