BC NDP leader John Horgan announced this morning his party will commit to building the entire 16-km-long, eight-station Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project if re-elected.
This is part of the party’s platform of adding a new $9 billion infrastructure plan that will create 18,000 jobs annually.
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“Investing in public transit and roads is a win-win-win. It cuts gridlock and commute times, it reduces carbon pollution, and it creates good jobs,” said Horgan in a statement. “Our plan will get people moving faster and more affordably while we get through the pandemic and build an economic recovery for everyone.”
Through a new provincial Recovery Investment Fund, this $3.1 billion extension of the Expo Line from King George Station to Langley Centre will be transferred to the provincial government’s jurisdiction to ensure it proceeds quickly.
This means further design and planning and the construction processes of the project will no longer be under the direct purview of TransLink and its Mayors’ Council, but rather the BC Ministry of Transportation.
The BC NDP state they have already committed to the project’s first seven-km-long, four-station stage reaching Fleetwood for $1.6 billion, which uses reallocated funding from the cancelled Surrey-Newton Guildford LRT.
Another $1.5 billion is required for the remaining nine-km-long, four-station stage from Fleetwood to Langley Centre. Horgan says a re-elected BC NDP provincial government will work with the federal government to secure their share of the funding, suggesting a 50-50 partnership for this currently unfunded stage. It would also remove the local government level’s responsibility through TransLink of covering its share of the cost under the previous funding model for all three levels of government.
“Under a BC NDP government, the project will become a provincial capital project to get it completed as quickly as possible,” reads a media release.
If re-elected, this will be the second TransLink project to be absorbed by the BC NDP provincial government, after it took over the cost, delivery, and ownership of the new $1.4-billion Pattullo Bridge replacement project.
Just prior to the call for the provincial election last month, TransLink launched a public consultation on the station designs for the first phase reaching Fleetwood. But the public consultation was abruptly suspended within days due to the election call.
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond previously stated its clear preference for the entire Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project to be built in a single stage given the cost and logistical efficiencies of doing so. Both options to Fleetwood or Langley Centre can be built by 2025.
The full extension between King George Station and 203 Street in Langley Centre will be a 22-minute trip. Average weekday boardings will grow to 62,000 by 2035.
On a transfer-less, one-train Expo Line ride from Waterfront Station, it will take 50 minutes to reach 166 Street Station in Fleetwood and about one hour to reach 203 Street.
The public transit authority had previously planned to launch its procurement for a construction contractor in early 2021 for a construction start in 2022.
“It is no secret that investment in rapid transit has not come remotely close to keeping pace with the phenomenal growth of Surrey. I wholeheartedly welcome and fully support John Horgan and the BC NDP’s promise to fully fund SkyTrain through Surrey all the way to Langley,” said Surrey mayor Doug McCallum in a statement in response to today’s announcement.
“The Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project has long been, and has recently been reaffirmed, as a top priority by the Mayors’ Council. The BC NDP’s promise to build this line all the way to Langley makes good sense. This project is shovel ready, will create well-paying jobs immediately, and will take more cars off the road with the built-in ridership from the growing cities of Surrey and Langley.”