The underground Broadway Extension of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line, improved SkyTrain service and new rail cars, and bus service increases and new buses are by far the most important projects in TransLink’s Mayors’ Council’s Phase Two transit expansion plan, according to the results of a recent survey by the public transit authority.
Residents in Metro Vancouver overwhelmingly stated the importance of the Broadway Extension reaching Arbutus Street, with 81% rating the project as relatively important; 47% as “extremely important,” 20% as “very important,” and 14% as “moderately important.”
Even more people said SkyTrain service improvements and the acquisition of new rail cars are pivotal for the region. A total of 94% deemed the improvements to existing SkyTrain infrastructure as within the range of importance, with 56% rating it “extremely important,” 27% as “very important,” and 11% as “moderately important.”
Bus improvements and the purchase of new buses are also up on the priority list, with 93% rating such upgrades as important, including 46% as “extremely important,” 34% as “very important,” and 13% as “moderately important.”
Nearly eight-in-10 people believe upgrades of major roads are important, with more than half rating this as either “extremely important” or “very important.”
However, the Surrey Newton-Guildford light rail transit (LRT) was by far rated as the least important project in TransLink’s Phase Two plan: 11% deemed it as “slightly important” and 30% said “not at all important.”
As for those who said LRT is important, 22% said the project is “extremely important” and 18% said it is “very important,” which are amongst the lowest importance ratings of any project in the survey.
Reasons provided by respondents for why LRT is not important include:
- “Surrey needs SkyTrain not LRT”
- “The LRT is not cost-effective as SkyTrain”
- “The 96 B-Line it will be replacing isn’t running at the capacity nor the frequency of the 99 B-Line”
- “Increase the capacity on roads”
- “Will create traffic problem in community”
- “A SkyTrain out to Langley from Surrey would be better”
- “BRT would serve Surrey as well as LRT, be less costly, and be operating sooner”
- “The cost is too high”
Of those who said LRT is “not at all important,” 25% reasoned their rating because of their preference for SkyTrain over LRT, 14% were concerned about traffic congestion and safety issues that may arise from LRT, and 13% believed the project cost is too high.
Respondents also said upgrades to cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and more HandyDART service were less of a priority, with only 21% and 17%, respectively, rating the planned improvements as “extremely important.”
TransLink says the results are based on 2,738 public surveys completed between April 30 and May 11, with 796 of the respondents residing in Vancouver and UBC, 668 in Surrey, 231 in Burnaby, 199 in the Tri-Cities, and 141 in Langley.
Construction and other one-time capital costs associated with the 10-year Phase Two plan are budgeted at $6.41 billion, with $2.83 billion geared for the Broadway Extension and $1.65 billion estimated for the Surrey Newton-Guildford LRT.
Another $1.3 billion will be spent on 203 new SkyTrain cars, including 108 expansion cars and 95 replacement cars, plus station upgrades to Burrard Station and Brentwood Town Centre Station, train yard and maintenance facility expansion, power system upgrades, and design work for other future upgrades.
Bus service improvements will cost $530 million, which largely goes towards buying 151 new buses and implementing transit signal priority and enhanced passenger amenities.
A nominal amount of $75 million is planned for road infrastructure improvements, and $50 million is dedicated towards pedestrian and cycling infrastructure upgrades.
The Mayors’ Council and TransLink’s Board of Directors are expected to approve all elements of Phase Two during a joint meeting slated for June 28.
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