Link to the future
By Craig Allan, Business Manager
TransLink has commissioned a survey, and they are looking to the public to help them decide what and where the next big transit projects should be.
Despite TransLink seeing a possible 20 percent ridership decrease post-pandemic, the transit authority is considering some big plans in growing the transit system for future inhabitants of the region.
With the Metro Vancouver area set to gain an extra one-million people by 2050, transit will be an important infrastructure investment needed to help people travel around the region.
With this in mind, TransLink has released the second phase Transportation 2050 (T2050), an initiative that is involved with planning how the public transportation company will build itself into the future. The first phase of T2050 is already underway, and that involves extending the Millennium Line to Arbutus Street, and the Expo Line extension to Langley Centre; both are set to be completed around 2025. With those projects already planned, TransLink is looking towards the future. Not just which projects will be a high priority next, but what kind of technology will be used to operate them.
To help decide this, TransLink has commissioned a survey and they are looking to the public to help them decide what and where the next big transit projects should be. They are currently workshopping two options: Network A, and Network B.
Network A would involve the expansion of transit at both the SkyTrain, by 100km, and Bus/Rapid Bus lines (BRT). It would also introduce a new transit option to the region, light-rail transit (LRT). For SkyTrain, some of the extensions being looked at include the completion of the Millennium Line to the University of British Columbia, the continuation of the Millennium Line to Downtown Port Coquitlam from Coquitlam Central Station (of which a partially completed platform for that station already exists), and a new line going down Hastings Street crossing at the Second Narrows Bridge and completing its journey in North Vancouver.
For other transit infrastructure projects in Network A, while BRT’s are being considered, they are also looking at the idea of LRT for some routes including a line from the Pacific National Exhibition Fairgrounds to Simon Fraser University Burnaby Campus, Coquitlam Central Station to Maple Ridge (and possibly Langley), and lines to both Newton and Guilford.
If the lines to Newton and Guildford sound familiar that is because the technology and route would be very similar to the cancelled Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT line TransLink tried to build in the 2010’s that was cancelled in 2018.
Network B is a scaled down version of Network A in which the SkyTrain lines previously mentioned, along with a line connecting Brentwood and Metrotown in Burnaby stay as SkyTrain technologies, while the rest of the proposed lines become LRT or BRT. The proposed gondola to SFU—while not specifically mapped out—is included in both Network plans.
Getting Metro Vancouverites to like the idea of LRT could be a tough sell. There is wide praise for the SkyTrain system, with it having the reputation as the best rapid transit lines in North America. When Surrey decided to go forward with its plan to end SkyTrain in Surrey at King George Station and move the city into LRT technology, it was so contentious that despite the project being fully funded by all three levels of government, and already under construction, the incoming Safe Surrey coalition party, led by Doug McCallum in 2018, ran on a platform to cancel the LRT line as one of its major campaign promises. They won the election in October of 2018 and cancelled the line in their first session.
With Metro Vancouver set to grow, TransLink wants to make sure that it grows as well to continue to efficiently serve the region well into the future.