UBC SkyTrain line has a good case for it

These cities have a combined population of 1.1 million and the majority of jobs in the region.

Re: “Lose the ‘grandiose’ SkyTrain plan, Watts tells Vancouver,” The Leader, Dec. 11.

When Surrey is pushing a $1-billion six-lane Pattullo Bridge on a reluctant New Westminster in the same week as the $3-billion widest-in-the world Port Mann Bridge and the $1.3-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road opened, it is a stretch to suggest the badly needed UBC SkyTrain line is “grandiose.”

With 322,000 riders projected by 2041 and driving decreasing due to tolls, density and lack of interest among young people, the UBC line may serve more people than all these highway projects combined.

Due to the high ridership, the UBC line has one of the best business cases of all transit projects in North America.

The UBC line is a critical regional connection linking Coquitlam, Burnaby, Vancouver and UBC. These cities have a combined population of 1.1 million and the majority of jobs in the region. Surrey residents will also benefit from a fast frequent transit connection to the airport, Richmond, central Broadway and UBC.

We need to learn from the Golden Ears Bridge, which has far fewer users than expected. It delayed the Evergreen Line by several years and is costing TransLink and taxpayers $30 million a year as tolls are not covering the costs. Ironically, TransLink’s current shortfall is $30 million.

A six-lane Pattullo will compete with badly needed light rapid transit in Surrey, reducing ridership and revenue thus increasing the subsidies for both projects.

The solution is obvious: Place a reasonable toll on the existing Pattullo and Alex Fraser bridges to fund LRT in Surrey. This will be far more affordable for taxpayers and drivers than yet another overbuilt, under-used bridge.

 

Richard Campbell, Vancouver

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