It Is Time For TransLink And The Mayor’s Council Rethink Light Rail

It is time, during this pandemic crisis and the billions of dollars being spent for the security of Canada and Canadians, it is time TransLink and the Mayor’s Council on Transit rethink their stand on light rail.

It is time that TransLink and the Mayor’s Council on Transit show fiscal responsibility for public transit and refrain from burdening the taxpayer with huge future costs, for political prestige today with the SkyTrain extension.

TransLink and the Mayor’s Council on Transit must accept the fact that there will be no funding, for decades, after they complete the current $4.6 billion, 12.8 km SkyTrain light-metro extensions to Arbutus and Fleetwood. Any thought of an additional estimated $7 billion to complete the SkyTrain light metro system to UBC and Langley, boarders on the delusional.

TransLink and the Mayor’s Council on Transit must be honest with the public with the public that building light-metro was more for political prestige than providing good and affordable public transport. Metro Vancouver is now the only city in the world, pursuing a strictly light-metro transit policy, largely using the proprietary and now called Movia Automatic Light Metro.

It seems the only reason MALM has been built abroad is by generous payment of “success fees” or close relations of, to local lobbyists, who in-turn feed politicians with pro SkyTrain bumf.

Please see: The Ever Line SkyTrain Revisited – The Legacy

Please see: Kuala Lumpor SkyTrain Revisted – The Legacy Of Corruption Continues

The then GVRD knew by 1992, that SkyTrain was hugely expensive and required vast sums of tax monies in the form of subsidies to keep it operational, yet this has fallen on deaf ears.

From the GVRD’s 1993 Study – The cost of Transporting People….

BC universities have created doctrines, insidious Lysenkoism,  to keep building with “rapid transit” or “SkyTrain”, yet do not offer courses in defining transit or what transit mode is.

Definition of Lysenkoism: metaphorically describes the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.

Yet despite this vast wave of pro SkyTrain propaganda, only seven such systems have been built over the past 40 years and not one new build system sold in the past 15 years; what do transit planners elsewhere know that our planners don’t?

Or is it that our planners have been c0-opted by those lobbyists and politicians who have been “bought”, so to speak?

Covid-19 must bring this charade of planning to a stop, as the taxpayer cannot afford this magical mystery tour of building SkyTrain for the benefit land speculators and land developers at great taxpayer’s expense. The approved $4.6 billion, 12.8 km SkyTrain light metro extensions will not take a car off the road.

The new reality is not the actual cost of a transportation project, but the total costs over a 50 year period including debt servi9cng, long term maintenance and rehab.

From MetroLinx in Ontario

Thus the overall cost of at-grade LRT, after 50 years is $200 million/km, slightly more than Bus Rapid Transit, while in comparison, the cost for grade separated SkyTrain light-metro is around $600 million per km and a subway a massive $1 billion/km!

Building SkyTrain will cost taxpayers $400 to $800 a kilometre more than LRT over a 50 year period!

With the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to maintain the current light metro system and its extensions. This means Metro Vancouver’s light metro system will slowly become more and more unreliable due to lack of money for essential maintenance.

TransLink’s CEO must know this; the TransLink Board should know this; and regional mayors better know this because the taxpayer will be in little mood to extend the light metro system or improve transit and instead, find it easier to replace politicans.

There is an answer, but politicians and bureaucrats, with decades of peddling anti LRT rhetoric are loath to do and that is to be honest with the taxpayers and transit users that our SkyTrain light-metro system is an aberration, continued by political intrigue and bureaucratic ineptitude.

There is a solution that is used around the world in almost 600 cities and that is light rail.

The question for metro Vancouver is: Do our politicians have the moral fortitude to admit that building light metro has been a mistake and abandon all planning for SkyTrain and instead plan for LRT?


One Response to “It Is Time For TransLink And The Mayor’s Council Rethink Light Rail”
  1. A friend was ruminating that if the Fleetwood extension completes by 2025, and all other extensions take 5 to 10 years to plan and fund, then we can expect the following completion schedule.

    • Langley Centre, commencement of service in 2030 to 2036

    • Abbotsford Centre, another 5 to 10 years, say 2035 to 2046

    • Chilliwack, say 2040 to 2056

    In other words, its not going to happen.

    My gut tells me the same thing will happen on Broadway. The line will complete to Arbutus by 2025 or there abouts. And that’s as far as it will ever go.

    Same colleague goes on to point out that the Skytrain is 1970s technology. And that by 2036 it the Expo Line will be celebrating 50 years in service. That’s about the time as Skytrain would reach Abbotsford.

    The entire car and truck fleet will be electric by then, saving costs in both fuel and maintenance, and making it so much harder for Skytrain to compete.

    First, it has been losing the footrace to EVs. The longer it takes to build Skytrain, the more EVs there will be on the road making the commuter service obsolete.

    Second, As Covid-19 is showing right now, most jobs will be able to be done ‘over the internet’ making ‘Regional Town Centres’ increasingly unsatisfactory places to live, work & play. We’ll be living in small towns, scattered over the valley of the Mighty Fraser River, and the shores of the Great Salish Sea.

    Finally, the air will be clean. And the fuel that has been driving the push to public transit will have been burned up. We can drive and we can breathe clean air.

    Point, set, match.

    They can build the next one or two Skytrain extensions if they really want. But the world is moving away from them. And very soon so will the votes…

    Zwei replies: Yes, I tend to agree. The big game changer is that Alstom now own Bombardier’s rail divisions and there is a very good chance they may drop the MALM line altogether, but retain the patents, as they had done before for the TVR. This means cars will have to be custom made, especially those steerable axle trucks, which will further increase the already higher maintenance costs.

    The future for MALM looks bleak and from the info I am getting from Europe via the LRTA, Covid 19 may bring a quick end to MALM as the industry will retrench and cut unproductive products.

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