The City of Surrey is in support of a a city-wide Light Rail Transit (LRT) network and opposed to any SkyTrain alternative. The basis of supporting LRT is largely around “shaping and managing growth”.
The problem with this? Light Rail won’t help us solve certain problems. By choosing Light Rail, we actually worsen transit on one of the proposed corridors (104 Ave) and permanently accept a solution that poses a serious reliability risk (as the lines pass through the most dangerous intersections in Metro Vancouver, creating the risk of frequent service disruptions) and can cause more community disruption, with more property acquisitions required.
5 reasons why Light Rail doesn’t work:
- Construction impacts mean no transportation benefits to be realized on 104 Ave to Guildford Town Centre
- Service disruptions can require lengthy line closures, shuttle buses and severe inconvenience unlike BRT and SkyTrain
- Requires a wider right-of-way and disrupts the community with more property acquisitions
- Takes decades to re-generate the transportation benefits to offset the cost
- Focus has been on “shaping communities” at the exclusion of actually improving transportation and targeting auto-use growth
Since 2008, Light Rail advocates in the City of Surrey have pushed an agenda of “at-grade rail and nothing else“. Practicality takes a back-seat in favour of a message that SkyTrain is to be opposed in the South-of-Fraser. With the efforts of these advocates – who weren’t always giving us the correct information – we now have near-unanimous support for Light Rail and near-unanimous disregard for its serious downsides.
Surrey’s transit needs have always been underestimated, and with the recent push by the City of Surrey for a Light Rail Transit (LRT) expansion over SkyTrain, that hasn’t changed. The City of Surrey does not actually have a proper case study that proves in any way that LRT is the city’s best rapid transit option – and is ignoring a $5 million Surrey Rapid Transit Study that was commissioned to study those technical aspects, which did not find LRT to be the best option.
At the same time, SkyTrain has been dismissed, has been dubiously labelled as a “community splitter”, and is not being properly recognized for the benefits it will deliver. While it has been touted as the solution for transit woes in the City of Surrey, the reality is that Light Rail will take decades to generate the transportation benefits to offset the costs and construction impacts, and falls far short of addressing city-wide transportation needs.
We must oppose Light Rail as the proposed solution to address a Surrey transportation crisis that will be unfolding within the next few years. There is a better way.