Site updated Thursday, August 05, 2004 12:47 PM

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SkyTrain extension off the rails

David Carrigg, staff writer

Plans to extend SkyTrain underground from Vancouver Community College's King Edward campus to Granville Street are on hold as the region's transit gurus focus on a similar line from downtown to Richmond.

Wayne Pledger, the city's strategic transportation planning engineer, said an underground SkyTrain west of VCC was considered at one stage as part of the Millennium Line SkyTrain project, but has fallen out of favour.

When the former NDP government announced the Millennium Line project in 1998, it consisted of phase one from New Westminster to VCC and phase two from VCC to the intersection of Broadway and Granville, after which a B-Line bus service would operate west to UBC.

The five-kilometre line was expected to cost about $600 million and take about six minutes to travel. It includes three stations between VCC and the intersection of Granville and 10th Avenue.

According to an agreement signed in March, 2000, the province was prepared to foot two-thirds of the bill, while TransLink would pay the rest. The line was expected to carry four million passengers a year by 2021.

"We expected phase two would follow soon after the construction of phase one. But there's been a change in government, a change in priorities and there's no money. It's not a high priority anymore," Pledger said.

Phase one of the Millennium Line is expected to begin operating this September.

Clive Rock, TransLink's manager of strategic planning, said the VCC-to-Granville line is still included in the transit provider's Area Transit Plan, though at this stage, most attention is being focused on a rapid-transit line to Richmond.

That $2-billion project, expected to follow the Cambie Corridor, has gained favour recently because TransLink may get money from the federal government in light of the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Olympic bid.

Despite the lack of action, council voted March 3 to continue supporting an underground SkyTrain link between VCC and Granville.

The Greater Vancouver Regional District voted Friday to support TransLink's strategic priorities, which include the VCC- to-Granville SkyTrain phase.

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