Posts Tagged ‘letter to the editor’

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

November 8, 2009

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

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

Dear Editor,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. John Buker
Founder, Rail For The Valley


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FLOOD: Rail for the Valley, & the new Port Mann bridge

February 8, 2009

To all supporters of passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley

Last Wednesday, the provincial government announced, out of the blue, an entirely new Port Mann bridge to be built. It will not be a twinned bridge, but a single 10-lane span, and the existing bridge will be torn down, only 45 years into its 75 year lifespan. There will be no light rail component on the bridge when it is forecast to be completed in 2013. The project’s estimated cost is $3.3 billion. (If recent megaprojects are any indication, this cost will likely rise substantially.)

Click here for the story from the Province.

Then, you might want to read these editorials by experts supporting Rail for the Valley:

Malcolm Johnston 1

Malcolm Johnston 2

Nathan Pachal

Stephen Rees

Government spin that the bridge is designed to accomodate light rail ‘sometime in the future’ is just that – spin. Another word is ‘deception.’ Never in history has this type of bridge been built, and then at a later date had lanes taken away to accomodate light rail.

It appears the BC government is trying to deceive the people of BC, who will likely be expected to pay the equivalent of about $1000 for every man, woman, and child in the province for this single project. (Every premier wants a legacy, I suppose.) While the Pattullo bridge and the Fraser River rail bridge are in true need of replacement, this project will leave the province bankrupt of money for these, and other, important and necessary improvements. Commuters are supposed to cheer the temporary relief of traffic congestion on the bridge, while the light rail needs of the Fraser Valley, and the united pleas of residents across the valley, are completely ignored.

Friends, we can not stand for this!

***What to do right now***

Immediately flood our newspapers with Letters to the editor, cc’ing your elected representatives and opposition candidates.

The government has got to hear the message, loud and clear, from the people of the Fraser Valley, before any contracts for this project are signed.

(Click here for newspaper email addresses)

There is also a facebook event that has been created for this flood

Please pass this on to others who might be interested.
More action to follow.
Thank you for doing your part…

Federal infrastructure spending: speak out

January 14, 2009

The Black Press newspaper chain is asking the question,

“What is the number one project in your community that you feel would be most effective in helping improve local economic and social conditions?”

Respond in 75 words or less, by either leaving a comment on one of their websites, or writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper.

With the federal budget now less than 2 weeks away (Jan. 27), it’s crucial that we push as hard as we can for re-establishing Interurban rail service as part of the big infrastructure spending stimulus the government is planning. Remember that upgrading the Interurban track so that passenger rail can run on it is a “shovel ready project.”

This is something we can all do right now.

I suspect Black Press is doing this to try to somehow get people to use their online “comments” section (that these days remains completely blank for most articles) Anyway, no matter, we can take advantage of this and get the word out some more.

If you live around Chilliwack, click here

If you live around Abbotsford, click here

If you live around Aldergrove, click here

If you live around Langley, click here

If you live around Surrey, click here


If you want to write a Letter to the Editor instead, click here.

*****IMPORTANT***** Also send the message to your mayor and local representatives: Click here for politician email addresses.