The following press release was sent out today, in response to the provincial government’s announcement today of transit implementation studies:

Today, the province and Translink announced implementation studies for rapid transit lines to UBC and to Surrey (see link). According to the provincial Transit Plan, the estimated cost of these expansions is $2.8 billion (UBC) and $1.1 billion (Surrey), assuming elevated SkyTrain is chosen. This would work out to $180 million/km for the line in Surrey and more than $200 million/km for the UBC subway line.

Light rail transit, in contrast, costs $20-30 million/km to implement from scratch, or much less for any project using the existing Interurban line. (According to a 2006 UMA study commissioned by the City of Surrey, Interurban light rail would cost only $6 million/km, and experts agree that east of Langley this figure drops off considerably, due to a far lower density of stations.)

Rail For The Valley points out that neither this study, nor the recently announced FVRD study focusing on Abbotsford and Chilliwack, includes Langley. “It’s a travesty that Langley, a full member and funder of Translink, appears to be left out yet again,” said Rail For The Valley spokesman John Buker.

Rail For The Valley appeals to Translink to shift it’s expansions away from the extremely expensive Skytrain option towards light rail, for both UBC and Surrey lines, and to include Langley and the rest of the Fraser Valley. Buker said, “While it’s encouraging that Translink is now saying the Surrey line could be light rail, we’re disappointed that they’re still even considering Skytrain as an option, given that Surrey strongly prefers light rail, and given that light rail is by far the more cost-effective option.”

During November’s civic election campaign in Surrey, it was revealed that not a single mayoral or council candidate favoured Skytrain expansion to light rail. (see link).

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