TransLink CEO weighs in on Surrey’s move from LRT to SkyTrain

Kevin Desmond says he’ll work with Surrey, and the region’s 22 other mayors

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond says it could be possible to build SkyTrain to Langley for a lower cost than initially thought, but not $1.9 billion as Surrey’s new mayor has promised.

Desmond made the comment to reporters following his address to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver Thursday. It was his first appearance since Surrey’s new city council nixed long-term plans for light rail in favour of SkyTrain.

He said government funding was likely to switch over seamlessly between light rail and SkyTrain.

“The signals we have heard publicly from both the governments of Canada and British Columbia is both levels of government are willing to see what our Mayors’ Council [on Regional Transportation] and our board decides,” he said.

“From what I’ve heard… they want to make sure that public transit infrastructure is delivered in Surrey. That signals to me that there will be flexibility.”

The mayors’ 10-year vision on transportation has been thrown into uncertainty ever since Doug McCallum snagged the mayor’s chair in Surrey during the municipal election on Oct. 20. He had campaigned on a promise to abandon the LRT plans and expand SkyTrain instead to reduce congestion.

READ MORE: Surrey council unanimously passes motion to ‘cancel ’ LRT

The mayors’ council, which includes 17 new members since the municipal vote, is set to meet for the first time next Thursday.

McCallum had promised to extend SkyTrain to Langley for the same cost as LRT, or at least closer to the $1.4-billion price of the similar-length Evergreen SkyTrain extension in the Tri-Cities.

“There are different ways to build the line that might reduce the cost,” Desmond said.

But he added he wasn’t aware of any extra funding to make up the nearly billion-dollar cost difference between $1.9 billion light rail and $2.9 billion SkyTrain.

He wouldn’t provide a timeline for the potential SkyTrain extension, saying “a lot of discussions” still need to be had with provincial and federal governments, as well as with the new members of the mayors’ council, as well as public engagement and design work.

Desmond acknowledged the $50-70 million that TransLink estimates it has already spent on light rail is a sunk cost. But added: “If the City of Surrey does not want that project and will not cooperate with that project, we cannot build that project.”

Surrey council unanimously passes motion to ‘cancel ’ LRT

He said TransLink had not yet looked into McCallum’s idea of ground-level SkyTrain running along agricultural land beside Fraser Highway, but that staff are open to alternatives from municipal officials.

Whichever way the region decided to go, Desmond said, “one way or the other we’re going to build rail in Surrey.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

GW Graham whallops Ballenas Whalers in junior football playoff

Logan Buchwitz scored four touchdowns for the Grizzlies in a one-sided 40-0 win.

B.C. teen to take on the world after winning Canadian junior dog-handling national championship

Chilliwack’s Kayla Penney is heading to Crufts to compete for her first international title

GW Graham grad Ethan Mastin wins Atlantic University Sport football title

Mastin helped his St. Francis Xavier X-Men top St. Mary’s U in last weekend’s AUS championship game.

Sardis Falcon Nick Butler named to Nissan Titan All-Canadian Team

The receiver is one of 70 high schoolers who will travel to Edmonton during the CFL’s Grey Cup week.

Country talent Petunia returns to Bozzini’s in Chilliwack Saturday

Petunia, performing Nov. 17, is referred to as ‘The Savior of Country Music’

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Some departments said it’s too early to provide data, others said initial numbers suggest stoned driving isn’t on the rise

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Tubing, skating, light display part of new winter festival in Vancouver

Set to open Nov. 23, the six-week festival will take over Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Centre

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Most Read