TransLink branching out in real estate development

TransLink is in the lucrative real estate development business with a focus on building for-profit residential, commercial and mixed-use developments close to public transportation.

CEO Kevin Quinn said the drop in passengers and revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic has made the public transportation provider realize it needs to diversify how it generates additional revenue that is not dependent on taxes.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, TransLink received $676 million in government subsidies.

“As we continue to bring riders back into the system after two very difficult years, this initiative is an innovative way to generate funding for Vancouver Metro’s essential transportation services,” Quinn said.

According to Gordon Price, a former Vancouver City Council member and director of Simon Fraser University’s city program, the move is long overdue.

“It’s amazing to me that it actually took so long,” Price said.

“In principle, what [TransLink] He wants to get some value added to the land the moment it comes up… You build the station and you get some value. How? Real estate development is the obvious answer.”

Price said transit authorities’ practice of developing property closely with expansion has been around for decades in other places, including Sweden, going back to the 1950s.

“They started this idea and it all worked as one package,” he said. “It has worked really well, in fact, in cities all over the world.”

The Brentwood neighborhood of Burnaby has grown rapidly as part of the trend to focus population growth along SkyTrain lines. (Justin McIlroy/CBC)

He points to Burnaby’s explosive Brentwood neighborhood as an example of a development boom with cities favoring condensation along transportation infrastructure.

Another example is the Broadway corridor in Vancouver, where property values ​​are expected to rise with city council approval Wednesday Broadway’s 30-year plan To develop a large area of ​​land along the Millennium Railroad extension track.

TransLink said its real estate development division will follow models in London, Paris and Hong Kong.

According to Price, the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is the most successful and perhaps cautionary example.

“What’s often said about MTR is that it’s a real estate company with a transit division,” Price laughs. “Whether it happens here, you can definitely see the scale at which it can happen.”

In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, TransLink’s cycling rate is down 48 percent from the previous year. Quinn says he has not yet recovered, but reached 80 percent of pre-COVID levels this past weekend.

“We will still need to identify more long-term financing solutions, but this program will improve people’s access to transit, create more transit-oriented communities and generate new long-term revenue to help us improve and expand our system.”

Both the Council of Mayors and the TransLink Council have approved the transition to real estate development, which will be done through private and public partnerships, according to TransLink.

Leave a Comment