Fraser Valley residents pushing for light rail
Published Friday, November 14, 2008 6:44AM PST
As the massive Canada Line SkyTrain project moves toward completion, envious residents of B.C.'s Fraser Valley are pushing for their own light rail system, one that would operate on an existing railway track.
Up until 1950, the old interurban passenger train moved people between Chilliwack and Vancouver.
Now some light rail advocates want that service reinstated.
"A system could be in place that could serve all the communities of the Fraser Valley with a reliable and sustainable transportation system for less than the cost of two miles of SkyTrain,'' said John Vissers, who speaks for Rail for the Valley.
Abbotsford Council has voted to support a citizen's group report that called for a light rail demonstration project by 2010.
"We felt if people in the community were serious about this, that they needed to see what it could potentially be and impact their lives,'' said Abbotsford Councillor Lynn Harris.
Abbotsford Council also wants to protect areas that could be turned into light rail corridors to connect the downtown to the local university and airport.
"Our growth projections are huge and we are going to have serious issues with moving goods and people,'' said Harris.
However, B.C. Transport Minister Kevin Falcon says more homework needs to be done before any decisions are made.
"We are very open to light rail, but one of the things I always say to people is before you define what the solution is, you have to have a better understanding of the problem," he said.
Some local politicians believe the old interuban route may not be the answer. It is currently used for freight service and some sections currently only allow speeds of about 20 kilometres an hour.
But that is not deterring light rail proponents.
"What were suggesting is, let's try this, and if it works, let's adopt it as our future,'' said Vissers.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Reshmi Nair.