Buzzer logo

TransLink news, commentary, and behind-the-scenes stories.

New federal funding helps expand our fleet and service!

New federal funding helps expand our fleet and service!

Stockwell Day, Canada's Minister of Public Safety, gets behind the wheel of one of our low-floor diesel buses. Minister Day attended our event on behalf of John Baird, the Transport and Infrastructure Minister.
Stockwell Day, Canada's Minister of Public Safety, gets behind the wheel of one of our low-floor diesel buses. Minister Day attended our event on behalf of John Baird, the Transport and Infrastructure Minister.

We held an event at the SeaBus maintenance centre today, and federal and municipal leaders helped us announce $186.4 million in new federal Gas Tax funding for TransLink over the next two years!

The new funding will support the purchases of:

  • 146 conventional buses
  • 34 articulated trolley buses
  • 23 Community Shuttles
  • 55 HandyDART buses
  • 38 SkyTrain Mark II cars

As well, in 2009, the funding will provide $10 million for the $54 million SkyTrain Operations and Maintenance Centre expansion, and in 2010, the new Maintenance and Transportation Training Centre (MTTC) in Maple Ridge will receive $50 million of the nearly $165 million cost.

You can grab the full press release and backgrounder here for more info.

TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast speaks at the event.
TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast speaks at the event.

So far, we’ve received funding from the federal Gas Tax Revenue Fund for three years, since the program started in 2005. The fund sent gas tax money back to the provinces and supported capital projects that promote sustainability across the country. The Union of BC Municipalities has been instrumental in earmarking that funding for transportation in our region.

Minister Day gets mobbed by the media!
Minister Day gets mobbed by the media!

In the first three years of the program, we received $122.7 million, which bought us:

  • 50 standard-sized buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG)
  • 361 standard clean diesel buses
  • 16 60’ articulated clean diesel buses
  • 21 60’ CNG articulated diesel buses 60′ articulated hybrid diesel buses
  • 9 standard highway coaches

That funding let us add 220 more buses and replace 232 buses that had reached the end of their service lives. Plus, we were able to introduce low-floor accessible Nova buses to North Vancouver, and increase long-range bus service between downtown Vancouver and areas like White Rock, Boundary Bay and Steveston.

The federal and municipal leaders on hand to help us announce the new funding.
The federal and municipal leaders on hand to help us announce the new funding.

So, a big thanks to the federal government for their ongoing support of transportation in our region!

The view from the SeaBus.
The view from the SeaBus.

And last, here’s a gratuitous skyline shot from the SeaBus. Yes, I rode transit all the way to the event! Don’t you just love that our transit system involves boating on the open seas?

Edit:

After reading some of the comments and asking a few questions myself, I have a few clarifications about this new funding and how they relate to the vehicle orders. (I wrote this all out in the comments below too.)

To make sure we had buses and SkyTrain cars for our planned expansion, we had to make the orders more than a year ago. So that’s why we have been talking about those extra cars and buses coming down the pipeline already. We needed those vehicles so we made the order.

However, payment for those new buses and SkyTrain cars, however, was not precisely nailed down. We anticipated paying for the new vehicles the federal money from the gas tax fund, but until now, we weren’t quite certain how much exactly we would get to cover those costs. Now, we know exactly how much we’ve got ($186M) and we can now tell you exactly where it’s going to be spent (paying for all those buses and SkyTrain cars listed above). The event on Thursday was just a formal announcement to mark this contribution.

The obvious question now is: what if we didn’t get the federal gas tax funding? Well, that’s actually kind of the wrong question — we always knew we would get the federal gas tax money, it was just a question of how much. Since we needed the vehicles and they had such a long turnaround time, we had to make those orders over a year ago so they would arrive in 2009. But we knew the federal funding was definitely going to be there in some large way, and then we would cover the rest. And here we are today with $186M of our capital costs covered, thanks to the federal government.

I hope this makes sense! Thanks to the federal government again!