Let’s Give Surrey LRT a Chance
Opinions / April 24, 2017
Mayor Hepner talks about the benefits of light rail transit, and she makes some good points
Alyssa Laube, Associate Editor
Citizens of Surrey have been calling for more efficient transit for ages. The city’s population is growing at such an incredible rate that it will soon be earmarked as the largest community in the province, and many of those living in the municipality work or go to school in faraway areas. It is for that reason—and the lack of residency for students—that KPU is often referred to as a collection of commuter campuses.
As a KPU student living downtown, I am one of those commuters. I travel three hours from East Vancouver to Surrey and back again every day, and I understand the plight of having to rely on Translink’s faulty system. It makes sense that the city would propose light rail transit as the solution. It’s operating in Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Victoria, and other prosperous Canadian cities. In the United States, it’s even more common.
The prospect of building Skytrains that could reach every core of every city in and around Vancouver is implausible. The amount of time and money it would take to achieve that feat would be absurd. Because light rail can go wherever cars go, it’s the fastest and cheapest way of moving more people to and from Surrey.
That’s probably why the municipal government is going through with it. Mayor Linda Hepner wrote a piece in The Vancouver Sun about the decision to bring light rail transit into Surrey, which will make the city the first in the province to put light rail into action. She points out that the Expo Line, built in 1986 and most recently improved in 1994, is currently our only means of rail transit.
Harping on the population growth that is expected in Surrey, Hepner reinforces that the “LRT network is critical to the future of Surrey. It’s meant to create and build the community, and establish a ground-level energy and ambience that speaks to a city of the future.”
“The new LRT will make it easier for residents to live, work and get around in the area using a quality rail system. Soon, citizens will be able to hop the train to Newton Town Centre, Guildford Town Centre, SFU Surrey, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey Memorial Hospital, Bear Creek Park, the Surrey Art Gallery and a growing list of destinations,” she writes.
What is likely Hepner’s most interesting point is the development that will surround the light rail path. New businesses, housing, and mixed-use development plans are already being laid out for construction. Those who are already nearby will see a boom in business, bringing jobs and money into Surrey’s economy.
The goal for Surrey’s future with light rail is to emulate Toronto’s Eglinton Avenue LRT project, which “spurred private investment in the redevelopment of an underdeveloped segment of Eglinton,” according to Hepner.
“Located close to two LRT stations, private investors will build a 2,500-unit mid-rise residential development and over 250,000 square feet of retail, green space, and public and private amenities — creating a new community around an LRT service that will soon be reality,” she writes. “We are planning the same for Surrey.”
From where I’m standing, light rail is looking pretty good. If the system will go straight to KPU, it’s bound to save me tons of time and I’m certain that other students will feel that way as well.