The federal government announced that more than $136 million in joint funding will be coming to the province for five transit projects across B.C.
The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, Patty Hajdu, made the announcement at the BC Transit yard in Langford Friday morning.
“We know that as we make these investments in infrastructure, we’re starting to see a return on investment,” Hajdu said. “First of all it’s getting people back to work…but also it’s making things easier for our citizens…to get to where they need to go.”
The five transit projects will involve adding 118 new buses to the BC transit fleet, refurbishing existing buses, introducing on-board cashless fare and GPS tracking technologies to 790 buses, building 100 new transit shelters and purchasing generators for transit facilities in Whistler, Kamloops and Nanaimo so service can continue during power failures.
“We know people will take public transit when they can get from point A to point B in an efficient and reliable way,” Hajdu said.
The federal government is contributing $60 million to the project with the province matching the dollar amount.
“We have a very strong mandate in our government to make sure we are giving people options for transit,” said Lana Popham, B.C. Minister of Agriculture and MLA for Saanich South.
Local governments will also be contributing funding to the projects, bringing the investment amount to around $136 million.
One of the new technologies being added to buses is the ability for individuals to check when buses are available or arriving using their smartphones. The technology has already been implemented in Nanaimo, Comox Valley, Whistler, Squamish and Kamloops. The next two cities receiving it will be Kamloops and Victoria.
“It’s making the ride experience easier for our customers,” said Aaron Lamb, vice president of asset management for BC Transit.
There will also be cashless options for payment using smartphones or cards added to buses.
New buses with GPS and cashless fares can be expected to roll out in the late summer or fall of 2019. Bus shelters will be coming out right away, Lamb said.
“We know that efficient public transit systems are one of the ways that citizens count on us,” Hajdu said. “It enhances productivity, it enhances quality of life and is a key component in our other agenda which is protecting the environment.”