Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Township Councils Thoughts on Rail in Langley

As I posted last night, Township of Langley staff subjugated council to a biased presentation on the UMA Community Rail study. Township council was not swayed by this presentation, and appear to be on the path to continued study of the Interurban and community rail. The next step is to get a ridership study which I hear will be set in motion on May 5th.

Anyway, I thought I would share some of what council said on rail from last night.

Charlie Fox was on fire last night. He challenged staff to be visionary when it comes to rail. He then noted that freight traffic through the Langleys has been an ongoing problem. He said that replacing the over 100-year-old rail bridge at New Westminster should be a major priority. It would significantly reduce the amount of freight traffic through Langley (SFOT believes this too). He thinks that Township should write a letter to the federal government in support of replacing that bridge.

Steve Ferguson also noted that freight rail is an issues and said that he didn't want Langley to become "a community of overpasses." He also mentioned that the costs of light rail was a fraction of the cost of SkyTrain.

For background, passenger rights are a protected along the whole Interurban corridor. Councilor Fox brought up this fact, as did Kim Richter who asked the question, "Who has priority use of the track? People or freight?"

Bob Long asked the question of whether anyone has studied re-alignment of passenger or freight services through Langley. He noted that any line built should be good now and in the long term.

Township staff could not answer most of these questions.

Howie Vickberg said that the vast majority of people in the Langley travel within Langley. He said that a transportation solution needs to link all the communities within the Langleys. (I couldn't agree more.) With a combination of Interurban light rail and streetcars, Langley could become a leader in sustainable transportation.

A Ministry of Transportation staffer was at last nights meeting and Mayor Kurt Alberts requested that the MoT report back on the status of the Interurban study that was personally promised by Kevin Falcon.

I was impressed to hear Jordan Bateman's comments in support of community rail and light rail in general. It is wonderful to hear that he is pushing for a ridership study of the Interurban route.

An Interurban light rail system that connects all our communities in the South Fraser, with connections to streetcars (or even full light rail) that could service importation areas like 200th Street, would lay the foundation for a truly usable and sustainable transportation system.

Good job Township council!

1 comment:

Jordan Bateman said...

Charlie was channeling the spirit of ol' Sir John A yesterday...