Bidding begins for C$1.4bn Canadian transit deal

British Columbia’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is now qualifying bidders for the Evergreen Line, a transit line that will connect Vancouver with its western suburbs in 13 minutes.

Fresh off the awarding of Denver’s $2.1 billion transit public-private partnership in June, another big-ticket transit deal is coming to market, this time in Canada.

British Columbia’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has issued a request for qualifications to identify private partners capable of designing, building, and financing a transit line that will connect Vancouver with its Western suburbs.

The so-called Evergreen Line is estimated to cost C$1.4 billion (€1 billion; $1.3 billion), according to a public information bulletin, and will comprise approximately 11 kilometers of tunnel, surface and elevated track connecting the suburb of Coquitlam with Vancouver via the cities of Port Moody and Burnaby.

The goal is to provide commuters a quick trip, approximately 13 minutes in total, from end-to-end and provide a connection without transfer to Vancouver’s existing light rapid transit system, the SkyTrain.

Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2011 and completion is anticipated by the end of 2014, according to the ministry. The ministry also expects the project to create 8,000 jobs.

However, the ministry will have to obtain an environmental assessment certificate before construction can begin. The application for the certificate is still in process, according to the Evergreen Line website, and the certificate has not yet been granted.

Prospective bidders have until 7 September to respond to the request for qualifications.

The qualifications process will mark the beginning of at least the second bid-ticket transit public-private partnership (PPP) project in North America in the last two years. The Eagle transit project in Denver, a $2.1 billion PPP to create transit links between downtown Denver and its western suburbs and international airport, is now heading toward financial close after a Macquarie/Fluor consortium won the bidding for the contract in June.

Unlike the Evergreen deal, though, the Eagle PPP contract was a broader PPP that included not only the design, building and financing of the project but also a concession for its maintenance and operations.