FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 20, 2017 – Surrey, BC
Opposition to the Surrey’s proposed Light Rail Transit system has grown significantly in the last year, and it’s becoming clear that the most informed individuals in our region are increasingly against it.
Mike Klassen, an author for the Vancouver Courier and a former vice-chair of the Vancouver City Planning Commission, was among those seeking answers and opinions about Surrey’s proposed street-level Light Rail transit system. He published the following comments last month in an opinion column that was in the Courier and several associated local newspapers:
Mike Klassen – Oct 25, 2017 on the Vancouver Courier
…the project that seems the most politically driven (thanks to the support of the Mayors’ Council) is Surrey’s $2.6-billion LRT plan to place at-grade rail down on existing roadways.
In response, a Surrey activist group opposed to the LRT plan — “SkyTrain for Surrey” — is championing another way to spend those billions. The group proposes a bus rapid transit (“BRT”) system for the city, while extending the SkyTrain route to Langley.
BRT is shown to successfully integrate into existing transit systems at a much lower cost.
When I reached out to experts who were familiar with the plan and the politics around the Surrey LRT project, not one of them could support it.
While we are certainly curious to hear more about the thoughts of these experts who have stated they are not in support of the LRT project, we’re very encouraged to hear that more and more people are taking the position we take of being against street-level Light Rail in Surrey.
One thing that Mike is correct about is that the City of Surrey’s choice of street-level light rail technology over SkyTrain is an incredibly politically driven matter.
The idea of placing rail at-grade down existing roadways was born in 2011 when it was first proposed by then-Mayor Dianne Watts, the former leader of the Surrey First civic party which dominates all Surrey Council seats today.
In the last election in 2014, Surrey First campaigned on a promise to complete a first-phase LRT system in Surrey by 2018 (next year). When Surrey First made this promise during the civic elections, we pointed out that trying to deliver any rapid transit project on such a timeline would be unrealistic – while other critics pointed out that senior-level governments had made no concrete commitments to an LRT line and an actual business case had not been made ready.
Consider this – even the rather optimistically written press release by the city of Surrey spells out how tenuous this all is – the application for review is in the most preliminary stages, and no commitments for funding have been made by any level of government.
Furthermore, a business case for LRT has not been made and the city states that getting public support for the transit referendum will be central to the success of a LRT line!
So how is it that mayoral candidate Linda Hepner can commit to completion in 2018?
The latest comments from TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond suggest that the earliest that the first-phase Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT would be up and running is in 2024. If it really were to take until then to deliver the first phase LRT line, it would be 6 years late.
SkyTrain for Surrey is the community organization that advocated for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension, and continues to push for high-quality rapid transit projects in Surrey and Langley. We began as a petition calling for the scrapping of a street-level LRT proposal, which eventually amassed more than 6,000 signatures, and later contributed to making SkyTrain an election issue as a registered third-party advertiser. SkyTrain for Surrey continues to call for high-quality projects that offer a positive return-on-investment and recognize the rapidly increasing demand for transit.
Daryl Dela Cruz – Founder, SkyTrain for Surrey
Phone: +1 604 329 3529, [email protected]