The City of Surrey recently released a report titled “Economic Benefits of Surrey LRT” which was authored by Shirocca Consulting. These are the same people that did the TransLink Efficiency Review for the now defunct TransLink Commission back in 2012.
The author of the report found that over a 12 year period, light rail construction will support 24,600 direct, indirect, and induced jobs generating $1.4 billion in wages and salaries in BC. Once construction is complete, the operation of light rail in Surrey will support 14,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs generating a total of $810 million in wages and salaries over a 30 year period.
In the report, direct employment includes working on the design, construction, and operation of light rail in Surrey. Indirect employment included people that work at suppliers and service companies that support light rail. Induced jobs are created when people directly or indirectly employed due to Surrey light rail start spending money in the community.
While the report contains hard numbers about jobs, wages, and tax revenue generated due to light rail, the new economic opportunities and quality of life improvements that light rail will support in Surrey is a major driver for the need to build light rail in Surrey.
The author of the report notes high-value investment and development will be attracted to light rail corridors in Surrey. This is due to the permanent physical presence of rail-based transit. Unlike SkyTrain, the author says that light rail is more cost-effective and supports a human-scale urban environment. According to the author, light rail “will also help maintain Surrey’s traditional role as a provider of more affordable, family-oriented housing”. This is because dollar-for-dollar light rail will be able to go further than SkyTrain, allowing more households access to fast and affordable transit. Because of this access, many households will be able to reduce or eliminate a costly vehicle.
Because employers and employees in the high-tech sector want to be located near rapid transit stations, light rail will support high-value jobs in Surrey according to the author.
The author also notes that light rail will:
-Improve access to Surrey Memorial Hospital and the associated health/life science employment in the area
-Create walkable, accessible communities throughout Surrey which support Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy
-Preserve agricultural lands as development will be attracted to the light rail corridors, and not the urban fringe of Surrey.
The City of Surrey also produced a “Surrey YES LRT” video to accompany the economic benefit report. You can find out more information, and download the full report, from Surrey’s LRT web page.