Re: “How will you vote?” column by Frank Bucholtz (The Leader, Feb. 19).
The upcoming referendum on transit and transportation will shape the future of our city and the region. For Surrey, if the referendum is successful, it would mean 195,000 more people in our city will finally have access to transit that’s within walking distance and so frequent that a schedule would no longer be required – the proposed LRT (Light Rail Transit) lines would service more than 120,000 people alone. It would mean shaving 20 to 30 minutes off the daily commute for both the motorist and transit user.
While Mr. Bucholtz raises several important issues about the plan, there are a number of points that appear in his column that I would like to clarify.
Mr. Bucholtz states that when it comes to LRT, Surrey is getting a Chevy while Vancouver gets a Cadillac. Actually, the costs for a SkyTrain system are more akin to a Ferrari than a Cadillac. If Surrey was to build a SkyTrain, we would be paying one-and-a-half to two times more than an LRT system and getting one line instead of two servicing our city for the same investment. That means instead of having a 27 km network connecting City Centre, Guildford, Newton, Fleetwood and Langley we would have to make do with a single line to Langley only.
I would also like to challenge his assertion that a street level LRT line would be subject to “red lights and thus not a great deal faster than any other method of transportation.” We have the technical ability to synchronize our signal system so that the LRT line receives green light priority at intersections, which would result in substantial savings in travel time over regular vehicle traffic.
The example on Fraser Highway is a 22-minute run time for LRT as compared to existing commute times of up to 50 minutes during rush hour. As for how LRT compares to SkyTrain, the latter more expensive system would only reduce the travel time by a further four minutes. Also, an at-grade LRT line integrates well in the planning of our neighbourhoods as the street level stations allow for a more vibrant interaction with our communities and easier access for people of all ages and abilities.
When Fraser Highway is improved with Light Rail Transit and bicycle lanes, the plan is to have even more forested land as dedicated park space to Green Timber Urban Forest. The engineering department is working closely with the Green Timbers Heritage Society and the city’s urban forestry staff to preserve the trees within the Fraser Highway corridor.
As for the issue of tolls, here’s where Mr. Bucholtz and I wholeheartedly agree – there is no doubt communities South of the Fraser are bearing the brunt of this cost. That’s why council and I are advocating equitable distance-based mobility road pricing for the entire region and not just point tolls that are commonly found on crossings like bridges.
Mayor of Surrey