Leaving Lotus Land


I find it strange that Vancouver politicians, past and present, still view themselves as the centre of the universe and whatever is built or done in Vancouver is considered immediately as being good or the delightful local phrase, “world class“. Of course, Vancouver’s internationally notorious downtown Eastside is conveniently forgotten by everyone, throw away people are always conveniently forgotten. This myopic view is leading the region down a dangerous road of high debt and questionable planning practices, yet very little is done and everyone carries on as if they were “the best place on earth“. Those who question the status quo are instantly labeled naysayers and derided. Because of this, those who live outside Vancouver and its environs, refer to the city and its citizens as “Lotus land“.

In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All around the coast the languid air did swoon,
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.”

— Tennyson, “The Lotus Eaters

The unelected METRO Vancouver Regional Board and the similarly unelected TransLink Board, both dominated by Vancouver politicians, have insulated themselves from public scrutiny which has greatly eroded the regional publics faith in the two institutions. What support is there for both METRO and TransLink is swiftly eroding.

There are solutions to alleviate the problems associated with METRO and TransLink, but politicians, ever fearful of loosing political power, reject reform out of hand. In BC, according to the local spin, public involvement diminishes democracy.

Where is this leading………

On September 21, 2010, Rail for the Valley released a ground breaking report for ‘rail’ transit for the Fraser Valley.


Despite wide media exposure, the response from TransLink has been deafening; there has been no response – no acknowledgment of the report by TransLink. This speaks volumes about the planning bureaucrats in their insulated ivory towers on Kingsway; they do not want to address any transit plan other than their own, especially the RftV/Leewood TramTrain Report.

TransLink, which can’t find the $400 million to pay its share for the yet to be started Evergreen SkyTrain light-metro line, is busily planning for a $4 billion subway under Broadway to UBC and a $2 billion plus SkyTrain light-metro extension to Langley! TransLink, refuses to recognize that the same amount of money spent on a light rail construction program would provide about five to ten times more route mileage that what can be had with SkyTrain!

Without public oversight, TransLink’s planning managers refuse to address real transit and transportation problems that have beset the region and spend countless hours, days, weeks (and spending countless taxpayers dollars as well) in the arcane world of light-metro planning and trying convince the public with outright propaganda that the TransLink way is the right way; the only way!

Even TransLink’s ‘trolls of war’ are finding harder and harder to bamboozle the public on various blogs, etc.

Until TransLink is made to plan for affordable transit options, the ponderous bureaucracy will carry on producing one SkyTrain plan after another and the METRO Vancouver region will wallow in traffic chaos, expensive public transit and ever higher property taxes and transit fares without any light at the end of the tunnel.

What politician in BC, civic or provincial, is not afraid to bell the TransLink Cat!

None it seems, except for Mayors Dianne Watts of Surrey and Rick Green of the Township of Langley!

The time has come to speak of many things and leave the city of the Lotus, to dream dreams of SkyTrain and subways; it is time for the South Fraser region to leave TransLink.

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4 Responses to “Leaving Lotus Land”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Here Here!

    Of course we have Mayor Perry in Abbotsford refusing to offer support for the project as well, because it primarily is “north south” in Abbotsford. He also suggests using the West Coast Express, which is not located in Abbotsford, it is further north then the RFTV proposal. He doesn’t acknowledge that it is an east west line, because he isn’t looking at the bigger picture… Yes the Abbotsford section is primarily north south, but it is also located near downtown and the university. We need to start somewhere. Instead they keep planning for putting more cars on the road. More highways. You would think with all the science out there to support the need for changes, the powers that be would try to plan their cities for the future. Not only the pollution but the rising costs of fuel. I don’t see anything changing while we have the liberals in power, and I don’t think we can expect Perry to look to the future either.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    You sound like one of those crazy people from the street corners in movies. Its time to grow up and stop pointing the finger at Translink, I don’t like them either but its better to work with than against.

    Instead, portray your good ideas in a more positive manor, and stop sounding like a politition.

    A Rail service connecting surrey to Chiliwak is a great idea, and I look forward to its inception in the future. At the same time I also prefer to look towards the areas that are more congested that that corridor. Such as Broadway.

    Zweisystem replies: You just don’t get it. How can one work with TransLink, when it deliberately fiddles studies to support SkyTrain? How can one work with TransLink when it planners print major economies of the truth about light rail? It is time to leave and start afresh as TransLink is well past its stale date!

    The sad thing about TransLink, there is nothing to work with and they just do not want to work with the public.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Zwei, from the country 1071 facebook page, “UFV students will be dropping off a petition to the mayors of Chilliwack and Abbotsford.They’re asking local governments to partner with provincial governments to bring in a bus line to connect the two communities.Petition organizer Daniel van der Kroon says a transit connector is sorely needed in the valley, especially for students.They’ll be at the Chilliwack north campus at 2 and Abbotsford City Hall at 3.”

    Seems like you need to get them on board with RFTV

  4. George Says:

    I’m new to your blog, and I’m getting hung up on one thing — how does an at grade LRT (with its 10% construction cost of underground, 20% relative to elevated) compete with trolley busses?

    Grade-separated and at-grade fill two different needs and are suited to different contexts. If the design cannot meet the needs, or does not fit into the area then there is no need to carry on arguing. Of course within those categories you could argue for or against purely based on technical specifications and costs, which is why I bring up tram vs trolleybus.

    Is your position, and that of your readers, less to do with technology (there are many kinds of ‘rail’ transit), and more to do with personal preference for location (‘for the valley’)


    Zweisystem replies: First we must define at-grade. At-grade construction falls into two categories:

    1) On-street, where the tram operates in mixed traffic
    2) On a reserved rights-of-way or a R-o-W reserved for the exclusive use of the tram.

    Grade separated means the R-o-W is either elevated on viaduct of underground, in a subway, both much more expensive than at-grade.

    Grade separation is needed when large amount of traffic is carried, demanding longer trains. The threshold for considering grade separation is between 15,000 pphpd to 20,000 pphpd, though many streetcar/tram systems carry more during peak hours.

    If one compares a basic trolley bus with a streetcar (on-street) the cost is about 30% more to implement for the tram, assuming the trolley bus operates on a reserved R-o-W as well.

    In Europe transit planners have found that for 30% more expenditure for a tram brings far more benefits than with a trolleybus, hence the demise of the trolley.

    I hope this helps.

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