Surrey considers paying its own fare for better transit

Surrey considers paying its own fare for better transit


Surrey plans to make a stronger case for light rail and streetcar service, and may even consider footing part of the bill if cash-strapped TransLink can’t afford it.

Coun. Judy Villeneuve said city officials were impressed after a visit to Portland, Ore., that it had struck deals with the U.S. federal government and the development industry to help build its transit system, particularly its downtown streetcars.

While Surrey city staff were still reviewing transit options and their cost, Villeneuve said the city might take TransLink up on a suggestion that municipalities consider providing some of their own transit.

“We’re moving in that direction,” Villeneuve said. “We’re not confident we’re going to get the kind of transit (from TransLink) we’re going to need south of the Fraser in the next 10 years.

“We’re going to look at what the options are and what kind of partnerships [are available].”

Meanwhile, Metro Vancouver mayors were to receive a report from Trans-Link today on its proposal for a financial supplement to help pay for the Evergreen Line, a SkyTrain extension in Surrey and other transit projects. TransLink and the mayors are scheduled to meet next Tuesday to discuss the plan.

TransLink is asking Metro mayors for up to $68.2 million next year to help fund transit options, but the mayors are balking at any more property tax increases.

The proposed financial supplement includes options that would see homeowners paying an additional $5.20 to $9 a year per $100,000 assessed value.

The mayors’ council on regional transportation will vote on the proposed supplement in December.

Vincent Lalonde, Surrey’s general manager of engineering, said the city had not made a decision to pay for its own transit projects, but was looking at all options to fast-track transit, including funding, land-use and building relationships with TransLink and the provincial government.

“Surrey is interested in bringing forward rapid transit sooner rather than later, so we’re looking at the things that could be done to fast-track it,” he said.

Lalonde noted councillors were impressed that Portland had initiated its own downtown streetcar service, and that it is funded by all levels of government.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said she would like to see a mix of transportation throughout the city, but added that much depends on the provincial government.

But she said that with another million people moving into Metro in the next 30 years — 70 per cent of them south of the Fraser — Surrey’s transit system has to improve.

“Our goals are to build a community, to move people around, but not necessarily speed them through the city,” she said.

Surrey Coun. Bob Bose said he envisioned a huge network of streetcar and light rail lines connecting Whalley, Newton and Cloverdale, but added, “It’s been a hard sell.”

He said if the city decides it wants to contribute to transit costs, it should take the question to a referendum.

“We’ll have to find ways of recovering it,” he said. “We’ve got to get out of this straitjacket we’re in, in terms of the regional transit system.”

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4 Responses to “Surrey considers paying its own fare for better transit”
  1. Beverly says:

    The Globe and Mail has pegged Mayor Diane Watts as a possible future premier of BC: with values like this, bring her on!

  2. Matt Vogt says:

    hahaha no doubt Beverly. Interesting peg indeed.

  3. John Buker says:

    It’s great news for the whole valley, that Surrey is looking to Portland.

  4. Harshit says:

    A new head on a rotten corspe isn’t the way to go. The problem with your solution is that it is fake change. The BC Liberal Party, it’s caucus and it’s policies, which have hit regular folks hard while handing over public assets to friends of the government, will still be in place.If you replace the head, you still have all the people who helped Gordon Campbell help his cronies. You still have the HST, hikes to Hydro, tolls, MSP premiums the list goes on and on. You still have the lowest minimum wage, highest child poverty and the greatest gap between the rich and poor in all of Canada. BC needs real change, not fake change. We won’t get that by changing the face.

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