Author Archive

Rail for the Valley Open House – Thursday July 8 – Chilliwack

July 6, 2010

Hi everyone

Rail For the Valley is holding an open house in Chilliwack this Thursday to showcase the issue of passenger rail service in the Fraser Valley. The goal is to inform the public as to the current state of activities and to gain additional support. This event is open to the public and directed towards the City of Chilliwack.

The open house will offer a chance for the public to see details of the campaign including track details, benefits, and ways to help with the movement. If you have any questions regarding this event, please email

Refreshments will be served. We hope you can stop by for a few minutes.

Thank you!


March 15, 2010

Spread the word, Invite your friends in Vancouver – this is not just a Rail for the Valley event


Granville Island, Vancouver
Saturday, March 20, 2:00pm
Granville Island Olympic Line Station

(Click here for the event on Facebook)

This may be your last chance to experience Vancouver’s state-of-the-art 2010 Streetcar while it’s still in operation. (Rides are free!)

The Streetcar Demo has been a phenomenonal success, but the trial is slated to end on March 21. In light of its success, there is a major push on to extend the service indefinitely. Such a small line (only 1.8 km long, from Granville Island to the Olympic Village) could end up being the tiny seed that begins the construction of a light rail and streetcar network eventually encompassing the whole of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Click here for more background:
Streetcar named desire shows transit future (The Province, Feb. 28, 2010)

So, LET’S RALLY, and Ride the Rails on Saturday March 20 the first day of spring, in support of Light Rail and streetcars for Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Take the whole family, and make it a day. After the rally, visit Granville Island on the first day of spring!


For the time being (at least until March 21), getting to Granville Island is transit-friendly:
1) Get onto the Canada Line (If you’re take Skytrain, the connection to the Canada Line is at Waterfront Station)
2) Get off at Olympic Village Station (6th Ave).
3) Ride the Olympic streetcar!

CARPOOLERS: let us know if you need a carpool, or if you can carpool somebody.

All aboard – 2010 is the 100th anniversary of the Interurban

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

The following is a Rail for the Valley media release to kick off 2010.

All aboard – 2010 the 100th anniversary of the Interurban

This new year is a particularly special one for advocates of passenger rail for the Fraser Valley. 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the initial Interurban rail service that used to connect communities from Chilliwack to Vancouver. So far, the anniversary is being commemorated by the Chilliwack Museum with a special year-long Interurban exhibit. The Rail for the Valley campaign is hoping for much more.

“100 years later, we are waiting for light rail service to re-commence,” said Rail for the Valley founder John Buker, “and we have reason to be optimistic about the future, as the movement for passenger rail continues to grow and politicians begin to climb aboard. Looking back at the past year, we’ve made some large strides towards our goal.”

-On April 11 2009, ahead of the provincial elections, Rail for the Valley supporters organized a ‘historic’ Day of Action, holding up banners in support of passenger rail atop Highway 1 overpasses all the way from Chilliwack to Vancouver, on more than 20 overpasses in all  – a feat never before accomplished, thus illustrating the deep and widespread public support for the cause.

[ Coverage and pictures of that event here:
Link to a CTV news article at the time: ]

-During the following election campaign, the BC Liberals announced, through a Rail for the Valley pre-election Questionnaire, support in principle for a demonstration service along the Interurban corridor. (Link here: see page 11/11, BC Liberal response to Q.3.)

-Later in 2009, the South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force, headed by Langley Township Mayor Rick Green, was established to help Fraser Valley communities lobby senior levels of government for such a service in a unified way.

Buker‘s message to the public this new year is simple: “100 years ago, the first Chilliwack-Vancouver Interurban rail service began, and it fundamentally shaped the growth of the Fraser Valley. Today, we can rapidly build a new, modern light rail network for the entire Lower Mainland, starting inexpensively with track that already exists, giving the public a real alternative to the automobile. All we need is the political will.

Rail for the Valley‘s latest online petition for passenger rail service, viewable on, has garnered more than 800 signatures so far, including hundreds of thoughtful comments posted in support.

“We must hold our politicians to account on this, or there will be backsliding. Any shift away from the status quo is naturally resisted by political inertia, and we have to be on the highest guard for it. As we pull out of this recession, the price of gasoline will likely jump dramatically again. With the way the Fraser Valley is growing and the rest of the world is changing, we absolutely must see a fundamental shift in priorities away from incremental and exorbitantly expensive Skytrain expansion, and endless highway expansion, towards beginning right now, today, to build light rail infrastructure for the Lower Mainland, for today and for the future,” declared Buker.

The Rail for the Valley Campaign would like to wish the public and all of our supporters a very Happy New Year, and all the best for 2010.

Our Campaign Blog – 1 year old today

December 8, 2009

April 11, 2009: Two young Rail for the Valley supporters hold a banner on a Chilliwack overpass, part of our Highway 1 Day of Action.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Rail for the Valley Campaign Blog!

Readership (now at 300-400 hits per day) has grown dramatically since last December, when the Campaign Blog was initially launched and the readership was… well, 0.

Here’s the very first blog post, on Dec. 8, 2008:

When I first created this blog, I had in mind a place where I and others could regularly congregate and contribute  – not necessarily “News” items – but our thoughts and items of interest, a place to communicate and get ideas flowing. In that regard, the blog has so far been a success well beyond my expectations.

At the time, I asked Zweisystem if he would like to be a contributor. I had no idea how quickly he would adapt to blogging, to getting debate going (and certainly not always preaching to the converted!), and how adept he would be at building our readership, both locally and in fact around the world. I know today we have visitors from every place you can imagine – to our international readers, I’m glad you have found this blog and are enjoying it!

Looking to the future of the blog, I want to keep us moving forward, and to really build an online community around our main issue, as well as other related issues. To do this, means more writers and fresh perspectives. (Zweisystem strongly agrees.)

In the new year, you can look forward to an increase in the number of “guest posts” on this blog – and if all goes well, new regular bloggers as well.

In order to achieve this, we are looking for

1) “guest” bloggers who wish to contribute one or more “guest” articles for publication on the blog

You don’t need to be an expert on the Fraser Valley, or on all things light rail. A well-written post from a personal point of view is just as good. We’re looking for both local, as well as international perspectives.

2) regular contributors, whether it be once a week, or more frequently.

If you’d like to contribute, or if you know someone else, please send an email to

If you have a passion for the issue of Rail for the Valley, and an enthusiasm to write for us, please come forward!

Prendergast’s parting words on Rail for the Valley

November 24, 2009

A couple weeks ago, it was announced that Translink CEO Tom Prendergast was quitting his position, and accepting a job as president of New York City’s Transit Authority. He had only joined Translink in July 2008, and now he has left! I am guessing he didn’t like what he saw.

Prendergast was as positive a force as could be expected in such an organization as Translink, run under the tightest of control of Premier Gordon Campbell.

Here’s an illuminating excerpt, his parting words on the possibilities of light rail for the valley (Surrey Leader, Nov. 24):

Kwantlen Student Association rep Nathan Griffiths said improved transit is needed to serve campuses in Cloverdale and Langley and asked about the potential to extend passenger light rail to the Fraser Valley.

“There’s really no impediment,” Prendergast responded. “It’s overcoming the cultural embracement of SkyTrain that has existed to date.”

He said TransLink is seeking to cut through the pro-SkyTrain “cultural bias” as it embarks on a careful examination of rapid transit technologies for line extensions west along Broadway and south of the Fraser.

Prendergast predicted the first light rail line that comes to the Lower Mainland will lead to much greater appreciation of its potential.

It’s interesting to think about this “cultural bias” towards Skytrain. Who actually has this bias? It isn’t residents or even politicians in the Fraser Valley: Not a single municipal candidate in Surrey the last election supported Skytrain expansion over light rail. Not a single candidate. Not one!

No, it’s the old-guard politicians of Vancouver, who were around for the previous Skytrain expansions and have the most personal stake in continuing to expand the Skytrain money hole. It’s Mike Harcourt, it’s Gordon Campbell, and others involved in Vancouver’s transportation decisions of the last 25 years.

To anyone who wonders why the problems with Skytrain often take centre stage on this blog, Prendergast answers the question.

To get light rail for the valley, we absolutely must cut through the pro-SkyTrain “cultural bias” that exists, not among the populace of the Fraser Valley, but among Vancouver’s political elite, who all-too-often take it upon themselves to make all the decisions for the rest of us.

Rail for the Valley, a necessity whose time has long since come

November 8, 2009

In response to this negative screed by Robert Blacklock, I sent my own Letter to the Editor of the Chilliwack Progress, which I post here:

UPDATE: Published Nov. 10, Passenger rail no fantasy, Chwk Progress

Dear Editor,

Re: Passenger rail line a ‘fantasy’ (Nov. 6, Robert Blacklock)

Robert Blacklock’s Letter to the Editor was certainly a disappointing read. (He almost had me convinced!) 3 hours to get from Chilliwack to Surrey? I completely agree, no one would take that train.

Fortunately, the facts don’t at all square up with Mr. Blacklock’s assertions.

In fact, readers may remember a demonstration service was implemented for 6 months on the Interurban line between Abbotsford and New Westminster during Expo 86, using old Pacer Railbus trains (for $12/round trip). Total travel time was 2 hours, including delays at the Fraser River Rail Bridge, and was highly popular with the public.

Using modern light rail technology, some track upgrading, and construction of crossings where needed, I am confident that today one could travel to downtown Vancouver in even less time, and it would on average be comparable to travel time by car, because trains would not be affected by regular ‘rush hour’ traffic congestion. Such a service could reliably be used by the public for travel throughout the valley, regardless of traffic or weather conditions.

As for cost: what many people do not realize is that the cost of light rail is actually cheaper in the long run than the cost of running buses. This is primarily due to three factors:

1) A single Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) unit (passenger train car) can transport more people than a bus. As well, if there is overcrowding, more units may be added to a train as needed, without the added cost of additional drivers.

2) The lifetime of an LRV is about 3 times as long as the lifetime of a bus, with much lower maintenance costs. This is in large part due to their running smoothly on steel tracks, as opposed to jostling in the midst of traffic on roads.

3) Throughout the world, including Canada, it has been shown time and time again, that people will not get out of their cars to ride a bus but they will get out of their cars to use light rail. The cost of operating a near-empty bus route is far greater than the cost of operating a popular light rail route. In fact, light rail may eventually turn an operating profit. This is seen on many routes throughout the world with similar populations and densities to the Fraser Valley.

The ‘pie in the sky’ picture of light rail painted by Mr. Blacklock is a fiction.

Municipal leaders involved with the South of Fraser Rail Task Force are to be commended for looking beyond these myths, and beginning to take the first steps toward implementing a Valley-wide light rail service.

Rail for the Valley is neither a fantasy nor a luxury. It is a necessity, whose time has long since come.

Dr. John Buker
Founder, Rail For The Valley

Fraser Valley Interurban map

October 26, 2009

We now have an excellent overview map of the Interurban route in the Fraser Valley, courtesy of Paul Gieselman. (The map shows a terminus at Scott Rd. Skytrain station, but of course a service could extend over the rail bridge into Vancouver.)

News1130 piece on Rail for the Valley

September 29, 2009

Rail For The Valley made it onto News1130 Radio tonight. Here is the online article:

Light rail groups renew call to scrap SkyTrain expansion

Groups say light rail is a less expensive option

Bruce Claggett TRI-CITIES (NEWS1130) 2009-09-29 19:15
The two groups have called for light-rail in the past (Photo: Courtesy Rail for the Valley)

The two groups have called for light-rail in the past (Photo: Courtesy Rail for the Valley)

TRI-CITIES (NEWS1130) – Two community action groups are calling on senior governments to scrap plans for SkyTrain expansion and concentrate on at-grade light rail, which they say is a less expensive option.

The request comes from the community action groups ‘Rail for the Valley’ and the ‘Light Rail Committee’ who are calling for an at-grade light rail system for both Surrey and the Tri-Cities area. They say local mayors, like Surrey’s Dianne Watts, already understand the potential exists to rapidly expand the light rail network using a mixture of track-sharing.

The Light Rail Committee also says the proposed Evergreen expansion is not the wisest choice. The group says the Tri-Cities area would be better off with diesel-electric light rail vehicles, which is something the Committee proposed years ago.

The Tyee, on passenger rail for the Fraser Valley

June 1, 2009

An interesting article in The Tyee, on passenger rail for the Fraser Valley, By Monte Paulsen


…and how it could mesh with express passenger rail service to Seattle and points south.

Yet another reason for a new rail bridge…


May 4, 2009

Rail For The Valley asked South of Fraser candidates where they stand on light rail.

Click here for their responses

Of particular interest is the BC Liberal party’s support in principle for a demonstration project to be launched by 2010. (See last page of Questionnaire, BC Liberal party response to Q3: Will you support a South of Fraser light rail demonstration project for 2010, the Centennial anniversary of the original Interurban passenger rail service?)

The project would encompass the communities of Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley and Surrey, and offer a twice-a-day excursion service for residents by the summer of 2010.