TransLink Doubles Down on Rapid Transit

TransLink, is the study of dichotomy.

While the rest of the world has deemed light metro (including our SkyTrain light-metro system) obsolete because of cost and functionality, TransLink happily spends massive amounts of money planning and building more.

Hint: Only seven of the now called proprietary Movia Automatic Light Metro system (as used on the Expo and Millennium Lines) have been built in over fourty years and only three are seriously used for urban transport.

In the rest of the world, planners utilizing existing railway lines to affordably extend urban transport to areas otherwise too far away to service by building new railway lines.

The former BC Electric Interurban once traveled from Vancouver to Chilliwack and with current tracks still in use, the line can once again operate a passenger rail service at a starting cost of $800 million for a basic hourly service.

While TransLink is spending $4.6 billion to extend the MALM lines a mere 12.8 km, $800 million can provide 100 km of route, servicing sixteen communities and fourteen post secondary institutions. A 20 minute service would cost around $1.5 billion, still one third the cost of 12.8 km of
“rapid transit”.

TransLink claims they have studied the line, but so has the Rail for the Valley Group. Rail for the Valley engaged Leewood Projects (UK) to do a study of the old interurban route and found that such a service was viable.

Hint: The Leewood Study makes a mockery of TransLink’s studies.

The Leewood Study was done by a rail specialist and was vetted by engineers who did work in Canada and even has passed muster with Transport Canada.

TransLink’s studies are done by career bureaucrats wanting to continue their six figure annual salaries by pleasing politicians, who in turn want to please their political supporters.

Hint: Just look what happened to two of TransLink’s best planners, Tamin Raad and Brian Mills, who opined that there wasn’t the ridership on Broadway to justify a subway – they got fired within two weeks!

TransLink’s ossified planning is done strictly to please regional mayors and politicians in Victoria and has nothing to do with providing an affordable and user friendly regional transit service. Photo-ops and self congratulatory news releases are the order of the day.

Hint: Zwie has been told that TransLink’s great fear is that the Valley rail project will attract far more new customers to transit than TransLink’s and the Mayor’s council on Transit’s $4.6 billion, 12.8 km light metro extensions.

The paper pusher’s at TransLink know damn well that “rapid transit” cannot be affordably built in Surrey, nor in a subway under Broadway, but the CEO of TransLink does not have the moral fortitude to say so, as earning a very generous six figured salary is far more important.

As TransLink doubles down on “rapid transit” it maybe sowing the seeds of its own demise.


The real costs for "rapid transit" (subways and light-metro) are far higher than TransLink or the regional mayor's are telling the public and for good reason, because if the public knew the real cost of "rapid transit" they would revolt.


Interurban passenger rail not a solution, says TransLink

Sandor Gyarmati/ Delta OptimistJuly 2, 2020
interurban passenger rail

TransLink is throwing cold water on the proposal that would see interurban passenger rail on a 99-kilometre corridor that would run from the Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack.
Photograph By Pixabay

Interurban passenger rail service is not rapid transit and is not the project the region needs today.

That’s according to TransLink, responding to former Delta councillor and Langley mayor Rick Green’s recent critical comments on the direction of the transit authority and Mayors’ Council.

In a letter to the current Delta council, Green poked holes in TransLink’s plan to move forward with a SkyTrain extension into Surrey, noting it’s not too late to go back to the original light rapid transit project.

Green, representing the South Fraser Community Rail Society, said it’s long past time the TransLink board of directors rethink and review their decisions and planning related to both SkyTrain, light rapid transit and the interurban south of the Fraser proposal.

His group is advocating interurban passenger rail by re-activating an old interurban line, a 99-kilometre corridor that would run all the way from the Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack.

The proposed system would use hydrogen rail, a propulsion system that has a fuel cell device, converting the chemical energy contained within the hydrogen in order to generate electricity.

Ladner resident and former premier Bill Vander Zalm is also a member of the society and has been critical of the scrapping of a pervious light rail plan in favour of the SkyTrain extension.

In a previous interview, Vander Zalm noted that when the track rights were sold during his time in government, the freight rights were sold, the province ensured the right to have passenger service was reserved for the line.

However, TransLink in response is pointing to a “facts sheet” which outlines why the interurban rail idea wouldn’t work, stating the interurban corridor has been studied as a potential route for passenger rail service twice in the past ten years – first with the B.C. Ministry of Transportation’s strategic review of transit in the Fraser Valley in 2010 and then with TransLink’s Surrey Rapid Transit Study in 2012.

The results led to the interurban passenger service not being included on the list of regional priorities.

“However, our plans for the region identify the need to connect Surrey Centre and Langley with reliable, high capacity, high frequency transit. The Interurban community rail proposal is a different kind of project and meets a different set of goals and is not a comparable option to SkyTrain along Fraser Highway. TransLink is committed to exploring future options with municipalities and other partners,” TransLink states.

interurban rail

The South Fraser Community Rail Society said TransLink found it necessary to launch an attack on the interurban proposal by pulling out outdated and flawed reports

TransLink also notes, among other things, interurban passenger rail would provide less than 20 per cent of the capacity as SkyTrain, it does not connect key regional destinations like Surrey Central, thus reducing its potential ridership, and it would provide much slower travel times and much less frequency than rapid transit, and therefore attract much lower ridership than faster, more direct rapid transit along Fraser Highway.

The transit authority also notes Southern Railway holds the right-of-way for 85 per cent of the rail route, while CP holds the rights for 15 per cent, which means TransLink would have to negotiate with rail companies at a cost for any use of the line for passenger service.

TransLink also notes freight traffic is expected to increase and it will further increase once port expansion at Roberts Bank will be complete.

TransLink adds any viable passenger rail service would require the construction of at least one additional track at its expense

“There is no agreement allowing the provincial government passenger rail service rights for the entire line – this is simply false. Commercial agreements for passenger rail service would need to be negotiated and obtaining rights would come at a cost. A great deal of costly infrastructure would be required to run bi-directional service – much more than claimed by Interurban supporters. Higher capital costs and lower ridership would mean that the cost per ride would be 10 times higher than SkyTrain,” TransLink told the Optimist in a statement.

TransLink also noted switching Surrey Langley SkyTrain out for Interurban passenger rail will delay any rapid transit investment south of the Fraser for years at minimum.

“This project is not a part of the RTS or the Mayors’ Council’s 10-Year Vision, nor does it fit with the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy. A new investment plan and significant research would be required to conduct an independent study on the feasibility and business of this project. Pushing interurban as an alternative to SkyTrain, risks our ability to provide rapid transit for south of the Fraser. The argument that the Surrey Langley SkyTrain should not be built because it does not get to Langley fails to accept the fact that all of the existing SkyTrain lines have been built in phases.”

The South Fraser Community Rail Society has accused TransLink of flawed reports, assumptions, conclusions and misrepresentations.

The interurban corridor is not owned by CP Rail or Southern Rail, the group states, noting they only own the freight rights with significant restrictions, and that the corridor is owned by the people of B.C.

Passenger and freight service on the line legally must be shared equally, so if double tracking is required, CP Rail is legally bound to do so at their expense, the group contends.

“This is a positive community initiative which has unfortunately turned into a public fight against irresponsible governance by TransLink Staff over the past year. Our SFCR Group will not back down or be intimidated in the face of what we see as an out of control bureaucracy attacking a very legitimate option that should be properly considered and analyzed,” a letter to the Mayors’ Council and TransLink board stated.

From The South Fraser Community Rail Society

South Fraser Community Rail Society is one of many groups, along with Rail for the Valley, working for a reinstatement of passenger rail service to Chilliwack.


South Fraser Community Rail Society

“Hydrogen Link Passenger Rail, Scott Rd. SkyTrain to Chilliwack” #connect the valley

There is the reality…. a Better Choice!

Widening Highway #1 will happen over time….

But it IS NOT the solution! Here is Why…. Unless you want to wait for 30 years!

Mayors, Councillors, MLAs and MPs past and present have promised Highway widening suggesting it is the priority and it will happen? This is a totally disingenuous argument! Two current examples on the realities of widening; first 202nd to 216th and second the just added 216th to 264th phase. All of the discussion has been about adding 1 HOV lane each way which is what my following calculation is about! IF it were about two lanes you could double the time and cost required.

The following is the time reality in terms of financial, planning and construction phases. These are real numbers and not a politicians dream! There promises are impossible! While we will continue to campaign for widening and it will happen over time, it will take a few decades and when finished we will be worse off than we are today unless we initiate an affordable and effective public transit option like Passenger Rail. Express Buses on Highway #1 do not work, they get tied up in the same congestion we are complaining about and trying to solve! 

  • 202nd to 264th = 13 kms at a total cost of $294 million (cost shared, Prov., Feds and TOL) started in 2017 due to finish in 2025 (8 Years).
  • Distance, Langley to Chilliwack is 56 kms @ 3.25 kms per 2 years equates to finishing an HOV lane each way by 2051, over 30 years from now!
  • The exponential increase in growth and traffic will out strip the benefits of widening by three times than what it is today! Based on projected growth, in 8 years, by 2025 (finish of latest project above) traffic will be worse than it is today!
  • The above suggests that all Provincial, Federal, and Municipal budgets align annually, planning started now and did not stop until finished. Estimated total cost of widening in 2018 dollars – over $1.2 Billion! It will not solve our problem!

NOTE: The Township of Langley contributed $41,433,000 on the two projects above, is a precedent now set for Provincial/Federal projects? What will it cost Abbotsford and Chilliwack? Are they prepared to commit those dollars?

Do you want to continue to put up with this?

OR the option of State-of-the-Art Hydrail Service!

Hydrail Passenger Rail…. Some Facts!


…. 1,000 Kms per full tank of fuel!

…. 15 minutes to refill a tank!

…. Up to 300 passengers per train!

…. A Green Alternative to heavy polluting diesel, completely emission free!

…. Perfect case, showing leadership with CleanBC; provincial legislation!

…. Incredibly quiet service!

…. Estimate 90 minutes travel time, Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack or less!

…. Estimate 30 minutes travel time, Langley City to Pattullo Bridge or less!

…. Estimate 30 minutes travel time, City of Abbotsford to Langley City or less!

…. Estimate 45 minutes travel time, City of Abbotsford to Newton or less!

…. 99 KM Rail Corridor, protected for passenger use, at no cost for use!

…. Serves 16 Communities and 14 Post Secondary Institutions!

…. Serves Fraser Valley First Nations, Tourism and Agi-Tourism!

The Interurban Passenger Corridor….


Despite the fact Hydrail on the Interurban is a perfect environmentally friendly CleanBC solution….

There is NO other reasonable and affordable option that provides access to affordable housing and supports an improved quality of family life!


A Sudsy Trip to Chilliwack?

Doing research for a group on the amenities a tram or TramTrain may bring to a region, I discovered an new sort of tram, the “Beer Tram”, a pub on wheels!

Helsinki, has one, Brno has one, as does Fukui,  Nagasaki and several other cities in Japan have them. In fact several cities in Europe have these little gems.

Maybe a pub tramtrain service from Vancouver to Chilliwack, using a vintage interurban will, let’s say, lubricate the politicians to support reinstating a passenger interurban rail service!

Just sayin……………

Pub tram in Helsinki, Finland


Beer tram in Fukui, Japan

Brno Beer tam

Beer taps in a tram!


Inside Bruno pub tramBrno beer tram, salut!

TransLink Collides With A Financial Iceberg.


Covid-19 has sent a chilling economic message to TransLink; “can it afford the proposed $4.6 billion, 12.8 km extensions to the light-metro system?

TransLink, through taxes, must ante up a sizable amount of cash to pay it’s share of the projects, but if TransLink’s income collapses and cannot pay, what then?

The aftermath for Covid-19 and a vastly escalating federal deficit will see higher taxes and user fees in Canada and there will be little stomach among metro Vancouver taxpayers to ante up more taxes to an outfit already held in high odor by the taxpayer.

TransLink has now collided with the financial iceberg and one wonders when senior bureaucrats start floating higher taxes and fees onto an already over burdened taxpayer to fund what is largely a prestige project.

Which politicians will stake their reelection  by providing higher taxes to TransLink?

The trouble for TransLink, financing the $4.6 billion rapid transit scheme will be like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Loss of $1.4 billion worst case revenue scenario for TransLink with COVID-19 pandemic

by Carlito Pablo on June 24th, 2020

TransLink lays out four scenarios, and the least dire involves a revenue loss of $544 million.

The worst of the four potential situations is referred to as the “Paradigm Shift”.

It involves “major new outbreaks”, forcing a return to lockdowns. Return to normal is years away, or sometime in January 2023.

Under this Paradigm Shift, a “high travel demand” setting means that TransLink is going to lose $1.2 billion in cumulative 2020-2021 revenues.

Most of the projected losses will be fares, at $795 million.

In a “low travel demand” situation under the Paradigm Shift, TransLink expects to lose $1.4 billion, which is the worst.

Most of the anticipated revenue losses will be fares, at $881 million.

The least dire of the four scenarios is called “Quick Recovery”.

This means a return to pre-COVID 19 conditions by July 2021.

Still, TransLink will be bleeding.

Under this scenario, the transportation authority expects to lose cumulatively between 2020 and 2021 revenues ranging from $544 million to $945 million.

The numbers are found in a report by Geoff Cross, vice president of transportation planning and policy with TransLink.

Cross’ report is in the agenda Thursday (June 25) of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation.


Emergancy Plan….What Emergancy Plan?

TransLink has a problem.

As discussed before, TransLink’s ridership performance is reported in “boarding’s” and the transit system is so designed to force transit customers to “board” several times throughout their journey. This of course, greatly increases boarding’s.

Transit customers from South of the Fraser are forced to “board” four to six times a day to complete their journey, due to being forced to Transfer onto the Canada line and transfer again to a bus.

The high boarding’s numbers that TransLink releases to the media certainly makes them look good, which makes politicians look good. For those not in the know, seems that TransLink seemingly impressive numbers are akin to a shaky pyramid scheme.

During the Covid-19 crisis, the pyramid scheme collapsed, collapsing the revue stream as well.

The issue that TransLink keeps quiet about is that the light-metro system and trolleybus system are very expensive to operate and maintain and much of the operating costs are fixed costs, thus leading to huge financial shortfalls.

What really interests me is that TransLink did not have an emergency plan. This is odd because living in an earthquake zone, with the province telling everyone one should have a plan in case of an earthquake or similar disaster, TransLink does not.

That TransLink does not, is not surprising at all because they don’t even seem to have a coherent snow plan either as transit customers are rudely reminded of, with every snowfall.

There should be a plan that in case of emergency core bus routes remain open, such as a route from South Delta to Vancouver, without transferring to the Canada Line. The plan should include the gradual withdrawal of service on routes that are not carrying a meaningful number of customers.

These core routes, no more than ten, should be actual routes operating on schedule service that are deemed essential in an emergency and kept operating at all costs.

I admit, the Covid-19 crisis is different, but it showed TransLink’s naked underbelly of having no emergency plan, except coming cap in hand to the provincial and federal governments for more money, to operate buses with little or no customer demand.

Coronavirus: TransLink ridership just one-third of normal, losses estimated at $500M to $1.4B

By Simon Little Global News

Officials with Metro Vancouver’s transit agency are painting a clearer picture of how badly the organization’s finances have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At its annual general meeting Thursday, TransLink said daily ridership fell to about 223,000 people in April, and more than doubled to about 472,000 people by May.

That’s still only about a third of its pre-COVID daily ridership average of 1.5 million.

The steep decline in ridership has translated into major losses. TransLink said if Phase 3 of the province’s pandemic reopening plan were to start soon, it stands to lose about $500 million this year.

In a worst-case scenario, with a second wave of the virus, it said the losses could amount to $1.4 billion.

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said he still doesn’t know where funding to fill that gap would come from.

“We are working with the province, we’ve been working with the province very extensively for weeks now,” said Desmond.

“We’ve also had many many contacts with the federal government. We have a number of different ideas.”

Earlier this spring, TransLink issued about 1,500 layoff notices and proposed major service cuts to try and offset losses.

Facts Don’t Seem To Matter – TransLink Gaslights The Truth.

Gaslighting:  a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes including low self-esteem. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs. Instances can range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents occurred, to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

When it comes to regional transit and regional transit planning, TransLink’s gaslighting rules.

Three issues which TransLink’s gaslighting has been a success.

  1. SkyTrain is not a proprietary transit system.
  2. Broadway is the most heaviest used transit route in Canada, no North America
  3. LRT is in inferior
SkyTrain is a proprietary transit system.
The question those claiming that SkyTrain is not a proprietary transit system, would be restated to; Since when did the proprietary Movia Automatic Light Metro cease to be a proprietary transit system?
SkyTrain is the name of the regional light-metro network and not the commercial train used.
The Canada line uses EMU’s made by ROTEM.
The Expo Line used the  the proprietary Advanced Light Rail Transit (ALRT) system, renamed from the original Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS), developed by the Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC), an Ontario Crown corporation.  The later  Advanced Rapid Transit (ART) cars (MK.2′s), which came with the Millennium Line, were produced by Bombardier after it acquired the remains of the UTDC after it was returned to the Ontario government when Lavalin went Bankrupt.
Lavalin briefly owned the proprietary railway, renaming the proprietary transit system Advanced Light Metro (ALM) but the UTDC was returned to the Province of Ontario, after Lavalin went bankrupt trying to sell the often renamed proprietary transit system to Bangkok.
The MK.3 cars so boasted about are just again renamed when Innovia line of light metros were cascaded into the Movia line metro systems.
Strangely enough Bombardier does produce a proprietary SkyTrain system, but it is a rubber tire proprietary airport people mover system.

Bombardier's real proprietary SkyTrain transit system.

The key to the now called Movia Automatic light Metro (MALM) being proprietary is the use of Linear Induction Motors and the steerable axle trucks as no other company offers an “off the shelf” product compatible to operate son the MALM Lines.

As one German Engineer told me; “One just cannot slap on a pair of LIM’s on a conventional bogie (truck) and expect it to operate!

The steerable axle truck, and LIM, the key to the proprietary light metro.

Broadway is not the busiest transit corridor in Canada.

The hype and hoopla that Broadway being the the heaviest used transit route in Canada, no North America is a common refrain one reads in the mainstream media and hears on the radio or TV, made by politicians and bureaucrats.

Sorry it’s not true.

According to a to letter I revived from TransLink:

Finally, on January 31, 2019, you contacted several news organizations and this Secretariat raising concerns
over TransLink’s assertion that the 99 B-Line is the busiest bus route in the US and Canada. TransLink is
confident in its data collection and peer comparisons, noting that the 99 B-Line route on the Broadway
Corridor moves 60,000 customers per day on articulated buses running every three minutes at peak times.
This is our region’s most overcrowded bus route. Pass ups are already common, as our regular riders on that
route are fully aware. TransLink projects that the 99 B-Line from Arbutus to UBC will be at capacity in the
peak when the Millennium Line extension from Commercial-Broadway to Arbutus opens.

Cutting through the TransLink speak of this reply, TransLink only admits to Broadway being “our region’s most overcrowded bus route” and nothing more. What seems to be causing overcrowding is not heavy use, rather poor management because the capacity offered by B-line buses is under 2,000 persons per hour per direction at 3 minute headway’s.

Why not offer peak hour 2 minute headway’s for the 99 B-Line and increase capacity by 50%; much simpler and affordable than a $3 billion subway.

Broadway in the rush hour - Busy but not gridlocked.

Light rail is not inferior.

TransLink’s anti LRT screed is laughable and in the real world, they would be “thrown off the stage” with the drivel they peddle.

It seems TransLink’s six figured salaried bureaucrats can’t or won’t read transit history for if they had, they would know that only seven of the now called Movia Automatic Light Metro proprietary transit systems have been built over the past 40 years, under six different names. During the same period well over over two hundred new build Light rail systems have been built and most of the existing streetcar/ram systems have been upgraded or partially upgraded to light rail standards.

No MALM system has been sold in the past decade.

Modern trams, today can obtain capacities beyond 20,000 pphpd on portions of their routes at peak hours. This is why modern light rail has been so successful due in part for its ability to carry heavy passenger loads when need be. This is part of the flexibility of service inherent in modern light rail.

Today, the modern tram can operate as a mainline passenger train, a light-metro, light-rail and a streetcar all on the same route! Modern LRT has a proven record of attracting motorists from the car creating a viable modal shift from car to transit.

The last forty years has seen an unprecedented investment either building new or refurbishing existing transit systems around the world. It is a field where success is eagerly copied and what is deemed poor avoided. During this time, no other city has copied Vancouver’s transit planning, nor has copied Vancouver’s exclusive use of light-metro.

Sadly, Translink’s “gaslighting” has so perverted transit planning in the region, that there is absolutely no hope is any coherent transit planning for the foreseeable future, leaving Vancouver with a “museum piece” transit system, too expensive to deal with today’s transit ills.

Tit For Tat

It has always been a wonder to me that politicians, especially mayors do not work for the public’s interest, but for their cronies. Political friend’s interests come first.

The valley rail project is one project that makes sense, with a lot of people, yet regional mayor’s will not even try to help make such a rail service happen.

Abbotsford’s Mayor Braun seems to be working in the CPR’s interest and not the public’s or the taxpayers interests.

Instead of spending $800 million to $1 billion for an hourly Vancouver to Chilliwack rail service tracing the path of the former BC Electric interurban’s, he wants to spend $8 billion to $12 billion to extend SkyTrain to Abbotsford and to hell with the cities of Sardis and Chillwack to the East.

Such is today’s toxic and corrupt politics, where corporate friends are more important than voters.


A regional light DMU service could connect Vancouver to Cloverdale, Langley, Abbotsford, Sardis and Chilliwack for about the cost of 4 to 5 km of SkyTrain!

From the South Fraser Community Rail


It was under Bill Vander Zalm’s direction that the public rights to this line were preserved for the future use by the people of BC (via BC Hydro) when the freight division was sold in 1988.

Many have raised questions about the nature of Abbtosford’s Mayor’s ongoing obstruction of the consideration of public use of the rail line, given his own history and ties to the private rail industry that has benefitted from their exclusive use of it.

We have since obtained a copy of Mayor Braun’s reply to Vander Zalm’s open letter, as well as the Former Premier’s response, which we have attached below.

As Bill Vander Zalm asks Henry Braun, WHY would the provincial government of the day publicly and legally, with all their lawyers, announce the protection of the rail corridor for future passenger use as a condition of the sale of freight rights to then Itel of Chicago (now CP Rail), but leave out the critical joint section?

Answer: They didn’t. We, and others, have had legal opinions that support our interpretation of the Master Agreement, which guarantees the right of public rail usage, as originally agreed.

Is it going to take a court to force CP to live up to its purchase obligations?

Full text of the reply and response:

March 24, 2020

Dear Mr. Vander Zalm:

Re: Proposed South Fraser Community Rail

Thank you for your letter of March 6th in regards to the proposed South Fraser Community Rail (SFCR) (formerly the BC Hydro/Southern Rail/interurban Rail).

I apologize for the delay in getting back to you, but the world has rapidly changed in the last few weeks, and as a City we’re working hard to respond appropriately to these events. Thank you for your patience.

Like you, I fully respect the work of the SFCR volunteer group and commend them for their efforts in seeking alternative, green transit in the Fraser Valley. However, I honestly feel that there are some challenges that will make this railway line unworkable as a commuter rail line.

As you are aware, one of my companies, back in 1987/1988, was one of the bidders to purchase the line, which at that time was one of the most successful short-line railroad in North America. As a result, I am very familiar with the agreements that were created and exist today.

I have specific concerns related to the “Master Agreement” between BC Hydro and CP Rail. Although the right of way (or land) is still owned by the province, the trackage above the subgrade (ballast, ties, tie-plates and rail) is owned and managed by CP Rail. Please note the following from the Master Agreement:

• There is a joint section of rail (7miles), also known as the Pratt Livingstone Corridor, of which: “CP Rail shall have the sole control, management and administration of the Joint Section.” (Annexure V Section 2.1, 1988 Master Agreement); and

• “This agreement does not contemplate the operation of passenger trains upon the Joint Section by any railway company other than Hydro.” (Annexure V Section 2.7, 1988 Master Agreement)

Based on this agreement, CP Rail is free to operate on the joint section in a way that maximizes their benefit. They can, indeed, double track the joint section, as you have mentioned, but their priority would be for freight use. There are already dozens of freight trains currently running along this 7-mile line daily, thus the viability of running a regular passenger transit service is not feasible, particularly as freight traffic continues to Delta Port through the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor. In fact, TransLink’s 2019 Report on Interurban Passenger Rail estimates that freight service would increase by “up to 28-38 trains per day by 2021, with some train lengths up to 3,660 metres.”

Furthermore, this agreement between BC Hydro and CP Rail is granted in perpetuity and would require the two parties to re-open this agreement.

TransLink’s 2019 Report also indicates concerns that I share related to directness and connection to population centres, travel times, the substantial infrastructure investment that would be required in order to meet standards for passenger safety and other construction challenges, and environmental risks as the line travels through the Agricultural Land Reserve. I understand, however, that Translink is recommending that the concept of interurban rail will be further examined through the Transport 2050 process.

I think that it is important to emphasize that the line flows through a number of agricultural communities that do not have the densification to sustain a viable rail transit system. Municipal plans would have to be made to increase density in these areas within the Agricultural Land Reserve and would require significant infrastructure investment. The City of Abbotsford is focused on building “up” and not “out” to create a sustainable community within our urban core.

I appreciate the work done by South Fraser Community Rail. However, with the challenges this concept presents, I believe it is necessary to find other options so we can create the best long-term plan, based on current and forecasted population growth, that will link our region in a sustainable way. A very important regional investment like this would continue to build a thriving region with a strong economy and quality of life for all of our residents.

Yours truly,

Henry Braun


Response from Bill Vander Zalm:

April 6, 2020

Dear Mr. Mayor:

Thank you for the detailed response to my letter of March 6 th, re: the proposed South Fraser Community Rail. I respect your opinion, but we can only agree to disagree.

We’ve had several legal opinions on the Master Agreement, and those opinions concur with the interpretation we have held from the beginning. We hope a Court of Law will not be necessary to confirm this. Even when considered from a practical perspective, it is logical that an agreement designed to protect the right of use for public transportation in the Fraser Valley along this corridor would not be concluded, leaving a key section, the joint section required, completely out of long term planning.

I understand your desire for Abbotsford “to go up, not out”, but if we agree with the need to provide affordable housing for young people today and in future, there are good locations near old time Station locations perfect for this. Locations such as Kennedy, Sullivan, Newton/S. Surrey, Cloverdale, Langley City, Township of Langley, Fort Langley/Trinity, Gloucester/Aldergrove, Bradner, Mt. Lehman/Abbotsford Airport, City of Abbotsford/Downtown, Huntington, Sumas, Yarrow, Sardis and City of Chilliwack that would allow for higher density use and still allow space for young families.

I will continue to oppose spending a huge amount of taxpayer money on a short 7 km stretch of Sky-Train from Surrey Centre, through Green Timbers, to Fleetwood, when about the same amount of money could be responsibly spent, using a pollution free Hydrogen (LRT) train, on existing rail all the way from “the Vancouver Hook-up” at the Pattullo Bridge Sky-train station to Chilliwack.

So, the facts are, contrary to the 7 Km. Fleetwood Sky-train population catchment, the 99 Km South Fraser Community Rail will serve 10 times more taxpayers/residents, industrial parks, 14 Post Secondary Institutions and the Abbotsford International Airport at the same cost.

Mr. Mayor, the dedicated tax paying volunteers, that give freely of their time and resources, are not prepared to see well over 1,200,000 South of Fraser, Fraser Valley residents, and taxpayers, wait until 2050 before the Vancouver Regional District and the Fraser Valley Regional District decide if they have the time and resources to consider transit for the Valley. Many I am sure, are your taxpayers.


Bill Vander Zalm

Repeat A Lie Often Enough…..

“If you tell a subway lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The subway lie can be maintained only for such time as the City of Vancouver and TransLink  can shield the people from the political, economic and/or environmental consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the City of Vancouver and TransLink  to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the subway lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the City of Vancouver and TransLink.”

The Vancouver Sun keeps publishing TransLink’s propaganda as a true booster for the city of Vancouver because to be a world class city, it must have subways.

There are three issues to deal with.

Broadway is not the busiest Transit corridor in North America.

Contrary to the often repeated statement that ” TransLink calls the busiest transit route in North America” Broadway is not, not even close. When faced with a possible legal action, TransLink revised the claim and stated in Feburary 2019, “the 99 B-Line route on the Broadway Corridor moves 60,000 customers per day on articulated buses running every three minutes at peak times. This is our region’s most overcrowded bus route. ”

And again TransLink fudges the actual numbers of customers using Broadway, from a stated , “…100,000 trips per day” which amounts to less than 50,000 actual people using Broadway as transit customers make a minimum of two trips per day (in and out), which deos not even come close to the North American Standard for building a subway, which is a transit route with traffic flows in excess of 15,000 pphpd! Broadway’s traffic flows are less than 4,000 pphpd!

By the way,has there been an independent audit of ridership on Broadway?

By comparison, the Ottawa Transitway carried around 200,000 customers a day, with a peak hour capacity of 9,000 pphpd, well over double that of Broadway.

The trolleybuses are not coming back to Broadway

Like Cambie St. which once had trolleybuses, once a subway is built and the massive subsidies needed to operate the subway come into play, the expensive to operate trolleybuses will be sacrificed as a cost saving measure. According to the Toronto Transit Commission, when forecasting the annual subsidy for a almost same length subway, estimated the annual subsidy will be in excess of $40 million annually!

Adios to the trolleybuses on Broadway.

Real Construction Has Not Yet Begun

As there has not been any call for tender and as the Covid-19 pandemic has made the cost of cement and specialty steel increase, no company will entertain bidding on the subway project until all costs can be assured. Real construction will start just before the next round of civic elections as the subway is a $3 billion reelection gimmick for the NDP and Greens. Unfortunately, it will be seen as a FastFerry style debacle by voters as higher taxes and user fees will make many more people to take notice of politician’s pet mega projects.

Isn’t it interesting that TransLink is removing the trolley buses on Broadway due to the ” extremely high voltage and would cause a hazard during construction”, really and here I thought Broadway was going to be a bored tunnel?

What will be the real cost of the Broadway subway?

TransLink taking trolley buses off busy Broadway for next five years

TransLink trolley bus on West Broadway between Granville and Arbutus streets on June 9, 2020. For Susan Lazaruk story. Credit: Mike Bell/PNG [PNG Merlin Archive]
The No. 16 Arbutus trolley bus moves west along Broadway, near Granville Street, on Tuesday. Mike Bell / PNG


Beginning in less than two weeks, trolley buses will no longer run along Broadway and they won’t be seen on the busy corridor for the next five years, in order to allow for safer construction of the Broadway subway project expected to start in the fall.

The B-Line diesel buses will continue to run along the corridor, which TransLink calls the busiest transit route in North America, with more than 100,000 trips a day, and the No. 9 trolley route will be switched to diesel buses, beginning June 22.

And other north-south trolley routes that run briefly along Broadway between Cambie and Arbutus streets will be diverted, either to 12th or 4th avenues, until the 2025 project’s completion.

The $2.8-billion subway will run under Broadway, from Great Northern Way to Arbutus Street.

The overhead trolley lines on Broadway will be removed to allow for building the 5.7-kilometre subway because “they’re extremely high voltage and would cause a hazard during construction,” TransLink spokeswoman Jill Drews said in an email.

While the line will be tunnelled, there will be surface construction around the six stations, to be built at Great Northern Way and near Main, Cambie, Laurel, Granville and Arbutus streets, she said.

Cambie Street merchants, some of whom are still fighting in the courts for compensation for lost revenue during the construction of the Canada Line from 2005 to 2009, are optimistic that Broadway subway construction won’t be as disruptive as the “cut and cover” construction of the Canada Line.

“I think TransLink and the city and the province have all learned from the last one (Canada Line construction),” said Rania Hatz, executive director of the Cambie Village Business Association. “We’ve been in good communication almost weekly.”



The project will provide signs and way-finding information to minimize the impact on area businesses and to keep the public informed about each stage of construction, she said.

“They listened to every one of our requests,” she said. “It’s been amazing, not something you’d expect from a government agency.”

TransLink has sent out a business survey and knocked on doors to speak with owners and managers to create traffic and construction plans, said Drews.

The project’s transparency is in contrast to what happened during the Canada Line construction, when “they bulldozed, lied and bulldozed to cover their lies,” said Hatz.

A class-action lawsuit last month was sent back to B.C. Supreme Court for another trial by the B.C. Court of Appeal, leaving the 250 merchants suing TransLink and the province for lost revenues “extremely disappointed,” spokesman Leonard Schein said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed 12 years ago, and two years ago the lower court ruled the merchants should be compensated for losses for the four years of disruptive cut and cover construction, he said. But it was appealed and the appeal court limited compensation for losses to one year.

“Canada Line is pleased with this result and is hopeful that the parties can move toward a final resolution,” said Drews.

The South Granville Business Improvement Association hopes the diversion of trolley buses to 12th Avenue near Granville Street will help traffic flow, spokeswoman Ivy Haisell said in an email.

But South Granville merchants are concerned about possible added pressure on parking for the shopping district if spots are removed from Broadway, she said.

The diversion of trolley buses to 12th Avenue, a residential street lined with apartment buildings, is of concern to Teresa Stolarskyj, who lives on 12th Avenue.

“Are we going to see more garbage on our street and more drunk people waiting for the bus late at night?” she said. “Is it going to be louder because of the traffic?”


Gatineau Goes Light Rail

Some thoughts on the Gatineau light rail and the rejection of LRT in Surrey.

The picture shows classic LRT, not a light-metro tarted up pretending to be LRT, such as is the newly opened Ottawa light rail.

Lawned rights-of-way are both environmentally pleasing and non-user friendly.

The dedicated or reserved rights-of-ways, provide a service almost on par with light-metro operating with on viaduct or in a subway.

Reserved R-o-W’s are also much cheaper to install and maintain, thus one can have a larger network than a light-metro and a larger network means a better chance to attract ridership and service destinations.

This is what the Mayor of Surrey rejected, when he stamped his little feet and flipped flopped from building affordable LRT in favour of the much more expensive light-metro to appease his developer friends.

The problem for Surrey and the disingenuous Mayor is that Covid-19 may mean his prized SkyTrain extension may not be built, and for Langley politicians, you are never going to get SkyTrain.

More and more, Rail for the Valley’s Vancouver to Chilliwack TramTrain style of service is looking better and better, providing an affordable and user friendly ‘rail’ service to Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack, at a cost less than 7 km of SkyTrain to Fleetwood.


Gatineau wants to run light rail over Portage Bridge

STO doesn’t have funds committed yet, however

Joanne Chianello · CBC News · Posted: May 15, 2020


Gatineau’s 26-kilometre, $2.1-billion light rail network is scheduled to be in operation by 2028, and part of it could connect to Ottawa’s Lyon LRT station by running across the Portage Bridge.


The City of Gatineau wants to connect its future light-rail transit system to the Confederation Line using an “urban tram” over the Portage Bridge, but it doesn’t yet have any committed funds from either the provincial or federal governments.

The Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) has been working on a rapid transit system for years. Back in 2018, Gatineau officials unveiled an ambitious vision for a 26-kilometre, $2.1-billion light rail line that would bring residents from  the growing Aylmer and Plateau areas to downtown by 2028, as well as connect with Ottawa’s LRT.

On Friday, STO officials provided a technical briefing to Ottawa city councillors, where they revealed that Gatineau riders overwhelmingly preferred an “all-tram” solution to rapid transit, as opposed to one that would rely more on buses.

Those electric trams would travel in both directions over the Portage Bridge, connecting with the Lyon LRT station. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, about 3,500 bus riders would cross the Portage Bridge every hour during peak periods, and Gatineau expects that to more than double to 7,500 over the next 15 years.

The tramway plan would still require a number of STO connector buses to run on Slater and Albert streets, but the volume of buses should be drastically reduced from pre-pandemic levels.

Gatineau is proposing to run a double-tracked tramway on the Portage Bridge to connect with Ottawa’s LRT. (Provided by STO)

Coun. Myriam Nadeau, who chairs the STO’s board of directors, told Ottawa officials that Gatineau residents also wanted the trams to continue past Lyon station.

To that end, STO is looking at whether there might be an opportunity to run trams either along Wellington Street or in a tunnel under Sparks Street — proposals that come with a number of challenges, including additional costs.

No committed funding

The City of Gatineau is looking for the Quebec government to pay 60 per cent of the multi-billion-dollar project, while the federal government would pick up the rest of the tab.

(The $2.1-billion estimate, which was very preliminary, is for the entire light-rail system. STO officials did not provide an estimate for the part of the project that connects to Ottawa.)

While funds have not been formally committed by either level of government, Nadeau said the project is on the province’s “priority” list. Gatineau has also submitted a formal request for infrastructure funds from the federal government, but it’s not clear when or if that money will be committed.

Ottawa city staff are reviewing Gatineau’s transit analysis, and councillors heard that no decisions will be made until the public on both sides of the river are consulted, which is expected to occur next month.

The issue will ultimately come to the transportation committee and council for final approval.

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said last fall that plans to run rail over the Prince of Wales Bridge, which Ottawa owns, were dead. Instead, the mayors want to see converted into a pedestrian and cyclist access. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Bayview station off the table

STO had looked at connecting over the Champlain or Prince of Wales bridges, but they were considered too far west, as about 80 per cent of Gatineau transit passengers head to and from downtown.

As well, councillors heard Friday that the Bayview station — located at the intersection of the Confederation and Trillium lines, at the south end of the Prince of Wales Bridge — does not have the capacity for an influx of thousands of passengers because it would require the city buy up to 12 additional trains.

Pat Scrimgeour, OC Transpo’s director of systems and planning, told councillors that connecting Gatineau’s rail to Lyon station would allow it to “bypass” the busiest part of the Confederation Line between Bayview and Lyon.

It would also give Ottawa riders a better connection to federal government jobs in Gatineau, he said.

The city of Ottawa bought the Prince of Wales Bridge for $400,000 from Canadian Pacific Railway about 15 years ago for the express purpose of running trains across it one day, and that’s still in the city’s current Transportation Master Plan.

But last fall, the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau announced that plans for rail over the bridge were off.

“It would congest too much Bayview station, and secondly, Gatineau has been pursuing their LRT project and they too have ruled it out as a bridge that would be used for transit,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said last September.

Both Watson and Gatineau Mayor Maxime-Pedneaud Jobin are hoping to use the bridge instead as a pedestrian and bike crossing.

$4 Billion Pause For Thought

All regional taxpayer’s are losers with this.

According to Ontario’s MetroLinx (Metrolinx is a Crown agency that manages and integrates road and public transport in the Canadian province of Ontario) the 50 year cost for the 7 km Expo Line extension just to Fleetwood, will be around $4 billion!

 Gives one pause for thought.

It isn’t just the Surrey taxpayer that has little left in the tank.

Surrey taxpayers foot $39M bill for cancelled LRT line; SkyTrain extension questioned

 With little in the tank, Surrey will need to find $9.3 million cash

Graeme Wood / Glacier MediaJune 1, 2020
skytrain surrey

An artist’s rendering of the SkyTrain system Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum wants for his city and Langley
Photograph By SkyTrain for Surrey

Surrey taxpayers will fork over $39 million in city assets to TransLink to compensate the regional transportation authority for planning costs associated with a mothballed light-rail system that has been replaced with a planned SkyTrain extension now facing mounting financial questions due to the pandemic.

The Mayor’s Council announced Friday it had finalized the payment, which is a combination of land and cash.

In November 2018, Surrey City Council unanimously agreed to axe the Guildford-Newton LRT project in favour of a SkyTrain extension to Langley. The $1.6 billion already committed to be spent on the LRT project was transferred to constructing phase one of the $3.1 billion Surrey Langley SkyTrain (SLS) extension. Phase one will only get the line to Fleetwood, at 166 Street, with a further $1.5 billion needed to push the line to Langley City Centre.

TransLink and City of Surrey negotiated the compensation agreement in July 2019, but Friday’s report shows the details of the funds.

Surrey will hand over $11.4 million worth of for the SkyTrain extension and $5.5 million worth of dedicated road, build 300 park and ride spaces for $12.8 million and provide $9.3 million in cash.

The city’s recently released 2019 Annual Financial Statement shows $38.8 million removed from the annual surplus as non-cash charges to operations, meaning the city has yet to account for the cash portion of the payment.

The TransLink payment eats into excess revenue, which supports capital acquisitions and projects and typically contributes to statutory reserve funds. The city’s reserve funds have shrunk from $86 million in 2018 to $57 million in 2019. The city’s operating expenses in 2019 totalled $842 million.

Cost considerations have already seen four eight-figure capital projects cancelled by the current council in 18 months.

The city’s records show a further $5.4 million could be paid to TransLink if city council makes no decision to implement a rapid transit along King George Boulevard by Dec. 31, 2021.

Meanwhile, it’s now no longer certain the SLS line will proceed as once planned, or at least proceed on time.

TransLink is projecting a best-case-scenario loss of $710 million in revenue, because fewer people are taking public transit and, if they are social distancing, measures must be implemented, meaning there will be less room on buses. A 12-month period of physical distancing would see a projected loss of $1.37 billion.

The Mayor’s Council was briefed on the SLS project by Geoff Cross, TransLink’s vice-president for transportation planning and policy.

In April, the Mayor’s Council, which oversees TransLink planning, had postponed the phase two investment plan update due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan was to outline the remaining investment sources (municipal/regional, provincial and federal) needed to pay the remaining $1.5 billion costs to get to Langley City Centre.

Cross hinted at going cap in hand to the feds.

“Part of what we’re seeking as the region and potentially the province with the federal government is increased federal share around capital programs. That could impact both this particular project and other capital projects,” Cross told the council Friday in an online meeting.

While Cross asserted the business case “is very solid,” his briefing note stated how COVID-19 is producing uncertainties.

“Considering the COVID-19 crisis, there are several outstanding issues that must be addressed for the SLS project to advance,” stated Cross’ brief.

“Once the longer-term economic and public health situation begins to stabilize and becomes more clear, the agency will need to reset its projected revenues and expenditures over the ten-year period, confirm available senior government funding, recapitalize its depleted reserves and re-prioritize its entire existing capital plan,” Cross noted.

Cross did not mention how the SLS business plan depends on increased ridership along the route, and ridership depends on greater residential development, which in turn is dependent on population growth, which in Metro Vancouver is fuelled largely by immigration.

He did state the plan takes a view looking outward to 2050.