Funding a cinch if we get what was promised

The total project cost (downtown Victoria through a hub at Saanich’s Uptown to Station Avenue in Langford) is estimated at $950 million. Ending the rail line at Six Mile (the junction with the E&N) would be $770 million. In my view, the critical passenger mass – where the train would collect the largest number of passengers – is at Six Mile. The track from Six Mile to Station Avenue can be considered for a future phase.

B.C. Transit also revealed just maintaining its current bus-based service would cost $250 million. A rapid bus service would cost about $550 million, but would need to be converted to LRT within 10 to 15 years. That’s twice the cost for the same outcome.

So far, the provincial government has offered little more than platitudes when it comes to pitching in funds. Interestingly, when the Evergreen Line (Coquitlam to Vancouver) was announced, senior governments pledged over $800 million toward the $1.3-billion project.

The long-ago announced $14-billion Provincial Transit Plan ear-marked close to $1 billion for the Capital Region. An LRT system that will cut emissions and double ridership is a perfect candidate.

As the federal government emerges from the election campaign, it must step up to the plate as well. Its willingness to chip in for the Canada Line and Evergreen Line on the Lower Mainland should extend to LRT in the CRD.

The two-thirds funding from senior governments brings the local share of Victoria-to-Six Mile LRT to $257 million. That’s equal to the cost of doing nothing – a cost taxpayers would bear alone.

It’s time for the provincial government to step up and deliver on its promised Transit Plan funding. Let’s get our federal partner at the table as well. Their combined support for transit helped Lower Mainland commuters out of traffic congestion and home to their families sooner. Surely Capital Region residents deserve the same.

Dean Murdock

Saanich councillor

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