When SkyTrain arrives in Langley, it’s going to change everything.
For the first time, we’ll be able to hop on from downtown Langley City or the Willowbrook mall, and access a direct rapid transit network that will take us everywhere from YVR and Richmond, to Metrotown, to Royal Columbian Hospital, to downtown Vancouver.
But Langley needs far more than just a SkyTrain line.
We’re a community that is one of the fastest growing in the province, while also densifying so rapidly that many neighbourhoods will soon have more people per square kilometre than East Vancouver does.
So here’s a few suggestions for transit and transportation changes Langley should consider during the next few years.
• A north-south bus-only lane
More than a decade ago, a couple of Township councillors suggested Langley needed a light rail or trolley-type route running up and down 200th Street. It’s not a bad plan – something like 80 per cent of Langley’s population will eventually live on the axis that starts in Brookswood and ends in Walnut Grove.
But a tram or light rail line would be expensive. Easier and cheaper would be a big enhancement in bus service. That could be a dedicated bus lane on 200th Street or it could simply be multiple bus pullout bays all along the road. Bus frequency in Langley has improved a lot in the last decade, but not nearly enough – given the population that uses that route. It needs to be taken seriously as a transit corridor.
Transit enhancements are also needed on roads like 88th Avenue, 208th Street, and Fraser Highway.
• Pay parking and parking restrictions
Yeah, no one wants to hear this. But big sections of Langley are going to become non-functional unless we restrict parking one way or another. That means pay parking in certain downtown areas, like parts of Langley City and Fort Langley, and it means considering resident-only or time-limited street parking in dense residential neighbourhoods like Willoughby and parts of Walnut Grove.
Related to that, we need to rein in the size of parking lots – including existing commercial lots. The big sprawls of asphalt are a great place for infill commercial development that creates jobs and amenities.
• Bike or scooter share
Before the pandemic, there were dozens of these cropping up around North America, including the kind that allowed you to leave the bike pretty much anywhere you wanted. (This went poorly – people dumped bikes in the middle of sidewalks.) But with geolocation technology and some enforcement, adding another mobility option for locals could help people get around.
By the time SkyTrain touches down, Langley City and Township should be well on their way to plans for the future where cycling, walking, and transit are used as much or more than getting in a personal car. This has been the goal for years. SkyTrain could be the impetus to getting us all the way there.
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