Updated plans and station concepts unveiled for Surrey LRT

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The City of Surrey began a series of 3 open houses on Thursday for Phase 1 of the upcoming Surrey LRT project. This latest public engagement is the 3rd round of open houses on Phase 1 the project, providing refined plans based on public input from previous consultations. Presented at the open house were preliminary station designs, road designs, information on construction planning, environmental and socio-economic study results, and more. A full set of the Open House Boards can be found here.

Station Designs

Overall, stations are designed to be highly visible, well-lit, and well integrated into the community – accessible by well-marked pedestrian crossings providing universal accessibility for all riders. Lengthy platform shelters protect riders from weather, and include space for ATM’s, information boards, seating, and more – while maintaining a clear line of sight to the street and approaching trains. Stations will in most cases be located in the centre median of the street, with the exception of King George, Surrey Central and Newton Town Centre – where they will be plaza oriented, or off to the side. Public art will also be integrated into stations along the route.

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Roadway Design

LRT will run on its own dedicated track for the entirety of the line, with the exception of City Parkway where it will be integrated into a pedestrian plaza. Placement of the LRT track will vary – typically located in the centre median for most of the route, but off to the side in some sections.

Roadway design for 104 Avenue will consist of LRT in the centre median, and 1 traffic lane in each direction, widening to include an additional turning lane at major intersections. The 104 Avenue design will also provide upgraded and enhanced sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, and connections to stations. Currently 104 Avenue functions as a non-pedestrian friendly, busy arterial for cars. A re-purposed 104 Avenue with LRT will transform the street into a calmed, pedestrianized and transit-oriented corridor, supported by multi-family housing and streetfront shops along the route. The newly widened 100 Avenue and existing 108th Avenue corridors will become the new car-prioritized east-west routes between City Centre and Guildford while 104 Avenue will be the pedestrian/transit prioritized corridor.

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Roadway design for King George Blvd will retain 2 traffic lanes in each direction while allowing for LRT in the median for the majority of the route. Sections of King George in City Centre will see LRT routed off to one side. New separated bike lanes, enhanced sidewalks, and pedestrian crossings will also be a key component of the re-designed King George.

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Pedestrianized Plazas at Surrey Central & King George Stations

Taking inspiration from leading cities around the world, Surrey Central and King George Stations in City Centre are designed to be integrated into new pedestrianized public plazas. These plazas will help to create vibrant transfer points between LRT and SkyTrain’s expo line, similar to plaza’s found throughout Europe with multi-modal rail connections running through them. 

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Socio-Economic Study: Improved Travel Times

A key finding of the socio-economic study released at the open house, was the improvement in travel times that LRT will offer over the existing 96 B-Line bus service, as well as private automobile. Under Section 7.2 of the study it was found that the existing 96 B-Line service between Guilford-Newton currently takes 29 minutes under ideal conditions. During periods of congestion however, this trip can take longer than 50 minutes. Further, this travel time is expected to worsen as population grows. LRT is able to cut this travel time by up to half, taking a consistent 27-minutes every time, on opening day, and a decade later, due to its dedicated track. In addition to this, LRT offers faster service and improved experience due to:

  • More doors for boarding, significantly reducing stop times at stations, and travel times overall.
  • Nearly twice as frequent peak service as the existing 96 B-Line peak bus service.
  • A smoother, more comfortable ride than B-Line bus, with less stop and go.
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96 B-Line subject to traffic congestion – travel times between Guildford and Newton up to 50 mins during peak hours.

Integration with the Community

One of the key benefits of LRT is its integration with the community and streetscape compared to SkyTrain. While SkyTrain serves well as a long distance commuter rail service, LRT is better suited to more localized routes in the region – similar to other cities where there are various tiers of rail transit making up the regional transit network.  Not every line in a city needs to be the same type of rail transit – LRT, Subway, and Commuter Rail are often combined to compliment each other and serve different needs. The introduction of LRT to Metro Vancouver represents a maturing of our rail transit network into a multi-modal system, and it is very likely we will see LRT implemented elsewhere in the region following Surrey.

In Surrey, the 104 Avenue and King George Highway corridors that make up the ‘L’ line are much better suited to urban-style LRT than SkyTrain. Not only is this route more localized than regionally serving, but SkyTrain just doesn’t make sense from a cost perspective, and the impacts that such guideways would have on the streetscapes. Looking at a comparison between SkyTrain guideways in Richmond City Centre and Coquitlam City Centre, it is clear to see how much better LRT integrates with the streetscape and community it passes through, rather than bisecting it with an obtrusive, shadowing, and noisy concrete structure. LRT can transform a streetscape into an inviting, pedestrian friendly, vibrant urban environment – whereas SkyTrain does the opposite. 

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Impact of SkyTrain guideways on the urban environment/streetscape vs urban-style LRT

For more on Surrey LRT:

https://surreylightrail.ca

LRT showcase brings prototype train display to Surrey

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Numerous community and business leaders joined Mayor Linda Hepner today to launch an 8-week LRT showcase, offering residents a first glimpse at Surrey’s future LRT. As part of the showcase, a prototype LRT train car has been brought in from Europe and put on display in the Central City parking lot next to King George Blvd. It will remain there for the next couple of weeks before being relocated to Newton Town Centre, Guildford Town Centre, and finally the Surrey Canada Day celebration in Cloverdale.

The goal of the showcase is to give residents a first-hand look at what the urban-style LRT train will look like. Unlike high-floor commuter-type LRT trains like those in Calgary and Edmonton, Surrey’s LRT will be low-floored, similar to those found in many cities throughout Europe, and even Toronto. Despite being more integrated with the urban environment, the trains will nonetheless run on a dedicated right-of-way, apart from traffic, offering significant improvement over a bus – not only in speed, but also through more consistent/reliable schedules, frequency, capacity, boarding doors, and comfort. It is important to point out that the particular train car brought in for display is just a prototype, and the actual trains chosen for the Surrey line, will likely look a bit different.

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LRT was chosen as the mode of choice for rapid transit in Surrey following years of study that began as far back as 2010. Numerous options, and combinations were looked at including LRT, SkyTrain, and Bus Rapid Transit. The results found LRT to be the most cost effective system for Surrey – with 27km of LRT track (2 lines) able to be built for the same $2.2 billion price tag as 16km of SkyTrain (1 line). Surrey gets a more extensive rail transit network, better integrated with the community, creating more pedestrian-orientated streetscapes, with LRT. Further, operating costs for LRT were found to be $6 million cheaper annually, with negligible differences in travel times.

Since securing funding back in March, the first phase of Surrey’s LRT network – the Guildford-City Centre-Newton line – is now on track to begin construction by late 2019 and be in service by 2024.

For more on Surrey’s LRT project:
https://surreylightrail.ca

For a detailed look at the Surrey Rapid Transit Study:
https://surreylightrail.ca/Documents/Surrey_Rapid_Transit_Study_%20Alternatives_Analysis_Findings.pdf

For an infographic of the findings of the Rapid Transit Study:
https://surreylightrail.ca/Documents/surrey_rapid_transit_study_infographic.pdf

‘Fraser Landmark’ coming soon to Fraser Hwy & 140 St

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A new 6-storey condo project first reported on back in February 2017, is gearing up to begin construction in the coming months. Called ‘Fraser Landmark’, the project will bring 121 ‘luxury’ condominiums and townhomes to the corner of Fraser Hwy and 140 St, directly across from Green Timbers Park at the south-east edge of City Centre.

Registration for the project is now open to potential buyers, with sales expected to launch on May 26, and construction to begin as early as August. The building, designed by DF Architecture, will help to create an urban streetscape through its sidewalk-oriented townhomes, and 6-storey height, replacing a vacant treed lot that exists today. The building will also be just steps from a future LRT station to be located at the same intersection, along the future Surrey-Langley LRT line.

Completion of the project is expected by December 2019.

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Rendering of Fraser Landmark at the south-east edge of City Centre
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Site location at the south-east edge of City Centre

Surrey LRT a go-ahead with funding announcement

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The long-awaited first phase of Surrey’s LRT is a go-ahead, following today’s announcement of an agreement between the provincial government and the Mayor’s Council to fund the project. Billed as the largest transit and transportation investment in the history of the Metro Vancouver region, the plan will see:

  • Construction of the Surrey Guildford-Newton Light Rail (LRT)
  • Construction of Millennium Line Broadway Extension
  • Significant upgrade of existing Expo-Millennium Lines to expand capacity to meet and improve the customer experience
  • An 8% increase in bus service to address overcrowding, reduce wait times and bring bus services to communities with limited service
  • Improvements to sidewalks, bikeways, multi-use pathways and roadways

According to the media release, delivery of these projects will be funded by:

  • $1.6 billion in fare revenues expected from higher ridership resulting from service expansion in Phase Two, TransLink resources and efficiencies.
  • A 2% increase to all transit fares over two years beginning in 2020.
  • Parking lot sales tax increase of 15 cents per hour for an average $5 per hour parking.
  • $5.50 increase in property taxes per average household each year or about 46 cents a month, beginning in 2019.
  • About $300 to $600/unit increase to the Development Cost Charge on new residential developments depending on type of dwelling.
  • Revenue from a variety of transit-related commercial opportunities.

Construction by 2019 – Phase 1 Completion by 2024

While federal matching of the provincial funding still needs to be finalized, it is expected that the first phase of the Surrey LRT line between Guildford – City Centre – Newton will likely be under construction by late 2019, with completion by 2024. Not only will the project bring a new a rapid transit line to the South Fraser, it will also be a game-changer in how it will integrate with, and transform the neighbourhoods it passes through. In conjunction with the City Centre Plan and the Guildford-104 Avenue Plan, LRT corridors will be gradually transformed with 4-6-storey density along each route, with higher density mixed-use nodes at key intersections and throughout City Centre, Guildford Town Centre, and Newton Town Centre.

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Planned route of Phase 1 & 2 of the Surrey LRT network
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Conceptual rendering of a revitalized Newton Town Centre with LRT integration
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Conceptual rendering of King George Blvd in Newton with LRT, bike-lanes, and 4-6-storey urban density
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Conceptual rendering of LRT plaza integration at Newton Town Centre
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Conceptual rendering of LRT integration along a repurposed 104 Avenue corridor
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LRT integration on a pedestrianized City Parkway at Central Ave in City Centre

A new tier of rapid transit for Metro Vancouver

LRT will introduce a new layer of rapid transit service to Metro Vancouver that is complimentary to SkyTrain. It will serve as a more localized, finer-grained service, compared to SkyTrain which can be seen as more of a regional commuter train service. Tiered transit systems are common around the world, with various forms of rail combining to form an intricate and dynamic transit network. A good example of this is Berlin, Germany where there are 4 tiers of rail within its robust transit network. These include:

  • Regional Train (Comparable to WestCoast Express)
  • S-Bahn (Suburban service)
  • U-Bahn (Urban service – Comparable to SkyTrain)
  • MetroTram LRT (Fine-grained urban service)

All of these lines converge at hub stations, with each tier serving a specific purpose.

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Berlin rapid transit system featuring 4 tiers of rail – LRT lines shown in light grey

Example – Tiers of Rail Transit in Berlin

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Regional Train (Comparable to West Coast Express)
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S-Bahn – Suburban service (No comparison in Metro Vancouver)
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U-Bahn – Urban service (Comparable to SkyTrain)
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MetroTram (LRT) – Fine-grained urban service

Surrey LRT will bring the first fine-grained rail service to Metro Vancouver – appropriate for routes that are more localized, and less regional – such as the Guildford-City Centre-Newton line – but connecting to SkyTrain for regional commuter travel at hub stations. It is likely that we could see LRT build elsewhere in the region following Surrey, given its cost-effectiveness and appropriate scale for many other parts of the region.

City seeks public input on Guildford Town Centre – 104 Avenue Plan

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The City of Surrey held a public open house last week on the in-progress, Guildford Town Centre – 104 Avenue Plan. The plan, which has been under study since last year, is seeking to define a vision and prepare a long-range land-use plan to guide future growth along the 104 Avenue Corridor and Guildford Town Centre areas.

Presented to the public at the open house last week were 2 land-use concept options, along with a proposed street network, bicycle and pedestrian network, and parks and open space concept.

Land-Use Concept Option 1: Focused Growth

Land-Use Concept Option 1 seeks to focus growth and density in key areas of the plan, such as along 104 Avenue and areas surrounding Guildford Town Centre. The plan envisions:

  • A continuous stretch of 6-storey mixed-use/apartments (Dark orange) along 104 Avenue
  • Mid to high-rise mixed-use (pink) at 104 Ave & 144 St.
  • Mid to high-rise along 104 Ave east of 148 St and to the north and east of Guildford Town Centre – with the tallest tower heights (purple) concentrated on the former Sears site.
  • 4-storey apartment areas (light orange) dispersed throughout the plan area
  • Townhouses (yellow) in a few areas
  • Single Family housing preserved in a number of areas, mostly west of 148 St.
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Land-Use Concept Option 1: Focused Growth

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Land-Use Concept Option 2: Dispersed Growth

Land-Use Concept Option 2, while very similar, seeks to disperse growth and densities over the plan area, with lower intensities of density, but increased density covering more area. This includes:

  • A wider continuous stretch of 6-storey mixed-use/apartments (Dark orange) along 104 Avenue
  • Mid to high-rise mixed-use (Pink) to the north and east of Guildford Town Centre.
  • 4-storey apartment areas (light orange) more widely dispersed throughout the plan area
  • Townhouses (yellow) more widely dispersed across the plan area
  • Slightly less preserved Single Family housing.
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Land-Use Concept Option 2: Dispersed Growth

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Proposed Street Network

The proposed street network adds a number of new local and collector streets to improve connectivity through a finer-grained network. One of these new collectors is the currently underway 105A Avenue connector project which will provide an alternate east-west route to 104 Avenue linking City Centre to Guildford. A long-range new street network is shown on the site of Guildford Town Shopping Centre – envisioning the future redevelopment of this mall into an urban district far into the future – similar to the vision for the Metropolis at Metrotown Shopping Centre site in Burnaby under the Metrotown Plan.

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Proposed Bike and Pedestrian Network

The proposed bike and pedestrian network creates a number of new multi-use paths and road-separated bike lanes improving connectivity throughout the plan area. Pedestrian and cycling crossings at busy intersections would be enhanced under the plan to improve safety and streetscape integration. Existing bike lanes would be upgraded to be physically separated from the road.

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Proposed Parks and Open Space

The proposed parks and open space plan illustrates how parks, habitat areas, and the city’s Green Infrastructure Network will be integrated into the plan area. A key feature of the plan is a ‘Green Loop’ pedestrian and cycling network stretching east-west with north-south connections – improving non-automobile connectivity in the area and connecting the many parks. In addition to existing parks shown in light green, many new parks are shown in dark green, including expansions to Hawthorne Park.

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Future Light Rail Transit (LRT)

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An integral part of the 104 Avenue – Guildford Town Centre Plan area will be the new LRT line linking City Centre to Guildford along 104 Avenue, and further south to Newton. This urban-style, low floor, LRT system will not just be a rapid transit line passing through the area, but a fully streetscape-integrated, centrepiece of the 104 Avenue corridor. Combined with a continuous 6-storey mixed-use density along 104 Avenue, the corridor will be transformed into a transit/pedestrian-oriented and prioritized streetscape, similar to precedents in Europe and elsewhere around the world. The LRT will support the densities along the the 104 Avenue Corridor, and integrate seamlessly into the community – unlike SkyTrain which bisects and has a negative visual and physical impact on the streetscape.

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To find out more about the Guildford Town Centre – 104 Avenue Plan, and participate in the public survey – visit:
http://www.surrey.ca/city-services/24723.aspx

Transforming Surrey with LRT – City Releases New Video

The City of Surrey has released a new video on their YouTube Channel promoting the upcoming Guildford-Newton LRT line. The line, which is expected to begin construction as early as next year, and be complete by 2023, is being used as a catalyst to transform Surrey, rather than simply move people from A-B.

Drawing from precedent in many European cities, street-level LRT has the ability to transform streetscapes and the public realm into more pedestrian-oriented, attractive places that attract businesses, gathering, and higher density housing. Compared to SkyTrain which cuts through communities disconnected from street-level, on obtrusive concrete guideways, LRT helps build communities along its route, becoming a part of those communities.

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Vision for 104 Avenue – To be repurposed from an auto-oriented corridor to a multi-modal, pedestrian and transit oriented corridor.
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LRT along a pedestrianized City Parkway at Central Avenue (103 Ave)
In Surrey City Centre, Newton Town Centre, and Guildford Town Centre, the LRT line will be integrated into pedestrian-only plazas, much like you would find in Europe. Along the line, 104th Avenue and King George Hwy will be transformed into multi-modal streets, instead of the 20th-century era car-oriented streets they are today. 104th Avenue and King George Boulevard will become attractive, focal streets, complete with LRT, vehicle lanes, grade-separated bike lanes, and improved sidewalks. Land-use along them will gradually develop into a continuous stretch of mixed-use mid-rise buildings set close to the street, with ground floor retail, and offices, residences above.

LRT will also add a new tier of transit to Metro Vancouver’s transit system that is currently missing, and would be appropriate for many other parts of the region as a compliment to the existing SkyTrain system which serves as more of a regional commuter rail service. LRT is best suited for servicing more localized areas, where bus service is inadequate, while connecting to the regional rail network.

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Vision for a European-Style Plaza with LRT at Newton Town Centre
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LRT along a pedestrianized City Parkway at Surrey Central Station
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Proposed LRT Routing at 102 Avenue & King George Blvd
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Proposed LRT routing along King George Blvd between 100 Ave & 102 Ave
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Proposed LRT routing at 96th Ave & King George Blvd
For more on the Guildford-Newton LRT line:
http://www.surrey.ca/city-services/15698.aspx