Since SkyTrain was forced onto the region, transit planning has been skewed to fit the expensive proprietary light-metro. Most recently, noted American transit specialist, Gerald Fox, found the business case for the Evergreen SkyTrain Line had, “several instances where the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain.” (the full letter is found at https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2008/12/26/can-translinks-business-cases-be-trusted/ ). This is not news, for over 30 years TransLink, as BC Transit before have manipulated rapid transit studies to favour SkyTrain over light-rail, with the desired result of confusing both politicians and the media with false facts, manipulated statistics, and plain untruths.
In 1994, three rapid transit studies; Broadway-Lougheed Corridor Study, Coquitlam – New Westminster Corridor, and Vancouver – Richmond Corridor studies were published by BC Transit. All three rapid transit studies are the foundation of TransLink’s SkyTrain or light metro construction program; all three studies are badly flawed and are of little use, yet no one seems able to ‘bell the cat’. The problem is a familiar one; the studies completely misrepresented the abilities modern LRT to the detriment of the mode.
Example #1: Even though it was well known that modern LRT could carry over 20,000 persons per hour per direction, the study limited LRT’s capacity at 10,000 pphpd!
Example #2: The study used European metre gauge tramway’s (Geneva & Bern) with smaller profile LRV’s as comparisons with the SkyTrain light-metro.
Example #3: The studies state, without any collaborating research or evidence, that just by building SkyTrain, would attract more riders to transit.
Example #4: Despite the fact that San Diego’s LRT was 16.5% the cost to build than the SkyTrain Expo Line; Portland 27% the cost to build than the Expo Line and Calgary’s LRT was 50% the cost to build than the Expo Line, the studies pegged the cost of LRT at 62.5% to 65.5% the cost of SkyTrain to build!
These studies have laid the groundwork of 15 years of misinformation which many regional politicians have taken for gospel, repeating transit nonsense as fact. Even today, TransLink and the provincial government continue investing massive sums of taxpayer’s money, with little or no public input, into SkyTrain and/or light-metro, which planning foundation is a quicksand of deliberate misinformation and professional fibbing. The RAV/Canada line and the proposed SkyTrain Evergreen line is more of the same; gold-plated rapid transit projects that have done little to alleviate traffic congestion, gridlock and pollution, while at the same time, driving up fares and taxes.
For Rail to the Valley to succeed, the SkyTrain myth must be ended once and for all and regional politicians must be educated about modern public transport philosophy and the importance of modern LRT’ ability to provide an affordable alternative to the car. Until this happens, the provincial government’s and TransLink’s ‘SkyTrain dog and pony’ show will continue.