The region is at a juncture: either proceed with light-metro planning and build the Evergreen Line and extend SkyTrain to Langley by 2030 or abandon current regional transportation planning and start anew, but using LRT instead to service many more destinations in the region.
Though TransLink is boasting about its three light-metro lines and continues to conjure up high ridership figures, the startling fact is that the METRO regions transportation network has not generated the all important modal shift from car to transit. 80% of SkyTrain’s ridership first take a bus to the metro; the RAV/Canada Line’s perceived new ridership is made up of elderly Asians venturing into Richmond’s predominately Asian shopping malls and poorer people going to the River Rock Casino to gamble. Mr. Campbell’s 200,000 car trips a day removed by the RAV/Canada Line was a politically inspired pipe-dream.
With the SkyTrain lobby fighting a desperate rearguard action to build a $3 billion to $4 billion subway to UBC, it is time for Rail for the Valley to ‘grasp the nettle’ and set the agenda for affordable ‘rail’ transit planning for the region.
Why Rail for the Valley?
RFV is the only group in the Fraser Valley focused on a TramTrain solution for a viable Vancouver to Chilliwack light rail service. This is not to say that the other two groups VALTAC and SFOT are not vibrant players, but they have too many agendas to focus on, while for RFV, there is one issue: To reinstate a viable TramTrain service from Vancouver to Chilliwack.
Why a Vancouver to Chilliwack rail service?
By terminating the interurban in Vancouver, as the original interurban did, will give the all important seamless (no transfer) journey for transit customers from the Fraser Valley to downtown Vancouver and visa versa. A downtown Vancouver terminus for the interurban is important to the success of the venture and those who only want the interurban service to terminate at Scott road Station, will court failure. We must remember the lesson of Karlsruhe Germany, with their first true TramTrain service, by eliminating one transfer (from commuter train to tram) at the main railway station, saw a massive increase of ridership from 488,400 per week days to over 2,064,378 per week days; a 423% increase in ridership!
The track geometry of the old interurban line, now the Southern Railway of BC Line, was designed for the interurban, not locomotive hauled trains and certainly not for long and heavy bi-level commuter train cars. By using TramTrain, means that higher speeds can be maintained on the original formation, especially at tight curvatures; as well TramTrain will give the opportunity for ‘classic‘ LRT operation in Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack, with on-street operation.
2010 will be the year that to tell politicians, that the ‘old school’ transit and transportation solutions have failed and that SkyTrain is an obsolete, proprietary light-metro that has been rejected by transit planners for over 30 years. With the dawn of peak oil soon approaching and huge increases in the cost of energy, it is imperative to get the biggest bang for our transit ‘buck‘. RFV must reject calls of a $3 billion to $4 billion subway to UBC, because the ‘Burghers‘ in Vancouver see building subways as a way to gain international status of being a world class city and instead, invest the money for a regional light rail network, which would include a TramTrain service from Vancouver to Chilliwack and beyond.
2010 will start the era for 21st century transit planning in the region.