TransLink to borrow more money for $7.3-billion transit plan

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      TransLink is proposing to raise its borrowing limit to pay for its share in new transportation investments like the Broadway subway in Vancouver and two light rail lines in Surrey.

      The suggested increase of $1.5 billion will bring the regional transportation body’s debt cap to $5.5 billion from the current level of $4 billion.

      TransLink recently finished public consultations on the second phase of its 10-year plan, which is estimated to cost $7.3 billion.

      According to TransLink, the plan’s second phase will require $6.41 billion for capital investments, $855 million for operating costs, and $390 million for financing charges.

      The federal government has committed $2.01 billion for capital costs, and the provincial government is contributing $2.55 billion.

      This means that TransLink has to come up with $1.85 billion as its portion of the capital investments in the plan.

      Funding for the overall plan will also include an increase in transit fares in 2020 and 2021. Single fares are expected to cost 10 cents to 15 cents more, and monthly passes an additional 50 cents to $1.

      In addition, property taxes will increase beginning in 2019 by an estimated amount of $5.50 for an average household to help pay for phase two.

      The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation is scheduled to vote on the plan on June 28.

      Provincial legislation requires the council to consult the Metro Vancouver regional government regarding investment plans that involve increases in borrowing by TransLink.

      Metro Vancouver staff have recommended support by the regional district for the new borrowing limit. The board is expected to agree with the advice at its meeting on Friday (May 25).

      Last April 30, TransLink released details of the second phase of a 10-year vision earlier laid out by Metro Vancouver mayors, which involves investments totalling $7.3 billion.

      The subway system underneath Vancouver’s Broadway, which will extend SkyTrain’s Millennium Line from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street, is the biggest transit project.

      The Broadway extension to the Millennium Line is estimated to cost $2.83 billion.

      Second in terms of projected costs are the two light rail lines in Surrey. One will connect Surrey Central SkyTrain Station to Newton Exchange via City Parkway and King George Boulevard. A second line will connect Surrey Central SkyTrain Station to Guildford Exchange via 104 Avenue.

      The two lines are estimated to cost $1.65 billion.