It was a bit of a surprise to hear that the provincial government is at least considering some kind of interurban rail service using the old B.C. Electric Railway route, which once ran from Vancouver through Langley all the way out to Chilliwack.
It’s surprising, but in some ways an encouraging development.
Whether or not the old interurban line is revived – it has fierce partisans, but TransLink was decidedly cool to the idea – the final funding approval for the Surrey to Langley SkyTrain spells a better future for transit in the Lower Mainland.
The old model, one we’re still operating on, is largely a hub-and-spoke model. This is the idea that people live in the suburbs, out in Maple Ridge and Langley and Surrey and Coquitlam, and they work in Vancouver.
That hasn’t been true for decades. From office work to manufacturing to film production to tourism, jobs are spreading out around the Lower Mainland. This is great for local economies! It’s great if it means shorter, less polluting commutes.
But it’s tough on our transit and transportation systems.
TransLink and B.C. Transit are trying to create more links between the spokes, adding express buses, linking the Fraser Valley to Metro Vancouver, and using Highway #1 and the Golden Ears Bridge to get people to the West Coast Express or SkyTrain.
More could be done.
Once SkyTrain to Langley is complete, do we extend it out to Abbotsford – or is the next step a light rail line up 200th Street and across the river to Maple Ridge? How do we link White Rock to Guildford, or Mission to Abbotsford?
The old spoke and hub model is dead, and work from home is the latest blow. We need a dense network of options for the coming decades.