Signal Failure – The Achilles Heel of a Driverless Light Metro

Portend of what is going to be more and more common on SkyTrain, signal failure.

As our SkyTrain ages, more and more service is disrupted by signal or a switch failure and with almost no redundancy in our transit system, the results for the transit customer is a fiasco!

The lesson is simple, the more complicated the transit system is, the more chance of catastrophic failure!

A lesson that the SkyTrain Lobby ignores.

DLR down: Transport chaos for commuters after entire tube line suspended due to signal failure at West India Quay

The line has been down since 9.15am

The entire length of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) line in London is currently suspended due to a signal failure at West India Quay.

The whole line has been down since 9.15am on Tuesday 18 September, with problems first reported at 6.15am this morning.

 London Underground, London Buses and Southeastern will be accepting valid DLR tickets via any reasonable route, according to Transport for London (TfL).


The failure has coincided with an event being held by the DLR this morning called “Meet the Manager”, a Q&A at Canning Town from 7.30-9.30am. Billed as an opportunity to have any DLR questions answered, it is unlikely that many people will be able to get there while the line suspension continues.

 Thousands of commuters have also had their journeys disrupted by the suspension.

Rachel May Quin tweeted: “Shout out to London DLR for a catastrophic service this morning and implementing a full suspension on all routes. You always know how to brighten my day.”

Meanwhile, Lisa Terry wrote on social media: “Great start to the day. Severe delays on London DLR so follow advice and go to London Bridge to get tube to Canary Wharf. London Bridge underground closed. OK, I’ll get the train to Waterloo East. Nope, London Bridge train station had closed behind me.”

The DLR twitter account has been replying to complaints, advising that customers can claim a refund for delayed journeys online.

“Our engineers are on site and are working hard to fix this,” said one customer service advisor. “I honestly can’t say at present when this will be resolved. Sorry for the disruption.”

The DLR is used by commuters to get to stations including Canary Wharf, Custom House for ExCel and London City Airport, a key hub for business travel.

Talking Though One’s Hat – Doug McCallum on SkyTrain

Talking through one’s hat,  definition:

Talk nonsense; especially on a subject that one professes to be knowledgeable about but in fact is ignorant of.

This is exactly what former Surrey mayor and current morality candidate, Doug McCallum is doing.

As  Mr. Cow, our expert from Ontario, said;

” You can expand SkyTrain to  Langley, there is nothing stopping TransLink from doing just that. However, it’s just really, really bad idea due to the enormous cost compared to using LRT operating technology, the complete lack of funding to do it, as well  as the possibility of being sued by multiple contractors!”

My estimate for McCallum’s SkyTrain to everywhere.

SkyTrain (Expo Line) rehab to increase capacity………… $3 billion

Langley SkyTrain extension …………………………………. $3 billion+including lawsuit settlements

South Surrey SkyTrain extension …………………………… $3 billion+

Total …………………………………………………………….. $9 billion+

The joker in the deck; the cost of cement and steel is rising at a cost three times that of the rate of inflation. SkyTrain uses a massive amounts of steel and cement.

The offical rate of inflation in Canada is 2.5%, thus the cost of cement and steel is rising at a rate of a minimum of 7.5% annually.

Conclusion: Doug McCallum’s SkyTrain promises will cost a minimum of $10 billion!

Not going to happen.

Surrey mayoral candidate Doug McCallum wants SkyTrain extension to White Rock


He’s running for mayor in Surrey, and promising to scrap Light Rail Transit (LRT) to build a SkyTrain out to Langley along the Fraser Highway instead.

Now, Doug McCallum is proposing that the SkyTrain should also extend to South Surrey.

“To sort of complete the rapid transit part of our city, the first phase would be from our city centre out Fraser Highway to Langley,” he said.

“And the second phase that we’re proposing is to go from our city centre down King George to Newton, and then out to South Surrey.”

McCallum said he has studied the numbers, and is confident that a SkyTrain to Langley can be built for the same price as LRT: $1.65-billion.

“We can build these lines fairly quickly and I would go so far as to say that once we start construction on the SkyTrain and Fraser Highway — that we will build around the clock seven days a week.”

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond told the Surrey Board of Trade this week that McCallum is wrong, and that the cost would be about $900-million more.

McCallum calls Desmond’s comments astonishing. “I just don’t understand his position,” he said.

Another mayoral candidate, Tom Gill, is also wading into the debate.

“It’s unfortunate that my opposition is using it as a political football,” he said. “The realities are very simple. There’s not an additional billion dollars on the table right now for us to switch technologies.”

“I think we’ve done an incredible amount of work over the last decade, since 2008, finalizing a vision for the city. The idea is to get our residents around the city not necessarily get them downtown Vancouver.”

Gill also said that LRT between Guildford and Newton is only the first phase of a project that will extend to 150 kilometers.

The Whiterock King George Whalley LRT – Revisited & Updated

First published in 2011, the concept of the Whalley King George Whiterock Line, operating in conjunction with the Rail for the Valley’s Leewood Study TramTrain would bring an affordable and successful 21st century public transportation solutions to Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

It has has been seven years year since I entertained the idea of the Whalley – King George – White Rock LRT Line and in 2018 the plan is extremely sound.

Surrey needs a bold new vision for modern LRT and I believe the Whalley – King George – White Rock or WKW Line would provide the vision to implement a strategic and affordable light rail network for Surrey and communities south of the Fraser river. Failure to plan and build sustainable light rail and to continue to plan and build with the hugely expensive SkyTrain light-metro, will beggar the region with ever escalating taxes, driving out business and residents out of the region.

The goal of the new light rail line is to serve customer needs and offer the ability to provide an attractive alternative to the car, it also must serve a multitude of destinations. Building LRT as an extension of the SkyTrain light-metro system will fail to meet expectations, as LRT will not be designed to its best advantage. It is not rocket science to design a transit line to be an attractive alternative to the car.

The Light Rail Line

The 24 kilometer  WKW Line would provide a solid foundation for an attractive light rail system in Surrey. The proposed light rail would be a classic LRT, operating mainly on a reserved rights-of-way (RoW), located in the median of the roads involved.

The route of the WKW Line would start at at 108th Ave. & the King George Hwy. and would continue South to the Southern RR of BC (formerly the BC Hydro R.R.) This portion of the route would service the Central City shopping district; Surrey Memorial Hospital; Queen Elizabeth Secondary School; Bear Creek Park; and the Newton shopping district.

The WKW Line would then network south-east along 4 km of the former BCE interurban line and proposed Valley Rail Vancouver to Chilliwack TramTrain route to 152nd. Traveling mainly through industrial lands, which would provide the ideal location for the Light Rail storage and maintenance yards. This portion of track would be double tracked and adequately signaled for safe freight/Interurban/tram operation.

Operating a joint operation with the RftV/Leewood interurban, would enable South Surrey and White Rock transit customers the option of a direct or no-transfer service to downtown Vancouver.

From 152nd Street, the WKW Line would go straight south to White Rock crossing the Nicomakle /Serpentine River valley basin. Along here, the line must be raised above flood plain and three new bridges across the Super Port Railway Line, and the Serpentine and Nicomakle rivers must be built. It is this portion of line that will be the most expensive.

Rising out of the small river valley the route would continue south along 152nd Ave., terminating in downtown White Rock

In the summer, the light rail line would bring congestion relief to White Rock by providing a quality transit alternative for the many thousands of people who come in cars to the popular beaches. Also close to the WKW Line is the South Surrey Athletic fields, which many fields and arenas are constantly busy with hockey, baseball, soccer, rugby, and football games, twelve months of the year. The line would also provide an excellent transportation access for the burgeoning housing estates, such as Morgana’s Crossing in South Surrey and White Rock.

An approximate map of the WKW route as Google maps do not use existing rail lines.

The Cost

The the total cost of the KWK Line, including bridges and/or viaducts should cost no more than $1.5 (2018 dollars) billion, based on comparative LRT lines now being built The high cost of major engineering in the Nicomakle/Serpentine valley, would be mitigated by simple on-street construction on 152nd and the King George Highway and track sharing for 4 km on the Southern Railway of BC Line bisecting Surrey .

It is interesting to note that the total cost for the 130 km RftV/Leewood Chilliwack to Vancouver Interurban using Diesel LRT and the 23 km WKW Line would be about $2.5 billion (2018 dollars) or put another way we could build 153 km of modern LRT lines in the Fraser Valley for about $1 billion less than the 5.5 km Broadway subway and attract many more customers as well.

Diesel TramTrain in Kassel Germany - Could be in Surrey as well.

Unlike present light rail planning, where development is encouraged to take place along a LRT/SkyTrain route, the KWK Line can pass through sensitive agriculture and ecological areas, without the need for land development. Building the line would provide a potential capacity of 20,000 persons per hour per direction on the route, well able to handle future passenger demands, yet still can be built much cheaper than its SkyTrain/light-metro competitors. The cost for a SkyTrain along the same route? About $3.5 billion!

A modern LRT Line in Madrid, Spain.  A template for the WKW Line?

Using low-floor trams, with convenient stops, ensures an obstacle free journey for all transit customers including the mobility impaired, without the need of expensive stations and equally expensive to maintain elevators and escalators.

The WKW Line can provide traffic calming where needed, yet still supply ample capacity for future transit needs. By providing a regular and efficient transit service from White Rock to Surrey Central and by servicing many destinations along its route the proposed LRT line would attract ample ridership, including the all important motorist from the car. The line would also easily integrate with the RftV TramTrain interurban service from Vancouver to Chilliwack and could provide in the not too distant future a direct White Rock to Vancouver TramTrain service, faster than the present bus and Canada line service.

The WKW Line, combined with the Leewood Study Chilliwack to Vancouver TramTrain, would bring proven 21st century transit solutions to Surrey, transit solutions that are too long overdo.

Never Attribute to Malice What Can be Explained by Incompetence – Factbender on Transit

Modern LRT does have a higher capacity than SkyTrain and it looks nicer too!

You don’t have to be smart to be the Minister responsible for TransLink, rather you just to have to be a very good BS artist, that’ all.

As the LRT or SkyTrain tap dance continues south of the Fraser, many politicians reveal that their knowledge about SkyTrain comes mainly from picture books and not engineering reports.

As our friend, Mr Haveacow, has said many times in the past, SkyTrain can’t be extended to Langley until about $3 billion is spent on rehabbing the Innovia Lines.

As well, the maximum capacity of LRT is greater than SkyTrain, always has been.

In Europe, the capacity debate does not exist because modern light rail can handle passenger flows in excess of 25,000 pphpd has it has done in Karlsruhe Germany. In Europe, capacity is increased by purchasing new trams as demands warrant.

Not so in Metro Vancouver, where Transport Canada has limited capacity to a maximum of 15,000 pphpd.

It is time TransLink stop using this ruse to deceive the taxpayer and the transit customer about modern light rail.

Former minister responsible for TransLink still supports LRT — but says it’s not the best option for high volumes of people

By Senior Reporter  CKNW

The former minister responsible for TransLink is weighing in on the growing controversy in Surrey over Light Rail Transit vs. SkyTrain.

Peter Fassbender, who is also running for mayor in the City of Langley, is no stranger to the LRT planned for Surrey.

He said that he advocated for it because of the vision by the city to “build community,” not move high volumes of people.

“I believe that that was, and is, the right decision and I know there are challenges, but I think the ‘L line’ can be light rail and will work very efficiently,” Fassbender said.

If we look 30 years down the road, and the volume, and what may happen at Abbotsford airport — a system that ties into the existing rapid transit system, namely SkyTrain, probably is the most efficient system for the long term,” he said.

Fassbender said that a business case would have to be looked at for extending rapid transit, not just for the sake of what it costs to build it, but the efficiency of moving people.

However, he also said it’s a different discussion when it comes to moving people along the Fraser Highway into Langley and even further east.

TramTrain – It’s Time To Have A Serious Look At The Leewood Project For a Valley Passenger Rail Servcie

As the Surrey LRT slowly gather’s steam, it seems the regional taxpayer is paying a lot of money for very little.

Despite the hype and hoopla about the Surrey LRT, does not do anything really, just provide a somewhat faster trip to the nearest SkyTrain station if you want to cross the Fraser. It has been designed as a poor man’s SkyTrain.

What is needed is a independent transit line connecting downtown Vancouver up the Fraser Valley as far as Chilliwack.

The track is in place and the former interurban route does connect the cities of Langley, Abbotsford, Sardis and Chilliwack to downtown Vancouver.

All this for around $1.5 billion, which makes a $1.9 billion 11 km Surrey LRT and a $3.5 billion 5.5 km Broadway subway just a tad too expensive for what they will do.

In colloquial terms, this is called a no brainer.

Isn’t time for politicians have another look at the Leewood/Rail for the Valley Study?


 A Langley to downtown Vancouver in 50 minutes train service could be in operation by the start of 2020!

TransLink’s and the City of Surrey’s much ballyhooed LRT really doesn’t offer the transit customer very much, except a very inconvenient transfer to the Expo Line and a 39 minute ride (if their are no glitches) on a dinky and crowed SkyTrain car to Vancouver.The 320 Langley Centre to Surrey Central bus takes 51 minutes to complete its journey; the 395 Langley Centre to Surrey Central Express (limited stop/limited service) takes 40 minutes; the 501 Langley Centre to Surrey Central Station takes 58 minutes; thus a the time for a full transit journey from Langley to Vancouver would take anywhere from almost hour and a half to almost 2 hours, including transfer but not including total commute time.The Rail for the Valley TramTrain concept could do the trip from Langley (200th Street) to Vancouver Central Station in 50 minutes, including two stops at Braid St. and Willingdon on the West side of the Fraser River and the 10 mph speed restriction on the Fraser River rail bridge.The Leewood/Rail for the Valley Studytime matrix shows that a 23 km. journey from 200th Street in Langley to Scott Road Station, including four stops, would take 22.5 minutes and an estimation of the 22km. trip from Scott Road to Vancouver would take 27.5 minutes – 50 minutes; a full 40 minutes faster than a combined LRT/SkyTrain trip to Vancouver!The cost, around $400 million for track improvements, signalling and vehicles.$500 million, certainly looks more affordable than the $2.5 billion Surrey LRT, designed as a poor man’s SkyTrain, especially if one can get to Vancouver faster and in more comfort.

The Stadler GTW light rail car could use city streets and operate as LRT if need be.


Horgan’s FastFerry – Another NDP Fiasco!

I do not agree much with Vaughn Palmer, but I think he has twigged to the fact not all is right with current transit planning.

When Postmedia allows unpleasant news about SkyTrain, one knows things are amiss.

The realities of subway construction are coming home to roost and it will be a very unpleasant surprise for the taxpayer.

Zwei’s question is this: “Why is Horgan so stupid to let this mega project reach the FastFerry fiasco level in the first place, does it have anything to do with his inner circle which includes former Vision Vancouver Councillor and big supporter of the Broadway subway, Geoff Meggs?”

Memo to the NDP: The Broadway subway, a.k.a. FastFerry fiasco Part 2, will give you another 20 years in the wilderness for your party to contemplate life.

Why are you allowing this to happen?

Vaughn Palmer: Costs of Metro transit plans soar, with no word of explanation

The price tag for Surrey light rail transit and the Vancouver Broadway subway extension is sobering, even when one makes allowance for inflation and the rising costs of labour and materials.

Vaughn Palmer
Updated: September 4, 2018

VICTORIA — For all the enthusiasm Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan brought to their announcement on transit funding Tuesday, there was no overlooking the soaring cost of building SkyTrain and light rail in Metro Vancouver.

The two leaders reiterated their support for the SkyTrain extension under Broadway in Vancouver and for a stand-alone light rail project in Surrey. They had promised much the same previously.

But both bristled at the suggestion that the event at the Surrey campus of Simon Fraser University was little more than a joint photo op, with SkyTrain itself as a backdrop.

“We’ve locked in this funding for the next 10 years,” insisted Trudeau, who took note of the looming civic elections in Vancouver and Surrey.

“This is about locking this down,” added Horgan. “This is happening. This is not being revisited. The cheque is in the mail. We are going to be building.”

Both may have protested a little too much. In the civic election race in Surrey, debate continues about whether light rail is the way to go or would a long-touted extension of SkyTrain to Langley be a better use of federal and provincial funding.

Either way the price tag is sobering, even when one makes allowance for inflation and the rising costs of labour and materials.

The SkyTrain extension in Vancouver, lately called the Broadway subway because most of the distance will be tunnelled, is priced at an estimated cost of $2.83 billion.

That amount will build 5.7 kilometres of SkyTrain, stretching from the current station at the Clark drive campus of Vancouver Community College westward to Arbutus Street.

The estimate works out to $496 million dollars a kilometre or about half a billion dollars in round figures.

For comparison’s sake, the Canada Line, completed less than 10 years ago in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics,  was priced at $2.1 billion, or about $100 million for each of its 19 kilometres.

The 11-kilometre Evergreen Line, completed in late 2016 after a delay in construction, came in at $1.43 billion or $130 million a kilometre.  Both lines involved some tunnelling.

Against that backdrop, Prime Minister Trudeau made a passing reference Tuesday to the long-standing proposal that the Broadway line should eventually be extended all the way to the University of B.C.

Depending on the route to be chosen, that would mean another eight kilometres or so of construction, mostly tunnelling. (Not likely would citizens or businesses on the west side of Vancouver stand for cut and cover excavation, never mind an above-ground line along Broadway and up the hill to UBC.)

Even without allowing for inflation, it would cost at least another $4 billion to extend the line from Arbutus terminus to the Point Grey campus.

Almost as shocking as the half-a-billion-dollars-a-kilometre cost of extending SkyTrain was the latest price tag for building surface light rail.

LRT, needing neither elevated guideways nor the occasional tunnel, has long been considered a much cheaper alternative to SkyTrain. That’s one reason why Surrey opted for light rail over an L-shaped line linking the city centre to the Newton and Guildford town centres.

It also explains why Surrey exercised its considerable political pull with senior governments to make light rail a priority over proposals to extend SkyTrain to Langley.

With the two senior governments now having locked in their commitments, light rail will be the transit priority for B.C.’s second most-populous city for the next few years.

Indeed, by the time light rail is scheduled to be running in 2024, 30 years will have passed since the then NDP government opened the last SkyTrain extension south of the Fraser River at the very station, King George, where Tuesday’s event unfolded.

The Surrey-Newton-Guildford project is now estimated at $1.65 billion for 10.5 kilometres of surface-level light rail. That works out to $157 million a kilometre, or 20 per cent more than the cost of the Evergreen SkyTrain line, completed just two years ago with elevated guideways, full grade separation and a tunnel.

Less than 10 years ago, TransLink estimated it could build surface light rail in Surrey for $27 million a kilometre, about a fifth of the current price tag.

How to account for that increase?  No explanation was forthcoming Tuesday. But I am assured TransLink will provide a briefing later in the week.

One other question to arise from the background materials provided by the provincial government was contained in this paragraph: “The government of Canada will contribute $1.37 billion to the two projects, the government of British Columbia will contribute $1.82 billion, and TransLink, the city of Vancouver, and the city of Surrey will contribute $1.23 billion.”

Those numbers suggest Ottawa will pay 31 per cent of the cost, B.C. 41 per cent, while TransLink and local governments will cover 28 per cent.

This is not the 40-40-20 federal-provincial-regional split advertised by both the prime minister and the premier. But that too awaits further explanation.

Still, the premier says the cheque is in the mail.  Unless his government can come up with a more persuasive accounting than the one in Tuesday’s press release, I’m thinking a stop payment might be in order.

 Palmer’s second article.

Palmer: SkyTrain construction soars to $500M per Km, but why is ‘confidential?’

The NDP commissioned the detailed budget for the project, vetted the numbers, and know what each component is expected to cost. They just aren’t telling the taxpaying public anything about it.

VICTORIA — At first glance the report on the Broadway SkyTrain extension posted on the transportation ministry website holds out the hope of shedding light on how construction costs have soared to half a billion dollars per kilometre.

“Cost report,” it says, followed by a comprehensive statement of purpose: “This document details the preliminary cost estimate of the reference concept design for the Millennium Line Broadway extension project.”

But the first indication that the contents offered less than full disclosure came when I clinked on the link and learned that the copy released for public consumption had been “redacted” and, yes, “sanitized.”

I’ll say it was.

Doubtless the unsanitized and unredacted version of the 13-page report from March of this year contained a full breakdown of the cost of extending the existing SkyTrain line from the Clark Drive campus of Vancouver Community College westward along Broadway to Arbutus.

“The estimate assumes that all the work is carried out as one single project and covers costs including project management, preliminary design and technical investigations, engagement and consultation, procurement, design, construction, risk, contingencies and interest during construction,” according to the text.

The methodology was thorough. The costs include money spent to date on planning the project, through the 18 months or so it will take to put the expansion out to tender and award the contract, and then the years of construction up to a targeted in-service date of 2025.

Finally the report from the provincial Partnerships B.C. agency insists that all the numbers have been checked and double checked: “A due diligence review of the capital cost estimate was conducted, which confirmed that the budget currently carried is reasonable to design, construct and commissioning of the approximately 5.7 (kilometre) extension to the existing Millennium Line SkyTrain network.”

In short, the New Democrats commissioned the detailed budget for the project, vetted the numbers, and know what each component is expected to cost. They just aren’t telling the taxpaying public anything about it.

For when you get the dollar breakdowns on Page 9 of the report, every last detail is blanked out in the name of confidentiality and protecting the public interest.

For instance, five of the 5.7 kilometres will consist of twin, bored tunnels, hence the name Broadway Subway. The estimated cost of doing this is withheld.

The terms call for the construction of underground stations at Great Northern Way, Main, Cambie, Oak, Granville and Arbutus. Each of the six is costed as a separate entry. Each is also blanked out in the copy for public consumption.

Property purchases are one of the main cost drivers in building public infrastructure these days, though not clear how much that would be a factor with the routing more than 85 per cent underground.

The city of Vancouver has donated an estimated $100 million worth of land as its contribution. The rest is a guess, because the estimated cost of property purchases is also censored from the report.

So on through the withheld cost estimates for “roadwork, site preparation, utility relocation, landscaping, environmental mitigation, track work, train control and signalling, security, power, fare collection, engineering, public consultations and contingencies.” All suppressed.

Instead the government chose to release only the total cost estimate for the project: $2,826,458,192.

Which strikes me as a fancifully precise amount for what is said to be “a preliminary cost estimate,” based on a “reference concept design,” without benefit of a tender call or multiple bids, never mind a finalized contract.

But for what it is worth, that translates to an estimated cost of $495,869,858 per kilometre.

I was directed to this report by a government representative when I asked why the latest SkyTrain extension was costing almost four times as much per kilometre as the Evergreen line, completed less than two years ago for $130 million per kilometre.

The report doesn’t answer the question, nor much of anything else. Perhaps more detailed breakdowns will be released after the contract is awarded.


Much Ado About Nothing

Today’s photo-op with Premier Horgan and Prime Minister Trudeau was nothing more than an attempt to try to boost their flagging political base. Nothing like a re-announcement of a re-announcement to get the rubes all excited.

It is also a subtle message to the SkyTrain Lobby in Surrey and the LRT lobby in Vancouver, that the money is dedicated for these two projects only.

I believe the SkyTrain Lobby’s continued ranting for extending SkyTrain, without any sort of financial plan has compelled federal and provincial politicians to make a start on at least one “rail” project, with, photo-op ready, shovels in the ground for next years round of federal elections.

With civic elections this fall, the makeup of the Mayor’s Council on Transit could change radically, it even could be an anti transit, questioning every decision TransLink makes.

With light rail in Surrey, TransLink will try make a fresh start with 21st century public transport philosophy, sadly though, this outfit couldn’t hold a “piss-up in a beer tent”.

What is apparent is that TransLink and the provincial government are keeping mum on the huge costs associated with upgrading the Innovia Lines (Expo & Millennium/Evergreen Lines) until the next election cycle.

Winds of change and increased taxes are coming soon.

As for former Vancouver Councillor Gordon Price, he is no transit expert, never was, but he is protecting his vision of “hub and spoke” transit, made possible by SkyTrain and SFU.

Trudeau confirms federal funding for Metro Vancouver transit

by NEWS 1130 Staff

Posted Sep 4, 2018

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — Speaking in Surrey, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to complete two big transportation projects around the region.

The feds are committing $1.37 billion to build the Broadway subway line in Vancouver and the Surrey-Newton-Guildford light rail project.

Trudeau says having spent some time at UBC, he knows how frustrating it can be to be stuck in traffic.

“The expansion of the Broadway line will add 5.7 km and six stations to the line,” the prime minister said about the new projects in Metro Vancouver. “These will include a stop at UBC’s Point Grey campus, which many students have been asking for for years.”

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says transportation was one of the key election issues four years ago when he was seeking re-election.

“Having it come to fruition before the end of the term at the buzzer is particularly rewarding,” Robertson says, referring to the end of his tenure as mayor of Vancouver.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner is thanking Trudeau and Premier John Horgan for agreeing to a plan.

“We worked on this for a decade and until everybody came to the table and was prepared to have a real conversation with us, and with the Mayor’s Council, it was going nowhere,” Hepner added.

Transportation expert Gord Price with SFU’s Centre for Dialogue says there could be a desire to provide more clarity on the plan to build an LRT line in Surrey.

“It may be that Surrey council in particular wants this nailed down before the municipal election,” says Price. “Because one thing you can always count on is that people will run in opposition to whatever the current proposal is.”

The expansion of the SkyTrain’s Millennium Line and adding light-rail transit in Surrey is part of Metro Vancouver’s 10-year transit plan to move people around the region as the population increase.

Known as “Phase Two,” it cost a total of $2.5 billion, with the rest of costs borne by Lower Mainland municipalities through ride fare and property tax hikes in the future.

The light-rail project in Surrey will feature 11 stops along 10.5 km of rail.

According to TransLink, start of construction of the new projects is planned for either late 2019 or early 2020.

How America Killed Transit – How the Americans (and we) Are Getting it Wrong

The Tours tram, built on a former motorway.

I think the author, a PHD candidate, seems unread on what modern light rail is. He still defines light rail vehicles, different than a streetcar

Memo to PHD candidate: it is not the vehicle, but the quality of rights-of-way, that defines LRT.

His comment; “And though cheaper to build, light rail lines are often too slow and have too low capacity to make a truly meaningful dent in a city’s auto orientation.”show’s he is utterly out of touch with the concept of modern light rail, which when well designed and built, has comparable commercial speeds, but with somewhat less capacity than a modern metro.

Sadly, in North America, so called exports get lost in the theory of transit and ignore the practicalities of urban transport.

No wonder public transit is failing in the USA, where bigger and more expensive is deemed better.

So here is what made the French Renaissance of light rail so successful in France.

  1. Ensure that at least 60% of a transit route is in a dedicated formation or reserved rights-of-way.
  2. Grass or lawn the dedicated R-o-W’s to make them appealing to the non-transit user.
  3. Modular low-floor articulated cars to allow an almost universal use by all customers, including the mobility impaired.
  4. Stops every 500m to 600m apart to provide good customer access.
  5. Make ticketing and fare collection easy and simple.
  6. Build transit to the Push-Pull theory of public transit, by building new tram lines on road lanes, which constricts road capacity, pushing people onto transit, while at the same time, offering a quality transit servcie on the route, that customers like to use.
  7. Real consultation with both residents of areas served and transit consumers and not politically inspired dog an pony shows, so favoured by politicians and bureaucrats.
  8.  Provide inventive and affordable transit solutions to transportation issues, such as TramTrain.
  9. Always remember that public transit is a product and if the product is good, people will use it, but if the product is bad, people will not.
What has proven over and over again to work is the network, the ability to take transit from where one lives to one’s destination in a reasonable time, preferably without transfer. Designing such a system is a challenge, but in Europe, planners have accepted this challenge and have provided solutions, while in North Almeria, planners are lost in an ennui of pipe dreams, ever planning, nostalgic, unaffordable and unworkable transit solutions, that tend to fail more often than not.
A final quote, “When cities like Paris, London, and Berlin eliminated their streetcar networks, they replaced them with comparable bus service.” is not quite correct. Berlin is expanding their tram lines as buses seem not to attract motorists; Paris is investing huge amounts on new LRT projects as buses again fail to attract the all important motorist from the car.; leaving London, fighting a huge anti-tram resistance by special interest groups, with their public transport planning.
America isn’t killing transit, rather its academic hubris and a general ignorance of the development of public transport in the rest of the world is killing transit in the USA.

Modern LRT in an urban setting, lawned rights-of-ways, simple yet effective stations, and both user-friendly and non-user friendly.

Jonathan English is a PhD candidate in urban planning at Columbia University.

Streetcar, bus, and metro systems have been ignoring one lesson for 100 years: Service drives demand.

One hundred years ago, the United States had a public transportation system that was the envy of the world. Today, outside a few major urban centers, it is barely on life support. Even in New York City, subway ridership is well below its 1946 peak. Annual per capita transit trips in the U.S. plummeted from 115.8 in 1950 to 36.1 in 1970, where they have roughly remained since, even as population has grown.This has not happened in much of the rest of the world.

While a decline in transit use in the face of fierce competition from the private automobile throughout the 20th century was inevitable, near-total collapse was not. At the turn of the 20th century, when transit companies’ only competition were the legs of a person or a horse, they worked reasonably well, even if they faced challenges. Once cars arrived, nearly every U.S. transit agency slashed service to cut costs, instead of improving service to stay competitive. This drove even more riders away, producing a vicious cycle that led to the point where today, few Americans with a viable alternative ride buses or trains.

Now, when the federal government steps in to provide funding, it is limited to big capital projects. (Under the Trump administration, even those funds are in question.) Operations—the actual running of buses and trains frequently enough to appeal to people with an alternative—are perpetually starved for cash. Even transit advocates have internalized the idea that transit cannot be successful outside the highest-density urban centers.


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The $11 billion Solution!

It seems our politicians and political wannabees are living in a financial ennui.

The massive costs of our current transit planning are being ignored, with the rah, rah rant of the various rapid transit promoters glossing over the real costs of their various pet projects.

Our so called experts ignore the costs and it is now all to clear that TransLink and its various cheerleaders desperately need and want “road-pricing” to save their fantastic plans.

A couple of billion here and a couple a billion there and now you are talking real money.

$11 billion in unfunded transit projects.

Again, where are our prudent politicians or our ever so sharp bean counters who are given prominence in our local electronic media? What about the mainstream media, T.V. and newspaper where are they?

I’m afraid the taxpayer has been abandoned by the chattering classes, who fall mute at the mere mention of “rapid transit” and prostrate themselves before their golden  idol, SkyTrain.

I’m afraid our transit planning is the stuff of fast ferries, sparkle ponies and Lucy in the sky with diamonds.

From Mr. Cow!

I see your issues this way!
The 10 Year Plan for Transit by Translink is really the only source of major capital transit funding your are going to get for the next little while. The plan has been divided into 3 phases with specific time lines.
Phase 1 2017-2020, $3.6 Billion (funding secure)
This is essentially for boring but badly needed maintenance issues, new trains and buses, upgraded service and equipment purchases. Design money for 2 rapid transit projects is also included. In fact, you could sink the entire 10 year plan funding and you guys will still only get about half of what needs to be spent on the boring non sexy upkeep capital funding IMHO! So far so good!
Phase 2, 2019-2024, $7.3 Billion (funding secure). It breaks down as $4.48 Billion for Rapid Transit Projects and roughly $2.82 Billion for other capital funding again for system upkeep, new vehicle funding and bus system expansion.
This covers phase 1 of the Broadway Skytrain extension and phase 1 of the Surrey LRT project. The federal portion of this money is paid through the infrastructure Bank and Build Canada funding. Federal funding is  P3 ONLY, no P3 no federal money, so get used to it. By the way P3 doesn’t have to be a curse, so far (fingers crossed) its actually lowered the cost for most of Ontario’s LRT projects by up to 15-20%.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, this funding is program specific, not just the rapid transit projects but many other important maintenance projects of Translink as well, in this 10 year plan. Due to it being PROGRAM SPECIFIC and due to the nature of the private funding that companies must have in P3′s structures, the cash is tied to that specific project and can’t be transferred to another. Doing so will get the federal government and Translink sued by private companies who had to go out and get private funding from real banks, to qualify for the P3 program! So that money for the Surrey LRT (phase 1) is a go and the Broadway Millennium Line Extension is a go, good or bad your stuck with it now!
Phase 3, 2020/21-2027, at least $1.9 Billion for Phase 2 Surrey LRT and more system up keep funding. Total anywhere between $2-4 Billion (no secure funding yet)
The only capital funding for rapid transit planned in the last phase of the program (phase 3 of the 10 Year Plan) is for the Surrey’s LRT line to Langley! The rest is for more capital upkeep projects and new trains and bus service. This part has no secure funding yet but any rapid transit expansion spending beyond the Surrey LRT project will have to go through a planning process as well as an environmental assessment process (both federal and provincial). Anything beyond the second phase of the Surrey LRT project will also require new funding, Remember, the federal portion can’t be transferred to another project once it has been connected to an existing project.So any expansion of the existing Skytrain Line to Langley will require not only a billion more in funding than Translink has been asking for to this point but, a full environmental assessment will still be needed to be done to get federal or provincial funding! This has not been done yet and takes a really long time.
The Conclusion
Any change to the Surrey LRT Phase 2 LRT line to Langley (as in a change of operating technology to Skytrain) will require an actual a joint federal provincial EA process to be completed by Translink. Which means nothing to Langley before 2027/28 at the earliest. The Broadway Line and Phase 1 LRT line are a go and that’s it! Any change and up to 38% of your capital funding you currently have (roughly $2.7 Billion) disappears and is most likely replaced by court cases, the likes of which you have never seen before! Unfortunately, due to past government choices we have in Ontario, its messy and expensive. By the way you can’t use the federal and or the provincial portion of the funding for the court costs!
Here are some of my Cost estimates!
Expo Line Upgrade: Costs: 6 car trains 100 metre platforms, upgraded electrics, upgraded track and right of way signalling infrastructure (not covered at all in existing funding by the way) and above grade concrete right of way upgrades and rebuilds (between the stations) and downtown tunnel upgrades, $3-$3.3 Billion
Phase 2 Broadway Line to UBC $3.6-$4.2 Billion
Skytrain Extension to Langley $2.9-$3.2 Billion
That’s a total cost of somewhere between $9.5-$10.7 Billion not covered by any plan for funding. 
The only new funding that is coming is the Translink 10 Year Plan, phase 3 funding of somewhere between $2-$4 Billion, only $1.9-$2 Billion being rapid transit capital funding! Any dropping of the LRT at this point (still possible for the phase 2 to Langley portion) will delay that small amount of rapid transit funding by a minimum of 4-6 years (includes EA time). Even if you can get extra funding for the Langley Skytrain extension, there is still $6.6 Billion to $7.4 Billion outstanding for other needed Skytrain projects. This funding for a Langley line will most likely not arrive until sometime around 2024/25. Guaranteeing construction starting at the earliest around 2026-2028, with completion around 2031-2033!
Any new funding after 2020 will have to compete for funding construction of the phase 2 of the Broadway line to UBC. This is the region’s clear leading Skytrain extension choice unless, the Expo Line has deteriorated to the point that its upgrades are critically needed to keep the line operating. Surrey will wait quite a while for the Skytrain extension to Langley if that is their choice!

Watch The Lawsuits Fly!

There will be no SkyTrain to Langley.

Comments from real experts, you know they type, guys and gals who plan, design and operate transit systems, have all said, almost in union, that SkyTrain will not be built to Langley.

The terse comments by people who actually know what they are talking about, should give cause to reflect upon what will happen if  incompetent politicians forces a change from LRT to SkyTrain to go to Langley.

Oh yes, let us not forget that $3 billion upgrade needed for the Innovia SkyTrain Lines before such an extension could be possible.

From Mr. Haveacow:

There will be no Skytrain line to Langley because the federal infrastructure money for the LRT project isn’t transferable to another project because of the PPP (Public, Public Partnership) program that grants all federal transit dollars, makes that illegal! Whether you realized it or not, Translink has already accepting design/engineering tenders from interested consortia for the LRT design. Changing now means everyone involved on the Federal and Translink side of the competitive process can be sued for bad faith negotiating. I have been involved in one such lawsuit, it’s messy and the tax payers always get killed! The involved companies in each consortium are now going out and getting private loans and financing (a major responsibility in their requirements of the Federal PPP program) to take on all the expected building costs as well as all legal liability costs for the project(which can add up to 25% of the entire project’s cost). If a politician or a group of them tries to change the project scope now, wow, watch the lawsuits fly!

It is now time to get very real with current planning and stop relying on hearsay and gossip on the Skyscraper and/or Hive web pages.