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Governments of Canada and British Columbia unveil details of BC Transit projects

By Contributor
July 20th, 2016

The face of transit in BC is changing for the better after governments of Canada and British Columbia joined forces to unveiled details Tuesday for projects totalling almost $160 million in federal and provincial funding for BC Transit projects.

Premier Christy Clark and Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities made the announcement Tuesday in Kelowna.

““B.C. is the first province to sign an agreement with Canada under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, demonstrating our commitment to investing in transit communities across the province,” said Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna.

“This funding will enable priority projects to move forward in BC Transit-served communities across the province. Enhancements ranging from cleaner burning CNG-fuelled buses to technology upgrades and new maintenance yards and bus depots, we’re building sustainable communities through strong transit systems.”

The funding will support new facilities, buses and technologies that will improve safety for passengers and drivers, and make taking public transit more convenient and efficient.

Also on hand for the announcement was Mayor Colin Basran from the City of Kelowna, which hosted the announcement and is one of the communities benefitting from the funding.

Kelowna had prioritized the purchase of newer buses with technology enhancements that will pave the way for a better customer experience from the beginning to end of each trip, as well as much-needed transit exchange upgrades. 

The announcement follows the recent signature of a bilateral agreement with British Columbia that will result in more than $900 million being invested by the Government of Canada, British Columbia and municipalities in public transit projects throughout the province.

“In partnership with local governments, BC Transit provides access to public transit to more than 1.6 million British Columbians in 130 communities outside the Metro Vancouver area,” Manuel Achadinha, president and CEO, BC Transit.

“This investment in transit infrastructure will ensure that BC Transit’s services will continue to meet the evolving needs of the populations we serve.”

Included in the list of improvements identified as priorities by local governments are almost $11.8 million in bus technology enhancements, which will pave the way for a safer, more convenient and better customer experience.

For example, closed-circuit TV will be added to enhance the safety of passengers and drivers, and real-time information and automatic passenger counters will ultimately make the system more efficient for transit riders.

Also announced are plans for capital improvement projects for busy transit centres that will get underway over the next three years. These include an upgrade to the transit exchange at UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna that will increase capacity and allow for service expansion during peak hours.

New operations and maintenance facilities in Prince George, Central Fraser Valley, Campbell River and the Cowichan Valley will support new technologies, like compressed natural gas (CNG)-fuelled buses that will benefit the environment and reduce operating costs. The investment will also support upgrades to meet seismic standards for facilities in Victoria and Langford.

Investing in infrastructure to improve public transit will help grow the economy, while minimizing environmental impact. By building new facilities to allow for cleaner-burning compressed natural gas buses in Campbell River, Abbotsford, Cowichan Valley and Prince George, the province is reducing its carbon footprint one bus ride at a time.

The funding also includes more than $68.7 million to replace approximately 150 buses in communities throughout the province. The new vehicles will be right-sized for efficiency and will offer up-to-date amenities for a more comfortable customer experience.

Acquisition of new buses for a total investment of $3.5 million will support increased service frequencies and new transit routes to meet growing demand in communities like Victoria, Kelowna, Kamloops and the Comox Valley.

Quick Facts:

  • The new Public Transit Infrastructure Fund is part of Phase 1 of Investing in Canada, which will provide over $10 billion in investments to support public transit systems, green infrastructure projects, and social infrastructure projects. Details on Phase 2 of Investing in Canada will be announced over the next year.
  • BC Transit will continue to work with local governments to identify additional priority projects for funding consideration.
  • In partnership with local governments, BC Transit provides access to public transit to more than 1.6 million British Columbians in 130 communities outside Metro Vancouver. As a result of the Province’s commitment to transit in B.C., communities with as few as 1,000 people have access to transit, making BC Transit a unique service for smaller communities anywhere in Canada.
  • The Province currently provides the highest level of operating funding, per capita, for transit in Canada.

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