Edmonton’s new Metro Line LRT is expected to run at less than half the initially promised frequency on opening day. This is due to expected safety issues with attempting to run LRT trains at frequencies of every 2.5 minutes on a combined branch on one of its existing lines.
Surrey’s proposed at-grade LRT system will face a similar segment requiring interlining of LRT trains, between King George and Surrey Central Stations. This is required so that trains from Fraser Highway can have a through service to Surrey Central, as this is where City Hall, City Centre Library and the SFU and upcoming KPU campuses are located.
Trains on each of the two LRT lines are promised to run every 5 minutes, according to the City website. That means they will be running every 2.5 minutes on the combined, on-street section to Surrey Central.
If the City of Surrey were to face the same issues as Edmonton, it could mean some unprecedented and unacceptable service changes to riders. Trains from the Fraser Highway line might be required to terminate at King George – necessitating a transfer to other LRT or SkyTrain service to reach SFU or City Hall.
Neither the City or TransLink have specified how Fraser Highway line trains will be turned around at Surrey Central Station, without impacting the service of other through trains. Such cases generally require larger stations with multiple platforms.
On the other hand, a SkyTrain extension down Fraser Highway would be integrated with the existing Expo Line. This would offer through service without transfers to Surrey Central and as far as downtown Vancouver, with an end-to-end travel time of 59 minutes from Langley Centre to Waterfront. Unfortunately, the city has no plans to accommodate a SkyTrain extension.
The new Metro Line LRT will have its frequency reduced from the get-go from 5 minutes to 10 minutes. If a similar reduction were to be made for LRT on opening day, I can only imagine what kind of disdain that would cause among transit riders in Surrey.