Skytrain rapid transit continues to be a much-discussed topic in Metro Vancouver.  HERE’s Nathan Pachal, Langley City Councillor and friend of Price Tags, writing in his South Fraser Blog about the Skytrain to Langley being proposed for Surrey.

With the switch from light rail along King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue in Surrey to SkyTrain from King George Station to Langley City, TransLink has set up a new website about the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain Project.

Surrey Langley Skytrain Website

Among other items collected on TransLink’s website are documents, including some from the Mayor’s Council.

From page 73 of THIS PDF, a project development timeline, showing the all-important business plan approval finishing around May 2020 and start of service targeted for 2025. Costs likely to surface around January 2020.   This is well after the October 21, 2019 Federal election — so Federal money will have to match their share to existing estimates (~ $ 2.9 B), and without an approved business plan.

Getting Skytrain to Langley



  1. I recall Rob Ford nixing a decade’s worth of transit planning with a vindictive stroke of a pen. Then, after years of battling over Ford’s unrealistic fantasies of replacing planned LRT with subways most of it reverted back to the original plan – wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and setting the whole build out back 5 to 10 years.

    What’s happening in Surrey looks so familiar. McCallum’s repeat of Ford’s failure wasn’t based on a business case. It was based, like Ford’s, on populism. In the suburbs that populism revolves around maintaining road space for motor vehicles. Obviously! Transit riders don’t have the numbers to support a popular movement. Motorists do.

    1. Robert Ford nixed it ? I thought the SURREY VOTERS elected him and the council and ALL voted for it ?

      Not quite a one man dictatorship as alleged.

      What does that tell you about MetroVan Mayor Council on Transportation and Translink’s communication / education strategy if their plan in fact is so superior YET voters turfed it by a pretty wide margin ?

      1. If you ask children who’ve grown up on ice cream and cookies if they should start eating broccoli they’ll ALL vote for ice cream and cookies.

        What does that tell you about nutritionists?

        If you ask people who’ve grown up in cars if they should accept transit that impedes cars they’ll ALL vote for anything else. Ford. McCallum. They thrive on that. They resonate with the suburban mindset which is city-destroying.

        There are a lot more people in the suburbs who will defend the free flow of cars than those who give a $h*t about the speed or functionality of of transit or what those decisions will do to the public realm. There is no public realm.

        1. Yes a benevolent monarchy is better.

          Long live the King ( or Queen, of course).

          Democracies, so overrated.

          P.S.: Perhaps, just perhaps the education of citizens need to be improved of the alleged benefits of denser cities and crowded trains or buses vs a single family house or TH with a yard plus a car. Note the many bikers and walkers today in snow and ice …

  2. The Translink business case for LRT was very poor – negative net present social value.

    Meaning, Translink predicted building LRT would create more harm than benefit.

    The net present social value is positive for Skytrain.

    Thus, it is simple reasoning to cancel LRT and go for Skytrain. Not populism – Translink technocrats came up with those numbers.

    And while it was not populism but pragmatism to opt for Skytrain, choosing LRT in the first place was always inspired by a kind of urbanist elitism that valued the aesthetics of streetcars over the utility of Skytrain.

    1. It all depends on what you decide to measure and what you choose not to measure. If you ignore a lot of what we learn about great urbanism and worse, disparage it as being elitist, you are sure not to measure everything that is important about city-building. LRT came up a winner in Toronto both the first time around and again after car-loving Rob Ford killed it in favour of car-loving subways. What you are trying to tell me is that planners in Toronto are dummies while we must be super smart for continually killing LRT projects. In doing so you also infer that Rob Ford was a wise man.

      It should be noted that UBC students and others are in the midst of enduring at least 28 years of B-Line pass-ups because bad politics nixed the original plan to build LRT from Coquitlam to UBC by the early 2000s. A generation of students can never recover the wasted time. This is an example the high cost paid for the decision to build SkyTrain. It’s not just the high cost of construction. How many decades will it take for the proposed SkyTrain to make up that loss? Is it even possible? Can it ever make up that time if we trade away three times the LRT we could build with more networking and more connections for a very short subway extension?

      1. LRTs make ZRO SENSE in a dense urban context.

        Think 3D not 2D.

        Go below ground, or above. But don;t go surface and disturb 100s of intersections !

          1. It may come to surface past Alma or along UBC Golf Course.

            I am agnostic to LRT or SkyTrain technology, but think that in denser parts of ANY city it must be ideally under-ground or as a second cheaper alternative above-ground. Clogging intersections with barriers like we see in Calgary or Edmonton is the WRONG way to go as we see form the total traffic nightmares there with far lower density ! Learn from Alberta’s mistakes and don’t repeat them in the Lower Mainland !

          2. Now let’s see if I’ve got this straight. “It may come to the surface past Alma or along UBC Golf Course.” What, exactly, *may* come to the surface? Are you suggesting SkyTrain “come to the surface”? I thought you were concerned about the “100s of intersections”. And now you want to cut them off altogether? How do you cross SkyTrain on “the surface”?

            And won’t the golf course become high density… isn’t that one of the ongoing arguments in favour of SkyTrain? But now it’s okay if surface transit slices through high density… as long as it’s not LRT of course? No worries if SkyTrain “at the surface” is a ridiculous idea… as long as it’s SkyTrain.

            And you’re agnostic. Uh-huh. I think I get it.

          3. Low density and few if any major cross roads west of Alma. As such, surface line ok there. UBC golf course won’t be developed for 80+ years so they can build a bridge or tunnel then.

            Surface train anywhere east of Alma makes no sense as there are far too much cross traffic and too many intersections that need to be closed or operated with expensive barriers.

      2. Not enough buses is the reason for B line pass ups.—- I I remember tram pass ups caused by not enough trams to meet demand —— When the Skytrain is too crowded to get on at Broadway station it is no different—- Not enough capacity !!!!

        1. But they physically haven’t been able to run more 99 B-Lines on that route without buses congesting each other. Whereas LRT would have had at least twice the capacity. The current demand isn’t double the B-Line capacity, ergo sticking with the original LRT plan would have meant we could have avoided all the pass ups that have been ongoing for more than a decade and all the pass ups that will still occur for at least 21 more years.

          You can have pass ups on any system. But we opted to have decades of unnecessary pass ups by choosing SkyTrain. No doubt everybody back then was as enthusiastic about turfing LRT for SkyTrain as they are today. Do you think they’d have the same opinion if they knew they’d often stand in the rain watching buses go by for three whole decades? Will we look back in 30 years and wonder what we were thinking now?

          1. Non stop shuttles ( no congestion ) with enough buses so people do not have to stand . Otherwise passengers at both ends will take up all of the seats on the less efficient B line.

    2. The LRT business case for the 104th to Newtown route was very poor (negative). The Skytain on Fraser hwy with BRT was much better. I think LRT on Fraser hwy was also positive just not as much as Skytrain.

      1. Any business case that starts and ends at the fare gate has only done half it’s job. Everybody likes to talk about the synergies of land-use and transit but conveniently ignores the former when it comes to the decisions that affect it the most. Ironic that the business case doesn’t include business. Transit that hides hundreds of thousands of riders from local business doesn’t have business in mind at all. Do we see business thriving under SkyTrain guideways? Do we see anything thriving under SkyTrain guideways?

        1. A business close to a proposed Surrey or Langley skytrain station is as local as one near a proposed LRT or rapid bus stop—— translink should not favor any business or property owner

          1. But businesses close to an LRT station that wouldn’t exist as a SkyTrain Station do benefit and that benefits the community as much as the business.

            Transit riders who can see and access businesses that they can’t see or access from SkyTrain also benefits those businesses and that also benefits the community as much as the business.

            This is not about picking favourites but providing community-building transit instead community-sucking transit. Nothing nice happens under big concrete guideways. I recall sitting on an outdoor patio at a pub in New Westminster – something that should be a pleasant experience. The noise under the guideway was unbearable. I never returned. The business lost. The community loses.

  3. While I completely agree with Skytrain Line down Fraser Hwy to Langley, I don’t see the ridership to support it. Surrey should have to build the ridership up first like Richmond had to do.

    Right now the Fraser Hwy corridor in Surrey is just a wasteland and there really is nothing there. Just empty land, Green Timbers Forest, single family and a few townhouses developments, farms in the ALR, tiny plazas, until you get to Langley.

    Even if Surrey gets Skytrain, most people in Surrey who have cars will still keep driving. You need to get to the people in Surrey to abandon the car first It is a lifestyle and mndset problem here. Surrey’s planning policies are all geared towards the car.

    The money should be allocated elsewhere to improve bus rapid transit until they have enough ridership to justify billions of dollars. Until then, we in Surrey should wait.

    1. What I find fascinating (and entirely disturbing) is how so many people recognise that SkyTrain to Langley is wrong for so many reasons and that they can articulate it quite well… and then completely undermine their arguments and support SkyTrain to Langley.

      Please explain. I don’t get it. Because every single point you made says don’t build SkyTrain to Langley… at least, not for a long long time.

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