Contrary to what the City of Surrey claims, light rail transit is not the best option for connecting communities South of the Fraser to one another and to the rest of Metro Vancouver, according to a pro-SkyTrain advocate.
Daryl Dela Cruz, campaign chair of SkyTrain for Surrey, told Langley City council on Monday evening he believes City of Surrey representatives are misleading the public in their advocacy for LRT.
Dela Cruz presented his group’s arguments for SkyTrain and against LRT, citing a 2012 TransLink study, among others.
Langley City staff plan to examine the two systems after another study from TransLink is completed. The City’s chief administrative officer, Francis Cheung, said Langley’s study will be likely be completed next year.
“Langley City’s staff study will be an important opportunity to consider the facts and see through the smoke and mirrors of LRT supporters, who have gone too far in stretching the truth to claims that are awash in fear-mongering and divisiveness,” said Dela Cruz.
The LRT plan, which was presented to City council two weeks before Dela Cruz’s presentation, includes an LRT line down Fraser Highway in its second phase of construction, after an “L-Line” is built between Guildford and City Centre SkyTrain stations.
Dela Cruz said, he would rather see a new SkyTrain line built down Fraser Highway to Langley’s Centre first, with rapid bus service (similar to other B-Line routes) used along the proposed L-Line route.
“I like the idea of putting Langley at the forefront,” said Coun. Rudy Storteboom.
Dela Cruz also said the campaign in favour of LRT is putting the business interests of a few before those of the average transit user.
LRT advocates argue that a SkyTrain line would put too much emphasis on people going into Vancouver, rather than getting around Surrey.
“LRT is about preventing people from leaving Surrey,” he said.
A new SkyTrain line between Surrey and Langley would greatly reduce travel times as well, according to Dela Cruz.
“You and I standing right here in this room could walk out of this building (City Hall on Douglas Crescent) into a nearby station and we could be in Downtown Vancouver in under 60 minutes,” he said.
According to Dela Cruz the LRT system would be only marginally faster than current bus travel times.
Coun. Paul Albrecht expressed agreement with Dela Cruz’s arguments.
“I believe that elevated rail is the only way to get the maximum number of people from A to B and have an effective public transit system,” he said.