An Expo Line to… Langley?

One group says it’d be cheaper than Surrey’s LRT plan, with twice the impact

Langley: the end of the line for Metro Vancouver. Not for the Expo Line, mind you, which stops in Surrey. Indeed, while plans exist to extend the SkyTrain to Coquitlam with the Evergreen Line by 2016, there’s no such love for Langley, the farthest-flung sizable city in Metro Vancouver.

But according to Better Surrey Rapid Transit, an advocacy group, there’s a simple solution: run a SkyTrain along the mostly elevated Fraser Highway, from King George Station to Langley Centre.

The idea isn’t new. Last year, Metro Vancouver transit authority TransLink released studies examining the prospect favourably (although theirs considered the line from Surrey City Centre, not King George). While slightly more expensive than other transit expansion alternatives, such as the light-rail transit (LRT) network favoured by Surrey City Council, a SkyTrain through Surrey to Langley would be faster, more reliable and more popular, the studies showed.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit is even more bullish on the idea, suggesting an extended SkyTrain—in conjunction with rapid bus service, à la B-Line—would actually be cheaper than the proposed LRT plan. “There is a potential to generate two times the transportation benefits compared to the current LRT proposal,” the group claimed in a press release published Monday, “with a lower capital cost requirement of just $2.3 billion versus $2.44 billion for the proposed Surrey LRT.”

So, why would anyone back the LRT plan, then? A lot of it comes down to esthetics. Not everyone thinks a SkyTrain running along Fraser Highway would look, well, pretty. LRT advocates also claim their alternative would be less intrusive and integrate better with street-level shops.