Federal NDP vows to make transit a plank in 2015 platform

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By Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun September 8, 2014 1:47 PM

They haven’t attached a dollar figure to it, but the Federal NDP on Monday promised to make a long-term national public transit strategy part of their platform for the 2015 general election.

While not long on specifics about how such a strategy would contribute to TransLink’s 30-year, $7.5-billion capital plan for Metro Vancouver, NDP trade critic Don Davies vowed it would be 15 to 20-year commitment and an improvement on the federal Conservative government’s Build Canada infrastructure plan that has earmarked $2.76 billion of the federal gasoline tax to B.C.

Standing outside the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line station in Vancouver, Davies described the Conservative plan as “an ad hoc (program) on a short-term time frame” that is difficult for municipalities to work with.

“Municipalities and provinces have repeatedly said, and continue to say that they can’t plan long-term, large-scale infrastructure projects unless they have a commitment from the federal government over an extended period,” said Davies, the MP for Vancouver Kingsway.

Infrastructure critic Finn Donnelly added that Canada is the only G8 country without a long-term public transit plan.

Donnelly added that the NDP will reveal a dollar figure for the program closer to the election date, but the NDP would look to see if they can improve upon their promise from the last election campaign to devote $420 million a year of the federal gas tax to transit funding.

In June, the federal government said 53 per cent — about $1.5 billion — of the $2.76 billion committed to B.C. over the next decade and most of that would go to TransLink for capital projects, such bus replacements, the purchase of new rail cars for the West Coast Express and upgrades of transit centres.

However, at the time, Metro Vancouver vice-chairman Raymond Louie said the region will need more funding for system expansion plans, such as the proposals for a $2 billion subway on the Broadway corridor towards the University of B.C. and $2 billion in light-rail extensions of transit in Surrey.

TransLink unveiled its 30-year plan in mid-June, which included a $980-million replacement of the Pattullo Bridge in its $7.5-billion mix.

The federal NDP’s B.C. caucus staged the announcement along with a canvassing campaign at the station that saw party volunteers circulate a petition in support of better national funding for transit.
Click here to read the article on the Vancouver Sun website. 

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