Posts Tagged ‘VALTAC’

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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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

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.

BRT to Chilliwack & SkyTrain to Langley? Just Business as Usual in BC!

October 7, 2010

The following article by Brian Lewis should forewarn us that the transit decision for the Fraser Valley has been already made. Like all transit studies done in the region in the past 30 years, the decision on transit mode is made beforehand and then a study is commissioned to confirm the decision. This is how transit planning is done in BC: Politicians make the decision and the bureaucrats make sure the political decisions stand with bogus, yet expensive studies.

One wonders why Trans Link is needed at all!

It is to be certain, Premier Campbell has not read the RftV/Leewood Report, though he is aware of its content with the announcement of an Express bus to Chilliwack and SkyTrain to Langley, sometime in the future. The TramTrain study is a radical change how transit is planned for in BC, in which no special party is rewarded, except for those wishing to use ‘rail‘ transit!

In Mr. Campbell’s world, bus based transit means new highways, which will keep the road Builder’s Association happy and building more SkyTrain will keep both Bombardier Inc. and land developers happy. Happy people translates into lucrative political donations to a political party which the happy people belong!

The Premier’s speech to the Union of BC Municipalities, was just telling the party faithful that it is business as usual in BC.

 

 

 

Premier’s transit pitch hard to swallow

By Brian Lewis, The Province

October 7, 2010

A mother shoving cod liver oil down her child’s throat in the belief it’s a good health remedy — even though it tastes bad — is one thing, but unilaterally shoving public transit policy down taxpayer throats is positively unpalatable.

That’s precisely what Premier Gordon Campbell did last week at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler when he announced Victoria’s intention to extend SkyTrain through Surrey to Langley. The tasteless tactic was repeated in the same speech when he proclaimed that Rapid Bus service would link Chilliwack with the rest of the Fraser Valley.

On both counts reaction throughout the transit-challenged region was predictable: “Oh, really?”

Regarding the SkyTrain extension, TransLink, the region’s mayors and all other stakeholders are a long, long way from agreeing on what type of rapid transit technology should be used in building the 17-kilometre link between SkyTrain’s current terminus in north Surrey and Langley district. By far the most expensive option is SkyTrain’s elevated guideway, which in current dollars is estimated to cost a whopping $2.5 billion, or more.

Campbell’s announcement took mayors such as Dianne Watts of Surrey by total surprise. As she has said many times, a ground-level system between Surrey and Langley makes more sense because it’s far cheaper, easier and quicker to build.

Langley Township Mayor Rick Green’s response was blunt : “SkyTrain to Langley is simply pie-in-the-sky,” he tells me.

“There’s no question the premier is jumping the gun here.”

Green notes that TransLink, its Mayor’s Council and the B.C. government only several weeks ago signed a Memorandum of Understanding to conduct long-term transit planning throughout the region.

Yet, here comes Campbell with an announcement that the extension to Langley will be the SkyTrain technology. “He does this even though the ink on the MOU isn’t even dry,” Green adds.

As for establishing a Rapid Bus system to serve as far east as Chilliwack, those advocating that the old Inter Urban rail line be utilized to re-establish light rail transit from Chilliwack to Surrey are more than a little miffed.

Green, who also heads the South of the Fraser Community Rail Task Force, points out that unlike Vancouver, Richmond or Burnaby, population densities in the valley tend to form in pockets, which makes an Inter Urban light rail system much more efficient and cost-effective than SkyTrain, which works best in areas where high density is uniform.

The premier announcing that Rapid Bus is the choice for service to Chilliwack also reinforces suspicions that a $400,000 study of transit options for the valley, undertaken by Victoria almost two years ago, which still hasn’t been released, will kill the Inter Urban light rail option.

Despite Campbell’s announcements, Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender says all transit options for the region will remain on the table.

He also chairs the Mayor’s Council and acknowledges that this places him in a consensus-building role to keep peace between the region and Victoria and to move the issue forward.

“We all have to work together for the south of Fraser solutions,” Fassbender says.

But a premier dispensing policy like spoonfuls of cod liver oil makes that job tougher.

blewis@theprovince.com

Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/opinion/Premier+transit+pitch+hard+swallow/3635873/story.html?cid=megadrop_story#ixzz11g8drgeT

A Must Read For Regional Mayors Before They Talk Transit Funding!

September 20, 2010

Since the spring of 2008, the Light Rail Committee has circulated an E-Mail sent by American transit and transportation expert, Gerald Fox to a Victoria transit group that wants to promote LRT and TramTrain in the Capital Region. Mr. Fox easily shreds TransLink’s business case for the Evergreen Line which should forewarn transit groups and regional politicians in the Fraser Valley that TransLink easily manipulates statistics to favour SkyTrain to the detriment of light-rail and is not to be trusted with any transit study. The following is the text of the E-Mail and for those lobbying for the return of the Interurban, just substitute the Fraser Valley for Victoria.

The letter, first published in in this blog December 27th, 2008 is reprinted in light of this weeks meeting of regional mayors with Transportation Minister Shirley Bond and the Premier of BC, regarding funding for the Evergreen Line.

The question is basic: If TransLink’s business case for the Evergreen line is dishonest, then would a funding formula for the Evergreen line be equally dishonest?

From: A North-American Rail Expert (Gerald Fox)

Subject: Comments on the Evergreen Line “Business Case”

Date: February 6, 2008 12:15:22 PM PST (CA)

 Greetings:

 The Evergreen Line Report made me curious as to how TransLink could justify continuing to expand SkyTrain, when the rest of the world is building LRT. So I went back and read the alleged “Business Case” (BC) report in a little more detail. I found several instances where the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain. If the underlying assumptions are inaccurate, the conclusions may be so too. Specifically:

 Capacity. A combination of train size and headway. For instance, TriMet’s new “Type 4” Low floor LRVs, arriving later this year, have a rated capacity of 232 per car, or 464 for a 2- car train. (Of course one must also be sure to use the same standee density when comparing car capacity. I don’t know if that was done here). In Portland we operate a frequency of 3 minutes downtown in the peak hour, giving a one way peak hour capacity of 9,280. By next year we will have two routes through downtown, which will eventually load both ways, giving a theoretical peak hour rail capacity of 37,000 into or out of downtown. Of course we also run a lot of buses.

 The new Seattle LRT system which opens next year, is designed for 4-car trains, and thus have a peak hour capacity of 18,560. (but doesn’t need this yet, and so shares the tunnel with buses). The Business Case analysis assumes a capacity of 4,080 for LRT, on the Evergreen Line which it states is not enough, and compares it to SkyTrain capacity of 10400.!

 Speed. The analysis states the maximum LRT speed is 60 kph. (which would be correct for the street sections) But most LRVs are actually designed for 90 kph. On the Evergreen Line, LRT could operate at up to 90 where conditions permit, such as in the tunnels, and on protected ROW. Most LRT systems pre-empt most intersections, and so experience little delay at grade crossings. (Our policy is that the trains stop only at stations, and seldom experience traffic delays. It seems to work fine, and has little effect on traffic.) There is another element of speed, which is station access time. At-grade stations have less access time. This was overlooked in the analysis.

 Also, on the NW alignment, the SkyTrain proposal uses a different, faster, less-costly alignment to LRT proposal. And has 8 rather than 12 stations. If LRT was compared on the alignment now proposed for SkyTrain, it would go faster, and cost less than the Business Case report states!

 Cost. Here again, there seems to be some hidden biases. As mentioned above, on the NW Corridor, LRT is costed on a different alignment, with more stations. The cost difference between LRT and SkyTrain presented in the Business Case report is therefore misleading. If they were compared on identical alignments, with the same number of stations, and designed to optimize each mode, the cost advantage of LRT would be far greater. I also suspect that the basic LRT design has been rendered more costly by requirements for tunnels and general design that would not be found on more cost-sensitive LRT projects.

 Then there are the car costs. Last time I looked, the cost per unit of capacity was far higher for SkyTrain. Also,it takes about 2 SkyTrain cars to match the capacity of one LRV. And the grade-separated SkyTrain stations are far most costly and complex than LRT stations. Comparing 8 SkyTrain stations with 12 LRT stations also helps blur the distinction.

 Ridership. Is a function of many factors. The Business Case report would have you believe that type of rail mode alone, makes a difference (It does in the bus vs rail comparison, according to the latest US federal guidelines). But, on the Evergreen Line, I doubt it. What makes a difference is speed, frequency (but not so much when headways get to 5 minutes), station spacing and amenity etc. Since the speed, frequency and capacity assumptions used in the Business Case are clearly inaccurate, the ridership estimates cannot be correct either. There would be some advantage if SkyTrain could avoid a transfer. If the connecting system has capacity for the extra trains. But the case is way overstated.

 And nowhere is it addressed whether the Evergreen Line, at the extremity of the system, has the demand for so much capacity and, if it does, what that would mean on the rest of the system if feeds into?

 Innuedos about safety, and traffic impacts, seem to be a big issue for SkyTrain proponents, but are solved by the numerous systems that operate new LRT systems (i.e., they can’t be as bad as the SkyTrain folk would like you to believe).

 I’ve no desire to get drawn into the Vancouver transit wars, and, anyway, most of the rest of the world has moved on. To be fair, there are clear advantages in keeping with one kind of rail technology, and in through-routing service at Lougheed. 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.

 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. In the US, all new transit projects that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of transit peers, selected and monitored by the federal government, to ensure that projects are analysed honestly, and the taxpayers’ interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US.

 Victoria

 But the BIG DEAL for Victoria is: If the Business Case analysis were corrected to fix at least some of the errors outlined above, the COST INCREASE from using SkyTrain on the Evergreen Line will be comparable to the TOTAL COST of a modest starter line in Victoria. This needs to come to the attention of the Province. Victoria really does deserve better. Please share these thoughts as you feel appropriate.

The SkyTrain Lobby – Just The Usual Suspects!

September 10, 2010

"It used to be something called public transit ... then for reasons you're too young to understand, they did away with the public."

Transit again is making front page news in the dailies and regional newspapers, with TransLink claiming that the next big rapid transit (read SkyTrain) line will be in Surrey, not Broadway. A few international transit blogs have picked up the story with the usual suspects singing hosannas about SkyTrain, while in the same breathe libeling anyone who supports light rail, including long time advocates of the worlds most built transit system! What is perverse about the SkyTrain lobby is that they moan on and on about how facts about LRT being distorted or untrue, yet all they have to offer in turn is TransLink’s dubious claims about SkyTrain and the Canada Line, which is a conventional metro and not ART.

What is even more sad is that the old saw, “SkyTrain is cheaper to operate than light rail because it has no drivers” is trundled out ad naseum by the usual suspects and by bloggists who should know better. Automatic or driverless railways were the flavour of the month back in the 70’s and 80’s but have been found expensive to operate. Sure the system has no drivers, but in their stead an automatic metro system must hire a small army of attendants to keep trains and stations safe for the paying public. Not mentioned too, is a rather large squad of signaling experts must be on shift at all times to deal with problems with train operation because with an automatic metro, operating conditions must be at 100% or the system grinds to a halt.

What has been found is that automatic metros are only cost effective if average hourly ridership is above about 15,000 persons per hour per direction, below that threshold, LRT is cheaper to operate and at 15,000 to 20,000 pphpd operating costs of both modes are about the same. Yet, one never hears this from the usual suspects.

We have had now thirty years of SkyTrain only planning in the region and it has left us with a massive transit deficit. Sure, the SkyTrain metro system carries a lot of passengers, but 80% of those passengers have been forced to transfer from bus to metro. Transfers, especially forced transfers not only increase travel time, it deters about 70%of potential customers. There is no evidence that the SkyTrain metro system has caused a modal shift from car to transit and with the multi-billion Gateway highways and bridge project shows that the SkyTrain system is actually fueling new highway construction!

SkyTrain is too expensive to extend and even finding funds to complete the Evergreen Line (Nevergreen Line) are almost impossible to come by, yet the SkyTrain Lobby persists that the proprietary metro is just ‘peachy‘.

To date, SkyTrain has yet to prove in revenue service that it is cheaper to operate than light rail; to date SkyTrain has yet to prove in revenue service that it can carry more passengers than light rail! These two facts accounts for ICTS/ALRT/ALM/ART dismal sales record when compared to light rail and the once mighty Skytrain has now been relegated as a niche transit system for airports and theme parks. The usual suspects again remain silent about this.

Yet we knew this already. From the 1983 TTC ART Study:

“ICTS costs anything up to ten times as much as a conventional light-rail line to install, for about the same capacity; or put another way, ICTS costs more than a heavy-rail subway, with four times ICTS’s capacity.”

Or if one had read Gerald Fox’s A Comparison Between Light Rail And Automated Transit Systems. (1991), which concluded:

  • Requiring fully grade separated R-O-W and stations and higher car and equipment costs, total construction costs is higher for AGT than LRT. A city selecting AGT will tend to have a smaller rapid transit network than a city selecting LRT.
  • There is no evidence that automatic operation saves operating and maintenance costs compared to modern LRT operating on a comparable quality of alignment.
  • The rigidity imposed on operations by a centralized control system and lack of localized response options have resulted in poor levels of reliability on AGT compared to the more versatile LRT systems.
  • LRT and AGT have similar capacities capabilities if used on the same quality of alignment. LRT also has the option to branch out on less costly R-O-W.
  • Being a product of contemporary technology, AGT systems carry with them the seeds of obsolescence.
  • Transit agencies that buy into proprietary systems should consider their future procurement options, particularly if the original equipment manufacturer were to cease operations.
  • The SkyTrain Lobby, with the usual suspects, ignore transit studies from experts who have hands on knowledge about light rail and metro and continue to put evangelic faith with those who want ‘pie in the sky’ metro and subway planning. The taxpayer, especially taxpayers who live South of the Fraser are growing weary of paying higher taxes to build just a little more politically prestigious metro in Greater Vancouver, just ask Premier Gordon Campbell and the HST fiasco.

    TransLink’s new motto for ‘rail‘ transit should be:

     “Build it Cheap and Build Lots“.

    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

    Two Valley Rail Studies

    July 10, 2010

    The following are two studies that have been done concerning ‘rail’ transit in the Fraser Valley.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/2527465/City-of-Surrey-Community-Rail-Proposal

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/515139/DRL-Solutions-Interurban-Report

    Rail For The Valley puts squeeze on city

    July 9, 2010

    I find it very strange that The municipality of Chilliwack is not involved with the South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force and many local residents would like to know the reason why? Certainly having a direct rail connection to Vancouver would be a bonus for both local businesses, especially tourist oriented businesses and for local residents, with reliable and timely communication with Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey and Vancouver. Being involved with the South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force would dispel the many myths about ‘rail’ transit and TramTrain, especially the assertion of mayor Gaetz, that trains can’t travel faster than 10 kph on the former BCE route.

    Not so, as Rail for The Valley envisions a 90 kph service along the line, not unlike the express interurban trains that once raced along the route for 50 years. The geometry of the track was designed for short wheelbase interurbans (not unlike modern TramTrain) not today’s heavy freight trains, with freight cars up to 25 metres in length on less than adequately maintained track.

    It is time for Chilliwack politicians to get involved, as their indifference could be inferred that they don’t care for 21st century public transportation and could mean that the Valley interurban would only go as far as Langley or Abbotsford. Such short sightedness, especially in an age of high fuel prices, global warming, traffic congestion, and pollution, the City of Chilliwack Council could very ‘miss the train’.

    Rail For The Valley puts squeeze on city

    By Robert Freeman – Chilliwack Progress

    Chilliwack is the only municipality in the Lower Mainland not on board a task force lobbying for a community rail system.

    “For the last three years, Rail For The Valley has been pressing the issue of a passenger rail service that would run from Chilliwack to Surrey,” said RFTV spokesman Paul Gieselman.

    “Much progress has been made … however, this has not been a unified movement,” he said.

    The South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force includes representatives from Delta, Langley and Abbotsford – but not Chilliwack.

    “Chilliwack has been invited, but has not decided to get on board,” Gieselman said.

    An open house is being held in Chilliwack July 8 to inform the public about the work of the task force, and “put pressure on the city” to join, he said.

    Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz has balked at committing the city to passenger rail until a transportation study by the provincial government is completed.

    She is also concerned about the potential cost of restoring the old Inter-Urban rail line that once ran from Chilliwack to New Westminster.

    Just upgrading the 17 or 18 rail crossings could cost $500,000 each, according to an estimate by city staff.

    But Gieselman said the mayor is getting hung up on the costs instead of the potential benefits.

    The Chilliwack open house starts at 5 p.m. at Evergreen Hall on Corbould Street.

    http://www.bclocalnews.com/fraser_valley/theprogress/news/97943464.html