Posts Tagged ‘tramtrain’

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

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

Rail for the Valley in the news – November 3, 2010

November 3, 2010

The Common Sense Canadian

Bringing Back the Interurban Line: Key to our Transportation Future Lies in the Past

http://thecanadian.org/k2/item/325-interurban-2

Aldergrove Star

Rail for the Valley not giving up

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/aldergrovestar/opinion/letters/105375358.html

Chilliwack Times

Careful what you wish for

http://www.chilliwacktimes.com/opinion/editorials/Careful+what+wish/3745937/story.html

Langley Times

TransLink has become a virus

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/langleytimes/opinion/letters/106150418.html

Surrey Leader

Tax on tax is not enough for TransLink

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/opinion/letters/105793958.html

International Transit News

Phoenix

Rail Life

Metro light rail ridership numbers – September 2010

http://raillife.com/blog/2010/10/10/metro-light-rail-ridership-numbers-september-2010/

 Birmingham, England

BBC

Spending Review backs Midland Metro and New Street plan

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-11586439

The Budapest HÉV System – Budapest’s Interurban

October 30, 2010

Although not a classic tram or light rail system, the Budapest HÉV system deserves a mentioning, because the rail line combines on-street operation (on a reserved rights-of-ways) in downtown Csepel, as well as classic railway operation.

See the HÉV System

 http://hampage.hu/trams/thg2bp/csepel.html

The Vogtlandbahn TramTrains & Interurbans – A Template For The Valley Interurban

October 29, 2010
 
A diesel TramTrain

The following is a summery of the Vogtlandbahn TramTrain operation in Germany. Contrary to TransLink’s (and Metro Vancouver and Liberal government) spin that one needs oodles & oodles of density for ‘rail‘ transit, the continues success of new TramTrain operations dispels the many negative myths.

The SkyTrain lobby is also desperately hard at work spreading myth and tall tales about LRT, that it can’t do this or it can’t do that and TransLink continues to support these negative myths by claiming that LRT can carry only about 10,000 pphpd and streetcars much less. The truth be know, LRT can carry over 20,000 pphpd! The fear is widespread among transit and planning bureaucrats that LRT, built and operated in any form, will give an apples to apples comparison of light rail and their beloved SkyTrain. The push to build the Evergreen line in the Tri-cities, planning for SkyTrain expansion in surrey and the $4 billion UBC/Broadway subway point to their anti LRT agenda.

TramTrain is about economy and giving the transit customer want he wants, a one stop (no-transfer) travel experience. To provide this, one must plan for cheap transit options, not gold-plated metro and TramTrain is the cheapest light rail option available.

Valley politicians have a choice, either continue supporting SkyTrain light-metro which never will be built or BRT, which has proven not to attract the motorist from the car – or – support TramTrain, a proven transit mode for reducing auto congestion and gridlock for the Fraser Valley.

The Vogtlandbahn  Tram-Trains & Interurbans

The Vogtlandbahn is a private railway company in Germany, which runs diesel trains on regional lines in the states of Saxony, Thuringia, Bavaria, Brandenburg, and Berlin and as well as routes into the Czech Republic. Vogtlandbahn is wholly owned by the Arriva subsidiary Regentalbahn.

After German Reunification in 1990, there was a sharp drop in passenger numbers on the local rail network. The railways had old locomotives rolling stock and couldn’t compete with the rapidly improving roads. The Saxony government invested in an attempt to improve the attractiveness of the Zwickau–Falkenstein–Klingenthal line and the Herlasgrün–Falkenstein–Adorf Line, the track was relaid to a 80 km/h standard, disabled access was facilitated at all stations and new stations opened. Train and track maintenace was rationalised and to reduce costs some stations such as Schöneck were restyled as simple halts.

The investments in upgraded track and rolling stock proved successul and reversed the fortunes of the reailway.

A further success, is the extension of the network into Zwickau town centre (TramTrain). Following the example set by very successful Karlsruhe Zweisystem (TramTrain), the lines extend from Zwickau Hauptbahnhof (Main Railway Station) to the central market. As most of the Vogtland network has not been electrified, the train-trams do not use current from the overhead tramwires (as in Karlsruhe) but use diesel engines. From there to Zentrum the train and the tram use the same tracks. To do this, dual-gauge track has been laid; there are three rails, the tram uses metre gauge(1000 mm), and the Vogtlandbahn uses standard gauge (1435 mm). An extra rail was laid next to the tram line so that  they share one rail and each use one of the others as appropriate.

Dual trackage on city streets

Success followed success and several abandoned or disused railway lines were relaid or upgraded for servcie. Today the Vogtlandbahn is the second largest railway company in Geramny.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogtlandbahn

http://www.railfaneurope.net/pix/de/private/passenger/Vogtlandbahn/RegioSprinter/pix.html

News About the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway

October 27, 2010

PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICE EXPANSION PROPOSED

Oct 26, 2010
THE ISLAND CORRIDOR FOUNDATION HAS UNVEILED THE FIRST STAGE OF ITS PROPOSAL TO EXPAND PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICE ON VANCOUVER ISLAND. 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GRAHAM BRUCE MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY… 

“We’ve made formal application to VIA Rail to move the terminus from Victoria to Nanaimo and initiate an early morning southbound rail service from Nanaimo to Victoria. This would tie in to the daily service that then runs from Victoria to Courtenay, and provides a more friendly service for people on the rail, moving to the southern sector of Victoria” 

BRUCE SAYS IT’LL BE 12 TO 18 MONTHS BEFORE THE SERVICE ENHANCEMENT COULD BE ACHIEVED. IT DEPENDS, IN PART, ON A 15 MILLION DOLLAR UPGRADE OF THE RAIL TRACK, WHICH THE I-C-F IS ASKING THE FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS TO FUND. 

BRUCE WAS SPEAKING WITH DAVE DICKSON ON C-FAX1070 THIS AFTERNOON.

A comment by Zweisystem
$15 million is chump change for a transit project these days and I hope that Federal and provincial politicians look “three minutes into the future” and fund this worthwhile investment.
Zweisystem believes that two TramTrain services on the E&N are both feasible and practical.
TramTrain option 1.
Shawnigan Lake to Victoria, with a 3 to 4 kilometer streetcar loop in Victoria for the use of both TramTrain and heritage trams.
TramTrain option 2.
Duncan to Nanaimo Harbour, with limited on-street (streetcar) operation to the BC Ferry Depot.
The cost to provide an hourly schedule for both options would be well under $250 million or about 1 km. of a Broadway/UBC subway.

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

Abbotsford Today Doesn’t Like the Rail for the Valley/Leewood Report

October 22, 2010

A new valley magazine and web site, Abbotsford Today doesn’t like the RftV/Leewood report and one wonders why? What do they want, more new highways or a SkyTrain that will never come?

Issues: Costs Still Make Light Rail A Pipe Dream

http://www.abbotsfordtoday.ca/?p=46791

As stated before, the report was a feasibility study for the implantation of a TramTrain service using the old BC Electric (now Southern Railway of BC), route. Using existing railway rights-of-ways, greatly reduces the cost of providing rail transit for a region. Unlike the West Coast Express, which must purchase pathways from the CPR at onerous costs, the valley TramTrain has a statutory right to providing passenger rail service on the existing route.

It is hard to take the article seriously, when the author compares the report with the “………feasibility of an underground subway to Whistler……..”.

The issues of fares is important, but I don’t think the $25, quoted is correct;  one way fares on a full build (Vancouver/Richmond to Rosedale) should be in the $5.00 to $10.00 range depending on distance traveled. 

A comparison with the $2.5 billion Canada line is in order.

The standard fare on the Canada line is $2.50 for one zone and $3.75 for two zones; there is a $5.00 supplement for customers leaving from YVR, but the numbers using the $8.75 fare leaving YVR is very small. About 80% of the fares are also apportioned between RAV/Canada line, the SkyTrain line, Seabus and the buses and many customers are using the heavily subsidized U-Pass, thus the real revenue for the Canada line is much less than the actual fares paid.

TransLink was/is singing hosannas about how the Canada Line’s ridership was near 100,000 boarding a day and soon the metro was to be able to pay its operating costs; so lets compare fares and ridership on the Canada Line with the prosed RftV TramTrain.

The full build, 138 km.  RftV/Leewood TramTrain is said cost about $1 billion or about $1.5 billion less than the 19.2 km., $2.5 billion Canada line, meaning that the RftV TramTrain would only less than 40,000 boardings (remember those apportioned TransLink fares & deep discounted U-Pass), charging the same fares as the Canada Line a day to obtain the same ratio of income that TransLink is presently cheering about on the Canada Line. If the TramTrain aims for only 20,000 boardings a day, then fares should be in the $5.00 to $10 dollar range, depending on the distance traveled, a far cry from the $25.00 quoted in the article.

It also should be noted that a new Vancouver to Chilliwack rail service will open the door to a host of new tourist and travel opportunities, where people who would not otherwise travel via car would take the train.

Yes there is a lot of questions remaining about the RftV/Leewood report, yet on the basis of the report, the taxpayer will get more than 10 times more rail transit per km. compared with SkyTrain, providing ample new travel opportunities for potential transit customers at affordable costs and maybe even be the catalyst for improvement of local bus services in Chilliwack and Abbotsford.