COLUMN: Urgent need for rapid transit in Surrey

Light rail or SkyTrain – the rapidly growing city just needs something.

The City of Surrey sent out a provocative press release on Sunday, saying that “LRT arrives in Surrey.”

The city arranged with Bombardier Transportation to exhibit a 60-foot-long, full-scale model of a light rail vehicle at the popular Canada Day event at the Millennium Amphitheatre in Cloverdale.

The model being exhibited was the Bombardier Flexity Freedom vehicle. The city says it is designed with the latest technology, emits no emissions and reduces visual and noise pollution.

Mayor Dianne Watts is on record as wanting LRT in Surrey, as opposed to extensions of SkyTrain. She would like to see LRT lines on at least three busy corridors – 104 Avenue from Whalley to Guildford; King George Boulevard from Whalley to Newton with a possible extension to South Surrey and from Whalley to Langley on Fraser Highway, passing through Fleetwood and Clayton.

The cost of LRT extensions is considerably less than SkyTrain, which has been very expensive to construct. However, SkyTrain is separated from road traffic and as such can offer quicker trips and not get tied up by intersection crashes. One only has to travel on SkyTrain from King George station to New Westminster at a time when the Pattullo Bridge is backed up to understand that.

For more on the city’s perspective, see www.surrey.ca/RapidTransitNow.

However, not everyone agrees with Watts. Daryl Dela Cruz, chairman of the SkyTrain for Surrey Initiative, says SkyTrain costs in other areas have been inflated by specific conditions, and he says a study his organization is working on will provide the true costs of SkyTrain versus LRT. His organization’s position is detailed at http://skytrainforsurrey.org.

The real issue to consider in the debate is this: will any money be forthcoming from the senior levels of government to pay for most if not all of the capital costs of extending rapid transit in Surrey? Surrey can’t come up with the money itself, and TransLink has been reluctant to put money towards adding transit service in Surrey.

TransLink’s own money woes seem to indicate that it will not be taking the lead in bringing more rapid transit service in Surrey anytime soon.

Discussions between South of the Fraser mayors on transportation have been going on for some time, and it may well make sense to set up a separate South Fraser transit authority. It could still cooperate with TransLink and pay part of the costs of buses that go from south to north of the Fraser, but chances are it could provide better service here – if it had enough taxing authority.

That’s been TransLink’s problem from day one – it has proven very difficult to expand transit service with its limited taxing authority. While it keeps saying a car tax would solve many of its problems, that is a non-starter in areas like Surrey where bus service is so poor.

For now, the LRT model provides something to dream of – frequent and fast rapid transit in Surrey, service that could move a lot of people quickly. That service could be a SkyTrain extension, or it could be at-grade LRT. No matter what, it is needed now, because Surrey transit service is far from what it should be in a city with this many residents.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Mounties seeking witnesses to Saturday shooting

Police say the victim isn’t providing investigators with information

B.C.’s virtual ‘SoundON’ concerts kick off with sounds of Surrey festival

‘FVDED Broadcast’ from nightclub on July 18, as charity event

South Surrey mom frustrated by city’s response after son, 10, has severe reaction to park grass 

City of Surrey parks manager says ‘potential steps’ to address concern under review

Surrey council approves $150 FOI fee for attendance requests at city facilities

This came before council’s meeting on Monday July 13

Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner brings ‘objectivity’ to the job

Vancouver lawyer Reece Harding is Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner, also a first for B.C.

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Thousands of dollars of stolen rice traced to Langley warehouse

Police raid seizes $75,000 in ‘commercial scale’ theft case

UPDATE: Mission spray park closed after children suffer swollen eyes, burns

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

19 times on 19th birthday: Langley teen goes from crutches to conquering Abby Grind

Kaden Van Buren started at midnight on Saturday. By 3 p.m. he had completed the trek 19 times.

Professional basketball in Canada begins return to action with COVID-19 testing

Abbotsford’s Fraser Valley Bandits, six other CEBL teams arrive in Ontario for Summer Series

Most Read