Posts Tagged ‘Pattullo bridge’

Rail for the Valley News in the EUROPEAN Press!

November 9, 2010

Ha, ha, ha………

If TransLink, the provincial government and the Vancouver Sun don’t think the Rail for the Valley/Leewood TramTrain report isn’t worth responding too, Railway Strategies do. Here we have a situation of the RftV/Leewood report being deemed more important overseas than in the Vancouver metro area! This just furthers the evidence that our regional transportation planning has completely off the track or put another way, TransLink is taking the regional taxpayer for a very long ride on the wrong train!

The following link is to the Railway Strategies article.

http://www.railwaystrategies.co.uk/article-page.php?contentid=11367&issueid=346

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Let’s NOT make a Deal – Property tax hike for transit only choice before mayors

November 8, 2010

Is TransLink like the Titanic, sailing full steam ahead into a "financial" iceberg?

TransLink is at it again, playing brinkmanship with regional mayors and I hope the valley politicos see through this tawdry charade, which has become a cliché for TransLink’s haphazard planning efforts.

  • Behind door number 1, you have option A
  •  behind door number 2, you have option B;
  • behind door number 3, you have option A & B.

But here’s the trick, you got to play TransLink’s game because provincial transportation minister, Shirley Bond insists that regional mayors do play. Some regional mayors, including Fassbender from the City of Langley are acting the part of the country rube, easily outwitted by TransLink’s hucksters selling financial snake oil.

TransLink is in deep financial trouble, yet it plans more expensive metro lines; BRT, a transit mode with a poor record in attracting ridership; community buses, which mostly run empty; and continuing with the $1.00 a day U-Pass, a heavily subsidized student fare which clogs up buses and fills metro cars, leaving transit customers who pay full fare standing or just taking the car instead! To pay for this nonsense, the regional taxpayer is once again going to be forced to pay for really amateur transit planning, done by a bureaucracy which cares more about their perks and pensions, than planning for an affordable and accessible public transit system.

So here is the Zweisystem solution for transit funding. Let the municipalities with SkyTrain, pay for SkyTrain and the municipalities who have only bus operation, pay only for bus operation. As SkyTrain and light-metro financing so dominate TransLink’s balance sheet, the cities with one or more light-metro lines should pay more for SkyTrain and associated improved bus operations.

Example:

  • Municipalities which only operate buses are charged a flat fee of $150 on their property assessments.
  • Municipalities with one light-metro line pay a flat fee of $275 on their property assessments.
  • Municipalities with two light metro lines pay a flat fee $400 on their property assessments.
  • Municipalities with three light metro lines pay a flat fee of $525 on their property assessments.
  • Municipalities that operate trolley buses pay an additional flat fee of $50.00 on their property assessments.

This simple formula, taxes those municipalities and cities who benefit from light-metro and trolley buses and provide an incentive for taxpayers to insist getting the biggest bang for their buck!

It is time to stop playing; “Let’s make a Deal” with TransLink and the provincial government and insist that those who benefit in having light-metro actually pay their fair share for light-metro.

Property tax hike for transit only choice before mayors

By Jeff Nagel

Local mayors will not be asked to vote on imposing a vehicle levy to fund transit expansion – at least not this year.

Instead, the only option to finance the Evergreen Line and possibly other transit improvements will be an increase to property taxes.

If approved, a typical $600,000 home will pay $31 in increased tax to raise $465 million for TransLink’s share of the $1.4-billion Evergreen SkyTrain line to Coquitlam and the first phase of the North Fraser Perimeter Road.

Mayors council chair Peter Fassbender said it was too late to contemplate the Transportation Improvement Fee, a levy which would have raised the same amount of money by charging $15 to $55 per registered vehicle each year, depending on their carbon footprint.

“It would require legislative change, administrative changes and a number of elements for that to even be considered,” the Langley City mayor said of the vehicle levy.

“And it’s going to get significant pushback from south of the Fraser.”

Metro mayors meet Tuesday (Nov. 9) to be briefed on the proposed financial supplement for TransLink, which still has to be assessed by the independent TransLink commissioner before it goes to a vote on Dec. 9.

But Fassbender is still hopeful a scenario is possible where the mayors are able to negotiate different TransLink funding sources with the province, in line with an accord struck in September.

In essence, he thinks the property tax hike could be voted in now to satisfy the provincial government’s insistence of funding certainty for the Evergreen Line, which breaks ground next year.

But Fassbender notes the extra revenue from TransLink won’t be needed until 2012.

That means a property tax lift pencilled in now could be erased next year if Victoria agrees to provide alternative sources – such as road pricing, a share of carbon tax or even the vehicle levy – which could flow by 2012.

“Can this get us far enough down the road that it gives us time to find other solutions?” Fassbender asked, referring to temporary approval of a property tax hike.

“If we can take pressure off one way or another so we have some breathing space, let’s do it.”

That scenario would require trust – several other mayors fear no such deal with the province may be forthcoming once they sign off.

Transportation minister Shirley Bond has also hinted the government may take unilateral action to ensure TransLink raises the money if mayors vote down the supplement.

Then there’s the resignation of the premier and the ensuing Liberal leadership race that clouds the political landscape and will distract some of the players.

Fassbender said even that could work in favour of a deal.

“We’re in a very interesting time because of the changes,” he said, suggesting the government and leadership contenders will likely want to preside over good news, not discord.

More time to negotiate would provide a better chance to consider the how to implement something like the vehicle levy, he said, noting there’s been talk of options like adjusting the rate depending on the level of local transit service.

Fassbender said TransLink’s plan to introduce smart card payment will also open up intriguing options like rebating vehicle levy or road pricing fees collected back to motorists in the form of transit credits, encouraging them to switch modes some of the time.

“When you pay that fee you get an equivalent amount of transit fares built into that card,” he suggested. “That way we not only raise revenue but also help to shift behaviour.”

Mayors will also have the option to vote on a larger set of transit upgrades, including bus service increases and various SkyTrain station upgrades. That would cost an additional $338 million, lifting the property tax hit to $54 for a typical home.

PROPOSED TRANSLINK INVESTMENTS

OPTION A:

Evergreen Line – $412 million

(TransLink capital contribution, bus and facilities integration, wayfinding and Broadway-Commercial station)

North Fraser Perimeter Road phase 1 – $53.2 million

(United Boulevard extension)

OPTION A TOTAL: $465.3 million, requiring $39 million per year

PROPERTY TAX IMPACT: $31 per $600,000 home or $5.20 per $100,000 value.

OPTION B:

Bus service boost to accommodate U-Pass expansion: $85.1 million

Bus service boost to meet minimum service standards: $51.3 million

Highway 1 Bus Rapid Transit: $40.9 million

(Linking Lougheed Station- Surrey Central-Walnut Grove with buses every 10 mins)

Minor Road Network minor capital: $37.9 million

Bus service boost to keep pace with population growth: $36.7 million

Cycling projects: $17 million

Main Street Station upgrade: $16.3 million

Metrotown Station upgrade: $12.9 million

King George Boulevard B-Line Bus service: $12.6 million

New Westminster Station upgrade: $9.2 million

White Rock to Langley bus service: $7.5 million

(community shuttles every 30 mins)

Surrey Central Station upgrade: $5.9 million

Lonsdale Quay upgrade: $4.2 million

TOTAL FOR OPTION B: $337.6 million

TOTAL OF OPTIONS A + B: $802 million, requiring $68 million per year
PROPERTY TAX IMPACT OPTIONS A + B: $54 per $600,000 home or $9 per $100,000 assessed value
 

Why there is antagonism towards at-grade Light Rail/Tramways & streetcars (North America + Canada)

October 26, 2010

The following was sent to Zwei by a very concerned urban transportation advocate.

All the SkyTrain lobby has is fear to debate light rail and spread fear they do. All technical debates between LRT and SkyTrain/light-metro have been won or lost decades ago and SkyTrain has been relegated to the history books. Like uber Regulus fanatics, the SkyTrain Lobby and its ilk, well entrenched in TransLink, desperately try to keep building with the aging SkyTrain system with any argument they can muster.

Zweisystem predicted over a decade ago, if TransLink persisted in building with SkyTrain/light metro, it would bankrupt itself and that prediction has come true, with TransLink, balancing on the knifes edge of financial peril. It can not fund the $1.4 billion SkyTrain Evergreen Line, it can’t fund the proposed $2 billion plus Surrey/Langley extension and TransLink certainly can’t fund the proposed $4 billion UBC/Broadway subway; yet TransLink still wastes the taxpayers money, playing the same games planning for light-metro that no one can afford.

Like a slow motion train wreck, TransLink skirts with financial oblivion, ignoring all danger signals, until it finally crashes into a brick financial wall.

In the end, as noted American transit expert, Gerald Fox: “But, eventually, Vancouver will need to adopt lower-cost LRT in its lesser corridors, or else limit the extent of its rail system. And that seems to make some TransLink people very nervous.”

Why there is antagonism towards at-grade Light Rail/Tramways & streetcars (North America + Canada)

The title could be for a doctorate or thesis on public attitudes & political psychology, towards public transport.

The anathema is not always or usual directed towards cost of a project. Over the last ten years or so of Light Rail advocacy, I has noted a number of key arguments which I have listed below.

  • The road lobby fear at-grade Light Rail/Street Tramways, because of the reduction in road width/road capacity for cars.
  • The road lobby and dedicated motorists don’t like  Light Rail/Street Tramways, because it means that junction/intersection signals will be prioritized for Light Rail
  • Buses & BRT are tolerated because it is known that these modes will not offer modal shift comparable to Light Rail/Street Tramways
  • Downtown & suburban/out of town retailers fear Light Rail/Street Tramways will give shoppers a reliable transport service into the city centre to shop & by so reducing their trade.
  • Politicians & business leaders in suburban townships & rural areas, fear Light Rail/Street Tramways will turn their communities into dormitories as residents find that a commute to  the big city is feasible.
  • Politicians, civic leaders & established residents fear Light Rail/Street Tramways, will bring developers & an influx of newbie’s into their communities.
  • Big city politicians & civic leaders fear Light Rail/Street Tramways will mean citizens moving out further into the suburbs to live, work & shop.
  • Planners & politicians fear Light Rail/Street Tramways will bring urban sprawl.
  • Contrary to many expressed views, major private bus operators are remarkably tolerant of Light Rail/Street Tramways, in Europe many of them operate the Light Rail/Street Tramway systems. With public bus operators, competition with Light Rail/Street Tramways cannot be an issue. There may be a number of small existing public transport operators such as cab firms that fear a loss of trade, but often they readily adapt to the changing patterns.

 To put this into a Fraser Valley/Vancouver/BC context.

  1. TransLink fears Light Rail/Street Tramways, because its likely popularity with the general public will undermine their business model for SkyTrain & their credibility.
  2. Likewise the TransLink apparatchiks on Skyscraper, for whom urban transport is ART running through densely populated cities on elevated segregated tracks surrounded by ….. wait for it……Skyscrapers….of course! What they would actually like to see is a Dan Dare year 3000 scenario with thousands of PRT pods flying around.
  3. Gordon Campbell fears Light Rail/Street Tramways, because it will destroy his credibility and his power base.
  4. Civic politicians  fear Light Rail/Street Tramways will turn their communities into dormitories as residents find that a commute to  the big city is feasible and will bring developers & an influx of newbie’s into their communities.
  5. Civic politicians would support buses or BRT, cos they know that mode will not offer a comparable modal shift.
  6. Langleyapparatchiks  fear Light Rail/Street Tramways, cos it wasn’t their idea and they didn’t think of it first.
  7. Mike Archer & others of his ilk fear Light Rail/Street Tramways, because he’s a journalist & it’s his job & nature to write negative articles about what he doesn’t really understand.

Build Murray-Clarke — or Evergreen support goes: PM council

October 23, 2010

An interesting little spat is taking place in Port Moody, where the city council want TransLink to chip in with the Murray-Clarke Connector project and if they don’t, they will pull their support for the Evergreen (Nevergreen) Line. This confirms two of Zwei’s opinions about the $1.4 billion light-metro project:

  1. The Evergreen Line is front for more road and highway construction and for massive up-zoning of residential and light-industrial lands for high density, shoe box style of apartments.
  2. The Evergreen Line will not take cars off the road.

The artist’s rendering says it all, SkyTrain and the West Coast Express are almost hidden away by a massive new highway interchange, designed to handle large volumes of traffic.

Zweis thinks it is time for a moratorium on all transit (highway and rail) contraction and planning and the provincial government hold a Royal Commission on regional transit to get  a proper foundation for the implantation of an affordable regional transit system.

Build Murray-Clarke — or Evergreen support goes: PM council

By Sarah Payne – The Tri-City News

Port Moody council may pull its support for the Evergreen Line if the Murray-Clarke Connector isn’t built.

At a special meeting Tuesday, council again discussed the 32 requirements it says are critical to its support for Evergreen. Among them is building the connector before construction of the rapid transit line.

But with TransLink struggling to cover the funding gap just to get Evergreen built — and pay for other needed transportation projects throughout the region — Murray-Clarke has fallen off the radar once again.

“It’s one of the prerequisites of us going along with the Evergreen Line,” said PoMo Mayor Joe Trasolini of the connector. “We’re very concerned that now it seems the Murray-Clarke Connector is being orphaned again. It’s nowhere on the priority list of TransLink” even though the previous board not only approved the project in 2008 but also allocated $50 million for its construction.

Costs for the connector, which will have to be extended to reach over the SkyTrain line, are now estimated at more than $70 million. PoMo has set aside $4 million for the project.

“Today, when we’re expecting it to be completed, all of a sudden TransLink doesn’t have it on its priority list,” Trasolini added. “It’s a great concern to us and should be to everyone east of us. It throws doubts on our support for construction of the Evergreen Line.”

TransLink must come up with $400 million for its share of the $1.4-billion Evergreen Line and Metro mayors have recently balked at suggestions to hike property taxes to pay for Evergreen and part of the North Fraser Perimeter Road (Option A: $465 million) or a handful of regional projects including expanded bus service and station upgrades (Option B: $338 million).

Trasolini says Murray-Clarke must be built regardless of those funding issues.

“With the narrow corridor in Port Moody, if the Murray-Clarke Connector remains undelivered when construction for the Evergreen Line starts, you can see the disruption we’ll have. This is not just a Port Moody problem, it’s a northeast sector problem.”

Trasolini maintains the connector is not a new TransLink expansion project but the completion of an existing project — the Barnet Highway — that was promised by the province more than 20 years ago.

But TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis sees it differently, noting earlier this month that the original justification for the connector was to protect Moody Centre businesses when the Evergreen Line was planned as an at-grade LRT system down St. Johns Street. With the switch to an elevated SkyTrain system, the Murray-Clarke Connector is no longer an urgent priority, Jarvis said.

Trasolini said it’s “absurd” that a one-lane overpass that causes rush-hour back-ups stretching for several kilometres is part of the inter-municipal corridor, echoing an earlier council discussion that suggested PoMo may withdraw the Murray-Clarke from TransLink’s major road network — and block access to it for commuters coming from outside Port Moody.

He also wants to know whether the new, provincially appointed TransLink board, whose meetings are closed to the public, rescinded approval and funding for Murray-Clarke.

Trasolini and city manager Gaetan Royer were to meet with TransLink executives today (Friday) to discuss the issue. Royer said it’s unclear what effect Port Moody’s withdrawal of support for Evergreen would have on the project or who will cover the increased cost of the Murray-Clarke Connector.

“We have a tougher job getting support for the Murray-Clarke Connector because now it’s going to cost more, it’s going to have to be a longer bridge,” Royer said. “We want the province, which is the lead of the Evergreen Line, to pay for the longer bridge… because it would be a smaller project were it not for the Evergreen Line.”

spayne@tricitynews.com

— with files from Jeff Nagel

http://www.bclocalnews.com/tri_city_maple_ridge/tricitynews/news/105477778.html

Trains get streetwise

October 18, 2010

The following link from the Professional Engineering Magazine …..

http://www.profeng.com/archive/2010/2311/23110053.htm

….. is well worth the read as it neatly sums up the German city of Karlsruhe’s success in integrating transit.

Karlsruhe, it must be remembered, pioneered the TramTrain concept and with stunning results. When the first TramTrain line (which replaced a commuter train & one transfer) opened in 1993, ridership exploded from 533,600 per week to over 2,555,000, (almost 480% increase) in just a few month! Karlsruhe now operates over 410 km. of TramTrain, including lines in the environmentally sensitive Black Forest, with the longest route being over 210 km.

TransLink and METRO transit planners have singularly ignored Karlsruhe’s continuing success and busily chase their holy grail of densification and SkyTrain planning. The mandarins in charge of the regions transit planning haven’t even a clue what light rail is, or for that matter, what a metro is and try, like fitting a round peg in a square hole, cobble SkyTrain planning, making the metro fit a job far more suitable for modern light rail. The result is predictable, a disjointed and very extremely expensive ‘rail‘ transit system that is too expensive to extend, while at the same time has failed to provide a viable alternative to the car.

Today there are 14 cities with TramTrain operation (only 7 cities have SkyTrain), with a further 20 TramTrain operations being planned for and no one is planning to build with SkyTrain at this date. This is the message that is being ignored by TransLink, METRO Vancouver and provincial politicians. Remaining blind, deaf and dumb about light rail and TramTrain translates in to ever increasing taxes to pay for questionable transit expansion.

Who is not afraid to bell the SkyTrain cat?

The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree – TransLink’s Regional Transit Planning

October 13, 2010

Fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal metaphor in the United States used to describe evidence that is obtained illegally. The logic of the terminology is that if the source of the evidence (the “tree”) is tainted, then anything gained from it (the “fruit”) is as well.

TransLink’s planning officials still maintain that modern light Rail has a limited capacity of about 10,000 persons per hour per direction and refuse to entertain the fact that they are wrong. All of TransLink planning, including the RAV/Canada Line, the Evergreen line, the Broadway/UBC rapid transit line, and Fraser Valley transportation have assumed LRT’s seemingly inferior capacity and despite the fact that modern LRT can carry in excess of 20,000 pphpd, have portrayed LRT as a poorman’s SkyTrain.

The assumption that light rail has only a capacity of 10,000 pphpd is wrong.

The Light Rail Transit Association [ www.lrta.org ], which can trace its history back 63 years, which has continually campaigned for affordable and efficient public transit, defines light rail transit as:

“a steel wheel on steel rail transit mode, that can deal economically with traffic flows of between 2,000 and 20,000 passengers per hour per direction, thus effectively bridging the gap between the maximum flow that can be dealt with using buses and the minimum that justifies a metro.”

The following study from the LRTA, shows that even in 1986, it was generally understood that modern LRT could carry 20,000 pphpd.

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/the-1986-lrta-study-bus-lrt-metro-comparison/

More recently, (2006) Calgary Transit LRT Technical Data page claims that the maximum theoretical capacity of the C-Train is 30,700 pphpd!

Maximum THEORETICAL single direction capacity (pass./hr/dir) at 256 pass./car and 2 min. headway:
3-car train 23,040
4-car train 30,720

http://www.calgarytransit.com/html/technical_information.html

If TransLink’s basic assumption about light rail (including streetcar) is wrong, then TransLink’s entire planning history, regarding bus, LRT, and SkyTrain is wrong and is not worth the paper it is printed on. Yet TransLink, without any public scrutiny and very little political oversight, continues to plan for hugely expensive SkyTrain light-metro projects, which supposed support for, has been heavily biased by questionable studies and even more questionable tactics – all fruit from the poisonous tree!

Noted American transportation expert Gerald Fox, summed up his observations on the TransLink business case for the Evergreen line;

” It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding.”

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/a-must-read-for-regional-mayors-before-they-talk-transit/

Has TransLink’s regional transit planning over the past ten years nothing more than “Fruit of the poisonous tree?”, based on the fact that TransLink’s bureaucrats desired that light rail (LRT) be seen inferior to SkyTrain, on paper, to ensure further planning and building of their cherished light metro system?

Rail for the Valley would welcome TransLink’s clarification on this issue!

The Leewood Projects ‘Full Build Option’ or “Full Meal Deal”. Finally a Transit Plan With Vision!

September 28, 2010

Click here to download the full 84 page report

What is interesting about the Rail for the Valley/Leewood Projects TramTrain or interurban report is the vision shown by the author. Not only does he plan for the ‘politically correct’ (for valley types) Scott Road to Chilliwack TramTrain he also looks to the future with extensions to Vancouver, Richmond and Rosedale, with the ‘Full Build Option’ costing just under one billion dollars!

For a better perspective, the 11 km. SkyTrain Evergreen Line extension will cost over $1.4 billion and service far fewer potential transit customers, this has lead to demand for more density along the Evergreen Line in the Tri-Cities region to try to increase ridership on the metro. The RftV TramTrain doesn’t need such high density as there is plenty of population along the route to provide ridership. The density issue for rail transit has become a SkyTrain only issue as there is sufficient population to ensure economic operation with much cheaper to build light rail.

For the same cost as the Evergreen SkyTrain Line, a  full build (Full Meal Deal) Valley TramTrain, Vancouver/Richmond to Rosedale could be built and with the remaining $400 million, a Vancouver/Richmond to Maple Ridge TramTrain operation could also be funded.

The planned SkyTrain subway to UBC is estimated to cost $3 billion to $4 billion, yet for the same amount of monetary outlay, we could build a BCIT to UBC/Stanley Park LRT/streetcar ($1 billion); a full build RftV TramTrain ($1 billion); a new multi track Fraser River Rail bridge (approx. $500 million); TramTrain to Whiterock (approx. $300 million); and LRT/tram lines in Surrey and Langley ($500 million to $1 billion+)!

For the cost of one SkyTrain subway line, we could fund a sizable regional LRT network combining light rail, TramTrain and streetcar/tram, with the potential of being able to get on a tram in Rosedale and take the same tram to Stanley Park or UBC or Richmond! This is the vision behind the Rail for the Valley/Leewood Projects Report, it is not just a one politically and bureaucratically prestigious rapid transit line, rather a plan to implement affordable light rail transit in the region, providing affordable ‘rail‘ transit for generations.

The sad fact is, Premier Campbell lacks such vision with his childish, TransLink Speak, remarks regarding light rail and his pronouncements are a continuing embarrassment for those  trying to get affordable rail transit built in the Fraser Valley.

The Fraser Valley municipal politicians had better show transit vision now and board the valley TramTrain, lest they be left waiting at the platform, paying Vancouver’s fare for a new $4 billion SkyTrain subway under Broadway.

A Karlsruhe TramTrain operating on tram tracks. The same LRV can operate on the mainline.

Rail for the Valley in the News!

September 22, 2010

The Rail for the Valley/Leewood TramTrain study has had region wide reporting, with most of the weekly papers featuring this historic news release.

Click here to download the full 84 page report

Surrey Leader, Langley Times & Chilliwack Progress, BC

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/news/103467759.html

or http://tinyurl.com/32zmj7n

Valley light rail all go, twin groups claim

Vancouver Province

http://www.theprovince.com/life/Valley+light+rail+twin+groups+claim/3556678/story.html

or http://tinyurl.com/36aznnb

Chilliwack Progress

http://www.bclocalnews.com/fraser_valley/theprogress/news/103467759.html

 Report supports light rail

‘An honest accounting’ of the potential transit system

Chilliwack Times, BC

http://www.chilliwacktimes.com/news/Report+supports+light+rail/3555699/story.html

 From the North Shore News

http://www.nsnews.com/columnists/Valley+residents+track+with+light+rail/3561755/story.html

Valley light rail all go, twin groups claim
Vancouver Province

http://www.theprovince.com/life/Valley+light+rail+twin+groups+claim/3556678/story.html

Even the Richmond Review and south Delta Leader has Jeff Nagel’s article!

http://www.bclocalnews.com/richmond_southdelta/richmondreview/news/103467759.html

CBC TV News

http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Local_News/BC/ID=1596879406

Surrey mayor calls for transit expansion to be low profile to make sense – From the Vancouver Province

September 7, 2010
Surrey mayor, Dianne Watts, clearly understands the costs of ‘rail’ transit (the term ‘rapid transit’ is used by lazy or uniformed people) and that to get a larger more workable ‘rail‘  network for her city, she must opt for modern light rail. While Vancouver pines for another multi-billion dollar subway under Broadway, its politicians seem oblivious to the massive financial obligations needed to fund metro/subway. For the past three decades, Vancouver was happy to let others fund their metro system, but today’s financial realities means that there will be no more metro construction in the foreseeable future.
 
The math is simple; for every km. of SkyTrain built, one can build up to 10 km. of light rail!
 
The problem with Metro (today’s GVRD) and TransLink, their top planners have never understood ‘rail’ transit and plan for prestigious metro and subways such as SkyTrain and treat modern light rail as a poorman’s SkyTrain. Being at-grade doesn’t mean light rail can’t be fast nor does it condemn LRT as being slow, as any transit system is as fast as it is designers have designed it to be.
 
What is so sad, is when one hears the term ‘greenhouse objectives and regional transit planning in the same sentence. Despite over $8 billion spent on three light-metro lines, there has been no discernible modal shift from car to metro! In fact. subways are poor in attracting new ridership.
 
I would not call SkyTrain a ‘Cadillac’ transit system, rather it is an ‘Edsel’ transit system, that no one in Europe and North America want to build. In short, SkyTrain is an operating museum piece, which showcases 1970’s ‘rail’ transit philosophy. Today its 2010 and the financial realities of future fragile economy in the coming decade mean gold plated light-metro lines like SkyTrain will be seen as political follies.
 

In a few weeks, Rail for the Valley will also join the fray with its plans, which will bolster Mayor Watts demands for light rail.

With two competing transit modes, the Metro region will live with a dichotomy of light-metro operation North of the Fraser River and light rail South of the Fraser and soon calls will be made by those who have SkyTrain, be made to pay the higher costs for building and operating light metro. If North Fraser taxpayers (SkyTrain zone) are not inclined to do so, it may fuel the many calls for succession of South of the Fraser municipalities from TransLink. If TransLink splits, it will force North of the Fraser taxpayers into a new economic reality, one that their politicians turned a blind eye to, in their haste to build politically prestigious light metro, letting the rest of the regions taxpayers to fund it.

 

Surrey mayor calls for transit expansion to be low profile to make sense

By Frank Luba, The Province

When rapid transit expands south of the Fraser River, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts wants it to be at-grade and light rail — not overhead or underground or as expensive as SkyTrain.

But whatever happens with rapid transit, she doesn’t want to get into a battle with Vancouver over which area gets the next expansion.

“You’ve got to go where the need is,” said Watts Monday, reacting to a Metro Vancouver report that put expansion to the University of B.C. low on the priority list.

“With those scarce dollars you have, we don’t have the luxury of just making political decisions any more.” she said. “It has to make sense.”

While provincial plans have called for a SkyTrain expansion south of the Fraser, Watts said that for an area as big as Surrey and Langley “[SkyTrain] wouldn’t make sense because the costs would just be astronomical.”

“It’s nice to have a Cadillac like the Canada Line, but the cost is prohibitive,” she said. “If we’re ever to get the connectivity which we need south of the Fraser, then we better be looking at alternatives.”

It’s difficult to argue with the need for transit south of the Fraser River.

The area has close to one million residents already, with another 1,000 people moving into Surrey alone every month,

The draft regional-growth strategy report titled Metro Vancouver 2040, which was released last week, identified the top rapid-transit expansion priority as the $1.4-billion Evergreen Line connecting Coquitlam Regional City Centre to Lougheed Municipal Town Centre.

But the second priority was rapid-transit expansion from Surrey Metro Centre to one or more of the south of Fraser regional town centres — along with connecting Central Broadway in Vancouver to the existing rapid-transit network.

Presumably, that connection would be an extension of the Millennium Line as far as Arbutus.

A UBC expansion was well down on the list of other needs.

Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs, the city’s point man on transportation, thinks a connection to UBC is “inevitable” but knows Central Broadway is a more pressing priority.

“To meet the greenhouse-gas objectives the province has set, and to ensure economic health, we should try to find the funding to do these all as fast as possible,” said Meggs.

“Evergreen is clearly first,” he said,

But TransLink still doesn’t have its $400-million share of the Evergreen project, which is supposed to start construction in 2011 and be complete by 2014.

Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/Surrey+mayor+calls+transit+expansion+profile+make+sense/3489905/story.html#ixzz0yscHjLO4

Plans for a New, Six Lane Pattullo Bridge Revealed – TransLink’s Next Fiasco!

September 2, 2010
TransLink once again proves that its highly paid bureaucrats just can’t think out of the box or “think three minutes into the future.” As well, TransLink, which also known by many as, ‘Transclunk‘, has firmly shown its true colours as a ‘rubber on asphalt’ organization, which only builds a few ‘showcase’ metro systems to pretend they are solving the regions endemic transportation chaos. With little or no public scrutiny, TransLink plans for what the provincial government wants it to plan for and with its ‘Board of Experts’ who are supposed to oversee TransLink are in fact a ‘Board of Amateurs’, hand picked Liberal cronies, will do what Victoria tells them to do!

 There is no question that the decrepit Putullo is in dire need of replacement. Like the the Lions Gate Bridge, the Pattullo Bridge was a two lane bridge when it opened in the 1930’s and is ill suited for today’s traffic demands. The Pattullo Bridge has not aged well and last years fire on the steal and concrete bridge showed how decrepit the bridge has become.

 What TransLink forgot, as well as METRO Vancouver bureaucrats have seem to have forgotten as well, that next to the fragile Pattullo Bridge, is an even more fragile and decrepit, single tracked Fraser River Rail swing bridge, which case for replacement is even greater that the Pattullo’s! The GVRD in the 70’s recognized that both bridges needed replacing and proposed a twin track, six lane and two LRT line bridge for the location. Provincial politics took over and the Minister of Transportation of the day did not want anyone playing trains on any his bridges, thus the proposal was quietly ignored.

Now with increasing passenger rail service to Seattle and beyond, a possibility of a South Fraser TramTrain, and a general increase in rail traffic over the spindly Fraser River Rail Bridge, one would hope that TransLink would plan for a new road/rail bridge across the Fraser River. It is not to be, as TransLink has seem to quickly loose interest in ‘rail‘ transit once it crosses the Fraser river.

Rail for the Valley believes a new combined road/rail bridge would be a far better project, addressing the needs for both road and rail traffic.

Ah, but there maybe another reason for the “Pattullo‘ announcement. There is an ever growing demand by taxpayers living south of the Fraser River to secede from TransLink and this ill thought out proposal maybe a just a sop to try to quell an anti-TransLink revolt in Surrey and Langley. This proposal for a new Fraser River car bridge, like the Gateway highways and Bridge project is both dated and flawed and events coming later in September may show how dated and flawed TransLink’s myopic planning is!

Plans for a New, Six Lane Pattullo Bridge Revealed

By Damian Inwood, The Province
Surrey and New Westminster residents will soon get a look at TransLink’s plans for a new, six-lane Pattullo Bridge, slated to cost between $800 million and $1 billion.

And the “preferred option” for the new bridge sees access moving from Royal Avenue to Front Street on the New West side.

“We have a couple of open houses coming up on Sept. 14 and Sept. 21,” said TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie Wednesday. “What we will have are a couple of options to look at but one of them will be TransLink’s preferred option. It will show how the bridge will line up, what the road accesses will be and so on.”

Hardie said the preferred option is about 100 metres upstream from the current bridge.

The access on the Surrey side would be “not much of an issue,” he said, although it would require changes to Scott Road and 128th Street.

“In New Westminster right now we connect to the bridge by McBride Boulevard, Columbia Street and Royal Avenue,” he said. “The preferred option that we want to get reaction from the public to changes that a little bit. We would connect via McBride, East Columbia and Front Street but not by Royal Avenue.”

He said after hearing from the public at the open houses, TransLink will come up with a plan for approval by Surrey and New Westminster councils and municipal staff.

Hardie said that while work done on the Pattullo, ending in early 2009, “is good for another 10 years,” TransLink wants the new bridge open earlier than 2020.

“We want to have it in place well before that so, I would say, 2015 to 2016 would be a good target for us to have a new one ready to go,” he said.

Hardie said there’s been no decision on whether or not the bridge will be tolled.

“If we can find some other way to pay for it that doesn’t involve tolls, we’ll take that route. On the other hand if it will take tolls to build it, we definitely need to build it. So tolls will be considered but no decision has been made.”

The open houses are Sept. 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Chuck Baillie Community Centre at 13458-107A Avenue, Surrey, and Sept 21, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Justice Institute at 715 McBride Boulevard, New Westminster.

Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/Plans+lane+Pattullo+Bridge+unveiled/3470913/story.html#ixzz0yNX31eP5