It's not often that you hear of a development project running ahead of schedule, but that is exactly the case for the Surrey Langley SkyTrain extension. The project was originally slated for completion in 2030, but that finish line has been moved up to 2028.

That's not all. The project will also cost less money than originally thought -- a neat $500 million less, to be exact. 

The BC government gave its formal approval to fund 60% of the $3.94 billion project yesterday. The provincial contribution will be $2.476 billion, the federal government will contribute $1.306 billion, and local governments will provide the remaining $228 million.

It's not all good news. Because the original plan for the extension was to build it in two phases -- the first phase from King George Station to Fleetwood to be completed in 2025, and the second from Fleetwood to Langley Centre to be completed in 2030 -- the former phase will be delayed by three years. Challenges stemming from COVID-19 are largely to blame for the inability to meet the 2025 target.

Still, residents and city officials are aptly pumped about the project. This is the first rapid transit expansion south of the Fraser in 30 years, and upon its completion in 2028, Vancouver commuters will have eight more stations and 30 additional SkyTrain cars at their disposal. 

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To boot, the trip from King George Station to Langley City Centre will be a breezy 22 minutes, while the trip from downtown Vancouver to Waterfront Station will be just over an hour.

These days, there is little debate that public transit and housing are inextricably linked. Both are critical infrastructures that -- when created with the greater good in mind -- can contribute to healthier communities and happier residents, while giving new public development the boost it quite often needs. 

This project is definitely in line with that mentality. 

In addition to the $3.94 billion going towards the extension itself, the province intends to spend $60 million on the areas surrounding the SkyTrain corridor, bolstering housing options and public amenities available to local residents.

"The Surrey Langley SkyTrain extension will connect more people to housing, employment, schools and services, and encourage higher-density mixed-use development around SkyTrain stations," Randeep Sarai, Member of Parliament for Surrey Centre said in a press release yesterday. "Within 10 years, close to 62,000 commuters will benefit daily from this project, which will encourage more people to leave their car behind and use public transit. As a result, the Surrey Langley SkyTrain will also help reduce congestion and travel time, cut emissions and help us tackle climate change."

The forthcoming Surrey Langley SkyTrain is on par with other long-awaited developments in the area promising to improve the city on the whole. Earlier this month, the City of Vancouver officially approved the Broadway Plan, which will bring new housing, jobs, and amenities to the neighbourhoods of Mount Pleasant, Fairview, and Kitsilano.