SkyTrain to Langley ready for federal bucks: Lower Mainland mayors

Rendering, Surrey-Langley Skytrain | Image: City of Surrey

The political pressure is, once again, ramping up on the federal government to fund the second phase of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension.

Today, mayors across B.C.’s Lower Mainland urged the federal government to prioritize funding for the extension.

The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation says the SkyTrain project is “shovel ready” but waiting for federal money.

The entire project is 16 kilometres of elevated train tracks, including eight stations, from downtown Surrey to Langley city centre. However, only the first half of the extension is funded with $1.6 billion, including $500 million from the federal government. Another $1.5 billion is needed to extend the line to Langley. 

The mayors hope to strike a similar funding model of roughly 40% federal, 40% provincial and 20% regional.

The only missing funding for “phase two” is from the federal government, with the provincial government and TransLink, regional transportation authority, already committing to the other portions. 

The federal government has recently announced $14.9 billion in new transit funding over eight years for the entire country, plus about $3 billion in ongoing funding after 2028. 

The mayors have determined the SkyTrain extension is the top priority.

Fleetwood-Port Kells Liberal MP Ken Hardie says his transportation ministry has yet to allocate the money but he expects the extension to be prioritized, to align with the mayors’ request.

Hardie said although $1.9 billion per year spread across the entire country for new projects may not seem like much, the way it is disbursed, including long-term financing, should mean another $500 million more, or so, for SkyTrain should be available. 

Surrey’s rapid transit extension has been delayed after a new city council turfed a well-planned light-rail project through the city in November 2018. That project was the same cost as “phase one” of the SkyTrain extension, and so along with new planning, new funding for the extension to Langley is required. Since then a SkyTrain extension along Vancouver’s Broadway corridor has been approved and funded.

The mayors are also asking the federal government to prioritize a new, low-carbon fleet, such as electric buses.

gwood@glaciermedia.ca