Evergreen approval could drive new Vancouver transit investments to serve regional ridership

Next week’s meeting between the Metro Vancouver’s Mayors and Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom may open the door to new transit investments that benefit Vancouver riders.

At issue next week: whether or not Victoria and Metro leaders can agree on a new funding formula for transit that will allow the long-awaited Evergreen Line to the Tri-Cities to proceed.

To date, the mayors have made it clear that more property taxes are not part of the solution. Victoria says they must be.

But it is clear that Premier Christy Clark is keen to have the Evergreen issue settled before a possible fall election. If that remains the goal, and Victoria can achieve a deal with the Mayors, Translink would have to submit a new funding supplement to the Mayor’s Council with weeks or even days to clear the way for a September announcement.

If that supplement includes Evergreen, then new investments are required in Vancouver — including station upgrades and service improvements — to handle the increase in ridership. Even though the improvements would be based in Vancouver, they would have regional impact.

Even more significant for Vancouver: approval of Evergreen would finally clear the way for investments on Broadway, where the ridership already exceeds that on the Millennium Line.