Ditch Surrey LRT, TransLink urged

Light rail transit expansion plan flawed, SkyTrain advocate tells TransLink directors

Daryl Dela Cruz is a transit advocate with the group SkyTrain For Surrey.

Daryl Dela Cruz is a transit advocate with the group SkyTrain For Surrey.

An advocate for SkyTrain has urged TransLink’s board to reject the City of Surrey’s choice of light trail trains over other rapid transit expansion alternatives.

Daryl Dela Cruz told TransLink directors light rail (LRT) would bring almost no improvement in frequency over the express bus service that already exists between Guildford and Surrey Central station, a trip he tested recently.

“It took me seven minutes – three minutes faster than what the LRT is supposed to take according to the City of Surrey’s website,” Dela Cruz told TransLink directors Dec. 9.

“What’s the point?” he asked, adding LRT will mean the loss of traffic lanes on 104 Avenue, with more congestion, less transit ridership, and slower growth around stations.

The $2-billion-plus plan for Surrey light rail lines – an ‘L’ line that runs on King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue plus a Fraser Highway line that runs from the SkyTrain terminus to Langley City – has been stuck since the defeat of the regional sales tax referendum last summer.

But hopes have grown that more generous federal infrastructure grants could come from Ottawa, opening the door to a new cost-sharing deal between area mayors and the province without another vote.

Dela Cruz argues it’s time to switch the plan to one of the alternatives TransLink previously studied – extending SkyTrain along Fraser Highway to Langley and running bus rapid transit (BRT) on the King George and 104 corridors instead of light rail.

The costs would be similar, but TransLink’s own study of the options indicates the SkyTrain/BRT system would be more heavily used, generating the “most quantifiable transportation benefits.” It would take 22 minutes to ride the Fraser Highway SkyTrain segment, compared to 29 minutes with light rail, which would also require a transfer to continue on SkyTrain.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner argues light rail is essential to shape the future development of the city.

But Dela Cruz argues that’s not a good enough reason to build an inferior system.

“A slow street-level LRT with more stops and few time savings will not attract high ridership and will fall short in every aspect,” he predicted, adding it would also create “huge risks” from running trains at the same level as pedestrians and vehicles.

Dela Cruz said an operating deficit between what LRT would generate in revenue and its costs is equivalent to 40 per cent of the cost of running buses south of the Fraser, raising concern LRT may force transit cuts.

“We’re going to have to cannibalize the rest of the City of Surrey’s buses just to make financial room for it.”

The regional mayors’ council supported Surrey’s choice of LRT when it crafted the transit expansion plan that went to referendum this year.

TransLink officials said they’re working towards a deadline of next March to complete a business case for both the Surrey and Broadway line projects to maintain eligibility for federal P3 grant funding.

That work includes updates to the capital costs, operating costs and revenue estimates so there can be confidence they’re accurate to within 15 per cent, said Fred Cumming, TransLink vice-president of engineering and infrastructure management.

“March is a very aggressive date,” he said. “But when the funding is secured we’ll be ready to go.”

Just Posted

Rahim Manji owns and operates the Hollywood 3 Cinemas in Newton, along with the Caprice in South Surrey, a theatre in Duncan and another in Pitt Meadows. “I think right now it feels different than last June, it just does,” Manji said. “I’m a lot more optimistic, with more people calling, more people out and getting vaccinated, so I think the comfort level is a lot better.” (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey movie theatre operators reopen and rejoice, even with 50-max capacity

‘We have been one of the hardest-hit industries’

A sign warning of a pack of coyotes hangs near 2660 Croydon Dr. (Aaron Hinks photo)
South Surrey woman sounds alarm after encounter with pack of coyotes

Susan Martin said three full-grown coyotes were lurking around her home

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police searching for Surrey woman missing at Centennial Beach

Wenyan Lan, 54, reported missing when she didn’t come home from a crabbing/clam digging trip June 14

Ian MacDonald, spokesman for Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service launches public consultation campaign

This is to help the SPS form its first strategic plan

Outdoor vendors at the Cloverdale Flea Market are seen in this bird’s eye view image from the flea market’s Facebook page.
Cloverdale Flea Market to reopen

Market to open June 20 after being closed since Nov. 2020

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Most Read