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Feds to invest $1.37B in Broadway subway, Surrey LRT
The federal government will chip in $1.37 billion to help fund two major Metro Vancouver transit projects, the prime minister announced.
Speaking to media in Surrey Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the dollar amount earmarked for the Surrey LRT and Broadway subway. The province will also contribute, bringing the total pool to $3 billion. TransLink and the cities of Vancouver and Surrey will put in another $1.23 billion.
The announcement came two months after local mayors broke down the funding for their long-term transit plan, which included the 40 per cent share coming from the federal government.
When asked why the funding was being announced again and whether the set up was just a photo op, the prime minister answered: "On the contrary. What we're doing right now is making sure in advance of the municipal elections everyone understands that we've locked in this funding for the next 10 years."
The premier echoed the sentiment, and said this was his first announcement on the LRT and Broadway line.
The projects have already been approved, but after months of contentious back-and-forth about the Kinder Morgan expansion, the news conference gave the leaders an opportunity to prove they can work together.
"By having two mayors here from Vancouver and Surrey, the prime minister and myself and our colleagues, sends a symbol of co-operation on how we can build a better B.C. and a better Canada and I'm very excited about that," Premier John Horgan said.
Cities are considering several ways to raise their portion, including a possible gas tax hike.
The Broadway subway will add six stops to the region's rapid transit network spanning a distance of about six kilometres.
The Surrey-Newton-Guildford light rail transit line will add another 10.5 kilometres of track, with 11 new stations located on street level.
The LRT has been controversial in the past, and some residents have said they don't want it. The LRT's initial estimate was $1.03 billion in 2015, but the projected cost ballooned to $1.65 billion earlier this year.
Rallies have been held by residents who say they'd rather see express buses and SkyTrain, and are worried not only about the cost but about the rail line's impact on traffic.
At the news conference, Trudeau said bringing LRT service to Surrey will transform the city, connecting communities to the rest of the region.
Speaking after Trudeau, Horgan said the project will make those communities affordable, accessible and clean.
"The piece that was missing was a public transit improvement that would be ready for the next generation of travellers," he said.
Horgan added that the projects will create about 7,000 jobs in the region.
The subway line will reduce commute times and crowding existing transit lines, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said.
"The Broadway extension will serve the busiest corridor, served today by the 99 B Line. It is reputed to be the busiest bus route in North America, serving some 56,000 people a day," he said.
"It's very hard to get on that bus during that peak period. The corridor is absolutely overwhelmed with demand."
He said transit ridership growth has reached a level in Metro Vancouver that is unprecedented in Canada and the U.S.
Desmond said the 96 B Line, which currently serves the line, is the fastest growing B Line in the transit system.
"These corridors that we're talking about today are absolutely ready for high-capacity rail," he said.