To the editor;
The Rail For the Valley Campaign demands the provincial government get started on building South of Fraser light rail, now that residents are being asked to pay more in vehicle and gas taxes.
The idea of increasing taxes in Surrey and Langley to fund the Evergreen SkyTrain Line will simply not fly if there is not also an immediate plan to build light rail south of the Fraser River.
The Evergreen Line is extremely expensive and taking so long to implement because the provincial government decided it must be built using Bombardier’s SkyTrain system instead of the far more popular option of at-grade light rail that is being built everywhere else around the world.
So now, people south of the Fraser are being asked to pay even more in taxes for very little benefit to themselves. This has to change.
We strongly support Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts’ demands for immediate investment in at-grade light rail south of the Fraser, and we await an announcement from the province.
To put things in perspective, an independent technical analysis by Leewood Projects of Great Britain confirms that establishing a light rail service on the existing Interurban corridor, through Surrey, Delta, Cloverdale,
Langley, Abbotsford, all the way
100 km to Chilliwack, would cost about a third the cost of the 11-km Evergreen SkyTrain line.
The Interurban would be an excellent starting point for a light rail network, because you can establish an initial system of considerable length at low cost, and then build on to it.
Rail For the Valley understands the need to sometimes raise revenues in order to help pay for significant infrastructure projects that will benefit everyone.
It has now been 17 years with no rail-based transit expansion south of the Fraser River, and increased taxes must be accompanied by the creation of real alternatives for people in the area.
South of Fraser light rail is long overdue.
Dr. John Buker
Founder, Rail For the Valley