Metro Vancouver bus and SkyTrain service is expected to increase significantly in early 2017 if area mayors approve an expansion plan on Nov. 23.

TransLink plan now awaits green light from mayors

Vote set for Nov. 23 after mostly positive public feedback on service increases, funded by modestly higher fares, property taxes

TransLink’s new plan to raise property taxes, fares and create a new regional development surcharge to expand transit service appears to be on track to get final approval from Metro Vancouver mayors on Nov. 23.

That’s when the mayors’ council and TransLink board meet to consider the new investment plan, crafted to take advantage of the federal government’s more generous cost-sharing formula.

Public consultation wrapped up last Thursday on the planned funding sources and the specific proposals for rolling out more transit service in each part of the region, starting early in the new year.

RELATED: Metro Vancouver mayors push ahead with transit surge plan

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said she’s optimistic most mayors will approve the 10-year vision next week after receiving generally positive feedback from the public.

“I was pretty encouraged,” Hepner said. “Primarily what we heard was ‘Get on with it, we support what you’re doing, and we just really are looking for action.'”

The turnaround in fortunes for transit advocates has been swift despite the sales tax referendum defeat barely 15 months ago that some feared would freeze transportation investment indefinitely.

Instead, the new federal government pledged to fund half instead of the traditional one-third of major projects, reducing the regional share mayors had to find.

The plan leans on existing sources like property tax and fares, which mayors can raise without triggering another referendum under the legislation passed by the provincial government.

Public responses were mixed on the proposed property tax increase, which would add an extra $3 in TransLink property tax each year for the average assessed home, over and above automatic increases in property tax TransLink is able to levy each year.

More than 500 commenters opposed the fare hikes, saying the system is already expensive and any hikes would hurt low-income riders and potentially spur others to instead drive and add to road congestion.

“The message there was that it’s already a costly place to live and any increase in fares has to be done with great care and over a period of time,” Hepner said.

The proposed fare increases would require riders who now pay $2.10 for one zone of travel with stored value on a Compass card to pay $2.20 in 2017 and $2.40 by 2019. One zone monthly passes would climb from $91 to $98 over the same period. Fares were last raised in 2013.

The proposed development cost charge on new residential and commercial buildings would be designed to generate $20 million a year, although details have not yet been determined.

Some respondents said the 10 per cent transit service increase is good, but not enough.

Also proposed is a 15 per cent increase in HandyDart service and a 20 per cent boost for rail, including SkyTrain and West Coast Express.

MORE INFO: Phase 1 plan details

Many mayors are unhappy about being forced to raise TransLink property taxes, rather than use a different source.

But Hepner said she believes most will agree it’s worth it.

“What we we’re facing is we have this once in a lifetime opportunity of this money being available and we have to solve this. For $3 approximately per household, that’s worth the change.”

Assuming the first phase of the plan gets the green light, Metro mayors will still have to find more revenue in the months ahead to finance the second phase, under which major rapid transit extensions in Vancouver and Surrey would finally get built.

Hepner said it’s not yet clear whether those talks will focus on an option such as an annual vehicle levy, mobility pricing, or something else.

Phase One 10-Year Vision Public Consultation Display Boards by Jeff Nagel on Scribd

Just Posted

Smith says growing transit in Delta about ‘more than just more buses’

Smith worked for Coast Mountain Bus Company for 28 years and is the president of Unifor Local 2200

Delta’s Burns Bog Conservation Society celebrates 30 years

Executive director Eliza Olson recalls her time at the helm of the grassroots organization

Delta council candidates discuss housing caps at Tsawwassen debate

The only meeting to feature just councillor hopefuls saw 17 of 20 candidates discussing Delta issues

White Rock ‘candidates’ discuss water, highrises at mock debate

White Rock South Surrey Stroke Recovery Branch members debated civic issues Thursday

ELECTION QUESTIONS: Are civic elections less important than federal and provincial elections?

No? Then why is voter turnout typically lower? Academics provide some reasons why

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

North Delta happenings: week of Oct. 18

Events, courses and clubs listing for North Delta

B.C. woman looks to reduce stigma surrounding weed-smoking moms

Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, started weedmama.ca to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers

B.C. teen gives away tickets to Ellen Degeneres show, plans O Canada welcome

The Grade 9 student wanted to give away tickets in the spirit of inclusivity

Canada’s top general takes aim at new reports of military sexual assault

Gen. Jonathan Vance is unhappy some troops continue to ignore his order to cease all sexual misconduct

Online fundraiser to cover funeral costs of motorcyclist killed in collision

Larry Nizio, 37, died after crash with pickup truck Oct. 12 in Abbotsford

Ignoring climate change poses potential catastrophe for B.C.

Fisheries scientist says ‘extraordinary challenges’ in water management lie ahead

B.C. grow ops left in legal weeds post-legalization

“I think people are going to get a big surprise that it’s not going to change things much.”

Most Read