Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Surrey Light Rail, and moving forward with TransLink’s 10-Year Vision

With funding secured for phase 1 of TransLink’s 10-Year Vision for transportation in our region, work is full-steam ahead on implementing phase 1 which includes the following transit service enhancements in the South of Fraser.

Phase 1 South of Fraser transit improvements. Green is new transit service, red is new frequent transit service, and orange is new B-Line service.

It also includes $12.5 million in new regional funding for municipally-owned walking infrastructure, $29.8 million in new regional funding for cycling infrastructure, and $82.5 million for major road network upgrades, rehabilitation, and seismic retrofitting.

Phase 2 of the plan is slated to being in 2018, and will enable more transportation enhancements in the South of Fraser. One of the major enhancements will be light rail along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue as shown in the following map.

Surrey Light Rail map including stations.

While funding is not yet secured for phase 2, from what I’ve heard, I’m confident that the feds, province, and region’s mayors will be able to come up with the funds needed to pay for the next phase. Mayor Hepner is so confident that she is on the record stating that construction of Surrey Light Rail will begin in 2018.

On the topic of Surrey Light Rail, the City of Surrey and TransLink are having a series of open houses about the project. I attended last night’s open house in Guildford.

Guildford Open House about Surrey Light Rail.

Another map of the Surrey Light Rail project including station stops.

Information and renderings of Surrey Light Rail.

One of the key takeaways for me is that Surrey and TransLink are designing the light rail system to create an accessible community. The renderings of the light rail network show that the system will not only reliably get people around Surrey, but will also create a vibrant public realm that will encourage walking and cycling. For example, if you look closely at where the light rail system will be running in the previous photos, you’ll see that grass is under the tracks to reduce the size of impervious surfaces which is good for the environment, and creates a pleasant public realm.

There are two other public open houses scheduled:

Wednesday, Jan. 25
12 to 5 p.m.
Surrey City Hall Atrium
13450 104 Avenue

Thursday, Jan. 26
4 to 8 p.m.
Newton Cultural Centre
13530 72 Avenue

You can also submit feedback online until February 13th.

While I’m happy that work is well underway to get phase 2 of TransLink’s 10-Year Vision funded and built, I concerned that progress may stall on phase 3. Phase 3 is when light rail or SkyTrain will be built along Fraser Highway to Langley. The final phase is not slated to begin until 2020, and the funding source for that phase will likely be “mobility pricing” or another new funding source.

A new funding source for TransLink has been requested by our region to the province since the agency was created in 1999. While I’m confident that existing funding sources can be used to fund both phase 1 and 2, I’m not as sure about phase 3. That being said, 2020 is a political eternity away, so who knowns what will happen.

After several years of stagnation, transit service in Metro Vancouver is finally expending. This is good news.

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