Why not LRT?
LRT is an attempt to address the image problem of Surrey, NOT the transportation problem of Surrey.
LRT is made to give a facelift to Surrey. While this is important and necessary, we cannot spend 4 Biilion* on a project that does not address the transportation issue. In fact, LRT make the transportation issue worse with more congestion for majority of Surrey's population. Here are some specific points about LRT.
*Note: 4 Billion. Newly estimated cost for phase 1 is 1.65B for 10.5 km on KG and 104 Ave. Phase 2 on Fraser Hwy is 17 km can cost 2.6 Billion using phase 1 per/km estimates.
1. LRT causes more congestion than now on 40 intersections and 42 left turns on KG, 104 Ave & Fraser highway routes !! So as the three LRT routes gets a little faster, there are 82 routes getting slower !!! TransLink and Surrey City do not account for this.
2. Strategically, LRT is disconnecting Surrey from the skytrain network. Surrey is the geographical centre of the Lower Mainland. We need a smoother transportation system across the Lower Mainland. LRT disconnects Surrey from this Lower Mainland network.
3. Safety issues posed by LRT during left turns and pedestrian crossing would be high as both trains and cars are crossing in both directions.
4. For next 6 to 10 years, We will have severe traffic issues due to road widening and displacement of lanes on 104, King George and Fraser Hwy, while traffic issues in the city aggravate.
5. More environmental destruction as we have to find road based redirections of traffic as in the case of Hawthorne Park.
6. Emergency/ambulance services further slows down near Surrey memorial as they wait for LRT. Or LRT wait for those.
7. The median portion of most of King George, 104 and Fraser Hwy, does not have width in the middle to accommodate LRT as is. This means roads need to widened in majority of places. This will increase the costs of LRT considerably and would have great environmental impact. Environmental impacts due to additional delays and congestion during the build time also need to be considered.
8. The population of Surrey which is not living farther than walkable distance to Fraser highway, King George and 104 get adversely affected due to the lack of connectivity (No additional connectivity shown in LRT plans) and additional congestion caused by LRT at their intersections.
9. South Surrey is entirely missed out in the short term and long term plans. This will cause Surrey to miss out in long term with Vancouver – Seattle high speed train routes.
10. From latest estimates, LRT costs ($150 Mil/km) even more than previously estimated Skytrain costs. Total Phase 1 + Phase 2 costs could be over 4 billion for LRT. This is even more than the TransLink’s own previous estimates for Skytrain.
Skytrain & Bus network for north and south Surrey.
- Immediately, add additional buses for Surrey to ease the congestion.
- Skytrain on King George, 104 & Fraser highway. Later, rapid transit to South Surrey. Implemented in multiple phases.
- Complementing bus network to support the skytrain system.
- Long term Seattle connection: 1 hour commute to Seattle from Surrey.
Deciding it with vote from Surrey Public.
- Even though PEOPLE FIRST is convinced that the Skytrain is the better choice, it understands there are differing views in the community. We want to pursue the most democratic way to arrive at a decision. So, we promise to put LRT vs Skytrain and variants, including BRT, in front of the Surrey taxpayers using mail-in ballots. We will publish the results and honour the results. Let the experts write the pros and cons but allow the people who use public transit in Surrey to make the decision.
- A public vote is also necessary to explain the change with other Govt bodies like mayor's council, Provincial Govt and Federal Govt to secure continued funding.
1. Skytrain create a new pathway which does not interfere with existing road network. New investment = New traffic pathway.
2. Lesser operating costs.
3. Better for environment as per many studies. Need to take into consideration the road widening and related destruction of greenspace for LRT, which does not happen for Skytrain.
4. Opportunity to be the geographical connecting point for Lower mainland population.
5. In future, a one hour commute to Seattle from Surrey enables an alternative to work in Seattle instead of Vancouver. Major tech companies will come to Surrey as talent resides in Surrey.
Costs for Skytrain and financing:
1. Cities in lower mainland with much lesser population already have skytrain and west coast express train. Eg: Port moody (population of 40K) and Coquitlam (population of 140K) . So it is Surrey's turn for investment. Why do we bring up the costs when it is Surrey's turn?
2. The city of Surrey's has examined 13 alternative approaches to the LRT. But skytrain on both proposed lines was not one of them and costs were not estimated. So there are no good estimates available but best estimates are $4B. That is not significantly more than LRT.
3. Skytrain works out to be similar or even cheaper now, due to higher land costs and unnecessary road works caused by LRT.
We definitely agree that Surrey has an image problem and it need to be addressed. However, doing that under the covers of a transportation project will achieve neither. If we do it under LRT, what about Scott Rd, 128 St, 64Ave and many other streets? We need lot more strategic and city-wide approach here.
Here is our proposal to start with
1. Start with the downtown core. However first address the crime and homelessness there.
2. Identify and promote a night life street to downtown core. Our youth need their avenues for re-creation. This is important as we get more younger population to downtown core, SFU etc.
3. Widen the walkways and add as much greenery as we can to downtown core walkways. This has nothing to do with LRT or Skytrain.
However, this is a much more strategic item. So we want to make this as part of re-vitalisation of Surrey Vision and make a Surrey 2050 plan with public participation. Please see Surrey 2050 section for details.