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We’re a growing group who agree that the Fraser Valley needs passenger rail service NOW!



Some of our governing politicians still don't seem to get it. They say it isn't viable "at this time." Maybe in 20 years, they say. Of course, they said that 20 years ago…. They plan to spend billions of dollars on more highways, but they continue to ignore the obvious, long-overdue solution to our traffic congestion [...]


Be a part of the movement to get us Rail For The Valley! The success of this campaign has come from people like you getting involved. By writing letters and pressuring the politicians, passenger rail is closer than ever to being realized, and all of it has been achieved through email and the internet. 1) [...]


Some of our governing politicians still don't seem to get it. They say it isn't viable "at this time." Maybe in 20 years, they say. Of course, they said that 20 years ago…. They plan to spend billions of dollars on more highways, but they continue to ignore the obvious, long-overdue solution to our traffic congestion – passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley! Since they aren't listening, the next step is to organize ourselves…

Voted TOP CLIMATE ACTION PROJECT IN BC, Reader’s Choice Award, The Tyee Online Newspaper

"SRY Rail Link is open to the concept of passenger rail services that would utilize our rail assets throughout the Fraser Valley."  -Ken W. Doiron, VP Business Development, Southern Railway of BC (Interurban operator)

“It was the clever boys in Vancouver and Victoria who killed the Interurban transit system that served a far less densely populated Fraser Valley half a century ago. It’s long past time to correct that mistake.” -Langley Advance

“The most efficient and “green” way to move large numbers of people is via light-rail transit. Given the population growth in the Fraser Valley, this transit option should be a no-brainer.” -The Province

“If the government is to meet its goal of cutting air contaminants by 4.7 million tonnes in the next 12 years, the revival of the interurban line will be one of many initiatives aimed at getting commuters out of their cars.” -Abbotsford News

“Now is the time, when our population still allows it, to finally look at light rail. We have the rail ready and the cost of getting it up and running would be a fraction of the cost of building more SkyTrain routes… Not only are we convinced that rail is the best solution for the Fraser Valley, we are convinced that it will be used.” -Abbotsford Times

“One of the biggest disappointments in Victoria’s new transit plan is its failure to include the possibility of light-rail passenger service — along the old Inter-Urban rail route from Vancouver to Chilliwack. In our view, any transit plan that doesn’t include such an environmentally-sound option is deficient to some degree.” -The Province

“Where is the much-needed light rail for the Fraser Valley?” -Surrey Leader

“We can learn from history. Rail-based transit will work in the Fraser Valley.” -Langley Times

“There’s far too much foot-dragging when it comes to the issue of a proper transportation infrastructure for the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. Maybe the politicians need to take a load off and hop on the train.” -Chilliwack Times

Make no mistake, passenger rail service from Chilliwack to Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, and even to Vancouver would be a great thing. -Chilliwack Times

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts: "South of the Fraser, we want at-grade light rail. You see it all over the world." (link)

"I for one am a firm believer that instead of SkyTrain expansion in Surrey we should be looking at At Grade Rail. At Grade Rail is significantly cheaper, easier to build and much more aesthetically pleasing than SkyTrain. Surrey cannot wait until 2020 for improved rail transit. At Grade Rail can be completed much faster. I have great confidence in the potential of At Grade Rail, and I am currently having City staff analyze this option so that we can move it forward." (link)

During her [2011 State of the City] speech, Watts called for a sustainable funding strategy at TransLink within "a month or two," as well as design plans for a Light Rail system completed by next year. "I don't want to have SkyTrain cutting our communities in half – that is going to destroy our city."  (link)

Delta Councillor Bruce McDonald: "I really do believe 10 years, 15 years from now that line will be as important to the valley as the old Interurban was." (link)

Langley Mayor Rick Green: "Interurban services should be fast tracked, at least achieving excursion runs within the next couple of years." (link)

Abbotsford Councillor Lynne Harris: "I think the movement will take hold. I think there's feasibility to it. The infrastructure is already there, and in terms of economic affordability, it's an idea that should be explored."  (link)

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz: Light rail linkages between communities would be invaluable. The track could connect the University of the Fraser Valley and there could be tourism and business opportunities that we've only dreamed of." (link)

Latest News:

Vancouver Blunders Ahead With Its Vanity Project.

Well, Vision(less) Vancouver is blundering ahead with its much cherished $3 billion subway under Broadway and our feckless politicians South of the Fraser remaining willfully blind to this billions of dollars boondoggle. One would think they would be more in tuned with the costs of this massive project.

Surrey has been bought off with its own vanity project, the poor man’s SkyTrain masquerading as light rail; Delta with the promise of a massive new bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel and good Liberal city councilors tow the provincial line in the Langleys, Abbotsford and beyond.

What is so sad is no one is thinking three minutes into the future, where road congestion and gridlock will reign supreme, forcing politicians to build more highways because the cost of transit is so high to build, based on the cost of current rapid transit vanity projects, that will do little to attract ridership or alleviate congestion.

Rail for the Valley offered another and cheaper way to provide quality transit to the South Fraser region, but politicians just love cutting ribbons in front of expensive vanity projects at election time.

Subway stops prepared along Vancouver’s Broadway corridor

by Carlito Pablo on November 25th, 2015


The strip mall on the southeast corner of Broadway and Oak Street is deserted.

“We’ll be starting demolition here pretty quick,” Wayne Vickers, development manager of Bosa Properties, told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “I’d say December, with excavation in January, February.”

BlueSky Properties, a Bosa family company, is constructing a 10-storey office and retail building on this spot, which the City of Vancouver has chosen to be the location of one of the stations for a proposed subway line along Broadway.

According to Vickers, his company and the city have agreed to designate an area in the new building to serve as a connection to an underground transit station. “We got the plan. We have the design for it,” Vickers said.

According to a city staff report, similar arrangements have been made for two other sites. One is near Arbutus Street at 2080 West Broadway, where the Pinnacle Living on Broadway condo building is located. The other is at 525 West Broadway, the site of Crossroads, a mixed-use residential, commercial, and office building kitty-corner to the Canada Line’s Broadway–City Hall Station.

A rapid-transit line along Broadway is one of the projects in a 10-year plan for Metro Vancouver released in June 2014 by the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation.

The $1.9-billion project involves extending the Millennium SkyTrain Line from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street, connecting along the way with the Canada Line at Broadway–City Hall. Two-thirds of its cost would consist of funding from the provincial and federal governments.

In a referendum this year, Metro Vancouver voters rejected a proposed 0.5-percent increase in the sales tax to help fund major infrastructure projects in the $7.5-billion transportation plan prepared by regional mayors.

During the federal election campaign, Liberal Leader and now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to work with the province and the city to extend rapid-transit service along Broadway to Arbutus.

Until the subway is built, Bosa’s BlueSky Properties will use the future subway-connection space for retail.




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Bombardier Inc. Gets Quebec Financing

Bombardier Inc. has had some recent finance problems with their aerospace division and is using its rail division as collateral so to speak.

They better make money now because if they don’t perform the CDPQ will own 42.5 % after 5 years.

What does it mean for us on the West coast? Definitely more pressure to buy more SkyTrain cars, meaning more pressure to build more SkyTrain. A sort of use it or lose it proposition.

Bombardier and CDPQ Enter Into Definitive Agreement: CDPQ to Acquire 30% of Newly-Created BT Holdco for $1.5B

Source: Bombardier Transportation Nov 19, 2015

Bombardierannounced it has entered into a definitive agreement with CDPQ for a $1.5 billion convertible share investment in Bombardier Transportation’s newly-created holding company, Bombardier Transportation (Investment) UK Ltd (“BT Holdco”). Under the terms of the agreement, CDPQ will acquire shares of BT Holdco convertible into a 30% common equity stake of BT Holdco, subject to annual adjustments related to performance. The transaction will be executed through a private placement and values Bombardier Transportation at $5 billion. The investment has been approved by the Boards of Directors of Bombardier and CDPQ.



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Faster Transit May Cause Congestion

An interesting item from the BBC, especially when everyone points to speed as paramount for good transit.

What the following does illustrate, is the ongoing scientific exploration of public transit overseas, completely missing in North America, where instead, shysters try to sell politicians one gadgetbahnen after another or subways as the great cure for congestion.

Study suggests London Underground may be ‘too fast’

By Jonathan Webb Science reporter, BBC News
  • 23 September 2015
A mathematical study of transport in London and New York suggests the British capital should be wary of its trains travelling too quickly.

If Tube journeys are too fast, relative to going by road, then the model predicts an increase in the overall level of congestion.

This is because key locations outside the city centre, where people switch transport modes, become bottlenecks.

By contrast, New York’s layout is such that faster trains will always help.

Reporting their findings in the journal Royal Society Interface, the researchers calculate that London’s system would function best with underground trains travelling about 1.2 times faster than the average speed on the roads. This makes the optimum Tube speed approximately 13mph (21km/h); the current average is 21mph (33km/h).

Dr Marc Barthelemy, the paper’s senior author, said it was a theoretical study and more data would be required to make specific recommendations.

“Giving exact numbers is a tricky thing,” he told the BBC. “But the fact is that these networks are coupled to each other. Optimising something on one network can bring bad things on another network.”

Transport for London (TfL) chose not to comment on the research.

‘Multimodal’ movement

Dr Barthelemy, a statistical physicist at the CEA research centre in Saclay, France, is fascinated by the interplay between coupled networks. And transport networks, such as the roads and train lines in his study, are becoming increasingly interconnected.




In a report on urban mobility published on Tuesday, the LSE Cities group at the London School of Economics describes a trend towards “multimodal” journeys, where travellers switch – for example – from train to bus or car.

This is partly driven by smartphones and apps which search for the fastest route, even if it involves a change or two. But in big, expansive cities like London, multimodal trips are inevitable, Dr Barthelemy said.



“In London there’s a clear increase in the number of modes with distance,” he explained. “It’s a very clear effect.”

To test how these different transport networks can affect each other, he and his colleagues built computer models based on the exact structure of the road and underground train networks of both London and New York.

Then, they connected these two layers based on the proximity between streets and subway stations. “We create these connections, and then we make an assumption, which is: When someone wants to go from A to B, they look for the quickest path – whatever the mode.”

Using this relatively simple system, the researchers measured various aspects of the “connectedness” of different points in the two networks.

This painted a distinctive picture of how they function together; the underground network, for example, tends to decrease congestion centrally but increase it where the underground lines finish.




And there were key differences between London and New York. “Surprisingly enough, the network in New York is much more centralised than the one in London,” Dr Barthelemy said.

This means that, according to the model, levels of congestion in downtown Manhattan are so high that the city would benefit from faster trains “even if that increases the congestion at some peripheral points – the entry points to the subway”.

In London however, those bottlenecks tip the balance in favour of a compromise on train speed – with possible planning implications.

‘Worth considering’

“Maybe making Crossrail as fast as possible isn’t the best solution in terms of global congestion,” Dr Barthelemy commented.

This study is based entirely, however, on a model which includes no passenger data from the transport system itself – as Prof Michael Batty, a planning expert at University College London, pointed out:

“It really is just a network model. There are no capacities on the network – it’s not really a flow model, like the ones that Transport for London actually use.”




Nonetheless, Prof Batty said the findings were perfectly plausible. “If you join networks together, then you get unanticipated effects,” he said.

“I think the point they’re making is well worth considering.”

The problem of interacting networks probably applies equally to the capital’s distinct, overlapping train networks, he said

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Bad Planning in Edmonton

The people designing Edmonton’s LRT extension must take first prize for “botching it”, when drivers will have to wait 16 minutes for a tram to cross a series of intersections.

Does anyone do any research at all?

I know that public transit should supersede auto traffic in revenue operation, but this is far too extreme.

In the real world, it takes a tram about 3 to 7 seconds to clear an intersection and about 10 to 15 seconds for a light to change from green phase to red phase, as done in hundreds of cities around the world.

There is no difference between a light controlled road/rail intersection and a light controlled road/road intersection, so why the long wait?

Really, a little bit of research and proper design, would have eliminated this 16 minute wait and as it stands it is nothing than an example of very poor planning.

Again, Canada becomes an international joke with its transit planning and I for one, am tired of it.

Drivers could be stuck at LRT crossing for up to 16 minutes: Metro LRT update

Emily Mertz By Web Producer  Global News


EDMONTON — Testing results of the Metro LRT Line found there could be “significant” traffic delays on key routes during peak rush hours and that some delays could be permanent.

At some crossings, a report estimates drivers might wait only two minutes while LRT trains operate on a 15-minute frequency.

However, for two specific intersections being impacted by the LRT line, the wait could be as long as 16 minutes.

The report said, “Princess Elizabeth Avenue/106 Street and 111 Avenue/Kingsway Avenue will be particularly busy and traffic will queue in all directions. The addition of regular LRT service will create situations where queues will persist and lengthen until a train cycle has cleared and vehicle traffic cycles through for the intervening 15 minutes.

“Motorists are being advised to expect delays and be patient as during peaks hours it may take up to four cycles for a vehicle to have the opportunity to clear one of these intersections and that means up to 16 minutes waiting in a queue that extends multiple blocks.”

“This is very disappointing,” said Mayor Don Iveson. “I didn’t expect the numbers to be like this.”

“Council feels a little hoodwinked,” added Councillor Bev Esslinger.

The Transportation Committee was told those two intersections currently clear within one traffic cycle.

“I’m honestly so gob-smacked I almost don’t know what to ask,” said Councillor Scott McKeen.

Trains may wait up to five minutes at MacEwan station to deal with traffic issues.

The intersections that will be most significantly impacted by the Metro LRT Line.

The intersections that will be most significantly impacted by the Metro LRT Line.

Tonia Huynh/Global News

The committee was told the Metro LRT Line is set to open on Sept. 6.

Part of the issue with the delays at intersections is because, at first, LRT trains will be travelling at a slower speed, so crossing gates will be down for longer periods of time.

However, once the trains are operating at a higher speed, the service will increase in frequency. The crossing gates will then come down more frequently but for shorter durations.

“We’re going a little slower but we’re going less frequently right now,” said the city’s Transportation Services GM Dorian Wandzura.

Wandzura said the public education campaign had already started to prepare riders and drivers for the start of the Metro Line on Sept. 6.

Transit staff will be stationed at all crossings for the first week of operations.

Training started four weeks ago and train simulations have been done during non-peak hour service.

“I think the delays will go down as we settle into the system,” Wandzura said.

The Transportation Committee heard that even when the Metro Line is operating normally, there may only be a 15 per cent improvement to traffic flows in some areas.

Esslinger said she thought the city should increase public communication about the traffic impacts.

Iveson thought drivers should be made aware of the changes and expected delays so they could choose other routes if possible.

“I’m concerned this will kill the sentiment for the LRT,” said Councillor Michael Oshry.

Late Wednesday, in a motion, the committee asked city administration to:

  • report on the feasibility of moving the NAIT LRT Station to east of 106 Street;
  • bring a report on other possible measures to mitigate issues identified with the Metro Line;
  • report on the feasibility of grade separating the Princess Elizabeth Avenue crossing as part of the next phase of NW Extension through Blatchford and beyond.

“This council needs to take control of these projects and that the info we’re getting can be relied upon,” said Iveson, stressing problems like this cannot happen again.

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Bombardier Transportation accused of corruption in South Korea

A single car train on the Yongin Everline Line

The following is from CBC Radio Canada.

Even though the date of this news item is Jan. 28, no news outlet in Vancouver has mentioned it.

It also answers the question why TransLink has ignored the Yongin Line, it only has one car!

So let us revise the SkyTrain list, there are only 6 1/4 SkyTrain lines in operation around the world.

Bombardier Transportation accused of corruption in South Korea

Bombardier offered gifts and trips to win lucrative contract, South Korean officials allege

CBC News

Posted:Jan 28, 2015

Bombardier Transportation was investigated in South Korea over corruption allegations but never charged, CBC’s French-language service Radio-Canada has learned.

A task force led by Korean prosecutors alleges that Bombardier, based in Quebec, offered gifts and trips to Canada for civil servants and politicians who decided to choose Bombardier’s technology for an elevated train system.

When the project was first announced almost 15 years ago, it was said to be worth more than $1 billion.

Train with 1 car

(A note by Zwei: The Yongin line operate cars singly, yet Bombardier claims that the Yonguin ART could carry 25,000 ~ 30,000 persons per hour per direction, the same sort of nonsense his peddled here!)

The train system that began operating in 2013 is now a financial burden for the taxpayers of Yongin.

‘The Yongin train has only one car.’- Hyun Geun-Taek, lawyerYongin, the 12th biggest city in South Korea, has an impressive elevated train, which runs for 18 kilometres linking the Seoul subway system to a large amusement park named Everland.


Bombardier South Korea trainThe elevated train in South Korea, made up of a single car, will cost taxpayers about $3.5B over the next 30 years. (Radio-Canada)

The train is similar to Vancouver’s SkyTrain but there is a major difference – it only has a single car.”We thought it was going to be a metro, but the Yongin train has only one car, so we could say it’s more like a bus,” said Hyun Geun-Taek, a lawyer who filed legal action on behalf of the citizens of Yongin.

The “bus” is expected to cost taxpayers $3.5 billion over the next 30 years, including maintenance.

The city chose the elevated train, proposed by a consortium led by Bombardier, because a government agency predicted a ridership of 183,000 passengers a day.

That projection was exaggerated, according to a Yongin city councillor.

“[It's] a ridership so inflated, we can say it’s a joke,” said Yoo Jin-Sun.

It turned out the ridership prediction was way off. When the train entered service in 2013, there were fewer than 10,000 passengers a day.

Police probe for corruption

The public-private partnership between the city of Yongin and the consortium prompted prosecutors to launch an investigation.

A special investigation unit alleged that Bombardier offered gifts and trips to the civil servants who made the ridership forecasts and recommended the company’s technology.

“Between 2003 and 2005, Bombardier paid three trips to Canada to 37 people — flights in business class, luxury hotel, golf, sightseeing,” alleged Geun-Taek, adding that 18 Yongin city councillors also travelled to Canada for so-called “LRT [light rail transit] field trips,” courtesy of  Bombardier.

The company has consistently denied the corruption allegations.

“They were not pleasure trips. There is a need to convince the people that our technology works well … If it had been corruption, they would have charged us,” said Serge Bisson, the vice-president of systems in northern Asia for Bombardier Transportation.

The prosecutors also alleged that Bombardier created a $2-million slush fund for an employee, Kim Hak-Pil, who is a high-ranking executive in South Korea and a Canadian citizen.

Korean investigators suspected the slush fund money was used for lobbying civil servants and business partners on other projects in South Korea.

“What I know is that we didn’t make illicit payments. We did not bribe anyone,” Bisson said.

A white elephant

No charges were laid at the end of the investigation due to the statute of limitation according to prosecutors, while Bombardier said it was because there was a lack of evidence.

The city had to make drastic budget cuts in education and welfare programs, such as heating for seniors’ community centres.

“It’s a scam on the edge of legality. That’s what I think,” said Korea national assembly member Kim Min-Ki.

As the city of Yongin struggles to repay the debt associated with the train system, Bombardier is still making money. The company charges the city about $26 million a year in operation and management fees.

Bombardier has an operation and maintenance contract that can last 30 years.

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Beijing’s Subway Needs Fare Hikes

An interesting item from China, Beijing’s metro system, despite being one of the world’s busiest, is having funding problems and fares are escalating.

Beijing metro price hike ‘squeezing poor’

7 January 2015

Despite it being one of the biggest and busiest in the world, the Beijing metro is making huge losses and the government is raising fares.

As Martin Patience reports, the move is fuelling concerns about the cost of living in the capital.

Is this the shape of things to come with a Broadway subway?

You won’t see the regional mayors commenting on this story, nor will you see the Vancouver Sun publish such a story, but if subways are proving costly to operate in Beijing, will a Broadway subway prove too costly to operate in Vancouver?

Don’t shoot the messenger, I am only asking.

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The GVRD’s 1978 LRT/Rail/Road Bridge – A Bridge Too Practical

In 1978, the GVRD were poised to install a three leg light rail system on the region and to cross the Fraser river a new bridge would have to be built.

Demonstrating the forward thinking of the era, GVRD planners conceived a multi-use bridge for ‘rapid transit’; the mainline railways; a cycle path; and when the Pattullo finally went kaput; a four lane vehicle bridge.

The LRT lines were so designed to have a two lane car deck above when needed and a ‘fast’ lift span would have two railway tracks, giving ample capacity, including a Vancouver to Chilliwack rail service which was envisaged at the time.

It is now history, as the provincial government imposed SkyTrain on the region and a stand alone SkyTrain, Sky Bridge was built instead and a replacement for the badly aging Pattullo Bridge is about a decade away and a replacement for the absolutely decrepit Fraser River Rail Bridge is no where in sight.

Maybe metro Vancouver should dust off the 1978 rail/road bridge and build it to replace both decaying bridges.

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The Truth Slowly Ekes Out – Surprise, Surprise

Well, someone is waking up at the Vancouver Sun or are they.

SkyTrain is obsolete.

The philosophy behind the operation of SkyTrain is obsolete.

Obsolete transit mode + obsolete transit philosophy = lagging ridership.

So it should come as no surprise Vancouver spends more for transit, but like fools at a carnival, planners and politicians, pitch more Skytrain, built in subways on routes that to not have the ridership to justify the investment.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a sign of madness; in Metro Vancouver, planners and politicians do the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

Now, only if the Vancouver sun print a honest story about modern light rail……………

Vancouver outspends Toronto, Montreal in transit, but lags in ridership – study

 By Don Cayo, Vancouver SunSeptember 5, 2014

Vancouver has been outspending both Toronto and Montreal on rapid transit for the last two decades, yet it still trails both cities in infrastructure and ridership.

VANCOUVER – Vancouver has been outspending both Toronto and Montreal on rapid transit for the last two decades, yet it still trails both cities in infrastructure and ridership.

A new study by the Pembina Institute notes that Vancouver has built 44 kilometres of new rapid transit lines in the past 20 years, almost half of it — the Canada Line — in the last 10, while Toronto and Montreal have added very little.

This construction leaves the total length of Vancouver’s rapid transit lines at 68 kilometres. This compares with 83 for Toronto’s aging subway system, which added 18 kilometres in last 20 years, and 69 kilometres for Montreal, which added only five.

When ridership and access are considered, Vancouver is much further behind.

Metro Vancouver residents take an average of 52 rapid transit trips per year, behind not only Toronto with 133 and Montreal with 93, but also Ottawa with 104 and Calgary with 74.

And only 19 per cent of Metro residents live within walking distance of rapid transit, compared to 21 per cent in Calgary, 28 per cent in Ottawa, 34 per cent in Toronto and 37 per cent in Montreal.

The report acknowledges that Vancouver’s rapid transit challenge is magnified by the need to serve several low-density suburbs, and that express buses fill some of the gap.

The completion of the Evergreen Line now under construction to Coquitlam and scheduled to open in 2016 will change the Vancouver numbers, but all of the other cities surveyed have even more construction underway or planned, so Vancouver won’t catch up.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
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Remembering Edson L. Tennyson, icon of rail public transport advocacy and development

Zwei belongs to the LRPPro blog and soon began to know that a one Ed Tennyson was someone to listen to as he was a walking encyclopedia of transit knowledge.

Probably no one in Metro Vancouver has ever heard of Mr. Tennyson, but his influence has certainly been felt in Canada. In the short time I have been a member of the LRPPro blog, I have respected Mr. Tennyson’s well researched comments, even though I disagreed on some of his thoughts, he was a giant in the industry and a giant promoting light rail.

Remembering Edson L. Tennyson, icon of rail public transport advocacy and development

Edson L. Tennyson, 1922-2014. Photo: Tennyson family.

With profound sorrow we have learned of the loss of our close colleague, the renowned transit industry icon Edson L. Tennyson.

Shortly after his 92nd birthday, Ed, senior technical consultant to the Light Rail Now Project, passed away at his home near Washington, DC on 14 July 2014 following a valiant struggle with cancer. He intrepidly had continued to post his insights and analysis of transit issues on the LRPPro listserve, to the benefit of hundreds of colleagues belonging to younger generations of rail transit advocates and professionals.

Two of Ed’s daughters, Marilyn Tennyson and Marjorie Tennyson, were with him in his final days. He is also survived by another daughter, Connie McCarthy, and by his wife of 70 years, Shirley Forward Tennyson.

Services will be held on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 2:00 PM at the Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, Virginia.

Ed Tennyson was perhaps the most prominent U.S. public transport expert, still professionally active, who had actually worked for the original interurban and urban electric railway industry, and who also, in the words of Greg Thompson — Chair of the Light Rail Transit Committee of the U.S. Transportation Research Board (TRB) — “understood the fundamentals of successful transit.”

In postings on the LRPPro listserve, Ed often cited his youthful experience riding the once-extensive electric trolley system of New Jersey Public Service, mainly in northern New Jersey. He also drew upon lessons from his stint as a station employee for Greyhound.

After completing two management engineering degrees, Ed began his main public transport career at Pittsburgh Railways, subsequently moving to a management position with Milwaukee Rapid Transit. There, as described by Lawrence Lovejoy, a Senior Supervising Engineer for Parsons Brinckerhoff, Ed was particularly involved with developing the Speedrail system, an effort to reorganize remnants of the Milwaukee region’s once-extensive interurban system into a suburban rapid transit service.

Ed Tennyson stepping from a Speedrail electric interurban car, c. 1950. Photo via Lawrence Lovejoy.Ed Tennyson stepping from a Speedrail electric interurban car, c. 1950. Photo via Lawrence Lovejoy.

While Ed’s formative experience was gained in the course of a largely unsuccessful struggle to retain electric rail and trolleybus operations during the U.S. Transit Devastation era, his understanding and insights have proved invaluable to colleagues, and influential in the revival of electric surface railways over the past four decades.

In 1951 Ed was appointed City Transit Commissioner for Youngstown, Ohio, championing the city’s electric trolleybus system which remained in operation until 1959. He served Youngstown until 1956, when he became the Chief Transit Engineer and Deputy Commissioner of Transportation in Philadelphia.

According to Tom Hickey, Chief Development Officer of Virginia Railway Express and chairman of the Streetcar and Heritage Trolley Subcommittee for the American Public Transportation Association, Ed helped helped “reimagine” Philadelphia’s Center City “as we know it today”, with “Penn Center and Market East and Independence Mall redeveloped into open urban spaces centered around transit, not the automobile.”

Tom adds the following about Ed’s achievements in this period:

When other cities were ripping up street railways and building urban highways, Ed was key to crafting Philadelphia’s policy to eschew the temptation of cheap federal dollars for roadways and focus on preserving rail transit through what we today accept as public-private partnerships with the railroads and then-private transit companies. He is one reason … that Philadelphia is still by far the largest street railway operation in the US. He extended the light rail “Subway-Surface” tunnels under the Schuylkill River lines and University City to their present portals.

In rail rapid transit, he extended the Market-Frankford El to 46th Street at the same time as the Subway-Surface extension. The “Almond Joy” el cars were purchased under his watch as well. He led the extension of the Broad Street Subway to the Sports Complex in South Philadelphia. He was highly influential in the creation of PATCO [Port Authority Transit Corporation] — both in extending the predecessor Bridge Line under the streets of Philadelphia from 8th & Market to 16th & Locust and in splitting the Lindenwold High Speed and Broad Street Lines into the configuration we know today.

As for commuter rail, Ed formed the Passenger Service Improvement Corporation in the late 50s with the then-unheard of proposition of giving public money to private corporations (the Pennsy and Reading) as reimbursement for the losses incurred in commuter rail service, as well as providing new rolling stock to do so (Silverliners I, II and IIIs plus RDCs for the Reading diesel lines). He was the force behind linking Philadelphia’s two commuter rail networks through the Center City Commuter Connection, as well as the Fox Chase electrification, Airport High Speed Line and retention of the PRR Norristown Line as far as the City limits (Ivy Ridge).

Finishing in Philadelphia as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Property for Transit Engineering, in 1972 Ed was appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp to the position of Deputy Secretary for Local and Area Transportation in the state’s Department of Transportation (PennDOT), where he served for seven years. It was in that position that he helped steer Pittsburgh away from totally eliminating what remained of its former streetcar system and toward converting the most important lines into a modern light rail transit system. As Greg Thompson relates, Ed was influenced by similar developments in Europe:

He grasped immediately the idea that German light rail, which evolved from streetcars in Germany, was a new transit mode faster, higher capacity, and more productive than both buses and traditional streetcars. He understood that for those reasons light rail could be configured as the backbone of regional multimodal transit systems that attracted high ridership and were productive.

Energized by those developments, recalls Greg,

Ed tirelessly advocated the potential of Pittsburgh’s streetcar system, fighting not just against its abandonment, but for its reconfiguration into trunk lines. What has remained would not have remained had Ed not carried on the good fight. He also researched the relative performance of busways in that city, revealing the chasm between what they promised and what they actually delivered.

High among Ed’s other achievements in his Deputy Secretary position was to improve intercity rail service — particularly “resuscitating Keystone corridor rail service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia”, according to Greg.

When his term with PennDOT expired in 1979, Ed moved on to a role as consultant for the new San Diego Trolley project, helping to guide startup operations there, and with several other transit entities. Then, in 1983 he was appointed Public Works Planning Coordinator for Arlington County, helping to complete the Metro Orange Line to Vienna, Virginia.

Following that, in 1992 he retired — nominally. But in reality, Ed stayed very active as an advocate and advisor to others pursuing important public transport projects, especially rail. In 2000, he was one of the original members of the Light Rail Progress Professional (LRPPro) listserve, an online forum where his analysis and advice have been of enormous value to other professionals and advocates striving to develop and improve rail public transportation. In recent years, he served on the Fairfax County Transportation Advisory Commission, and as an emeritus member of the Transportation Research Board of the National Research Council. Until a few weeks before his death, Ed was working with engineering consultant (and LRPPro member) Alan Drake on a proposal for expansion of Washington’s Metro system.

Ed’s legacy rests not just with his many direct achievements in the physical development, improvement, and operation of public transport systems, but especially with the vast influence he has had within the industry and in the thinking of other professionals. Tom Hickey emphasizes that

Ed was a determined, tireless, and often effective advocate of doing things right. He was eternally generous with his opinions (even when unsolicited…) and always challenged those around him to extend their reach.

Tom also cites the Biblical passage, “You shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16.)

A flurry of condolences and eulogies has been posted to the LRPPro listserve, on which Ed had been so active and influential for 14 years. Bob Reuter, a dedicated rail transit advocate in the Baltimore-Washington area and a transportation engineering consultant, posted the following:

My deepest condolences, and he already has left a hole in the fabric of the transit community.

I knew Ed professionally and as a friend for well over 25 years and he was never anything but the consummate gentleman.

I have saved every one the 5459 messages he sent to this list. I hope to be able to bring order to his posts and maybe repost them at a future time. His wit and wisdom will be greatly missed

Again my deepest condolences to the family; you will all be in my prayers.

Expressing profound sadness, Lyndon Henry, founder of the Texas Association for Public Transportation (TAPT), technical consultant to the Light Rail Now Project, and a contributing editor to the Light Rail Now website and blog, noted that

Ed has been my most influential mentor. I will miss his advice, wisdom, and inspiration more than I can express.

In a message of condolence to the Tennyson family, Dave Dobbs, TAPT Executive Director and publisher of Light Rail Now, wrote the following:

Edson Tennyson was a great friend and mentor for the last 23 years. He was foremost among those who sought to bring back a rational transportation system to America, the professor emeritus of public transit, and in that effort he inspired the rest of us to make the world a better place in every way.

I will miss his sage advice, his insights and his careful analysis of the all important numbers that he so enjoyed presenting to the world. LRPPro, started by Lyndon Henry, grew out of our website, LightRailNow! (, which Ed inspired with his charts, graphs and commentary that he presented at the Dallas Rail-Volution in 1999. I had the honor of converting those incredible materials into electronic format, which, in 2000, became a website that now has thousands of pages and numerous articles by Edson Tennyson and is used by many in the transit industry for information.

Lyndon Henry, Roger Baker and I and others here at TAPT offer our condolences. Please know that while your personal loss is immeasurable, our loss and the loss to the transit industry is shared with you in a very keen way. Ed was one of the greatest generation; a soldier right up to the end, he continued to give to his country and the world. May he rest in peace and may you find peace in knowing how much Ed meant to others.

And Greg Thompson’s eulogy undoubtedly expresses succinctly the feelings of most of us that knew Ed Tennyson well:

I shall miss him, but I also am comforted in the fact that his work is responsible for the industry being on a plane higher than it would have been without him.

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Broadway on the Radio

On News 1130 today.

Light rail advocate argues against Broadway subway option.

A Broadway subway is all about subsidizing Vision(less) backers and supporters, who have invested heavily assembling lands at potential subway stations, not about moving people efficiently or affordably.

Light rail advocate argues against Broadway subway option

The mayor of Vancouver thinks an underground system would be better

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The fight for the future of transit service along the Broadway corridor is heating up.

The mayor of Vancouver has spoken out in favour of a subway — but one advocate is pushing some NDP MLAs to support light rail instead.

Local light rail advocate Donald Johnston says ridership is only about a third of what it would need to be to justify a subway.

He adds if it’s built, it would need to be subsidized, and would take money away from other projects like schools, hospitals, and transit south of the Fraser.

“I think the Metro mayors are naively following goosestep with Gregor Robertson’s demand for a subway along Broadway. There’s no justification for it,” Johnston says.

He argues supports and span wires for LRT are already in place from when streetcars ran along Broadway six decades ago.

Two traffic lanes would be lost if LRT went in.

Johnston says the cost to build LRT could be a tenth of the cost of building a subway — and — he says capacity would be higher.

He says SkyTrain is at capacity now because the stations are small. “If you want to increase capacity for a subway, that means you’re going have to rebuild every SkyTrain station along the route. That’s going be several billions of dollars.”

Johnston thinks there would be pushback for the loss of two lanes.

“Sure, you’re going to lose auto space. But, hasn’t the City of Vancouver done that with bike lanes? The Burrard Bridge? Why are they lighting their hair on fire about light rail on Broadway? They’ve already done it for bicycles. Light rail is far more important, better transit along Broadway’s far more important than a bike lane,” Johnston says.

He’s sent letters to Vancouver MLA, David Eby, and NDP leader, John Horgan.

Vancouver’s mayor has said a subway is a priority but it isn’t known how it would be funded.

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