UBC expert fears Vancouver subway is still far off

Originally posted By Matt Kieltyka on the Metro News

The head of the University of British Columbia’s urban design program thinks it may be a while before any of his students are riding a subway to school.

After TransLink’s board and the region’s mayors approved $2 billion in transit improvements on Wednesday, Patrick Condon wonders if the other outstanding projects in the mayors’ 10-year plan will be given the same urgency.

While Minister Responsible for TransLink Peter Fassbender told Metro the province is ready with its share of capital funds for the Broadway subway in Vancouver, light rail in Surrey and the Pattullo Bridge replacement, Condon says government seems to be looking 20 to 30 years into the future in interviews he’s heard.

“I think you could say that the signals are there that the funding of the very largest pieces of this 10-year plan is certainly not secured and may not be even likely in the short term, said Condon, of UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. “20 years to get out to Arbutus Street with a subway is not going to help the corridor very much and it’s not going to help the students of UBC. I suspect we’re not going to be seeing good news about funding in the spring [when governments announce their budgets].”

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson stressed the region needs to move quickly to secure funding for Phase Two of its plan.

TransLink staff hope to have an investment plan for the next phase ready by 2018.

Condon had good things to say about the plan passed this week, especially the five new B-Line bus routes that will service Fraser Highway, Lougheed Highway, Marine Drive on the North Shore, 41st Avenue and Hastings Street.

“Those are really important to increase the mobility along these important, and what are largely considered to be suburban, corridors,” he said.

The 99 B-Line along Broadway in Vancouver may be overcrowded and insufficient now, but Condon said it had a great impact on public transit use and development along that stretch of the city.

“It’s been killed by its own success but it’s really changed the way people get around in this part of the city and to get out to UBC, for sure,” he said. “I expect to see some of those same benefits to these other parts of the city: more higher-density residential units and less people depending on cars along those important corridors.”

The plan, which will be rolled out over five years starting in early 2017, will see a 10 per cent increase in bus service, 20 per cent more SkyTrain service, a new SeaBus, more West Coast Express trains and a 15 per cent increase in HandyDART service.

To pay for it, municipalities will raise their property taxes by an average of $3 per household, raise fares in July by up to 10 cents on a single zone and implement a new development fee, which requires approval from the provincial government.

Metro News interviewed Patrick Condon, the chair of UBC’s school of architecture and landscape architecture, about the transit improvement plan for Vancouver.

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