The $11 billion Solution!

It seems our politicians and political wannabees are living in a financial ennui.

The massive costs of our current transit planning are being ignored, with the rah, rah rant of the various rapid transit promoters glossing over the real costs of their various pet projects.

Our so called experts ignore the costs and it is now all to clear that TransLink and its various cheerleaders desperately need and want “road-pricing” to save their fantastic plans.

A couple of billion here and a couple a billion there and now you are talking real money.

$11 billion in unfunded transit projects.

Again, where are our prudent politicians or our ever so sharp bean counters who are given prominence in our local electronic media? What about the mainstream media, T.V. and newspaper where are they?

I’m afraid the taxpayer has been abandoned by the chattering classes, who fall mute at the mere mention of “rapid transit” and prostrate themselves before their golden  idol, SkyTrain.

I’m afraid our transit planning is the stuff of fast ferries, sparkle ponies and Lucy in the sky with diamonds.

From Mr. Cow!

I see your issues this way!
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The 10 Year Plan for Transit by Translink is really the only source of major capital transit funding your are going to get for the next little while. The plan has been divided into 3 phases with specific time lines.
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Phase 1 2017-2020, $3.6 Billion (funding secure)
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This is essentially for boring but badly needed maintenance issues, new trains and buses, upgraded service and equipment purchases. Design money for 2 rapid transit projects is also included. In fact, you could sink the entire 10 year plan funding and you guys will still only get about half of what needs to be spent on the boring non sexy upkeep capital funding IMHO! So far so good!
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Phase 2, 2019-2024, $7.3 Billion (funding secure). It breaks down as $4.48 Billion for Rapid Transit Projects and roughly $2.82 Billion for other capital funding again for system upkeep, new vehicle funding and bus system expansion.
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This covers phase 1 of the Broadway Skytrain extension and phase 1 of the Surrey LRT project. The federal portion of this money is paid through the infrastructure Bank and Build Canada funding. Federal funding is  P3 ONLY, no P3 no federal money, so get used to it. By the way P3 doesn’t have to be a curse, so far (fingers crossed) its actually lowered the cost for most of Ontario’s LRT projects by up to 15-20%.
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ANTI SURREY LRT PEOPLE PLEASE READ
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MOST IMPORTANTLY, this funding is program specific, not just the rapid transit projects but many other important maintenance projects of Translink as well, in this 10 year plan. Due to it being PROGRAM SPECIFIC and due to the nature of the private funding that companies must have in P3′s structures, the cash is tied to that specific project and can’t be transferred to another. Doing so will get the federal government and Translink sued by private companies who had to go out and get private funding from real banks, to qualify for the P3 program! So that money for the Surrey LRT (phase 1) is a go and the Broadway Millennium Line Extension is a go, good or bad your stuck with it now!
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Phase 3, 2020/21-2027, at least $1.9 Billion for Phase 2 Surrey LRT and more system up keep funding. Total anywhere between $2-4 Billion (no secure funding yet)
The only capital funding for rapid transit planned in the last phase of the program (phase 3 of the 10 Year Plan) is for the Surrey’s LRT line to Langley! The rest is for more capital upkeep projects and new trains and bus service. This part has no secure funding yet but any rapid transit expansion spending beyond the Surrey LRT project will have to go through a planning process as well as an environmental assessment process (both federal and provincial). Anything beyond the second phase of the Surrey LRT project will also require new funding, Remember, the federal portion can’t be transferred to another project once it has been connected to an existing project.So any expansion of the existing Skytrain Line to Langley will require not only a billion more in funding than Translink has been asking for to this point but, a full environmental assessment will still be needed to be done to get federal or provincial funding! This has not been done yet and takes a really long time.
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The Conclusion
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Any change to the Surrey LRT Phase 2 LRT line to Langley (as in a change of operating technology to Skytrain) will require an actual a joint federal provincial EA process to be completed by Translink. Which means nothing to Langley before 2027/28 at the earliest. The Broadway Line and Phase 1 LRT line are a go and that’s it! Any change and up to 38% of your capital funding you currently have (roughly $2.7 Billion) disappears and is most likely replaced by court cases, the likes of which you have never seen before! Unfortunately, due to past government choices we have in Ontario, its messy and expensive. By the way you can’t use the federal and or the provincial portion of the funding for the court costs!
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Here are some of my Cost estimates!
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Expo Line Upgrade: Costs: 6 car trains 100 metre platforms, upgraded electrics, upgraded track and right of way signalling infrastructure (not covered at all in existing funding by the way) and above grade concrete right of way upgrades and rebuilds (between the stations) and downtown tunnel upgrades, $3-$3.3 Billion
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Phase 2 Broadway Line to UBC $3.6-$4.2 Billion
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Skytrain Extension to Langley $2.9-$3.2 Billion
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That’s a total cost of somewhere between $9.5-$10.7 Billion not covered by any plan for funding. 
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The only new funding that is coming is the Translink 10 Year Plan, phase 3 funding of somewhere between $2-$4 Billion, only $1.9-$2 Billion being rapid transit capital funding! Any dropping of the LRT at this point (still possible for the phase 2 to Langley portion) will delay that small amount of rapid transit funding by a minimum of 4-6 years (includes EA time). Even if you can get extra funding for the Langley Skytrain extension, there is still $6.6 Billion to $7.4 Billion outstanding for other needed Skytrain projects. This funding for a Langley line will most likely not arrive until sometime around 2024/25. Guaranteeing construction starting at the earliest around 2026-2028, with completion around 2031-2033!
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Any new funding after 2020 will have to compete for funding construction of the phase 2 of the Broadway line to UBC. This is the region’s clear leading Skytrain extension choice unless, the Expo Line has deteriorated to the point that its upgrades are critically needed to keep the line operating. Surrey will wait quite a while for the Skytrain extension to Langley if that is their choice!

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