Thursday, May 22, 2014

Township Staff endorse grade-separated rail rapid transit for Langley

About a month ago, South of Fraser municipalities released a report call “South of Fraser LRT & Transit Investment Needs: Moving Towards the Regional Transit Average.” I posted about this report at the end of April.

The City of Surrey has been advocating for light rail as the preferred technology for rapid transit in the South of Fraser. Traditionally light rail is operated by humans and as a result, it can run at-grade with at-grade intersection crossings. It can also be grade-separated like SkyTrain. Because SkyTrain is automated, it must be grade-separated. Grade-separation is costly and is one of the reasons why SkyTrain costs more to build than traditional light rail.

Township of Langley Council received this report at their last council meeting to endorse and submit to the TransLink Mayors’ Council. As it currently stands, rail rapid transit is not being planned for the Township of Langley.

Given the higher cost of grade-separation and the fact that rail rapid transit is not currently being considered for the Township of Langley, I was surprised that Township of Langley staff “indicated that the portions of rail rapid transit within Langley should be grade-separated.” Township’s staff reasoning is that it should be grade-separated because rail rapid transit has to cross “several Major Road Network (MRN) roads, Provincial Highway 10 and the Canadian Pacific (CP) rail line.”

Rail rapid transit is being considered for the City of Langley. While it certainly makes sense that some rail rapid transit crossings would need to be grade-separated, does that mean that the whole section of system that will run through the City of Langley needs to be grade-separated? Without detailed Engineering work, it is too early to know, but grade-separated rail is a costly prospect.

The Province has given the TransLink Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation until the end of June to come up with an investment plan and funding solution for the upcoming transit referendum. Based on a primary map, it looks like the investment plan is going to be very similar to the “Leap Ahead” transit plan that Paul Hillsdon and I released in the fall. Paul posted the following map which I am sharing. As you can see, bus rapid transit is currently being planned for the Township of Langley.

Mayors Transit Plan includes 14 B-Lines, upgrading routes 9, 20, 41, 100, 106, 130, 135, 228, 239, 319, 430, 595, 701. Source: Paul Hillsdon, 1:29 PM on May 2nd, 2014

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