TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn says news stories that the opening of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain expansion has been delayed until 2028 are incorrect though that’s still the target date for it to open.
“Recently there has been some comments made in the media suggesting that the project has been delayed in some way and and I really want to take the opportunity to clarify that that is not the case, and the project has not been delayed,” Quinn told the mayors’ council on regional transportation on Sept. 23. “Originally TransLink was anticipating the delivery of phase one’s Fleetwood in 2025. Phase two, to Langley City, was targeted to be complete by 2030 and required approvals and a future investment plan.
“Last year, the provincial government committed to delivering the entire project and took on the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain as a provincial capital project and since that time the province has made the determination that it would be more efficient, less costly and more practical to build it all in one phase, and this means a target completion date of 2028,” Quinn said. “That date reflects a bigger, better project that will ultimately be built more quickly and at less cost than by splitting it into two phases as originally contemplated.”
Last week Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, who sits on the mayors’ council, issued a press release saying reports of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain being delayed is “disconcerting.”
“There can no longer be any delay for rapid transit expansion in Surrey and communities South of Fraser,” McCallum stated in his written statement.
Quinn delivered his first management report as TransLinks’ new CEO, two months into the job. The next mayors’ council meeting, via teleconference, will be on Oct. 22.
Asked for his reaction to Quinn’s comments, McCallum said he’s “exactly right.”
“In fact we are in my opinion ahead of schedule,” McCallum said. “It’s better to build it as one unit and open it as one unit.”
Asked if Quinn’s clarification allays the concerns he expressed in his press release that it was “disconcerting,” McCallum replied that his comments were “a little bit targeted at some other people that made comments on it.”
“We’re well aware of where we’re at,” he said. “In fact the city’s driving it because we’ve already started pre-work on it and we have closed Fraser Highway and we already are going to start to pave Fraser Highway in the next week or so, so we’re actually way ahead of schedule on the pre-work that has to be done before the actual construction of the line is concerned.”
“We’re moving ahead a lot quicker than I even realized,” McCallum said. “The city is also a big partner in this and we’re moving ahead very quickly on the pre-work.”
But Daryl Dela Cruz, founder of SkyTrain for Surrey, says advocates and supporters of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project are “shocked and disappointed” by Quinn’s and McCallum’s comments that the opening date is not delayed.
“Despite these comments and the suggestion that there is ‘no delay’ there is a clear discrepancy between the project timelines that were released by TransLink’s SLS project team before the COVID-19 pandemic and the project timeline that is being suggested now,” he noted in a SkyTrain for Surrey media release.
Dela Cruz cited a news report quoting former TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond saying at a Urban Development Institute on Oct. 8, 2019 that if full funding can be achieved, and it’s done as a continuous project, “it will be less expensive than doing it as two completely separate projects over the years, and you can get to Langley in the same period of time by 2025.”
Dela Cruz noted that prior to the pandemic, TransLink “made it clear” the 16-kilometre extension to Langley could be constructed and open to riders by 2025.