Surrey LRT – Support and Funding

The conversation for expanded fixed rail transit in Surrey continues to roll along. Metro Vancouver’s second largest municipality by population and largest by land area is still trying to push forward after the failed transit plebiscitie/referendum of 2015.

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A few things have happened in the past year that may help Surrey get its long-desired LRT.

  1. The Conservatives were booted out of Ottawa and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were voted in. Trudeau has promised billions of dollars in infrastructure spending across the country. The Surrey LRT is a shovel-ready project that has been well-studied and is ready to take off once money is in place.
  2. 80% of Surrey residents support the building of LRT lines in the city, according to a recent Ipsos-Reid poll. There’s no mention of how to pay for LRT. I’m sure the numbers would have been different if the necessary price tag was attached to the question. However, it is heartening to know that the majority of Surrey residents are all-in for LRT.
  3. There is a discussion to change the existing 1/3 – 1/3 – 1/3 funding formula for all transit projects in BC. Basically, the arbitrary formula requires that the federal government provides 1/3 of the costs, the provincial government provides another 1/3 of the costs, and the municipal governments provide the last 1/3 of costs. The federal and provincial governments have always been able to provide their thirds quite easily. They have easy taxing vehicles that help to put money into important capital projects. Cities only have property taxes at their disposal. Property tax can only raise so much money for multi-billion dollar transit projects. So now there is talk that the formula be changed so that the federal and provincial governments provide more and the cities less.

 

 

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2 comments

  1. “80%” is based on phoning 600 people (out of a population of over 1/2 million). It is absurd to consider that an accurate representation of what the residents want. More than 1,000 have signed the petition for SkyTrain, not LRT.

    1. Jouet, sorry for the late reply. I agree that there are many more people who’ve signed the SkyTrain petition than the people who were polled re: the LRT (http://www.thenownewspaper.com/news/368856591.html) I don’t think the poll fleshed out the tech choice of SkyTrain vs. LRT. That would be an interesting poll on its own. However, I am believer in that the more practical choice for Surrey is LRT. Unless the City of Surrey intends to intensely develop along the corridors. LRT serves a lower-to-mid density region well. Which is what Surrey is. With SkyTrain, we’d be looking at much more high rise development. So it all depends on what Surrey council’s vision is and how much they want the city to change. If Surrey is going to be only slightly denser, then LRT. If Surrey is going for high-rise density, then SkyTrain. It’s all in being pragmatic for me.

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