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On Evergreen Line funding and more: TransLink’s potential 2011 supplemental plan

On Evergreen Line funding and more: TransLink’s potential 2011 supplemental plan

A slide highlighting TransLink's priorities, from the presentation given to councillors and mayors on Thursday, October 7, 2010.

Yesterday, TransLink made a presentation about its future plans and possible funding sources, which has prompted quite a discussion lately. So I thought I’d take a little time to let you know where this news is coming from and what is slated to happen next.

Where did the news come from?

First, the news about the proposal came out because TransLink made a presentation to the region’s mayors and councillors on Thursday, October 7, 2010.

You can read the the full presentation here — I highly encourage you to, as it has a ton of detail—but I’ll cover some background in some bullets below.

  • First, you need to know a bit about TransLink’s long-term planning process. By law, we are required to come up with a base plan every year that states how we will operate for the next three years, plus an outlook on services for the next seven years. The first three years of this base plan must be fully funded by our current revenue streams. If we want to spend beyond this base plan—to expand, for example—we are allowed by law to come up with supplemental plans, which then must be approved by our Board, reported on by the Regional Transportation Commissioner, and approved by the Mayors’ Council. With a supplemental plan, we have to explain exactly where we’ll get our funding from, and we need to outline what we are going to spend it on.
  • So, TransLink made this presentation on Thursday to the councillors and mayors to let them know we are thinking about a possible 2011 supplemental plan to fund the Evergreen Line, North Fraser Perimeter Road Phase 1, and other projects around the region. Since we have to specify funding sources, the main vehicle suggested is property tax. As you might know, TransLink only has access to a limited number of funding sources—basically fares, fuel tax, property tax, and transfers from senior government. We’ve raised fares, fuel tax, and property tax in the past year to reach our current funding, which preserves our current system.
  • TransLink performed a detailed analysis to prioritize projects in the region, based on which ones bring us closer to our Transport 2040 goals, and which ones best fit our supplemental goals — ie: projects that would be a lost opportunity if we don’t do them now, which make best use of our resources, and more. (See page 8 of the presentation PDF for full criteria.)
  • Based on the analysis, two possible plans present themselves. Option A plans for the Evergreen Line Program and North Fraser Perimeter Road Phase 1—it would cost $31 a year per household, or $39 million annually. Option B includes the items from Option A, plus a host of other regional investments in transit, roads, and cycling—it would cost $54 a year per household, or $68 million annually. See page 15 of the presentation PDF for the full details.

Why present this now? And what are the next steps?

Why present this now? Well, by law, we have to do a public consultation on the supplemental plan, before we present it for approval to our Board later this fall. The plan then goes to review by the Regional Transportation Commissioner, and then approval by the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation afterward.

Consultation on these possible supplemental plans will start on October 15, 2010. You’ll be able to talk to our staff or answer a questionnaire about the proposed supplement at one of our Transportation Fairs. We’ll also have an online version of the questionnaire—I’ll post a link once it’s on our website.

So, that’s where we sit! Nothing’s been approved or rejected yet—we will see how the public, the Board, the Regional Transportation Commissioner, and the Mayors’ Council respond in the future.