Vision for Surrey light rail transit. (Submitted photo).

Surrey mayor says light rail announcement for Surrey ‘final piece of puzzle’

“It’s going to be a real game-changer for Surrey,” Hepner told the Now-Leader.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner is lauding Friday’s announcement that the provincial government and mayors’ council has agreed on a plan to fund the “regional share” for phase two of a 10-year transportation project featuring construction of light rail in Surrey-Newton-Guildford.

She’s calling it the “final piece of the puzzle.”

“It’s going to be a real game-changer for Surrey,” Hepner told the Now-Leader after the announcement. “Really exciting. We’ve been trying to close that gap for several months now. This gap is what we really need to have finalized.”

Hepner expects construction to be fully underway in 2019.

Surrey Board of Trade is also pleased.

“Our rationale is that Surrey is the destination, not a thoroughfare to somewhere else,” said SBOT CEO Anita Huberman in a release. “Studies have shown, including the Surrey Board of Trade’s most recent Surrey Road Survey, that over 70 per cent of all car trips in Surrey, stay in Surrey. The demand for more transit increases annually, as Surrey is becomes the hub of the South Fraser region.”

Huberman said as the project moves forward, there will be work done with the business community to “ensure they are prepared for the transition.”

“We are planning four business-focussed workshops to go over the project plans in as much detail as possible, and work with impacted businesses on how they can continue to serve their clients over the next two to three years,” Huberman added.

See also: Metro mayors to hike transit fares, property taxes to pay for transit projects

Friday’s announcement is being characterized as “the largest transit and transportation investment in Metro Vancouver history,” according to a TransLink media bulletin that says the plan will cover light rail for Surrey, construction of the Millennium Line Broadway Extension, “significant” upgrading of Expo-Millennium lines, an eight per cent increase in bus service and improvements to sidewalks, bikeways, multi-use paths and roadways.

To deliver on these projects, the mayor’s council is proposing to use $1.6 billion in fare revenue, a two per cent increase in transit fares over two years beginning in 2020 (a five to 15 cent increase to adult and concession transit fares and $1 to $3 increase to adult and concession monthly passes), $15 cents per hour increase for average $5 per hour parking, a $5.50 increase in property taxes per average households each year beginning next year, and a $300 to $600 per unit increase to development cost charges on new residential developments.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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