Referendum Questions: What is promised under the plan and when?

From Surrey LRT and a Vancouver subway to new B-Lines and more frequent SeaBuses, the plan aims for broad appeal

The plan Metro Vancouver mayors crafted last June tried to offer something for every resident and every part of the region to keep local councils on side and appeal for votes.

The 0.5 per cent regional sales tax they proposed to pay for it, dubbed the Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax, effectively raises the PST charged in the region to 7.5 per cent.

The Congestion Improvement Tax is estimated to raise $250 million a year, which would fund the region’s share of the projects, with the rest to come from the provincial and federal governments.

The big ticket items are three light rail lines in Surrey at a cost of $2.1 billion and the $2-billion subway in Vancouver, extending SkyTrain’s Millennium Line west along the Broadway corridor to Arbutus.

The plan says the light rail lines from Surrey Centre on 104 Avenue to Guildford and down King George Boulevard to Newton would come within seven years (city officials think the Guildford line could be built within four years), while the longer LRT line down Fraser Highway to Langley City could take 12 years.

Better bus and other transit service would come much faster.

The plan calls for 400 more buses, increasing bus service by 25 per cent across the region.

Much of the increased service would come South of the Fraser and in other relatively underserved areas, greatly increasing the number of residents who are within walking distance of frequent transit, defined as routes running 15 minutes or better all day long.

Eleven new B-Line express bus routes would be added to speed passengers along major corridors with few stops. The ones to be launched in the first five years of the plan are Surrey Centre to Langley, Scott Road to Newton via Scott and 72nd, Maple Ridge to Coquitlam,  Richmond-Brighouse to Metrotown, Dundarave to Phibbs on the North Shore, Downtown Vancouver to SFU Burnaby and Joyce-Collingwood to UBC via 41st.

Later B-Lines in the plan are Newton to White Rock (an extension of the existing 96 B-Line in Surrey), Langley to Pitt Meadows, Metrotown to Capilano University via Willingdon, Lynn Valley to Downtown Vancouver and Downtown Vancouver to Southeast Marine Drive.

SeaBus service would increase 50 per cent early in the plan, providing sailings every 15 minutes all day and every 10 minutes at peak times.

Night bus service would increase 80 per cent and HandyDart service would get a 30 per cent increase to serve the elderly and disabled.

SkyTrain and Canada Line upgrades would get more than $800 million for 220 new cars to increase capacity and 10 more train cars would be added to carry more West Coast Express passengers. Expo Line service would increase 50 per cent. Other capital money would flow to new or expanded transit exchanges.

The biggest road project in the plan is the $1-billion replacement of the Pattullo Bridge with a new four-lane bridge, expandable to six lanes.

The new bridge would be tolled and No side critics say it shouldn’t be in the plan at all because it will likely be built and tolled no matter the outcome of the vote.

The plan includes $36 million a year in increased money for road upgrades and maintenance on corridors such as Fraser Highway, Kingsway and Knight Street.

Another $13 million a year would go to add 2,700 kilometres of new bikeways or traffic-separated cycling lanes, including completion of the Central Valley Greenway and B.C. Parkway routes.

For more details see:Full Mayors’ Council Vision OverviewSouth of Fraser investmentsRichmond investmentsVancouver investmentsNorth Shore investmentsBurnaby/New West investmentsNortheast Sector investments (Tri-Cities, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Anmore and Belcarra)

Referendum Questions is a Black Press series exploring issues related to the Metro Vancouver transit and transportation referendum. Voters must mail in ballots by May 29 on whether they support the addition of a 0.5 per cent sales tax in the region, called the Congestion Improvement Tax, to fund billions of dollars worth of upgrades. Follow the links below to read more in this series.