Ninety-two per cent of respondents to a TransLink survey regarding the SkyTrain extension to UBC indicated support for the project.
Planning for the extension is currently underway, but the extension has not yet been fully funded. Survey respondents ranked improving reliability and travel time as key things they’re looking for from the extension. Others mentioned connecting people to jobs, housing, recreation and education. An extension of the Millennium Line to Arbutus Street is currently underway, with construction expected to finish in 2025.
Janeen Alliston, director of communications for UBC Rapid Transit projects, said connectivity is one of the biggest benefits of a SkyTrain extension.
“It will connect some really crucial innovation, employment and housing centres across Metro Vancouver, which will contribute to the economic viability of the region,” she said.
If built, an extension to UBC would replace the 99 B-Line, the busiest bus route in Metro Vancouver. The 99 B-Line will be shortened to service the Arbutus to UBC route when the Arbutus SkyTrain extension opens, but according to TransLink, a SkyTrain could move up to three times as many people as the bus.
Survey results show high support for the project across Metro Vancouver, and very high support in the UBC area. AMS VP External Saad Shoaib said he was looking forward to the survey results’s release as the AMS coordinated with TransLink to make sure student’s voices were heard. “We knew that everyone was going to be supportive of this.”
Many survey respondents wrote that the SkyTrain is long overdue.
Michael White, associate vice-president of Campus and Community Planning, said the public engagement reflects what UBC has been telling decision makers. “From the beginning of our planning and advocacy, we’ve asked, ‘Why stop short?’ and I think the public is asking the same question.”
Shoaib said the survey will help the AMS and other stakeholders lobby all levels of government to fund the extension, reflecting its wide-ranging benefits. “This is a key project that needs the necessary funding, and is something that is great for the region overall.”
The next step for the SkyTrain extension is creating a business case, which outlines the full project scope, estimated costs and benefits. The federal and provincial governments pledged 80 per cent of planning funding earlier this year.
White says it’s important the business case is initiated in early 2022 so that construction can be continuous from the Arbutus extension to UBC.
“If you look at the overall benefits of the line, they’re overwhelming on all accounts.”