Two letters in the North Shore News


The usual suspects yes, but an insight to the up coming Evergreen Line/Broadway – UBC metro line debate.

Take the regional view on transit investment

North Shore News

Published: Wednesday, March 24, 201o

Dear Editor:

In her March 17 columns Costly SkyTrain Technology Choices Baffle, Elizabeth James, cites U.S. professor Panos Prevedouros saying, “Light rail service can occur at a small fraction of the cost of the proposed fully elevated multibillion dollar system, with similar or better results in ridership.”

If there is any truth in this, she should then explain why from Toronto to Seattle, light rail lines cost close if not as much as the Canada Line per kilometre; why from Buffalo to San Jose, they have failed to attract promised ridership and why the Canada Line ridership is four times higher than the more expensive Seattle light rail one?

Given the dismal state of public transit south of the border, we should take any advice of a U.S. “expert” on that matter with a grain of salt and prefer to stick with the proven track record of our local engineering services. Have you also noticed how the Canada Line was moving smoothly more than 200,000 passengers a day during the Olympics? It is a figure you can routinely expect for the foreseeable future if the province is true to its word to double transit ridership in the region. Could LRT be capable of such a job?

The column — discounting the third SeaBus — seems also to insinuate that all transit investments are “Vancouver centric” and not serving the North Shore. The Canada line zipping through Vancouver helps tremendously my commute, and others’, from the Richmond area to North Vancouver, where I meet people from the North Shore happy to get to the airport in a fast, reliable and timely manner. That is the essence of a regional investment. It is not necessarily happening in the border of your community, but it helps it. And you know what: Everyone aboard the train regrets that more money has not been spent in Vancouver to improve the Canada Line/SeaBus connection.

Parochial rants are just that, parochial.

Viven Chiu,


(Editor’s note: Viven Chiu is co-author of the 2003 Study Marigni report The Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Link Project.)

James right to question SkyTrain technology costs

North Shore News

Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dear Editor:

I welcome Elizabeth James’ column, Costly SkyTrain Technology Choices Baffle, as she asks the same questions the Light Rail Committee have been asking for years. Why are we still building with this extremely costly, “Edsel” transit system made obsolete by modern light-rail decades ago.

Despite being on the market for more than 30 years, only seven SkyTrain-type systems have been built, all done in private deals with little or no public consultation. SkyTrain was even too expensive for the Canada Line, which uses a generic metro system, incompatible with SkyTrain.

Most taxpayers do not know what the real cost of SkyTrain is, as TransLink refuses to divulge the real costs, including debt servicing. What is known, by a very few, is that SkyTrain is subsidized by more than $230 million annually. U.S. transit projects are built with voter-approved, long-term bonds which tell the taxpayer the real cost of the project. To date, the taxpayer has invested more than $8 billion on our metro system, yet there is little evidence of a modal shift from car to transit, with TransLink admitting that more than 80 per cent of SkyTrain’s riders first take a bus to the metro.

For the same cost of the RAV/Canada Line and the proposed SkyTrain Evergreen Line, almost $4 billion, we could have built the following:

1) LRT Steveston/YVR to Vancouver;


3) tram-train from Vancouver to Chilliwack;

4) tram-train Evergreen Line;

5) tram-train to the North Shore.

American transit specialist Gerald Fox’s comments on TransLink’s Evergreen Line business case should send shivers down taxpayers’ spines: “It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding.”

Malcolm Johnston,

Light Rail Committee



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