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OPINION/REACT – Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Expansion Gets $1.3B in Federal Funding. Is This Money Well Spent?

Surrey/Langley – Plenty of transportation stories this week. CP and CN Rail were asked to curtain rolling through the Canyon for the time being as Lytton wildfire survivors head back to see what is left.

Then, the BC Transit survey on the needs of BC Transit bus passengers on the soon-to-be expanded #66 FVX bus service from Chilliwack through to Lougheed Skytrain station. That is expected to start in January of 2022.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Federal Government will be providing $1.3 billion in funding for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain expansion project to get it from King George Station to Langley. The funding will create 16 kilometres of SkyTrain line, 8 stations, and 30 SkyTrain cars.

Financial Breakdown:

  • The Government of Canada is contributing 40 per cent of eligible costs toward the Surrey Langley SkyTrain extension project, up to $1.3 billion. The Government of British Columbia and other partners are funding the remaining project costs of up to $2.54 billion.
  • The Government of British Columbia has committed to taking over the ownership and delivery of Surrey Langley SkyTrain extension project and completing the project out to Langley. Once the new line is built, TransLink will operate the extension as part of the integrated SkyTrain network.
  • Federal funding toward both projects is subject to the necessary federal due diligence and approvals process.
  • Canada’s strengthened climate plan (canada.ca)  committed to provide public transit funding. The plan encourages cleaner modes of transportation, such as low and zero-emission vehicles, transit, and active transportation, to make communities healthier, less congested, and more vibrant.
  • Through the Investing in Canada Plan, the Government of Canada is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities.
  • Through the Investing in Canada Plan, the Government of Canada is already investing $28.7 billion to support public transit projects, including $5 billion available for investment through the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
  • In February 2021, the Government of Canada also announced a plan for $14.9 billion in new public transit funding over eight years, including $2.5 billion over five years starting this year as well as a portion of the $3 billion in ongoing annual transit funding beginning in 2026-27, to expand transit systems in large urban centres by enabling major transit projects to advance. The plan will also accelerate job-creating projects across the country, support active transit, and electrify our transit systems.

There are pros and cons here.

BC Premier John Horgan: “Whether people are commuting to work, going to school, or safely coming back together with family and friends, it’s critical that we provide the better, faster transit options that British Columbians deserve. We’re pleased to be making record investments in infrastructure, creating thousands of jobs, and this partnership with the federal government will help keep people moving while we build a strong recovery that benefits everyone.”

City of Langley Mayor Val van den Broek: “It has been 30 years since the last fixed rapid transit investment in the south of the Fraser communities of Metro Vancouver. With the announcement of the Surrey Langley SkyTrain project, Langley City will not only be a designated Regional City Centre but a regional hub and a true transit-oriented downtown. The City of Langley is looking forward to working with the federal and provincial governments, as well as TransLink, to construct this critical regional priority project. On behalf of Langley City Council, we would like to acknowledge and thank them for their hard work and commitment.”

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum: “Today is a tremendous day for Surrey. As one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, the new Surrey Langley SkyTrain has a built-in ridership. Fast and reliable rapid transit translates into fewer cars on the road. The Metro Region will benefit as Surrey Langley SkyTrain expands and connects the SkyTrain network into more communities. This major public transit infrastructure project will immediately create a large number of solid, well-paying middle class jobs and that’s good for our economy. I would like to thank the Government of Canada and the Government of B.C. for their support for this much-needed project. Surrey’s turn for new rapid transit has arrived.”

From SkyTrain for Surrey – NOT LRT :

STATEMENT— We are elated to receive word that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a $1.3 billion federal funding commitment to build the FULL 16-kilometre Surrey-Langley SkyTrain!This historical announcement ensures a bright future for thousands of Surrey and Langley residents, and represents the conclusion of our decade-long campaign to get the SLS on the map.The Surrey-Langley SkyTrain will be a fully grade-separated driverless metro line, extending to 203 Street in the City of Langley, and integrating with the existing Expo Line at King George Station. It will significantly cut travel times from Fleetwood, Clayton, Langley City and nearby areas to downtown Surrey and beyond.To those of you who have stood with us at SkyTrain for Surrey for all these years, we are grateful and want to express a heartfelt thanks for your support.

Rick Green, South Fraser Community Rail : Not surprising however the published numbers from TransLink have had 4 increases in last 6 months. And with all of that there has been no accounting or geotechnical report on the 2 1/2 Kim’s over the Serpentine Flats / ALR! It will exceed $4 Billion easy.

Dean Barbour Executive Director Fleetwood BIA, Small Business Expert, Mentor, Author and Facilitator: Price tag WAS $3.2 billion 2.5 years ago with no thorough cost on construction in the ALR at 176th. Expect costs to be closer to $4 billion or $250 million a km… Election is coming.There are pros and cons. I question the dollar value of $250 million per km on a corridor that barely makes the top 30 in traffic impacts through the smallest Surrey town centre which will need to create space for 30,000 new residents within 800 m of a station.

Surrey Board of Trade Says SkyTrain Investment from Federal Government Good, but Does Not Serve All of Surrey’s Transportation Needs:

“We are pleased that Surrey is getting the transportation infrastructure investment it desperately needs,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade. “Surrey has been starved of infrastructure investment for years, and this is a small step forward to providing services for our business community to foster economic growth.”

“The Surrey Board of Trade conveyed from the very beginning that SkyTrain to Langley could not be built with the funding originally allocated to LRT, even though politicians said that it could. Cost overruns for construction are expected as it is with any construction project.”

With the announcement of this added funding, TransLink will be responsible for funding 20% of the project, the Provincial Government will be funding 40%, and the Federal Government will fund the remaining 40%.

“Although this funding is welcomed, we still need greater investment from all levels of government to connect Surrey together. Surrey is going to be the largest city in British Columbia by 2030, and we need to build for that eventuality. That means greater transit services to move throughout the city, in areas such as our industrial business parks, a more walkable and cyclable city centre, safer streets, and urban design that plans for future growth.”

“Governments should be planning for the long term and ensure that the project is fully funded and get shovels in the ground as quickly as possible. Doing so will stimulate the economy by providing well-paying jobs, which will enhance economic recovery as we come out of the pandemic.”

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