British Columbia

Mayors' Council unanimously votes to consider SkyTrain extension to UBC

The University of British Columbia is looking at the possibility of a long-awaited Skytrain extension but questions remain about how much the project will cost and who will pay.

Report this week from TransLink staff says extended SkyTrain line is best option for transit to university

A report by TransLink staff said SkyTrain would be the most reliable option for transit to the UBC campus. (CBC)

The TransLink Mayors' Council is looking into a new report that says an extended SkyTrain line would be the best way to improve transit to the University of British Columbia.

The report, drafted by TransLink staff, was presented to the Mayors' Council Thursday morning and will be considered further at the next meeting. 

"We had an unanimous vote here today to accept this report which is a great step forward," said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart after the meeting. 

"I'm super chuffed about this and I think people in the region should be very excited."

Students at UBC line up to board the bus on campus this week. The report says an optimized B-Line bus service would be overcrowded by 2030. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

The report, released earlier this week, looked at different transit options as well as ridership demand forecasts.

Other options including light rail and bus were axed based on predictions that they would be over capacity within the next 15 years.

Who pays?

An extended SkyTrain line won't be cheap, though.

The report estimated that extending the line beyond Arbutus Street to UBC would cost between $3.3 billion and $3.8 billion, before inflation.

Stewart said Thursday's meeting is the first step to getting the project on track.

"If we make it through these couple of votes over the next weeks, we'll have the experts come back to us and say exactly how much money we need," he told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition.

"Then everybody can sit down and get their pencils out and decide how much they can contribute."

The SkyTrain extension would still need to be approved by the Mayors' Council and the City of Vancouver before a funding plan is developed. 

UBC willing to pitch in

UBC is currently home to around 24,000 residents, while thousands of staff and students travel to and from campus daily daily — most of them along the Broadway corridor, which is currently serviced by a B-Line express bus.

Michael White, associate vice-president of campus and community planning at the university, said UBC is prepared to pitch in financially to accelerate the project.  

"The university is willing to contribute to the regional share of the line's extension, not using academic funding, but using funding that would be generated from new revenue from the introduction of the line to the university," White said.  

Stewart said he doesn't want a UBC expansion to be funded by a public-private partnership, like the Canada Line was.

"My very, very strong preference is to have it as a public project," Stewart said.

"Most of the money is going to have to come from the federal and provincial governments."

Stewart said he's planning to discuss the project idea at the Big City Mayors' caucus in Ottawa next week and push for funding from other levels of government.  

The University of British Columbia is looking at the possibility of a long-awaited Skytrain extension but questions remain about how much the project will cost and who will pay. 6:57

With files from The Early Edition and Jon Hernandez

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