Letters to the Editor – The Return of the Interurban
Tuesday, July 23: All aboard! Bring back the InterurbanVancouver
Re: The return of the Interurban, Pete McMartin column, July 18
The Rail for the Valley group engaged Leewood Projects of the UK to do a viability study of the return of the interurban service for the Fraser Valley in 2010. The Leewood RftV study, not only showed that a new interurban service was viable, it would be quite cheap compared to recent rapid transit projects in the region.
A basic diesel light Rail service from Scott Road Station to Chilliwack could be had for around $500 million and a deluxe, full-build Vancouver/Richmond to Chilliwack, electric interurban/tram train service could be built for just under $1 billion dollars. Not bad, if one compares the cost of the Leewood/RftV interurban with the $1.4 billion,11-kilometre Evergreen Line, now under construction.
Rail for the Valley, at no expense to the taxpayer has a ‘shovel ready’ plan to provide much needed ‘rail’ transit for the Fraser Valley, which to date has been ignored by most provincial and civic politicians.
The Leewood/RftV study can be seen on the Rail for the Valley web site http://www.railforthevalley.com/ under the heading “Need for Passenger Rail”, then “Important Studies.
The return of the interurban, providing rail transit from Vancouver to Chilliwack is within our grasp, if only we had the political will to make it happen.
D. Malcolm Johnston, Rail for the Valley, Delta
Peter McMartin’s excellent Thursday article on the resurrection of the Interurban rail line from Chilliwack serving many Fraser South shore towns indicates to me (and many others) that all local and provincial politicians in the Lower Mainland must accept the potential role of the Interurban system for the Fraser Valley, using present infrastructure already in place — thus saving the substantial capital costs of yet another horrendously expensive skytrain system (ie to South Surrey and Langley). Much of the original track is still in place and Victoria (Translink) can always arrange for the capital funds for stations to be provided for by property developers, using park-and-pay and stations, with connecting bus loops, incorporated into major retail mini-malls.
Politicians in the Lower Mainland and Victoria no longer have any choice over setting up major public transit routes as the taxpayer will not countenance more multi-billion-dollar systems like Skytrain, when more common sense alternatives such as the South Urban line and the Broadway tram routes are available. Why do we have to build more $2-billion tunnels under Broadway when the original Broadway tram system serviced five routes to and from Commercial Drive to UBC right upto the 1950s. Major European cities have tram systems to provide fast efficient public transit with regional rail connections to outlying towns. What is our problem that the provincial government is totally incapable of providing tram and regional rail systems. Toronto, Winnipeg and Calgary have at grade tram systems – so why can’t Metro Vancouver?
Bob Tarplett, West Vancouver