The Expo Line Land Rush

Like the Millennium Line extension to Arbutus more commonly known as the Broadway subway, the main reason for extending the SkyTrain light metro system is to give politcal friends and insiders, mainly land speculators and land developers the ability of make large profits by assembling land, having council up-zone the land to allow for higher densities, by building towers and high rise condos.
This game has been played in metro Vancouver ever since the NDP did their infamous switcheroo from light rail to light metro for what is know known as the Millennium Line, in the 1990’s
Building rapid transit has been about land development, rather than moving people and sadly, the taxpayer will soon learn that extending the proprietary light metro to Langley will be extremely costly, with annual added operating costs of more than $35 million annually.
Total cost of the project is now around the $5 billion mark, not including cars or the much needed $2 to $3 billion rehab of the aging Expo line. Let us also remember that this line is a mere 16 km long and according to TransLink’s own numbers, will carry less customers than the Broadway B-Line Bus did in 2019.
Like the land-rush in Vancouver with the Broadway subway or Millennium line extension to Arbutus Street, extending the Expo Line to Langley is all about moving money and not passengers.
Brown areas are within a five-minute walk of one of the planned local SkyTrain stations. Areas in tan are within a 10-minute walk. (Langley City OCP)
Brown areas are within a five-minute walk of one of the planned local SkyTrain stations. Areas in tan are within a 10-minute walk. (Langley City OCP)

Most land on City SkyTrain route already bought by developers: realtor

Langley City land assemblages are ready to be redeveloped over the next few years

Much of the land in downtown Langley City, particularly along the main SkyTrain corridor, which runs down Fraser Highway and then Industrial Avenue to 203rd Street, can be redeveloped as part of the City’s most recent update to its Official Community Plan (OCP) adopted last year.

“That whole area is going to change significantly,” said Gordon Kleaman, a Re/Max realtor from North Vancouver who recently brokered a deal for a big planned housing project in downtown Langley City.

Kleaman was the realtor for the sale of three lots of low-rise, older apartments on Eastleigh Crescent, a few blocks from the planned SkyTrain terminus at Industrial Avenue and 203rd Street.

The three-lot, 1.38 acre land assembly reportedly sold for $18 million to a developer now planning a six-storey condo complex, along with 159 townhouse units.

Right now, the core areas alongside the SkyTrain line, and near its terminus, include a mix of uses, from low-rise residential, to big box shopping centres, restaurants, and small shops. There are also a significant number of car dealerships, auto shops, parts dealers, and light industrial buildings.

“Most of those are already purchased,” Kleaman said of the light industrial districts.

Developers are willing to pay a premium to buy within Langley City, he noted, because the City has a reputation for processing development applications faster than Surrey or Langley Township.

In the City, an application can take months, rather than years.

But that means a lot of plans won’t come to the City right away.

“They’ll time the market,” he said. Developers will wait until the market is right for their project, comfortable in the knowledge that they can get their project approved in a timely manner.

Kleaman said another land assembly on 196th Street, near the other main SkyTrain station in Langley, didn’t sell for as much as the Eastleigh Crescent site, because it was outside the City’s boundaries.

“That was one of the factors in pricing,” he said.

The City is planning for significant population growth and increasing density over the next three decades, and SkyTrain and other forms of public transit are key to its OCP.

As of 2019, there were 28,085 people in Langley City. By 2050, the City expects there to be 41,438.

The mix of types of housing will radically change.

While Langley City has long had plenty of low-rise apartment buildings, it also had many areas of single-family housing, especially near the Nicomekl River and on the west side of the City south of 56th Avenue.

But condos and townhouses are being rapidly built, and the arrival of SkyTrain and more mixed-use housing downtown will change that.

As of the creation of the OCP, there were 7,260 apartments, 1,945 townhouses or duplexes, and 3,760 single family homes in the City.

The “total capacity” for those three types is 24,713 apartments, 6,094 duplexes and townhouses, and 3,046 single family homes. Total capacity isn’t a goal, but a measure of how many homes the City could accommodate.

That growth is to be focused in the City’s central areas, with 91 per cent of new households and 99 per cent of new jobs expected to be in the City’s “regional city centre,” an area north of 53rd Avenue and the Nicomekl, and between 196th Street to the west and the Langley Bypass to the east.


9 Responses to “The Expo Line Land Rush”
  1. Fortlangley says:

    Everyone wants to live near the skytrain. It is a good investment. Skytrain from downtown Langley to downtown vancouver in an hour. Skytrain is good.

    Zwei replies: I see by your IP address that you love Skytrain so much you live in St. Denis, Paris France!

    That being said the actual travel time from Langley to Vancouver will be 70 minutes, but factor is the time to access the station and your destination, total travel time, point to point will be more like 90 to 100 minutes.

    But in your case the travel time from St. Denis to Vancouver will be 11 hours and 15 minutes, with a good tailwind.

  2. Fortlangley says:

    You are so wrong. The current travel time from waterfront station to King George station is 38 minutes. It only takes 1-2 minutes to walk in and out of the station.

    The Langley extenstion will add 22 minutes.

    Once completed, the travel time from Langley City Centre to King George Station will be about 22 minutes, and just over an hour from Langley City Centre to Waterfront Station.

    By the way, you don’t where I am by looking at an ip address. I could be next door to you or anywhere.

    Zwei replies: Well, according to TransLink, Waterfront to King George is 40 minutes, plus the time to access the station which is definitely not 1 or 2 minutes. Try 10 to 15 minutes walking and station access, but if you arrive by bus, which over 80% of SkyTrain ridership does, you can add another 30 to 40 minutes easily.

    So, the travel time from Langley to Waterfront by the Expo line is advertised at 62 minutes, including access time, up to 90 minutes or so (three hours a day spent using transit), taking the car, especially an electric car is far more desirable and this is exactly what has happened in South Delta.

    As for your IP address, I think I caught you out on that one. Maybe I can do better, you are from 400-287 Nelson’s Ct. New Westminster BC V3L0E7

  3. Haveacow says:

    Still amazed just how much the extension will cost for just 16 km. $4.01 Billion for the line. A minimum of $500 Million for the OMC #5 (Skytrain storage and maintenance yard) and still being done separately from the rest of the project. Two contracts instead of one will add cost guys and not save any money. The new 5 unit Skytrains that haven’t arrived yet, part of a $727 Million order, all to move fewer passengers per day upon opening, than the #99 Bus moved per day in 2019. $280 million per km for a so called, easy to construct, above grade line and a yard and there are no tunnels at all. WOW, it’s definitely an investment, sure isn’t good one. You should have stuck with the LRT line from Surrey to Langley, cheaper and easier.

  4. Bill Burgess says:

    Mr Zwei, it is really uncalled for to post someone’s personal information. You made a false assumption about the IP address, you should apologize.

    Zwei replies: As TransLink has dedicated people in their communications dept. whose job is to reply to transit posts, blogs on Facebook and elsewhere. These people are paid large sums of money (I have been told a senior position earns over $100K) to bend the conversation Translink’s way.

    The address I entered was merely for Translink’s head office in New Westminster a polite way of saying “I am on to you”.

    As for the IP address it is St. Denis in Paris France.

  5. zweisystem says:

    About TransLink’s campaign of misinformation. In the Sept. edition of Tramways and Urban Transit a BC Rapid Transit employee makes the claim that the Expo line extension to Langley will cost only $3.95 billion, well knowing that the second contract for the OMC #5 will cost an addition of $500 million to $1 billion. The $3.95 cost does not include the cost of the cars, nor inflation.

    Is it not time for TransLink to be honest with the true cost of the Expo Line extension to Langley?

    “The problem with TransLink is that you can never believe what it says; TransLink never produces a report based on the same set of assumptions.”

    Former West Vancouver Clr. Victor Durman, Chair of the GVRD (now METRO) Finance Committee.

  6. Haveacow says:

    As for the cost of the Skytrains, to be fair, the $727 Million is for an order of 5 section trainsets that, will replace all Mk. 1 Skytrains, give extra capacity for peak periods or when there are heavy maintenance related, skytrain availability issues (this happens with every railway at some point), provides Skytrains for future extensions like a Millennium line extension to UBC as well as Skytrains for the SLS extension. Thus not all of the $727 Million Skytrain order is needed for the SLS extension

    HOWEVER, the need for not only OMC #4 (currently under construction) and part of the reason for OMC #5 is there because of the need to house these larger, space hogging, very maintenance heavy, 5 car or 5 section Skytrain trainsets.

    The rest of the reasons for OMC #5 is mainly due to the shear distance from any of the existing Skytrain maintenance and storage facilities to Langley. Due to the person-time heavy maintenance of the Skytrain (partly but not entirely because of the LIM propulsion) trains have to be deployed much earlier to get to Langley for the start of service each day, thus putting even more pressure on the existing maintenance schedule. A new yard on the SLS extension not only is handy but now becomes operationally critical. Thus a new facility must be built.

    Unfortunately the automated nature of the whole Skytrain system means that each yard (a.k.a. an operations and maintenance centre) must be a full service yard, not a simple system of light maintenance and storage yards with a centralized heavy yard, which is possible with LRT, and thus, each new Skytrain yard becomes much more expensive. In this case, an estimated cost range of $500 Million to $1 Billion for OMC #5. This why the BC government got nervous and separated the whole project into 2 contracts (the line and the associated OMC #5 yard) because the combined cost becomes really high and politically, very easy to kill.

    The horizon network distance issue is just one of the reasons, why each new horizontal expansion of the Skytrain Network drives up the proportional operating cost of the whole network. I keep pointing out that this is why you can’t run a Skytrain over regional distances, inexpensively. A LRT or mainline railway DMU or EMU type of service is a much simpler, cheaper and operationally easier system to maintain especially, as the horizontal mileage grows higher. That’s why GO Transit in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region needs only 2 heavy maintenance facilities with a fleet of almost 1000 coaches and engines plus, a 500+ km track network. The storage yards don’t have to be physically located with GO Transit’s huge factory like heavy maintenance facilities. Their rail vehicle storage yards and are really quite simple and basic operations especially, when compared to the Skytrain Network.

  7. zweisystem says:

    I think what I wanted to say was that the cost for the cars needed for the Langley extension (somewhere in my memory it is 5 train-sets or 25 cars), but from what I have read, off-peak headway’s will be 10 to 15 minutes!

    TransLink’s story keeps changing, but it is becoming clearer, with hospital emergency rooms closing for lack of staff and other major issues, I believe the new premier may mothball the Langley extension until after 2030 as he has not promised, as the current premier has done, to extend the Expo line to Langley.

  8. Fortlangley says:

    I travel by skytrain to Langley all the time. It never takes more than a couple minutes from the station entrance at waterfront station to the platform. It can take a longer to walk from office or shopping areas to station.

    There is two routes to Langley from waterfront station.

    1. Skytrain to King George then bus to Langley city. 1 hour 34 mins. A skytrain to Langley will reduce this to 60 mins with no transfer.
    2, Skytrain to Lougheed station then bus #555 to Langley. 39 mins on skytrain then 20mins on bus to Carvolth exchange. Parking at Carvolth is cheap at $2 per day or $40 per month.

    I use the second option often.

    Skytrain is great and fast way to get around.

    You people always complain that is is so expensive. Switching to LRT would add more transfer points and not reduce travel time that much.

    LRT would only be good a new 4th line in Metro Vancouver. Maybe Surrey to White rock, Coquitlam to Maple ridge, Arbutus street in Vancouver.

    No, I do not work for translink. Just someone that lives in Metro Vancouver and uses skytrain often.

  9. John Smith says:

    Transferring to go in a straight line is a bad idea.

    A good new 4th line would be to go from Coquitlam Centre to White Rock. The CNR tracks along Lougheed Hwy are only for a cross over between CPR and CNR, and don’t get as much use as the main line CPR and CNR tracks. Port Mann was supposedly built to support the weight of an LRT down the middle.

    Want to extend that in 50 years? Well David Avenue and Mount Seymour Parkway were planned to connect by a car bridge back in the 1960s. Why not build a 3rd north shore crossing, but only for the LRT?

    Zwei replies: I have been told that the Port Mann Bridge would support “rapid transit” Rapid Transit meaning an express bus.

    One just not just add rails to a bridge unless the bridge has been specifically designed for rail, which I believe the Port Mann was not.

    Politicians have so misused the word Rapid Transit that it really has become a cliche.

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