VANCOUVER – The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition is warning that major Metro Vancouver’s transit improvements could be put at risk if significant changes to the planned Surrey LRT are attempted long after funding has already been secured at all three levels of government and planning is well underway.
Coalition Chair Peter Ladner says that the Mayors’ Council’s 10-year plan to dramatically improve transit and transportation and reduce traffic congestion is the result of years of negotiations between Metro Vancouver municipalities and the provincial and federal governments.
With some calls in Surrey to stop Light Rail Transit line planning and consider switching to SkyTrain technology, Ladner said the fine balance of municipal transit needs could be completely thrown out the window.
“Current and past mayors and councils worked extremely hard to reach this transit plan agreement – to now say one municipality can just change things around without any negative consequences for Surrey or Metro Vancouver or transit users is wrong,” says Ladner. “This isn’t at the last hour, it’s years too late to make significant changes to an unanimously accepted regional transit plan – without causing enormous delays in transit improvements, especially in Surrey.”
Ladner said the Coalition is not taking sides in the election in Surrey or any other municipality, but as a strong community supporter of the Mayors’ Council 10-year transit and transportation plan, it cannot stand by when the entire plan could be put at risk.
“We have over 135 organizations from a wide variety of sectors that are all committed to improved transit and transportation,” said Ladner. “They all agreed that the 10-year plan is critical to Metro Vancouver’s economy, our environment and improving quality of life by reducing traffic gridlock and getting more people out of their vehicles and onto public transit.”
“So we have to ring an alarm bell and say that there are serious problems if one municipality tries to change major components of the transit plan after funding has been secured and significant planning has already taken place to build a much-needed LRT line in Surrey as soon as possible,” Ladner said.
Ladner warns that the consequences of Surrey calling for a change in transit systems could mean the federal funding is redirected elsewhere – and that even if a change to SkyTrain were accepted, it would delay any construction by years.
“Surrey residents need more transit options as soon as possible – and changing plans now would mean they wouldn’t get any improvements for years,” he said.
The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition is comprised of more than 135 organizations from a wide variety of sectors, including labour, business, environmental, public health, anti-poverty, student associations, professional groups and more – who support the Mayors Council transit and transportation plan.
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For more information:
Peter Ladner, Coalition Chair
Bruce Rozenhart, Coalition Co-Executive Director
Bill Tieleman, Coalition Co-Executive Director