Surrey to push TransLink for light rail, mayor says in state of city address

Welcome to TransLink’s worst nightmare, the mayor of Ai??Surrey (BC, Canada) wants light rail and not SkyTrain for the city. Three decades of deliberate misinformation, misleading studies, and anti-LRT rhetoric is going to come back and haunt TransLink, with this decision. TransLink’s grand economies of the truth about modern light rail, may cause such rancor that the transportation authority may split into two.

The Rail for the Valley/Leewood TramTrain report fits right in with Surrey’s light rail wishes and for a fraction of the cost of a new SkyTrain line, the Fraser Valley could have a viable light rail network servicing downtown Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack,Ai??all connecting withAi??a LRT network in Surrey.

What is of interest is that TransLink’s cost estimates of $127 million/km. for the the Evergreen Line and (has TransLink already made the decision for Broadway?) $223 million/km. for the proposed Broadway subway.

$27 million/km. for LRT is right in the middle of cost estimates for recently built light rail lines, but if engineering is kept to a minimum and prefabricated track is use, the cost per km could be a lot less! The long straight roads in Surrey, certainly will make pre-flab track installation a viable option.

Modern Prefabricated track installation, saves time and costs.

Rail for the Valley applauds that modern LRT is finally built in the region, butAi??we will remain somewhat skeptical until we actually see shovels in the ground.

Note to mayor Watts: Don’t trust TransLink one iota.

Surrey to push TransLink for light rail, mayor says in state of city address

By Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun

April 12, 2011 5:26 PM

METRO VANCOUVER — Surrey is exploring the potential of building at-grade light rail on three of the city’s major corridors, saying an extension of the SkyTrain line is not financially feasible.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said Tuesday the city will actively advocate for TransLink to build light rail across the city and is already investigating three routes: 104th Avenue between 152nd Street and City Centre; King George Highway from City Centre to Newton (and eventually South Surrey); and Fraser Highway between City Centre and Langley.

“I don’t want to have SkyTrain cutting our communities in half ai??i?? that is going to destroy our city,” Watts told nearly 500 people at her State of the City Address at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel. “It’s not just about moving people as far as you can from A to B; it’s about moving people but also building a community.

“If we don’t put in proper measures for transportation we’re going to have a mess.”

Watts argued the city, which gives $164 million a year ai??i?? $44 million of those in property taxes ai??i?? to transportation each year, hasn’t seen any transit expansion in the past 17 years despite growing from a population of less than 250,000 back then to nearly 400,000 in 2006. It still has only four SkyTrain stops after the Expo line ended at King George Station.

As Surrey develops into the region’s second downtown, she added, the city needs a cost effective and efficient transportation system to accommodate the growth.

Another one million people are expected to move to Metro Vancouver in the next 30 years with 70 per cent of those settling south of the Fraser River.

Building a SkyTrain connecting Surrey with Langley, she said, would be cost-prohibitive, compared with light rail and street cars, which would complement the existing SkyTrain and buses already in place.

TransLink has estimated the cost of light rail at $27 million per kilometre versus $127 million for the Evergreen Line and $233 million for the UBC/Broadway line.

“To get around the city of Surrey by SkyTrain is not feasible. It costs billions and billions and billions of dollars,” Watts said.

The Canada Line, linking Vancouver and Richmond, cost $2 billion to build, while the Evergreen Line is set at $1.4 billion. TransLink had tentatively proposed building a six-kilometre SkyTrain from City Centre to Guildford and is now undergoing studies for the Surrey route.

TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said Watts’ comments mirror what’s been heard in the community so far. More public consultation sessions on rapid transit in Surrey will be held in the next month-and-a-half, with a feasiblility plan likely expected by the end of the year. “It’s very productive to have those concepts on the table,” Hardie said.

The Surrey rapid transit project is part of a region-wide transportation strategy for the Metro Vancouver region, which includes the Evergreen Line connecting Burnaby, Port Moody and Coquitlam and a proposed rapid transit along the Broadway corridor to the University of B.C.

Transit officials, the province and regional mayors continue to wrangle with ways to pay for future transit projects, including the long-awaited Evergreen Line, without raising property taxes.

Watts, who met with TransLink Tuesday afternoon, said she wants a funding strategy to be developed within the next few months, with design plans for light rail in place by next year.

“I think the general public is fed up with all of us sitting around a table trying to cobble our pennies together to pay for [transit],” she said. “I would like to see it done within a month or two. You need a sustainable transportation plan.

Light rail is the only option for Surrey and Langley, she insists, adding that White Rock Mayor Catherine Ferguson and Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender agree. Unlike Vancouver and Burnaby, which are tight-knit communities with no more land base, Surrey is so vast and open that it needs more inter-modal types of transit, she said

Watts argued light rail would help connect Surrey’s town centres and boost economic activity, she said. while creating a “vibrancy” in the city, which aims to develop 150 kilometres of new bicycle and pedestrian trails and paths by 2016.

“Transportation is critically important as we shape growth in our town centres. In order to create healthy communities, we need to provide safe and accessible walking and cycling opportunities,” Watt said in her speech.

“At-grade rail is cost-effective and efficient, and would not only create a new transportation option, but also increase economic development and improve quality of life.”

Watts added light rail is considered a key plank in the city’s attempts to boost economic development.

Surrey is continuing to complete significant infrastructure projects in it Surrey Build program, which involves $2.8 billion in construction, including $800 million in new community projects and $2 billion worth of facilities being built in partnership with other levels of government.

The program is being funded through infrastructure fees, secondary suite fees, contributions from the Surrey City Development Corporation, gaming revenue, grant money, leaseholds, parking fee revenues from the City’s new parking authority and reserve money.

“We are re-defining Surrey and creating B.C.’s next metropolitan core by fostering a strong investment climate and implementing innovative social, economic and community initiatives for our residents and businesses,” she said.

Watts noted the city has seen more than $1 billion in construction activity in 2010, the crime rate is at a 10-year low and since 2009 Surrey has helped 356 people get off the street and into permanent housing.


2 Responses to “Surrey to push TransLink for light rail, mayor says in state of city address”
  1. joe9 says:

    “Skytrain would destroy our city” -Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts
    Of course, she’s absolutely right.

    I wonder what all the skytrain fanboys think about that

  2. zweisystem says:

    I think that the SkyTrain lobby are very concerned that if modern LRT were to be built, it would explode the many anti-light rail myths so well cultivated by TransLink and BC Transit before. I daresay that the term professional misconduct would be in common use.