EDITORIAL: Commuters need more

Commuters in Burnaby and New Westminster are pretty well served by transit.

That is if they happen to live close to one of the 16 SkyTrain stations along the two lines serving our communities and happen to be travelling to Vancouver or a destination that’s also convenient to SkyTrain.

A trip to South Surrey, or Delta or anywhere in the Fraser Valley beyond King George Station, the easternmost SkyTrain stop, can be an arduous adventure of tenuous bus connections and heavy traffic that can take hours.

There’s no doubt SkyTrain has changed the landscape of Metro Vancouver since the Expo line was opened in 1986. The extension of a fourth line out to Coquitlam from Burnaby by 2016 will change it yet again.

Huge town centres have grown up around SkyTrain stations and more are being developed, especially along the Millennium Line through Brentwood and the Brewery District in Sapperton.

But one thing SkyTrain hasn’t done is ease traffic congestion.

A recent survey by the GPS software company TomTom said Vancouver’s traffic is the worst in North America. Worse than L.A. Worse than New York City.

That’s despite the investment of billions of dollars to build the SkyTrain system.

SkyTrain is based upon the premise that most commuters are travelling from the nearby suburbs to jobs in Vancouver or elsewhere along its three lines.

But the daily commute is more complicated than that. Particularly as jobs migrate out of the downtown core to commercial and industrial developments in outlying communities where land is cheaper.

A pitch by Surrey mayor Diane Watts for light rail transit lines in her city is a good start. It should be heeded.

It’s time for TransLink to get away from its one-track emphasis on SkyTrain.


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