The newly posted draft SkyTrain plans don’t quite get the long-promised line out as far as Langley.
“I don’t think this is a surprise, it does cost more than light rail,” said Langley City Councillor Nathan Pachal, a transit advocate.
A TransLink spokesperson confirmed the 2025 completion date was for spending the $1.65 billion already set aside for light rail in Surrey-Newton-Guildford.
The available funding will push SkyTrain further into Surrey along Fraser Highway, but will not be sufficient to extend the line all the way to Langley.
Although TransLink says the $1.65 billion in funding for light rail will likely transfer over to SkyTrain, much of that money comes from senior government and the agency will have to submit a new business case in order to transfer it to a different form of rail.
Pachal said there is enough money planned for future phases of transit to get the line built to Langley, but local leaders, and provincial and federal authorities, will need to commit to keeping that money in the South of the Fraser area.
Potentially competing for transit dollars is a proposed subway line down Vancouver’s Broadway extending as far as UBC.
The current funding and construction phase will see a portion of the SkyTrain line built by 2025, seven years from now.
The change in emphasis, driven by Surrey’s new mayor Doug McCallum, may mean some changes in bus service for commuters heading from Langley into Surrey.
A planned B-Line bus down Fraser Highway is on the chopping block at this Thursday’s meeting of the TransLink Mayors’ Council.
The reason is that building infrastructure for faster buses is pointless if SkyTrain construction will be starting soon on the same route – the construction would interfere with or wipe out the B-Line stops and shelters.
Pachal noted the same motion calls for bus service improvements to existing bus links to and from Surrey, the 502 and 503 line.
There are several lines that could be improved to help local transit users, Pachal said, including a link from 200th Street to the Willowbrook Shopping Centre, which is often congested.