Talking transportation – From the Chilliwack Progress


More conversation about ‘rail‘ transit from the Fraser Valley. For very little money as compared to the SkyTrain light-metro, we could have a Diesel LRT demonstration line up and running from Chilliwack to Langley by the end of the year.

It is time that BC’s regional transportation policies reflect the 21st century, where building ‘rail’ transit as cheaply as possible, affordably servicing as many destinations as possible is far more important than building very small but expensive ‘trunk‘ metro lines that must be force fed ridership from buses to achieve symbolic high ridership, while at the same time bankrupting the transit authority.

Bombardier's Flexity-Wide TramTrain

Talking transportation

Greg Knill – Chilliwack Progress

The problem with so much of the talk around transportation issues in this region is that it’s backwards. It starts with a “solution,” then lines up the obligatory evidence to prove why that solution would work.

What’s needed is a discussion that starts fresh – a discussion that begins with the broad objectives of how we want our transportation system to evolve, then looks at what technology would best suit getting us there.

Last week the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce brought in one of the more outspoken advocates of a community rail link between Chilliwack and Abottsford. His presentation drew a large turnout, indicative of the interest in this issue.

Talk about a rail link in the Valley is nothing new, of course. Unfortunately, that is where the discussion has centered. Rather than talk about transportation connectivity, the discussion has been about the viability of a train on the old Inter Urban rail line.

But the issue should be about more than a revival of an old rail link. It should be about a regional transportation plan that delivers the maximum economic and social benefits, at the lowest cost to the users and the governments that will inevitably subsidize the venture.

As Peter Holt told the Chamber on Thursday, far too much of the transportation talk in the Lower Mainland has centered on Vancouver.

What’s needed here is a way for the various municipalities outside that sphere to develop a model that serves their interests. The object should be connectivity, based on the assumption that greater worker mobility will enhance economic opportunities throughout the region.

That will take more political will and direction.

We’ve seen it around issues like air quality. Let’s see it around issues like transportation.


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5 Responses to “Talking transportation – From the Chilliwack Progress”

  1. Richard Says:

    Don’t be so sure. The most important think is to invest in service that will attract customers. It sounds like what you are proposing is something like this:

    Zweisystem replies: There is little evidence that despite over $8 billion invested in SkyTrain and billions of dollars invested in buses, that the Translink transit system has attracted much new ridership.

  2. Richard Says:

    Oops, here is a better link:

  3. Anonymous Says:

    who the hell would ride a tram in the valley… what a waste of money. that’s money better spent on the skytrain extensions

    Zweisystem replies: If designed properly, a lot of people would. The Interurban services Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Cloverdale, South Surrey, with many schools and centres of advanced education along the route. It is students which give SkyTrain its high ridership numbers and the same would be true for the interurban. If the Interurban continues to downtown Vancouver, success would be assured.

  4. David Says:

    Some may have modest expectations for a revived interurban, but that’s OK. The cost of construction could hardly be lower and hourly service doesn’t require many passengers to break even.

    While hourly service doesn’t sound like much it’s better than what we have now connecting the eastern valley to Metro Vancouver.

    I believe each pair of end points could support an hourly service at least in peak hours. Combined that would yield very good frequency in the middle of the line between Langley and Surrey. Consider the following:


    Full build-out would require the already planned replacement for the aging Fraser River Rail Bridge and a direct connection between the interurban and Surrey City Centre, but Surrey is already looking at bus or rail transit along the King George Highway to serve local passengers. Adding regional trams to that line would make it more economically viable.

    Tram train is more convenient than commuter rail while being just as fast. For many passengers it would be faster than driving and offer the opportunity to either work or relax instead of stressing over traffic.

    In the future demand is only going to grow. It will make additional new lines viable including connections to YXX, Port Coquitlam, Richmond and YVR via the Canada Line from either Richmond or Marine Drive.

    Zweisystem replies: Your comments are on line what the Light Rail Committee have been proposing Since the early 90’s.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    @other Anonymous, I would.

    @David a YXX extension would be good in the future, with not only the airport terminal being there, but also UFV training, and all of the events at the Trade X. Assuming the city hasn’t tarnished it’s reputation for hosting trade events by cancelling the MMA trade show last minute.

    Zweisystem replies: I have always supported a rail connection with YXX, in fact I have been told if there was a direct Vancouver to YXX train, several smaller airlines would make the move from YVR to YXX!

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