January 16, 2008 / 7:09 AM / in 10 years

Canadian province plans C$14 bln transit expansion

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada’s westernmost province plans to spend C$14 billion ($13.8 billion) on expanding mass transit by 2020 and doubling ridership to more than 400 million trips per year, British Columbia officials said on Monday.

The plan to reduce automobile greenhouse gas emissions includes four new rail rapid transit projects in the Vancouver area, one of which is already under construction in conjunction with the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Bus system expansion is also planned for Vancouver, Kelowna and Victoria, with the purchase of 1,500 new clean-energy buses such as hybrids and fuel cell vehicles.

But provincial officials also acknowledged the plan included C$3.1 billion in federal funding that has not been secured.

“You don’t get the dollars if you don’t have the plan,” Premier Gordon Campbell said.

Campbell said the expansion will not require a carbon tax that the province is also considering for its next budget as part of a pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent by 2020.

Officials said more transit was needed for the growing population of the Vancouver region, which passed the 2 million mark in 2006. Unlike most large North American cities Vancouver never built a major system of freeways and limited-access highways.

Municipal officials who attended Campbell’s announcement generally praised the plan, but several admitted they were concerned whether it was adequately funded.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Rob Wilson

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