SkyTrain for Surrey, not LRT!


Why Surrey's future SkyTrain extension points in the right direction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 17, 2018 – Surrey, BC

In the last few days, a number of individuals and groups (mostly supporters of the previously planned LRT) have expressed concern about the recently forwarded SkyTrain extension on Fraser Highway from Surrey to Langley. SkyTrain for Surrey is releasing this statement with the belief that misleading (and in some cases, false) information has been shared by many of these individuals and groups.

Our organization believes that the Mayors’ Council’s decision to endorse TransLink’s work plan for a SkyTrain on Fraser Highway project sends rail rapid transit in the right direction—on a path that reaches the most communities and people, delivers the highest travel time savings, and has the highest ridership potential of any South-of-Fraser transit corridor.

It must be stressed that SkyTrain delivers immediate transit improvements for the entire Fraser Highway corridor even if the first phase is built only halfway to Langley City, as it takes hundreds of buses each day off of one of Surrey’s most congested stretches of road—Fraser Highway between 140 and 148 Streets. During rush hours, buses on 4 different routes slow to a crawl as traffic merges into a single lane.

Traffic congestion on Fraser Highway between 140 and 148 Streets

With SkyTrain extending between City Centre and Fleetwood, a commute to Fleetwood that takes up to 28 minutes today by bus will take less than 10 minutes on the future SkyTrain. A commute to Downtown Langley that takes up to 58 minutes by bus today will be significantly reduced to 39 minutes.

These travel times on SkyTrain will be attainable regardless of the time of day, as SkyTrain service will run frequently throughout, and with a performance rating of over 96% on-time, all the time.

Figure 1 – Travel time comparisons between current bus and future SkyTrain

Rapid transit is first and foremost about getting people out of their cars. Extending SkyTrain east does the most to get cars off the roads and reduce congestion, because it will serve the areas of our city where more people drive because it is difficult to get around conveniently and quickly by transit.

As 2016 Census data demonstrates, the originally proposed light rail transit on the SNG corridor would have reached areas of the city where transit use today is already at much higher levels. But, the newly-approved SkyTrain extension on Fraser Highway reaches areas where transit mode-share is not as high. In most areas of Fleetwood, over 60% of residents choose to drive while only 20 to 30% use transit. In areas east of Fleetwood, such as the burgeoning Clayton Heights community, fewer than 10% of residents use transit.

FIGURE 2 – Transit mode-share in Surrey and Langley
FIGURE 3 – Driving mode-share in Surrey and Langley

Throughout our Metro Vancouver region, SkyTrain has attained a strong record of attracting new transit riders and has become world-renowned for spurring economic and transit-oriented development. Whereas the previously proposed LRT lines for Surrey would have delivered travel times comparable to the B-Lines they replace, SkyTrain’s full grade-separation allows it to deliver faster travel times, higher service frequencies and more reliable service—three factors that are certain to attract far more riders and economic development.

In fact, TransLink released early analysis estimates in 2012 that showed that a Fraser Highway SkyTrain line would have 115,000 riders by 2041—meaning that, within 20 years of opening, the SkyTrain line on Fraser Highway would be as busy as the Canada Line is today.

Although these were the expectations on ridership within 20 years of opening, the ridership on Fraser Highway 30 to 50 years from now would be even higher as population grows and economic development occurs along the line. It is critical that we build with SkyTrain on Fraser in anticipation of this demand.

Figure 4 – transit ridership on the future extension

Lastly, public support for SkyTrain must not be understated. In Surrey, more than two-thirds of voters selected Mayoral candidates who had expressed a desire to pause or cancel the Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT project, in favour of moving ahead with SkyTrain on Fraser Highway first. Both Surrey and Langley City’s elected mayors have emphasized that in face-to-face discussions during the election campaign, they heard from thousands of residents expressing a preference for a SkyTrain extension instead of LRT

Future riders in Surrey and Langley are ready and willing to take SkyTrain when it comes, and SkyTrain for Surrey is proud to have played a significant role in building public support for the SkyTrain extension that is now becoming a reality.

About SkyTrain for Surrey

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.

Media Contact:

Daryl Dela Cruz ​– Founder, SkyTrain for Surrey
Phone: +1 604 329 3529, [email protected]

Why Surrey’s future SkyTrain extension is pointing in the right direction