Rail for the Valley – Where do we go from here?

It has been six years since the release of the Leewood Study,Ai?? yet to date most regional politicians do not even realize that it exists.

Internationally, the Leewood Study is a winner, featured in two international transportation magazines, locally though the Leewood Study has been ignored or discredited by neanderthal thinking municipal politicians.

There are various reason for this, but to sum up why, one word comes to mind; “inconvenient“.

The Leewood Study was inconvenient because it contradicted current transit planning dogma and the love affair with expensive light-metro vanity projects and its bastard child, densification.

The Leewood Study provided a term of reference for a 130 km Vancouver to Chilliwack rail service using with light diesel multiple units or TramTrain. The cost for such a service ranged from $750 million to $1 billion, which compares very badly with the cost of theAi?? $2.4 billion Canada line of a $1.4 billion and counting Evergreen Line.

Thus the Leewood Study was inconvenient for:

1) Transit Planning

The Leewood study contradicted current gold-plated transit planning for politically inspired ‘vanity’ projects.

Unfortunately too many engineers working on light rail projects (as distinct from light rail engineers) appear to be in total ignorance of the following:

“This ai???lightnessai??? of light rail ai??i?? a combination of flexibility, low impact, modest cost, and environmental softness ai??i?? is ephemeral. It must be carefully guarded. Ignorance or ineptitude during the planning, design, specification writing, engineering, or construction phrases of a project can lose the ai???lightnessai???. Light railai??i??s advantages can be diminished or even destroyed with overdesigned overhead; ugly, noisy, or difficult-to-maintain cars; poorly conceived alignments; or simply uneconomic applications.”

Light Rail Transit Special Report 221 United States Transportation Research Board National Research Council p 92Ai?? (1988)

2) The Broadway Subway

ai???Naysayers and nitpickers, get out of the way, because weai??i??re building a subway.ai???

The now $3 billion Broadway subway is being built strictly for political prestige and any thus proof against any sound tram argument.

3) Bus Rapid Transit

A critique of the Wellington (New Zealand) Public Transport Spine BRT Study came to the conclusion that:
The LRT option is very crudely dismissed through excessive costs and few benefits and the BRT option is highly inflated with benefits that cannot be justified from the literature. There is little science behind this study and a lot of politics as it appears to clear the way for motorway spending. I don’t think I have seen a study quite so crudely apparent in its anti-rail politics.
Sound familiar?
The same is true for Rapid Bus and anti-LRT planning on this side of the Pacific.
4) ALRT/ART & Light Metro
Even though our proprietary light metro carries a large ridership each day, over 80% are recycled bus customers forcibly made to transfer onto the mini-metro. Forced transfers are never good in attracting ridership and in fact may deter ridership. The collapse of South Delta bus ridership after the Canada line opened, where bus customers lost direct service to Vancouver and were forciblly made to transfer to the Canada Line,Ai?? is a dark dirty little secret that TransLink does not want to deal with.
Mode share by auto in the metro Vancouver Region has stagnated at 57% for almost twenty five years, another embarrassing secret of the failure of light metro to attract the motorist from the car!
The Leewood/RftV Study is sound and after six years still holds up to real scrutiny as being a very cost effective transportation alternative to cars and highways. In 2016, an hourly version of the Leewood Study, using light diesel multiple unit trains, operating at hourly intervals from Chilliwack to Vancouver and visa versa, could be built for $750 million or slightly more than the retractable roof on BC Place!
Today, the region needs affordable ‘rail’ transit alternatives to the car, yet nothing is being planned for as TransLink, at over $80 million/km,Ai?? can’t even design an affordable streetcar for Surrey.
The question I pose for the Rail for the Valley group is, especially with a provincial election next year is: “Where do we go from here?”


3 Responses to “Rail for the Valley – Where do we go from here?”
  1. Garth Oswald says:

    On the whole, I agree with the study’s findings to re-introduce passenger rail service in the Valley. However, I disagree with the points made concerning the densification of Vancouver, and the need for the Broadway Subway. The transit needs of the Fraser Valley are vastly different than the transit needs of the Broadway corridor, and these two should not be pitted against each other.

    Zwei replies: There is no need for a subway on Broadway as current and projected traffic flows along the route just do not justify the investment. This notion that a subway is a “cure all” for congestion is a fallacy, perpetuated by American planners and the American government which favours funding heavy-rail subways, instead of cheaper alternatives. The light rail Renaissance has not hit our shores of yet and we are about 30 years behind the times.

    Both the needs of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley are the same, the need for affordable transit to create an affordable alternative to the car. Subways do not attract ridership and unless one haves traffic flows in excess of 15,000 pphpd (Broadway’s current traffic flows are about 4,000 pphpd), the subway will suck funding from other, just as worthwhile transit initiatives.

    Those who support the Broadway subway, also support Bankrupting TransLink.

  2. eric chris says:


    For the last two decades, TransLink has been spending wildly on public transit for developers to build high rise towers along its subways and viaducts for driverless induction rail transit (DIRT) to supposedly make housing affordable and banish road congestion. Vancouver now has the most unaffordable housing in Canada, possibly the world, and the worst road congestion in Canada. Gregor Robertson’s adopted regional planning strategy allowing developers (Bob, the weasel, Rennie) to replace detached homes and five story walk up apartments with ritzy 40 story investment condos (purchased with foreign money) along public transit corridors isn’t having the desired effect, obviously.



    Unaffordable housing and road congestion are linked to public transit by TransLink. TransLink = unaffordable housing and road congestion.

    Wiping out homes along subway and viaduct corridors for public transit depletes the housing stock and leads to unaffordable housing in Vancouver. People are being driven from Vancouver and simply head for Surrey, Delta and Langley surrounding Vancouver to find detached homes or five story walk up apartments, to drive up housing costs in Surrey, Delta and Langley, and then drive into Vancouver for jobs, making road congestion very much worse in Metro Vancouver. It’s the double whammy of unaffordable housing and road congestion spurred by transit orientated development and dinky condo units which aren’t satisfying the housing needs in Vancouver and are merely being built to make developers easy and fast money from foreign investors.

    Voters cut TransLink off from any further funding for the expansion of public transit in the plebiscite rejecting the subway expansion and all other public transit spending last year. White collar criminals at TransLink have gone rogue and are going ahead with plans for the subway in Vancouver, anyhow. Who do they think; they are?

    Without any authority to hire anyone for the subway, TransLink is busily recruiting for a vice president to extend the subway along Broadway. If you’re interested in the job, apply. It pays really as all jobs at TransLink do.


    I’m listening to drunken teens at the bus stop near my residence as I’m typing away right now. At least, the glass hasn’t been shattered at the bus stop yet; give them time or maybe they’ll be back at 3 AM to finish off the job. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy paying taxes for them to ride transit buses late at night. It’s fantastic. Yup. Wait, I heard something, false alarm, they just kicked the nearby garbage can, nothing serious to report. Good, the trolleybus with nobody on board picked them up as the 99 B-Line with nobody on board passed the trolleybus. No use in just running regular service with the trolleybuses at 12:30 AM when TransLink can run both express (diesel bus) and regular service late at night. I mean, the extra two seconds saved with express service at 12:30 AM is important, right?

    Heads up Garth: TransLink is nothing more than a of group of mobsters giving themselves fake jobs paying ridiculous salaries. They just manage themselves. None of the VPs, presidents, managers, directors or CEO do a darn thing. Well, they do, do one thing, they tax citizens (can they legally do that?) for other mobsters to build subways (like the Broadway subway which citizens told them not to build in the transit plebiscite last year) and viaducts.

    TransLink is seeking to obtain funding from the federal government for the subway in Vancouver and the study used as the basis for the subway in Vancouver is fraudulent. This automatically disqualifies TransLink from any funding by the federal government, in my mind. For the federal government to fund the subway after being made aware of the fraudulent study by TransLink implicates the federal government in the fraud by TransLink.

    TransLink does not have the mandate to impose further taxes in Metro Vancouver for the subway line. Slimy Peter Fassbender, Minister of TransLink can’t either. In effect, by ignoring the wishes of the electorate in the plebiscite, which rejected further funding for TransLink, TransLink is guilty of attempting to circumvent the democratic process protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights.

    To fund infrastructure for public transit by TransLink, every level of government is tossing around billions of dollars as if it were monopoly money. Public transit by TransLink is not the investment claimed. Each dollar which TransLink collects from passengers costs citizens in all of Canada two additional dollars.

    Public transit does not diminish spending on roads which are necessary with or without public transit whose heavy buses operate on the roads and destroy the roads to increase maintenance costs for roads. More superfluous infrastructure (subway) for public transit makes more taxes necessary to pay for SNC Lavalin and Bombardier to build it. Canadians can’t afford to finance the pigs at SNC Lavalin and Bombardier. Canadians pay more in taxes than they spend on themselves right now. Let the pigs at SNC Lavalin and Bombardier sell their Mercedes Benz cars and take public transit:


    TransLink which is $3.6 billion in debt and sinking is desperately attempting to obtain funding from the federal government and is trying to use Canadians to pay off its debt. If TransLink weren’t, TransLink would simply be going with trams which are faster than the subway (statistically door to door) at a fraction of the cost of the subway.


    Every level of government (municipal, provincial or federal) which contributes funding to TransLink is guilty of fraud by association. I could go and on but it’s getting late. Planning the subway to UBC is like planning the train to Busan; I can’t wait for the sequel, train to UBC, but I don’t think that it will be as good as the Korean version which can’t be outdone in my opinion.


    TransLink zombies, no known cause or cure. Well, there is one cure, minute 1.5…


  3. Garth Oswald says:

    Please don’t think I endorse TransLink or any of the “executives” in what they’re doing. In my opinion, TransLink needs to be broken up. It’s a conflict for them to be in the business of managing the roads AND transit. However, it requires a step back into the history books to exactly see why we’re in the mess we’re in. In the 1960′s Vancouver was on the cusp of urban renewal, and with it LA style freeways and interchanges to move people fast, as the car was the de facto standard mode of transportation. With the interurban streetcars that cycled up and down the roads in Vancouver, including the tram to Chilliwack scrapped in favour of cars in the 1940′s and 50′s, the 60′s promised grand freeways; until a group of protestors made it their mission to kill the plans for them. And they succeeded. The problem is this: What was the alternative? There was no Plan B. So we had virtually no development in modern transportation. The reality is that the transportation needs ARE vastly different in the Valley than on Broadway in Vancouver. Official community plans shape the neighborhoods and transportation should be (and sometimes is) a part of the plan. Have you driven along or tried to get thru sections of Broadway in Vancouver recently? Planning and building for the future are the most important things in any transportation project. Trying to build after the fact makes it more costly, and more inconvenient – just ask the Cambie Street businesses that suffered thru the Canada Line construction.

    As a commuter from Abbotsford to Downtown Vancouver, I can see the lack of planning. I can see the lack of vision. A high speed rail link from the Valley to Metro Vancouver running down the middle of the freeway would be a great starting point, widening the freeway from 200th to Whatcome Road is also a great start.

    As for the failed plebiscite, I believe that too many people used that to punish Translink, the reality is they punished themselves. It’s just going to push us back another 10 years. It’s about a bigger picture, not just the “Broadway Subway” vs Rail in the Valley.

    Zwei replies: Every transit project built to date has been a political “vanity” project, built strictly for political prestige to win elections.

    1) Instead of the originally planned LRT from downtown Vancouver to Richmond, Whalley and Lougheed mall, we got SkyTrain from downtown Vancouver to new Westminster.
    2) Instead of LRT from Vancouver to the Tri-cities, we got SkyTrain from New Westminster to Glen and Clark drives in Vancouver.
    3) Instead of using the Arbutus corridor to build cheap LRT from Vancouver to Richmond, we got a mock P-3 $2.4 billion heavy-rail metro built as a light metro with less capacity than a simple streetcar.
    4) The Evergreen Line, which is the unfinished portion of the Millennium Line’s route to the Tri-Cities, is now been delayed to open until just before the next election.

    There has been no regional transit planning, but a continuation of select vanity projects like the Broadway subway and surrey’s LRT, both so badly planned that they will not reduce congestion in the region.

    As I said before, a subway will not reduce congestion, yet if built will hinder transit expansion for decades. We need affordable transit, about 300 km’s worth and that my friend is a regional problem, the same for both Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.