Letters to the Editor

Rail for the Valley is an issue only because ordinary people have
made it an issue. Writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper
is the simplest, most concrete thing you can do for the movement right
now
.


Send your Letter to the Editor to some of these newspapers (sign your
name and address):

Abbotsford News: editor@abbynews.com

Abbotsford Times: editorial@abbotsfordtimes.com

Agassiz-Harrison Observer: news@ahobserver.com

Aldergrove Star: newsroom@aldergrovestar.com

BurnabyNewsLeader: newsroom@burnabynewsleader.com

Burnaby Now: editorial@burnabynow.com

Chilliwack Progress: editor@theprogress.com

Chilliwack Times: editorial@chilliwacktimes.com

Delta Optimist: editor@delta-optimist.com

Hope Standard: news@hopestandard.com

Langley Advance: editorial@langleyadvance.com

Langley Times: newsroom@langleytimes.com

Maple Ridge News: editor@mapleridgenews.com

Maple Ridge Times: editorial@mrtimes.com

Mission City Record: news@missioncityrecord.com

Peace Arch News: lpeverley@peacearchnews.com

Richmond Review: news@richmondreview.com

Royal City Record: editorial@royalcityrecord.com

South Delta Leader: editor@southdeltaleader.com

Surrey Leader: newsroom@surreyleader.com

Surrey Now: tzillich@thenownewspaper.com

TriCity News: newsroom@tricitynews.com

Vancouver Courier: mmaloney@vancourier.com

Vancouver Sun: sunletters@png.canwest.com

Vancouver Province: provletters@png.canwest.com

-Sun and Province require name/address/phone.

-And send it here to be
posted on railforthevalley.com.


Carbon tax needs a light rail complement

The Abbotsford Times
Published: Tuesday, July 08, 2008

THE EDITOR:

While I understand the reasoning behind the new carbon tax, I feel it
is very unfair for the provincial government to start penalizing Fraser
Valley residents for using gas while not providing any rapid transit
alternatives to the city.

People in Vancouver have Skytrain and a well-developed transit system
and can switch over to transit or bicycles with little inconvenience.

We in the southern Fraser Valley have to use our cars to travel from
city to city because there is no viable alternative provided.

If it’s not too early to slap a carbon tax on us and start taking our
money, then it’s not too soon for politicians to start acting on
reviving and upgrading the light rail line so that people can have an
affordable alternative to get to work and visit family members in other
cities. Let’s face it, the gas prices are going to keep going up and
it’s going to be increasingly difficult to get around.

If we act now we can avoid a transportation crisis and prevent our
economy and mobility from coming to a standstill.

John Welsh,
Abbotsford



Carbon tax, but few transit alternatives

The Chilliwack Progress
Published: July 3, 2008

On July 1, the provincial government’s carbon tax came into
effect. It included a 2.4 cents/litre tax on gasoline, rising to 7.24
cents/litre by 2012. The government has justified the tax by saying it
will discourage vehicle use.

In Vancouver, it may be true that such a tax would help get people to
switch from their cars to transit, but in the Fraser Valley, public
transit is either completely inadequate or virtually nonexistent,
depending on where you live.

While the provincial government has announced plans to invest $2.4
billion in a Skytrain extension to UBC, there has been no such
announcement of investment in passenger rail for the Fraser Valley. The
government is showing a disregard for the average citizen in the Valley,
when it implements a gas tax without providing people with alternative
transportation options to using their car.

The situation is more urgent now than ever before. Studies show that
there will be no relief at all from the upward climb of gas prices, and
that we are in fact only at the start of the trend. According to Jeff
Rubin of CIBC World Markets, gas prices are forecast to rise 70 per cent
above their current record levels over the next two years.

With political will, an initial passenger rail service along the
Inter-urban corridor, serving the Fraser Valley from Chilliwack to
Vancouver, could be up and running in less than two years. Studies show
that a Valley-wide service would cost less to implement than five
kilometres of Skytrain.

We are in the midst of a monumental shift in the price of oil.
Governments, both provincial and federal, have to wake up and recognize
the urgency of the situation.

Rail For The Valley demands that government take real, immediate,
steps towards implementing a passenger rail service, as the first step
toward a comprehensive Fraser Valley rail and transit network.

We ask the public to say no to being held captive by high gas prices
and government taxation, and join our campaign at
http://www.railforthevalley.com.

John Buker
Rail For The Valley

Chilliwack


WEB EXTRA: Light rail the answer to transportation woes
Surrey Leader
Published: July 3, 2008

SkyTrain is not the most efficient, cost-effective model of rapid
transit, a letter writer argues.

There has been a great wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding
Premier Campbell’s carbon/gas tax. The Light Rail Committee (LRC) views
the new tax as a cynical attempt by the provincial Liberals to make them
appear eco-friendly.

If Campbell and the Liberal party wish to reduce pollution and
highway congestion, the LRC advises that at least 300 kms of modern
light rail must be built in order to provide a viable transit
alternative. Modern LRT is very adaptable and able to track-share with
regular railways, and construction costs for LRT can be as low as $10
million per km. This means that a 300-km light rail network, costing $3
billion to $5 billion, becomes a viable proposition to the taxpayer.

To emphasise the message this committee has tried convey many times
over the years, even if the quoted $3- to 5-billion cost of LRT were to
be padded to $10 billion, the cost of a region-wide Light Rail Network
pale in comparison to the costs of the Bombardier/SNC-Lavalin SkyTrain
alternative, which are already proven to exceed $100 million/km. A
300-km SkyTrain network (at a minimum of $30 billion) is a pipe dream.

Just last week, TransLink sounded the alarm bells over a projected
$300-million shortfall by 2012, much of which is/has been caused by the
debt-servicing costs for the Expo, Millennium and Canada Line
projects.This, above all else, shows the folly of building metro
SkyTrain and SkyTrain look-alikes on routes that do not have the
ridership to support the mode.

Yet, in the face of these facts – facts which are recognized by
international transit experts – Premier Campbell and Transportation
Minister Kevin Falcon want to build more. In British Columbia, it seems,
modern LRT, with over 600 examples of the transit mode in operation
around the world need not apply.

The LRC has always predicted that, because of its huge costs,
SkyTrain:

1. Would encourage new highway construction in the region; and,

2. Would dramatically increase municipal, regional, and provincial
taxes.

Both predictions have come true. The LRC is not surprised,
therefore, that the Campbell Liberals need more tax revenues. As it
stands, the carbon tax at 2.4 cents/litre is not revenue neutral, but it
is just the beginning.

By the time the bills are all in, not even the projected seven cents
or more per litre will cover the costs of the decisions to build
SkyTrain – a proprietary metro that has only five operating
installations, even though it has been on the market for almost 30 years
– despite this knowledge, and despite the fact that not one
SkyTrain has ever passed public scrutiny in the U.S.

The SkyTrain Evergreen Line’s business case has been shredded by
Gerald Fox – a prominent U.S. transit expert, furthering Vancouver’s
reputation as a “transit anomaly,” as Vancouver’s transit planning “is
contrary to what every other city in the world is doing.”

For too long, provincial governments and TransLink have played the
media for fools and the carbon/gas tax is more of this sad legacy. To a
large extent, transit plans have been given a “free pass” by the media
and the result is more dubious transit planning and higher taxes for
dated and obsolete “rapid transit” construction, which has to date, done
little to alleviate traffic congestion and associated pollution.

The LRC views the carbon tax as a gas tax, with a one-time $100
bribe to the taxpayer to attempt to sell it. Better urban public
transport has never been further away.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee
Delta


Transit lacking in the Valley
Surrey Leader
Published: Wednesday, July 2, 2008

On the topic of alternate transportation and the carbon tax.

The provincial Government can tax/penalize the public for using motor
vehicles or they can wise up and provide a viable alternative. For
commuters on the south side of the Fraser River, from Delta to
Chilliwack, SkyTrain is of no use if you are staying on the south side
of the river for your commute.

Failure to provide adequate access to transit for many areas leaves
large pockets of Surrey, Delta and Langley as isolated as they have been
for decades. Of course, if you are willing to wake up at four in the
morning and hike for several miles and transfer several times you might
be successful at getting out of your neighbourhood and over to your
destination for an eight o’clock start time. The fact that this
arduous commute would otherwise have taken an approximate 30-minute
drive, suggests that current transit is an unreasonable source of
transportation.

If we are, as a society, to get serious about moving people on a
reasonably comfortable reliable basis, then address the se,rious need
for a light rail that runs across the valley and attach to that a
barrage of connecting mini buses that access the many high density
housing clusters that exist and continue to grow.

For example, along the 64 Avenue corridor from North Delta through
Newton, Sullivan Station, Surrey Centre/Five Corners, Cloverdale,
Clayton Hill and beyond, the population is dense enough to support a
transit line.

It is evident local and provincial governments refuse to take
seriously the many people that have made a great effort to request the
provision of a light rail system clear across the valley to Chilliwack.

Premier Campbell and transportation minister Falcon, I suggest,
listen to the people who live and work in these regions, show honest
respect for the environment and get going on this practical and truly
green initiative.

The best carbon reduction strategy is putting in place a real
alternate means of getting around.

Deanna Welters
Surrey


Apply question to rail
Langley Advance
Published: Friday, June 27, 2008

Dear Editor,

“Let’s see what the current double-whammy can bring to Langley.” I
was intrigued by the question raised in the Langley Advance June 24
editorial – “Two ministers good politics.”

Since we now have Langley MLA Mary Polak joining Fort
Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman in the cabinet, perhaps both will
speak out in favour of commuter rail service through the Fraser Valley.

And you would think that, with six south of the Fraser River –
Cloverdale to Chilliwack – MLAs (one is the Minister of Transportation
and Infrastructure) now in cabinet, Fraser Valley citizens would now
have enough representation at the highest level of provincial government
to advocate for a Fraser Valley commuter rail system.

Now that the Canada Line and Sea to Sky projects are nearing
completion, the provincial government can move away from being so
Vancouver 2010-centric and begin to focus on the transportation needs of
the Valley.

Shane Dyson
Aldergrove


Why we feel like chopped liver
The Abbotsford Times
Published: Friday, June 06, 2008

THE EDITOR:

Re: Apply gas tax where it will work, Our View, Times, May 23

An underground line to service 70,000 potential customers living or
studying at [the University of British Columbia] – not all of who would be
interested in abandoning their cars – is projected to cost over $2
billion.

A light rail option from the Fraser Valley to the Lower Mainland would
cost much less – and, same as UBC, not all of the 200,000 area residents
would choose to use a transit option. But it seems sensible to compare
overall potential numbers to overall cost – and to existing service. After
all, there are already express buses to UBC.

Abbotsford not so much.

Twenty-two years from now, in 2030, Mr. [Minister of Transportation
Kevin] Falcon has offered us a bus connection to SkyTrain.

Fraser Valley residents could be excused for feeling a little like
chopped liver.

Now I realize that while [Abbotsford-Clayburn] MLA John van Dongen is
rather busy with his new responsibilities, and [Abbotsford-Sumas] MLA John
Les may want to keep a rather low profile for a while – perhaps
[Abbotsford-Mount Lehman] MLA Mike de Jong could take some time out from
advocating flights to India and lobby for transit to the Lower Mainland.

‘Cause you see, the $2 billion for the UBC route will not come from
TransLink funds; if they had that kind of money to throw around, it would
go towards making the Patullo [Bridge] a safe crossing.

No, the underground to UBC would come directly from provincial funds.

And since the Vancouver politicians are already pursuing that
particular option, how about balancing that with some local action?

Regina Dalton

Abbotsford



Genuine rail study needed
Published: Friday, June 6, 2008

Editor:

In a recent announcement, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon has
promised another study exploring the option of establishing a passenger
rail service in the Fraser Valley. This is despite the fact that the
province already claimed to have carefully studied such a service outside
of Greater Vancouver, and determined that it would fail to attract
ridership.

The Rail For The Valley campaign first contacted the provincial
government about this eight months ago, asking that these studies be made
public. Last week we finally received a “response” from the Minister of
Transportation directing us to TransLink studies. TransLink confirmed
there was in fact only one study, the DRL report, which we were already
familiar with. This report examines only elaborate high-end rail options,
includes only Greater Vancouver, and, to quote the report, states: “the
study was prepared without the benefit of ridership projections.”

The reality here is that the Transportation Ministry is against light
rail only because they have a politically motivated stake in Skytrain.
There is no real evidence to support their position, while they have
chosen to ignore available reports such as the UMA study by the city of
Surrey or SFU’s Fraser Valley Light Rail report, which prove that light
rail is far cheaper and quicker to implement than Skytrain, and both of
which recommend using the Interurban Line. Furthermore the City of Surrey
itself is opposed to Skytrain and supports light rail. Instead, the
province promises future studies that are not conducted by light rail
experts at all, and are being undertaken merely to dismiss light rail and
support their arguments for expanding Skytrain.

We call on the province to display some transparency, by conducting a
genuine implementation study that involves Rail For The Valley, the light
rail groups, and the public, instead of continuing to follow their own
agenda.

John Buker, spokesman
Rail For The Valley


Alternative needed
Langley Times
Published: June 6, 2008

Editor: This letter has been sent to provincial politicians and the
Fraser Valley Regional District.

This is notification that, should the freeway (Highway 1) be blocked
for flooding or snow storms or other natural disasters for a significant
length of time, there is no alternative road route between Chilliwack and
Abbotsford.

We are asking regional support for a passenger rail route between those
two cities on the Southern Railway of B.C. line, which does not traverse
the Vedder Canal, which seems to block any through roads except the
freeway.

This would also be a boost in service for those who cannot drive, and
the community in general who would like an alternative to driving. I think
if this idea has any validity, the district should bring it up at the
provincial level.

Bryan Vogler
Rail for the Valley committee


‘Let’s get on with it’
Langley Times

Published: May 21, 2008

Editor: It’s interesting how Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon
(letters, The Times, May 16) tries to take our attention away from using
the established rail corridor of the old interurban rail line, while
studies are ongoing for a final solution.

While studying, he looks negatively upon the location of that route,
stating that it is too far from the populated areas of the valley.
Apparently, he has not heard of “Park and Ride” practices that work so
well on many other systems.

He must have also forgotten about his previous remark about the
dangers involved at the relatively few level crossings on the old
interurban route, because there would certainly be more of them if he
chooses a route through more densely-populated areas.

Expropriating properties to establish a route through, or near,
populated areas would be a tremendous and unnecessary expense as well,
and Falcon has made it quite clear that cost is one of the reasons for
the long delay in establishing service south of the Fraser.

There’s obviously a big snow job in progress regarding commuter rail
service in our area. Instead of action, we hear of nothing but studies,
talks, meetings, and anything else that will delay a decision.

Reopening the old interurban rail line for passenger service can
easily be seen as the slam dunk solution to our public transportation
needs, so let’s just get on with it and save a pile of money in the
process.

Ed Monteith
Aldergrove



Commuter rail will be studied
Langley Times

Published: May 16, 2008

Editor: Re: ‘Commuter rail could work,’ (The Times, May 4).

After reading Jeff Nagel’s article, there are a few points I’d like
to make about public transit planning in the Fraser Valley.

Public transit in the valley is an important link in the
transportation chain of British Columbia. The Ministry of Transportation
is working with the Fraser Valley Regional District, BC Transit and
TransLink to initiate a study to determine travel demand within the
valley and between the valley and Metro Vancouver. We promised this
study in the $14 billion provincial transit plan that Premier Gordon
Campbell and I announced in January.

The study will look at the potential for commuter rail in the Fraser
Valley, but will not be limited to that option. Our intent is to provide
high quality transit service at reasonable cost to users. The study will
provide the necessary information to make informed decisions.

For example, some people have raised the possibility of using the
Southern Rail corridor for rail transit, yet much of that corridor goes
through farming areas far away from the population. The study will help
evaluate this corridor and other travel options relative to the demand.

Land use plans that support improved transit services will be
necessary to provide the ridership to make transit cost-effective.

The provincial transit plan is supporting a significant increase in
the number of buses south of the Fraser River, the establishment of a
RapidBus service connecting Langley to the Expo Line in Surrey and the
extension of rail rapid transit, ultimately to Metrotown. Other service
improvements will be considered after the study is complete.

We look forward to working with our transit partners to find the best
solutions for the Fraser Valley’s transit needs.

Kevin Falcon
Minister of Transportation


Revive rail line
Surrey Leader

Published: May 14, 2008

The Interurban Line needs to be revived – now.

VALTAC (Valley Transportation Advisory Committe) is leading the
movement to re-open the rail line for passenger rail use.

Light rail on the Interurban line through the Fraser Valley would be
a fast, frequent and reliable option for commuters travelling westward
from places like Langley and Cloverdale.

Such a service could be implemented in a very short period of time,
at a relatively low cost.

Given the few barriers that exist to implementing passenger rail on
the Interurban line, and the dismal state of public transit service in
the Fraser Valley, our governments must act now to bring rail to the
Valley.

Gas prices are predicted to jump to $2.25 a litre by 2012; we must
plan ahead by providing real, affordable alternatives to driving for
residents south of the Fraser.

Stephanie Ryan


Rail service would boost ‘metro centre’
Langley Times
Published: May 14, 2008

Editor: We’ve heard just in the past week that as part of Metro
Vancouver’s forthcoming regional growth strategy, Surrey City Centre
will be deemed the new ‘metro centre’ for all of the Fraser Valley.

This is great news — it’s high-time that people in the Valley were
provided with a closer downtown centre. We can only hope that this
‘metro centre’ will include lots more local jobs, a sports stadium and
great performance and concert spaces. For far too long, people in Surrey
and Langley have had to drive to Vancouver, through traffic and over
bridges, to get to work, to sports games, and to shows.

People from all parts of the Fraser Valley are going to want to get
to this new downtown core without getting stuck in traffic. There is a
huge need for faster, more frequent, and more reliable transit from
Langley Centre and Cloverdale, going in to the SkyTrain station and bus
loop at Surrey Central. The #502 bus service just isn’t good enough,
especially given the rapidly-growing population in Cloverdale and
Langley.

The most cost-efficient way to bring people from Langley and
Cloverdale into the Surrey metro centre would be to revive the
interurban line and implement a system of passenger rail.

To build a system of at-grade passenger rail, it would cost between
$6 to $7 million per kilometre, as compared to SkyTrain’s $100 to $233
million per kilometre. Because of the lower cost, passenger rail can
probably be implemented much more quickly (maybe within a year).

Hopefully the Surrey metro centre concept can provide an impetus for
moving forward with passenger rail for the Valley, at a time when
everyone wants better public transit down Fraser Highway.

Stephanie Ryan


Passenger rail system not as costly as Plan B
Surrey Now
Published: Friday, May 09, 2008

The Editor,

Re: “Benefits of rail often go unseen,” May 2 Now.

Matthew Claxton’s point that implementing a passenger rail system
through the Fraser Valley would be expensive is well-taken.

Certainly, no one wants another government boondoggle. However, I’m
not convinced that the cost of rail for the valley is either
prohibitive, or a good reason for not going ahead with the project.

Yes, it is predicted that passenger rail in the Fraser Valley could
cost $6,000,000 per kilometre.

However, this is a fraction of what a system such as Skytrain would
cost.

Claxton also argues that passenger rail may not be an ideal solution
because it will be subsidized by all taxpayers, including those who
never use the system.

He seems to forget that most, if not all, government projects are
paid for out of the general tax base.

Any economist could tell you that if everyone had to pay for their
individual share of government services – roads, schools, and hospitals,
for example – no public goods would ever be provided.

Stephanie Ryan


Politicians need to consider light rail
Langley Times
Published: May 02, 2008

Editor: The organizers of the VALTAC transportation forum on Saturday
should be congratulated. Now we have to hope our mayor and other mayors
south of the Fraser, along with provincial politicians, are listening.

All too often the obvious is overlooked in solving major problems.
Costly, over-thought solutions are brought forward by bureaucracies
intent on justifying their existence. Whatever happened to common sense?

Light rail transit is not new. It was thought of and implemented back
in the early 1900s and, as one panel member said on Saturday, they
designed, planned and constructed the interurban line in three years. We
couldn’t design or plan that infrastructure today in three years – let
alone build it.

This unique opportunity is available to us – all we need is to use
our common sense and get on with it. The problem with that notion is
that we assume our politicians, municipal, provincial and federal, are
listening and interested in common sense.

The province, municipalities and unelected TransLink board are
forcing two options for transit – buses or SkyTrain (at an estimated
$120 million per kilometre). Gordon Campbell’s recently announced
transportation plan has a $14 billion price tag, but it may as well be
$30 billion, because the likelihood of that kind of money being spent on
our regional transportation needs within the suggested time frame is pie
in the sky.

It is just plain unrealistic politics, and make no doubt about it, it
is just politics. When we have such a cost-effective option as light
rail available to us, it would be completely irresponsible not to get on
with a plan to move forward.

We are told we can’t institute light rail on a line carrying so much
heavy rail traffic (which is growing considerably).

Some of the VALTAC directors have delved into, investigated and
obtained copies of agreements that are still valid, regarding the
interurban line’s history. There are rights that flow from the historic
agreements dealing with passenger travel on this line.

While we seem to be willing to sit back once again and take what is
thrown at us, it is now time, as part of the commuter initiative, to
deal with the relocation of heavy rail.

If you look at the current number of unit trains that are running
through the Township and the City daily, the powers that be are looking
at doubling that number in the not too distant future.

If we keep turning our back on this problem and take on the
population that is intended for Langley under the Livable Region Plan,
our children and their children will be wondering what was wrong with
the politicians and the electorate of the past. We will be known for our
lack of foresight, the opposite of our ancestors, who had considerable
foresight.

Mayor Kurt Alberts sat on the former TransLink board that approved of
the implementation of a bus program for our region, giving no support to
light rail. Like so many municipal leaders in the region, Mayor Alberts
has lagged behind the wishes of the taxpayer.

They stand up and pump their chests at the building of rail
overpasses (at considerable cost to Township taxpayers), when those
dollars could be spent to build a new rail bridge over the Fraser at New
Westminster to help solve the problem of unit trains going through the
middle of the Township and City.

Politicians must start listening, using their common sense and take
action. It was great to see Mayor Alberts attend the forum on Saturday.
He should have stayed longer.

Rick Green,

Langley

Editor’s note: Mr. Green is running for mayor in Langley Township.


Rail service in the valley is needed now
Surrey Leader
Published: May 02, 2008

A light rail service from Vancouver to Chilliwack is indeed both
practical and necessary right now.

Most of the rail line is already in place and could easily be
upgraded and put to use. The responses we get from government are
specious arguments at best, disinformation and lies at worst.

This truly green service will not come to pass any time soon as it
fails to serve and reward corporate governance.

The present government having been empowered by corporate funding
interests is not answerable to the public.

This agenda requires the heavy handed barriers of secrecy we see
growing exponentially in every aspect of our so called
“representation.”

Today’s politicians being plastic and hollow answer only to the
big money directives handed them by the corporate lobby. Politicians
reap further significant rewards for their legislative compliance after
their terms of usefulness in government have expired.

Mega public/private projects are about servicing the ever increasing
need for corporate profits and control and is never about the citizens
who pay for it all.

We can abandon hope for any workable transit in the valley until
after the road builders and developers completely denude the valley to
extract their profits.

It is time Canadians awoke and took control of their lives while they
still can.

W. Robert Blair


Time to demand the infrastructure required
Mission City Record
Published: April 24, 2008

Editor, The Record:

A Fraser Valley Regional District draft report says the levels of
transportation demand can easily be met by improved bus-transit options.
They have totally missed the mark for providing viable transportation in
the region. The erroneous assumption that bus options will suffice for
many decades is fallacious and misleading at best.

Not only was our country developed and expanded because of the
railroads, there is no reason that couldn’t occur again. If the rail
lines again traversed the Fraser Valley and beyond, people would move
out of the congested cities and put their roots down outside the Lower
Mainland. It could provide recreational activities for the whole region
where people could take their bicycles and their picnic lunches for
excursions without putting more polluting particulates into the
atmosphere.

I suspect the reason this option isn’t being explored vigourously is
because the special interests, such as the oil and automobile industry,
don’t want it. It’s time we refuse to accept the double speak public
officials are feeding us, and demand the infrastructure we require to
make our region more livable and less stressful, as well as providing an
alternative life style more conducive to healthy living.

Rita Pollock
Mission


Railing for rail

Aldergrove Star

Published: April 3, 2008

Editor:

Rail for the Valley has blasted a draft FVRD report that has
suggested passenger rail would not be feasible for the foreseeable
future.

The study is not an independent study. We have seen the report. It’s
a blanket dismissal of passenger rail, containing no quantitative
evidence whatsoever that an Interurban rail service would not work.

Based on the contents of the 65 page report, it looks like rail was
nothing more than an afterthought, tacked on and dismissed at the last
moment when it was noticed that there is a growing public appetite in
this direction.

We’re very disappointed that passenger rail was beyond the scope of
the study.

What we see in this report are a couple paragraphs telling us that
people won’t ride trains in the Valley, without any real statistical
evidence. This is not surprising, since the study’s focus is on current
traffic patterns and rubber-tired solutions, and not light rail. That
being said, never have I seen a report, even a draft report, that was so
out of touch with the mood of the region.

With the political bias against light rail in this study so obvious,
the lack of any factual information against it makes the argument for a
passenger rail system for the Fraser Valley even more convincing.

John Buker


Transit report offers more of the same

The Chilliwack Progress

Published: April 03, 2008

The Fraser Valley Regional District draft report says the levels of
demand can easily be met by improved bus-transit options. They have
totally missed the mark for providing viable transportation in the
region. The erroneous assumption that bus options will suffice for many
decades is fallacious and misleading at best.

Not only was our country developed and expanded because of the
railroads there is no reason that couldn’t occur again. If the rail
lines again traversed the Fraser Valley and beyond, people would move
out of the congested cities and put their roots down outside the lower
mainland. It could provide recreational activities for the whole region
where people could take their bicycles and their picnic lunches for
excursions without putting more gas polluting particulates into the
atmosphere. Instead of having to commute long distances to work, they
could work closer to home. Businesses could expand throughout the region
creating employment closer to where people live, instead of having to
travel into Vancouver.

I suspect the reason this option isn’t being explored vigorously
is because the special interests, such as the oil and automobile
industry, don’t want it. And the power bases in Metro Vancouver
want the public to commute to downtown locations for their profits, not
for our wellbeing. They are not interested in the long-term effects of
not relying on the automobile or the accompanying health benefits to the
populace.

It’s time we refuse to accept the double speak public officials
are feeding us and demand the infrastructure we require to make our
region more livable and less stressful as well as providing an
alternative life style more conducive to healthy living.


At-grade rail needs political will

Surrey Leader

Published: April 02, 2008

Re: “Growth must be managed: Watts.”

Congratulations to Mayor Dianne Watts for advocating and pursuing
at-grade rail. As she stated in her State of the City address, at-grade
rail is significantly cheaper, easier to build and much more
aesthetically pleasing than SkyTrain.

Most importantly, such a service could be implemented in a matter of
two years or less. This is because the Inter-Urban Fraser Valley rail
right-of-way and track already exists, with passenger rail rights
already owned by the government.

Why should Surrey have to wait 12 more years for incremental transit
improvements in the form of costly SkyTrain?

It is high time we think on a grander scale south of the Fraser, with
our population now pushing 1 million, than incremental SkyTrain
improvements many years away.

The whole Fraser Valley, from Chilliwack to Vancouver, could be
connected with a modern Inter-Urban passenger rail service for less than
half the cost, for instance, of the proposed UBC SkyTrain extension.

This would include a new rail bridge over the Fraser River, with
express service between Surrey and downtown Vancouver in 20 minutes, and
connections to Scott Road, Braid and Waterfront SkyTrain stations.

All we need is the political will to make this happen. Mayor Watts’
views are encouraging.

You can join our campaign at http://www.railforthevalley.com

John Buker

Rail for the Valley

Chilliwack


Lost in the 1950s

The Province

Published: Sunday, March 30, 2008

Who in the Fraser Valley Regional District is an expert in rail
transit, especially modern light rail transit? [“Passenger rail a long
way off,” March 27.]

Obviously no one, because it’s nonsense to claim that the combined
population of Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Kent, Harrison Hot
Springs and Hope — 237,550 people — isn’t sufficient for rail transit.

A Vancouver-to-Chilliwack LRT/interurban service would operate in an
area of population of more than two million.

Isn’t it interesting that TransLink and the FVRD never stipulate what
population or population density is needed for rail transit? It’s always
“not enough density.”

Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hames shows his utter disdain for the region’s
burgeoning population and seems lost in a 1950s rubber-on-asphalt dream.

Malcolm Johnston, Delta


We’re missing the train here

The Chilliwack Times

Published: Friday, March 28, 2008

Editor:

I feel it necessary to inform local residents of the positive steps
taken recently by the communities of Abbotsford, Langley and Surrey
toward inter-regional transportation planning and implementation of a
passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley, in contrast to the steps
taken here in Chilliwack.

Abbotsford has established the Inter-Regional Select Committee with
the aim “to explore options and opportunities for regional
transportation initiatives, including light rail” and have extended an
invitation to Rail For The Valley to sit on the committee. Langley
council opposed the province’s $14 billion transit plan, voting to
endorse it only with multiple conditions being met. Nevertheless several
councillors remained steadfastly against it. Councillor Kim Richter said
the plan should include a corridor for light rail transit and also asked
council to delay a decision on endorsing it, until the council and
VALTAC (Valley Transportation Advisory Committee) saw the completed
Community Rail Study.

Last week, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts also brought up the need for a
light rail system.

Meanwhile, in Chilliwack, two weeks ago Mayor Hames suggested that we
should continue waiting to see the findings of current studies. Several
months ago we also asked transportation Minister Kevin Falcon to provide
the details of the province’s studies for public scrutiny and have yet
to receive any response. Numerous similar studies have taken place over
the years and these new studies hardly expand on them or offer anything
that hasn’t been looked at countless times already. Nowhere in them has
there been any sort of transparency or meaningful engagement with the
public.

Their real purpose has been to buttress the preconceived notions of
the political leadership who are responsible for their creation, and to
fool the general public into believing that any action is seriously
taking place. These studies will carry on like this for years and years
without any change to the status quo. The FVRD study the mayor alludes
to is not an independent study at all nor does it contain anything
whatsoever which quantitatively refutes light rail.

From the beginning, support for passenger rail has been strongest in
Chilliwack. A poll conducted back in September gauged public support at
87 per cent. Hardly a week passes without a letter or article in the
local papers.

Yet Chilliwack council has done little to recognize that massive
interest and finds itself falling far behind its neighbours. We have an
opportunity here, in Chilliwack, to see beyond the tired old political
games that we have become accustomed to, and push passenger rail firmly
on track. The time has come for real public participation in the process
both in choosing how studies are done, who does them and ensuring that
planning is not decided solely by local leadership that so casually
ignores its own citizens. We encourage everyone to remind council that
meaningful steps need to be taken now.

E-mail council by going to http://www.gov.chilliwack.bc.ca, and join us
online at railforthevalley.com.

John Buker,

Rail For The Valley


Reader would welcome alternatives

The Chilliwack Progress

Published: March 14, 2008

I echo Mr. Wimpney’s comments on the greyhound bus system. Pleasant
and courteous the drivers are. Punctual and practical the service is
not. This is only to be expected, when buses start off in Alberta or
winter BC. Speaking of buses, here’s a rare sight: a full bus in
Chilliwack. In fact, I have rarely counted more than five people on a
30+ seat bus. Is this efficient, and why is this? Could it be that the
local system is complicated and impractical? We have looked into using
the bus to get to the Greyhound, or to a service dealership. It involves
a fair walk then a change at the loop. Schedules are not easily to find
and the buses arrival times seem irregular. Features that are accepted
stoically by my friends and patients who have to use the bus system.

As a child in the UK everyone used the bus. Then everyone had one or
two cars and empty buses roamed the streets. The solution was to
privatize the bus system, use smaller mini buses and have flexible
routing. So now buses are popular, green and full again.

Wading into the bus vs. train debate I previously compared the cost
and practicality of using Greyhound, West Coast Express or my car to get
to Vancouver; the car won hands down. As gas prices and my social
conscience rise, I would love to see a practical alternative.


Re: Let’s make sure we’re not on the wrong track, Robert Blacklock

The Chilliwack Progress

Published: March 7, 2008

I’m amazed that Robert Blacklock questions the need for light rail,
comparing such a service to the existing Greyhound bus, when he has
obviously never had to use a Greyhound bus in his life!

I’ve tried using the Greyhound, but it makes no sense. Cost-wise, to
go to Vancouver and back costs $33, I’m better off driving. To
Abbotsford, the trip itself usually takes half an hour, but often buses
are half an hour late, or worse. Often they’re completely full and you
have to wait, could be hours, for the next bus. Sometimes, every bus is
full and there are people who end up waiting for 6 or 8 hours. To get to
Abbotsford? What kind of a deal is that?

At each Greyhound station, getting on and off the highway, pulling
into the station, and loading and unloading passengers, takes about 20
minutes (if you’re lucky). With a train, each stop might take 20
seconds, and there would be many more stations to get off at, getting
you closer to where you want to go. There wouldn’t be any sudden bumps
and jerks like with a bus, with all its slow clumsy grinding through
traffic.

And where do people get this idea that rail is so expensive? Let me
guess, the mayor told you. It’s true that trains are more expensive than
buses to buy, but they hold many more people and still only need one
engineer to drive them. I notice Mayor Hames talked about a “free” bus
to UCFV. Well, you could have a free train just the same. Buses aren’t
“free.” One new “rapid bus” costs $1 million, and unlike trains buses
typically need to be replaced every 10 years.

I’m surprised at how many people actually do end up using Greyhound
out of necessity. Business has got to have doubled in the last few
years. Often there are long lines of people waiting, and the buses just
fill up. Imagine, with so many people using such an unreliable service,
how many more would travel by comfortable, on-time rail, were it only
available?

Nick Wimpney


Commuter rail now would prepare region for future growth

The Chilliwack Progress

Published: March 04, 2008

Re: Hames defends rail stand (Progress Mailbag, Feb. 26).

The logic used by the mayor to defend his stance on transit solutions
reminds me of the W.C. Fields quote, “If you can’t dazzle them
with brilliance, baffle them with b#%7&.”

Let’s see if we can figure out what he’s trying to claim makes any
sense.

1. The majority of trips begin and end in Chilliwack. Is this a
surprise? I work in Abbotsford, so I begin in Chilliwack, drive the 40
km or so to Abbotsford and drive back again, obviously ending in
Chilliwack again. Am I one of the 87 per cent?

If, on the other hand, he’s trying to make the point that the
majority of day trips by the citizens of Chilliwack are to local
Chilliwack destinations, I would have to agree, but frankly, what does
that have to do with making commuting outside of Chilliwack more
efficient and environmentally friendly? If I need to buy groceries at
Safeway, I’m not likely to make a detour to Abbotsford before coming
back to Chilliwack mall.

2. The most recent census data (2001) established that there are
2,415 people who commute into the Metro Vancouver Region from Chilliwack
each day.

I personally believe this number is very far out of kilter, but
regardless, it really doesn’t matter how many people drive from
Chilliwack to Metro Vancouver every day. What needs to be considered are
all the other people from other destinations also using the same freeway
to get to wherever they’re going. I don’t think we’re trying to build or
be part of a Chilliwack only solution, but rather a longer term strategy
where we deal with the transportation issues within the entire Lower
Mainland.

The rest of his letter to the editor simply uses this number and
compares it to the cost of providing the transit solution. I could make
any proposal seem ludicrous if I implied that an expensive solution
would only benefit a very small number of people. Politicians are very
adept at using numbers to their advantage regardless of the situation.

For arguments sake, let’s assume that the rail idea is the best
solution (and I’m not saying it is). Even using his cost estimates to
provide the service, what will the same property and labour costs be in
the years to come when the need for a solution is even greater? I wonder
where we would be now if someone with some foresight had been in power
20 years ago? Someone who would have foreseen the need and ensured that
the infrastructure would be there. What was a piece of property worth 20
years ago compared to today?

The mayor’s own population projections for Chilliwack show huge
growth coming our way. Why not prepare in advance? Infrastructure before
growth. You don’t keep inviting people to the table without having
enough food in the kitchen.


Hames rebuttal astounding

The ChilliwackTimes

Published: Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Editor:

I am astounded that Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hames is so against the
reestablishment of the Chilliwack to Vancouver interurban service.

The old ‘moving the utilities’ trick, to inflate costs, is an old
trick that the anti-LRT lobby use. I am also astounded that he tries to
confuse the issue with his invented costs; who is he taking his orders
from?

The cost of a ‘bare bones’ service (four to six return services a
day) would cost about $250 million or about the same cost of one
kilometre. of the proposed SkyTrain Millennium Line subway extension to
UBC.

One billion dollars (or about one half the cost of the 19 km.
RAV/Canada Line) would buy a fairly comprehensive service from
Chilliwack to Vancouver and would include the cost of double tracking in
strategic places, etc. Of course, the more one spends, the more deluxe
service can be provided.

Mayor Hames obviously hasn’t read much about modern public transit
philosophy, nor does he seem to care about the ever increasing traffic
congestion and associated pollution in the region. He also has no qualms
that local tax money is being spent on gold-plated transit projects in
Vancouver.

Track sharing with existing railways, which many of the 600 LRT
operations around the world do quite successfully, reduces the cost and
increases the flexibility of the light rail service. LRT, in its various
forms, is 21st century transit philosophy.

Mayor Hames has missed the bus.

Malcolm Johnston

Light Rail Committee

Delta


The Editor;

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a
revolutionary act. (George Orwell)

The newly established Carbon tax should be called the
SkyTrain/Bombardier tax, for that is what the carbon tax is.

TransLink’s fascination with the now obsolete proprietary SkyTrain
light-metro system and the provincial government’s announcement of a $14
billion transit plan, which includes the under construction $125
million/km. RAV light-metro line; an over $230 million/km. extension of
the SkyTrain Millennium Line to UBC; the over $100 million/km, SkyTrain
Evergreen line, and future $100 million+/km. SkyTrain extensions in
Surrey, needs a very large tax to fund it. The Carbon tax is the
vehicle.

Bombardier Inc. is the sole owner and supplier of SkyTrain and the
cars for the RAV/Canada Line are Bombardier metro cars built under
licence by Rotem.

SkyTrain is so expensive to build and operate (the driverless
SkyTrain costs a lot more to operate than LRT systems the same size)
that no other city in the world uses the light-metro exclusively for
public transit.

TransLink has cunningly manipulated transit planning to justify
SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and thus succeeded in keeping its
proprietary rail system expanding. In the US, all new transit projects
that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of
transit peers selected and monitored by the federal government, to
ensure that projects are analysed honestly, and the taxpayers’ interests
are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the
US.

For less than half the cost of Kevin Falcon’s and Premier Campbell’s
announced provincial transit plans, the city of Denver is building three
times the ‘rail’ transit by building with LRT. Denver is spending $6
billion to increase its present light rail operation by 195 km.

Until we start building affordable ‘rail’ transit for the region,
expect the Carbon/SkyTrain/Bombardier Tax to increase on an annual
basis, until it bankrupts the province.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee


Don’t listen to commuter rail critics

The Chilliwack Progress

Published: February 26, 2008

Shortly, the BC government will release a report which will conclude
that passenger rail service in the Fraser Valley will not be viable for
at least another 20 years. After this report there will be more that
follow saying the same thing. All manner of official statistics are
being drawn on to prove rail has no place in the Lower Mainland. It is
difficult to argue otherwise when these studies are put together by
those who are opposed to rail and each report is designed merely to back
up their claims. It is hard to make people understand by means of
writing simple letters to newspapers that political opposition to rail
is great, and to dispute countless twisted “facts”, “statistics”, and
bogus “findings”.

But consider that BC is now ranked as the most urbanized province in
Canada, with nearly a million people living on the south side of the
Fraser and virtually no transit options for Delta, South Surrey,
Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack, and none coming for at least
another two decades and then only in the form of ill-proven and
inadequate rapid buses.

The time has come for passenger rail connecting the Fraser Valley.

The city of Calgary already has an excellent light rail system and
only has a million people, so how can we be expected to believe that it
won’t work here with 2.5 million? Why do these same people ignore the
terrific success of the West Coast Express? Why should we be the last
major city in Canada to get light rail, simply because the money and
vested political interest is tied up in roads and motor transport? Maybe
you don’t even care, but you most assuredly will in just a few more
years when tomorrow’s gas prices make today’s look like a bygone age,
while today’s traffic woes are nothing compared to the storm that’s
coming. We’ve got to get through to our political leaders now, today,
while we can that Rail’s time has come. There is no basis whatsoever to
the argument that passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley is not
viable. Do not believe otherwise.

Support Rail for the Valley.

William Chambers

Chilliwack


Send message: Rail over roads
The Abbotsford News
Published: February 23, 2008

Editor, The News:

We are now in a very crucial time with regards to transportation
decisions in this province.

Many have spoken, and clearly stated our case.But we must not stop
now. If we do, Premier Gordon Campbell, Transportation Minister Kevin
Falcon, and the new TransLink Board will do what they planned to do all
along.

They all need to be convinced of the importance of “rail over roads”
again and again.

We know better than they do what is the very best for us, our
children and grandchildren. We must say it repeatedly, loudly and
clearly, for they are very deaf and have very short memories.

We must hold our elected and non-elected officials in our democracy
accountable. This is our job. We are responsible for what they decide,
and we have to live with it.

Keep on speaking out!

Mail Premier Gordon Campbell, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C.
V8V 1X4 ; Fax: 1-250-387-0087; e-mail: premier@gov.bc.ca ;or phone after
5:00 PM and leave a short message 1-250-387-1715.

Walt Friesen, Abbotsford


Light rail not that hard to figure out
The Abbotsford Times
Published: Friday, February 22, 2008

THE EDITOR:

I find it hard to believe that we’re only now waking up to this.

Our people in Victoria and on the TransLink Board cannot be accused
of seeing ahead.

How hard can it be to figure out that we don’t need the expense of
Skytrain – just find a way to mate it with a light rail system and make
use of what we already have.

All we have to do is look east to Calgary and Ralph’s Choo-Choo – we
don’t even have to go as far as Europe.

How many miles of LRT could be built for the price of a roof on
Robson Square?

Let’s quit sending dumbkoffs to Victoria.

Gill Picard,
Abbotsford


Rail would offer more options
The Chilliwack Progress
Published: February 22, 2008

A scientific survey of the vehicles using Highway No. 1 is urgently
needed.

Accurate details should be tabulated for all vehicles including hour
of the day, days of the week, month, type of vehicle, purpose of trip,
starting place, destination, etc.

After the facts are clear, sensible decisions about how to solve our
traffic and air pollution problems can be made. The rift between the
mayor and the public about whether to rebuild the light railway can be
resolved. As it is, decisions on both sides are being made on
assumptions. That does not endear the mayor to us. Many of us are ready
to vote him out because he opposes the rebuilding of the light railway
(interurban?) I don’t know the difference in meaning.

I think there is a growing predominance of huge trucks. I think most
truck cargo should be in containers and be transferred to rail for most
of their journey. How can this necessary change be speeded up?

There is a huge stockpile, or whatever, of containers near
Abbotsford.

Why?

The trucks used to carry fresh produce from California and Mexico
should be converted to carry the produce in containers by rail rather
than on highways. Therefore perhaps more rail lines east to west and
south to north are nec. That would make the roads less congested and
safer, and reduce air pollution.

A lot of the Upper Fraser Valley pollution comes from south of the
border.

I very much favour rebuilding of the light railway from Chilliwack
via Yarrow and other stations to Surrey or Delta, or thereabouts.

Would it/should it be able to carry half size and huge containers
destined for overseas shipment?

I have specialist appointments and special tests in New Westminster,
Guilford and Surrey. Getting to them is always difficult and sometimes
it is impossible to find a driver. Some people choose rather do without
than pay for or feel indebted to a friend or volunteer driver.

I would dearly love to go to concerts and social events in Vancouver
if I could go peacefully by train. Living in Chilliwack I am afraid to
drive to Vancouver. I dread the journey. I even dread driving to
Abbotsford.

Myrtle Macdonald,
Chilliwack


Message to politicians:
Get on board or move off the track
The Chilliwack Progress
Published: February 22, 2008

I found the crowd at the Lions hall enthusiastic about commuter rail on
the south side of the valley to match the north side. The politicians were
shy to this meeting and that is good. There was a lot people who had ideas
of their own when they came up to question the speakers. While that is not
a bad thing, not staying on the topic is. This meeting was to decide what
mode of rail was best, and a lot of different models of light rail came up
in that class.

Quite a few learned how railway laws work, and it is not as simple as
it looks. It was a great afternoon at the Lions hall, and everybody walked
away smiling with more optimism after than before the meeting.

The people of Chilliwack have met the challenge of putting an issue
forward on passenger rail, a federal election looks closer now than three
weeks ago. However I doubt if MPs will lose their seat on this one issue.
But at least we should have one all party rail meeting so we know where
they stand on the issue. They cannot hold us to the freeway, and be
oblivious to alternatives when it’s been so obvious. If this is ignorance,
lack of intelligence, or a silence response, we all overlook things
sometimes.

If the issue were a speeding passenger train, and the politicians car
was stalled on the crossing tracks it would get the same response. The
train always wins. Politicians do not always win against a public train at
high speed.

That is where the public in Chilliwack have left the politicians, on
the crossing and they cannot stay there, get hit or get out of the way.

Interurban commuter rail is on its way, and its little sister light
rail loves a big brother to join tracks with.

Bryan Vogler


Rebate better spent on transit
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Friday, February 22, 2008

Editor:

It is a great pity that the provincial government, which is about to
impose its green tax upon us, could have shown more foresight and have
the intention to use the tax accrued to get going on developing a decent
rail structure throughout the whole province.

I, for one, would forgo my $100 cheque if I knew that this money
could be put to such a purpose.

I do, however, live in the hope that rail travel will eventually be
forced onto any future government as I am reading that oil will be
starting to run out around 2015.

Then we’d all better get used to living like Cubans.

Doug Morley,
Chilliwack

<HR

Time to provide better transit
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Editor:

Oxymoron? I have seen this word used an awful lot of late in the
media, Vancouver and Chilliwack especially.

It has confused me as to the situation with public transit. I live in
Agassiz and if provided, would use public transit on a regular basis. I
fail to comprehend the purpose of widening the Port Mann Bridge to
accommodate more traffic and buses. Can you tell me where all these
vehicles are going to park in the Lower Mainland once they get there?
I’ve listened to the locals in the Fraser Valley who express their
desire to have an existing rail line returned to service and I believe
there is the possibility these trains would run on hydrogen? Sounds
pretty good to me. Why not?

Arnie Kozak,
Agassiz


Need to stop being ‘insular’
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Editor:

Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hames is doing his best to convince us that he
is taking the prospect of real transportation solutions for the Lower
Mainland seriously, but sadly this is not the case.

After being called out by John Buker to debate the issue publically
with the Rail for the Valley group, you think he might have attended the
transit forum held in Abbotsford that 200 others chose to attend two
weeks ago. There, a panel of experts which included former Translink
planners all but said that rail is the answer, its cost to B.C.
taxpayers is a bargain, and the only thing stopping it from running
right now at this moment and working is political roadblocks at the
provincial, but primarily municipal level.

Are we hearing this? Because the crowd that left that forum sure did
and hopefully it filters out into the general public who are still being
deceived by all sorts of little facts which have been twisted to make
them believe rail is expensive and not viable. The MLA of Abbotsford
John Van Dongen even accused Abbotsford and Chilliwack of “insular
thinking” and a genuine failure to work together and toward interurban
transportation. When asked by John Buker if he knew of a study that our
own mayor had stated would be released in a few months time at which
point he then would be willing to talk about rail publically and back up
his anti-rail claims, Mr. Van Dongen replied that he was unaware of any
timetable on the study and implied that it was probably far off and not
extremely significant.

And we don’t need to believe what Kevin Falcon tells us either, just
because he is the Minister of Transportation and “somebody” let him know
he’d better do something in Chilliwack and Abbotsford to discourage
passenger rail, now that folks are starting to realize its time has
come.

Hopefully those who are committed to achieving passenger rail for
Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley will be able to continue to inform the
public that all we have to do is demand it and we will get it, and that
we won’t be misled any further by those who are trying to stop it.

William Chambers
Chilliwack


RapidBus not the answer to transit problems
The Chilliwack Progress, February 5, 2008

So Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon is on the stump, preaching
for RapidBus, but he fails to mention where RapidBus has actually worked
as predicted.

The fact is, RapidBus has been around a long time, yet for the added
cost of the mode, never achieved much. In Ottawa, after the RapidBus
busways were opened, ridership dropped almost 16% in the first 11 years
of operation. Ottawa is now planning for LRT. In Adelaide , Australia
their expensive 0-Bahn guided bus (the ultimate of RapidBus)has proven
spectacularly average, with ridership remaining at levels as non
RapidBus routes. Transit official in Adelaide are now refurbishing the
80 year old Glenelg tramway to LRT standards.

There are many more examples of RapidBus disappointing its
proponents.

The Lower Mainland is about 50 km wide and 110 km long which is 5500
sq. km, in which you have about 2 million people. This is about 365
people per sq km. Belgium has about 350 people per sq. km. and is
criss-crossed with 3,500 km. of rail lines and Falcon only offers a
rather limited RapidBus, sometime.

What Falcon is really saying is that his boss and former Vancouver
mayor Gordon Campbell wants another multi-billion dollar showcase subway
for Vancouver, at the expense of good ‘rail’ transit for the Fraser
Valley. So Vancouver gets another hugely expensive yet needless subway
while the rest get crumbs.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee


No foresight in transit plan

The Chilliwack Times

Published: Friday, February 01, 2008

Editor:

The unveiling of the transit mega-plan will, no doubt, horrify those
living in the South Fraser Valley, where the services and routes would
have ultimately extended east to both Abbotsford and Chilliwack, and now
will do so possibly by 2020. How about Hope?

The promise includes in total, for all areas (it is presumed) 600
more buses, which will sadden many when the amount of pollution spews
forth into the atmosphere and may have been avoided with rail and
trolley services. Why should the oldies worry about it anyway, we’ll all
be underground by then.

What has not been taken into consideration is the less than
farsighted appreciation of the movement of population and businesses to
the South Fraser Valley as a result of the increasing house and suite
prices in and around Vancouver, driving families further and further
away.

The disturbing, distressing and breaking point of the transit plan is
the lack of a rapid rail service to the South Fraser Valley and no hope
of ever having something in the near future, even though the taxes
collected are for all the people of British Columbia and not just for
Vancouver, the surrounding suburbs and Victoria, which seems to be the
opinion of the premier, as he splashes our money around his domain.

We, in the Fraser Valley, are British Columbians and do pay our
taxes. So, how about a decent share of it.

Mary Hartman,

Chilliwack


Falcon’s announcement today about the Evergreen line, means that one
has to change governments, to get rail to the valley.

The Editor;

So Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon is on the stump, preaching
for RapidBus, but he fails to mention where RapidBus has actually worked
as predicted.

The fact is, RapidBus has been around a long time, yet for the added
cost of the mode, never achieved much. In Ottawa, after the RapidBus
busways were opened, ridership dropped almost 16% in the first 11 years
of operation. Ottawa is now planning for LRT. In Adelaide , Australia
their expensive 0-Bahn guided bus (the ultimate of RapidBus)has proven
spectacularly average, with ridership remaining at levels as non
RapidBus routes. Transit official in Adelaide are now refurbishing the
80 year old Glenelg tramway to LRT standards.

There are many more examples of RapidBus disappointing its
proponents.

The Lower Mainland is about 50 km wide and 110 km long which is 5500
sq. km, in which you have about 2 million people. This is about 365
people per sq km. Belgium has about 350 people per sq. km. and is
criss-crossed with 3,500 km. of rail lines and Falcon only offers a
rather limited RapidBus, sometime.

What Falcon is really saying is that his boss and former Vancouver
mayor Gordon Campbell wants another multi-billion dollar showcase subway
for Vancouver, at the expense of good ‘rail’ transit for the Fraser
Valley. So Vancouver gets another hugely expensive yet needless subway
while the rest get crumbs.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee


Write Campbell about transit
Abbotsford News, January 31, 2008

Editor, The News:

Rapid buses to Abbotsford by 2020? SkyTrain to Langley by 2030? What
century is our government living in?

We need action on our transportation quagmire, and we need it now!

A promise by the Ministry of Transportation to “look into” the
feasibility of putting a commuter train on the already existing rail
from Chilliwack to New Westminster is worse than nothing. It may lull
many of us into believing the government is hearing us and will
eventually get the rail line going again.

I’m here to tell you that no such thing will happen. I’ve had
extended experience with the Ministry of Transportation of this
government. Nothing except smoke and mirrors will happen, unless we all
– each and every one of us who believe in rails over roads – will write,
fax, email, or leave a phone message for the premier. Yes, the premier,
because no one else in Victoria has any power to decide where, when, or
how money is spent in B.C.

Thank-you for caring enough to act.

Walt Friesen,

Abbotsford

The addresses and phone and fax numbers for the Premier are: Premier
Gordon Campbell, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C., V8V 1X4, Fax:
1-250-387-0087, e-mail: premier@gov.bc.ca


Make transit finance a priority
Abbotsford News, January 29, 2008

Editor, The News:

The provincial government is going to study the feasibility of
restarting the former Interurban transit line to connect with the
transit system of the Lower Mainland.

But Abbotsford-Clayburn MLA John van Dongen cautioned that it can’t
happen without the support of local politicians and cost sharing.

Why is it that paying for transit services is such a problem, when
there is always money for projects such as a perimeter road from a new
port facility, a new bridge over the Fraser for vehicle traffic, and for
major improvements on highways such as has been done recently on the 401
through the Fraser Valley?

Yet the cost for transit improvements is often calculated in nickels
and dimes as to who is going to pay, and there is always the assumption
that the users must pay.

The implication of all this appears to be that the highway system is
essential (obviously it is), and the transit system is a luxury that
users must pay for.

It’s time that transit be considered essential, and it should be a
provincial-federal expense as the highways are.

Many who use transit are those who cannot afford cars, many are on
minimum wage etc., and yet they are being asked to share the burden of
expense in creating better transit services that all can enjoy
eventually.

The cost of the highway system is born by all taxpayers, and cost of
transit should be born by all taxpayers.

People don’t pay a fee to drive on our highways; and by the same
token fares on public transportation should be kept affordable.

I have heard people say that it was cheaper to drive their car than
to use transit.

That doesn’t bode well for the future of transit.

Shirley Walker
Abbotsford


Rail the only way to go
Abbotsford News, January 26, 2008

Editor, The News:

After living and working in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver-Burnaby-New
Westminster area) for years, I retired to Chilliwack.

I used public transit in the past, and although there were and still
are some pretty scary places when waiting for the bus or SkyTrain, the
system on the whole was good.

I would like to see a similar rail system in the eastern Fraser
Valley for several reasons – the most important one being an
alternative to driving my car to visit friends or spend a day being a
“tourist.”

Buses are not the answer, as far as I’m concerned. The buses
can’t travel any faster than a car in the congestion of the
freeway.

It took a while for people to accept the WestCoast Express (it was
costly, you had to leave early and park your vehicle, etc.) but it does
cut down on emissions and people are more relaxed when they get to their
destination, because they don’t have to fight the traffic.

I think rail is the only way to go. Pay now or pay later, the
taxpayer is going to absorb the cost, despite promises that they won’t.

I don’t think that the advocates of buses take future generations of
working people into consideration. Our community is only going to grow,
especially for young families, because Chilliwack is still affordable
for working people.

Dora Hall

Chilliwack


Transit plan takes step back in time
The Delta Optimist
Published: Saturday, January 26, 2008

Editor:

Gordon Campbell’s new $14 billion vision of transit, which seemed to
be cobbled together on a back of an envelope, is based on failed 1950’s
transit philosophy.

The real winner is Bombardier Inc., which will receive over $1
billion for new SkyTrain cars, cars no one else wants to buy.

Like the RAV/Canada Line, extending the SkyTrain Millennium Line to
UBC will only take the current bus riders to the university and like
subways elsewhere, will be poor in attracting new ridership. Building
another cut-and-cover subway will destroy local Broadway businesses; the
lessons of RAV are unlearned.

Rapid bus is another dated transit mode, which in the end tends to
cost more than LRT and attracts fewer passengers. Ottawa’s busways
(needed for Rapid Bus) cost more than LRT to build and the bus system
saw a 16 per cent decline in ridership for the first 11 years of
operation.

The transit mode of the 21st century is modern light rail, operating
on-street/at-grade, taking the transit customer from where he lives to
where he wants to go, in a seamless (no-transfer) journey. With over 100
new light rail systems opened in the past 25 years and an almost an
equal amount either under construction or in the late stages of
planning, it underscores the fact LRT is the transit mode to alleviate
transit woes. But not in Vancouver!

The taxpayer is saddled with massively expensive transit plans, based
on dated, obsolete or even failed transit philosophy, which in the end
will prove very poor in offering an attractive transit alternative that
will entice the motorist from the car. The high taxes to fund such a
mistake will further burden the poor with high taxes and compel them to
move further out into the Fraser Valley.

It should come as no surprise that those who penned this plan, seldom
if ever use the transit system and have never read a book on the
subject.

Malcolm Johnston,

Light Rail Committee


Quick action needed to encourage commuter rail in Fraser Valley
Chilliwack Progress, January 25, 2008

The time is now! We have about two weeks to let Mr. Campbell know
that his plan for transportation in the Lower Mainland is not enough,
and we will not stand for it.

We have more funds available for this purpose than ever before. And
it will be a long time before this ever happens again.

Will we let Mr. C. spend much of the available funds on his pet
motorcar project – The Gateway? And will we let the GVRD spend most of
the rest of it on themselves? Surely the federal and provincial funds
now made available are not for GVRD only.

We need to send a loud and clear message (from about 10,000 of us) to
Mr. Campbell that his plan has some good points but is not good enough.

Further we need to insist on scrapping The Gateway and embracing The
Corridor instead. To be effective, this rail corridor must connect both
Chilliwack and Abbotsford to Langley, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond,
Vancouver, and Coquitlam. Nothing less will make even a dent in the
control, not to mention the reduction of greenhouse gases.

We need to send 10,000 faxes, e-mails, letters, or phone messages to
Mr. C. and a copy to at least one newspaper to give each message double
impact. Mr. Campbell and Translink need to know that what they propose
needs to be amended drastically.

Let’s do it, and let’s do it now!


Transit woes plague Fraser Valley and anger readers

The Abbotsford Times
Published: Friday, January 18, 2008

THE EDITOR:

Re: Transit Plan Panned [Page 3, Tuesday Jan. 15.]

While I had hoped for a glimmer of hope for services past Langley,
especially to connect the Abbotsford International Airport with the
travelers from Metro Vancouver, while Transportation Minister Kevin
Falcon and Premier Gordon Campbell were back-slapping their fellow
politicos prior to the announcement, when no mention was made of the
Valley past Langley, I knew we were yet again to be a bridesmaid.

Even more astounding was the post-announcement reaction of our MLAs
John van Dongen and Mike de Jong.

For both to say this will benefit the valley leads me to two
scenarios.

Both MLAs were either under the influence of some infamous valley
weed, or both had been standing in the face of the Valley Transfer
Station when they made their comments.

Both missed the mark. Not so surprising was the reaction of
Abbotsford Coun. and transit advocate Lynn Harris, with her comment that
the citizens of Abbotsford will feel we got left out ‘a little bit.’

Councillor, if we were in fact left out, ‘a little bit’ as you
suggest, I would hate to see the valley, and the City of Abbotsford
being totally neglected by our beloved Liberals.

[A] tip of the cap to John Vissers, the only one of the lot with a
clear, albeit, sorry view of reality. Once again the valley [was] gassed
by Victoria, John van Dongen and Mike de Jong included, no matter how
they may try to tap-dance this traffic minefield.

Rob Ironside

Abbotsford



Langley needs rapid transit

Langley Times, January 16, 2008

Editor: As a concerned Langley citizen, I, along with many around me,
feel that the new plan for rapid transit expansion in the Lower Mainland
and Fraser Valley region is not going to be efficient enough.

On Monday. Township Mayor Kurt Alberts said on television that
Langley does not need rapid transit as much as it needs local buses. He
said that Langley residents do not want to travel into Vancouver, thus
we don’t need to extend the SkyTrain into Langley.

This was a poor spin by Alberts to avoid the truth, which is that he
simply was lazy in fighting for the extension of rapid transit into
Langley. Vancouver city has greater political sway and the Langley
Township mayor seems to be either complacent in his position of power or
he is scared of disrupting the political game by demanding that
Langley’s needs are met.

I concede and agree fully that Langley needs a better bus system
within its borders, but I completely disagree with the statement that
Langley residents do not want or need to leave the area via transit.

The news report had already stated that 90 per cent of people working
in Vancouver are living in suburbs. Langley is one of those suburbs.

Increasing rapid transit service into Vancouver would cut the
congestion on Highway 1 and Highway 99. Highway 1 is always backed up
during rush hour right to the 200 Street exit, and investing in rapid
transit for the Fraser Valley would greatly reduce this line-up.

It would also reduce the large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions
that result from this commuting.

When Alberts stated that Langley residents don’t travel into
Vancouver on transit, he was somewhat right. Langley residents
don’t take transit because it takes two and one-half hours to get
into Vancouver on the current transit system.

Not only has Langley been ignored in this new transit policy, so has
the rest of the Fraser Valley. Abbotsford and beyond is completely cut
off from the rest of the Lower Mainland under this new transit plan.

If Langley had the SkyTrain out this far, there could be express
buses from the SkyTrain out into the valley. That would continue to
reduce traffic that would otherwise be polluting our air.

Alberts either does not have enough spine to defend his constituents,
or he is ignoring the fact that Langley residents do not wish to be
isolated from the rest of the Lower Mainland and would rather have more
innovative and environmentally friendly ways to commute, instead of
having to rely on vehicles that continue to add to the growing problem
of global warming and environmental (as well as health) disasters.

Instead of saving for money for the destructive Gateway project, we
should be investing in better transit options that will help sustain the
fast-growing populations of the Lower Mainland.

Transit in Europe should serve as a good role model for us. Their
rapid transit systems serve millions in high density areas and they do
not suffer from congestion.

One can take transit to most reaches of the European Union and not
need a gasoline- powered vehicle. Canadians, especially those on the
West Coast, should take note and follow older countries’ innovative
measures.

We will soon be home to many more millions, as world population
continues to rise.

Ashley Zarbatany,

Langley


‘Why do all the transit ideas end in Langley?’

The Province, Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Premier Gordon Campbell has announced that billions of dollars will
be spent on transit. But yet again, Fraser Valley residents get nothing
but the bill.

We need a train on this side of the Fraser River.

Mission already has the West Coast Express. But if the government
wants fewer vehicles on the road, then something must be done on the
corridor stretching from Hope through Chilliwack and Abbotsford into
Vancouver.

Most of these areas are booming with people who have moved out into
the valley. So why do all the transit ideas end in Langley?

The Trans-Canada Highway is on the Abbotsford side of the Fraser
River, and a bus heading from Abbotsford into Vancouver will be struck
in traffic, just as I am in my car.

Bring the train out to the valley. Why should we pay for transit if
we are getting nothing?

Rick Fladager,

Abbotsford


Letter, Vancouver Sun: Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The multi-billion-dollar transit announcement is a superb example of
PR smoke and mirrors. The only things that are new are the bus lanes;
the $2-billion airport line is not new money.

What the plan is saying is: Don’t expect real new progress until 2020
is past. Meanwhile, we will spend your money on the damaging new Fraser
River bridge instead of putting it into rail links for freight and rail
transit development for commuters in the valley. Thank you, Mr.
Campbell, for your hypocrisy when it comes to the environmental
challenges we face.

Andrew Demain



More roads not wanted

Chilliwack Progress, January 15, 2008

I was reading the editorial in the Chilliwack Progress from January 8
2008. It just makes my blood curdle.

Finding low-tech transit solutions? One of the more intelligent
suggestions on ways to offer better transit for the Fraser Valley came
just before the Christmas break.

Good grief. It also said “Few politicians are prepared to ask
voters for the billions of dollar necessary to build commuter rail this
far east, especially when money can’t be found to complete parts of
the existing SkyTrain network”

Tell me how much money it will take to widen the road to make a bus
lane? Doesn’t that also cost billions of dollars.

Building roads is not a solution to any problem. More roads, more
cars, more buses adds up to more pollution we don’t want a new road.

I am just a housewife with some simple common sense. Why is it so
hard to relate. You also charge money to ride the rail, which would be
packed, guaranteed. All of the taxpayers want a rail not a bus and not a
new road for a bus.


Attn: Editor, The News, It’s a good thing that amenities will be
provided on the proposed commuter bus to downtown Vancouver (re:
Westcoast Express eyes premium commuter buses, Jan 03, 2008). Passengers
will need as many distractions as possible while waiting to cross the
Port Mann. Unless the bus has optional wings, or a link to the
Abbotsford Airport, it will be stuck in the same traffic congestion that
car drivers find themselves trapped in on their daily commute. In fact,
traffic congestion on the Port Mann is the reason transit bus service
was stopped decades ago on the same route. There is, however, an
alternative that our elected leaders can provide in a cost effective and
timely manner. Our older residents will recall that that a commuter and
freight rail service, the Interuban, ran from New Westminister to
Chilliwack from 1910 to 1950. Some library and online research shows
that the rail lines still exist. We now find ourselves in a situation
where road construction has not kept up with population growth and
additional roads will only temporarily relieve the pressure. With our
knowledge of the environmental impact of automobiles and the cost and
complexity of buiding additional roads, the time has come to re-activate
Interurban service. The tracks already exist and only need to be
upgraded. The route runs through all of the population centers, in the
Fraser Valley, south of the Fraser river. We now have 10 times the
population that existed when the line was originaly constructed.
Interurban service is independant of any roads and can be connected with
the Surrey skytrain to provide service to downtown Vancouver. I, for
one, would gladly sell one of my vehicles and commute by train if the
service was available. It’s time to look at all of our options and
provide a commuting solution that is environmentally responsible,
services the majority of Fraser Valley residents and does not add to
congestion on our overcrowded roads .

Sincerly, Al Pearson


Commuter rail plan a breath of fresh air

Chilliwack Progress, January 11, 2008

More and more, I worry about what kind of community we will be living
in, in future years. Congestion, smog, hot hazy summers and growing
population have me wondering why, with global warming becoming more and
more evident and in need of active response, we cannot focus on some
type of light rail rapid transit to the Eastern Fraser Valley?

We need a more sustainable method of travel back and forth from
Vancouver. We need to assure future generations of their right to
breathe clean air in Chilliwack!


Commuter rail needed in Chilliwack

Chilliwack Progress, January 11, 2008

A short time ago I received an e-mail from Transportation Minister
Kevin Falcon. We had mailed him a petition about the lack of commuter
rail service from Chilliwack to Vancouver.

Well, he got back to me two months later with the message that the
B.C. Government would consider bus service from Chilliwack in the future
(he didn’t say when ….). He claimed that rail service would be too
expensive and inappropriate.

I can just see it buses being stuck in the long line-ups on with all
the other traffic. What a foolish idea.

Any ideas what the Gateway plan will cost us?

We need commuter rail service from Chilliwack now via either the old
interurban or the CN tracks both in place.

Alphonse Litjens


Dear Editor,

Today I found myself driving from Abbotsford to Langley to
Fort-Langley and back home to Aldergrove after class at UCFV to drop off
a couple of friends who are unable to get home from their evening
classes any other way. They were discussing spending the night at
peoples’ houses and the etiquette of it all and I was wondering why
they should have to consider that as the only possible option. Well,
with transit as it is at present this is sometimes the only option left
for students.

Driving is expensive and frequently time-consuming (both for the
amount of time one spends in traffic or paying for it), but transit in
the Fraser Valley takes even longer. Translink is the most expensive
transit services in the country but the buses in the Fraser Valley
outside of Vancouver don’t run often or late in most areas, and the
bus from Abbotsford to Aldergrove (part of ValleyMax) doesn’t run
past 5:47 p.m. I see a lot wrong with this picture, and so do others it
seems because we’re having this conversation while attempting to
patch together carpools.

Simple solutions to the problems of getting people from point A to
point B, our growing traffic congestion, and the crummy state of the
environment are few and far between; however, I believe that there is
great potential in the movement proposed by Rail for the Valley to bring
back the Interurban railway.

I believe that as residents of a burgeoning metropolis we have a
right to be able to get around in a safe, economical, environmentally
sustainable way without too much fuss. There are more than enough people
in the Fraser Valley to warrant a proper transit system so I start to
wonder why we are we wasting our efforts on projects like Gateway which,
while it may help relieve some of the traffic congestion presently, will
not be of much use when it is finished and our population has exploded
beyond the capabilities of even those mega-highways to handle.

Better transit first, I say, starting with some railway tracks, and
then we can decide if we need Gateway.

H.A. Hogeterp


Worried about our future

The Chilliwack Times

Friday, January 11, 2008

Editor:

I am at the age now where my grandson’s future is becoming more
important than my own. I worry about what kind of community we will be
living in. Congestion, smog, hot hazy summers and growing population
have me wondering why, with global warming becoming more and more in our
faces, we cannot focus on rapid transit to the Eastern Fraser Valley?

Our mayor says he does not want to become a bedroom community and
yet, when I see the number of people buying up the large numbers of
houses and townhouses being built in the area, I wonder what planet he
is on?

Kirsten Hauge

Chilliwack


Dear editor,

As Fraser Valley communities continue to grow, the need for an
affordable, sustainable transportation alternative to the car becomes
more urgent. The answer is passenger rail. A movement of support is
surging, spearheaded by initiatives such as Rail for the Valley who aim
to educate the public and push the government into action.

The Interurban service began 98 years ago; its revival has many
advantages including existing infrastructure, short completion time, low
cost, environmental benefits and a quick, relaxing ride. Now it’s time
to get the train moving! Let the government know that their far off,
expensive promises aren’t good enough, that we need rail now! Learn how
to get involved at www.railforthevalley.com.

Erika Rathje

Surrey


Editor:

Here’s a message from the south side of the Fraser Valley to the
people of Metro Vancouver.

Think your streets are crowded now? Think your air is polluted? Just
wait til the Port Mann Bridge is twinned.

Twice the present vehicle capacity will mean twice the cars, trucks
and buses coming in to clog your streets and parking spaces. Sound good?

A better idea for our tax dollars? COMMUTER RAIL. Please urge our
government to (instead) restore the Interurban Railway. That’s the tram,
or electric streetcar, that served the Valley from 1910 to 1950. Its
tracks are still there. The rolling stock needn’t be fancy like the West
Coast Express — just something that travels from A to B. With this
done, many of us who now drive SOVs (single-occupancy-vehicles) would be
able to come in by train. Then you wouldn’t see, smell or hear our cars
— we’d have left them at home. Sound better?

Yours truly,

Val Ridsdale


Hello to the residents of Metro Vancouver,

You don’t know us but you’ve seen us many times and probably cursed
us a
few times as well. We share (i.e. clog up) your streets and highways,
take up your city parking spaces and pollute your air. But, believe me,
this isn’t our choice. We are the commuters of the Fraser Valley who
have few other viable options in getting to work or school other than to
drive our cars into your space.

We would much rather be able to board a train that would whisk us up
the
valley where we could link up with efficient transit connections to
arrive at our destination. Trust me, we do not appreciate the daily
commuter grind anymore than you. Time spent in traffic gridlock, costly
gasoline burned and pollution spewed into our mutual airshed is not how
any of us want to live our lives.

Please tell the provincial government that the time for Rail for the
Valley has come. Further waffling (commuter busses by 2013??) is
intolerable. Please give us back what was taken from us almost 60 years
ago … a new Interurban Rail service. It will benefit us all.

Sincerely,

Andrea Mikulan,

Abbotsford


Clear DayGentleman:

The lower mainland is hedging on dysfunctional, having only one form
of inefficient passenger transportation. Anyone unfortunate enough to
have to drive Highway 1 and its branches, on a daily basis, surely
deserves sympathy. The rumoured suggestion of commuter buses on yet more
highways and bridges is a Band-Aid solution on a femoral artery
puncture. The costs in time, fuel and air quality will continue to soar
as politicians ignore these types of issues as if they, fossil fuel and
car lobbyists will be untouched by the consequences…. the planet does
not differentiate a Hummer driver from a bicyclist. Time (overtime) to
get with the program, BC politicians, and put light rail passenger
service on the agenda.

Deborah Crawford

Chilliwack, BC


Dear Sir:

Now that the price of crude oil has exceeded $100 a barrel and
gasoline
at the pump is forecast to go well beyond $1.50 per litre, surely we
need to find transportation solutions more economical than automobiles
and roads. Economics is making alternatives like light rail more and
more feasible despite what the politicians claim. The future is clear.

Bob Hocking

Chilliwack


Short End of the Transit Stick

The whole concept of “improved service” for public transit anywhere
outside the GVRD seems to be completely lost on TransLink, BC Transit
and our local, as well as federal governing agents. For years the South
Fraser region and farther out east, has always gotten the short end of
the stick as far as transit goes.

I have lived in the lower mainland for almost 50 years, paying my
taxes,
and listening to all the transportation groups over the years, say the
need is in Vancouver where the majority of people live and work. We had
to move to Chilliwack to be able to purchase a home and build a life.
Let me tell you.there really is no such thing as transit of any kind out
here!

I am part of a large group of people living in Langley, Abbotsford
and
Chilliwack, (well over 1,200 strong as of this date) all looking to find
support from other communities on its borders, for a Light Rail Transit

system, using tracks from the old Interurban Rail tracks of the early
1900’s. This would link the Fraser Valley, from Chilliwack out west,
with Surrey and ultimately with New Westminster.

How many times have we all heard that “something” will be done in the
next 20 years? We need a real alternative to traffic congestion and we
need that “something” now! Before it gets completely out of financial
reach because as we all know, everything only goes up in price.
TransLink is considering adding a ‘West Coast Express Bus’ from
Chilliwack to downtown Vancouver. I hardly think this is a real solution
to the problem.

We need a rail system that allows the user to transfer to other modes
of
transportation and travel throughout the region. In doing this, there’s
also the initiative to preserve the quality of our air and lowering, and
hopefully one day, preventing green house gasses from being emitted and
destroying our planet.

Will our children and children’s children be expected to pay for all
this, as we and television all preach to do something now about saving
our planet? What kind of message are we sending them when many of us are
doing what we can, but in fact the governing agents are actually doing
very little about it? And in Chilliwack’s case, there are no other
options but TO drive.

I’m sick of paying taxes and hearing platitudes from all governing
agents. Vancouver is NOT the only city in our region that deserves good
transit – and it’s time for TransLink, BC Transit and both the
Provincial and Federal governments to realize that! Start earning the
salary we all help to pay, by putting my money where your mouth is
because Chilliwack is sick of being treated like a poor country cousin
when it comes to Transit. We need our rail back and we need it now!

L. Bowman

Chilliwack, BC


Dear editor,

98 years ago, Interurban passenger rail service from Vancouver to
Chilliwack commenced.

Today, there are continuous rumblings that can be heard coming up
through the woodwork all across the valley. Ordinary people are making
some noise. Bumper stickers are selling out at www.railforthevalley.com.
Everywhere you go people are talking – Why can’t we ride in trains
instead of being stuck in traffic? Why are the powers-that-be not doing
something? Do they think this issue will just go away?

Another year has passed.

We now hear suggestions of a “premium bus” service bandied about. I
guess our provincial politicians and translink bureaucrats are beginning
to feel the heat – but dressing up a bus as a train and calling it
“Westcoast Express” insults the intelligence of all of us. The proposal
is nothing more than a glorified Greyhound, and will do very little to
get vehicles off our road.

What we need is a real alternative to traffic congestion, for you and
for me.

We need our rail back, and we need it now!

Get involved. Visit www.railforthevalley.com.

John Buker

Chilliwack


The Editor;

The City of Vancouver, upon hearing the residents of the Fraser
Valley asking for improved transit including the reinstatement of the
interurban, is now demanding a SkyTrain subway to UBC! What Vancouver
demands, Victoria’s politicians deliver.

Vancouver, like the spoiled child it is, wants very expensive subways
(even though subways have proven poor in attracting new ridership)
instead of elevated light-metro. Vancouver got RAV/Canada Line at least
four times the cost of LRT built on the existing former rapid transit
route the Arbutus Corridor.

The city of Vancouver’s cherished subway is being greatly subsidised
by regional taxpayers, yet very few will be able to use it. Added to
this TransLink has the highest transit fares($5.00 3-zone) in North
America. It is time valley residents demand provincial Transportation
Minister Kevin Falcon to force Vancouver City taxpayers to pay for
needless subway construction and transit tax money collected in the
Fraser Valley, spent on transit projects in the Fraser Valley.

Vancouver’s residents enjoy expensive ‘electric’ trolley buses and
two
(soon to be 3) metro lines, yet the transit fare in the city is a mere
$2.50.

It is time for Fraser Valley politicians and taxpayers demand that
the
Campbell Liberals stop favouring Vancouver with both cheap transit fares
and needless expensive metro subway construction.

Malcolm Johnston

Light Rail Committee


Democracy: By the people for the people right? Then why is it that
Politicians won’t listen to what the people of the fraser valley want?
We need a fast, affordable, green alternative to commuting into
Vancouver and other cities nearby. The answer to this is to reinstall
the interurban passanger rail system. We had it before, and most of the
old track still exists, making cost and workload less of an issue. The
rail could connect the towns from Chillwack to Surrey. Opening up a
clean, cheap and overall easy way to get from the valley to the big
cities. Let’s face it, the towns and cities in the fraser valley are
growing up. We have more and more people all the time. All these people
need jobs, some of which will inevitably be out of town. These people
also want to enjoy the many other things the big city has to offer, like
concerts, shopping and sports events. Not to mention with the olympics
on the horizon interurban rail would be an exellent way to include more
people in this historic event.

This would be avantagous for the People of Vancouver and the other
big cities as well. it would bring new customers more often to their
business all while decreasing the traffic congesting amidst the urban
sprall, making the cities more enjoyable for everyone. Not to mention it
would make it eaiser for urban dwellers to get out of the hustleand
bustle of the city and enjoy the scenic fraser valley. Ah the best of
both worlds for both sides! Everyone can enjoy the city and the country,
and without the fun of sitting in traffic all day!

So now it lies with the politicans, the people have spoken! We want
our rail for the valley back! The ownus lies with you. Democracy is at
work.

Paul Falardeau


Dear Editor,

At this moment, all across the world countries are either building
anew or re-building their railway systems. Among others, Europe and
Japan have steadily increased their passenger and freight services over
the past 50 years in favour of a more congestion-free and
environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

Yet here in Vancouver we ignore world trends, and despite claiming
that we live in a “world class” city, one of the hallmarks of all true
world class cities – a decent passenger rail system – is next to
non-existent. I would like to join the call for our government to begin
to correct this glaring omission in our transportation system, and
suggest as a start that Interurban passenger service between Vancouver
and Chilliwack be reinstated.

Never-ending congestion and the increasing costs of oil make one
thing clear: the days of the single occupancy vehicle are numbered, and
we need to begin (re)planning an alternative now!

Sincerely,

Corey Newcomb


Dear Editor,

Everywhere I go I find encouragements to lower my ecological
footprint: advertisements on busses, newspaper articles, and university
classes. After opting for public transit in the fall of 2007, I feel
that instead of being rewarded, I am being punished with absolutely
inadequate service and expensive fares. Public transit south of the
Fraser is long overdue for some forward thinking planning and
implementation.

As a public transit using student attending UCFV, my commute time is
triple that of car commuting students. Bussing to UCFV from Langley
costs me 3 hours per day. Nearly a third of that is spent waiting
outside due to poorly planned connections, often without weather cover.
The transit trip spans two Transit systems: TransLink and ValleyMAX,
costing users $9 per day to commute to and from their destination. On
top of this, I am unable to attend evening and night classes because the
Abbotsford/Aldergrove connection does not run past 6PM. It’s no wonder
we aren’t a bus culture!

The sprawling Fraser Valley needs an alternative to congested
freeways and inadequate busses. The growing and proactive movement Rail
for the Valley is the forward thinking eyes for the seemingly blind
congested car culture. Commuter rail could cut through the disparate,
inefficient, and expensive bus systems to service the spread communities
of Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack.

And we aren’t a train culture? I have never even had a chance to be a
part of one.

Nathan John Moes


“WestCoast Express eyes premium commuter buses”

Here we have another consultant being paid big bucks to study a
premium bus service sponsored by Translink. Something in me raises a big
red flag when I read that article. My friends have horror stories
trying to commute by bus to Vancouver and in that regard I support
change. It is very necessary to own a car here in Abbotsford because the
transit connections outside our city are missing. Translink wants
Highway coaches and Double-Decker highway coaches to enhance the areas
not served by the WestCoast Express. These riders will still be
subjected to the traffic volume and variable commutes because they are
traveling on our existing highways. How does this support our reduction
in greenhouse gases? Who is profiting from these studies and how much
will be going to fund the millennium overrides when/if Translink comes
out to Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

I think a viable alternative would be a dependable rail service. This
will take traffic off the highways and could be initiated on the
existing tracks in our valley. I believe this is extremely important
especially with our aging society and the new regional hospital about to
open.. We have commuters coming as far as Hope for work or medical
appointments some traveling as far as Surrey and New Westminster. The
highway is very aggressive to navigate especially during the morning and
evening hours. I prefer to travel outside of these hours and still find
the volume extreme but I have an option because I drive. I am concerned
about the regular person who needs to get to the other end of the valley
or the senior who has turned in their license.

The front page article leaves you with the impression the Westcoast
Express is an affluent work related commute and possibly this is the
case. The hours never worked for me to take it to Vancouver even if
there was a bus connection to Mission from Abbotsford. A rail service
was available in the 1950’s for the whole valley and could work again
with some good will.

(Ms) Terry Broadworth,
Abbotsford, BC


Total lack of transit choice

The Chilliwack Times

Published: Friday, December 14, 2007

Editor:

People of the South Fraser Valley will be elated to hear that the
mayors of Delta, Surrey, White Rock, the City of Langley and the
Township of Langley unanimously rejected the draft plan aimed at
improving transit south of the Fraser river, feeling that it did not
meet the needs of the rapidly growing region. Now a formal letter
rejecting the South Fraser Area Transit draft plan will be mailed to
Translink stating these objections.

The mayors stated that it focused too much on trips to destinations
outside of the South Fraser Valley region, when 80 per cent of those
trips do not cross the river.

As Translink’s 25-year plan for this area is estimated to cost $1.3
billion, presumably including the twinning of the Port Mann bridge (not
necessary), 376 new fleet vehicles, 60 kilometres of new bus lanes or
busways and upgraded facilities, such as exchanges, transit depots and
bus stops, all this expense could include instead those associated with
a rapid rail transit service which is needed south of the river.
Translink should concentrate more on SkyTrain extensions to get cars off
the roads to reduce greenhouse emissions.

People of the South Fraser Valley do not want fleets of pollution
spewing buses rushing up and down Highway 1, all and every day and many
have suggested that a modern rapid rail transit service be delivered
from Hope to Surrey, up the middle of Highway 1.

The thought of 367 buses (plus 300 more, estimated to be short), is
horrendous and the amount of pollution unimaginable, if Translink’s
plans go ahead. The rapid growth of Chilliwack with many condominiums
and other building plans for the near future, already has a
bumper-to-bumper situation every lunch hour and quitting time.

Without a regular transit service the population of the South Fraser
Valley has no other choice but to use their cars and Translink should
take note of this problem. The urgency for action is now, not years into
the future.

Mary Hartman

Chilliwack


Light rail must be priority

Burnaby Now

Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dear Editor:

For the record, although I would not oppose the Gateway project if it
included light rail transit as a primary and equal solution to the Port
Mann Bridge problem, I feel that light rail should take precedence over
adding more lanes and cars.

It is amusing to read the pro-Gateway sheep such as Silvester Law (No
conspiracy at work, Letters to the editor, Burnaby NOW, Oct. 20) write
in with no real arguments except to say that the arguments of the
naysayers are baseless and unfounded. Mr. Law argues that “there is no
conspiracy” at work behind the Gateway Project.

Let’s think about the “no conspiracy” argument. The problem is that
there are too many automobiles because there is no alternative for
commuters to get across the Port Mann Bridge. The Gateway project calls
for an accommodation of the status quo (cars) method of commuting as the
primary solution with rapid light rail transit as a “possible” solution
after the bridge is twinned and more lanes added.

There is nothing creative or innovative in this plan, and the rapid
transit rail line may not be built as more lanes and cars are being
touted as the only primary option.

The conspiracy: Despite the problem that too many people are using
cars due to no alternatives such as rapid rail transit, it has been
decided that accommodating more automobile usage will be the primary
solution. Despite automobile pollution being an increasing problem, it
has been decided that the “solution” will be to allow for more cars
(resulting in more pollution) to pass through the same corridor without
rapid rail transit over the Port Mann crossing and without expansion of
the existing Expo Line to Langley even being considered as a primary
solution.

What is wrong with a light rail transit connection from the Braid
SkyTrain station out to Langley and beyond along Highway 1? More cars on
more lanes is not the solution if there is no alternative. Build light
rail over the bridge at the same time as the bridge is twinned, and we
will see which commuting option is more attractive in 10 years when
automobile traffic plugs up the twinned Port Mann Bridge. In the long
run, money will be saved as the building of the light rail will be more
costly in the future.

Either there is a conspiracy when it comes to the Gateway plan, or
Mr. Law can not see the flaw in the current plan. Which is it, Mr. Law?
Your silly pro-Gateway letters will be remembered in 10 years when there
is no light rail, a clogged, twinned Port Mann Bridge and more
automobile pollution.

Harmel Guram, Burnaby


Elected officials need to speak up

Chilliwack Times

Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Editor:

As a government you have been touting “green,” save energy, cut
greenhouse gases, car pools, even transit.

You offer $50 million over 10 years for new buses–that’s a joke,
right?

Or 20 express buses for the Fraser Valley East over six years? Ha!

We need rail now, not buses later.

The right-of-way is still there, as are most of the rails, CN
mainline, and the will of the people.

What we need now is the will of our elected officials.

I wait to hear from you.

Fred Gehrs,

Chilliwack

P.S. When is the next election scheduled? I look forward to seeing
something by then.


Inaction = gridlock

Langley Advance

Published: Friday, October 19, 2007

Dear Editor,

As a car-less bus rider, I was excited to hear that rapid transit
access to Burnaby and other communities on the north side of the Fraser
River might soon be a reality for residents of the valley [Rapid bus
service reaching Langley, Oct. 9, Langley Advance].

Our provincial government’s proposed twinning of the Port Mann Bridge
will allow new express buses to carry riders from park and rides along
the Number One highway over the bridge and will connect to transit
services, like SkyTrain, on the other side. I was excited until I read
further and noticed an incredible oversight in the logic of the
government’s plan.

A recent government news release reads: “An express bus service will
establish transit’s presence along this corridor, which leaves the way
open for future rail options depending on growth and development in the
south-of-Fraser region.”

Unfortunately, this vision overlooks the fact that rapid transit
lines can and should play important roles in shaping and promoting
residential development, not just reacting to it.

What’s more, when communities develop without transit in mind, it
makes incorporating rapid transit in the future even less likely.
Sprawled communities don’t produce the ridership densities necessary for
effective rapid transit, and low-ridership projections are likely to
deter cost-averse governments from the pursuit of such projects.

However, when rapid transit lines are incorporated into community
developments from the get-go, the chances for dense, transit-focused
development are high, and ultimately higher levels of ridership result.

No matter what, rapid transit projects are expensive in the
short-term. Nonetheless, short-term pain for long term regional
livability trumps short-term inaction resulting in certain long term
pain: gridlock.

If we have learned nothing else from SkyTrain development, it is that
commuter rail lines, once built, affect the way a region develops. One
has only to look to the high-density developments that cluster around
SkyTrain stations through Burnaby and Surrey.

In these communities, transit led, and compact development followed.

When you prioritize highway expansion and neglect rapid transit,
sprawl follows. It is counter-intuitive to talk of eventually providing
commuter rail service to a region that has is allowed to develop in an
environment where rapid transit is non-existent and where the focus is
on freeway expansion.

Citizens expect government to exercise leadership. We expect not
merely reaction to changes, but long-term planning that shapes the way
our communities develop. By not aggressively pursuing the construction
of rapid rail transit to serve communities in the Fraser Valley, our
government commits us to a model of suburban development that is harmful
to community, the environment, and human health.

We are already choking on Vancouver’s air pollution, we cannot afford
to be further asphyxiated by our own.

Communities south of the river have been unfairly neglected by
infrastructure allocations in the buildup to 2010. The provincial
government has an obligation to address the concerns of frustrated
commuters living in the Fraser Valley.

It also has an obligation to make clear that, in addressing these
concerns, it faces a choice between myopic freeway expansion and a
long-term, transit-focused vision for the Fraser Valley.

Alex Etchell, Langley


Put rail transit down centre of Hwy 1

Chilliwack Progress

Published: October 19, 2007

Despite the many letters and emails floating around B.C. and
especially from the Fraser Valley, championing a new rapid rail transit
service from Hope to Vancouver – particularly as far as Surrey, to join
an extended SkyTrain system from The King George Highway out to Highway
1, there seems to be a tunnel vision mentality where no one appears to
be able to move out of this rut. They are harping continuously about
twinning the Port Mann bridge and widening Highway 1, to accommodate the
ever expanding traffic.

For whom are the experts catering, when we hear about the 20 new
buses, in the future plans, which will be crossing the Port Mann bridge
every 10 to 15 minutes – from where and to where? Just think of all
that pollution spewing out into the atmosphere, compared to a rail
service.

No one can deny that a definite increase in traffic exists in
Chilliwack and along Highway 1, as the population begins moving eastward
and who can blame them, when the exorbitant cost of condominiums and
houses in and around Vancouver is driving young families and businesses
elsewhere, usually eastward, out into the Fraser Valley.

Furthermore, we now have the ever increasing cost of fuel, with which
to deal and for lack of available jobs locally, workers are now finding
themselves forced to seek positions in surrounding towns and cities,
sometimes travelling long distances. If using a car, the cost in money
and frustration would be daunting, but a nice quiet relaxing rail trip
would be most attractive. With global warming hanging over
everyone’s head, the less pollution spewing into the atmosphere
means we do not want to suffer the consequences by increasing the
problem, and should find the easiest way around it – rail systems!

Why can’t the middle lane of Highway 1 be used for a rapid transit
rail system, from Hope to Surrey and from there to an extended Sky Train
meeting Highway 1, and express Sky Trains to Vancouver or other
necessary stoppages? Few would then need the Port Mann bridge, missing
those worrisome bottlenecks, accidents, long hours on the road,
frustrated and angry drivers, arriving home refreshed, relaxed and ready
to enjoy the family atmosphere.

Naturally, there would have to be more SkyTrain carriages etc., built
and the expense of its extension to Highway 1 from King George Highway,
but, at least no one would have to worry about going over the Port Mann
Bridge. Think of those happy commuters.

Mary Hartman


Buses not the answer

The Abbotsford News

Published: October 18, 2007

Editor, The News:

The movement for increased transit in the valley is making headway.

We’ve been promised a connecting bus from Abbotsford to Vancouver in
six years. Unfortunately, that pathetic attempt at appeasement is a
joke.

Buses will do little to relieve traffic. Studies of bus usage
(Australia’s O-Bahn comes to mind) show that even with a more convenient
bus system, few people are willing to change their ways, and these new
bus lines do little to increase ridership, even when the system is able
to avoid traffic, which our eventual route will not.

Light rail, on the other hand, does create a significant amount of
transit users where there were drivers before.

Current estimates for the reinstitution of existing rail lines and
building of supplemental infrastructure to create a 90-kilometre
interurban line put the price tag at $1 billion.

To put that in perspective, the 19 kilometres that make up the
RAV/Canada line are costing $2.4 billion, and Kevin Falcon’s proposed
Gateway Project for highway expansion would run up a $3 billion bill.

Stephen Jersak

Abbotsford


Trains past promises

Langley Advance

Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dear Editor,

Heavy freight trains are going to be longer and there are going to be
at least 40 of these trains coming right through the centre of Langley.

When these trains come, we can say goodbye to light passenger trains
forever, since there will be too many trains now, and these heavy
freight trains will be using a stretch of the old Inter Urban tracks.

In September, 1968, Langley municipality was promised that there
would only be one freight train per day each way.

There is a solution to get the super port, and that is to replace the
New Westminster rail bridge to facilitate using the industrial corridor
through Delta.

To replace one bridge, compared to nine bridges at about $38 million
each, would be a bargain. The bridges being promised are not even on the
major roads, and if they were, they would negatively affect businesses,
as it does now with the 204th Street overpass.

We have paid taxes to the Greater Vancouver Regional District for
years, and we have received nothing back. In and around the 1950s, we
were sold a bill of goods that getting out of light rail and into carbon
monoxide-producing vehicles was the way to go. I cannot believe we are
being conned again.

Please, for the sake of health, sustaining our environment, and our
property prices, do not surrender to this dangerous plan. Trains do have
accidents, and they do carry hazardous materials.

We need to work as a team and show the politicians who want to get
elected again that we must modify Gateway now.

The politicians are not taking us seriously, since the people who are
trying to change things for the good of everyone are not getting the
support that they need.

Bill Taylor, Langley


Rail system makes us greener

The Chilliwack Times

Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Editor:

As you are aware, lifestyles featuring heavy automobile use
contribute significantly to global warming and that mass transit is much
less wasteful of fossil fuels than automobile use. Getting more
electricity, transport, and industrial output for less coal, oil, or
gasoline is a no-lose situation; more profit, less pollution, less
global warming . . . although initial outlays for better equipment and
technology can be expensive.

Businesses and governments tend not to supply products, services, and
policies people want or need, only because “it’s too expensive” or there
“aren’t enough people” to warrant this type of service.

I want you to know that the people of the Fraser Valley desperately
need a transit system linking them with the rest of the lower mainland
because it is completely non-existent, especially here in Chilliwack.
There are no transit choices. We are forced to get in our cars and drive
the already over-crowded highways on dark, stormy, and rain-slicked or
icy roads, and in blinding snowstorms, gripping the steering wheel, only
praying to get home safely. To be able to travel without fear of being
involved in a life-threatening traffic accident, especially through the
Sumas Prairie in winter, surely would make everyone’s lives a lot less
stressful.

We are asking for provincial, federal and local government funding to
be put into place for a commuter rail system linking the upper Fraser
Valley (Chilliwack) to the Lower Mainland (Surrey).

We already have the rail lines in place, although some upgrades would
be necessary. It would be a long-term, cost-efficient, win-win solution.

If we could ride the rail and be on the road less, it would obviously
contribute to fewer greenhouse gases by taking hundreds, and potentially
thousands, of vehicles off the road every day. We are aware that the
2008 provincial budget is asking for the public’s help in reducing
B.C.’s greenhouse gases by at least 33 per cent below current levels by
2020. A rail system would certainly fit the bill.

We’re asking you how long will it take all levels of government to
finally listen to and be in support of what the voters want and need?

Be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. That’s all we’re
asking for–the opportunity to choose which mode of transportation we’d
like to use.

Lori Bowman

Chilliwack


Rapid bus plan an ‘abomination’

Chilliwack Progress

Published: October 16, 2007

It is an abomination what has occurred regarding transportation in
the whole region of the Fraser Valley south of the Fraser. No
alternative to car travel has been built up over the years. And now it
has become clear the planet desperately needs less of the pollution cars
cause.

Buses are worse than cars for comfort, so who is going to sit in one?
Why can’t we get an eco-friendly passenger train system common in so
many countries ?

Forget for a minute population growth in the region; Chilliwack alone
already has 80,000 residents, and most of us would like to travel in as
pollution-free a mode as possible. A modest expenditure introducing
train travel to the region would benefit all of us.

Don Buker


The Editor;

It seems Transportation minister, Kevin Falcon, hasn’t read the book
on how to get people onboard transit. The dated ‘Rapid Bus’ connection,
proposed for the twinned Port Mann, will not take a car off the road as
Falcon’s announcement has more to do with a growing public
discontentment with how transit money is being spent, or not spent in
the Valley.

Buses have proven not to attract the motorist from the car. This
phenomenon was first noticed with the two new O-Bahn guided-bus systems
in Essen and Adelaide. In Essen, O-Bahn operating on a converted tramway
did not attract ridership, while adjacent LRT lines increased ridership
and in Adelaide, O-Bahn routes did not show an increase in ridership
when compared to conventional bus routes. New ‘rapid bus’ systems and
busways have proven disappointing in attracting new ridership, unlike
new LRT systems.

The comprehensive Haas-Klau international study “Bus or Light Rail;
Making the right Choice”, found it was not speed that was the prime
choice for customers taking transit, rather it was the over all ambience
of the service, ease of ticketing, and ease of use were more important
than speed.

Sadly a bus, is a bus, seen by many as a ‘looser cruiser’ and Mr,
Falcon’s desperate attempt to fool Valley residents that he is actually
doing something may backfire badly.

The cost of a 90 km. reactivated interurban line from Vancouver to
Chilliwack (including a new Fraser River rail bridge is put at about $1
billion; cost of the 19 km. RAV/Canada Line, now $2.4 billion. It is
easy to see where Valley transit tax dollars are going.

Malcolm Johnston

Light Rail Committee


Politicians should take a bus

Maple Ridge News

Published: October 13, 2007

Editor, the News:

Re: Express bus route to cross Port Mann, Golden Ears (The News, Oct.
10)

All I see in this article is the continuation of pie-in-the-sky
thinking and endless political and bureaucratic double talk.

In reading this, along with the another article, “Region 2nd for
green transport,” it made me almost fall off the chair laughing.

It’s crystal clear that not one of these politicians or bureaucrats
has ever made any use of the transit system in this area, outside the
odd photo-op. I dare them to try to get from Maple Ridge to any
downtown Vancouver appointment on time, using the bus. To try and get
home, after 6 p.m. by bus.

The last time we had any kind of real rapid bus service in this area
was 30 years ago, with the PCL bus line. Since getting Translink, one
would be better off going by mule train, after all its faster and more
reliable.

As for Kevin Falcon’s comment about population density not being
enough, this continues to baffle me. Time and again these same people
tell us that the Lower Mainland is going to expand and that we are
looking at over two million people living here. So what on earth are
they waiting for? Why wait until they reach that ‘magic number’ before
doing anything. Once again the politicians and bureaucrats seem to be
unable to see past the end of their desk. Their plans for the future are
already 25 years too late.

If this government is under the impression that the bus is the answer
to our transit problem are looking through rose -coloured glasses.

Tim Wittenberg

Maple Ridge


The Editor;

The premier’s announcement that buses will return to the Port Mann
route is an embarrassment and shows that he is completely out of touch
with ‘transit’ reality. The announcement is a farce, done solely as a
‘photo-op’ to help quell rumblings from Fraser Valley tax-payers ,that
their tax dollars are being squandered on the RAV/Canada line subway.

Mr. Premier, these rumblings are getting louder and a rapid bus line
is an insult to their intelligence. What is needed is a new Minister of
Transport, who understands modern public transit and is prepared to fund
workable transit solutions.

Buses, including rapid bus, have singularly proven that they do not
attract the motorist from the car. But don’t tell that to TransLink’s
planners, who get generous car allowances or the politicians who sit on
TransLink’s board, who know little or nothing about public transit.

What is surprising is so much space given to a non-event, sponsored
by publicity seeking politicians who don’t give a damn about good
public transport, and merely want to cut ribbons on multi billion
dollars rapid transit projects.

Malcolm Johnston

Light Rail Committee


Politicians should ride a bus

The Chilliwack Times

Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Editor:

After many years of living in a town where transit seemed to be a
non-issue, it is exciting to see so many people raising their voices to
inspire some action from our political leaders.

During the 18 years I have lived here, inter-city transportation in
the Fraser Valley has deteriorated considerably. Although Greyhound
service has always been available, it used to be accompanied by transit
from other bus systems such as Cascade Coach Lines, Fraser Valley Bus
and Charter, or City Link. These additional services are no longer
offered.

Since I do not own a car, and have family members living on the
Island, I have had the opportunity to become intimately familiar with
the bus systems throughout this region and beyond. Those who have not
used transit regularly may not realize how inconvenient and frustrating
it can be.

Travelling between Chilliwack and Victoria, for example, takes a
minimum of seven hours, if you make your connections. I could fly to
Montreal in less time. Taking the trip means travelling from Chilliwack
through Abbotsford, Langley, and Coquitlam. Upon arriving in Vancouver,
one then transfers to a Pacific Coach Lines bus to continue the trip to
Tsawassen, onto the ferry and into downtown Victoria.

Fortunately, most of these buses are run by efficient and polite
drivers, many of whom attempt to lessen the tedium of the journey with
their cheerfulness and humor.

Between dealing with jam-packed coaches, and the frustration of
continual traffic jams between Langley and Coquitlam, this says a lot
about their integrity.

I would like to invite every city council member and provincial
politician to give this journey a try, but be sure to check the
schedules first. You will discover that travelling to Victoria on a
Friday afternoon means that you must be on the Greyhound bus leaving
Chilliwack at 3:10 p.m. The next trip does not leave until after 6 p.m.,
and it arrives in Vancouver almost an hour too late to make the Pacific
Coach Lines connection to the 9 p.m. ferry. For most working people, who
cannot leave their jobs in the early afternoon, a weekend trip to the
Island is a logistical nightmare.

I encourage everyone who shares these concerns to add their voices to
the growing wave of support for rail in the valley. Many of us find the
desperate need for improved transit to be a very convenient truth.

Elaine Foxgord

Chilliwack


Listen to the people Hames

The Chilliwack Times

Published: Friday, September 28, 2007

Editor:

Mayor Hames, as so many politicians who have been around too long,
has forgotten what kind of society we live–as a reminder, it’s called
democracy, and when the people speak he had better listen.

There is no doubt, and he can’t hide the fact, during the past five
or six years our environment has been of little concern to him or the
council, as they allowed development to spin out of control, with nary a
thought given to our future. Now we the people of Chilliwack are paying
the price. His ‘most desirable city in the world’ is now, for these
transgressions, snarled in traffic, grid lock and choking with
pollution. Our farm land and old growth trees are vanishing by the day,
and as we learn from the last council meeting, more will soon be lost.
Even as he and the council know this, they are determined to denude our
beautiful hills and mountains.

As this assault on our city continues, Hames fiddles in denial, he
turns his back on the growing avalanche of protest seething in the minds
of the citizens. They realize, as he apparently does not, we cannot
continue in this downward direction and must now reduce the use of
automobiles in the city and the valley, a solution that seems to have
passed over the heads of our politicians, specifically our environment
minister, Barry Penner. We need to reinstatement the valley rail line
and introduce a clean, efficient transportation system for the city. To
ignore these facts, and the voices of the people, will give no
choice–it’s either the well being of city and its future
generations–or Clint Hames.

To borrow on the words of Winston Churchill used in another time of
pessimism–Go sir, for God’s sake go.

Bob Olsen,

Sardis


London has great transit

The Chilliwack Times

Published: Friday, September 28, 2007

Editor:

One would hope that fact finding trips by local officials to the UK
or other parts, would have received input from officials from other
communities within the Lower Mainland, who may share similar or common
concerns. Taxpayers money is better served.

One aspect of this trip seems to have been overlooked–public
transportation. London has an exellent public rail system with all the
outlying towns and cities. Absolutely essential.I trust this will be
included.

Solms Coutinho,

Sardis


By Lori Bowman

Sep 25 2007

Re: Rail link would kill Chilliwack: Mayor (Chilliwack Progress,
Sept..
11).

I can’t believe that Mayor Clint Hames honestly believes that
having rail service available here in Chilliwack would destroy the
essence of our community and make rail commuters too tired to contribute
to the community!

None of us look forward to getting up long before the sun rises and
driving on dark, stormy mornings and rain-slicked roads. Let’s not
forget about blinding snowstorms, and icy roads, gripping the steering
wheel, only hoping to can get safely home. Most people drive too fast
for both the weather conditions and their vehicles. To be able to travel
without fear of being involved in a life-threatening traffic accident,
sure would make everyone’s lives a lot less stressful. If we could ride
the rail, and be on the road less, it would also contribute to fewer
greenhouse gasses, by taking hundreds, and potentially thousands, of
vehicles off the road every day.

Lifestyles featuring heavy automobile use contribute significantly to
global warming. Businesses and governments tend not to supply products,
services, and policies people don’t want. Mass transit is much less
wasteful of fossil fuels than automobile use, but if the public hasn’t
demanded mass transit and the necessary train lines and bus routes
haven’t been built, then they aren’t quickly available when and if
people change their minds. Momentum has to be built up for such
changes… and yet, paradoxically, if the options aren’t available, it’s
hard to establish momentum for them.

Yes, Mayor Hames, we do need bus transportation in our city, but it
still doesn’t get the thousands of people off the highways. Getting
more electricity, transport, and industrial output for less coal, oil,
or gasoline is a no-lose situation: more profit, less pollution, less
global warming – although initial outlays for better equipment and
technology can be expensive. We already have the rail lines in place,
and even though some upgrades would be needed, it is a long-term,
cost-efficient, win-win solution.

How long will it take to have local and provincial governments take
action in support of what their voters want? Be a part of the solution,
not a part of the problem. That’s all we’re asking for – the opportunity
to choose which mode of transportation we’d like to use.

And at the end of the day, would we choose to be more involved in our
community? I sure think so!


The editor:

We are told by Mary Polak that the Fraser Valley does not yet have the
density for light rail service. We don’t even need to look as far as
Europe to see that this view is utter nonsense. Calgary, with its
sprawling suburbs, has the C-Train, a light rail system that today
carries 250,000 passengers per day, in a spread-out city of 1 million.
Calgary was able to reduce costs by building track at grade, allowing
more distance of track to be built for the same money.

Here in the Fraser Valley, we already have the conveniently-located
Interurban track just waiting for us to use again. Are the Liberals so
indebted to Gateway roadbuilders and RAV-line construction that they
can’t afford to do the right thing and finally start investing in
long-overdue light rail south of the Fraser, the only real solution to
our traffic problems?

Mary Polak, with her tired old statements regarding light rail, is
the one who is out of touch.

John Buker

http://www.railforthevalley.com


The Editor:

MLA’s Mary Pollack’s statement, “the population isn’t big enough
south of the Fraser to support it, yet.” is false. In Karlsruhe Germany
region, which is roughly the same size and population as the Fraser
Valley from Hope to Vancouver, has three cities with urban LRT systems,
which includes the city of Karlsruhe and it’s world famous 470 km.
network! The longest journey one can take in Karlsruhe is 210 km.

Yet the per km. cost of Karlsruhe’s LRT system is quite cheap, under $15
million/km. complete. Why?

German planners in the 1980’s realised that to get people out of their
cars and onto transit, transit must go to them and take them where they
want to go, without transfer. To make new LRT lines affordable, planners
designed a streetcar that could not only travel on tram tracks in
cities, but trackshare on mainline railways. German planners just
reinvented the interurban. It’s not density that is important, but where
the LRT services.

Ms. Pollack is beating the old “not enough density”drum, like her friend
Kevin Falcon, who only think of regional “rail’ transit in the terms of
extremely expensive light-metros like SkyTrain and RAV.

Sad, LRT has made light-metro obsolete.

The two reason that the Liberals do not want to talk ‘rail’ transit in
the Fraser Valley is:

1) Their political friends, the Road Builders Association, want the over
$3 billion of taxpayers money, for new roads, spent on them. 2)
Embarrassing questions would be asked if $15 million/km. LRT built in
the Fraser Valley were to be compared to $125 million/km. RAV/Canada
line project.

A message to Ms. Pollack, your ignorance about light rail, is
deafening.

Malcolm Johnston

Light Rail Committee


The Editor;

So valley politicians, hope for a transit plum, let us hope that the
plum isn’t sour. The BC Liberals, under intense pressure because of
Gateway and a lack of transit funding to the valley, may try some
hocus-pocus planning that has been done on the back of an envelope to
appease the electorate.

Trouble is, the Premier is a ‘rubber-on-asphalt’ type of guy and transit
is for the lower orders. Sure Vancouver gets billions of dollars for
expensive show-case SkyTrain or a subway and Vancouver now wants a
showcase subway under Broadway.

Here is the problem and it is unique to the GVRD; we build with
light-metro and light-metro is expensive to build. We do not build with
much cheaper light rail, even the so called Evergreen LRT Line at over
$90 million/km. has more in common with SkyTrain than real LRT.

Light metro or SkyTrain is obsolete and has been so for over two
decades. No one. SkyTrain has been made obsolete by modern light rail,
but no one has told our planners at TransLink who continue to squander
hundreds of millions of dollars on bogus light metro planning, operating
is great rapid transit corridors.

Who builds with SkyTrain? No one!

Our out of touch planning bureaucrats, who only plan for light-metro,
sell out of date light-metro planning to equally out of touch
politicians, who make fools of themselves selling it to the public. Now,
we are getting more of this extremely expensive, yet obsolete
light-metro style planning and like the previous $5 billion spent on
SkyTrain, not create the all important modal shift from car to transit.

The so called transit plum, just may just prove to be more sour grapes
for the transit customer and the taxpayer.

Malcolm Johnston


Editor:

Westbound to the Port Mann Bridge, Highway #1. Stuck in traffic. Inch
forward. Shoulders hunched. Frustration builds. What, only the “Last
Exit to Surrey” sign? Breathe in exhaust fumes – close the window. Check
the time – going to be late. The other lane is moving faster. Inch
forward a little more.

Does this sound familiar? The B.C. Government plans to widen Highway
#1 and twin the Port Mann Bridge. This would seem to solve the problem,
but the solution would be temporary, as these new lanes would soon be
clogged with even more cars and trucks. Then we’d be worse off than
before, and we’d have spent the tax dollars that could have gone to a
better solution: Light Rail.

Let’s urge the Government to do this: Reopen the old Interurban
Railway to Chilliwack. It carried passengers and milk from village to
village to Vancouver in the early 20th century, and the track is still
mostly there. Highway-widening funds could be reallocated to the
purchase of rolling stock and the construction of commuter rail stations
similar to those of the West Coast Express. Ten or twelve years ago this
idea came up, but the railway rejected it because part of the track was
needed for coal freight trains bound for Deltaport. With Premier
Campbell now saying he wants to massively reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas
emissions (many of them from Single Occupancy Vehicles), isn’t it time
for change?

If you’d like to see commuter rail serve the south side of the Fraser
River, check out http://www.railforthevalley.com. We can make it happen.

Val Ridsdale, Abbotsford


We had light rail 100 years ago


Published Sep 21 2007, Langley Times


Editor: It still shocks me to think that from 1910 until the 1950s,
we had a complete light rail system that connected all areas of the
Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver. People back then (when the
population was about one-quarter of what it is today) had access to a
better system then we do today.

They tore that system up in the 1950s for buses, ridership plummeted,
and the rest is history. In this day and age, we should be asking
ourselves why we are building greenhouse gas-causing roads that don’t
work, and not building light right.

They had light rail over 100 years ago, we can have it now.

The attached map (above) was sent to me by Henry Ewert, who has
written a book about the Interurban system.

Nathan Pachal, Langley

Editor’s note – Mr. Ewert is a regular speaker on the B.C. Electric
Railway, and always draws a sizable crowd when speaking in Langley.


Ready for the rail line


By Mary Hartman, Chilliwack



Published Sep 21 2007, Chilliwack Progress


The ongoing litany of words advocating a rapid modern rail transit
service from Hope to Vancouver, or even as far as an extended Sky Train
out to Highway one at Surrey, seems to be increasing in volume, as
letters pour into papers and the Internet. How many of the population’s
opinions need to be expressed, before “the powers that be”, take notice?

Those continually denigrating the views of advocates, seem to
stubbornly and persistently, present the same old reasoning and are
prepared to spend billions of taxpayers’ and private funds on, in their
views, an ever expanding (polluting), highways, whereby, congestion,
bottlenecks, frustrated drivers and an ever increasing global warming
occurs.

Why twin the Port Mann bridge and expand Highway 1, when no one wants
it, saving billions of dollars which could be used for a system which
will last well into the future and remain patent, giving the population
something on which to expand.

A comfortable, relaxing, swift journey to work every day is all
people are requesting. Why knock it! Whose money is it anyway?
Certainly not the planners’.

Nobody wants to ride to work in buses, however new and modern, which
will only add to the usual bottlenecks, accidents, pollution, delays and
frustrated bus drivers and passengers – spewing pollution all day,
every day.


Freeways won’t reduce the traffic congestion


By Alphonse Litjens, Chilliwack


Published Sep 21 2007, Chilliwack Progress


Recently there have been a number of articles about Chilliwack
requiring a rail connection for travellers to destinations west of us. I
was very happy about that, because already in the 1960s I was part of a
group asking for this.

The provincial and city governments nixed that and they still do.

Today I was on Highway 1 going to Vancouver for one of my frequent
medical appointments and especially on the way home to Chilliwack it was
gridlocked – a transit bus was in the lineup for the Port Mann
stop-and-go traffic going nowhere! Mr. Hames, are you listening?

If only 15 per cent of the freeway traffic are heading to work – pray
tell where are all these other peole going?

There are all kinds of people on the freeway because of appointments,
shopping, visitng and doctors’ appointments and there is no convenient,
frequent, affordable alternative.

Freeways or their expansion are not the solution; rapid rail transit
is the answer!

Over to you, Mr. Hames.


Rail would connect campuses


By Don Buker, Rosedale


Published Sep 21 2007, Chilliwack Progress


UCFV students, are you having trouble with transportation to your
Abbotsford classes? Car travel is costly, polluting, and in the winter,
it sucks.

But there is an existing railway (the interurban) running from
Chilliwack, through Sardis, then Yarrow, and over to the Abbotsford UCFV
campus, (and beyond).

The interurban train went out of service in the 1950s as everyone
bought cars. In the meantime, the true heavy cost of daily and long car
use for a larger population has become apparent.

But the larger population of Chilliwack (5000 in 1950; about 80,000
today) makes passenger rail service for Chilliwack and the rest of the
Fraser Valley feasible once more.

Earlier efforts to revive passenger rail service in Chilliwack
stalled amidst a feeling that “car culture is king here.”

But it is not hard-wired in the brain. It might be surprising what
an actual train would do to inspire “a train culture.”

You can help by talking to your family and friends about finally
getting an environmentally clean, and affordable travel option for
students, and for all of us. Also, you could log on to
railforthevalley.com to compare notes with other train-lovers in the
Fraser Valley.


Politicians hindering rail

The Chilliwack Times

Published: Friday, September 21, 2007

Editor:

Last week Mayor Hames stated he was worried that Chilliwack would
become a bedroom community with the introduction of the rail system.
Well Mayor Hames, we are a bedroom community when you see how many
people commute from Chilliwack each morning and return each evening.With
the more affordable housing out here where else do you think people are
going to move?

As it stands now people have no alternative to commute to Abbotsford,
Langley, Mission, Maple Ridge, or Surrey. You take any comparable city
to that of the Lower Mainland and you will not see such a fractured
transportation system such as what we have.

When you look at the past, you come to see that there was a better
system for travel towards Vancouver than what we have. They had the
Interurban, later Pacific Coach Lines, then later there was Cascade
Charter Service (which provided commuter service). As it stands now we
do not even have a bus system that would even get to Abbotsford that is
20 minutes down the road, let alone get to Langley to join with Coast
Mountain.

There is Greyhound, but their service is geared not for commuters as
their service is primarily provincial, and seats are limited if one
wants to travel through the valley. The alternative is not so much as a
rail service (which would be the ideal) but an express bus service as
well a local bus service connecting with Coast Mountain and the
SkyTrain.

The only hindrance to this solution is those politicians such as
Mayor Hames who have this village style thinking that those 20 miles
between Chilliwack and Abbotsford is going to insolate us from the urban
sprawl.

It is about time our local politicians get away from this 1980s small
town thinking and realize this is 2007 and we need 2007 solutions to our
transportation needs.

Terry BelyeaK

Chilliwack


Penner needs to get on board

The Chilliwack Times

Published: Friday, September 21, 2007

Editor:

More than 80 years ago our forebears, with wisdom, instituted a clean
electric system of transportation for the Lower Mainland and extended it
to cover the Fraser Valley as far as Chilliwack.

The teminal was near where the public library stands today. It was
the most advanced system in North America.

Due to the power of the automobile industry, the rubber tire
manufacturers and the bus lines, the system was negligently allowed to
fail and henceforth Chilliwack has relied on an inadequate and polluting
diesel bus service and the private vehicle with an average occupancy
rate of less than two people per vehicle.

Fundamentally we need to consider the carrying capacity of the
different alternatives to moving goods and people against the energy
required with its subsequent pollution. A diesel-electric train carries
at least 20 times the load per unit of energy required than a diesel
truck. A diesel barge carries approximately 100 times the load per unit
of energy than a truck. A light rapid transit electric railway “bud” car
carries 200 people as opposed to 100 vehicles to provide that capacity.
It is essentially 100 times more efficient providing 100 times less
pollution.

I know that Chilliwack has a poor record regarding the amount of
pollution produced by its bus service and there is no alternative
electric rail transport available. This need has been observed by a
group of students and others who have arranged their own website to
publicize the need for electric transit which would eneable students
more easily to reach other campuses of University College of the Fraser
Valley; linked with a terminal at our new Abbotsford International
airport and allow motorists the attractive less polluting way to visit
Vancouver either on business or pleasure.

It is significant that our intelligent young people can see a time
when the polar ice cap will be only 1/8 its size and the polar bear
population decimated. They will certainly see this horrendous change in
their life times.

The institution of an electric rail system linking Chilliwack, the
valley and beyond would enhance the efficiency of commerce and also
really show that we want pollution from the automobile engine to be
reduced. Our present Liberal MLA, the Hon. Barry Penner, is the Minister
for the Environment. I contend that he must be more active in support of
electric transit for the valley and the need to reduce pollution.

H.D Rogers, MB., MRCS

Chilliwack


Rail service should be a council priority
Published: Sep 18 2007

Passenger rail inking the Fraser valley with Vancouver would destroy the
essence of Chilliwack? Such are the musings of our worthy mayor. Just
what particular “essence” have you been sniffing, Clint? Such statements
border on the absurd, and are best left for discussion with your peers
in council.

People are moving into Chilliwack from all parts of the country,
including Vancouver, without a rail link, real estate here is a hot
commodity. Many of us regularly travel to Vancouver for a variety of
reasons, including business, and going by car, depending on time of day,
can be a nightmare. Cities such as Toronto, Chicago, Washington D.C.,
Montreal, to name a few, all have excellent rail service with outlying
communities. A rail service extending to Hope would give us the
convenience and pleasure to ride in relative comfort to Vancouver, with
stops in Abbotsford and other designated areas. With Skytrain service in
place and further extensions planned, virtually all main points of
interest in Greater Vancouver can be reached in relative comfort and
convenience. This will include the national airport in Richmond.

In addition to the convenience, Mr. Hames, consider the enormous
pollution created by vehicular traffic in contrast to a rail service.

As for your “essence” of Chilliwack, look no farther than the Promontory
skyline, now virtually treeless, resembling the ugly clearcuts seen
around Abbotsford. What were you thinking of?

We sincerely hope there is enough independent thinking among council
members, who will see the merit and positive aspects of a railway link
and make this a much needed priority.

Solms Coutinho, Sardis


Valley needs rail service now

The Times

Published: Friday, September 14, 2007

Editor:

People in the Fraser Valley want better access to the big city. Public
transportation is working in other parts of the world. Why not give the
Fraser Valley a better connection to Vancouver?

Helga Kramer,

Chilliwack


Tried to take bus but too frustrating

The Times

Published: Friday, September 14, 2007

Editor:

I’m another member of Rail for the Valley (www.railforthevalley.com), a
group which has ballooned to more than 800 members since it was started
two months ago.

I hate that I’m forced to drive a car in order to participate in our
society, even though I am a healthy person who owns both a licence and a
car. It’s horrible that we marginalize young people, seniors, and
disabled people by offering no alternatives to the private car for
moving about this valley. (I once tried to take Greyhound from
Chilliwack to Abbotsford when I uninsured my car in a fit of
eco-enthusiasm. The bus was two hours late, and no passenger information
was provided about the situation.)

I’ve heard that Mayor Clint Hames opposes rail service to Chilliwack, on
the grounds that it would transform Chilliwack into a bedroom community.
I appreciate his concern for our city, and I also would not want us to
become a bedroom community, but I would need more information to trust
that rail service would have such a result. Has Mission become a bedroom
community? Were we a bedroom community back when the B.C. Electric
Railway provided service to New Westminster?

Trains are not automatically commuter trains. I’d like to take my sons
into the city to visit friends and family or to go to Science World
without fighting traffic. UCFV’s trades program is now at the former
base: it’d be fantastic for students from Langley and Abbotsford to take
the train to school. Vancouverites would love to load their bikes onto
the train to ride around our countryside visiting agritourism
businesses.

We have responsibilities to reduce global warming and to allow more of
our citizens to fully and safely participate in our society.

Beverly Jones Redekop,

Chilliwack


Long-term answer is dedicated rail

The Times

Published: Friday, September 14, 2007

Editor:

I used to work in Chilliwack, commuting from New Westminster on a daily
basis. I saw the idling traffic stretching from 176th Street (and often
enough, 200th) to the bridge, and I agree there needs to be a solution
to the congestion problem which is strangling the Lower Mainland.

However, I don’t think that expanding the highway is a long-term
solution, whatever temporary relief it will provide. Eventually, enough
residential growth in the valley will just choke the highway off again,
if we don’t find an alternative way for people to travel to and from the
Valley and the communities north of the Fraser.

I think a long-term solution lies with dedicated rail service from
Chilliwack into downtown Vancouver, with stops in Abbotsford, Langley,
Surrey, etc.

If our province was really committed to solving congestion problems in
our region, it would invest in the long-term rail service solution now,
rather than the short-term relief of highway expansion.

Kevin Washbrook,

Vancouver


Mayor’s rail stance disappointing

The Times

Published: Friday, September 14, 2007

Editor:

Only a few weeks ago, concerned citizens from across the entire Fraser
Valley wrote letters to their local papers demanding our elected leaders
accept the need for a passenger rail service.

Dozens of articles and opinion pieces sparked by this effort appeared in
many newspaper, radio, and television outlets from Vancouver to as far
as Hope. It seems that the majority of citizens recognize the need for
light rail and are talking about it. Ask people on the street if they
think a service should be established and support is overwhelming.

So we must ask ourselves the question, are our elected leaders listening
to what we are telling them?

Amongst all this public attention and media buzz, the Rail for the
Valley Movement tells us that Chilliwack’s Mayor Clint Hames has been
very non-public in his efforts to discourage and even sabotage passenger
service. The Langley-based Valley Transportation Advisory Committee
VALTAC, closely associated with Rail for the Valley, asks Hames for
Chilliwack council’s support and he writes them back a quiet ‘no.’ When
the media comes knocking he says buses are the answer. If they really
were the answer why has he done nothing? Why are bus trips between
Chilliwack and Vancouver nothing short of appalling?

He doesn’t want residents leaving town, and if they do only to the towns
immediately adjacent to them. He is against commuters and says the focus
should be on those who need to get to post-secondary institutions,
hospitals, and airports. Yet anyone who is pushing for passenger rail
knows that the tracks run right past all those places.

How is it that a political representative can make such a strong
statement on behalf of those who elected him which is so clearly against
what they are telling him. People, there is a Mr. Hames in every city in
the Fraser Valley, including yours, silently blocking change,
shortsighted beyond belief, and arrogantly disdainful of the public
interest. And nothing is going to change unless we take the slightest
effort to tell them we are tired of waiting for a passenger train
service, we are tired of the highways being gridlocked, tired of being
told to wait 10 years, and tired of excuses. All we have to do is take
two minutes to e-mail and tell Mr. Hames at chames@fvrd.bc.ca. We can’t
sit back and do nothing any longer.

William Chambers,

Chilliwack


Riding a tram would be better than bus

By R.B. Anderson

Sep 14 2007

Re: Rail link would kill Chilliwack: Mayor (Chilliwack Progress, Sept.
11)

I read Mayor Hames comment’s about how passenger rail would kill
Chilliwack or even more upsetting, turn it into a bedroom community.
Thank god they are the rambling’s of only one man, He actually wants to
put more buses on the already packed and crowded roads, he wants more
exhaust belching, smoke blowing buses on the roads to add to the already
polluted air.

At least on rail service you don’t have to sit behind line ups of cars
stalled because of an accident or just plain volume. I had the pleasure
of riding the BC Electric tram into Vancouver when I was a child. It was
great: no pollution, no back ups.

Mr. Hames, the BC Electoral Board is adding another seat to our area.
Have you considered following Mr. Les, and Mr. Penner into provincial
politics? Your negativity is starting to reach far and wide. Chilliwack
does not need that.

I used to think you were a visionary, when you were first put into
power, now your just another disappointing politico, who’s time has
come.


Trains have historic appeal

By Matthew Redekop

Chilliwack, BC

Sep 14 2007

My son loves trains. He plays with his set all the time, likes the way
they go over bridges, pull and push loads, connect and disconnect. He
lives and breathes trains, dreams of them. I often am woken (at too
early an hour) to the enthusiastic, loud, and demanding call to “play
trains!”

To me trains are also very appealing, although for more boring reasons.
I like the idea of making a morning commute with a paper in hand, and a
coffee in the other; the idea of arriving relaxed. Of significantly
decreasing my contribution to the local haze in the air, and to global
warmth; something for which my sons’ generation will no doubt judge me
harshly.

I understand there used to be passenger rail service between downtown
Chilliwack, and downtown New Westminster. I think of this historic
service wistfully as I make my frequent commute between these two
locations amidst hundreds of other frustrated drivers. This, and the
idea of progress. Perhaps some backward-thinking mixed with a bit of
train enthusiasm and we could regress to a time of better train service
for us in the Fraser Valley.


Chilliwack should look to the future

By Malcolm Johnston

Light Rail Committee

Delta, BC

Sep 14 2007

Re: Rail link would kill Chilliwack: Mayor (Chilliwack Progress, Sept.
11). Mayor Clint Hames certainly doesn’t show the forward thinking his
predecessors did in the early 1900s, welcoming the interurban. His
claims that “passenger rail would create an unbalanced economy;” “will
bring people, but not jobs;” and “believes passenger rail would wreck
Chilliwack’s strong volunteer base” is not based on fact and with the
last comment, utter nonsense.

The reinstatement of the interurban would offer an affordable transit
alternative to the car, for people travelling not to Vancouver, but to
Abbotsford, Langley and Surrey. Certainly the interurban must service
Vancouver, but it would be a conduit for tourists and their money coming
to Chilliwack.

The good mayor should have look outside his office window and see the
daily congestion on Highway 1 at peak times as people commute from their
homes in Chilliwack to jobs west of Chilliwack. The key for better jobs
in Chilliwack is better communication, including LRT, and cleaner air, a
bonus using light rail. Good “rail” transit would be a sure inducement
for businesses wishing to relocate from the tax mad and congested GVRD.

No man or city is an island and Mayor Hames should look to the future
for his city, just as city fathers did in the early 1900s, welcoming the
interurban.



Editor

How safe do you really feel on Highway 1 during your daily grind of
commuting? Just feet away from the car behind you doing 120 km/h.

An accident, even one as simple as a fender-bender will slow the highway
to the status of a parking lot for hours, never mind the many disastrous
crashes which take multiple lives.

Take the bus? It won’t move any faster than a car on this highway.

Lets leave the highway to the big trucks, professional drivers and the
foolhardy. Take the train.

Oh wait, there are no real commuter trains.

Happy Commuting.

Join the cause, because we need safe, comfortable, reliable trains, not
buses or more highways through the valley.

How about commuter trains from Hope to the Surrey Skytrain station? Make
sense?

The rails are already there; let’s use them. It’s our tax dollars.

Join: www.railforthevalley.com

Graham Dalton,

Chilliwack


Political inertia keeps rail from being built
The Chilliwack Times

Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007

THE EDITOR:

It is clear that our region needs an affordable rail transit mode
TransLink, the GVRD’s transit authority, either lacks the skill, or the
will to design and build such a service.

Stuck with metro mentality, TransLink only plans for extremely expensive
metro style systems such as SkyTrain and RAV.

Even the so-called Evergreen LRT line exceeds the per km. cost of the
$80 million/km. Millennium Line.

In Europe, transit planners found, with much chagrin, that expensive
metro and mini-metro systems failed to attract the all-important
motorist from the car.

Despite spending billions on fancy metros, ridership declined.

What has been found is that much simpler and cheaper, at-grade/on-street
light rail had proven superior in attracting new ridership. This has
lead to a new public transit philosophy – build it cheap and build lots.

Today, in Karlsruhe Germany, one can board a streetcar, on-street, and
alight 210 kilometres later in downtown Onrigen, with the streetcar
acting as tram, light rail vehicle, and a passenger train, tracksharing
with mainline railways, all for a cost of $10 million per kilometre or
less.

It’s only political and bureaucratic inertia, that prevents the Fraser
Valley from having a viable rail transit network.

Malcolm Johnston

Delta


Rail works for everyone else, so why not us?
The Abbotsford Times

Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2007

THE EDITOR:

I live in Abbotsford and I work in Surrey and Richmond. I have had other
offers of work in downtown Vancouver, but I have made the choice to not
accept the work there because of the commuting problems.

There is only one real way to get to downtown Vancouver and that is via
the Port Mann Bridge and while the bridge often resembles more of a
parking lot there are more than enough accidents before the bridge.

Most of these occur during peak traffic flow times. I have taken 1.5
hours to get to work some days because of accidents and clogged side
road arteries. There is no other simple route that you can easily
deviate to off of Highway 1.

The Fraser Valley is increasing in population so this problem is only
going to get worse and not better. There is no way for me to commute to
my job other that driving.

I know as I have looked. Going into Vancouver at times other than early
morning isn’t possible on the West Coast Express as they have limited
service. Surely a system more like what Toronto has is possible here for
commuting in from the valley. Is there no way our politicians can see
this?

I happen to live just off the freeway and let me tell you, rush hour is
closer to being 24/7 than not. Traffic never stops, except for snow. I
can only imagine how bad it will be in five to 10 years. Something needs
to be started now.

Rail would seem to be successful other places. Why not for the Fraser
Valley and Lower Mainland?

Shauna Ryall,

Abbotsford


Valley-to-Vancouver transit woeful

Sep 13 2007

Editor, The News:

I’m a student. I don’t have much money. I have no car, and couldn’t
afford gas if I did. If I want to go to Vancouver from Abbotsford I have
to pay $9 for a charter bus each way.

Hopefully soon I’ll be able to make my way through a maze of bus routes
through Aldergrove, Langley, and Surrey to get to a SkyTrain, but I’m
not holding my breath on that. The WestCoast Express is not a viable
option for me; I can’t catch one after school.

Abbotsford needs mass transit! Light rail is more environmentally
responsible, not to mention more enjoyable, than sitting in an idling
car waiting to get over the Port Mann Bridge.

I have little faith in local government. Time for them to prove
themselves.

Stephen Jersak, Abbotsford


Editor, The News:

Folks in the Lower Mainland need to take notice! The push for a commuter
train beyond the limited access of the WestCoast Express is a serious
endeavour that people across the region are willing to fight for.

I urge all to pledge their support to initiating a serious discussion in
the governments of the Lower Mainland to realize the importance of
making transit reflect the integration of communities that already
exist. Commuting is a reality we can no longer ignore and it’s time to
creatively respond to the challenges we face.

A commuter train on the south side of the Fraser River can be a
plausible and necessary option for responding to the social and
environmental challenges that highway gridlock presents.

David Warkentin, Abbotsford


Editor, The News:

In England, the trains that run during the day mostly carry passengers,
and the trains that run during the night time mostly carry freight for
industry. This system creates supply for both industry and transit on
the same rails. This system has not been implemented in Canada, but its
implementation would lead to a significant social benefit.

I write this letter on behalf of a community of young adults in downtown
Abbotsford who must own vehicles for the sole purpose of travelling to
Vancouver to visit friends and seek arts and culture.

Unlike our peers in Surrey, Burnaby, Port Coquitlam or even Langley we
have no means of public transit to access the city. The sole exception
could be our Greyhound service, which only makes eight runs into the
city per day,

It would be a preventative, socially beneficial step to create a
partnership with our industrial rail users in order to create a
passenger service into the Fraser Valley. There has been a significant
demand for this service, and it will not be long before this discussion
becomes a provincial election issue.

Douglas Malcolm McLean, Abbotsford


Fraser Valley needs a train system

Sep 11 2007

Editor, The News:

The Fraser Valley is in dire need of an effective public transportation
system that will allow for commuters, shoppers and day trippers to
access the GVRD in a fast, cheap and most importantly environmentally
friendly manner!

The so called Gateway project is a tremendous policy blunder that not
only outrageously avoided true public consultation but will greatly
increase carbon emissions, while doing nothing to solve traffic
congestion and the real problems of travel into the city.

We need a train!

Anyone who has travelled in Europe or many other developed places in the
world must have their heads aching at the absurd lack of efficient rail
links in this province

We built Canada with a railway, let’s keep it going!

Tim Burkhart

Vancouver


We need viable transit in valley and we need it now
The Times

Published: Friday, September 14, 2007

THE EDITOR:

My husband commutes to Burnaby. It takes up the better part of
one-and-a-half hours each way every day to get to work. If he was to
take transit – the transit that is available now – it would take him
four or five transfers to get to work and the time would be
one-and-a-half to two hours each way.

So where is the alternative?

RAV line to Richmond is a waste of our tax dollars – there is already
viable transit to Richmond. We need viable transit to the valley – to
the fifth largest city in the province. And we need it now!

Paula Kast

Abbotsford


Rail’s a clean solution to frustration of traffic
The Times

Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007

THE EDITOR:

The experience of driving around town these days, or of travelling to
any of our neighbouring communities, is fast becoming an unbearable
chore. This congestion is no secret, yet we are offered no alternatives.

Why don’t we focus our newfound affluence and productivity on an updated
transportation system? Why not a passenger rail system to service the
needs of the valley? Something clean, efficient and downright pleasant
to replace the frustration of snarled traffic.

Jeremy de Haan

Abbotsford


Transit solution in rails

Langley Advance

Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dear Editor,

Anyone who has driven the highways in the Lower Mainland on a busy day
knows that, at peak capacity, the system breaks down.

The solution is not to build more highways, as extra capacity will be
quickly swallowed by more drivers. The solution is to invest in commuter
rail options that will efficiently move people around the region and
reduce our dependency on the automobile.

Christopher Porter, Vancouver


Light rail needed – now

Langley Advance

Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dear Editor,

We need a rail service in the Fraser Valley, and we need one now.

We need to have a transit option for many reasons, including quicker and
cheaper access, pollution reduction, safety and efficiency, and
reduction of dependency on gas.

Further consideration should be given to re-introducing the Inter-Urban
Railway, an electric train system that stretched through the entirety of
the Lower-mainland until it ceased operation in the 1950s.

Light rail systems exist in many areas of the world, and questions must
be asked as to why B.C. is so reluctant to follow their lead.

The politicians try and tell us we are not a train culture, but anyone
who uses the SkyTrain or the West Coast Express knows that we are as
much of a train culture as any European nation, and if we are less so,
it is only because our government won’t give us trains.

Not only is a significant portion of the Lower Mainland’s population
utterly ignored by the bulk of taxes used for this province’s transit,
but our own elected leaders outright deceive us into thinking that there
is no alternative but to go on like this indefinitely.

I don’t hear anything from our government on the most sensible of
decisions to secure a fast, affordable, efficient, and eco-friendly rail
transit system for the residents and commuters in the ever-sprawling,
increasingly urban Fraser Valley.

The Fraser Valley needs rail now, not in 10 years, and not in 20. Light
rail, passenger rail, expanding the Skytrain – all are options which
should be considered in lieu of highway expansion.

To top it all off, trains are even profitable, and that is the thing the
politicians don’t like to talk about when they tell you how much money
it will cost to put down tracks, because after all, highways don’t make
money.

We have a real responsibility here to fight for something that is long
overdue, and also a real opportunity, with the upcoming 2010 Olympics,
to put some of our money into something that will benefit everyone, and
for which our children will be able to thank us.

Glynis Sylvester,

Murrayville


Scrap Gateway funding and put it into proper transit
Surrey Now

Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Editor,

Public transit on the south side of the Fraser needs to be improved. I
attended the information meeting put on by TransLink at SFU Surrey in
June and came away thinking that we need rail for the valley. While
population is expanding in Surrey and Langley, these areas seem to be
afterthoughts in the planning of public transportation.

We should divert funding away from the Gateway Project and develop a new
rail link. I don’t want to have to drive my car everywhere I go, but I
have no realistic alternative.

Tom Bomhof

Surrey


An old idea

Letter

Published: Friday, September 14, 2007

What to do with the Pattullo Bridge? The answer is so simple and so
clear that TransLink’s expensive planners can’t deal with it. Simply,
they can’t see outside of the box.

The decrepit Pattullo and Fraser River rail bridges both need replacing,
so why not replace both with one bridge, just as the Greater Vancouver
Regional District planned in 1978?

It proposed a new road/rail/ light-rail bridge across the Fraser to
carry a proposed LRT service across the Fraser. But instead we got the
proprietary SkyTrain, which needed its own bridge. And the proposed new
crossing was moved west and became the Alex Fraser Bridge.

A new combined bridge would be much safer for car traffic and, with a
three-track drawbridge, would provide ample capacity and increased speed
for the railways. A bonus would be that modern LRT would be able to use
the bridge for a new interurban service from Vancouver to Chilliwack at
a fraction of the cost of SkyTrain.

Now, TransLink, please send the million-dollar consulting fee to:
Malcolm Johnston, Delta



Editor



Public transit in the Lower Mainland needs improvement. This is obvious
to anyone who has been riding the packed buses in Burnaby this past
week. As climate change and fuel cost issues have become increasingly
troublesome, it is clear we must improve our system so that people are
offered as many routes and destinations as possible. We need the Canada
Line to Richmond and the proposed Evergreen Line to Port Coquitlam. But
South of the Fraser, even with these expansions, present transit options
are very limited.

The time has come for Burnaby residents to ride beyond Surrey on
TransLink’s system. The current rail links through the Fraser Valley
should be re-utilized for the purpose of public passenger rail, and a
service like the West Coast Express must be developed for this region.
This new rail link could even be part of a sustainable alternative to
the Province’s Gateway plan which was rejected by Burnaby Council last
week. It would make transportation through the South Fraser region at
least possible without a car, and would be an effective component of any
greenhouse gas reduction strategy. Although Burnaby residents won’t be
using the service as much as those in Abbotsford, unlike the proposed
Trans-Canada Highway expansion, its presence would mitigate congestion
and pollution issues. The Province should divert funding from the
Gateway Project to the development of this new rail link. Instead of
further encouraging Fraser Valley residents to drive into Burnaby and
clog our streets, why don’t we give them an alternative?

Graham Anderson

Rail for the Valley



Editor



Its totally unfair that young people should have to pay so much more for
car insurance than everybody else and then we’re not given any
alternatives. We have to either be gouged driving a car or just stay
home all the time! I’d be riding the train everywhere if there was a
choice but there isn’t. We need rail for the valley!

Joe Granger


Dear editor,

I have found the public response to my recent “Rail for the Valley”
initiative, that I started two short months ago with the creation of a
simple facebook group advocating passenger rail service for the Fraser
Valley, to be nothing short of amazing. Interestingly, the greatest
support seems to be coming from right here in Chilliwack!

I was very disappointed to hear about the mayor’s negative comments. He
is taking a small view of Chilliwack, in having such a visceral reaction
to an idea that has captured the imagination of the people, an idea
whose time has come.

Mr. Hames thinks that with passenger rail there would be no time for
people to invest in their community, because they would be too tired.
But, if you have ever ridden in a train, you would know that it is a
very relaxing experience. You can stretch out, or get up and walk
around. You can have a coffee, read the newspaper or read a book, look
out the window at the scenery, or you can even sleep it is so smooth.
Certainly it is a far more relaxing and potentially productive time
spent than driving in traffic. When you step off the train, you just
feel energized and you want to do things. There would be plenty of time
for the community!

Hames’ argument basically is: in order to keep Chilliwack from becoming
a bedroom community, the powers that be have to artificially restrict
the mobility of their citizens by denying us the right to travel in a
relaxing, environmentally friendly way.

By doing this, however, we are diminishing the potential for our city.
We are driving our people away, by making them choose between family and
ambition, community and the larger world.

I respectfully ask the mayor to re-think his position on this issue.

The day passenger rail first came was the ‘greatest day in the history
of Chilliwack.’ The day it finally arrives again will be another great
day. You can join the newly-created Chilliwack chapter of Rail for the
Valley by going to www.railforthevalley.com. Be a part of history!

John Buker

Chilliwack


Dear Editor,

The Fraser valley is long overdue for some form of valley wide,
affordable passenger rail service. Many might argue that we’re not a
“Rail Culture”, and that passenger rail isn’t economically feasible.

Obviously, building a train system will be expensive, even if using the
existing tracks. To be fair, however, we should hold our road system up
to the same scrutiny. It is clear that expanding our highways is really
no better in this regard. The same money which could be used to expand
our highways could be used to implement a passenger train service which,
unlike highways, would at least partially pay for itself through the
fares. It too, would help reduce automobile traffic, but would have many
additional benefits.

With the rising prices of gasoline, parking, and automobile insurance,
many people would welcome an alternative to driving purely for financial
reasons. Add to that the fact that you can actually do something with
your travel time rather than having to concentrate on the road and the
choice just seems obvious.

Regarding ridership, I don’t think there will be any problems. There are
plenty of people, myself included, who will make use of it immediately.
Many others who are currently indifferent will use it once they’ve tried
it and experienced the obvious advantages of transportation by rail.

Nick Wimpney

North Vancouver


Commuting within the Fraser Valley has reached crisis levels. Morning
commutes are marred with gridlocked traffic, accidents, road closures,
and construction. Spot improvements (focused on the Port Mann Bridge
area) via the Gateway Project have been hailed as the saviour to this
problem, but in truth they are hasty responses with no regard to future
ease of transportion. This provincial response is typical of regional
government across North America. Many other metropolitan areas have
attempted to build their way out of traffic congestion, but to no avail
(see Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington D.C.).

The problem with spot improvements is that wider highways simply attract
more commuters, and as a result commercial, industrial and residential
development will follow, attracting even more drivers. Spot improvements
are only short-term solutions. If Translink built a light-rail line
along Highway 1, more commuters would leave their vehicles at home and
use the rail line, thereby alleviating the amount of vehicles on the
road. Furthermore, one of the benefits of putting the rail line along
the middle of Highway 1 is that commuters during rush hour will see the
railcars rapidly pass them each morning and could encourage them to give
the system a try.

Another benefit of building a rapid transit line through the Fraser
Valley is that it will provide options for those who cannot or simply do
not want to invest in an automobile. Currently, in order for residents
who live east of Surrey to get around from one city to another with
relative convenience, they must drive. Bus systems are long and
disconnected from city to city, and taxis and charter buses are simply
unaffordable. For many people (such as students), purchasing, insuring,
fueling and maintaining a personal vehicle is unaffordable. On average,
a car owner would end up spending around $6000. A regional transit
system would allow residents of the Fraser Valley to pursue affordable
transportation options that don’t involve the automobile.

A regional transit system would also increase the environmental
sustainability of the Fraser Valley. It is common fact that the vehicle
is one of the major modern sources of pollution in our urban areas.
Considering transit options also makes economic sense. If our
infrastructure relies solely on one dominant mode of mobility, what will
happen when that mode crumbles under the pressure? A balanced and
diverse transportation infrastructure is one that will reap the greatest
long-term rewards.

It is time for the provincial government to stop reactionary responses
to transportation problems in the Fraser Valley. Highway expansion is an
expensive and uneffective (in terms of the future) solution and
alternative options need to be considered as soon as possible.

Bruce Timothy Mans

Langley, BC


September 10, 2007

Dear Editor,

It is high time to improve the lives of Lower Mainland citizens. We
generally depend on the automobile to get around, wasting time and
polluting the environment. Traveling by automobile is also dangerous!

Solutions to shorten the commute include widening the highway, which
will certainly bring even more congestion and pollution to Lower
Mainland roads. This idea is shortsighted and will only worsen things in
the medium and long term.

Traveling by rail is much more comfortable and convenient. It produces
less pollution. Instead of sporting hunched-up shoulders and white
knuckles, a person arrives at ease and perhaps having enjoyed a novel or
the morning paper, or having completed work-related tasks.

Demand more foresight and a better lifestyle for Lower Mainland
citizens! Join the movement, Rail for the Valley.

Sincerely,

Andrea Tothill

Member, The Fraser Valley needs passenger rail service NOW! Facebook
group


Dear Editor;

I have now live and worked in Valley for a year. We use to live and work
in Vancouver. We are a family of 4 and the number one thing I noticed is
that transit in the valley is not very extensive. In Vancouver we had
one car which was used only on the weekend. Because we took transit or
walked, everywhere. We now have 2 car which we almost now live in to get
anywhere, we do not go anywhere without it because we can’t, mostly
because it’s too far to walk as where we live there is no transit. We
also travel to Vancouver quite often at least 1 or twice a month. With
the increase of number of vehicles on the # 1 to Vancouver, I believe
the number of fatal accidents have increased. I truly feel that there
really has to be some sort of transportation available to the public
other than personal vehicles into and out of the city from the Valley.

It would truly be amazing to be able to take public transit from
downtown Vancouver to say Cultis Lake for the day or to camp for the
weekend. To enjoy the fresh air that everyone contributed to because of
public transportation

Katherine Warren


Dear [newspaper], I am writing to you concerning what I believe to be a
transit crisis: my typical commute by bus from Langley to North Delta
takes upwards of an hour; by driving – though during rush hour – the
time is equally as such! Considering that transit transfers are only
valid for one and a half hours after purchase, I would have to pay at
least twice if not more to get from Langley to Vancouver. While the
first purchase would only have to be a one zone transfer, I hardly find
that to be much consolation after waiting for hours for, and in, packed
busses and Skytrains. My other alternative, to drive, is equally as
frustrating: shall I take the Portman Bridge and further impede an
already overcrowded major transit line?

While I am apt at complaining (as the above should already have given
great indication) I am also enthusiastic to help solve these problems.
However, I find that what has been suggested clearly lacks much – if any
– understanding, both practically and financially, of what the person,
who, being bombarded continuously by media to be more environmentally
conscious and take public transit, really desires! Will the expansion of
Highway #1 really alleviate congestion? Or simply provide a larger arena
for more accidents? Is this really an environmental solution the “most
livable” city can come up with? An obvious solution, to me, would be to
resurrect the light rapid rail lines that run between Surrey and
Chilliwack. I must admit that before, with interest in Skytrain routes
increasing, it seemed an obvious solution, to me, to expand Skytrain
service into Langley. Yet, now that I know rail lines already exist,
there wouldn’t need to be expenditure on expanding the already costly
mode of transit: the light rail lines are easily available to be used
with minimal costs to refurbish them! While there are details that need
to be worked out, I am more than certain that these minutiae are quite
capable of being overcome within a small frame of time compared to
costly, cumbersome and non-environmental alternatives.

Sincerely,

Ian Bryce


Dear editor,

I have found the public response to my recent “Rail for the Valley”
initiative, that I started two short months ago with the creation of a
simple facebook group advocating passenger rail service for the Fraser
Valley, to be nothing short of stunning. Rail for the Valley membership
has now passed 850, and is rising as we speak. It seems everyone wants
to climb on board what is now a runaway train of momentum, and it’s easy
to see why. The idea is a winner.

By investing in Fraser Valley passenger rail, we can simultaneously
reduce the congestion on our roads, provide safer, more relaxing, and
cheaper transportation possibilities for people, and do our part to
fight global warming and save the environment. With less money being
sucked into gasoline consumption, there is the added benefit that more
money would be available to boost the entire region’s economy.

You can join one of our newly-created local Rail for the Valley chapters
by going to www.railforthevalley.com. Be a part of history!

John Buker

Rail for the Valley


Vancouver Sun letter, Re: Bottlenecks, bridges and tunnels: The joys of
commuting, Sept. 3

There are train lines that could be used by commuters: the line from
White Rock to Main and Terminal used by Amtrak and the old train line
south of the Fraser River. TransLink has been running one commuter line
for years. It has the expertise to run a couple more — just add more
rolling stock. It would be cheaper and cleaner than twinning the Port
Mann Bridge.

Lynn Kisilenko


Trains can still make the station before Olympics
Editor:

In 2010 Vancouver will play host to the Olympic games and before it does
this province will have spent millions on infrastructure development.
Meanwhile our highways remain choked with idle vehicles jammed bumper to
bumper.

The main onramps are entangled messes of backed up cars striving
desperately to nudge a few more feet forward. The slightest construction
projects and most minor accidents create epic traffic jams for us to
grind our teeth at. Our Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and all
those like him tell us we need more lanes, we need more construction,
and we need more money… But the truth is more lanes will just mean
more traffic, you only have to go to Los Angeles to figure that out. We
need to get people off the highways not on them.

The truth is we need Passenger rail service. For a world class city
Vancouver and the Lower Mainland are woefully backward. If the average
person here went to Europe and saw rail transportation for what it
really is they would feel ashamed.

The politicians try and tell us we are not a train culture but anyone
who uses the Skytrain or the West Coast Express knows that we are as
much of a train culture as any European nation and if we are less so it
is only because our government won’t give us trains! Not only is a
significant portion of the Lower Mainland’s population utterly ignored
by the bulk of taxes used for this province’s transit but our own
elected leaders outright deceive us into thinking that there is no
alternative but to go on like this indefinitely.

The Fraser Valley needs rail now, not in ten years, and not in twenty.
Rail is cleaner, quite often quicker, far more relaxing then driving,
and through all seasons completely safe and reliable.

To top it all off trains are even profitable and that is the thing the
politicians don’t like to talk about when they tell you how much money
it will cost to put down tracks because after all highways don’t make
money.

We have a real responsibility here to fight for something that is long
overdue and also a real opportunity with the upcoming 2010 Olympics to
put some of our money into something that will benefit everyone and to
which our children will be able to thank us for.

People are already beginning to make a difference at
railforthevalley.com www.railforthevalley.com and you can, too, so let’s
act.

William Chambers

Chilliwack


THE EDITOR:

Commuter rail equals happier commuters.

With fewer cars on the road, rail commuters can relax on the way to work
or school, and traditional car-dependant commuters will compete with
fewer drivers on the road.

Commuter rail also equals less environmental impact, as fewer cars spew
fewer greenhouse gases, and less asphalt is needed to build and maintain
roads and parking lots.

Many of the tracks needed for this to become a reality are already in
place. Would Fraser Valley politicians please consider this option?

Derek Weiss,

Abbotsford


Stop excuses, get some trains

THE EDITOR:

Trains – our governing politicians say it isn’t viable “at this time.”
Maybe in 20 years, they say. Of course, they said that 20 years ago.

They claim there won’t be enough riders and that the cost would be too
much. ‘We’re not a train culture,’ they say. ‘Our population is too
spread out.’

These are just excuses. While billions of dollars have been given to
projects north of the Fraser River, basic transit needs south of the
Fraser continue to be neglected.

Maybe, just maybe, the reason the Fraser Valley is not a train culture
is because we have no trains.

Now, Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon wants to spend billions of
dollars on highway expansion, including $3 billion to expand the size of
Highway 1 to 10 lanes, as part of a “Gateway” project.

Traffic, pollution, greenhouse gases and sprawling developments would
all rise dramatically as a result.

We need to stop him in his tracks and spend that money on a modern train
network that connects people across the whole Fraser Valley.

Glynis Sylvester,

Langley


The overwhelming evidence is that highway expansion will not solve
traffic congestion problems in the long term. Why waste millions on
building highways? What the Fraser Valley needs is more public transit
including passenger rail. There has been passenger rail to Langley in
the past. Why can’t be have it again?

-Rob Baxter


A little more city and a little less country…

I am proud to say I am from Abbotsford. It’s exciting to see a once
fledging town emerge as a diverse and dynamic community in the Lower
Mainland. A “city in the country” is an appropriate description of
Abbotsford’s historical roots and geographical location. However, in
some respects, it’s time to move on. The challenge is that with growth,
come growing pains, and this is where I believe it’s time to add a
little more “city”, and have little less “country.”

The issue I want to address is public transportation, particularly the
point of rail transit between Abbotsford and Greater Vancouver. How many
thousands of people commute west for work, school, family, special
events, etc… One only has to spend one afternoon crossing the Port
Mann bridge (Yes, it can take a whole afternoon to get to Vancouver!) to
realize the dire need for residents across the Fraser Valley to wake up
and hear the train whistle. Cars, trucks, and SUVS are not the answer to
efficient transportation. It’s not too late to consider this as a
possibility that will have lasting effects on the future of Abbotsford
and the entire Lower Mainland. The train needs to come, and I’m all
aboard!

David Warkentin

Abbotsford


To the Editor;

How many people reading this would be able to make frequent use of a
passenger rail service connecting Chilliwack to Abbotsford and every
major city center and post-secondary institution South of the Fraser? My
guess is there would be a lot. Imagine an extensive bus system which
provided access to a passenger rail system by which one could travel
from one side of the valley to the other, and do it without the hassle
of driving?

Now think of this line connecting to the Skytrain stations in Surrey,
and you have huge potential to vastly upgrade transportation
infrastructure in a way that would substantially reduce transportation
related air pollution.

Here’s the kicker. The route for such a line already exists. In
fact, residents of the Fraser Valley could boast of being able to ride
such a system right into Vancouver until just before the middle of the
20th century. It was known as the Interurban.

I’m writing to say to our politicans and transportation policy decision
makers, let’s restore this service. While parts of the existing
InterUrban line are now used for heavy rail, what many people do not
know is the the rights for passenger service have been retained in the
BC Hydro contract, and are not required to pay cost until passenger
service reaches a total of 33% of what’s known as “wheelage”.

For this reason, and because infrastructure already exists, passenger
rail service in the Fraser Valley would be a bargain.

I for one would use it almost every weekend. Such a service would also
expand my employability range, opening up opportunities throughout the
Fraser Valley. Alternative transportation in our region has been
neglected long enough, and it is time it received more serious
consideration.

Sincerely,

Daniel van der Kroon

Abbotsford


Dear Editor:

I belong to a growing number of citizens in the Fraser Valley who
believe that the solution to many of our present woes – air quality,
global warming, traffic buildup, high gas prices, among others, lies not
in building more roads over precious farm land or pursuing new
technology which will take time to become widespread such as hydrogen
fuel cells, but rather in going back to a system that has worked in the
past; passenger rail. Why build more roads when we can instead reduce
the amount of traffic on the roads by providing viable alternatives.

Anyone who has ever tried to use the transit system(s) in the Fraser
Valley would probably agree with me that our transit is highly
underdeveloped and therefore underused. Getting around in Vancouver and
the surrounding areas isn’t too difficult, but there’s Skytrain to help
supplement the well-developed bus routes.

But as for the rest of the Fraser Valley? A few buses that don’t run
often or run late, and up until this fall there has been no effort to
connect Abbotsford (part of the FVRD) to Translink and the GVRD which
ends in Aldergrove and it has been very frustrating for those living in
Aldergrove or Abbotsford who want to get to the other but don’t have a
vehicle for a twenty minute drive.

The problem is needing a vehicle to get around – it shouldn’t be
necessary with this much development all around us, there’s more than
enough people to merit a proper transit system, such as those used in
Japan or much of Europe. Light rail, passenger rail, expanding the
Skytrain – all of these are options which should be considered in lieu
of highway expansion.

I’m sure there are many who agree with me – and many who will bring up
problems with it, the chief of which is cost. To those I ask, what kind
of cost do we put on our air and how much is it costing you and how long
is it taking you to drive to and from work every day?

Consider it.

Sincerely,

H.A. Hogeterp

Aldergrove


To the editor,

I am a resident of Vancouver, and have a car, but I try to take transit
as much as possible. It is much more relaxing and I also feel better
about my contribution to the huge problem of fossil fuel consumption,
global warming, and pollution. Most of the time, this works reasonably
well within Vancouver, and even on my commute to Surrey where I spend
some of my working days. I enjoy catching up on reading and letting
someone else do the driving.

I have family and friends in the Fraser Valley, and a trip out there
usually means driving. I am struck by the lack of rail service in the
Lower Mainland, especially compared to the more environmentally
progressive Europe, where travelling by rail is convenient, and a
pleasure. It makes much more sense to invest money in developing our
rail system than in creating yet more lanes for congestion and
pollution, not to mention headache and hunched-over, stressed-out
postures on arrival at our destinations.

We won’t become a “rail culture” without rails!

Check out the facebook group “The Fraser Valley needs passenger rail
service NOW!” and the website railforthevalley.com…

Sincerely,

Andrea Tothill


When are Kevin Falcon and the BC Liberals going to move into the touted
new era of “we don’t need any more roads” and get serious about
passenger rail service out into the fraser valley? Is this party so
indebted to road builders, car saleman, old school engineering, and the
oil companys that they have no other vision? The only ones who don’t
seem to be concerned about the state of our world, climate change, the
environment, and responsible forward thinking government are those
electing these fools and the fools themselves. I don’t hear anything
from our government on the most sensible of decisions to secure a fast,
affordable, efficient, and eco friendly rail transit system for the
residents and commuters in the ever sprawling increasingly urban Fraser
Valley. Maybe they are planning a fast ferry up and down the fraser?
-Gordon Scott


To the Right Honourable Kevin Falcon,
I am writing this letter to
plead to you and your government to act now on the transportation crisis
in the Lower Mainland. The amount of traffic that congests our streets
and highways is unbearable and inexcusable. The problem is only
exacerbated by the constant freight trains dividing sections of our
cities periodically throughout the day. Local transit is a farce
anywhere south of the Fraser River. Langley is so excruciatingly
terrible that everyone opts to drive – and will soon be a place where
cars outnumber people. (What kind of legacy is that?) I, like many
others, have tried to take the bus to work and school but they are
sparse and their schedules unrealistic.

By expanding our highways, doubling our bridges, creating
over-passes, nothing is accomplished. It would be like using a band-aid
for a bullet wound. In fact, all that is happening is that taxpayers’
money is being spent to subsidize the automobile and freight industries.
I am not 100% against these ‘improvements’ but why is nothing being done
to actually reduce the amount of traffic on our roads?

I am suggesting that further consideration be given to re-introducing
the Inter-Urban Railway: an electric train system that stretched through
the entirety of the Lower-mainland until it ceased operation in the
1950s. Much of the track still exists and some is being used for freight
traffic but could be re-routed. For that matter, read up on John
Cummins’ (Delta M.P.) ideas. VALTAC, (Valley Transportation
Advisory Committee )a volunteer run organization is fantastic for
information as well.

Skytrain was a start and Light Rail is a practical and economical and
not to mention a more environmentally friendly solution. The people of
the Fraser Valley are not asking anyone to re-invent the wheel, they
just ask that there be a better way to use it to move them around.

Sincerely,

Brandon O. Yan


If the Province of BC intends to take climate change seriously, they
must address transportation.Pavement solutions beget increased emissions
of noxious greenhouse gases. Rail is the only way to move goods and
people quickly, efficiently and with lowered climate change
consequences. In my experience as a member of Esquimalt Council and the
Capital Regional District, from talk to implementation takes at least 3
to 5 years. This government needs to commit immediately to Light Rapid
Transit and Commuter Rail to address climate change. Both the IPCC and
the Stern Report predict that governments have less than 10 years to
act. If half of that time is consumed by planning, design and securing
infrastructure financing, it is way past the time to act. I support the
advocacy of railforthevalley.com in proposing a rail solution for the
Fraser Valley. Hopefully, their success will stimulate rail solutions
throughout the province.

Jane Sterk, Ph.D., BC Green Party Leadership Candidate


Dear Editor

I am writing to you today to talk about the issue of transit in the
lower mainland. We the people of Vancouver and the surrounding areas
feel that the current system is not functioning properly. For anyone
living in the lower mainland and commuting to the city center it is
obvious that we need to think of new and innovative solutions to link
Chilliwack, Sardis, Yarrow, Abbotsford, & Langley to Vancouver City.
That is why I am suggesting a passenger rail network, this would not
only solve our need for transportation but would also make a step in the
right direction for climate control and the environment. What we need is
green options to travel and commute, moving away from our dependancy on
cars and saving this valuable landscape for future generations. That is
why I urge the government of BC to seriously look at this issue and join
us in setting up rail networks and in doing so helping to maintain this
Beautiful British Colombia.

Kind Regards, Jazmin Allen


Dear Editor,

Anyone who has driven the highways in the Lower Mainland on a busy day
knows that at peak capacity the system breaks down. The solution is not
to build more highways, as extra capacity will be quickly swallowed by
more drivers. The solution is to invest in commuter rail options that
will efficiently move people around the region and reduce our dependency
on the automobile.

-Christopher Porter


Dear Editor,

We the people believe that the Fraser Valley is growing rapidly, and
merging into Vancouver our large neighbour. In order to Accommodate many
people we feel that there is a great need for passenger trains to get us
into the city. Although Passenger rail is expensive and will cost time
and money, It will also save gasoline and eliminate car crashes and
highway traffic, this will prove to be much safer for everyone,
including our environment. Something must be done about this problem
that has come to the attention of many of us, and we feel giving you our
opinion on this matter will cause a much needed change. You are our
outlet to the public, our larger voice. Hear us roar.
My Voice and Your Open Mind,

Judy Hartford


Dear editor,

For a fraction of the cost of the proposed Highway 1 expansion, we could
have an interurban passenger rail network connecting Chilliwack, Sardis,
Yarrow, Abbotsford, Langley, on westward to the Surrey Skytrain station.
Following the old interurban right-of-way (that the government owns),
this route goes right through the city centres, and is in walking
distance of ALL the universities and colleges! With the money we would
save, we could, in addition, extend the West Coast Express from Mission
out to Chilliwack!

We in the Fraser Valley do not wish for further increases in the smog
that wafts our way, the natural result of adding more traffic to our
roads. There is now also the global warming threat to consider. Given
that gas prices will in all likelihood keep on rising in the future, and
the fact that relaxing in a train is simply much nicer than driving in
heavy traffic, the choice of rail service for the whole Fraser Valley
ahead of doubling the size of a section of the highway, is obvious. If
you think about what happens to that highway every winter when there’s a
little snow and wind, the choice becomes a no-brainer.

Our governing politicians don’t seem to get it though. They have other
insterests to consider, and it appears they will not bend their
reasoning towards common sense. Since they aren’t listening, the next
step is to organize ourselves. Check out www.railforthevalley.com and
join the campaign!

John Buker

Chilliwack


Dear Editor,

The state of public transit through much of Metro-Vancouver is
appalling. We need better rail transit through the Fraser Valley.
Without proper transit through the valley, the myth of car dependence
will be propagated. It is possible to have reasonable public transit
outside of Vancouver for less than the cost it would be to expand
Highway 1 to accommodate an ever increasing number of car-dependent
residents.

Sincerely,

Andrew Eisenberg


Dear Editor,

The long line of cars on the highway is actually very similar to a train
(with “cars” attached end to end) EXCEPT that the train is moving
quickly and smoothly, with all the passengers free to do what they want
with their time, and without a gas-guzzling motor attached to each and
every car!!

As we realise this absurdity, the need for passenger trains connecting
towns in the Fraser Valley becomes clear.

Sincerely,

Jane Buker Adams

(with family in both Chilliwack and Vancouver)


Open letter to the Honorable Gordon Campbell.

Much time and thought has gone into this letter. While I have addressed
you, if the shoe also fits any other minister, let them wear it.
However, you as the leader, bear ultimate responsibility.

You have heard about global warming, carbon emissions and traffic
congestion from many sources and you do not need statistics and more
number crunching from me. Appearances are that you have chosen to negate
the actions that should have been taken to correct or minimize some very
serious problems within the geographical area of Greater Vancouver and
the Fraser Valley. They are also in relation to your obligation to
provide an efficient and safe transportation infrastructure. You have
not offered any solutions to these problems but you have made plans to
increase them manifold.

Let us address your plans to widen Highway #1 and twin the Port Mann
Bridge. You know this is not necessary except for the thousands of
trucks from the expanded port. There is nothing in it for us at all but
poisoned air and complete devastation of land and waterways. On top of
that you want us to pay for it! You have been elected and your mandate
is to act for the good of us all. When you do not do what is right and
extremely urgent, are you then acting for your own personal and
political expedience? Every politician and person in leadership is
expected to be on board doing what is right.

It is possible to address the dual problems of carbon emissions and
transportation by the installation of train service from Vancouver to
Chilliwack or Hope – a rapid, frequent, comfortable, affordable,
well-connected conveyance system. This is the only way to move many
people within an area of congestion and reduce carbon emissions
simultaneously. Even red-blooded Canadians glued to their car seats will
have to acknowledge that and you are no exception. Anything else will
not work. A bus carries but few people and remains part of the
congestion/emission problem. Buses are needed for the excellent and
frequent connections required to final destinations thus eliminating the
need for huge parking lots. Our population is too large and our need too
great to suggest a connection to the Skytrain in Surrey as a solution.

If you say we cannot afford it, the retort of all thinking persons will
be that we cannot afford not to. We have put this off for far too long
and we must now bite the financial bullet for each year the price
increases. Look to Calgary and their ‘green’ planning. Their C-train is
fueled by wind power. Wind is free and there are no emissions. They are
working towards having the system pay for itself. Probably not feasible
but it would be superb If we had a magnetic system such as is used in
Japan. Imagine: no wheels to wear out and negligible noise!

Thinking of some of the other side benefits, breathing comes to mind!
Mental health: when commuters are not stressed because they can relax,
catch up on sleep or get work done they would otherwise have to do at
home. The divorce rate may even go down. Less road rage. Less stress in
the family. Diminished pressure on the healthcare system for there will
be fewer accidents. Savings could extend beyond the obvious one for less
gas consumption, to perhaps the second family car not being required.

In the end, this bullet must be bitten, especially when expectations of
a million or more extra commuters are anticipated in the years to come.
Even those folk who have never left their car would have to admit that
widening the highway is like a personal invitation to stay in their car.
To heck with the mess it creates. Idling in the inevitable gridlock will
exacerbate the emission issue while we inch our way along the road. Case
in point: it was just the other day, while on a necessary trek to
Vancouver, it took three hours from a few kilometers west of 200 Street
in Surrey to the First Avenue off ramp. There were no accidents or other
events that would have caused the traffic to slow down. Even the H.O.V.
lane was bumper to bumper. It was purely congestion and it was not in
the ‘rush hour’. Throw in an accident or two and the odd construction
site and you can imagine the rest. That is what you want for us.
Widening the highway will not diminish congestion for long but it will
absolutely increase the traffic permanently.

Although you were voted to represent us and act wisely on our behalf,
Mr. Premier, you have not been given the green light to work to our
detriment. It is understandable that you are eager to be voted in at the
next election and that you possibly think the train issue will cost you
that vote. I do not believe that will happen, I believe the opposite
but, even if that were true, the fact remains that your mandate is to
serve us. And your plans, or your lack of plans, do not serve us.
Believe me, when the time comes that our air has been cleaned to a large
extent and everyone is enjoying excellent, smooth transportation, you
will have saved the day, Mr. Campbell. Unfortunately, right now it is my
opinion that you are only paying lip service to the green ‘tide’. You
even have your ministers spouting that clean air is one of your primary
objectives. Once people have been informed what the Gateway Plan is all
about and the lie they have been dished up, they will never vote you
back in, for your intent is to destroy what we have.

When the global warming moves the thermostat up even one degree, the
calamity that will befall 100’s of millions of people because of the
rising water levels around the world is worse than any nightmare. Guess
how much that is going to cost? That unaffordable train will seem like
pocket change! The rising water level is only one of the terrors. We can
nip that in the bud. We can and we must do it now. Your Gateway Plan
will very certainly accelerate global warming and the maddening thing
is, it may all be for nothing for there is no guarantee that freighters
will offload at our port. And you will have spent all our money.

We beseech you to recognize that everyone is very busy and has no time
to arrange for rallies and signature gathering in order to persuade you
that we mean business. You know that a majority would sign and I know
that you are afraid of that. We need you and your ministers to take this
request very seriously. Let me, instead, thank you in advance for
showing great leadership and standing up to be counted: for earning the
right to bear the salutation, The Honorable Gordon Campbell.

I implore each reader to write to the premier, even if only a sentence
or two. Include other ministers. This is no time to procrastinate. The
website will take you to their addresses. . http://www.dir.gov.bc.ca/

Include Prime Minister Harper for he has supplied funding. Please make
yourself aware of what the Gateway Plan really means. In case you
cannot access the non-government version, contact the Wilderness Society
phone 604 683 8220 for their info sheet.

Sincerely,

Simone Greiner


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