10 Quick notes on light rail – for quick letters to the Editor.

  1. Light rail is a mode that can deal economically with traffic flows between 2,000 and 20,000 persons per hour per direction.
  2. LRT can be uses on-street, on elevated guide-ways (light-metro), in tunnel (subway), or track-share with existing railways.
  3. Calgary’s LRT (C-Train) carries over 250,000 passengers a day, more than SkyTrain.
  4. Capacity is a function of headway.
  5. Commercial speed of LRT is determines by quality of rights-of-way and stations or stops per route km.
  6. LRT can obtain speeds as high as 100 kph.
  7. LRT’s operating costs are much lower than the automated SkyTrain.
  8. The ratio of construction costs for rail transit construction are: tunneling costs about twice as much as elevated construction and elevated construction can cost up to ten times as much as at-grade/on-street construction.
  9. Ghent Belgium, with a population of about 300,000 has over 29 km. of LRT. Bern, Switzerland, with a population of about 200,000, Ai??Ai??has over 18 km. of LRT (1995).
  10. In 1991, SkyTrain was subsidized by over $157 million annually, to day the subsidy is over $200 million annually.


4 Responses to “10 Quick notes on light rail – for quick letters to the Editor.”
  1. Erika Rathje says:

    My letter, sent to the major papers:

    Everyone knows we can’t build our way out of congestion, yet we keep trying, when other cities are building more light rail and high-speed trains. In Surrey, most people drive because the alternative either does not exist or is simply not good enough. Major bus routes I took in Surrey and Langley are overflowing at rush hour even after service increases — which means people WANT to use it. I spent enough time on transit in the Valley and in a car crossing the Port Mann on weekends to know that a comprehensive solution to our big, messy problem is complex, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.

    The Gateway Project, which will result in more pollution, sprawl, and congestion, is the BC government’s answer to traffic chaos South of the Fraser leading up to the Port Mann Bridge. If the intent is to create more space for cars (less congestion), the only way to achieve this is to provide more public transit in the form of light rail (LRT) and rapid bus. LRT is incredibly cost-efficient and has positive effects on community development and the environment, which means my friends in the Valley will have a faster, friendlier, and healthier trip.

    In just two years, we can address the transportation aspect of heavy commuting with a restored Interuban light rail system. I believe we must urge our leaders to take the initiative and give the South of Fraser region the level of public transit it so desperately needs. Isn’t it time we start using 21st century tools for the 21st century? Rail for the Valley is necessary now more than ever.

  2. Corey says:

    Maybe include something on the density myth.

    Falcon and others like to claim that the current density doesn’t justify building transit south of the Fraser. In fact, what they are really saying is that based on CURRENT mode-share, there isn’t enough ridership to justify transit. “Not enough density” is a convenient excuse.

    Even suburbs can sustain rail transit if the mode-share is high enough. Why do you think they could afford to build the Interurban out to the valley in 1910 when the population was only around 20,000? Because mode-share was close to 100%!!!

    An effective road pricing system would change the current mode share to something more in favour of transit use.

  3. zweisystem says:

    Sadly, road pricing is seen as a failure in the UK. In London, congestion is creeping back as the cost of “doing business” in London is just being passed on to consumers. Voters in Manchester and environs recently voted against a road pricing scheme, which included new light rail lines.

    Density is a non-issue, a man of straw an argument to confuse politicians and the media. What is important is ridership – does the transit service my needs? Is the transit service consumer friendly? Many smaller cities enjoy light rail (trams) because the transit both services where people live and where they want to go.

    Here is an argument that is based on logic for the density issue: If light-rail is 1/4 the cost of SkyTrain, then it needs 1/4 the density to sustain it. So to counter the argument for density, build a cheaper rail system requiring less density. This why the same people who cry density, density, never state what density is needed for transit!

  4. Erika Rathje says:

    I did some Googling and found my letter wasn’t just publishd in the Surrey Leader, but also the Surrey Now (http://www2.canada.com/surreynow/news/community/story.html?id=57cd7611-90a1-49f8-88fe-f2eeb88f9d59), the Langley Times (http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/langleytimes/opinion/letters/39747443.html) and the Langley Advance! (http://www2.canada.com/langleyadvance/news/letters/story.html?id=3b07699d-3230-4e83-99cd-c2977eb35d96) This is great press for the campaign, I hope. I’m very pleased.

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