Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Transit Update: Bigger buses proposed for Fraser Highway. Expo Line to Langley next steps.

Since the municipal elections last fall, there has been some changes when it comes to the future of public transit along Fraser Highway. Fraser Highway hosts some of the busiest and most overcrowded bus routes in the South of Fraser.

One of the major changes was the switch from building light rail along Fraser Highway, 104th Avenue, and King George Boulevard, to expanding the Expo Line to Langley.

Proposed alignment for Expo Line extension to Langley. Select map to enlarge.

In a recent report to the TransLink board, the following facts about the proposed Expo Line extension were presented:

  • The preliminary cost estimate for a 16-kilometre SkyTrain extension from King George Station to 203 Street in Langley City is $2.9 billion (2017)
  • 14.3 kilometres of the extension will be in Surrey and 1.7 kilometres will be in Langley
  • There will be 8 stations:
    • Two stations between King George Boulevard and the Fleetwood area
    • Two stations in the Fleetwood area
    • Two stations in the Clayton area
    • One station in the Township of Langley (Willowbrook)
    • One station in Langley City
  • There is $1.6 billion available to build SkyTrain to Langley, leaving a gap of $1.3 billion

TransLink is currently projecting that the following work will be completed by the spring of 2020 for the Expo Line extension:

  • Finalize requirements gathering
  • Final reference design
  • Updating capital and operating cost estimates
  • Updating ridership forecasting and other project benefits
  • Confirming the procurement and delivery strategy
  • Confirming scope that can be delivered for approximately $1.6 billion
  • Public and stakeholder engagement
  • Environmental review and studies
  • First Nations reviews
  • Municipal support agreements
  • Business case development

Once these items have been completed, it will allow for the securing of funding approval from the federal and provincial governments, plus the Mayors’ Council. If all goes well, construction of the Expo Line extension could start in 2021/22.

One of the major challenges for the Mayors’ Council will be to secure the additional $1.3 billion to build SkyTrain to Langley.

If timelines don’t slip and funding is secured, SkyTrain to Langley could open in about six years from now. That means that for the next six years, something needs to be done to improve transit along Fraser Highway. Originally, there was going to be a Fraser Highway B-Line. This was cancelled due to the switch to SkyTrain. Even with this cancellation, TransLink and municipalities are looking at ways to address the overcrowding and reliability issues caused by congestion along Fraser Highway.

In Langley City, we are investigating building bus-only lanes along certain sections of Fraser Highway, 203rd Street, and Logan Avenue. I’m hopeful that the same conversation is occurring in Surrey to build some transit priority measures, such as bus-only lanes, along sections of Fraser Highway.

TransLink is also investigating bringing B-Line style buses to Fraser Highway, and improving the current B-Line along King George and 104th Avenue.

As stated in a recent report, “With the recent cancellation of the Fraser Highway B-Line, there will be changes to the roll-out of the new B-Line Program. The 96 B-Line, once slated for cancellation in favour of rail, will now be upgraded. [TransLink] is considering changes to the very busy Route 502 Fraser Highway, including deploying articulated buses.”

We are in exciting times when it comes to building better transit in the South of Fraser. If funding can be secured, we will finally be getting the transit service required to give people a way out of congestion in Surrey and Langley.

1 comment:

Jim said...

If the Expo line is extended, the BC Parkway needs to be extended with it. Fraser Hwy is part of TL's major bike network plan for AAA facilities, and most of the route already has some form of bike facility. Abbotsford will be building AAA facilities on their portion of Fraser Highway in the medium term (estimate 5-10 years)