TransLink is going to be rolling out many, many announcements about improved service in the next while — all aimed at reminding people that their tax money is going to good use. They had their first on Tuesday. (My story here.)
But amid the celebrations over more cars for Canada Line service, 15-minute service on the SeaBus, and other such add-ons, there was also a cloud hanging over the announcement because the federal government appears to have slowed down in its rush to provide transit funding. In fact, Liberal MP Jonathan Wilkinson made an odd remark at the announcement about funding decisions being on hold until mayors come up with a solid plan — something they did two years ago.
Local mayors had hoped to see something specific about phase 2 funding by now. At the moment, though, it appears as though nothing will be announced until the federal budget is set in late February. That means that negotiations with the province can’t really begin until after that. And the province will be entering election-campaign phase by April.
For Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, both hoping to show their voters that transit dollars are here by the time the municipal elections roll around in 2018, this is all bad news, as it likely means no real funding agreement will be reached before fall — all of which delays the real work on the big Broadway and Surrey rapid-transit projects by a year.