$4.1-billion federal funding announcement could guarantee new rapid-transit lines in Vancouver and Surrey

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      The development of a Millennium Line SkyTrain extension along Broadway and two light-rail projects in Surrey are closer to reality.

      This is thanks to a major funding agreement between the federal and provincial governments.

      The deal will result in $4.1 billion in federal funds flowing into B.C. over the next decade for infrastructure.

      "Long-term investments in infrastructure are key to building a strong Canada—connecting people, creating good jobs for the middle class, and building our economy and communities for the future," Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi said in a government news release. 

      According to the federal announcement, these projects will be cost-shared with provincial and municipal governments, and other partners.

      The Liberal government has previously pledged to pay up to 50 percent of the cost of rapid-transit projects.

      Following the April 2 announcement, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond issued a statement declaring that this "further secures the resources" needed to deliver light rail in Surrey, a SkyTrain extension along Broadway, and 420,000 additional bus-service hours per year.

      "I’m excited to work with our partners at the federal, provincial and municipal levels delivering this vision," Desmond said. "I thank the province and the federal government for acting to make our plans reality."

      Last month, TransLink Mayors' Council chair Derek Corrigan announced that the region will get two light-rail lines in Surrey, the Broadway SkyTrain extension, and additional bus service in a fully funded phase two of the transportation plan. 

      Some observers have been confused by the cost of TransLink's plan. That's because the original plan put forward by the Mayor's Council before a 2015 plebiscite only included capital expenditures. That amounted to $7.5 billion over 10 years and included the Pattullo Bridge replacement, three light-rail lines, and a Broadway subway to Arbutus Street.

      Now, TransLink is including additional operating costs in its numbers, which will result from adding more transit service. And the Pattullo Bridge is not part of the 10-year plan because the province has agreed to cover the entire $1.4-billion cost.

      Phase two of the 10-year transportation plan, including operating costs, is now pegged at $7 billion.

      Various levels of government have not disclosed details on how those capital and operating costs will be divided, though agreements are now in place between TransLink and the province and between the province and the federal government.

      TransLink has estimated that the overall phase two investment plan, including operating costs, will result in about 35 percent of expenditures being covered regionally. Another 35 to 40 percent will be covered provincially, and 25 to 30 percent by the federal government.

      Phase two includes light rail from Surrey Centre to both Guildford and Newton. But it doesn't include a completed line from Surrey Centre to Langley, which was in the 2015 Mayors' Council proposal.

      Instead, TransLink plans to continue funding the design of this light rail line along the Fraser Highway so it will remain on schedule for construction to begin around 2024 once funding can be secured.

      In addition, phase two has about $33 million set aside for cycling initiatives. Municipal governments will have to apply for this money for projects in their communities.

      Phase one of the 10-year transportation plan added about $2 billion in operating and capital costs.