IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 29, 2015 – Surrey, BC

Despite the recent commitments to capital funding for the proposed Surrey LRT system, there has been no discussion on how the system’s operating costs will be paid for after it opens.

“Any funding commitment to building a transit project means nothing if we don’t know how we’re going to pay for it after it is done.”

Daryl Dela Cruz, SkyTrain for Surrey campaign manager.

A previous joint study commissioned by TransLink and the Province found that the proposed LRT will require an operating subsidy of $22 million annually on opening day, and suggests that there will be no “break even” for a long time as it will have increased to $28 million after approximately 20 years.

The same study suggested that a SkyTrain + Bus Rapid Transit alternative would have a lower operating deficit of $6 million – reducing to $3 million after approximately 20 years. A SkyTrain extension would offer lower operating costs as an extension of an existing system, and also saves money on operating costs due to the staff cost savings of running driver-less trains.

Light Rail systems are more costly to operate as every train requires a driver, in addition to the usual attendants and staff that are employed to roam the system. Generally, good ridership numbers are required in order for operating revenue to break even with the costs; however, the Surrey LRT is expected to carry only 2970 passenger boardings per km on opening day – the Canada Line, with 122,000 daily boardings, required 100,000 (5200 per km) to “break even”.

A SkyTrain extension to Langley would carry 5443 riders per km on opening day, which is in line with today’s system-wide average of 5693 riders per km.

If decision-makers are willing to pay the $22 million annual deficit to run a Surrey LRT system, they should consider the significant improvements in bus service city-wide that could be funded if SkyTrain, with a lower operating deficit, is built instead.

APPENDIX: Operating deficit summary

Financial details for Surrey Rapid Transit, reported in the TransLink/MOTI joint study

The Surrey LRT system will not recover its operating costs. This is because the fare revenue projected over 30 years creates a $720 million shortfall over the 30-year lifecycle. It will require a subsidy of $22 million per year on opening day ($28 million per year by 2041) to operate the LRT.1

SkyTrain and Bus Rapid Transit would offer faster, safer, and more reliable service – costing only $6 million per year to subsidize operations.2


According to data from the 2012 TransLink/MOTI joint study Surrey Rapid Transit Alternatives Analysis (SRTAA) Phase 2 Evaluation Available on our website at

SRTAA PAGE 369; Undiscounted value; measured over 30 years

Suggested on SRTAA PAGE 536: “For RRT 1A, savings of $170 million” (Discounted Net Present Value)

langley-extension-concept-bare-1-largerAbout SkyTrain for Surrey

SkyTrain for Surrey is a local grassroots organization calling for a SkyTrain and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network instead of the currently-proposed on-street Light Rail system in Surrey. Our campaign has called on decision-makers to build the Langley Extension of the SkyTrain Expo Line, in conjunction with an extension of the 96 B-Line to Coquitlam Centre and White Rock.

Our campaign directors: Daryl Dela Cruz (Surrey, chair), Jacky Au (Surrey), Spencer Whitney (Langley), Tova Dang (Surrey)

For further information

Daryl Dela Cruz, Campaign Chair, Phone: +1 604 329 3529, E-mail:

Funding still missing for LRT operating costs