A letter to the Editor the Vancouver Sun will not print


The following letter to the Editor of the Vancouver Sun was sent to Zweisystem because the author knows full well that the Can West media Empire will not print it. What this letter shows that the region is bereft of any credible transit and transportation reporters and many important and embarrassing stories are missed by the mainstream media. Isn’t about time that Vancouver’s two dailies stop being cheerleaders for the status quo and start investigating real transit stories.



The Editor;

Today’s editorial praising the RAV/Canada Line was predictable; the Vancouver Sun supported this behemoth since its inception.

Sadly, the paper has done its readers a disservice as the Canada Line metro/subway is the epitome of failed transit philosophy from the 1950’s. Has the Sun’s Editorial Board ever noticed that no one is building with SkyTrain and very few with metro? Ever wonder why?

Metro/subways are never planned for unless projected ridership on the line exceeds 400,000 to 500,000 a day. If a metro line does not carry such numbers it must be heavily subsidized; the fewer the passengers the higher the subsidy! Higher subsidies translates into road tolls and higher property taxes.

But there is more. Subways have proven very poor in attracting new ridership and the Canada Line may very well force more people into cars.

The Canada Line is too costly to be extended and as designed will only offer faster journey times to those who live and work near RAV stations. For many, taking the car will be faster than taking a bus transferring to RAV at Casino Junction and possibly transferring to another bus to complete their journey.

One can lose upwards of 70% of potential ridership per transfer.

A metro system’s speed does not attract ridership itself, rather it is the speed of the overall journey that is important. Studies have shown that RAV will increase journey times for most current bus customers, who will lose their direct ‘Express’ buses and be forced to transfer onto the metro.

According to the group DoRav Right, who did an independent audit of the RAV/Canada Line, the cost was near $2.5 billion, not the $2 billion quoted by the BC Liberal Government.

The Canada Line P-3 was a charade and the consortium which built the subway used cheap foreign labour and a ‘bait & switch’ from bored tunnel to cheaper cut-and-cover subway construction. The recent successful action by Cambie St. merchant, Susan Heyes, against TransLink, may wipe out any cost savings the switch as more merchants are now suing TransLink. At no time did the consortium assume risk on RAV, as the taxpayer will soon find out.

The sad fact about the RAV/Canada Line, as its costs soared above the original estimate of $1.3 billion, the scope of the project was greatly reduced. As built, RAV/Canada Line has roughly half the capacity of a light rail line built down Cambie St. or the dreaded Arbutus Corridor. To bring the RAV metro up to just LRT’s capabilities, one would have to invest at least another billion dollars and do the cut-and-cover thing all over again on Cambie St.!

What the RAV/Canada Line really is, is a hugely expensive, politically prestigious, under built metro system, like a cheap Xmas train-set, that will fail to attract sufficient patronage to justify its construction.

And one wonders why TransLink is in such financial peril and Campbell has forced the phony ‘carbon’ or gas tax and HST onto the public?

Light Rail Committee
Box 105, Delta, BC
V4K 3N5


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3 Responses to “A letter to the Editor the Vancouver Sun will not print”

  1. Response to Zweisystem « Support the SkyTrain Extension to UBC Says:

    […] to the Vancouver Sun, in which CanWest is not releasing for good reasons.  The letter can be seen here. The […]

    Zweisystem replies: I see that the truth hurts. The media’s lack of investigated reporting on the RAV/Canada Line has created a myth, sadly a myth repeated often becomes fact. As for the UBC SkyTrain lot, they live in a world of ‘pixie dust & tooth fairies’, shielded from the realities of metro construction.

  2. J Says:

    I have ridden the Canada line on visits to Vancouver, I find the route well planned, the trains packed, and the quick trip downtown welcome.

    Zweisystem replies: obviously you don’t pay the taxes to build it, nor do you know we could have built a bigger better LRT line for less than half the cost of the RAV/Canada line. Also you haven’t had your direct, express bus service canceled ,forcing one to ride the metro.

  3. Atlas Says:

    What does “bigger better” mean? In what way would an at-grade LRT line be faster than a fully grade-separated rapid transit route? I wish people like you would devote as much energy to opposing highway projects as you do to opposing transit projects that don’t fit with the recent light rail fad.

    Zweisystem replies: Overall the speed of a LRT/tram line is dependent on station/stop spacing and the quality of rights-of-ways; with LRT operating on a reserved rights-of-ways and equal station/stop spacing as a metro, faster dwell acceleration and deceleration times, LRT tends to be faster.

    Sadly you have it reversed, light-metro is a fad and LRT/tram is a proven method of reducing congestion and pollution, with over 450 such systems in operation around the world. Building metro means = more highway construction because news highways are cheaper than to build per km/mile than metro. With LRT, much cheaper construction costs (under $5 million/km. for tramtrain), means it can be built instead of new highways.

    Vancouver BC is a perfect example: The over $5 billion Gateway bridge and highway project is cheaper on a per km. basis than SkyTrain light-metro costing over $100 million/km. to build!

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