Thursday, April 25, 2019

South of Fraser SkyTrain and Rapid Transit Update

About a month ago, I posted about the proposed SkyTrain extension from King George Station to Langley City based on the most recent information available from TransLink’s Mayors’ Council. It confirmed that the extension will be 14.3 kilometres, have 8 stations, and cost $2.9 billion (2017) to build. It also noted that there is a $1.3 billion gap between the funding available and funding needed to build the line. Today, the Mayors’ Council will be receiving another update on South of Fraser rapid transit.

TransLink is concurrently working on two plans for this sub-region: the SkyTrain Project Development Work Plan which is estimated to be completed in the spring of 2020, and the South of Fraser Transit Strategy Work Plan which is estimated to be completed this fall.

The South of Fraser Transit Strategy work plan will look at how SkyTrain along Fraser Highway will meet the objectives for rapid transit in the South of Fraser. It will also look at technology choices for future rapid transit along 104th Avenue and King George boulevard including bus rapid transit, and how it will interact with SkyTrain along Fraser Highway. The strategy will include updates around the overall transit network in the South of Fraser, and the interaction between transit and land-use in the South of Fraser.

The objectives for South of Fraser Rapid Transit include:

  • Ensuring predictable transit travel times
  • Increasing transportation choice
  • Feeling comfortable and safe when using transit
  • Ensuring reliable driving time for motor vehicle commuters
  • Facilitating the efficient movement of goods and services
  • Limiting climate change and air pollutants
  • Supporting economic development and job growth
  • Making efficient use of public money
  • Minimizing construction impacts
  • Protecting green space and reducing urban sprawl
  • Supporting an affordable and desirable community

This is a long list of objectives that rapid transit for the South of Fraser will have to meet. One of the objectives that is interesting is “ensuring reliable driving time for motor vehicle commuters.” It is a metric that I don’t normally see for transit systems. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the design of rapid transit in the South of Fraser. Hopefully it will not have a negative impact on building a transit system that supports creating walkable and bikeable communities as this is the only way to give people a way out of congestion as our region continues to grow.

For Fraser Highway SkyTrain, there should be a draft business case for the full line between King George and Langley City by this summer. Also this summer, we will know what can be built within the current $1.6 billion that is available today for rapid transit in the South of Fraser.

One of the other issues that will need to be resolved is the matter of the $50 million that was spent on the now cancelled light rail line for Surrey, and how that will be reimbursed back to the region by Surrey.

It looks like by this summer, we will have a clearer picture of what the transit network will look like in the South of Fraser over the next decade.

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