Editor: Earlier this month, there was an interesting letter released from Paul Cordeiro, who is the manager of transportation engineering for the Township of Langley, which appeared in your paper (The Times, April 15). He questioned some of the merits of building light rail along Fraser Highway.
He was concerned that light rail would not service people commuting from Langley to Vancouver. The light rail line would connect Langley with the SkyTrain in Surrey.
As someone who takes transit five days a week between Langley City and the Olympic Village area in Vancouver, light rail would vastly improve my travel experience.
When there is no traffic along Fraser Highway, it takes about 33 to 38 minutes to travel from Langley Centre to Surrey Central by bus. During the peak afternoon travel period, it takes up to 52 minutes. Travel times along Fraser Highway are not consistent, and as congestion continues to increase along Fraser Highway, the reliability of transit service along the corridor will only deteriorate further.
Cordeiro calls into questions the 29 minutes trip time for light rail, but that is a reasonable time, considering that it takes about 33 minutes by bus today when there is no traffic along Fraser Highway. SkyTrain along the same corridor would take 22 minutes. Compared to the 50 minutes it takes during the afternoon rush to get from Surrey Central to Langley Centre, both light rail and SkyTrain would provide a massive travel time savings.
Now there is no doubt that SkyTrain is faster than light rail, but its major drawback is the cost. Light Rail would cost $746 million to build between King George and Langley, while SkyTrain would cost $1.356 billion to build (in 2010 dollars.)
The Mayors’ Plan that we are voting on would see light rail on King George Boulevard, 104 Avenue, and Fraser Highway. If SkyTrain was built instead, it could only be built on King George Boulevard or Fraser Highway, not both.
Cordeiro was concerned about an at-grade light rail crossing at 200 Street and Highway 15 and “potential for vehicle-train collisions.”
Calgary, Edmonton, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles all have at-grade light rail lines that cross busy roadways, and all have excellent safety records. In fact, rail transit is the safest mode of transportation.
Fear about slow travel speeds and massive collisions are unfounded.