Who should run the proposed interurban service from Vancouver to Chilliwack? This is an important question that must be addressed before any operation is to commence.
TransLink has been against the ‘return of the interurban’ from the start and the recent study done by an engineering firm that had no background in modern LRT was predictable. Why would you consider commuter rail on a route that was not designed for standard passenger cars, but for light-rail in a form of an interurban? TransLink knows this, yet preceded with a transit study that was not only questionable, but next to useless. If the study was so good, why do another (after the election)? Traditionally TransLink has thought of LRT as a poor-man’s SkyTrain that has inferior service, even believing that just by building with SkyTrain, will attract about double the ridership. Funny though, TransLink never offers any studies that would substantiate this claim. But TransLink is the regional public transit operating authority and maybe compelled to plan and operate the interurban.
A South Fraser Transportation Agency
The new interurban service may herald a new South Fraser Transportation Agency to run public transit South of the Fraser River, from Delta or Surrey to Chilliwack. Certainly when South Fraser taxpayer’s, faced with large property tax (read TransLink tax) increases to pay for very expensive ‘metro’ in other municipalities, may want to walk away from TransLink and even ‘Metro” Vancouver. In the very near future, the municipalities with RAV and/or SkyTrain, may have to pay the full shot! A new South Fraser Transportation Agency may be created out of the chaos and wish to plan for and operate much cheaper light-rail, in its various forms, instead.
Southern Railway of BC
As the proposed interurban service will operate on largely S.R.R. trackage they may be asked to run the service. Who knows better how to run a railway than those who run railways. Certainly if the interurban connects to Vancouver proper, via the existing Fraser River Rail Bridge, the S.R.R. will be asked to negotiate pathways (with historical rights going back to the BC Electric) with the CNR and Burlington Northern Sante Fe, to operate the service. The S.R.R. may be asked to run the interurban as a separate subsidized service for the province or TransLink or even operate the interurban as a private venture. The S.R.R. maybe very interested in operating the interurban, light-rail, and tram-trains as the operation maybe a successful template for the E&N railway on Vancouver Island and many other short line railways.
The Province of BC & BC Transit
The Province of BC may operate the interurban, strictly for political reasons, through BC Transit. BC Transit is TransLink’s older brother and has a dubious history with modern light-rail, which TransLink inherited, but may be compelled to by the transportation ministry and the Minister of Transportation.
The question of who will operate the proposed interurban is an important one and must be answered before the first tram-train operates. At this point of time Zweisystem will not give his preference but let the reader ponder four options or, if he/she wants, offer their own.