Expo Line SkyTrain extension to Fleetwood could face delays due to COVID-19
VANCOUVER -- The plan to extend SkyTrain's Expo Line from King George Station into Fleetwood in Surrey has hit a roadblock as a result of the financial impacts of COVID-19 being felt across all levels of government, as well as at TransLink.
A business case for the extension was approved by Metro Vancouver's mayors' council earlier this year. TransLink was hoping the provincial and federal governments would approve the project by the end of May, with a new investment plan update expected this summer.
But the economic impact of the pandemic is now raising questions about funding the $1.63 billion extension, which would run seven kilometres, with plans to eventually extend it further into Langley in a later phase.
TransLink said it had planned to fund 20 per cent of the first phase of the project, while 40 per cent was to be funded by the province and the remaining 40 per cent was to come from the federal government. The business case for the project was still with senior levels of government for approval, however.
A staff report submitted to TransLink indicates the timeline changed when the pandemic struck.
"It was decided that delivering a Phase 2 investment plan update in July was no longer feasible due to uncertainties in projecting future revenues," the report submitted by TransLink’s transportation planning and policy vice-president Geoff Cross said.
"The pandemic has forced TransLink to consider a new path to approval for (the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain) and several key questions must first be addressed."
The report indicates TransLink is working with the province to examine "options to increase the senior government cost-sharing formula for major projects as a component of a senior government relief package."
However, the report does indicate the business case for the extension is still sound.
"The scope could readily scale with additional funding. However, it is fiscally prudent to wait until the nature and magnitude of emergency relief and stimulus programs is more certain," it said.
At this point it appear the extension will face some kind of delay.
Construction was set to begin in 2022.
The issue will be discussed Thursday at the mayors' council on regional transportation meeting, which is being held by teleconfernece due to the pandemic.