PLANS to develop an automated metro or light rail line serving the rapidly-growing corridor between Vancouver and Richmond received a boost last month, when the Vancouver International Airport Authority confirmed that it had committed C$300m towards the link. President & CEO Larry Berg said the authority had signed a memorandum of understanding with the British Columbia provincial government and Greater Vancouver Transit Authority (TransLink).

Feasibility studies for a 19·5 km line were commissioned last year by TransLink and the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Transit Project, a consortium of eight federal, provincial and local authorities. These suggested that the line would carry between 26 and 38 million passengers a year, and cover its operating costs from fare revenue. Following public consultation, RAVP announced in April that 82% were in favour of the proposal.

Starting from an interchange with the existing SkyTrain and commuter rail lines at Waterfront, the 19·5 km route would run south through the city centre to central Broadway, and then via the airport to Richmond. The city centre section would run underground, but the remainder could be at ground level or elevated, depending on the choice of technology. There would be 18 or 19 stations.

Total cost is put at C$1·5bn to C$1·7bn. Project Director Jane Bird hopes that construction can get underway by 2005, so that the line will be ready in 2009; Vancouver is bidding to host the Winter Olympics in 2010.