Light Rail Transit (LRT) is an idea that has recently been popular with the people of the City of Surrey.
The Mayor & Council have previously stated their opposition to additional expansion of the Metro Vancouver SkyTrain network into the City of Surrey and are advocating for the creation of a LRT network. The City of Surrey’s vision for rapid transit involves the creation of a network of at-grade, on-street rail transit lines throughout the city, as opposed to any extensions of SkyTrain. Dianne Watts, Mayor of Surrey, stated in a previous speech that:
“I for one am a firm believer that instead of SkyTrain expansion in Surrey we should be looking at at-grade rail,” Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said in a speech earlier this year.
Alongside her, City Councillors, candidates, and several other advocates of different levels have thrown their support behind Light Rail, triumphing it as a “less costly”, “faster-built” and “more attracting” option for rapid transit. Initiative Analysts who looked to their claims found a staggering difference between what was stated and what is the reality.
The SkyTrain for Surrey Initiative strongly opposes the City of Surrey’s push for Light Rail as the backbone of the primary transit network of the city, and is urging the City of Surrey to review its LRT support guidelines.
We have identified that the City’s push for a LRT (light rail transit) network over the expansion of the existing SkyTrain network may be a tremendous mistake and an unintentional step backwards.
In March 2012, a business case presentation for LRT was released on the City of Surrey website [LINK HERE], immediately after Mayor Watts re-stated her support for LRT in a recent speech. What several Analysts of the Initiative found is that this business case presentation was faulty and was based upon a number of misconceptions.
The Initiative has recognized these realities about Light Rail Transit (please click on each topic to read more about it):
The City of Surrey has recognized that there is a need to conduct immediate studies of rapid transit. The Initiative believes that the Mayor & Council should certainly be commended for for their efforts; however, they have overwhelmingly placed their support behind a technology and implementation type which will only create more problems than it will attempt to solve in the City of Surrey, at no less cost.
The Initiative believes that LRT-type lines have a place in a complete plan for transit accessibility in Surrey, but the current proposals currently on the table are placing too much emphasis on LRT as a sole solution (with additional buses). LRT as a sole implementation would require vast resources to put LRT on par with SkyTrain in terms of existing infrastructure, at a cost that many pro-LRT advocates refuse to consider when citing their cost per km values.
The City of Surrey will see it fit to pursue LRT, so long as the Mayor & Council believe that LRT is a cost effective, high quality and flexible solution. However, and evidently, this is not the case.
There is only one end goal with SkyTrain for Surrey. Our aim is to get the Province of British Columbia, TransLink, and the City of Surrey to move the concept of Light Rail Transit to its proper role as a secondary feeder system, and to support a significantly expanded network of SkyTrain through the South of Fraser communities.