Friday, January 23, 2009

Fraser Valley Transit Study

Well, it’s been a busy morning today. I woke up to a call from the Ministry of Transportation re: the Fraser Valley Transit Study that was announced in August of 2008. As we blogged about last year and as was reported in the local press, we were concerned that this was the Interurban study that Kevin Falcon promised back in January 2008 at the Langley Chamber of Commerce meeting. Well, Joe received the following email in his inbox today from an inquiry he placed last August when this study was announced:
Dear Joe:

Thank you for your e-mail of August 27, 2008, regarding the Strategic Review of Transit in the Fraser Valley. Please accept my apologies for the lateness of my reply.

The Strategic Review of Transit in the Fraser Valley will help the Fraser Valley Regional District, TransLink, BC Transit and my ministry develops a long-range transit vision for South Fraser communities. We intend for it to be a comprehensive analysis with public and stakeholder consultation on all the public transit options for the future of this region. As such, my ministry isn't currently developing other studies on this topic. We recently issued the request for proposals, and it's our expectation that the final report should be ready for review in December 2009.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.

Best regards,

Kevin Falcon
So, it looks like the Interurban study (all of the South Fraser) has become the Fraser Valley transit study. During my call with the MoT today, I was told that they are looking at how to tie the Fraser Valley communities into all the South Fraser communities like Surrey and Langley.

Anyway, it is disappointing that this study will not be from the reference point of all the communities in the South Fraser, but instead will be from the reference point of Abbotsford and Chilliwack. I think this has the potential to weaken the case for light rail in our sub-region. South Fraser OnTrax believes in a phased approach that would look at Surrey to Langley first, as we believe that is where the highest potential for ridership exists. I just hope that this study doesn’t turn into a “the demand between Abbotsford and Chilliwack for light rail doesn’t make sense for the next 50 years”. We would then be back a square one waiting for an Interurban study.

We will be giving a 30 minute presentation to the MoT folks near the end of February. Keep your fingers crossed that the scope of this study will expand to look at transit for the perspective of Surrey (or even Vancouver with a new Fraser River Bridge).

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