Monday, November 19, 2018

Mayors’ Council halts light rail along King George and 104th Avenue; moves forward with two-phase SkyTrain extension to Langley

As I posted about on Wednesday, important decisions were made at the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation inaugural meeting. I listened to this meeting which was live-streamed on Thursday morning.

One of the first orders of business was to choose a new chair and vice-chair for the Mayors’ Council. People who serve as the chair and vice-chair of the Mayors’ Council are also automatically appointed to the TransLink Board, so these positions are very important.

Mayor Jonathan Cote of New Westminster was nominated by other mayors to be the chair, and Mayor Jack Froese was nominated as the vice-chair. Both Mayor Cote and Froese are good choices for these positions.

New Westminster and Langley City are very similar as we are both compact urban centres. I know that Mayor Cote is also a strong supporter of building compact urban centres that are connected by high-quality transit. This is what we are working towards in Langley City with our Nexus Vision.

Mayor Froese will provide a strong voice for the South of Fraser. He is pragmatic, and I know that he will work to ensure that we will get rapid transit built to Langley.

Not surprising, the Mayors’ Council did vote to halt building light rail along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue. Importantly, they also voted to keep moving forward with the 10-Year Regional Transportation Investments Vision with the exception of Surrey rapid transit.

After much debate, they also voted to proceed “immediately with planning, design and procurement readiness works for the SkyTrain on Fraser Highway project. And, concurrently, initiate a planning process to refresh the Surrey-Newton-Guildford rapid transit, consistent with the 10-Year Vision of building 27 km of rapid transit along both corridors.”

It was confirmed that SkyTrain along Fraser Highway will likely be built in two phases due to the increased cost of using this technology compared to conventional light rail. The first phase will likely terminate somewhere in Fleetwood. It will be extremely important that funding is approved to ensure that there is a phase two of SkyTrain that will run to Langley.

The Mayors’ Council also approved their work plan for 2019 which includes:

  • Securing all remaining funding from the federal and provincial governments to complete the 10-Year Vision, including SkyTrain to Langley
  • Getting funding to complete a SkyTrain extension to UBC
  • Continuing to moving forward with exploring mobility pricing

While not explicitly stated, moving forward quickly to complete the 10-Year Vision will also mean that the Mayors’ Council will need to approve increased regional revenue to pay for the vision. This will likely mean property tax and gas tax increases.

Over the next few months, more details will become available on the implementation of rapid transit in the South of Fraser, including the timing of implementing B-Line routes. Information will also become available on how to get SkyTrain to UBC.

As I stated last week, I believe that the Mayors’ Council has their work cut out for them. They will need to accelerate and find significant new funding to build transit in our region. I hope that this new Mayors’ Council will move quickly as people in our region are tired of waiting for transit service to be expanded.


Leigh said...

Thank you for the update Nathan, so within the next 10 years, hopefully Skytrain to the Fleetwood area, by 2038 to Langley?

Nathan Pachal said...

I would hope SkyTrain to Fleetwood in 5 and within 10 years to Langley.