TransLink has released its updated financial plan, which includes money for the Langley SkyTrain extension. (Langley Advance Times files)

TransLink has released its updated financial plan, which includes money for the Langley SkyTrain extension. (Langley Advance Times files)

TransLink funding plan includes SkyTrain expansion, electric buses

The new plan stretches for 10 years

Financial plans for the next phases of transit expansion in Metro Vancouver, including the SkyTrain to Langley, were firmed up this week with the 2022 TransLink Investment Plan.

The plan, approved on May 26 by the Mayors’ Council, includes the SkyTrain expansion as one of its key priorities.

Early construction work on the line down Fraser Highway to Langley City has already begun, and is expected to conclude with the line opening in 2028.

The key priorities in the 10-year plan include SkyTrain, adding about 500 new battery-electric buses to the fleet, opening publich washrooms at half a dozen transit hubs, increasing HandyDART service by three percent, and improving roads, walkways, and bike paths.

By 2030, 34 per cent of the total bus fleet will be battery electric, and the natural gas buses will use renewable sources of gas.

There are still several financial headwinds facing TransLink, including the massive drop in ridership that took place over the pandemic, which reduced TransLink’s ticket revenue.

Ridership is now back above 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, according to TransLink statistics.

While the province is encouraging more zero-emission vehicles, and TransLink itself is buying more electric buses, that will also cut off fuel tax revenues in the long term, TransLink projects.

The plan is aimed at stabilizing funding, and includes increases to fares and property taxes, as well as being supported by federal and provincial funds.

The provincial government on Friday announced that it will fund 40 per cent of the 10-year plan, with $2.4 billion going towards SkyTrain, bus electrification, and other key infrastructure priorities.

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