Vancouver International Airport wants new rapid transit links to Surrey

Dec 5 2019, 12:31 am

The planning team of Vancouver Airport Authority has some very big ideas on how transportation links to and from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) can be improved.

As part of its Transport 2050 planning process of creating a new 30-year transportation strategy for Metro Vancouver, TransLink asked major stakeholders to share their priorities on what should be included in the new strategy. The strategy will be finalized by the end of 2020 after further consultation.

Amongst the largest priorities outlined in YVR’s submission include the idea of extending SkyTrain’s Canada Line south to White Rock to capitalize on the upcoming George Massey Tunnel replacement project and improve connections to communities located south of the Fraser River.

Another envisioned rapid transit project would create a new east-west connection from YVR to Surrey and beyond. This would effectively “transform Metro Vancouver’s radial rapid transit system to a grid-oriented, high-capacity, easy-to-use network, supported by the incorporation of river corridors and new rapid bus routes that connect YVR with regional centres.”

Over the interim before both rapid transit projects can be implemented, park-and-ride facilities should be considered at key locations served by rapid bus routes.

arthur laing bridge

Arthur Laing Bridge. (Google Maps)

With the road network, YVR supports additional road capacity, specifically additional bridge capacity from Sea Island to Vancouver. The most direct route between Vancouver and the airport currently is Arthur Laing Bridge, which is owned and maintained by YVR, but about 70% of the traffic that flows through are commuters travelling to and from Vancouver and Richmond. Airport planners anticipate the bridge will exceed capacity after 2037.

Along this same road corridor between Vancouver and Richmond via Sea Island, YVR has suggested a replacement of the 1957-built Moray Bridge, which is a two-lane, eastbound-direction swing bridge that links the road network near the south end of the Arthur Laing Bridge with Richmond’s Bridgeport area.

Other measures entail improvements to the road network at the south end of the Oak Street Bridge and along Sea Island Way and Bridgeport Road to support reliable and efficient links to the airport.

Moray Bridge between Vancouver International Airport and Richmond

Moray Bridge between Vancouver International Airport and Richmond. (Google Maps)

In addition to new and improved public transit and road infrastructure, airport planners support more equitable pricing for road and public transit use, and a regional road mobility pricing program that would help support a reduction in traffic travelling through airport-owned and -operated roads.

“Regional mobility pricing should be designed to reduce congestion, improve travel times, and enhance reliability across the region, which will have benefits for passengers, employees, and goods movement,” reads the submission.

“Mobility pricing should contribute to the ability of air passengers to make their flights on time, and enable the extension of deadlines for guaranteed next day air courier delivery, thereby supporting regional business competitiveness.”

Some of these components in the Airport Authority’s submission are also highlighted in YVR’s long-term master plan.

Improved ground transportation capacity is necessary to meet growing air passenger volumes at YVR. The airport recorded 25.94 million passengers in 2019, up from just under 18 million in 2013.

In a previous interview with Daily Hive, YVR president and CEO Craig Richmond also suggested YVR Airport Station could eventually see a new additional platform on the south side of the station’s single track to help handle the growing volumes of luggage-carrying passengers.

Due to the Canada Line’s speed and competitive travel times, YVR already has the highest transit modal share of any airport in North America. Airport statistics indicate one in five travellers at the airport use the SkyTrain service, and ridership at YVR Airport Station has experienced year-over-year double digit growth.

YVR also intends on upgrading or replacing the Dinsmore Bridge, and has plans to construct a freeway-like overpass interchange that replaces the traffic light-controlled intersection of Grant McConachie Way and Templeton Street, which is the main access road into McArthurGlen Vancouver Airport Outlet Centre and Sea Island-located industrial facilities such as the Canada Post processing plant.

Canada Line single track

The single track of the Canada Line between Richmond-Brighouse Station and Lansdowne Station, looking north. (Geofferoski Transit / YouTube screenshot)

The City of Richmond’s separate submission to TransLink for Transport 2050 also mirrored some of the airport’s items, including rapid transit along the Highway 99 corridor from Bridgeport Station to communities further south of the Fraser via the new George Massey crossing.

The municipal government’s other suggestions entail double tracking the Canada Line’s 650-metre length single track between Lansdowne Station and Richmond-Brighouse Station, as well as a lengthening of all platforms to the ultimate 50-metre length standard. Both measures would increase the train system’s frequency, capacity, and reliability.

Other considerations include light rail transit or bus rapid transit from Richmond City Centre to Steveston, and a new secondary transit route from Richmond to Vancouver via the Arthur Laing Bridge and Granville Street.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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