FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 10, 2019 – Surrey, BC
We are pleased that TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond is calling on provincial and federal governments to extend their funding commitment to a full 16 kilometre Surrey-Langley SkyTrain. Just last week, TransLink released new regional trip data that shows just how badly it is needed.
According to the recently released 2017 trip diary survey, a Surrey-Langley extension of the Expo Line would be well suited to existing commute patterns as a majority of both Surrey and Langley residents commute to other municipalities to get to work or school. In Surrey alone, more than one third of commuters have a destination that is North of the Fraser River and must cross a bridge to get there every day.
These measured trip patterns are contradictory to the many claims by advocates of the cancelled Surrey LRT system that a SkyTrain extension would not be suitable because “a majority of trips stay South of the Fraser”. The clearer picture provided by this new data shows that for the critical commute trips that drive the region’s economy, Surrey and Langley residents have destinations all over the region.
While transit use has increased in the last few years, the vast majority of these trips are still made by private vehicle—causing significant congestion on roads and bridges during peak hours. For example, of the nearly 100,000 commute trips made between Surrey and North of Fraser cities, 60 per cent of those trips are made by private automobile, which increases congestion on bridges such as the Port Mann Bridge.
It is no secret that South-of-Fraser cities’ reliance on the automobile is a result of long travel times on the largely bus-oriented transit system. However, trip data shows that the commuters who do ride transit tend to travel further: the average work/university trip length for a Surrey or Langley resident is 16.6 kilometres by driving and 24.2 kilometres by transit. The appeal of transit (especially SkyTrain) for longer trips is understandable, and underscores the huge potential of a full 16-kilometre Surrey-Langley SkyTrain to shift trips away from private automobile.
The trip data also shows the limitations imposed by high travel times: while about 34% of Surrey residents commute to destinations North-of-Fraser, only 10% of Langley residents do so. Langley residents, faced with long commute times to North of Fraser destinations, are not able to access economic opportunities in even relatively close cities such as Burnaby and New Westminster. The significant reductions in transit travel time offered by the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain will give Langley residents access to a range of economic and social opportunities they cannot easily access today.
SkyTrain for Surrey has summarized its observations of the data in a 10-slide presentation that will be distributed to decision-makers, stakeholders, the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project development team and 2019 federal election candidates. (See above).
Addressing the range of issues we’ve identified is contingent on the construction of a full 16 kilometre Surrey-Langley SkyTrain. While road bridges like the Pattullo and Alex Fraser are operating near capacity, the Expo Line guideways into Surrey and SkyBridge are greatly underutilized. Expanding SkyTrain is crucial to reducing congestion and maintaining high-quality connectivity between our economic sub-regions.
We urge the federal and provincial governments to extend their funding commitment to a full 16 kilometre Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension as soon as possible.
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]