TransLink Mayors’ Council requests emergency funds, pursuit of permanent transit funding in federal pre-budget request

Feb. 15, 2023
The council wants C$250 million in emergency funds, to be matched by the province, as well as acceleration of Canada’s Permanent Transit Fund and additional efforts to stabilize transit funding in the country.

The TransLink Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation, citing rapid regional population growth, submitted its pre-budget request to the government of Canada’s minister for finance seeking emergency funding, as well as actions that would provide more stable permanent funding for transit in Canada.

“Our region is growing faster than ever, and our transit system will struggle to keep up with forecasted population growth if we don’t act now to secure funding from senior governments,” said Mayor of Port Coquitlam and Chair of the Mayors’ Council Brad West. “We just need to look at the new federal immigration targets to see that a record number of people will be settling here and adding to the demands on our transit network. This is a critical point to invest in Metro Vancouver’s long-term infrastructure needs, and the Mayors’ Council is determined to make sure this message is being heard in Ottawa.”

It is estimated that 1.45 million people will immigrate to Canada between now and 2025, one of every eight of whom are forecast to end up in Metro Vancouver. The population of Metro Vancouver is estimated to increase by more than one million people by 2050.

“Surrey is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. Ridership here is surging as more and more new people who depend on good transit move here. We cannot wait to build the transit this region and these new residents need to succeed,” said Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke.

The Mayors’ Council provided the government of Canada with four main requests in its pre-budget submission:

  • The Mayors’ Council is requesting C$250 million (US$187.05 million) in emergency relief funding, which the council wants the government of British Columbia to match, to protect existing transit service levels in 2023-25 and enable TransLink to begin improving and expanding transit starting in late 2024.
  • Accelerate the delivery of the Permanent Transit Fund (PTF) by two years from the original commitment of 2026-27 to 2024-25 to avoid delaying TransLink’s Transport 2050 10-Year Priorities. The plan outlines the transit service expansion needed to meet national and provincial greenhouse gas emission targets, respond to the housing affordability crisis and serve quickly growing ridership.
  • Permanently double the Canada Community-Building Fund and increase its annual escalator to 3.5 percent to better reflect construction cost inflation.
  • Launch a tri-partite national commission together with provinces, transit agencies and local governments to develop a new funding model for public transit that is more resilient and equitable by avoiding overreliance on regressive sources such as transit fares and property taxes.

“Strengthening transportation links between Metro Vancouver communities is a vital step towards a more prosperous, sustainable future for our region,” Mayor of Vancouver Ken Sim said. “Metro Vancouver mayors are united in our determination to secure these important investments, and we are excited about the positive impacts they will have.”

TransLink’s Transport 2050 10-Year Priorities plan includes doubling of bus service region-wide, nine new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines, expansion of active transportation infrastructure and SkyTrain service expansion to meet forecasted population growth and ensure more residents have easy access to transit. The plan was re-endorsed unanimously by the Mayors’ Council on Jan. 26.

“Reliable and efficient transit is crucial to our residents, businesses and economy,” said Kevin Quinn, CEO of TransLink. “Metro Vancouver is expected to grow substantially in the near future, which will bring increased pressures on our public transit services. TransLink will need sustainable and dependable funding to both maintain our current levels of service and prepare for critically needed expansion.”

In May 2022, the government of British Columbia committed to providing more than C$2.4 billion to advance key transit and infrastructure priorities, including the Surrey Langley Skytrain and electrification of the bus fleet, as part of the province’s ongoing commitment to fund 40 percent of the 10-year plan.

“The provincial and federal governments have been good partners to TransLink,” said Burnaby Mayor and Vice-Chair of the Mayors’ Council Mike Hurley. “They understand a strong public transit system is fundamental to our shared affordability and climate action goals. The BC Government is already at the table with us, and we need the government of Canada to renew its commitment by taking the actions the Mayors’ Council has outlined in our budget submission.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.