The mayors of Surrey and Langley say they are hopeful a new light rapid transit line is in the works for their communities, based on a letter they received from B.C.'s transportation minister
The mayors received the letter from the Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom this week stating that the province is considering several transit options to link up communities south of the Fraser River.
"We are examining the use of LRT as well as the potential for bus rapid transit and SkyTrain technology to provide frequent, fast and reliable service to communities south of the Fraser River," Minister Lekstrom says in the letter.
But the letter, which was a response to a request from the mayors, provides no funding commitment, timelines or indications about possible routes, saying only that the ministry is working with Metro Vancouver, TransLink and both cities to examine options.
Light rail favoured by mayors
Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender says he believes a light rail transit line linking his community with Surrey could be built within a decade.
Fassbender says it is a critical priority because up to a million people are expected to move to the region south of the Fraser in the next 10 to 15 years.
"I think it's an ongoing opportunity for us to build a system that is going to serve us for the next 20 to 30 years, what we're wanting to do through this process is be ahead of the curve, rather than behind the curve," he said.
Fassbender says a light rail system that runs at grade would be cheaper to build than an elevated SkyTrain line, but it would be more expensive to operate because each train needs an operator.
Mayor Dianne Watts say more transit investment south of the Fraser is long overdue.
"We have been pushing for increased provincial spending on transit in our cities for quite some time, to level the funding inequity both cities are currently experiencing," says Mayor Dianne Watts.
Last year a report recommended a light rail commuter line with 18 stops from Surrey to Chilliwack, B.C., as an inexpensive way to beat traffic congestion in the Fraser Valley.
Watts said Surrey is already exploring three light rail transit routes on its own:
- 104th Avenue, between 152nd & City Centre.
- City Centre to Newton, with an extension to South Surrey.
- Fraser Hwy, between City Centre & Langley.