Fraser Valley (With files from Research Co) – The proposal to reactivate a rail corridor for daily passenger service using hydrogen powered trains is very popular among residents of six British Columbia municipalities, a new Research Co. poll conducted on behalf of the South Fraser Community Rail Society has found.
In September 2020, chillTV aired a four part series with Rick Green and Former Premier Bill Vander Zalm who are the leading force behind the Society.
In the online survey of a representative sample of residents of six provincial communities, 88% of respondents say they support the South Fraser Community Rail project. At least three-in-four respondents in each community are in favour of the project, including 93% in Abbotsford, 89% in Chilliwack, 85% in North Delta, 83% in North Surrey, 82% in the Township of Langley and 76% in the City of Langley.
The South Fraser Community Rail project would rely on a publicly owned 99 km operating corridor (known as the Interurban Corridor) available with passenger rights saved and protected by a previous provincial government at no cost for its use between the Pattullo Bridge SkyTrain Station and the City of Chilliwack. The South Fraser Community Rail project would connect 16 cities and communities, eight First Nations communities, 14 post-secondary Institutions, Industrial Parks and the Abbotsford International Airport. Almost four-in-five respondents in the six communities (78%) say they are “very likely” or “moderately likely” to rely on the service once it becomes operational—including 88% of those who commute using public transit and 81% of those who drive to school or work. In the survey, only 32% of respondents think the Express Bus being used on the Highway 1 corridor from Chilliwack to the Carvolth Exchange in Langley fits the needs of the community and no other public transit alternative is required at this time. Nine-in-ten respondents who have taken the Express Bus on Highway 1 (90%) support the South Fraser Community Rail project.
More than half of respondents say they are more likely to support the project because it will be good for the environment since it relies on a Hydrogen propulsion system, with zero greenhouse gas emissions (56%) and because it would allow for a commute time of 90 minutes from Chilliwack to the Pattulo Bridge—a significantly quicker commute time than the 135 minutes plus transfer time to cover the same distance with existing transit services (53%). Practically half of respondents say they are more likely to support the project because one South Fraser Community Rail train would potentially remove 160 vehicles from Highway 1 (49%) and because the project will take three years to implement—a significantly quicker delivery timeframe than any other potential option (also 49%). More than two-in-five respondents (44%) say they are more likely to support the project because it will cost an estimated $1.38 billion for 99 km —significantly less expensive than any other Inter-regional transit option. Almost nine-in-ten respondents (87%) believe there must be a reactivated environmentally friendly Interurban passenger rail transit option while Highway 1 is currently being widened in stages.
Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from May 5 to May 8, 2021, among a representative sample of 800 adults in North Delta, North Surrey, City of Langley, Township of Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.