Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. I am happy and honoured to be appearing before your committee.
I appreciate the opportunity to present today on your study of updating infrastructure in Canada.
I'm here on behalf of Mayor Gregor Robertson and am representing the City of Vancouver as the city manager. I have with me today our acting general manager of engineering, Mr. Jerry Dobrovolny, and Fred Cummings, the vice-president of TransLink. TransLink is the regional transportation authority in the metro Vancouver region, which provides an integrated and regional transportation service to 23 municipalities in the area.
I think you know the importance of the federal government and the shared investments across Canada over the past 20 years in terms of infrastructure. I'm here to provide you some opportunities to understand what is our highest priority for the City of Vancouver for our transportation infrastructure, and how it fits overall in a very coherent, robust regional plan.
The City of Vancouver has had a very strong partnership with the federal government in many areas, including, as you may be aware, the recent completion of a $50 million project called the Powell Street overpass. This was a rail-port-city project in which we expanded real access to our port, which has the largest capacity in the whole country. We managed to undertake some changes, which allowed another whole rail of railway access. It allowed us also to create an overpass with an important rail corridor that previously had an at-grade separation. So it was a very successful project where we worked with federal officials to actually complete that, along with the railways and our port authority.
The metro Vancouver region is composed of 21 municipalities, Tsawwassen First Nation, and electoral area A. We constitute half the population in that area of British Columbia. We have a population in the metro Vancouver area of 2.5 million. We have a unique situation in which we have a single transit authority for that whole area. In fact, by that virtue, it is the largest transit service area in the whole country.
We have geographic constraints. Those of you who have had the opportunity to come to the Vancouver area know we're surrounded by mountains and there's the border with the U.S. on the other side. Therefore, we've had to have a very coherent planning process to make sure that we're densifying along transit corridors, and that we're managing growth in our urban areas and protecting agricultural land, but making sure we have a highly effective transportation system.
Growth in our region will be significant over the coming years. Our region will grow by more than a million people and 600,000 jobs over the next 25 to 30 years. We have a regional plan to address that, and transit investments are a fundamental part of that.
As you heard from testimony from other presenters to this committee, it's very clear that investments that are sustained and appropriate for transit are a very good return on the investment in terms of economic potential. We've looked at two recent studies that have come out of the United States from the American Public Transportation Association. They actually show a nearly four to one return for investment in public transit, so for every $1 billion that's invested, you achieve a $3.7 billion increase in your GDP.
Furthermore, we know that properly planned transit that is integrated with appropriate urban planning allows you to develop business clusters. That's certainly what we've seen in the metro Vancouver region and in our city.
Through very strategic investments, in which the federal government has played a key role.... You can see from this slide, if you look at the red line, that is the participation by ridership in rapid transit infrastructure. You can see the little bumps in the line every time we made a major investment in the extension of our SkyTrain system, the last of which—with a very vertical part of that curve in 2010—was the Canada Line, in which the federal government was a partner. You can see the remarkable increase in rides and use of public transit that happens with that.
The blue curve on that slide represents the growth in overall transit ridership that's happened in our metropolitan region from the late 1980s and early 1990s, when our SkyTrain system came in. That's a reflection of a plan that is integrated across the 21 municipalities, participation of all three levels of government, and really intensive work with our public to ensure they understand the real benefits of public transit. Essentially, transit ridership in metro Vancouver has doubled over the past 20 years.
Competitive cities across the world have recognized that investing in transit accommodates growing populations and is a key to fostering economic growth. In the last year, the mayors in the 23 jurisdictions in metro Vancouver have come together and developed a very coherent, integrated transit plan that looks ahead for the next 10 years. That plan was approved by 21 of the 23 municipalities that partook in the planning exercise.
The transportation plan is designed to cut congestion by providing improved transportation and transit service to people throughout both our city and our neighbouring 22 jurisdictions. The cost of congestion in our region and in other regions of Canada, as you know, is in the billions of dollars.
This plan is comprehensive. It's not just rapid transit. It involves rapid transit, rail service, bus, and SeaBus, as well as sustainable transportation improvements in walking and cycling. This will lead to safer and less congested roads and enhanced goods movement.
We have strong support from our business community for this plan. They know it will protect the economy. They will grow it. It will also be a balanced approach to our environment and help the quality of life in our region to continue to improve.
The total cost of this plan is $7.5 billion. With an investment of this sort, our analysis shows that it will grow the region's economy by $450 million per year by the time we get to 2025. It will create 7,000 direct new jobs by 2030 with corollary impacts in job growth. We've studied the impact on households in terms of actual savings, and we're finding with an effective public transit system more and more families are making a choice. They don't need to own a car, much less two cars. We've calculated that a net saving per household will be to the tune of about $360 per year.
We have just completed a mail-in referendum ballot to look at a new revenue source for helping fund this. From the regional perspective, we are looking for a partnership with the federal government and the province, as well as with our own region, and we've undertaken a plebiscite over the last 10 weeks. The results are not in, but we're awaiting them. The province has made a strong commitment. This is a priority for them. It was the province that requested that we come forward with a 10-year plan from the mayors.
We're here today, first of all, to thank the federal government for the investments in various infrastructure in our city and region over the last 10 to 20 years and to help you understand the importance of keeping going and the critical importance of infrastructure funding programs to help us address our issues.
This plan contains two major rapid transit projects to meet our growing needs. You've heard about one from the City of Surrey, their light rail transit plan to connect their city with the three economic centres adjacent to their city, and also the Broadway SkyTrain extension, which involves the City of Vancouver and is an extension of the existing SkyTrain system, which ends at Broadway and Commercial, and extending that ultimately all the way to UBC, but this is about phase one in the next 10 years, which will take us about halfway there, to Arbutus Street.
I want to talk to you a little about the corridor that this transit extension will address. The Broadway corridor will be a tunnelled extension of SkyTrain. It is the second largest economic centre in the province, the first economic centre being the downtown core of Vancouver.
It is basically a tech economic centre. It encompasses high tech and the largest hospital and academic health centre in the province. It is a centre and an area of our city that has had higher overall employment growth when compared with the whole province. We expect this job growth to double in the next 20 years.
At the far end of the corridor is the University of British Columbia. As you probably know, UBC is ranked one of the top 40 universities in the world. It has a student base of 60,000 and an extensive faculty. It also has a growing community around it.
The first phase of this project will take us to the end of the central Broadway corridor. We hope to see a second phase following in the near future to complete it.
If you look at the dots on this map, those purple circles identify the highest intensity of jobs and population and students along these transit lines. Every one of those lines—the orange, the yellow, the blue, and the light blue—are current transit lines in the Vancouver area. You can see the high intensity of jobs in the area of central Broadway. It is a key link that will not only take care of congestion on that corridor now but also link in the new LRT that Surrey is proposing and the Evergreen Line, which is under construction. You can see that to the right on this slide.
The current transit demand on this Broadway corridor is staggering. There are 100,000 bus boardings per day. A bus runs in the peak hours every two minutes on the corridor. It's the highest intensity bus corridor across North America, across the U.S. and Canada.
The Evergreen Line opening in the fall of 2016 is a very significant project that has had extensive participation by the federal government, for which we're very, very grateful, but just that addition alone will increase the congestion on Broadway by 25%. This line is something that's been critical for us. We see it as fundamental to this plan that the mayors have brought forward and to the success of the economy in our region and also our city.
SkyTrain technology has been recommended for this corridor because it is high capacity and it builds on the platform of infrastructure that's already present. The business case for it is very powerful, with nearly a 3:1 advantage in terms of cost-benefit ratio using SkyTrain technology. It will attract the most daily riders. We know, based on our experience with the Canada Line, that opening day we'll have 160,000 people travelling on this corridor, which is very dramatic capacity engagement on the first day of a public transit extension like this.
We submitted this extension to P3 Canada in round six. We're developing another extension in round seven. As I said, it will be shared funding for this project, local and regional funding, which we're working on with TransLink. We're already in the pre-design phase, funded through TransLink and city funds, to make sure we're ready.
As you can see, this is a long-awaited project. It is urgent. It is a project that is made for capacity and demand that already exist and that we actually can't meet.