Langley City Election 2018 - October 20th

Thursday, July 26, 2018

While SkyTrain is preferred, light rail will serve the needs of Langley City

Monday night was the last Langley City council meeting until August 23. Over the last few days, I have posted about our community’s new vision “Langley City: Nexus of Community” and its accompanying implementation plan which was adopted at that meeting. Over the next week, I will be posting about other items covered at that meeting.

Back in the summer on 2016, Langley City council received presentations about the merits of light rail and SkyTrain as solutions for providing high-quality, rail rapid transit between Downtown Surrey and Downtown Langley along Fraser Highway. At the end of the presentations, council asked staff to investigate what would be the prefer technology from our community’s perspective.

Langley City staff did an evaluation of both SkyTrain and light rail technologies. They found that SkyTrain provided better overall safety, travel time, and reliability compared to light rail. Light rail performed better for overall accessibility and ability to integrate into the community due to ground-level stations. City staff found that SkyTrain would be better for Langley City, though both technologies would have a positive and transformative impact on Langley City.

Currently, it can take 70 minutes to travel between Downtown Surrey and Downtown Langley on bus. With the new Fraser Highway B-Line, it will take around 40 minutes. Light rail would take around 30 minutes, and SkyTrain around 20 minutes.

Beyond travel time, light rail or SkyTrain gives people a way out of congestion in a way that buses and B-Lines cannot; buses still share most of the road with other traffic. As our part of the region continues to grow, rail rapid transit will be the only way that we will be able to move people around effectively.

Offices, industry, and shops are choosing to locate near rail rapid transit as this is something that both employees and customers prefer. Rail rapid transit, combined with rental housing located near stations, supports more affordable housing and transportation options for all people.

Langley City’s new vision is based on having rail rapid transit in our Downtown. For our community to thrive, it will be imperative that we have rail rapid transit access.

There is a three-phase transportation plan for our region called “The 10-Year Vision” which is currently in phase two implementation. During the negotiations for phase two funding, Langley City council wanted to ensure that our community wouldn’t be forgotten.

There is a saying, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.” Based on the funding available, and that Langley represents 5% of our region’s population, we didn’t want to be left behind in the 10-Year Vision. For example, there is a real possibility that SkyTrain could terminate at 160th Street with no rail rapid transit to Langley City in my lifetime.

As reported publicly, light rail between Downtown Langley and Downtown Surrey would cost $1.9 billion to build, and $18 million a year to operate. SkyTrain would cost $2.9 billion to build, and $26 million to operate.

I’m a pragmatic person, and while Langley City council will continue to advocate for SkyTrain, it is unlikely that an extra billion dollars will be found by the province and federal government. Langley City council made the following motion on Monday:

WHEREAS the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation and TransLink Board have finalized more than $7 billion in transportation improvements under Phase 2 of the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision on June 28, 2018;

WHEREAS the approved funding for Phase 2 of the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision includes a $30 Million investment for project development and potential early works for the Surrey-Langley Light Rail Transit Line;

WHEREAS Langley City Council will continue to lobby the Federal and Provincial governments and TransLink to secure additional funding for SkyTrain Technology; and

WHEREAS Langley City Council fully expects the Federal and Provincial governments and TransLink to fulfill their commitment to fund Phase 3 of the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision to construct the Surrey-Langley Light Rail Transit Line within the next eight to 10 years;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Langley City Council publicly release the following resolution with respect to the extension of the light rail transit line from Surrey to Langley that was adopted by City Council at the December 11, 2017 Closed Meeting of Council, with amendments that remove confidential information:

WHEREAS Langley City Council supports the principle that the preferred South of Fraser Rapid Transit (SoFRT) be based on a comprehensive regional perspective and that the preferred rapid transit network selection criteria include performance, affordability, deliverability and connectivity.

WHEREAS Langley City Council concludes that the SkyTrain technology for Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley is superior to Light Rapid Transit (LRT) based on the perspective of safety, travel time, reliability and potential for future extensions.

WHEREAS Langley City Council recognizes the capital cost and annual operating cost differential between SkyTrain technology and LRT technology is significantly higher and that the Federal funding is based on a set allocation model which will not be increased if SkyTrain technology is chosen for Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley.

WHEREAS Langley City Council would desire the Province and the region to secure the additional funds for the SkyTrain technology for Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley.

WHEREAS Langley City Council recognizes that securing the additional funds for the SkyTrain technology for Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley may not be forthcoming or possible and hence delaying the funding approval for the Phase Two Investment Plan.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Langley City Council accepts the LRT technology for Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley, with the track being elevated between Willowbrook Mall and east of 200th Street, subject to the following conditions:

  1. Inclusion of funding to procure the Stage 2 – Fraser Highway Corridor between King George Station and Langley City as part of Stage 1 – Surrey City Centre to Guildford and Newton.
  2. Inclusion of sufficient road right of way width on Fraser Highway to facilitate cycling lanes in the future.
  3. Inclusion of adequate pedestrian connectivity and interface infrastructure between the terminus station and the proposed bus depot north of Fraser Hwy and east of 203rd Street.
  4. Inclusion of a park and ride facility adjacent to the terminus station.
  5. Provision of appropriate infrastructure at the terminus station to extend the rail line to communities east of Langley City.
  6. Consideration of a rapid transit maintenance facility in Langley City.
  7. Consideration of a rapid transit security satellite office in Langley City.

While SkyTrain is the preferred technology for Langley City, light rail will serve our community just fine if the conditions outlined in the motion are met. I certainly don’t want our community to be left behind because of a rail rapid transit technology choice.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Reading this along with the community plan for Downtown Langley is good news. I have one point of contention however. The inclusion of a park and ride lot at the Langley Centre terminus does not mesh well with the type of community being proposed. Acres of blacktop are the antithesis of great walkable communities. It could very well be in 10 years time that ride sharing and autonomous vehicles could finally be the solution to the first/last mile solution for transit to from rail. A well designed local bus service feeding the rail network should also be a priority before park and ride lots.

Even if the future does not pan out that way, some thoughts need to be given to alternatives to the acres of blacktop. A huge park and ride parking lot coupled with the already huge parking lot for the casino will work directly against the type of walkable community that is envisioned to be built. If such parking requirements are mandatory, might I suggest building a large parkade structure that can serve both park and ride and casino needs. A good example is the casino parking at Bridgeport Station. Park and ride by day, casino parking at night. While it is not a perfect solution, it confines the parking needs to a smaller footprint and can be easily redeveloped should parking needs be re-evaluated in the future. First floor retail can also present a pedestrian friendly feel to the structure.

A future Downtown Langley with massive ashphalt parking lots is just not going to work if you intend to build the community that you are indicating you'd like Downtown Langley to be.

Nathan Pachal said...

You are correct. The plan would be for a parkade with ground-level retail and/or service. I certainly wouldn't want a surface parking lot.