In May 2022, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation and TransLink’s Board of Directors approved the agency’s 2022 Investment Plan, followed by a commitment by the Government of British Columbia of CAD2.4 billion to support transit investments.

The 2022 Investment Plan will help advance the objectives of Transport 2050, Metro 2050, and Climate 2050. It includes major investments aimed at transitioning the bus fleet to low-carbon fuels and investments in walking and cycling facilities that will directly contribute to the objectives of CleanBC. It also advances StrongerBC, the Government of British Columbia’s economic plan, by supporting clean growth, planning for infrastructure resilience, and supporting British Columbia’s goods-movement sector. 

Box 1 provides an overview of TransLink.

Transportation investments in the plan

TransLink’s 2022 Investment Plan outlines expected expenditures and revenues for the  2022–2031 period, with an overarching focus on:

  • stabilising TransLink’s finances
  • maintaining the region’s transportation system in a state of good repair
  • right-sizing TransLink’s services and expenditures for the next few years
  • advancing a select few strategic projects 

The 2022 Investment Plan will deliver the following:

  • holding transit service stable
  • pursuing urgent expansion of bus service through service reallocation
  • making buses more reliable through investments in bus-priority projects
  • advancing high-priority capital projects
  • implementing climate change commitments
  • making streets safer through active transportation and investments in roads
  • planning for future expansion

Investments in bus

Bus1. Maintain a 4 per cent reduction in service on the existing bus routes to match service to demand, which was implemented in 2021 and in early 2022.
2. Reallocate service to advance higher-urgency 2018 Investment Plan projects beginning in 2023: 
– Provide faster trips on high-demand corridors 
– Expand all-day everyday service
– Expand the Frequent Transit Network
– Extend span in the late evening 
– Increase frequency
3. Advance the Low Carbon Fleet Strategy (LCFS) by:
– Procuring and putting into service over 500 new battery-electric buses and buses that will run on renewable natural gas to replace ageing and polluting diesel buses.
– Designing and constructing the supporting charging infrastructure and transit centres.
RapidBus1. Construct bus-priority projects, provide customer amenities, deploy a dedicated fleet, and implement frequent all-day service for the R6 Scott Road RapidBus.
2. Design and construct bus-priority projects and customer amenities for the R7 RapidBus that will connect central Richmond to the Expo Line.
3. Plan and design at least two more RapidBus lines identified in the 10-Year Priorities list.
4. Continue existing funding for local governments to undertake RapidBus upgrades.
Bus speed and reliability 1. Provide CAD17.5 million to local governments for the construction of new bus speed and reliability infrastructure between 2023 and 2024.
2. Over a 10-year period, investment in bus-priority projects that will help make service more efficient, resulting in a net savings of almost CAD39.5 million in operating costs.

Investments in rapid transit

SkyTrain1. Pre-COVID service levels to be maintained on the Expo, Millennium, and Canada Lines through 2024.
2. Increased service on Expo and Millennium Lines to be phased in beginning in 2025 with the opening of Broadway Subway and in 2028 with the opening of Surrey Langley SkyTrain.
3. New SkyTrain cars to replace the ageing fleet and to support Broadway Subway and Surrey Langley SkyTrain expansion.
Surrey Langley SkyTrain1. Construction of Surrey Langley SkyTrain by the Government of British Columbia.
2. Construction of the Operations and Maintenance Centre 5 to support SkyTrain extensions.

Box 2 describes the Surrey Langley SkyTrain project.

Investments in commuter rail 

West Coast Express1. Reintroduction of a fifth roundtrip on West Coast Express in 2023 when locomotive refurbishments are complete; increase capacity by adding cars in response to demand.
2. Refurbishment of train cars. 

Investments in transit passenger facilities and technology

Station upgradesIntegration of Gilmore Station upgrades with adjacent development.
Compass system upgradesUpgrades to the Compass system.  The system is nearing capacity and needs upgrades to be able to introduce new products and features that increase customer convenience and support the introduction of more equitable fare structures. This project is contingent on the completion of a business case. 
Technology upgradesInfrastructure and software to support better data analytics, improved customer experience, and enhanced asset management and service delivery outcomes. Lifecycle management of all business applications and systems, technology infrastructure assets, and digital customer platforms. 

The 2022 Investment Plan addresses a backlog of state-of-good-repair investments. This includes trolley overhead replacements, bus depot improvements, and other asset replacements and upgrades.

While the 2022 Investment Plan is primarily focused on maintaining TransLink’s existing system and services, it also includes funding for the planning and business casing of key transit corridors identified in Transport 2050: 10-Year Priorities. 

Climate commitments 

In January 2022, TransLink adopted its corporate Climate Action Strategy, which sets a target to reduce emissions by 45 per cent from the 2010 levels by 2030 and to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. TransLink already provides near-zero-emissions electric SkyTrain and trolleybus service, and the transition to a low-carbon fleet, included in the investment plan, will reduce emissions by 37 per cent by 2030. As of February 2022, TransLink had four battery-electric buses in service, with 15 more buses planned to be deployed; it was running tests on a demo bus provided by Nova Bus.

The Climate Action Strategy outlines the approach for meeting these targets by:

  • Continuing to implement the LCFS, replacing diesel buses with battery-electric and renewable natural gas buses, and planning for zero-emissions service on all modes, including HandyDART and community shuttles, SeaBus, and West Coast Express, for inclusion in future investment plans.
  • Developing a net-zero facilities strategy.
  • Creating a climate change adaptation and resiliency road map to reduce risks to infrastructure and operations and to influence future investment plans and capital programs.
  • Supporting climate action with a strong governance and funding model, including supportive climate policies, and an enhanced climate education and communication campaign. 

TransLink plans to work with local governments, Metro Vancouver, and the Government of British Columbia to meet the regional 2030 emissions reduction targets for the transportation sector, which were committed to in Transport 2050 and Climate 2050, including a 65 per cent reduction in GHG emissions from light-duty vehicles over the 2010 levels. TransLink will also explore opportunities to provide electric vehicle charging to facilitate the transition of shared-mobility services such as taxi and ride-hailing to zero-emissions technologies.

By 2030, 34 per cent of the diesel bus fleet will be replaced with battery-electric buses, and the growing compressed natural gas (CNG) bus fleet will be 100 per cent fuelled by renewable natural gas. TransLink also has plans for the further transition of its fleet, as new zero-emissions vehicle technologies become commercially available for HandyDART and community shuttle vehicles. 

As part of the plan:

Low-carbon fleetCAD972 million for the following low-carbon fleet investments:
– Replacement of over 500 ageing diesel buses with mostly battery-electric buses and CNG buses fuelled by renewable natural gas.
– Design of an electric replacement SeaBus.
– Additional service hours so that bus schedules are not affected by battery-electric bus charging times.
Low-carbon facilities and on-route chargersCAD560 million in the following low-carbon facilities investments:
– Construction of the electrified Marpole Transit Centre, critical to the deployment of up to 350 battery-electric buses.
– Design and construction of charging infrastructure and other upgrades at the Port Coquitlam, Hamilton, and Burnaby transit centres.
– Design and construction of on-route chargers for select routes.

Funding and climate commitments 

TransLink collects revenue from transit fares, fare infractions, carbon credits, transit advertising, and other commercial opportunities. 

The 2022 Investment Plan includes capital funding from Development Cost Charges and from federal, provincial, and regional funding programs. Partner governments contribute to TransLink’s capital projects through funding programs such as the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, the Permanent Transit Fund, the Zero Emissions Transit Fund, and the Canada Community-Building Fund.

Carbon credits

The Government of British Columbia’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard entitles TransLink to report on its use of lower-carbon fuels, including electricity, CNG, and renewable natural gas, when replacing diesel or gasoline. TransLink then receives carbon credits associated with the use of these fuels and earns revenue through their transfer or sale.

Future revenue associated with carbon credits is included in the plan. This carbon credit revenue comes primarily through continued investment in electrification through the LCFS. Other sources include the charging infrastructure at the Port Coquitlam Transit Centre, in-route chargers, the new Broadway Subway and Surrey Langley SkyTrain routes, and the use of renewable natural gas. TransLink estimates earning a cumulative CAD26 million in carbon credit revenue during 2022–2024.

Zero Emissions Transit Fund

The Government of Canada is funding the electrification of public transit through the Zero Emissions Transit Fund (ZETF) to reduce cost and to overcome implementation challenges associated with the transition to zero-emissions vehicles. The plan assumes CAD66 million in project funding from the ZETF during 2025–2031.

Table 1 details the projects funded by the ZETF.

Canada Community-Building Fund

The Government of Canada provides ongoing and sustained funding for local infrastructure through the Canada Community-Building Fund (CCBF) (formerly the Federal Gas Tax Fund). Capital allocations of the CCBF for Metro Vancouver local governments are pooled into the Greater Vancouver Regional Fund (GVRF), which is used, in part, to support eligible regional transportation projects delivered by TransLink. This funding is administered by Metro Vancouver, and approval from the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board is required for the allocation of the funding to eligible projects. CCBF will primarily be used to advance TransLink’s LCFS and is an essential funding source to help meet GHG emission reduction targets.

The plan approves new project funding of CAD1,406.5 million for 2022–2024 and CAD420.4 million for 2025–2031. The total funding cash flow expected for 2022–2024 by TransLink is CAD534.7 million. 

Table 2 details the projects funded by the GVRF.

Looking ahead

The 2022 Investment Plan recognises the challenges and uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to advance key transit priorities while stabilising funding over the next three years. The current plan forecasts revenues and expenditures over a 10-year period. It includes significant capital investments from the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada to maintain the system in good repair and to advance a limited number of key projects while stabilising finances.

The 10-year Investment Plan is updated every three years, and the plan that has been approved focuses on stabilisation and recovery from the pandemic over the next three years. The remaining funding will need to be addressed in subsequent updates to the Investment Plan as part of TransLink’s ongoing partnership with the Government of British Columbia. The next update to the Investment Plan will be tabled by 2025.