(File photo)

TransLink says 28 new Skytrain cars to arrive early

The cars for the Expo and Millennium lines will now be delivered three years earlier

TransLink is speeding up the delivery of 28 new SkyTrain cars on the Expo and Millennium Lines.

The first half of 56 new SkyTrain cars coming as part of phase one of the Metro Vancouver mayors’ 10-year transportation plan are set to arrive later this year and into next year. The other 28 cars weren’t supposed to get here for another three years.

“But with the very strong demand in our system … we wanted to make it a priority to get relief for our customers as soon as possible,” CEO Kevin Desmond told a news conference in Richmond on Friday.

The cars will now arrive by the end of 2019.

Desmond also announced an agreement to bring in 24 new cars for the Canada Line.

READ MORE: Corrigan ‘confident’ budget will help fill 15% transit funding gap

The CEO pointed to ridership increasing by six per cent on Canada Line, and by more than 12 per cent on the Expo and Millennium lines, in 2017, with more than 47 million boardings.

He said ridership per capita rose by more than 59% in this region from 2022 to 2016 – more than any other region in the country.

In total, 80 new cars should be ready to go 2020, to boost capacity 10 per cent for the Expo Line, 23 per cent for the Millennium Line, and 30 per cent for the Canada Line.

Put another way, TransLink estimates that $298-million new SkyTrain car investment will add 8,200 more spaces per peak hour on both directions on all three lines.

What about the Massey Tunnel?

Premier John Horgan was at the news conference, and was asked why a replacement to the Massey Tunnel wasn’t part of his government’s budget tabled earlier this week.

“Our focus is on trying to realize the mayor’s 10-year plan. And the plan didn’t include a Massey bridge,” Horgan said. “Having said that, we have a congestion problem. The ministry of transportation is working on that.

But I want to be guided by the wisdom and hard work of the mayors’ council. Not to say the Massey replacement is not a high priority, but the Pattullo Bridge is falling into the Fraser River.”

The NDP announced last week it would fund a $1.4-billion replacement for the crumbling 81-year-old bridge.

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