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Surrey Community Summit

Transit session with the participation of Paul Lee (City of Surrey) and moderated by Carbon Talks (SFU)
1. Preamble Participants express the need to learn further on the process that has led to prioritize the Light Rail transit (i) option over the Bus rapid transit (ii) and the SkyTrain (iii) in Surrey. The population density is taken into account for the choice of the best technology. The transit-oriented development (TOD) is going to give a signal as to move and live to certain locations or not (e.g. Langley). (i) After two years of study, Translink released the Phase two of the multiphase study to evaluate alternatives for rapid transit service in the Boradway corridor (available here). The benefits of the LRT option are numerous: The reliability of the technology in terms of frequency (every 5-6 minutes), the fact that it has the needed capacity for 20-30 years time, an intimate relationship between the storefront, sidewalk and community, the fact that it is envisioned in many North-American cities (Calgary, Portland, Seattle, Toronto, Montreal), it is well-recognized as a feasible and viable option, it promotes mid-rise (at 20-25 units/acre), the fact that it has low operating costs and is good to get around the city, it increases permeability and mobility for short distances and the trains are available off-the-shelf (no need to customize them). As for key challenges with LRT: in Gilford and Surrey, the 104 corridor is the challenge (more information here); similarly in King George there is a land use constraint (more information here). (ii) The bus-rapid transit option is using longer buses running is the middle of the roadway, either with overhead-electrified wires (trolley) or on diesel, and has priority intersection crossing. Albeit the BRT option stitches the community closer together, the Ridership appears to be too intense for this option to be considered. (iii) The SkyTrain has few but important downsides. The question is are we wishing for a long haul or to serve the community? The SkyTrain option is great for a long haul. It pushes development further out, and sending a signal that living far out is okay. What about the impact of this option on the community? Building SkyTrain stations requires invasive infrastructure and is

very expensive given the fact that customization is necessary (via Bombardier), contrary to the off-the-shelf feature of LRT, not to mention that distances in-between stations are important. 2. Preamble Participants raise concerns regarding the purpose of the TOD in Surrey. Where are all these people going? Does the purpose is to be moving people around Surrey or to the city center and hoping for job growth? What are we targeting the leisure market or the commuters? There is a pressing issue of getting people around our city. The land use plans reflect a new growth in multiple centers so there are the issues of catching up with these plans as well. As well, Newton has a thriving city center - Newton is promising since many young families have established in the area. King George will be handling lots of people to city centers too. 3. Preamble Participants raised their concerns about the Green Timbers Urban Forest and potential loss of green space. Moreover, the question as to whether a thorough EIA has been realized on the LRT is raised. Does it run on electricity? GHG emissions? Paul Lee acknowledged that working around Green Timbers will be a challenge, but that a potential route that will be properly assessed is being considered. The LRT development plan outlines that the ridership through Gilford relieve the 104 corridor. Having said that, an EIA has been conducted on LRT (A UBC study here). 4. Preamble We noticed a growing number of questions regarding of how the financing structure of these infrastructure would look like. Are there any commitments coming from either the Provincial or the Federal government? In terms of governance, both the federal and the provincial governments need to be involved in the TOD process since population growth is a cross-level concern. Political leaders understand. If people continue to have two cars, family wont have enough road space. The shift to commuting through transit makes sense both environmentally and economically. Figures highlight that a family of three spends on average $803/month on transportation expenditure when using a car, against $349/month when shifting to public transit usage.