Does LRT even make sense?

Plan for light rail transit in Surrey doesn’t show promise.

Re: LRT for Fraser Highway and King George Boulevard.

Does this plan make any sense at all?

I am a senior who has lived and worked in European cities for 25 years and visited many more as a tourist. To me it is obvious that the only way that two rail lines of Light Rail Transit (LRT) along King George can be accomplished is by converting the two centre lanes from vehicular traffic to LRT.

King George, for the most part, consists of four lanes of urban vehicular traffic, plus two bike lanes, plus two sidewalks, with left-turn lanes at all (or most) intersections. Without widening the roadway, coupled with the relocation of homes and businesses away from the existing roadway, vehicular traffic on King George will be reduced from four lanes to two – half the current vehicular capacity to accommodate LRT.

Where will these two LRT lanes be located – on the outside of the current roadway or on the inside? The only place bike lanes can be placed in accordance with the law (I believe) is on the outside of the roadway adjacent to the sidewalks in the direction of traffic. Thus, the LRT rails will have to be placed in the centre of the existing roadway, meaning the centre lanes will be converted into LRT rails as there is no other space available.

Accordingly, left-turn-lanes at intersections will be converted into “passenger stations,” where passengers will wait for their trains to arrive and where they will also disembark, become pedestrians and continue their journey on foot.

For safety reasons, passengers will arrive at these “stations” in the centre of the King George Boulevard at intersections – with the exception of jaywalkers, some of whom will be struck by cars or LRT, resulting in the vehicular roadway being closed to traffic and the LRT out of commission while the police investigate.

Progress? I have yet to see any examination of traffic patterns that determined LRT will expand bus ridership by a percentage sufficient to make LRT worthwhile; i.e. significantly better than the current bus ridership rate.

A recent letter writer identified LRT as being 10 per cent  faster than the bus. Wow, my 30-minute bus ride to catch the SkyTrain will now be 27 minutes. Hooray!

Meanwhile, my wife (for example) is driving our sick child (or elderly relative) to see a doctor in the Surrey Memorial Hospital area, but she is delayed in getting to SMH because the line-up of vehicles at each intersection along King George is twice as long as it used to be (i.e. half the number of lanes). Alternative routes will also be blocked, just as we see today with vehicle accidents. Frustration and anger will result.

Is this progress for Surrey? Perhaps this is simply more of what downtown Vancouver is doing: getting people out of their cars to save the world.

The same rationale applies to the Fraser Highway, plus (God forbid), the cutting down of trees in Green Timbers Urban Forest.

If this is the plan – it sucks.

Mac Savage, Surrey

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