Light Rail Reality header long
Light Rail advocates in the City of Surrey have continually disregarded light rail issues. Listed below, many legitimate problems in the current LRT proposal have been completely ignored, even after we made numerous presentations highlighting these issues to Surrey's staff and City Council.

We have identified 15 major shortfalls with the proposed Surrey LRT.
  (Click or tap to expand the boxes below)

Slower speeds

LRT running on the street is limited to the same speed as surrounding vehicle traffic.

Light Rail trains won’t be anywhere near as fast as SkyTrains.
  • Limited to 50 or 60km/h on most city roadways
  • Slower than SkyTrain, which has running speeds of 80-90 km/h in a fully segregated guideway.
  • No speed improvements against rapid buses in their own lanes
  • Could deter ridership as existing SkyTrain riders have been shown to prefer higher trip speed.

Few travel time savings

Travel time chartYou won’t save enough time for it to actually matter.

With lower running speeds and added transfers, an LRT will save you so little time that it will barely make a difference.
  • LRT would offer only 1 minute savings vs. the current 96 B-Line rapid bus
  • Some corridors (such as 104 Ave) will see travel time increase against current express buses
  • Riders will need to make more transfers
    (i.e. from SkyTrain to LRT, and from LRT in Newton to connecting buses to White Rock)

* Detailed travel time estimates were provided on page 45 of the Surrey Rapid Transit Study – accessible [HERE].

High operating costs

Financial details for Surrey Rapid Transit, reported in the TransLink/MOTI joint studyThe LRT network will cost 40% as much to operate as the entire South of Fraser transit network today.

An LRT in Surrey will have higher operating costs than extending SkyTrain due to the extensive requirement of LRT drivers, as well as the need for all-new facilities, staff and training.
  • Fare revenues will fall far short of recovering long-term costs to operate the system.
  • New funding sources will need to be found to pay for this operating deficit
  • Estimated opening-day deficits of $22 million annually – over 3x as high as SkyTrain
  • With no plan to pay for these costs, operating LRT could require service reductions on existing bus routes.

Lower frequencies • longer waits

Light Rail riders will wait longer before a train arrives.

  • On-street LRTs are driver-operated, and can’t operate as frequently as our driverless SkyTrain.
  • Drivers come with a labour cost, meaning lower frequencies during less busy hours.
  • Due to higher operating costs, off-peak frequencies could be lower than the current 96 B-Line.
A driverless system will be able to run frequently even very late at night, early in the morning, whenever you want to travel.  Light rail, bound by labor costs, will always be pressured to cut frequency outside the peak period…

From Human Transit: “Frequency and Freedom on Driverless Rapid Transit”
* Human Transit is the professional blog of consulting transit planner Jarrett Walker.

Increase in greenhouse-gas emissions

LRT will not recoup its construction and operations emissions.

In fact, a net greenhouse-gas (GHG) increase of 38,000 tonnes was projected in the Surrey Rapid Transit Study.
In addition to this net increase…
  • Congestion increases on 104th Ave and other corridors will increase GHG emissions
  • Accidents caused by the LRT will increase in GHG emissions in various ways
  • Lower ridership will offset GHG reduction as potential riders not finding usefulness in the LRT system continue to choose their cars.
    66% of Surrey’s GHG emissions come from transportation emissions.
A SkyTrain + BRT alternative will recoup emissions if the BRT uses hybrid-electric, CNG, or trolley electrified buses.*

*Note: As of 2016, the 96 B-Line is now served entirely by a fleet of hybrid diesel-electric buses. This meets the criteria for a net GHG reduction.

Construction impacts • Street closures

LRT construction warningLRT construction and street-scaping works will require the street to be closed from edge-to-edge.

While Bus Rapid Transit systems could be constructed more gradually and SkyTrain extensions take up less space, Surrey’s construction of an LRT system will…
  • Require significant reconstruction of the layout of the street,
  • Require underground digging to remove sewers and utilities,
  • Double or triple transit times during the construction period,
  • Create few travel time savings after construction is complete.

Pictured: what LRT construction looks like in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.

Traffic Mayhem on 104 Avenue

104 Ave major issues XLRT will cut two lanes from 104th Ave and cause traffic mayhem in the community.

The City says there’s no space to retain 4 traffic lanes on 104th Avenue, a busy and congested arterial connecting City Centre to the Trans-Canada Highway.
  • Reduction in travel lanes despite no transit time improvements.
  • Drivers will divert away from a congested avenue, increasing traffic on parallel/local streets
  • Traffic congestion throughout the community
  • Change in road layout/capacity may negatively affect goods movement into City Centre.
And that’s not all. This will create a whole slew of additional issues:

See more

  • New truck corridors to city centre will need to be instated on quiet, neighbourhood streets.
    (This could include: All of 100 Ave; 156 St; 154 St from 100th to 108 Aves; and 108 Ave (currently a restricted corridor)
  • Parallel roads like 100, 105 and 108 Avenues will require reconstruction and widening at significant cost.
  • The additional cost of area road modifications hasn’t been accounted for in LRT cost estimates.
  • Parallel, local-stop bus routes using general-purpose lanes (the 320 and 501) will face reliability issues and significant travel time increases.


Prone to accidents • Safety issues

Light Rail systems kill more people than any other transportation mode except for motorcycles.



Pictured: Average fatality rates per 100 million miles, 2000–20111
  • At-grade Light Rail systems need time to stop and frequently hit pedestrians and vehicles.
  • On-street trains come with a human cost that is ignored by LRT advocates and urban designers.
  • Light Rail creates an average of 3 traffic accidents per crossing per year2
  • Vehicle-train collisions can severely damage trains, costing millions for repairs/write-offs.
  • There are already hundreds of accidents each year on our LRT corridors.


  1. US Department of Transportation study – [SEE HERE]
  2. Transportation Research Board study – [SEE HERE]


Prone to service disruptions • Reliability issues

Accident block 2Accidents can block LRT tracks and close LRT lines for hours.

  • Direct consequence of building LRT at-grade through major intersections.
  • LRT will pass through 2 intersections among the top 10 in Metro Vancouver crash-rates.
    (these intersections are: King George Blvd & 88th Ave, and King George Blvd & 72nd Ave)
  • Can’t detour around accident areas like regular buses or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems.
We estimate: an accident-related LRT service disruption could occur on average of once every 2 days!

Accidents chart

Takes up more space • Property acquisition

The space required by an at-grade LRT will require hundreds of property takes.

An estimated 214 property takes will be required on Fraser Highway alone (including at least 20 full takes)
  • LRT’s at-grade footprint is more than twice as much as a SkyTrain guideway
  • Widened roadways will be more difficult to cross from end to end

The Evergreen Line's guideway passes freely over a White Spot in Burnaby.

SkyTrain’s flexibility can allow for less disruption of existing properties.
This example is on the Evergreen Line.

Wreaks havoc on Green Timbers Urban Forest trees

Building Light Rail through Green Timbers Urban Forest means hundreds of trees will have to give way.

The City is planning a widened, 40m Fraser Highway to accommodate 4 traffic lanes, greenway, and 2 more lanes for LRT. This is…
  • Significantly wider than the Green Timbers Urban Advisory Committee’s 2008 endorsement for a 27m roadway
  • Significantly wider than a SkyTrain extension (which would fit with 4 lanes within 27m – see below)
Currently proposed LRT right-of-way (R.O.W.) through Green Timbers:

Fraser Hwy with Surrey LRT

The original Surrey Rapid Transit Study assumed a ~27m R.O.W. for SkyTrain on Fraser:

Fraser Hwy with Surrey Skytrain 1

With more adjustments (i.e. move the multi-use path under the guideway), the R.O.W. can be reduced to 24m:

Fraser Hwy with Surrey Skytrain 2

SkyTrain uses space above the roadway, meaning less trees would need to be cut down.

More transfers • fewer options

Riders will need to make more transfers with a Light Rail system.

  • Riders coming from the Expo Line SkyTrain will need to transfer to continue to Langley
  • LRT riders on the “L Line” will need to make additional transfers to buses to continue to White Rock or Coquitlam
  • End of direct, express service on 104 Ave on routes 337, 509, 590 (requiring a transfer to a slower, all-stop LRT)
  • Additional transfer requirements have not been communicated effectively with stakeholders.

319 transfer 1 319 transfer 2

Building an LRT means you will still line up to transfer to the #319 at Newton Exchange.
A BRT system would create the opportunity to remove that transfer with a direct routing onto 72nd Avenue.

Negative business case • Few quantifiable benefits

Decades to recoupIt will take decades to truly offset the costs of an LRT.

With lower transportation benefits and less ridership, an LRT won’t be able to create an offset to its cost.
  • Surrey Rapid Transit Study anticipated a negative benefit-cost ratio of just 0.69:1
  • Net present value was estimated at negative (-) $510 million dollars.
  • Benefits will not exceed costs within 30 years of operation.
  • Cost per added transit passenger is twice as much as SkyTrain extension.
  • Poor business case harms potential for senior-level government funding.

* Detailed business case estimates were provided on page 369 of the Surrey Rapid Transit Study – accessible [HERE].

Doesn’t address growth in automobile use

Surrey has the highest automobile use growth rate in the lower mainland.

With half of residents not within a 15 minute bus of rapid transit corridors, travel time savings are extremely important. Even with anticipated transportation demand management (TDM), Light Rail is expected to do little to increase transit mode-share.
  • Only 5-8% of South-of-Fraser residents will use the LRT regularly
  • Most residents will continue to drive as LRT is not a competitive alternative
  • Fails 50% regional goal for sustainable mode-share (transit/walking/cycling)

LRT mode share fail       LRT population chart
Data from the Surrey Rapid Transit Study – accessible [HERE].

Doesn’t service White Rock Centre and South Surrey

South Surrey missingRapid transit from Newton to White Rock is no longer a city priority.

  • Rapid Transit on King George Blvd. south of Newton is not on the City’s list of priority infrastructure projects.
  • Previously shown Bus Rapid Transit link is no longer on the City’s latest LRT network map
  • Unclear whether it will ever move forward, given high operating costs of LRT
  • Only Light Rail portion of full rapid transit plan is promoted by City on website

Surrey deserves better

Learn more about the solution we’re advocating for a better Surrey

Our Vision


chooser_cc  chooser_by_hover  chooser_nc_hover  chooser_nd_hover

SkyTrain for Surrey’s web site content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License. Under this license you are free to:
Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
Under the following terms:
Attribution — You must give appropriate credit. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests that SkyTrain for Surrey endorses you or your use.
Non-Commercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
No Derivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.
A readable summary of this license can be found on the Creative Commons website at

Terms of Use

All visitors to our website are bound by our web site Terms and Conditions of Use written below.

Click or tap to expand the boxes below.

1. Terms

By accessing this web site, you are agreeing to be bound by these web site Terms and Conditions of Use, all applicable laws and regulations, and agree that you are responsible for compliance with any applicable local laws. If you do not agree with any of these terms, you are prohibited from using or accessing this site. The materials contained in this web site are protected by applicable copyright and trade mark law.

2. Use License

chooser_cc  chooser_by_hover  chooser_nc_hover  chooser_nd_hover

SkyTrain for Surrey’s web site content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License. Under this license you are free to:
Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
Under the following terms:
Attribution — You must give appropriate credit. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests that SkyTrain for Surrey endorses you or your use.
Non-Commercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
No Derivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.

3. Disclaimer

The materials on SkyTrain for Surrey web site are provided “as is”. SkyTrain for Surrey makes no warranties, expressed or implied, and hereby disclaims and negates all other warranties, including without limitation, implied warranties or conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement of intellectual property or other violation of rights.

4. Limitations

In no event shall SkyTrain for Surrey or its suppliers be liable for any damages (including, without limitation, damages for loss of data or profit, or due to business interruption,) arising out of the use or inability to use the materials on SkyTrain for Surrey’s Internet site, even if SkyTrain for Surrey or a SkyTrain for Surrey authorized representative has been notified orally or in writing of the possibility of such damage. Because some jurisdictions do not allow limitations on implied warranties, or limitations of liability for consequential or incidental damages, these limitations may not apply to you.

5. Revisions and Errata

The materials appearing on SkyTrain for Surrey’s web site could include technical, typographical, or photographic errors. In relation to the aforementioned errata, SkyTrain for Surrey may make changes to the materials contained on its web site at any time without notice.

6. Links

SkyTrain for Surrey has not reviewed all of the sites linked to its Internet web site and is not responsible for the contents of any such linked site. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by SkyTrain for Surrey of the site. Use of any such linked web site is at the user’s own risk.

7. Site Terms of Use Modifications

SkyTrain for Surrey may revise these terms of use for its web site at any time without notice. By using this web site you are agreeing to be bound by the the current version of these Terms and Conditions of Use.

8. Governing Law

Any claim relating to SkyTrain for Surrey’s web site shall be governed by the laws of the Province of British Columbia without regard to its conflict of law provisions.

For a full, referable terms of use web-page, please see:

This document was last updated on Jan 14, 2016

Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy governs the manner in which SkyTrain for Surrey collects, uses, maintains and discloses information collected from users (each, a “User”) of the website (“Site”). This privacy policy applies to the Site and all products and services offered by SkyTrain for Surrey.

Click or tap to expand the boxes below.

Personal identification information

We may collect personal identification information from Users in a variety of ways, including but not limited to: when Users visit our site, subscribe to the newsletter, respond to a survey, fill out a form, and in connection with other activities, services, features or resources we make available on our Site. Users may be asked for, as appropriate, name, email address, mailing address, phone number. Users may, however, visit our Site anonymously. We will collect personal identification information from Users only if they voluntarily submit such information to us. Users can always refuse to supply personally identification information, except that it may prevent them from engaging in certain Site related activities.

Non-personal identification information

We may collect non-personal identification information about Users whenever they interact with our Site. Non-personal identification information may include the browser name, the type of computer and technical information about Users means of connection to our Site, such as the operating system and the Internet service providers utilized and other similar information.

Web browser cookies

Our Site may use “cookies” to enhance User experience. User’s web browser places cookies on their hard drive for record-keeping purposes and sometimes to track information about them. User may choose to set their web browser to refuse cookies, or to alert you when cookies are being sent. If they do so, note that some parts of the Site may not function properly.

How we use collected information

SkyTrain for Surrey may collect and use Users personal information for the following purposes:
1. To improve our Site
We may use feedback you provide to improve our products and services.
2. To run a promotion, contest, survey or other Site feature
To send Users information they agreed to receive about topics we think will be of interest to them.
3. To send periodic emails
We may use the email address to respond to their inquiries, questions, and/or other requests. If User decides to opt-in to our mailing list, they will receive emails that may include company news, updates, related product or service information, etc. If at any time the User would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email or User may contact us via our Site.

How we protect your information

We adopt appropriate data collection, storage and processing practices and security measures to protect against unauthorized access, alteration, disclosure or destruction of your personal information, username, password, transaction information and data stored on our Site.

Sharing your personal information

We do not sell, trade, or rent Users personal identification information to others. We may share generic aggregated demographic information not linked to any personal identification information regarding visitors and users with our business partners, trusted affiliates and advertisers for the purposes outlined above.

Third party websites

Users may find advertising or other content on our Site that link to the sites and services of our partners, suppliers, advertisers, sponsors, licensors and other third parties. We do not control the content or links that appear on these sites and are not responsible for the practices employed by websites linked to or from our Site. In addition, these sites or services, including their content and links, may be constantly changing. These sites and services may have their own privacy policies and customer service policies. Browsing and interaction on any other website, including websites which have a link to our Site, is subject to that website’s own terms and policies.

Changes to this privacy policy

SkyTrain for Surrey has the discretion to update this privacy policy at any time. When we do, we will revise the updated date at the bottom of this page. We encourage Users to frequently check this page for any changes to stay informed about how we are helping to protect the personal information we collect. You acknowledge and agree that it is your responsibility to review this privacy policy periodically and become aware of modifications.

Your acceptance of these terms

By using this Site, you signify your acceptance of this policy and terms of service. If you do not agree to this policy, please do not use our Site. Your continued use of the Site following the posting of changes to this policy will be deemed your acceptance of those changes.

Contacting us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, or your dealings with this site, please contact us at:

SkyTrain for Surrey
(604) 329-3529

This document was last updated on Jan 14, 2016