Posts Tagged ‘track-sharing’

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
 

Don’t dismiss South-of-Fraser transit – VALTAC Supports Rail for the Valley!

November 6, 2010

The following letter, printed in the Surrey Leader, from Mr. Holt from the Valley Transportation Advisory Committee is most welcome and shows the growing support for the RftV/Leewood Report for a TramTrain service in the Fraser Valley, using existing railway infrastructure.

Don’t dismiss South-of-Fraser transit

The recent announcement by TransLink, concerning the Surrey Rapid Transit Study, dismissed the Interurban corridor as having no role to play in solving the region’s transit problems.

During the workshops held in Surrey, participants found it difficult to understand why such a wonderful public asset and low-cost option was so easily cast aside.

TransLink staff seemed to be struggling to find a reason too. So much so, that in the closing summary, the very person who spoke to the media, dismissing the Interurban corridor, was suggesting that a sober second look be in order. A sober second look is exactly what is needed.

Premier Campbell’s preferred option of a SkyTrain extension to Langley City will cost over $2 billion or about $125 million per kilometre in today’s dollars.

He appears to be a lone voice advocating this Cadillac option. Surrey’s Mayor Watts, Langley Township Mayor Green and many others were certainly not taken in by this shameless ploy to insert a 20-year delay clause into creating “beyond the bus” transit options for South of Fraser taxpayers.

With an additional 650,000 residents already starting to flow into the South of Fraser region, the need to influence future land use, by modifying community plans and implementing critically needed transit improvements, is now.

TransLink’s previous attempts to hoist a transit master plan on the South of Fraser have fallen far short of what is needed for a region scheduled to grow from today’s 850,000 to over 1.5 million by 2040.

With no master plan we are being forced to make risky decisions, or are we?

If there are options available that involve minimal cost, little disruption to current traffic flow, and speedy delivery, are these not worth exploring first?

This is what many local rail advocacy groups are pleading for.

The recent, very credible, report commissioned by Rail for the Valley from UK transport consultants clearly comes to the conclusion that the publicly owned interurban rail corridor is exactly this low risk option. Langley Township’s Mayor Green and his South Fraser Community Rail Task Force of elected representatives have a similar view promoting a passenger rail demonstration project for the line.

Rail based solutions can be a vital part of future South-of-Fraser transit options and they don’t need to cost billions or spend any time on the shelf. The time for action is now.

 Peter Holt

Valley Transportation Advisory Committee

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/opinion/letters/106710283.html

News and Letters – October 27, 2010

October 27, 2010

Local news & Letters

Chilliwack Progress#

http://www.bclocalnews.com/fraser_valley/theprogress/opinion/letters/105729548.html

William Chambers has very succinctly scored with a well landed punch on Sharon Gaetz, with this one.

 Also in the Chilliwack Times

http://www.chilliwacktimes.com/news/High+cost+rail+just+myth/3727555/story.html

 Langley Times#

Metro urged to recant rapid transit priority for Surrey

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/langleytimes/news/105694708.html

Two more overpasses planned for Langleys

 http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/langleytimes/news/105490118.html

 Surrey Leader#

Make Bond use transit

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/opinion/letters/105542243.html

 The Province#

Valley commuters need bridge

http://www.theprovince.com/opinion/letters/Valley+commuters+need+bridge/3718612/story.html

A Siemens Combino tram in Budapest colours.

International News

Gold Coast, Australia

http://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/2010/10/26/265831_gold-coast-news.ht
ml

Phoenix

http://raillife.com/blog/

Los Angeles

http://redondobeach.patch.com/articles/locals-prefer-light-rail

Denver

http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/eaglepcommuterrailpr/

Dulwich Hill, Sydney

http://lightrailextension.metrotransport.com.au/proposed-routes/light-rail-to-dulwich-hill/

Utrecht

http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/urban-rail/single-view/view/qbuzz-wins-utrecht-sneltram-concession.html

Rail for the Valley on the Radio

October 26, 2010

On CKNW radio this morning, Fraser Valley transportation was discussed. Sadly, the mayor of Abbotsford, seems to be quite out of his depth on the issue.

For a listen, please follow the link and set at October 26, 10:00 am

http://www.cknw.com/other/audiovault.html

Transit News From Here and There

October 21, 2010

A former 4 lane arterial road with lawned

Chilliwack Times

http://www.chilliwacktimes.com/Uninformed+about+transit/3693739/story.html

Nick Wimpney  open letter to Sharon Gaetz in the Times needs following up

North Shore News

http://www.burnabynow.com/story.html?id=3699636

Hamilton

Most Candidates Support LRT, Mayoral Candidates Split

http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/1207/most_candidates_support_lrt_mayoral_candidates_split

Winnipeg

Bus rapid transit has edge in poll

Winnipeg Free Press

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/bus-rapid-transit-has-edge-in-poll-105418328.html

Cambridge, Ontario

Light rail transit dominates regional debate

Cambridge Times

http://www.cambridgetimes.ca/news/local/article/891078–light-rail-transit-dominates-regional-debate

Los Angeles – Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor light-rail project

L.A. Metro lands TIFIA loan for Crenshaw/LAX light-rail project

Progressive Railroading

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/news/article.asp?id=24827

Engineering to begin on Crenshaw/LAX light rail

South California Public Radio

http://www.scpr.org/news/2010/10/20/engineering-begin-crenshawlax-light-rail/

Transit News Around The World October 19, 2010

October 19, 2010

Phoenix

METRO Playing With A Full House

http://raillife.com/blog/

Los Angeles

LAX rail line is early stop in plan to expedite transit work

http://www.dailybreeze.com/opinions/ci_16357591

Tampa Bay

Hillsborough rail plan is still taking shape

http://tinyurl.com/35egf4g

Wellington, NZ

Councillors signal light rail battle lines

http://tinyurl.com/2udcyql

Norfolk, VA

Light rail may be up & running by Dec.

http://tinyurl.com/2es7phc

Ottawa

Transit tops voter issues, poll finds

Taxes, turfing current mayor, also rated important by respondents

http://tinyurl.com/329zt57

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?

More Transit News – October 15, 2010

October 15, 2010

From the Victoria Times Colonist

http://www.timescolonist.com/technology/Think+rail+only+rail+future+transportation/3649005/story.html

 http://www.timescolonist.com/sports/Maclean+Cars+here+stay/3651236/story.html

 http://www.timescolonist.com/news/Public+input+sought+last+route/3613881/story.html

 http://www.timescolonist.com/travel/rail+line+along+Johnson+Street/3613919/story.html

 http://www.timescolonist.com/ahead+interchange/3532824/story.html

 Vancouver Courier October 13, 2010

http://www.vancourier.com/technology/case+free+transit+downtown+core/3663446/story.html

 Public transit debate can get messy, murky 

Vancouver Courier Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Vancouver bus routes dwarf Surrey grid

http://www.vancourier.com/life/Public+transit+debate+messy+murky/2900233/story.html

The Tyee

 Get Rolling on Streetcars, Say Gathered Experts

They reduce carbon, promote healthy development, and tourists love them, Translink is told.

http://thetyee.ca/News/2010/10/01/Streetcars/

Coquitlam NOW

SkyTrain is too expensive

http://www.thenownews.com/SkyTrain+expensive/3631453/story.html

Internationally

Philadelphia – work begins on streetcar casino branch

Historic trolley off track

Philly.com

http://www.philly.com/community/Historic_trolley_off_track.html?viewAll=y

http://www.septa.org/maps/trolley/pdf/015.pdf

Phoenix

Valley Metro

http://www.valleymetro.org/metro_light_rail/future_extensions/tempe/

Tempe-South update

http://tinyurl.com/35zampm

http://raillife.com/blog/

Wellington, New Zealand

Councillors signal Light Rail battle lines

http://tinyurl.com/2udcyql

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!