A City of Surrey rendering of what a light rail LRT line might look like on King George Boulevard.

LRT for rapid transit an option: Lekstrom

Minister responds to Surrey, Langley calls for light rail

A pledge by Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom to consider light rail transit (LRT) technology to expand rapid transit South of the Fraser is a significant step forward, area mayors say.

The minister isn’t excluding SkyTrain but has made it clear all options are on the table and recognized Surrey’s rapid growth.

“We are examining the use of LRT as well as the potential for bus rapid transit and SkyTrain technology to provide frequent, fast and reliable service to communities south of the Fraser River,” he said in a Nov. 9 letter to mayors, adding that work is continuing in partnership with TransLink and local cities.

Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender said he’s taking the statement as a shift in the province’s stance from that of former Premier Gordon Campbell, who had vowed to extend SkyTrain in Surrey down the Fraser Highway to Langley.

Fassbender and Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts have both been advocating for LRT.

“It’s a recognition that LRT is one of the options we want to seriously look at,” Fassbender said.

“There may be some good rationale for expansion of SkyTrain to Guildford, for example, but not necessarily coming out to Langley city centre,” he said.

Advocates see at-grade LRT with more local stations as a technology that can better connect neighbourhoods within a city, rather than SkyTrain, which critics say is more oriented to speeding commuters to and from the rest of the region.

Watts said in her letter to Lekstrom an at-grade rail system is “integral” to connecting town centres and supporting businesses and economic development.

Merchants are less likely to benefit from elevated SkyTrain lines because potential customers don’t have the ability to exit right at street level.

TransLink is in the midst of its Surrey Rapid Transit Study to help determine preferred routes and technologies for an expansion that could link White Rock and Langley as well.

The initial phase came up with 10 options using SkyTrain, LRT, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or combinations thereof on the King George Boulevard, Fraser Highway and 104 Avenue corridors at costs ranging from $650 million to more than $2 billion.

TransLink has pledged to refine those options by early next year and the province would work with TransLink and local cities to make a final choice.

Local cities aren’t just waiting for the TransLink process and consultations to play out.

The City of Surrey has repeatedly touted the potential of light rail on the same corridors TransLink is studying, preparing video animations to depict how an LRT system in north Surrey would work.

Fassbender said he has confidence in the TransLink process, adding the mayors weren’t trying to short-circuit it by directly lobbying the minister.

Watts said Surrey has been pushing for increased provincial spending on transit in local cities for some time.

How any rapid transit extension further in Surrey is funded will depend heavily on talks between the mayors and the province over new revenue sources for TransLink.

Vancouver also wants a rapid transit extension down the Broadway corridor to UBC and TransLink has been working on a similar study to shortlist options for that line.

Just Posted

Maxime Bernier makes stop in Chilliwack for fundraiser event

Leader and founder of the People’s Party of Canada speaks during brunch fundraiser for own party

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt pool closures at Harrison Hot Springs

Public pool available after all five mineral pools closed until further notice

Oil pipeline company offers cash to expand under two Chilliwack school yards

District offered $136,500 to widen from 18 to 42 metres through Vedder middle and Watson elementary

Chilliwack’s Chief Ernie Crey a firm pipeline supporter

Crey lauds NEB focus on marine safety in his role representing Indigenous oversight committee

Sarah Wark’s run just about done at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

With an overall record of 5-5, Wark’s Team B.C. won’t be qualifying for Saturday’s playoff round.

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Most Read