A Light Rail Transit plan has received the support of outgoing Surrey Mayor Diane Watts for years and was also included in the Metro Vancouver Transport Plan brought forward by the Mayors’ Council in June. The proposed plan would link Surrey City Centre with nearby commercial centres via three light rail lines. One to Guildford along 104 Avenue, one to Newton along King George and the third to Langley City Centre along Fraser Highway.
It’s not the only plan being promoted though. One citizens’ group, The Better Surrey Rapid Transit, recently released a report which proposes an elevated SkyTrain Expo Line extension in place of the LRT, along with other recommended transit improvements. The report includes the SkyTrain expansion, running from King George to Langley City Centre along Fraser Highway, a dedicated rapid bus lane along King George to White Rock and bus service improvements along the 104 Avenue corridor.
The citizens’ group estimates their proposed plan would cost $2.3 billion, compared with the $2.44 billion LRT model. It would also save commuters from Langley to Surrey Centre seven minutes, and commuters from Langley to Vancouver 12 minutes of travel time, compared to the LRT model. Also, it could attract 202,000 new riders per day, versus the LRT’s 166,000 riders (TransLink’s 2010 Surrey Rapid Transit Study).
One proponent of the LRT, Mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode, defended the LRT, arguing speed and price aren’t the only considerations. She told The Province that she favours the LRT option because it would “prevent the community being divided up by big concrete pillars” and would promote business along the route.
Candidate Doug McCallum said his research as a former TransLink chair showed LRT was the most logical and economical option for Surrey’s urban-rural geography. “(Surrey is) one-third parkland, one-third agricultural land, one-third residential and commercial,” McCallum said. “It’s not really high density overall in our city. The only option that could be built is light rail.”
As mentioned, the LRT plan has received the support of Surrey’s mayor Diane Watts who has been lobbying TransLink for funding for the plan for years, with the support of the Surrey Board of Trade’s Light Rail Links advocacy group and the Mayor’s Council. However, the transit authority has not committed to the plan yet and an expanded SkyTrain route may still be in Surrey’s future.
BC Business, An Expo Line to… Langley?, by Trevor Melanson, published July 16, 2014
The Province, SkyTrain expansion would be cheaper, faster than LRT, says Surrey citizens’ group, by Elaine O’Connor, published July 15, 2014
Image: City of Surrey, Rapid Transit Now