The politics of transportation are heating up following Tuesday’s provincial election writ, and Richmond is in the crossfire.
Metro Vancouver’s Mayors’ Council wrote Thursday that it was “pleased” that the BC NDP includes a full commitment to the 10-year transportation plan crafted by the mayors and regional planners.
“Today’s announcement suggests the BC NDP is prepared to make the investments and work in partnership with the Mayors’ Council to move forward with the full, comprehensive region-wide transportation strategy that’s needed to reduce congestion on our roads and overcrowding on our transit system,” stated New Westminster mayor Jonathan Cote. That plan does not include remedying the George Massey Tunnel crossing. The NDP has stated it will reassess the bridge plan, if elected.
If the mayors’ plan is approved it will mean the Canada Line will get more trains, with more frequent departures. Richmond will also get a B-line bus to Metrotown. More frequent bus service has already been implemented under Phase 1, according to Translink.
But the mayors stated they are also asking for clarification on bridge tolling.
This week, both major parties surprised the public, with the BC Liberals promising to cap bridge tolls on the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridge to $500 per commuter, annually, and the NDP proposing to eliminate tolls altogether.
The BC Liberals’ plan will cost $30 million (plus additional costs for the Massey Tunnel replacement bridge), whereas the NDP’s plan would cost about $200 million.
It remains to be seen how the region could implement road pricing or a flat toll across all bridges, which fall under several different jurisdictions.
Mayor Malcolm Brodie was unavailable for comment.
Meanwhile, support for the Massey Tunnel replacement bridge is split, according to a poll conducted by Mainstreet Research
“When it comes to replacing the George Massey Bridge, Greater Vancouver residents are split. 31% support a 10-lane toll bridge while 29% support the position of local mayors: a smaller, less expensive bridge with expanded public transit. 12% would like to see something else while another 28% are undecided on the matter,” said Mainstreet’s president Quito Maggi.
Green Party candidate for Richmond-Queensborough Michael Wolfe said his party is opposed to the Liberal plan to build the bridge, a project that has already begun with some minor work along Highway 99.
Wolfe said the tunnel should be kept for environmental considerations.