TransLink Mayors' Council approves 1.5 cent per litre gas tax to help pay for $7-billion transportation plan

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      The money is now in place to fund a Millennium Line extension, two light-rail lines in Surrey, new B-lines in Richmond and Surrey, a massive increase in bus-service hours, and $75 million for the major road network.

      All of this will come as a result of the TransLink Mayors' Council and the TransLink board approving a $7-billion transit and transportation plan.

      It's phase two of the 10-year transportation plan. The first two phases also include $54 million for regional cycling initiatives.

      The B.C. government has committed to covering 40 percent of the costs of the second phase. The federal government will pay for 25 to 30 percent by subsidizing rapid transit construction, and the region will pay the balance.

      To offset a regional shortfall, the province will change legislation next spring to enable Metro Vancouver to collect an additional 1.5 cents in fuel tax.

      That's on top of the 17 cents per litre already going to TransLink.

      The hike in the gas tax has been condemned by B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson.

      “People deserve some help to make life a little more affordable and government should lower the gas tax and give folks a break from the pain at the pump," he said in a caucus news release. “Today, I am calling on John Horgan to do what we asked him to do in May and lower the gas tax now.”

      Other regional funding will come from 10-cent to 20-cent increases in transit fares in 2020 and 2021, a three percent increase in the parking sales tax, and a $5.50 per year average hike in property tax per household, starting next year.

      TransLink also plans to collect an additional $300 to $600 in development cost charges on new housing units.

      “This milestone could not have been possible without all levels of government working together to finalize a funding plan,” TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said in a news release. “Already we’ve seen the benefits that come when you add more service. You reduce crowding and make transit more convenient and enjoyable. By making transit a better experience, ridership grows and the benefits continue to add up for everyone across the region.”