Transit in Surrey and Vancouver

Riders wait for the B-Line bus heading west on Broadway

In a panel discussion on transit and development, the question becomes: will rapid transit be coming to Broadway?

This morning NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association held a moderated panel discussion on the state and future of transit oriented development in Greater Vancouver.

Moderating the discussion was program director of The City Program at Simon Fraser University, Gordon Price. On the panel were Jean Lamontagne, general manager of planning and development with the City of Surrey; Brian Jackson, general manager of planning and development services with the City of Vancouver; and Tamim Raad, director of strategic planning and policy with TransLink.

The discussion focused on a potential rapid transit line running down Vancouver’s Broadway to UBC. As a representative of the City of Vancouver Jackson champioined the proposal. “The demand is there right now for rapid transit to UBC,” he said, claiming that the current B-Line bus now has the highest volume of passengers of any bus line in North America.

He also said that the City of Vancouver and TransLink have agreed that an underground rapid transit line as far west as Arbutus Street is obvious—the real question is what should be done for the remainder of the run west of Arbutus. The prospect of a light rapid transit rail (like those in Portland) was brought up, and immediately questioned by Jackson: “light rapid transit is not going to be able to be capable of carrying the existing demand,” and certainly wouldn’t be able to service any increased demand to the area, said Jackson.

On the other end of the discussion was Surrey’s Lamontagne who advocated for increased development density and transit south of the Fraser River in Surrey. Transit service in Surrey is “not necessarily at the level of some other regions when considering the population that we have,” Lamontagne said, alluding to the prospect of diverting TransLink service from Vancouver to serve Surrey’s rapidly growing population.

TransLink’s Raad responded diplomatically to the two opinions, saying that Vancouver’s Broadway and Surrey’s King George Skytrain Station area both need to be served at the same time: “we feel that there are a range of options for Vancouver and Surrey.”

Next month’s NAIOP breakfast will take place on May 16 at the Vancouver Four Seasons Hotel where a panel of experts will delve into a post-election review, looking at what the results could mean for business in the province.