Mayoral hopeful Bruce Hayne now says he will “press pause” on phase one of Surrey’s light rail project, if elected.
Hayne, a current councillor, previously said he thought it was too late to change gears but told the Now-Leader on Monday that the issue is “too important not to revisit.”
SkyTrain is a “better solution for Surrey,” he said, adding that bus rapid transit might be the better option along 104th Avenue from King George Boulevard to 152nd Street.
Hayne said he wants to ensure the $1.6 billion in funding for the project is “used wisely” and “to ensure proper technology choices in Surrey.”
If elected, Hayne vowed to immediately approach TransLink and the Mayors’ Council to “work with them to determine the best transit solution” for Surrey.
Hayne said he’s concerned over a “lack of transparency and public consultation” on the LRT versus SkyTrain debate, and believes the wishes of the people of Surrey are not being heard.
“I’m becoming increasingly concerned over overly simplistic rhetoric by some of those engaged in this debate, and I’m equally concerned over what appears to be a fully committed position on LRT, despite the fact that none of the residents in Surrey were properly consulted on technology,” he added. “It’s puzzling that any elected official would advocate for technology which is so clearly not in line with the wishes of the constituents.”
Hayne, who is seeking election alongside his Integrity Now slate, said rapid transit infrastructure investment is needed but he questioned “the process and the logic of moving forward with such an unpopular approach and technology. An Integrity Now council will push pause on the LRT approach in order to do a full and transparent analysis as to what is the best technology for the people of this city.”
Hayne said he’s never seen a business case for Surrey’s light rail project and says the city needs to “ensure that the $1.6 billion in committed funding for transportation enhancements in Surrey is used quickly.”
“As the fastest growing city in Metro Vancouver, I believe Surrey needs to take a regional leadership role in advocating for more resources for our city and other severely under resourced communities south of the Fraser,” said Hayne.
The slate’s transportation platform also includes developing a “clear and comprehensive plan on transit for Surrey,” taking a regional leadership role on transit as mayor and council of the fastest growing city in Metro Vancouver, advocating for TransLink community shuttles in Surrey town centres and enhanced bus service throughout Surrey.
Meantime, former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum has also thrown his hat in the ring and vows to immediately halt the light rail project and build SkyTrain instead, if elected, while Surrey First mayoral candidate Tom Gill is pro-LRT.
A variety of other parties running in the election have taken stances on transit in Surrey.
The People First Surrey party’s is against LRT and calls for a SkyTrain along Fraser Highway and the SNG route instead, with more buses launched “immediately.” They’re calling for the entire route to be elevated. Down the road, their transit platform envisions rapid transit expansion to South Surrey with eventual connection to the Vancouver-Seattle rail route.
People First Surrey says LRT will cause more congestion in the city.
“Local politicians and bureaucrats need to stop attaching their legacies and egos to LRT and need to rationally think about the Surrey public’s needs and wants,” the team stated, saying after “honest dialogue about what the taxpayers need and want” elected officials need to “stand up for Surrey and to get funds moved to SkyTrain.”
The “left-leaning’ Proudly Surrey slate led by mayoral candidate Pauline Greaves says if elected, the team will honour the existing LRT contracts with the federal and provincial governments in addition to calling for a “South Fraser” transit authority.
That slate says it will “focus any new transit development on frequent bus service to all neighbourhoods” and will “work with Whatcom County municipalities to create a break-even cross-border bus network connecting to Bellingham Airport, the Alaska Marine Highway terminal and other important U.S. destinations.”
Progressive Sustainable Surrey mayoral candidate Imtiaz Popat calls for interurban over light rail or Skytrain, noting it was “planned as a community rail service south of the Fraser that would run for Scott Road station through Newton, Sullivan, Clayton, Cloverdale, Langley, Abbotsford and all the way to Chilliwack at the fraction of the cost of the proposed LRT or Skytrain.”
Meantime, independent mayoral hopeful, John Wolanski, calls for SkyTrain for Fraser Highway.
Another independent mayoral candidate, Francois Nantel, instead proposes a “suspended” system like the Wuppertal Suspension Railway in Germany.
Surrey voters head to the polls on Oct. 20.
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