Surrey more deserving of rapid transit than Tri Cities

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Surrey and Langley have less transit options and more bodies to move

By Tara Nykyforiak

From a completely practical standpoint, I believe the Evergreen Line is an unnecessary use of its projected $1.4 billion price tag. It will not provide Tri City residents with a previously unavailable route, but moreover it will not actually achieve one of its goals
of uniting the Tri-Cities more strongly together.

The Evergreen Line will begin at the Lougheed Town Centre station and run along Clarke Road in the Burquitlam area, where a new Burquitlam Station will be built for the line. From there, the Evergreen Line will continue down North Road en route to Port Moody until reaching the Barnet Highway in Coquitlam, where it will pass along to the Coquitlam Central Station and turn onto Pinetree Way, terminating at the Coquitlam campus of Douglas College.

If these stops sound familiar, they should. The Evergreen Line mirrors that of the 97 B-line. The bus route runs late (until 2:45 a.m., which is later than the last SkyTrain) and with great frequency — roughly every 10 minutes during the daytime, and every 30 minutes after 11 p.m.

There are also other options for people in the TriCities to take transit out of Coquitlam. Coquitlam Central Station offers the West Coast Express that runs all the way downtown, and the 160 bus runs from Port Coquitlam to Coquitlam Central and out to Vancouver. Really, the TriCities (especially Coquitlam) is hardly starved for transit options.

Surrey should have had priority over the Evergreen Line
with their Light Rapid Transit. I’ve taken transit from Surrey Central to Langley, and there is zero efficient and reliable coverage. There are no express buses, and trips on routes that exist currently between the two areas take over an hour and run only once per hour after 9 p.m.

So much time is wasted on these trips because they cover indirect routes to service residential communities along the way, and thus take much more time than is necessary for people wanting a direct ride from Langley to Surrey.

With a population over 450,000 — more than the entire Tri Cities and Maple Ridge combined — Surrey is the obvious candidate for the next transit expansion, especially considering that Langley residents often live where they do because of cheaper housing costs not proximity to their job. Transit need in Coquitlam and Port Moody, with a combined population

of only 160,000 and with a fully functional express bus route, cannot compare to Langley and Surrey where a third of all vehicle registration growth in Metro Vancouver is happening.

Living in the Tri-Cities, I have witnessed the development in Coquitlam and Port Moody over the past five years and the high rises that have come along with it. With this development in mind, proponents of the Evergreen Line look to the Tri-Cities’ increasing population and the line’s close proximity to high rise construction as its selling point. However, it will take years for the population
to increase to what Surrey’s is today, while Surrey population density continues to rise, leaving its residents trapped by its substandard transit infrastructure.

More to the point, the Evergreen Line’s goal of better connecting the Tri-Cities cannot be achieved based on the proposed route. Port Coquitlam and Port Moody do not factor into the line’s route. For this reason and for those listed above, I’m sad to think a more united Surrey and Langley transit system did not achieve precedence over the already well connected Coquitlam and Port Moody infrastructure.