Surrey LRT to be up and running by 2024, cost set at $1.65 billion

WATCH: B.C. government calls for bids for Surrey LRT

TransLink is committing to have the Surrey LRT up and running by 2024.

The transit operator announced on Wednesday that it is now accepting bids for a contractor to begin construction on the $1.65 billion light rail transit project in 2020.

The project, officially known as the Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT, will cost more per kilometre to build than the Evergreen Line. The nearly 11 kilometre extension from Burnaby to Coquitlam has been operational since December, 2016.

WATCH HERE: Early example of Surrey LRT car unveiled

Early example of Surrey LRT car unveiled
Early example of Surrey LRT car unveiled
“We have been facing inflationary pressures on all infrastructure projects,” said TransLink’s vice president of infrastructure management and engineering Sany Zein. “One of the significant [pressures] have been property costs and securing properties, the values in some cases since Evergreen days have doubled. We also have pressures on a tight labour market.”

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WATCH HERE: Trudeau in town for transit announcement

Trudeau in town for transit announcement
Trudeau in town for transit announcement

The Surrey line will provide 10.5 kilometres of street-level light rail service along King George Blvd. and 104 Ave. There will be 11 new stops and the promise is a travel time of 27 minutes from end to end.

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TransLink is committing to running trains every five minutes during peak hours and want bidders to ensure that no train is ever more than three minutes off schedule. Surrey is expected to grow to become the largest municipality in British Columbia over the next few decades and the LRT line is expected to carry 46,000 travelers a day once the line opens in 2024 and 77,000 travelers a day in 2044.

READ MORE: Federal government confirms investment in Surrey LRT and Broadway subway line

“This line will encourage transit use as an alternative, the ability to walk to and from the LRT line very easily is a key part of this,” said  Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT Project director Stephan Mehr. “The fast, reliable LRT service every five minutes during peak [hours] will really help reduce single occupancy vehicle travel in the city we see today.”

WATCH: Plans for Surrey LRT unveiled

Surrey LRT construction to begin in 2020
Surrey LRT construction to begin in 2020

The Government of Canada has promised $483.8 million on the project, while TransLink and the region have committed $1.12 billion. The provincial government is not funding the project, instead putting their share of the 40 per cent total cost of both the LRT and the Broadway Subway line all on the subway line.

The province is directing most of its share of funding to the Broadway Subway project as this is an extension to the Millennium Line, which it already owns.

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The LRT project is being labelled as the most significant construction project in the city of Surrey’s history.

“The vision for LRT is about building a community. It is about building increased mobility in a growing community,” said Zein. “We are now a delivery track. We leave behind the planning.”

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“Transformation will mean this will encourage development, it will encourage economic growth around the LRT. This has been a model that has been adopted in hundreds of cities in the world. We are trying to push for the city to be built in a cohesive way.”