Lower Mainland residents might one day be able hop on a train in Richmond and hop off in Chilliwack – or at least that’s Delta Mayor Lois Jackson’s hope.
At Thursday’s meeting of regional mayors on transportation, Jackson asked her fellow leaders to consider a rapid transit line from Richmond south through Delta, Surrey, Langley and out to Chilliwack.
Phase one of current light rail plans include connecting Surrey City Centre to Guildford Town Centre along 104 Avenue and Surrey City Centre, to Newton Town Centre along King George Boulevard. A second phase would connect Guildford to Langley along Fraser Highway.
The motion comes, Jackson said, as a result of the new NDP government’s lack of support for the proposed Massey Bridge. Construction for the bridge started, to significant protest, earlier this year.
Jackson has long supported the 10-lane Massey Bridge, which has otherwise been panned by Metro mayors. Daily, 80,000 people take the Massey Tunnel. Many of those, Jackson noted, are transit users.
“I’m not sure that any of you realize that this tunnel is taking more transit riders than any other crossing except the SkyTrain at the Patullo Bridge area,” she said. “This tunnel is taking in excess of 10,000 transit vehicle users per day. People want to get out of their cars.”
.@MayorofDelta's delegation on congestion on South of the Fraser crossing denied. "Unbelievable," Lois Jackson says.— Kat (@katslepian) July 27, 2017
It’s a problem that Jackson thinks will only grow, citing expected 59 per cent population growth south of the Fraser.
Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese said Jackson’s proposed route is a limited but good start.
“We can’t ignore that we’ll need to build a transit system through the entire [Fraser] Valley,” said Froese. “What work is being done to move this forward?”
Attempts to broaden Jackson’s proposal came from Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore: extending the Evergreen Line to Maple Ridge via Port Coquitlam and Pitt Meadows, and extending the light rail to White Rock.
“While we were doing the mayors’ 10-year-vision and we were looking at the 104 King George Highway line, the [light rail] to Surrey, we wanted to take it all the way out to White Rock,” said Moore, “but because of cost constraints and the ability to deliver something within a 10-year timeframe, we decided to put the B Line (buses) into the plan.”
This is not the first time extending light rail to South Surrey and White Rock has been discussed. It was noted at a 2014 City of Surrey transportation meeting that “a line going to South Surrey had no fixed timeline and was a long-term aspiration.”
The board voted to refer Jackson’s motion to the regional transportation strategy.