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TransLink wants to explore SkyTrain extension into Newton

But the BIA executive director wonders how much longer the town centre will have to wait
People wait to board the 301 Brighouse bunch to Richmond at Newton Exchange on Friday, March 20, 2020. (File photo: Lauren Collins)

TransLink says it wants to explore a potential SkyTrain extension to Newton within the next 10 years.

The transit company unveiled its priorities for the first 10 years of its Transport 2050 plan Wednesday (April 20) and the possibility of a Newton line made the list.

But while one Surrey city councillor lauds talk of a Newton SkyTrain line, the leader of a local business group says Newton is still waiting for there to be “real investment” in the community.

“According to the Transit 2050 plan update that was recently released, it seems that other communities have leapfrogged Newton,” said Philip Aguirre, executive director for the Newton Business Improvement Association.

“Newton has the population, the jobs, and the ridership but still has no commitment or real investment in the community. In the year 2032 will we still be talking about ‘exploring other potential SkyTrain extensions, including Newton in Surrey?’”

READ ALSO: Surrey business groups dig in heels on LRT, Oct. 22, 2018

READ ALSO: Surrey council unanimously passes motion to ‘cancel ’ LRT, Nov. 5, 2018

READ ALSO: What might have been in Newton: BIA calls for ‘refreshed plans’ after LRT nixed, Dec. 5, 2018

Aguirre says he wonders how long Newton will have to wait to get rapid transit down King George Boulevard to the town centre.

In 2018, after the majority Safe Surrey Coalition was voted in, Surrey’s light rail transit (LRT) project was cancelled and focus switched to the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension project.

Newton Town Centre would have been home to one of the terminus stations for LRT, which would have run from Guildford down 104 Avenue to City Centre and then up King George Boulevard to Newton. The fully funded and approved project would have been completed by 2024.

In Wednesday’s announcement, TransLink said it plans to spend the next 10 years doubling its regional bus service, expanding its rapid bus service, and completing the majority of its new bike and walkways. These priorities are outlined in TransLink’s Transport 2050 strategic plan, which

READ ALSO: TransLink aims to expand rapid bus service, active transport in next 10 years, April 20, 2022

According to a discussion guide from TransLink, the transit authority is looking to invest in rapid transit on up to 11 corridors, which includes the King George Boulevard and Scott Road corridors. Along King George Boulevard, TransLink is looking to extend RapidBus or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) from Surrey Centre to White Rock and “complete an exploratory business case of grade separation and technology alternatives, including SkyTrain, between Surrey Centre and Newton.”

Surrey Coun. Doug Elford was thrilled with TransLink’s plan, which was unanimously adopted by the TransLink Mayor’s Council in January.

“I think it’s critical. We do have a rapid bus planned, for now, which I think is fantastic in the short-term,” he said. “But in the long-term, I think SkyTrain to Newton and then eventually all the way to the south would be ideal. That’s something that we would be advocating for. I know the mayor has advocated for that before.”

Elford added he’s glad it’s Newton Skytrain made the list of 10-year priorities.

“At least that indicates that it’s in the thought process. I mean, once we get the line developed in Langley, it’s my understanding – that I’ve heard through the grapevine – that it will be designed so that an extension to Newton would be very feasible, engineered so it would be very feasible.

“It’s going to happen. it’s just a matter of time.”

Meantime, the major focus of the next decade is on bus rapid transit — buses that operate in fully separated lanes with signal priority designed to keep buses moving.

In Surrey, TransLink’s 10-year priorities include BRT on several corridors with two of those in Surrey: King George Boulevard from Surrey to White Rock and Scott Road, an upgrade from the R6.

READ ALSO: Surrey reviewing Scott Road with eye to running ‘fast’ bus and densifying corridor, April 20, 2022

TransLink said the bus rapid transit routes will be serviced by zero emissions or low emissions vehicles. Riders will prepay before boarding and buses have more spacious interiors to allow higher passenger capacities — similar to a rapid light rail experience. It is significantly cheaper than SkyTrain investments at $15-million per kilometre, versus $400 million per kilometre for the train.

– With files from Cole Schisler

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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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