TRANSPORTATION IN SURREY: Surrey Board of Trade Says Today’s SkyTrain Extension to Fleetwood Only Compromises Much Needed Transit Investments for the Rest of Surrey

The Surrey Board of Trade presented to the TransLink Mayors’ Council to maintain the current 10-Year Transportation Plan including LRT.

Though the Surrey Board of Trade’s presentation was referenced by the various regional mayors through debate, the final decision was that SkyTrain will be advanced to Fleetwood, to 166 Street. Reliance on whether SkyTrain can be built all the way to Clayton in Surrey and into Langley hinges on future funding from the provincial and federal levels of government.

“The Surrey Board of Trade supported LRT because it would be the most effective means by which to connect the town centres, making transit within Surrey the objective, making Surrey the destination,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

“We could have had shovels in the ground right now helping to connect our town centres as a start.”

“It remains uncertain with the extra $400 million left after SkyTrain construction when bus rapid transit will be in place in Surrey on the L-Line and if that cost will go up.”

The full presentation is noted below.


– JULY 25, 2019

At the Mayors’ Council Meeting at TransLink, the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) presented their case in support of maintaining the status quo for the Mayors’ 10-Year Transportation Investment Plan, which includes LRT in Surrey.

For clarity, the Surrey Board of Trade’s position in support of LRT and the Mayor’s 10-year Transportation Investment Plan did not take place because the previous Mayors decided it was a positive economic step for Surrey. Rather, SBOT’s active support and advocacy for LRT and the Mayors’ 10-Year Transportation Investment Plan took place given extensive research by us and others, showing that in our final determination that LRT would be the most effective means by which to connect the town centres, making transit within Surrey the objective, making Surrey the destination.

The L-Line, with 72% of Surrey’s population and businesses in the determined L-Line area (Newton, City Centre, Guildford, Fleetwood, Whalley) would create more walkable, livable communities with arts/culture coinciding with ride-sharing, bicycling, car-sharing, and scooter-sharing transportation options, getting people out of their cars.

Whalley  75,610 9%
City Centre 26,945 8%
Guildford 60,745 13%
Fleetwood 62,735 9%
Newton 149,040 32%
TOTAL L-LINE IMPACT  375,075 71%
Cloverdale 65,645 12%
South Surrey 77,170 17%
142,815 29%

*Source of Population and Business Statistics: City of Surrey website

Building a SkyTrain line in Phase 1 instead of potentially in Phase 2 – within the current funding envelope – provides an extension only to 166 Street. I understand that all of Surrey Council voted on a shift from LRT to SkyTrain at the first council meeting after the civic election. This decision was made without a business plan, a financial case or structured public consultation. This does not mean that the Surrey Board of Trade or other independent business organizations should automatically change their positions.

The Surrey Board of Trade notes that a SkyTrain will transition people from Langley to Vancouver – making Surrey a continued suburb brand. You can fit Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby in the city limits of Surrey. Current funding will only provide for a minimum amount of rail and stations and serves neither Langley nor Surrey – and it will be at a very high cost. Surrey needs a transportation infrastructure solution to support business and attract business – making Surrey (all of Surrey) a livable and attractive destination. LRT is not a second-class transportation structure. It is leading-edge technology and a globally innovative transportation system. LRT is currently being adopted by many world class cities for these very reasons. SkyTrain is antiquated, noisy and expensive. While cities are working to remove burdensome elevated infrastructure, Surrey is now looking to install it.

The Surrey Board of Trade articulated this morning that if the Mayors’ Council and the City of Surrey are not in agreement with the current LRT layout structure with some of the LRT lines in the middle of the roadway, then designs can be modified to reflect other configurations (e.g. LRT on the side of a road).

We have an approved plan now. We have money at the table now.

To underscore we have an approved and complete plan that exists with full funding to complete the vision now.

Instead we will be waiting for many years for only a partial SkyTrain route – delayed again – for needed transportation infrastructure. And SkyTrain won’t even connect to Langley.

The Surrey Board of Trade supports the concept of building SkyTrain down Fraser Highway in the future – but after LRT construction. We could have had shovels in the ground by now to build LRT.

The proposed rapid transit buses are not the transportation solution for other parts of Surrey. In all other parts of the world, light rail is being built, it is easy to use for all residents, including seniors and those with accessibility challenges.

The Surrey Board of Trade (as it is with every chamber of commerce/board of trade) believes that transportation and education are the economic foundations of driving an economy. Everything else flows from that. It is our mandate to support business and attract business through a diversified service portfolio from government advocacy, connection concierge services, business/international services and cost-saving benefits.

We are a partner in building Surrey but we are also an active, vocal, independent voice of business, agreeing/supporting city decisions when needed and also vocalizing when decisions are not in the best interest of Surrey, from our perspective.

Anita Huberman
CEO, Surrey Board of Trade