Posts Tagged ‘transit’

USA: Why the Stimulus Package Failed

November 10, 2010

A commentary by Lyndon Henry, from the Light Rail Now folks in the United States. The question to be asked here is: “Was Canada so-called stimulus funding successful?”

While the commentary below doesn’t directly mention public
transportation, rail transit, or passenger rail, I believe it is
directly relevant to the issue of federal investment in these
services and facilities (now under political attack). Beinhart makes
a compelling case for investing in major projects as the most
effective way to create jobs – this certainly bolsters the case for
investing in urban rail, Amtrak, and other public transport projects
as a way not only to start addressing America’s dire
infrastructure-decay and capacity-insufficiency problems but also to
significantly create essential, productive jobs.

The author presents one of the best explanations I’ve seen of the
job-creation “multiplier effect” of such investments.

The Teapot GOP (and Blue Dog Dems) have derided the Obama
administration’s 2009 “stimulus” program as a “failure” that cost
$787 billion (exaggerated to “$800 billion” and even more exaggerated
to “$1 trillion”). Beinhart lays out a compelling case that the
“stimulus” was actually mostly tax cuts and unemployment benefit
subsidies, with only $154.5 billion of actual job-creating stimulus.
Based on that figure, and the well-documented creation of at least
1.6 million jobs, he calculates an average cost per created job of
less than $97,000 – a figure that compares extremely well with other
government “efforts” at “job creation” (such as “trickle-down”
effects of high-inome tax cuts).

I think this analysis and these figures will be helpful to rail
advocates in making the case for much more, not less, public
investment in rail transit and intercity rail projects (definitely an
uphill struggle in today’s loony, Neanderthal political climate).

Lyndon

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-beinhart/why-the-stimulus-package_b_781206.html

Huffington Post
November 9, 2010 05:41 PM

Why the Stimulus Package Failed

Larry Beinhart
Author, ‘Salvation Boulevard,” “Wag the Dog,” “The Librarian.”

The stimulus package failed because it consisted mostly of tax cuts.
Tax cuts are among the very worst ways to create jobs and certainly
the most expensive.

The stimulus package authorizes 787 billion dollars. According to the
official website (Recovery.gov) $565 billion has actually been spent
or credited. There are three categories of “stimulus.” Citing amounts
spent, they are:

1. $243.4 billion in tax cuts.

2. $154.5 billion in contracts, grants, and loans. This is what
we actually think of as a stimulus, construction and research projects.

3. $166.8 billion in entitlements. This is mostly money to the
states to help with unemployment insurance.

Estimates of jobs “saved and created” by the package range from
800,000 to 2.4 million (both from the Congressional Budget Office),
with other estimates at 1.25 million (IHS/Global Insight), 1.06
million (Macroeconomic Advisors), and 1.59 million (Moody’s).

Let’s use Moody’s estimate (sort of the high middle, and independent)
and round it off to 1.6 million jobs “saved and created.”

That’s $353,125 per job.

I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous. It’s obscene.

If you have an essentially unlimited line of credit, as the
government essentially does, it would appear relatively easy to create jobs.

“Hey, you, over there on the unemployment line, wanna work cleaning
up our national parks? Yeah, we’ll give you a twenty dollar rake,
some biodegradable garbage bags, and twenty bucks an hour.” That
happens to be 47 cents an hour over the average wage.

No national parks or monuments in your neighborhood?

All right, there are lots of empty lots and abandoned homes due to
the housing market collapse. “Let’s clean ’em up. Same deal. That’s
forty thousand a year. You can live on that.”

Presumably the government will be decent about it and pay the usual
benefits — social security, unemployment insurance, workman’s comp,
and so on — which adds $8.11 an hour. That’s a little less than
$17,000 a year, making a total cost of $57,000 per year, per job.

Jobs don’t exist in a vacuum, not even sweeping the streets by hand
with a broom. There has to be a certain number of overhead costs. Not
counting salaries of supervisors and such (which would be part of the
job creation numbers), not counting benefits (already in there), 15
percent is a very generous number, for another $8,550, a total of
$65,550 per job.

So that’s what a “created” job should cost. About $65,000.

If you actually want to “create jobs,” that’s how you should do it.
Go out and create them.

But that’s not how we do things. We were not goddamn Communists. Or
even socialists. We’re capitalists. So we give out contracts to
private enterprises and grants to universities and other institutions.

Construction projects, one of the primary forms of job creation has
lots of costs beside labor. They have machinery, materials, a variety
of business expenses (accounting, insurance, legal, etc.), the
purchase of land and so on. Labor accounts for 20-30 percent of a
construction contract. Let’s take the low end, 20 percent, and assume
that a construction job is one of those $65,000 wages plus benefits
for a full year jobs, and the cost of that job then becomes $325,000.

That’s pretty close to the $353,125 per job number we got using the
Moody’s estimate.
Except that all those other construction costs (excluding land
purchase, which should be less relevant here) involve additional
labor. For example, materials are manufactured, a certain portion of
them here, in the US. Truckers transport them. Building supply
company employees handle them. Machinery is built (some portion of it
here), and maintained (all of it here). The construction company pays
it’s staff and the professionals (lawyer and accountants), and so on.
All those people buy food (keeping supermarket workers employed), buy
other stuff, pay their bills, and so on.

This is the famous Keynesian multiplier effect.

It’s also very difficult to calculate how many non-site, indirect
jobs does a construction project support with all its other spending.
In the figures we’re using, that 80% of the costs. It’s reasonable to
say that at least half of that goes into people’s pockets as it moves
down the line.

If we figure it that way, it should probably cost about $130,000 per job.

Let’s go back to the breakdown.

First let’s take out the aid to the states for unemployment insurance
assistance. Obviously that doesn’t add jobs. It helps people. It goes
to keeping the community afloat, but it doesn’t create a whole lot of jobs.

Let’s take out the tax cuts. Just as an academic exercise, for the moment.

That leaves projects, grants, and loans. $154.5 billion.

If we have 1,600,000 jobs created and saved, and divide it into the
money spent on projects, it comes out at $96,562 per job.

That actually makes sense. It’s expensive. But it makes sense.

Direct job creation, or job creation through contracts (like road
building), has a multiplier effect. Each job creates more jobs, both
through the support jobs and through the spending by the people who
are employed.

Job creation through tax cuts works the opposite way.

The price per job is multiplied many times over.

In this last election cycle, Carl Paladino was running against Andrew
Cuomo for governor of New York. One of the charges that Cuomo leveled
against him was that he got $1.4 million in tax breaks but created
only one job from that.

The implication was that Paladino was a sleazy rip-off artist. At best.

He may be, but it is only a particularly vivid example of how the tax
cuts to job creation equation actually works.

We are still arguing about extending the Bush Tax Cuts.

The Bush Tax Cuts cost about two trillion dollars.

They were originally labeled and promoted as “jobs and stimulus”
packages. Let’s take him at his word. Over the course of his two
terms 1.1 jobs were created. That didn’t even keep up with population
growth. It also cost $1,818,182 per job.

Close to the same numbers that Paladino was working with.

The Obama White House, a prisoner of the prevailing ‘tax cuts
stimulate the economy and create jobs’ theology, passed a stimulus
bill that was 40 percent tax cuts, 30 percent unemployment insurance,
and only 27 percent actual stimulus.

That’s why it didn’t work.

That’s not even the bad news.

Here’s the bad news. The tax cuts are still in effect. The odds are
they will be extended, even for the very wealthiest.

Here’s worse news. There’s only one thing stupider than cutting taxes
to create jobs. It’s to cut spending. In the recent NY governor’s
race, for example, both leading candidates promise to cut spending.
That means cutting jobs. That’s happening state by state all around
the country. Not only does cutting jobs mean, in a very direct
one-to-one way, fewer jobs, it has a negative multiplier effect. It
means there are fewer people with money to spend on the things that
create jobs for other people.

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
 

Ottawa’s troubled tram.

November 4, 2010

The light rail saga in Ottawa continues with the realization that monies spent on a politcally prestigious subway tunnel comes from extending the transit line to servcie transit customers.

Zweisystem is in complete agreement with the following and I have posed about Ottawa’s LRT escapades earlier.

Ottawa transit authorities had need not look any further than Vancouver, where TransLink hat the behest of the City of Vancouver and the former provincial premier (a former Vancouver mayor) forced a light-metro subway for the RAV/Canada Line. As the costs for the politically prestigious subway climbed, the scale of the project was reduced to a point where Vancouver is the only city in the world that has a $2.5 billion truncated subway designed to have less capacity than if a $1.5 billion cheaper and much longer LRT line were to have been built instead!

This foolhardy notion that subways somehow are better at attracting new customers to transit than a surface system is a hangover from the 1950’s transit bumf that is taught in Canadian and American universities.

Ottawa taxpayers will learn soon enough a subway’s ability to gobble up precious taxpayer’s dollars earmarked for public transit!

Nix the tunnel! (There, I’ve said it)

By Ken Gray, Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa’s new rail plan is too long, too short and ineffective.

It’s too long because the project has taken far too much time to build. Calgary’s C-Train started operation in 1981, almost 30 years ago, on the surface and through downtown. And many critics say the C-Train is the most successful light-rail system in North America. By the time the light rail-tunnel project is completed, Ottawa will have light rail almost four decades after Calgary. Anybody want to bet it will be a half-century?

Yet the line is too short because it just does not travel far enough. It stretches from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Road. Know anyone who is travelling from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Road? Anyone? Just one.

I don’t have any scientific evidence but I bet most of the commuters coming by Transitway to the huge federal employment complex at Tunney’s are coming from the west, rendering the light-rail line useless.

I could be wrong, but years of taking the Transitway to the Citizen’s downtown bureau led me to believe that. The standing-room only bus at morning rush hour became much easier to ride once it passed Tunney’s.

Because of the new plan’s short nature, Tunney’s and Blair will be enormous transfer points from buses to trains. That adds a transfer to everyone’s trip downtown … unless OC Transpo continues to run buses along the Albert and Slater corridor. That causes one of two problems. If buses run down Slater and Albert, will the rails be without riders? And if buses don’t run downtown, imagine the transfer delays and mess at Tunney’s and Blair stations. They weren’t built to handle that kind of traffic.

So there you have it. The new rail plan is too long, too short and a hindrance to fast travel. Other than that, it’s fine. All this for $2.1 billion (or $2.6 billion giving the city’s public servants the wiggle room they said they needed) while the north-southwest route cancelled wrongly by council stretched from Barrhaven to the University of Ottawa was a bargain $884 million with a fixed top-end cost guaranteed by the Siemens consortium. Now that was a real transit line. Anyone want to put money down on a possible overrun on the rail-tunnel project for which the city is on the hook?

The really smart move would be to can the tunnel because it takes too long to build, and convince Siemens to construct the original project. The original plan would be running now if council had not been so shortsighted and killed it. My guess is that building the north-south route is politically unpalatable but would be faster than constructing the current plan. North-south is right transit-wise, but wrong politically. Politics will win.

Because the new project is too long, too short and ineffective, we need real transit in this city — certainly before the end of this decade. And that’s because of intensification. The municipality has built an urban boundary beyond which development cannot cross. Accordingly, downtown areas are filling up with condos and cars. Highways 417 and 174 are parking lots at rush hour, while regular intersections are failing. Buses aren’t the answer because they are trapped in the same traffic jams as cars.

So what to do? Our auto traffic is increasingly unmanageable with no relief in sight. The current rail plan has lines to Orleans and Barrhaven in 2031. Will much of the boomer generation be alive then? Certainly almost all of them won’t be commuting.

I’d recommend what I’d call the Scramble System because we need to scramble to serve current transit needs. Until Ottawans can construct a great light-rail system, we need to take advantage of the infrastructure already in place. It’s an adaptation of the plan Alex Munter offered in the 2006 campaign. Temporarily use rail lines in place now for transit until the municipality can build a real light-rail system. Take advantage of wide streets where demand might exist for bus-only lanes. We’ve already begun a Scramble System with the “demonstration project” O Train that looks increasingly permanent. There is a huge opportunity with the old Prince of Wales Bridge at Bayview for cross-river transit. Might some of our old rail lines be converted to commuter rail? Should shuttle buses be instituted between the Transitway and major work nodes?

None of this is perfect. A uniform light-rail system should still be the ultimate goal (it reduces maintenance costs because there’s one set of very durable rail cars) but the Scramble System might help us move in the short term in our newly intensified city.

But this is what happens when your major transit project is too short, too long and ineffective.

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/tunnel+There+said/3769507/story.html#ixzz14Gl6hdLB

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 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

UBC Transit – Rapid transit for UBC has priority over Surrey’s, students and university say

October 25, 2010

Well now, someone should instruct the UBC Alma Matter Society on the economics of subway/light-metro and light rail, because there is no way that a $4 billion subway can be funded by $1.00 a day U-Pass ticket holders. That Translink still wastes the taxpayer’s money planning for yet more SkyTrain for the region only confirms that this ponderous bureaucracy is completely out of touch with reality.

The problem with transit planning in the region is that TransLink, abetted by the province and the city of Vancouver, have convinced themselves that building subways is the only way to go and have forgotten that SkyTrain (Read SKY train) was so designed to be elevated to mitigate the high cost of subway construction. The notion failed, but Translink carries on with this SkyTrain nonsense and have created a rosy little world of the SkyTrain myth. Reality check boys and girls, because there is absolutely no way one can fund a $4 billion subway, while letting other regions in METRO Vancouver go wanting.

To put the estimated $4 billion cost for a subway under Broadway to UBC in perspective, this is what $4 billion will buy you if we build with light rail.

  1. A BCIT to UBC/Stanley Park LRT.
  2. A full build, Vancouver/Richmond to Rosedale TramTrain.
  3. A new Fraser River Rail Bridge.
  4. TramTrain from Vancouver to Whiterock/Maple Ridge/Queensbourgh/Annicis Island.
  5. 40 to 50 km of LRT in Surrey and Langley.

Yet Translink still thinks in the terms of truncated subway lines that will not attract the motorist from the car!

One can see the concern with the UBC Alma Matter Society, but demanding rapid transit (a.k.a. SkyTrain) instead of light rail, shows contempt for the already over burdened taxpayer and instead should hire a out of province consultant to give an independent view on improving transit along Broadway.

Rail for the Valley did and now has a bona fide plan for LRT or TramTrain, from a respected consultant, at an affordable cost.

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/groundbreaking-report-on-interurban-light-rail-released-today/

Rapid transit for UBC has priority over Surrey’s, students and university say

By Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun

October 24, 2010 10:04 PM

The push for rapid transit to the University of B.C. is heating up, with the Alma Mater Society urging Metro Vancouver to make the issue an “urgent priority.”

Society president Bijan Ahmadian has sent a letter to the regional district saying rapid transit to UBC should be considered as “equally urgent” as that for south of Fraser communities in Metro Vancouver’s draft regional growth strategy.

The move comes after Metro cited the Evergreen Line, a Surrey SkyTrain extension and the Broadway corridor as the top priorities in its draft plan, bumping the UBC rapid transit line to the bottom.

Metro chief administrative officer Johnny Carline has said Surrey will bear the brunt of the region’s growth in the next 30 years, and more transit is needed to help shape that city’s development.

Only after Surrey gets improved transit should TransLink consider extending rapid transit to UBC, the draft strategy says.

But UBC argues the demand is already there for more transit to and from the university. About 4,000 students are passed up by full 99 B-Line buses every day.

The Alma Mater Society last week launched a campaign to demonstrate support for rapid transit. It said transit use to UBC is expected to grow by 10 per cent each year.

“We are concerned that Metro Vancouver is playing politics on the issue, and that students will suffer as a consequence,” Ahmadian said in the letter. “This is not just a UBC issue. This is your issue too. UBC students, faculty and alumni live throughout Metro Vancouver.”

Nancy Knight, UBC’s associate vice-president, planning, at UBC, agreed the university is a significant employment centre not just for the region but for the province.

The university is proposing to build more affordable student and faculty housing on campus, in hopes of building a more sustainable community where people can live, work and study closer to home.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense for a significant centre like this not be connected by rapid transit,” she said.

TransLink is preparing technical reports for both a UBC rapid transit line and extending SkyTrain in Surrey.

ksinoski@vancouversun.com

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Rapid+transit+priority+over+Surrey+students+university/3720075/story.html#ixzz13LVRrBY5

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

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.