Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts is hoping other Metro Vancouver mayors won't back down on a property tax increase that would help fund Rapid Bus service over the Port Mann Bridge and a B-Line between Newton and Guildford.
TransLink detailed the transit routes in its 2013 Base Plan on Monday, but funding for the two services between 2013 and 2015 may depend on a $30-million property tax increase across Metro Vancouver.
Last year, the regional Mayors' Council on Transportation said it would support a two-year increase if TransLink found a sustainable revenue source for the third year, but some mayors balked when no source was found.
Watts stands by the group's initial decision - which would cost households roughly $23 each - and said she doesn't think they can legally change their minds now.
"You can't all of a sudden pull the plug out when a lot of different municipalities supported (transit) infrastructure going elsewhere," Watts said. "Having a rapid bus across the Port Mann and a B-Line in place along King George is something we want to move forward with.
"It was voted on a year ago and it passed," she added. "I don't know how that cannot be implemented."
The council is expected to take a second vote to decide the fate of the increase. Debbie Parhar of TransLink said if the mayors oppose it, the base plan would have to be revised, but that wouldn't necessarily mean the Rapid Bus or B-Line would be scrapped.
"If the $30 million was no longer on the table, then we'd have to go back and go through that performance-based evaluation again before deciding which ones would go forward and which ones would not," she said, noting that each cost roughly $2 million per year to operate.
"For example, the B-Line might actually prove to be a really good-performing thing, but an older route may not. It's not the last-in, first-out kind of thing."
The base plan on Monday detailed future plans for Surrey and parts of Metro Vancouver despite the fact that TransLink expects to be $472 million shy of forecasted revenues between 2013 and 2015.
The transportation organization has found ways to save $98 million per year in those three years and will draw on $124 million from a $140.9-million reserve fund to maintain existing services. Jason Martin, manager of corporate communications, said the improvements laid out in the base plan are what TransLink can comfortably accomplish under the budget.
"At this point, we can only look at what we can do within our means until further funding is possible," he said. "This is what we can deliver over the next three years."
The City of Surrey will receive upgrades to Expo Line SkyTrain stations, including improving capacity and accessibility to the Scott Road and Surrey Central stations. The B-Line service would run along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue every seven or eight minutes between Newton and Guildford.
The Rapid Bus service over the Port Mann Bridge would run every 10 minutes during peak hours (5 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.) and every 30 minutes during off-peak hours (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m.).
There were plans for the B-Line to extend to White Rock and for the Rapid Bus to run every 10 minutes during off-peak hours, but neither was feasible with the lack of funding.
TransLink estimated the extension would cost an extra $1.5 million per year while the off-peak service every 10 minutes would cost an extra $4 million per year.
- With files from the Vancouver Sun and Province
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