The City of Surrey has posted its vision for rapid transit on You Tube, a video that offers a rosy look at the possibilities for light rail transit around Surrey City Centre — or anywhere your imagination takes you.
Aside from the transportation content, the piece is interesting as an example of how Surrey is positoning itself as “B.C.’s next metropolitan centre,” a dynamic rival to the City of Vancouver.
Mayor Dianne Watts, the popular mayor, has indicated a strong preference for light rail over SkyTrain, the rapid transit system that has served other parts of the region since the 1980s.
I was directed to the video from the Civic Surrey website [rebranded as Metro 604 in 2013]. The first comment on Civic Surrey in response to the video came from someone in Alberta who states that “SkyTrain is better than LRT.” This is a debate that will accompany any discussion of rapid transit in the region. [Note: the Civic Surrey site has been reorganized as Metro 604, but the above link still worked as of July 2013.]
It’s not necessarily an either/or decision; LRT is a less expensive, less intrusive option that will go to places that SkyTrain will never go. And LRT’s permanence means it is more effective at shaping land use (commercial and mid-rise development) than buses; it offers a more comfortable ride than the buses do, and generally a quicker ride. Judging from the Surrey video, the operation of LRT will also accelerate the growth of trees along major streets.