Why it is important that SkyTrain not be built on the Evergreen Line

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A letter in todays Vancouver Sun ~

SkyTrain extension not an astute investment

Vancouver Sun January 8, 2009

The case for SkyTrain’s $1.4-billion Evergreen Line is terribly weak. Despite the hype and hoopla from local politicians, this version of a public-private partnership is more like a Ponzi scheme than an astute investment.

David Gillen, director of the Centre for Transportation Studies at the University of B.C., should look into the subject further. If he did, he’d find that light metros like SkyTrain aren’t good investments. If the private sector were to invest in a transit project, much cheaper light rail transit would be the way to go.

Dublin’s and Nottingham’s new LRT lines are operating at a profit, even after paying debt-servicing charges.

Then there is the strange case of Gerald Fox, a respected U.S. transit specialist, shredding TransLink’s business case for the Evergreen Line in a widely circulated letter. Fox states that “the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain . . . in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding.”

The Evergreen Line project is like the Titanic racing through the fog towards a financial iceberg.

~ is an important reminder that by building SkyTrain light-metro on the Evergreen Line, will mean no money for valley rail.

A previous post “Can TransLink’s Business Cases be Trusted?”……….

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2008/12/26/can-translinks-business-cases-be-trusted/

……..demonstrates that TransLink is very adept in supporting SkyTrain, even operating in corridors without the ridership to support light-metro. There is only one taxpayer and the dubious SkyTrain Evergreen Line will take what little money is available to build, more, politically prestigious SkyTrain. Even SkyTrain was far too expensive for the now $1 billion over budget RAV/Canada Line, where a much cheaper generic metro was built instead.

If modern light-rail were to be built on the Evergreen line instead of SkyTrain, there would be enough money to build a basic Vancouver to Chilliwack Diesel LRT service, with the ability for an Evergreen LRT, to network directly with the Interurban, giving the possibility of direct Valley to Tr-City service and a much faster Tri-City to Vancouver service than using the SkyTrain Millennium Line.

As always, transit planning in the region is like the ‘squeaky wheel’ – the more one squeaks, the more you get greased. Fraser Valley politicians are just not squeaking in the volumes that their counterparts in Vancouver, Richmond, and the Tri-Cities have done.

Current transit planning is foolhardy to the extreme and in a time of great economic upheaval, squandering limited taxpayers money on hugely expensive make work or infrastructure projects, is like the captain of the Titanic ordering more coals onto the fires, even after the doomed ship had impaled itself on a massive financial iceberg.

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2 Responses to “Why it is important that SkyTrain not be built on the Evergreen Line”

  1. David Says:

    I must admit I was amazed at the announcement that SkyTrain technology would be only fractionally more expensive to build than LRT on the Evergreen Line. The devil, as they say, is in the details (fewer stations, different route, inflated/deflated estimates).

    The big question has to be who is the line intended to serve and where are they going? It can’t be downtown Vancouver because the West Coast Express and the existing express buses are already faster. Therefore it must be people going in other directions like SFU, New West, Surrey, etc. people who would be better served by having fewer transfers than by a little extra speed along a portion of their journey.

    I envision an LRT system connecting Coquitlam with Langley two ways:
    1. a line heading due south from Coquitlam Centre to the new twinned Port Mann bridge and out the highway 1 corridor.
    2. a line using the planned north-west alignment to Lougheed, extended to New Westminster, over a new multi-track Fraser River rail bridge (built as part of the Patullo replacement) and out the old interurban line.

    I know LRT proponents look at all the rail lines as potential people movers, but we can’t do that. They must remain viable freight lines or we’ll become even more dependent on trucks and roads to move all our goods.

  2. zweisystem Says:

    If we build real light rail on the Evergreen Line, there would be enough money left over to fund a basic (4 or 5 returns daily) Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban service. TransLink, like BC Transit before, have been very clever in inflating the cost for LRT and with no media (unlike the FastFerries) oversight or peer review, got away with it. SkyTrain planning reeks of professional misconduct.

    Watch in the near future for a blog about freight by tram.

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