Surrey, B.C., group opposed to light rail plan says SkyTrain option better

A grassroots group of Surrey and Langley residents opposed to the plan for a light rail (LRT) system in Surrey says it has delivered a petition to the Mayors' Council chair with 3,500 signatures from like-minded residents.

'It will be the most expensive mistake in our region's history,' says petition

A group of Surrey and Langley residents want the Mayors' Council to scrap the current plan for an LRT in Surrey, and instead extend the SkyTrain. (Atomic Taco, via Wikimedia Common)

A grassroots group of Surrey and Langley residents opposed to the plan for a light rail (LRT) system in Surrey says it has delivered a petition to the Mayors' Council chair with 3,500 signatures from like-minded residents.

The group, called SkyTrain for Surrey, says Surrey should pursue an extension of the Expo SkyTrain along Fraser highway into Langley instead of light rail.

It's also calling for a bus rapid transit system (BRT) along King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue. 

"A street-level LRT is not the system that will serve Surrey best in the future. With its total costs now topping $2.6 billion, it will be the most expensive mistake in our region's history," the petition states. 

The first phase of Surrey's planned light trail system includes a 10.5-kilometre, 11-stop Surrey — Newton — Guildford line that will run west from 152nd Street in Guildford to the Newton terminus near 71 Avenue and 136b Street, according to the city.

A map of the proposed Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT project. (City of Surrey)

Evaluating alternatives

Among the reasons listed for its opposition to light rail, the group cites a 2012 Translink report evaluating Surrey rapid transit alternatives.

The report looked at 12 alternatives, including bus rapid transit, light rail and the SkyTrain proposal, which it favoured.

Top marks were awarded to the SkyTrain plan, while the light rail plan received some of the lowest marks.

"In a cost-benefit analysis, the LRT would not save significant costs and it would also generate much lower ridership, you'd have much lower benefits in terms of travel time savings, among other things," said group chair, Daryl Dela Cruz on CBC's The Early Edition

An artist's rendering of what the Surrey light rail transit line may look like. (City of Surrey)

New blood in Mayors' Council chair

Dela Cruz says he hopes the newly elected Mayors' Council chair, Derek Corrigan, would be open to altering the Surrey-Newton-Guildford light rail project.

Corrigan has been critical of previous Mayors' Council megaprojects, including the Pattullo Bridge, an extension of the Millennium Line to Arbutus Street and the Surrey rapid transit line.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner says she doesn't think the change in leadership at the Mayors' Council will affect the light rail project.

"I'm not so worried about Chair Corrigan's comments because he doesn't have the mandate to shift anything. That has got to be done through a resolution of the Mayor's Council," said Hepner.

Based on her conversations with other mayors, Hepner said there is no desire for a change in direction. 

"When the mayors council chose 27 kilometres of light rail, it was because of all of those factors," she said.

With files from The Early Edition

Cory Correia