The Interurban was a passenger rail line that operated from 1910 until 1950 and fostered agricultural, residential and industrial growth for the South Fraser.
The Interurban is what settled the South Fraser and that is why many commercial, educational, and recreational facilities are today within walking distance of the line.
Today, the Interurban line still exists and carries local freight a few times a day. Since the BC Provincial government still owns the right-of-way and passenger rights through BC Hydro.
The Interurban Line Today
Cost to Reactivate
The City of Surrey commissioned a report stating that getting a minimal-service diesel light rail system running from Scott Road SkyTrain to Langley Centre would cost $200 million. Translink commissioned a report for a deluxe system from Scott Road to Langley Centre for a cost of $700 million. To put that into perspective:
Translink Report: Deluxe Electric LRT: $27,000,000/km
Surrey Report: Diesel LRT: $6,000,000/km
Canada Line: $105,000,000/km
Evergreen Line: $127,000,000/km
UBC Line: $233,000,000/km
The average cost to build a light rail system in North America is about $35,000,000/km.
The Interurban line runs through the most dense areas in the South Fraser and southern BC. The following population density map is from the planning office at the City of Surrey. It is based on current data and was produced in 2008.
Some background information: Surrey and Langley contain both very urban and very rural areas. When you look at the population density of all of Surrey or Langley, it appears to be lower than the rest of the region. What the smart planning people did at the City of Surrey was to exclude the agricultural land reserves, regional parks, and rural areas when they took their measurements. Once all the “open space” is removed, there are more people per square kilometer in Surrey than Burnaby. Even with the flood plain in the City of Langley, it has about the same population density as Burnaby.
Here’s the Breakdown of People per Square Km:
New Westminster: 3,899
Langley, City: 2,309.1
Here’s the Breakdown of Population (2008):
New Westminster: 58,549
Langley, City: 23,606
Here’s the Breakdown of Km’s of Rail Transit:
New Westminster: 8km
Langley, City: 0km
Rail Quota (Km’s of Rail Transit/Population x 10,000):
New Westminster: 1.37
Langley, City: 0
Where People Go
The Interurban line goes through key industrial, high employment areas by Newton and Gloucester Estates; residential areas like Sullivan Heights and Willlowbrook; major colleges such as Kwantlen and universities like TWU; key transit interchanges like Nordel Crossing/Scott Road, Newton Town Centre, Langley Town Centre; commercial areas, most notably the Langley Regional Town Centre, Downtown Chilliwack, the Sardis shopping area, Downtown Abbotsford, the Sumas Way shopping area; and near both the Langley and Abbotsford airports.
Studies show that the majority of the South Fraser population is headed for destinations within the sub-region. Community Rail, dedicated to linking local communities with only an incidental link to SkyTrain, would offer low cost, grass roots passenger transport which would be the spine of an effective integrated bus/light rail system. A recent TransLink Trip Diaries Report shows that only 20% of traffic in the South Fraser crosses the river while 80% has origin and destination south of the Fraser River. Also, about 30% of the “moving” population does not have access to private motor vehicles.