Former minister responsible for TransLink still supports LRT — but says it’s not the best option for high volumes of people

Click to play video: 'Could municipal elections derail Surrey’s light rapid transit?'
Could municipal elections derail Surrey’s light rapid transit?
WATCH: Just when Surrey thought its light rail transit was a "go", there are concerns that the upcoming municipal elections could derail the project yet again. Ted Chernecki and Keith Baldey report – Sep 11, 2018

The former minister responsible for TransLink is weighing in on the growing controversy in Surrey over Light Rail Transit vs. SkyTrain.

Peter Fassbender, who is also running for mayor in the City of Langley, is no stranger to the LRT planned for Surrey.

He said that he advocated for it because of the vision by the city to “build community,” not move high volumes of people.

“I believe that that was, and is, the right decision and I know there are challenges, but I think the ‘L line’ can be light rail and will work very efficiently,” Fassbender said.

However, he also said it’s a different discussion when it comes to moving people along the Fraser Highway into Langley and even further east.

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“If we look 30 years down the road, and the volume, and what may happen at Abbotsford airport — a system that ties into the existing rapid transit system, namely SkyTrain, probably is the most efficient system for the long term,” he said.

Fassbender said that a business case would have to be looked at for extending rapid transit, not just for the sake of what it costs to build it, but the efficiency of moving people.

The big question in Surrey in the lead-up to the civic election — can the LRT project be stopped if a newly-elected council doesn’t want it?

“If there’s a question about this project it would have to go back to the Mayors’ Council they would have to re-assess, they would have to pass a different investment plan, and quite candidly, then you’re going to be bringing in the federal government and the province about what to do with the money they’ve pledged,” TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said.

Desmond said $50 million has already been spent on LRT and as far as he’s concerned, it’s a go.

“If this project were stopped, it would be years before Surrey would have a rail project.”

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