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Light rail in Surrey over subway for Broadway corridor: prof

COQUITLAM (NEWS1130) – You can see the signs of construction getting underway all over the Tri-Cities, with the latest community meeting on the Evergreen Line set for tonight in Coquitlam.

TransLink has had one mega-project or another on the backburner for a long time, such as SkyTrain expansion, the Canada Line, and the Evergreen Line. But with those out of the way or underway, what’s next?

There’s been a tug-of-war between Surrey and Vancouver over which city should get priority for expanded rapid transit.

Vancouver is pushing hard for a subway along the congested Broadway corridor, while Surrey has been championing it’ plans for light rail. But one urban planning expert says Vancouverites should brace for continued waits on the 99 B-Line.

“At the moment, neither of them get anything until, at the provincial level, questions of funding and governance are resolved,” explains Gordon Price, director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University.

But if you set that stalemate aside, he believes Vancouver should get behind Surrey.

“I can’t imagine, around any regional table, that Vancouver could make the case that, yet again, another municipality contributing major dollars to TransLink should be bumped so that Vancouver would get another major transit project, as much as it’s needed,” he tells News1130.

“Given the reality of politics, I would say it makes sense for Vancouver to support Surrey and then for Surrey to support some kind of commitment to Vancouver as soon as possible.”

Price says you could also argue that by the time Vancouver makes a decision on the route and technology and plans for growth, Surrey will be ready to lay rail and move ahead quicker.

“Even if Vancouver got the go-ahead, it wouldn’t be able to get something on the ground by the time Surrey could,” says Price.

But he argues major projects aren’t the only story; TransLink has many other responsibilities and issues to deal with, including the Pattullo Bridge.

“There’s also what’s called the frequent transit network — all the buses that join up with the major projects that are just as important, arguably, in some ways, more important because they serve more people. You don’t have a real transit system unless you can provide a degree of frequency throughout the region.”

Price says if you want to shape growth in the fastest-growing part of Metro Vancouver, now is the time to make a major commitment to transit in Surrey.