Safe Surrey Coalition slams Light Rail Transit ‘mistake’ for Surrey

Doug McCallum

THE Safe Surrey Coalition on Wednesday in a statement said: “There is still time to avoid the Light Rail Transit (LRT) mistake. Why do we have to accept LRT while cities north of the Fraser enjoy the much faster SkyTrain? Vancouver wouldn’t stand for LRT to UBC.

“Simply put, LRT is a second-rate system. It’s much slower than SkyTrain and it will frequently stop vehicle traffic on our busy streets because it runs on rails set at street level. This will inevitably lead to worse traffic congestion and more accidents on our roads.

“[Mayoral candidate] Doug McCallum and the Safe Surrey Coalition are calling upon the federal and provincial governments to use some common sense and take a serious look at the much better SkyTrain option for Surrey.

“In fact, Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau said in a Red FM 93.1 interview on September 4 with Harjinder Thind that if a new Surrey Council is elected this October 20 and they decide to scrap the current LRT plans in order to move ahead with the more efficient SkyTrain, then the federal transit funding will still be available.

“LRT faces many challenges that have yet to be discussed fully. Cloverdale and Clayton Heights residents won’t find LRT useful. To reach the SkyTrain line from their neighbourhoods they will have to board a bus to the nearest LRT station and then ride LRT at its typical speed of 30 kilometers per hour. The speed estimate doesn’t calculate for the fact the LRT will also stop at multiple station to reach King George. This could easily take an hour.

“SkyTrain will travel most of Fraser Highway extension at 80 kilometers per hour. That’s almost three times as fast.

“It’s easy to see why the people of Surrey prefer SkyTrain. Eight-six percent are in favour of SkyTrain according to a CKNW poll conducted just this week.

“What’s more difficult to understand is why Surrey First council candidate Paul Hillsdon places a gondola up Burnaby Mountain to the SFU Campus ahead of the needs of residents in Clayton Heights and Cloverdale. This is from his “Leap Ahead” report.

“Hillsdon is also the so-called South of Fraser Rapid Transit Planner for Translink who has been working on the proposed slow as molasses Light Rail Transit (LRT) project. Hilllsdon, Tom Gill, and Surrey First, did not reach out to the community for meaningful consultations. The fix was in from the very early stages.

“It’s not difficult to see why the residents of Vancouver would say no to LRT along Broadway. Their citizens were heard. The question is: why did Tom Gill and Surrey First sell out the citizens of Surrey on this very important transit project?

“For decades the taxpayers in Surrey have been contributing to the first-rate Skytrain system in the cities North of the Fraser River. Surrey has a larger population than Burnaby, Coquitlam, and New West combined. Now that it’s finally our turn for transit improvements why should we have to settle for a second-rate LRT solution? Burnaby already has two SkyTrain lines. Do they need a gondola too?

“Doug McCallum and the Safe Surrey Coalition is listening to the citizens. We consistently hear well over eighty percent of Surrey residents say they want SkyTrain extended down the Fraser Highway. They simply don’t want LRT. If Tom Gill and Surrey First won’t stand up for citizens, then the Safe Surrey Coalition will.

“We are for SkyTrain that will actually get used and against a slow LRT system that will likely run nearly empty far too often. Even when it’s empty, LRT will still run and disrupt traffic on our streets. Is that the system you want for your city?”