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New federal and provincial funding for transit

Hey, the federal and provincial governments announced $280 million in new funding for transit this morning! Thanks, senior government partners — it’s good to see more investment in transit!

Check out the press release and backgrounder from the provincial government. Here’s the key explanation from the news release:

Lower Mainland transit users will benefit from SkyTrain and West Coast Express enhancements, thanks to a partnership between the Government of Canada, the Province of B.C. and TransLink, announced Premier Gordon Campbell, Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and TransLink Chair Dale Parker.

Through this partnership, the Government of Canada and the Province of B.C. have identified several major transit projects, valued at $280 million, as priorities for infrastructure funding.

The federal government is setting aside up to $88.3 million, which will amount to a maximum of 33 per cent of eligible costs for the selected transit projects. The BC government is contributing over $118 million, with the balance coming from TransLink and local government partners.

And from the backgrounder, here’s where the money will specifically go:

Included under the $280 million investment are

SkyTrain Improvements

  • Station expansion (Expo Line): $133.3 million, including Main St. and Scott Road.
  • Additional SkyTrain cars: $75 million
  • Expo Line upgrades: $7 million

West Coast Express Improvements

  • Increase in West Coast Express capacity: $27.7 million. Purchase seven additional cars and upgrade 2 stations.

Other Transit System Improvements

  • Improvements to regional transit maintenance facilities: $36.5 million.

And in case you’re wondering: no, this new funding doesn’t actually alleviate our financial deficit situation any. This funding provides us with new money that is earmarked to pay for this new infrastructure, but the operating costs of this new infrastructure and the existing system still fall to us. (For a bus, operating costs are actually 90 per cent of their lifetime costs.)

And yes, we do still have to come up with the TransLink side of the funding for these initiatives, which we’ll consult you about in the upcoming months.

But still, hurrah — this is great news for SkyTrain and West Coast Express! And the new Fleet Overhaul home in Maple Ridge!


  • By flo, March 20, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

    Interesting fact that the operating cost of a bus is 90% of the lifetime cost! Do you know what is the ratio of the operating cost of TransLink comparing to the fair revenue?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 20, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

    Hrm… well, from our 2007 annual report, fare revenue is about a third of our revenue.

    But in our list of expenditures, operating costs for last year are all lumped in under “Transit,” which makes up about 75% of our expenditures.

    Check out the rest of that annual report for the specific capital vs. operating costs… I don’t have them off the top of my head!

  • By DC, March 22, 2009 @ 12:49 am

    Umm… getting extra capacity is nice, but will the operating costs be figured out by then? It’s like GM and CAW duking it out trying to survive with concessions… there’s only so much tax the public can afford… Translink is no different from the troubled auto makers.

  • By Dan, March 22, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

    I remember talking to a SkyTrain manager 4 years ago about the Main St Stn Upgrade and they had the money back then. As well Will the $75 million mean an extra 40 or so Mark II coaches or are they the ones that have already been ordered? As well what WCE stations will be upgraded? I know Port Haney Stn has new Security gates, A new “TransLink” paint job. As well as new signs. and around 16 brand new security cameras all over the station. Im just curious why some of the stations were repainted 2 years ago with “purple BC Transit” Paint scheme then just not even a year later repainted again to the TransLink paint scheme. Im just really wondering if it is money well spent. And there is rumor that the WCE cars will be getting another paint job with the TransLink blue paint instead of the current Purple from when it was introduced in 1995 with BC Transit.

  • By Shane, March 22, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

    I’m also wondering what the Station expansion is. Is this the lengthening of the platforms to accommodate 6-car MARK II trains? And, yes – are these new SkyTrain cars or is this another re-announcement of the cars coming this year?

  • By Dan, March 23, 2009 @ 9:01 am

    The upgrades i remember hearing for Main St Station was a Second Elevator, escalator, more retail stores, and all glass coverings. and i think better lighting. I can’t remember if that plan has changed.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 23, 2009 @ 9:06 am

    Well, that’s the focus of all this tax talk going on these days — we’re trying to figure out just how to cover those operating costs. Nothing has been set in stone yet, and a more in-depth consultation with the public will begin by the end of the month on how those costs should be covered.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, March 23, 2009 @ 11:25 am

    Shane: I think by “station expansion,” the provincial government actually meant the upgrades needed by the Expo Line stations, as identified by a study from 2007. I don’t actually know the specifics of the Main St upgrade but I’ll see if I can find those out.

    As for the SkyTrain cars — it’s not a reannouncement. This money is actually for more cars over and above the 48 coming in. However, I don’t know if we can actually say exactly how many more we’ll be ordering. It’s up in the air because TransLink has to come up with our own percentage of the funding — you probably noticed that the federal funding can only provide up to 33% of the costs of the programs we’ve identified. Long story short: if we don’t raise much more funding to match the federal/provincial dollars, it affects how many SkyTrain cars we can actually order in the end.

  • By Jim, September 18, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

    Hi Jhenifer,

    I was thinking about the transit funding issue and how we might aquire money for the system and had a really great idea and thought I would post it and maybe you could pass it onto the powers that be. The idea is to create some sort of bonds that translink could sell to people that would be like war bonds that were sold during the great wars such as WW2. I think this would be good as people could invest personal money into the system and any profits that are generated come back to the people. Just thought I would pop this idea in just in case no one has thought of it yet!

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