Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Surrey-Newton-Guildford Light Rail Business Case Released

Last week, the federal and provincial governments, along with TransLink and the Mayors’ Council reaffirmed their support for light rail in the South of Fraser along King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue. As part of the announcement, the business case for the Surrey-Newton-Guildford (SNG) light rail project was also released.

Surrey-Newton-Guildford (SNG) light rail system map. Select map to enlarge.

One of the key considerations for the rapid transit project was travel demand. The following chart shows that most trips in the South of Fraser stay within the South of Fraser. The SNG project is meant to give more travel options for people to get to points within the South of Fraser.

South of Fraser Trip Breakdown. Select chart to enlarge.

One of the other key considerations is increasing road congestion.

Transportation Mode and Population Growth (2008-2011) Increase
Cycling +26%
Transit +17%
Walking +6%
Driving +4%
Population +6%

Even though driving is the slowest growing mode, it is still growing while road space is not. Because buses run in mixed-traffic, increased congestion due to driving will slow down buses. The business case suggests that if the 96 B-Line was to remain, its average travel time would increase from 29 minutes in 2014 to 38 minutes in 2030.

While TransLink did evaluate may different rapid transit options, bus rapid transit and light rail emerged as the top options for the King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue. One of the main reasons for choosing light rail was capacity.

The following chart from the companion “Strategic Options Analysis” report shows that bus rapid transit running every 5 minutes would be at capacity in five years. It would be at capacity in about a decade with the maximum frequency of every 3 minutes.

Light trail on the other hand would be able to function with single-car trains until around 2045, than be upgraded to two-car trains which would provide enough capacity beyond my lifespan.

Peak Load Forecast - BRT 5 minute and 3 minute – LRT 30m Vehicle and 60m Vehicle. Select chart to enlarge.

A business care summary was also released. It includes other options that were evaluated such as SkyTrain. The business case summary stated that SkyTrain was not selected because “forecasts for population, employment and transit ridership growth in Surrey do not warrant this additional capacity or cost. Additionally, SkyTrain is most effective when there are greater distances between stops, and requires stair/escalator access, resulting in lower accessibility and walkability benefits for customers.”

One of the key metrics for a project is the benefit-cost ratio. SNG light rail has a benefit-cost ratio of 0.70 which is similar to other light rail projects in Canada.

For all the background documents, please visit the Surrey Light Rail project website. SNG light rail will start construction in 2020.

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