Mayors’ Council Releases Voters’ Guide Summarizing Federal Party Positions on Public Transit

Three of the four main federal parties commit to a permanent transit fund  and measures to support electrification of buses to reduce GHG emissions

October 16, 2019 (New Westminster, B.C.) – The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation today released the Cure Congestion Federal Election Voters’ Guide, summarizing commitments to transit and transportation from the Conservative Party, Green Party, Liberal Party and New Democratic Party.

Along with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Mayors’ Council has called for a permanent transit fund as the best way to ensure Metro Vancouver and other Canadian cities can keep up with rapidly growing demand for transit service and to avoid congestion and overcrowding.

The Greens, Liberals and NDP have promised to introduce a permanent transit fund, to provide sustained federal investments beyond 2027 when current funding is set to expire. While the Liberals committed $3 billion per year and the Greens committed $3.4 billion respectively for a permanent fund, the NDP did not specify a funding commitment.

The Conservatives say they will honour investments in projects already committed by the current government, however they would extend spending on infrastructure over the next 15 years rather than 12 years, which would lead to a reduction in the overall federal funding available to build projects in the 10-Year Vision between now and 2027.

“While we had hoped that all parties would recognize the importance of making federal funding for transit permanent, we’re pleased that all of the parties have shown a willingness to invest in transit and that three out of four parties have stepped up to make a long-term commitment,” said Mayor Jonathan Cote, Chair of the Mayors’ Council. “Regardless of which party forms government, we look forward to working with them and hopefully seeing an increase in the federal commitment to transit so we can avoid congestion on our roads and transit system getting worse.”

The Mayors’ Council has an ambitious plan, the 10-Year Vision, to expand transit in Metro Vancouver to respond to surging ridership, to ready the region for one million more people moving here over the next 20 years, and to support Canada’s climate change targets.

 

Current funding commitments to TransLink from all levels of government – including federal funding up to 2027 – have been almost fully allocated to these projects that are part of the 10-Year Vision:

  • Extending SkyTrain along Broadway to Arbutus (Vancouver)
  • Planned upgrades to the existing Expo Line and Millennium Line
  • Extending SkyTrain along Fraser Highway to Fleetwood (Surrey)

All four parties have committed to continue these three existing projects. Yesterday, in response to questions about its understanding of the Fraser Highway SkyTrain project to Fleetwood, Conservative Party officials confirmed that the party would consider this project an existing commitment and would expedite its review to keep the project on schedule for a mid-2020 federal approval.

Projects at risk of delay if new transit funding commitments are not made beyond 2027 include the following projects remaining in the 10-Year Vision:

  • Extending SkyTrain to Langley
  • Extending Skytrain to UBC
  • Adding all 5 rapid bus lines that are part of the Phase Three Plan of the 10-Year Vision
  • Rapid transit on King George Boulevard
  • Electrification of TransLink’s bus fleet
  • Burnaby Mountain Gondola

The Green Party and Liberal Party commitments to permanent federal funding of at least $3 billion annually for public transit extending beyond 2027 would enable TransLink to proceed with the projects listed above. An NDP commitment at the same funding level would accomplish the same.

The Conservative platform states they will fund already-approved projects committed by the current government as well as new projects that “shorten commute times.” The replacement of the Massey Tunnel (which is not within the Mayors’ Council’s mandate) is the only example of a new Metro Vancouver project specifically listed by the Conservative Party.

The Mayors’ Council and FCM have also called for federal funding to accelerate the adoption of electric buses and other low-to-zero emission transit and municipal fleet vehicles. The Green Party, Liberal Party and new Democratic Party have each made commitments to investing in electrification of transit fleets.

“Transit ridership in Metro Vancouver is growing faster than anywhere else in North America and we simply won’t be able to keep up with public demand unless the next federal government remains at the table with regional and provincial governments as a major funding partner,” said Jack Froese, Vice Chair of the Mayors’ Council. “It is clear that residents of Metro Vancouver want to see more investment in transit, and we are grateful for the support of thousands of people who have engaged with our campaign and sent letters to MPs and candidates through the Cure Congestion website.”

The Cure Congestion Voters’ Guide represents the culmination of a six-month, non-partisan public outreach campaign by the Mayors’ Council, aimed at educating the region’s voters about Metro Vancouver’s transit expansion plans and ensuring transportation is a key issue in the lead up to the October 21st election. The Guide includes each party’s verbatim responses to four questions posed by the Mayors’ Council, as well as a fact-based summary of transit and transportation commitments in the party platforms.

The Cure Congestion federal election platform was released in spring 2019 with the support of local stakeholders including the Better Transit & Transportation Coalition, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, AMS Student Society of UBC, Kwantlen Student Association, BC Chamber of Commerce, North Vancouver Chamber, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, United Way of the Lower Mainland, HUB Cycling, BC Healthy Living Alliance, and the David Suzuki Foundation.

From May through September, more than 7,000 emails were sent by Metro Vancouver voters to candidates and MPs as a result of the Cure Congestion campaign.

About the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation

 

The Mayors’ Council is composed of representatives from each of the 21 municipalities within the transportation service region in Metro Vancouver, as well as Electoral Area ‘A’ and the Tsawwassen First Nation, and collectively represent the viewpoints and interests of the citizens of the region. The Mayors’ Council is responsible for appointing the majority of members on the TransLink Board of Directors. It approves transportation plans prepared by TransLink, which deal with transportation service levels, major capital projects, regional funding and borrowing limits.

 

Media Contacts:

media@mayorscouncil.ca // 1 844 366 2890

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