On Friday both the Langley Times and the Langley Advance carried letters from Kevin Falcon, Minister of Transportation. The letters promise a study of light rail and other options. While South Fraser OnTrax certainly welcomes such a study, we would like to see some time lines for this study, along with a scope of work and methodology.
We hope that this will be an independent study and not any self-fulfilling prophecy that is driven by past decisions. But with public awareness and press coverage for light rail at an all-time high, we can appreciate that the Ministry will need to be open and transparent heading into a provincial election in another year. Not that we are suggesting that he has not been transparent in the past. But well-meaning staff can sometimes sideline forward-thinking solutions.
Some 14+ communities across North America have scrapped plans for rapid bus service (which TransLink is currently embracing going forward). The rapid bus or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has failed to attract "choice riders" (people that can drive cars if they wish). So these communities are switching to light rail, which their studies have proved will be attractive to those with cars. Therefore, SFOT is hoping that this promised study will include a look at those communities that have decided to dump rapid bus service.
The Minister mentions farmlands or the ALR. We have a simple solution. Give us service on the old Interurban like just from Langley to Surrey as a test case. Add Abbotsford and other communities when we are approaching proper ridership demands for that. It would be fairly inexpensive as compared with other options, and would begin to solve some problems south of the Fraser.