Premier says project to revolutionize how B.C. designs communities



rafe arnott/metro vancouver


Premier Gordon Campbell, flanked by Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon, announces $14 billion for sweeping changes to the province’s transit infrastructure. It is the largest transportation announcement in British Columbia’s history.

It’s no longer a question of building either the Evergreen Line to Coquitlam or expanding the Millennium Line to UBC — the province is doing both, and a whole lot more to boot.

The sweeping $14-billion transit plan unveiled yesterday aims to double the number of transit riders through expanded rapid transit and new rapid buses while reducing greenhouse gases.

"The transit plan will be a critical component of how we design our cities, our communities, our province," said Premier Gordon Campbell. "It’s how we move people. How we provide them with choices."

Key points of the plan include:

  • $10.3 billion for the Canada and Evergreen lines and the expansion of existing Expo and Millennium lines to UBC and Guildford.

  • $1.2 billion for nine new "RapidBus" systems, including seven in the Lower Mainland. The fast buses, depicted in artist sketches as double-deckers, would have their own dedicated lanes and traffic-light priority.

  • $1.6 billion for 1,500 clean energy buses — like hydrogen fuelled and diesel-electric hybrids — across the province, doubling the number of buses in the Lower Mainland.

The investments should reduce travel time on trips from Coquitlam to the airport by 25 minutes and from Surrey to UBC by 15 minutes, Campbell said.

The expanded transit system will increase the number of new transit trips to 400 million a year — double what it is today. Also, the number of car trips is expected to decrease by 150 million a year — resulting in a cumulative reduction in greenhouse gases of 4.7 million tonnes by 2020.

NDP transportation critic Maurine Karagianis said most of the plan’s solutions are 10 to 20 years away and offer little for today’s commuters on overcrowded buses and trains.

Campbell said the plan includes $11.1 billion worth of new funding. The province will fund $4.75 billion, or about 40 per cent. The rest will come from TransLink, local and federal governments.

Campbell also said the funding is budgeted for and will not be dependant on a carbon tax that will likely be included in the Feb. 19 budget. Wherever plausible, he added, public-private partnerships will be pursued.

funding for province’s $14B transit plan

  • B.C., $4.75 billion

  • Canada, $3.1 billion

  • TransLink, $2.75 billion

  • Municipalities, $500 million