SkyTrain for Surrey has penned an open letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan and the provincial government, in response to recent requests from some involved stakeholders to “hurry up” on deciding the rapid transit technology on Fraser Highway. Rushing a decision on an issue that involves billions of regional taxpayers’ dollars would be a huge mistake. We are urging the premier to ensure that the open and transparent dialogue on this issue is maintained. A copy of the letter is below.
14th September, 2017
The Hon. John Horgan
Premier of British Columbia
Office of the Premier
CC: Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council; Linda Hepner, Mayor of the City of Surrey; Ted Schaffer, Mayor of the City of Langley; Jack Froese, Mayor of the Township of Langley
Re: A decision on technology for rail rapid transit on Fraser Highway
Dear Premier John Horgan,
Last year, before the start of the election, you indicated to the people of Surrey and Langley that you would be prepared to sit down with the Mayor’s Council and work with them on determining whether a SkyTrain extension is a better option on Fraser Highway. We are strongly appreciative of your encouragement that there be an open dialogue on this issue, and anticipate that you will be following through on this commitment.
We, the undersigned, believe that choosing a ground-level Light Rail Transit system on all of the proposed rapid transit corridors is a decision that future generations living the Surrey/Langley (and eastward) will regret. It alarms us that our decision-makers have decided that an inferior second-rate system is acceptable for our citizens, while those living in Coquitlam, Richmond and other cities throughout the metro are benefitting from the continuous expansion of what has become one of the most successful rail rapid transit systems in North America and the world.
Supporters of a street-level Light Rail Transit system over the expansion of our SkyTrain have exaggerated the difference in cost between systems, and have ignored the numerous major issues with building a Light Rail system that our campaign team has previously identified. In Surrey, many residents are already fighting battles on numerous issues that have come up as a result of the city’s Light Rail planning, such as the proposed 105 Avenue Connector road and Hawthorne Park. Furthermore, we expect residents will be pressed to engage the city again on further issues.
As an example, to this day, the Mayors’ Council and LRT Project team have offered little to no answers on the operating viability of a street-level LRT system after it is built. One of our biggest concerns is the lack of dialogue on the long-term operating costs and operating debts. The LRT system that is being planned today will reach many people, but it will still leave more than half of the population South of the Fraser – who won’t be served directly or conveniently by the LRT system – reliant on buses or other means of transportation.
Our best information suggests that there will be a very high cost to run and subsidize the operations of the LRT system, which may make it difficult and/or cost-prohibitive to deliver the service expansion of local and connecting bus services that Surrey residents need the most.
The most recent cost estimate that the City of Surrey has provided for the full 27km LRT project suggest a capital cost of $2.6 billion. At costs approaching $100 million per km, the project costs of this LRT system are now also approaching those of our previously-built SkyTrain expansions, such as the Canada Line ($104 million per km) and the Millennium Line: Evergreen Extension ($121 million per km). We hope that with these numbers, you can understand why we are so concerned, especially given the lower service levels provided by a Light Rail system and the less added convenience compared to an expansion of the Expo Line. Rushing a decision on an issue that involves billions of regional taxpayers’ dollars would be a huge mistake.
The cost of delaying the project to ensure that the right decision has been made for our transit system’s future will be relatively small, whereas the cost of making the wrong decision on this issue will impact the livelihoods of all residents in Surrey and Langley for generations.
We do not want a transit system that is an expensive mistake.
As such, we urge your assistance in ensuring there is an open, transparent dialogue on this issue, which not only allows this process to completely and thoroughly run its course, but fully ensures that the public is aware of the decisions that are being made, and why.
Thank you for considering our request.
Daryl Dela Cruz
Founding Director of SkyTrain for Surrey
On behalf of 2,627 signed supporters on skytrainforsurrey.org
View the PDF copy of our letter below:
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 as a Bus Rapid Transit system.
Our campaign directors: Daryl Dela Cruz (Surrey, chair), Jacky Au (Surrey), Spencer Whitney (Langley)
For further information
Daryl Dela Cruz, Phone: +1 604 329 3529, [email protected]