Off The Rails – From the Abby Times


An interesting tome in the Abbotsford Times.

Anyone wanting to put ‘rail’ transit down the median of the number 1 highway forgets that it would be hugely expensive and the curvature and gradients along the route would mean very expensive engineering would have to be done. Going ‘greenfields’ construction is always an expensive proposition which knowledgeable transit planners try to avoid.

The problem with ‘rapid bus’ or BRT is that those who propose it do not ride it. The Achilles heel of any bus bases transit system is that it doesn’t attract ridership and BRT is no exception. Despite the hue and cry from the bus lobby, the singular fact remains that many people perceive buses as ‘looser cruisers’ and take the car instead.

The one workable option of course is reinstating the Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban but using the 21st century Tram Train instead. It makes sense in our financially challenging times to use existing railway infrastructure to improve regional transit, as our region badly needs affordable transit solutions for our endemic transportation woes.

The SkyTrain Lobby must grow up and realize there is precious little money for their grand metro solutions and SkyTrain here or there, sometime in the next fifty years is just not good enough!

Off The Rails

We’re all at the mercy of Highway 1.” – David D. Hull, Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce
By Rafe Arnott, The Times – September 7, 2010
A commuter train running between Chilliwack and Vancouver along Highway 1 is not feasible, say area rail proponents and infrastructure experts, but one running through higher-density urban areas could be a possibility.

Rail for the Valley spokesman John Vissers said a commuter train running down the centre of the Trans-Canada Highway through the Fraser Valley would help traffic volume, but is financially impossible.

Calling it a “pie in the sky” idea, Vissers said the government simply doesn’t have the money to finance such an ambitious transit project.

“Putting something down the middle of the freeway is hugely expensive,” he said.

“Where would the tax money come from to build something like that? That money doesn’t exist anywhere. The costs are staggering.”

B.C. Ministry of Transportation spokesman Dave Crebo said a study to examine transit options and commuter demand in the valley is underway.

“[We’re waiting] on the results of that, so no one would be committing to putting trains out there right now,” he said.

Port Mann Bridge/Highway 1 Improvement Project spokeswoman Pamela Ryan said the new bridge is designed to accommodate a grade rail line.

She said while running a train down the middle of the TransCanada Highway isn’t the best option, exploring other public transit routes through more densely populated areas in the Fraser Valley that could accommodate passenger stations is viable.

“If we’re looking at providing rapid rail along the south side of the Fraser River, the Highway 1 corridor is probably not the best location for it,” Ryan said.

“Whether that be Fraser Highway right-of-way, or whatever, rail systems are more effective when you have them located near high-density areas,” she said.

Vissers thinks the existing rail line in the hands of FVLR would be a good starting point, rather than punching through another line.

“We already own the track, and it’s underused. Why not put a few [rail] cars on it and see what happens?”

Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David D. Hull said long-term planning is key to infrastructure growth, but British Columbia is 15 years behind dealing with traffic issues in the Fraser Valley.

“We’ve neglected the capital infrastructure of the province for far too long,” he said.

According to Hull, delays stemming from traffic issues with Highway 1 cost Lower Mainland businesses.

“It’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The B.C. Trucking Association has estimated in their industry alone its in the tens of millions of dollars.

“We’re all at the mercy of Highway 1,” Hull said.

Taking into the consideration the current traffic volumes, Ryan said the new highway and bridge improvements would allow for a rapid bus line in designated HOV lanes to serve commuters, including a new park and ride transit exchange near 202 Street in Langley.

“This Highway 1 rapid bus service will be able to take passengers between [Lougheed Station in] Burnaby and Langley in about 23 minutes,” Ryan said.

“Which provides access not only to the Millennium Line, but the Expo Line as well.”

Describing North America as a “rubber-tire society,” Hull said dedicated lanes for busses on the newly expanded Highway 1 might better serve current commuter demands.

“That’s good enough to get you somewhere, I mean, you don’t have to be on a train.”

Vissers said more roads only means more cars, and whenever capacity in increased, traffic follows, and that’s not a solution.

“A solution is to develop alternatives.

“Building freeway capacity is a 1970’s solution for the 21st Century… it doesn’t work.”

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