Mayors approve SkyTrain extension to UBC

Next step is a business plan and public consultation

Metro Vancouver mayors have officially chosen a SkyTrain extension to get rapid transit to the University of British Columbia’s main campus.

The 9-2 vote on the motion at the mayors’ council on regional transportation meeting on Friday is considered a major step forward for the plan to extend the Millennium Line from Arbutus to UBC under the mayors’ ten-year transportation plan.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart had called for the vote to be unweighted, rather than traditionally weighted in the favour of bigger cities, because he believed the mayors should work “collaboratively” on a regional decision.

The construction would start in 2025 at the earliest, depending on funding found during phase three of the plan. A preliminary was estimated to be between $4.1 to $4.8 billion, due to inflation by 2025.

The idea of extending the SkyTrain line to UBC’s Point Grey campus has been discussed for more than a decade by the region’s leaders.

Ridership in 2045 for a new rapid transit line is projected to exceed 118,000 passengers, with more than half of them coming from outside of Vancouver.

On Friday, students and employees at UBC spoke of difficulties getting to and from campus.

Student Kevin Wong said his commute takes as long as three hours every day.

During discussions in January, big-city mayors were united in believing a Skytrain extension stood a good chance of securing needed funding from provincial and federal governments. Meanwhile, District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little and Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West questioned the logic of building more rapid transit in an area they said is already well served by TransLink.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver’s small towns raise concerns over funding rail to ‘wealthy’ UBC

Geoff Cross, TransLink’s vice-president of policy and planning, told the mayors that whether the route includes underground or above-ground rail, as well as details on the procurement process, would be decided later.

The motion did not define how quickly the project would be complete in comparison to other projects being considered, including extending the rail line from Surrey into Langley and further updates to the Evergreen Line in Port Coquitlam.

TransLink staff will now work towards a full business plan for mid-2020, as well as public consultation into next year, as costing, station locations and connections are determined.


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