The Idiot’s Delight In Surrey Cancels Light Rail

Will Surrey soon have an incomplete SkyTrain Line, like Jakarta, due to having not enough funds to complete it?

Well its done, the idiots delight of new politicians in Surrey have voted to stop light rail.

Now they think they can build SkyTrain to Langley for the same cost as light rail..


The HATCH Report, planning to build SkyTrain to Langley put the cost at $2.95 billion, in 2017 dollars.

So Surrey new batch of Councillors are going to forgo a fully funded light rail line and instead will try to source $1.55 billion in new funding to build SkyTrain to Langley.

Mayor McCallum is on record saying that;” they can build SkyTrain at grade to reduce cost”.

Really, doesn’t the idiot realize that the guideway for the driverless light metro must be protected by a 10 foot, razor wire topped fence, as it is in Vancouver? Building SkyTrain at-grade is akin to building a Berlin Wall!

Surrey will be now mired in endless congestion and its associated costs.

As for metro Vancouver, it is fast becoming L.A. North.

Rail transit will not be built in Surrey until 2035 or more; rail transit will never get to Langley.


Oh what fools these mortals be!

The Charlaroi Metro in Belgium, largley built, but unfinished and derelict because the funding ran out.


36 Responses to “The Idiot’s Delight In Surrey Cancels Light Rail”
  1. steve says:

    Between this and wanting to dump RCMP Mcallum is going to bankrupt Surrey. Expect property taxes to increase a lot. I think it may be time to sell. I have not ridden bus since they forced me to go to Richmond. The 311 used to take me downtown near work, no transfers required and now bus goes to Bridgeport station so I have to transfer to ‘skytrain’ then another bus so unlike before where no transfers I had two transfers and took longer so I just drive.

    The problem with skytrain is they re route buses to force you on it whether convenient or not. They did this back in 80′s when I was starting out in life after graduating as the 330 Ferguson that went down 108th over port mann to Cassier and then down hastings was one ride for me and I got off at Commercial and waddled across the street to work then they re routed that bus over Patullo to New West station so had to transfer to skytrain then get off at broadway and catch #20 bus… no thanks as that took longer and much less traffic back then over Port Mann into Vancouver.

    If this Langley one ever gets built they will do the same by getting rid of convenient bus routes by diverting to Skytrain and forcing you to ride it and then transfer on another bus. Forced transfers is a turn off for me. When you go from one bus ride with no transfers to having two transfers that is a huge turnoff….

    sad Translink never wants to listen to anyone that knows transit…

    Zwei replies: Exactly. TransLink never mentions the collapse of customers in South Delta, because of the forced transfer to the Canad Line. It is not the planners fault, it is the politicians fault, they tell the planners to build with SkyTrain or look for another job.

    I am quite confident that the Surrey SkyTrain will never be built as the additional funding of a billion plus dollars is nowhere to be seen. McCallum’s claim of building SkyTrain for the same cost of light rail is laughable and by the time detailed planning is done (geotech, etc.) the cost of concrete will have increased by a sizable amount, that the cost of building SkyTrain to Langley will be over $3 billion.

    What is going to happen, if the Mayor’s Council on Transit and the Premier of the day are daft to let them get it, is a SkyTrain to Fleetwood.

    McCallum’s SkyTrain plans are merely penis envy plans by an old dotard, who is seen better days.

  2. r says:

    tunnel cheaper?

    Zwei replies: No.

  3. Bill Burgess says:

    Zwei could you please detail your “collapse of customers in South Delta”, e.g., which bus route you particularly have in mind?

    A couple of clicks leave a different impression of what has occurred, however inadequate Translink has been relative to what is needed: reports for the
    Ladner/South Delta/Tsawwassen region in 2017:
    Annual Boardings: up 216,000 (9%)
    Annual Hours: up 6,200 (7%), for 2016:

    Annual Boardings: up 100,000 (5%)
    Annual Hours: up 1,000 (1%)
    Most of the service and ridership growth was on the commuter-oriented routes connecting to the Canada Line. quotes from the 2014 Translink bus ridership report to say “South Delta communities have seen the highest growth in ridership over the last 5 years” [However, this "highest' growth was still only 7%/year, compounded - not enough!]

  4. zweisystem says:

    All the new bus services added when the Canada Line opened, have been withdrawn and bus service remains at a level post Expo 86.

    As for TransLink, they count boarding’s, not linked trips, the information given is next to useless.

    We have 3 local bus routes that run 7 days a week almost empty; the 601 runs at a basic 30 minutes servcie, with a few added buses during the week and a 30 minute service on weekends, unchanged in over 30 years.

    I would say ridership ridership has kept growth with population increase and no more.

  5. Bill Burgess says:

    Zwei, I generally accept that your suggestion that South Delta transit (or just bus) ridership has kept growth with but not exceeded population growth, or at least not by much.

    However, this is SHARPLY CONTRARY to your previous claim there has been a COLLAPSE of customers in South Delta.!/vizhome/2017TSPR-BusSummary/TheWorkbook reports bus route # 601 boardings:
    2013 – 1,005,000
    2014 – 997,000
    2015 – 1.050,000
    2016 – 1,134,000
    2017 – 1,297,000

    Boarding data has its limitations, but it is not “next to useless”. The *TREND* in boarding data is generally similar to the trend in trip/journey data.

    Despite the fact that the 601 bus is LESS convenient for some people than before the Canada Line went in, the above numbers show there are MORE people for which it (including the ‘forced’ transfer to/from Canada Line) is better than their alternatives.

    This is another example of how your “Chicken Little, Sky Is Falling” rhetoric about TransLink lacks a sound factual basis.

    Zwei replies: Living in South Delta, I can tell you, the elderly just do not use transit to get to Vancouver or Richmond. Tsawwassen Mills is attracting people to transit, but the most important transit rider, the car driver is avoiding transit altogether.

    TransLink refuses to make user friendly transit routes and the company is held in high odor by locals.

  6. T says:

    The blog continues to the facts wrongs. First, it said skytrain to Langley will cost 2.9 million in 2022 $. Now, it is saying it will cost 2.95 million in 2017 $.

    That fact is that the hatch report says it will cost 2.4 million in 2016 $ then they inflate this to 2.9 million in 2022 dollars.

    The 2.4 million in 2016 $ is more believable.

    Transit ridership is growning south of the Fraser. South Delta routes have increased demand and more crowded. This is why translink is buying 32 double decker buses from UK. There was a free loan of 2 double buses that were tested on many bus routes crossing the fraser river. Double decker buses went through the tunner and over the port mann bridge.

    The comment by Steve who thinks that the skytrain to Langley will force people to transfer to and from Skytrain. Bad news for you. An LRT to Langley will do the same. An LRT will create even more transfers, as it forces you to transfer in Surrey to Skytrian to Vancouver. A Langley skytrain eliminate a transfer in Surrey. Skytrain is faster than LRT.

    It continues to be strange that people still lobby to get LRT since it was abandoned in the 1970′s. LRT will never be built. The decision was made by BC transit in 1980 to build with skytrain. Get over it people.

    The only idiots are the people promoting LRT.

    Zwei replies: Er no. The cost increase has come from rapidly escalating land values.

    So few people in Langley actually commute to Vancouver and only a small percentage of them will take SkyTrain.

    And now for your lies. SkyTrain was built in a private deal between the UTDC and the Social credit party and had nothing to do with LRT. Only seven SkyTrain’s built in 40 years and only 3 seriously used for urban transit compares badly with LRT, with over 200 new build systems built during the same time. No one wants the damn thing.

    I would say our politicians are easily bribed, back then and apparently now.

  7. T says:

    “All the new bus services added when the Canada Line opened, have been withdrawn and bus service remains at a level post Expo 86.”

    Do you have evidence of this?

    Zwei replies: I don’t have any bus schedules, but they did. At the time, 20 minute headway’s on the 601, and a lot more 602′s, 3′s and 4′s. Today, servcie is mediocre at best, same after Expo 86.

  8. Haveacow says:

    If I am one of the other area Mayor’s on your Transit Mayors Committee right now, I am petitioning Translink for a project in my community. You guys gave up the project funding for a light rail line. That’s it. If you want Skytrain that’s a different project, with a new environmental assessment required. Now please go to the back of the cash line. Now let someone else who was waiting while you guys were doing your LRT project, get a chance at the cash you gave up. It’s not fair that everyone else in the lower mainland has to wait possibly a few more years for you guys to decide what you want to build, do all the proper planning steps and paper work.

    I am quite sure there are other area projects that need all that provincial and local funding that were acquired for the Surrey LRT line. Wait for a new source totaling $2.9 possibly up to $3.3 Billion. It won’t cost $1.65 Billion! Your federal funding won’t wait while you guys do a new EA. Let someone else have a chance now!

  9. T says:

    The 2018 bus schedule which can be downloaded in pdf from translink.

    In the schedule it says the 601 has a bus e every 20 minutes before 9:25 am and after 12pm until 7:21pm.

    After 7:21, it is reduced to every 30 minutes. After 11:30 pm it is every 60 minutes until 1:40 am.

    602, 603, 604 have always been limited peak service buses.

    There is a new bus route 609 Tsawwassen first nation every 1 hour. This serves the new shopping mall and first nations homes.

    620 is the ferry bus and goes to Canada line, it used to go to North Delta and now more frequent with longer buses.

    There is also new routes: c76 scottsdale, c84 english bluff, c88 ladner north, c89 boundary bay.

    It looks South Delta has much improved transit today.

    Zwei replies: The 609 or the Walley Wagon has been around for a long time, operates almost empty. AS for the 601, I guess there is a new timetable with service improvements in a vain attempt to pretend better service. What transit customers really want is a direct service to Vancouver with no forced transfer to the Canada Line.

  10. T says:

    The owner of this website should go to the next Mayors council meeting and give public input.

    Mayors’ Council Meeting
    Nov 15, 2018 9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
    Suite #400
    287 Nelson’s Court
    New Westminster, BC V3L 0E7


    The Mayors’ Council contains representatives from each of the 21 municipalities, as well as the Tsawwassen First Nation, from within the transportation service region and collectively represent the viewpoints and interests of the citizens of the region. The Mayors’ Council has allotted the first hour of each public meeting to receiving public delegations.

  11. Haveacow says:

    HEY EVERYBODY FOCUS HERE! You are just about to loose your federal money from the Surrey LRT project (several hundred million dollars) and you are squabbling about bus frequencies and schedules! You are going to have to do another Environmental Assessment for the Expo Line Skytrain Extension to Langley. The federal government needs an assessment done for that line or they legally can’t give you P-3 transit cash for their portion of the capital costs.

    Your new Surrey mayor has not only threw away guaranteed cash for a better operating technology (LIght Rail Transit), he has guaranteed you won’t see construction for a minimum of 3.5 to 4 years, maybe more!

    You see, it will take the Translink staff no less than 6 months to a year to produce a EA. The federal infrastructure people anywhere from 6 months to a year and a half to process your new EA. You will require at the least, a year and a half to set up your P-3 or Private-Public Partnerships frame work for the new Expo Line project, which is a legal requirement under the federal program.

    Translink needs 3-6 months to set up the RFQ (Request for Qualifications) process to search a short list of willing consortia (groups of companies) who will most likely be able to best provide bids for the Design-Finance and Build contract.

    Then another 8 months to a year to do a proper RFP (Request For Proposals), that is when those Consortia actually provide the bid to Translink for the project. This is the actual point where the true final cost of the project is finalized.

    Once you have a final bid price, then you’ll hit up the province and feds for their portion of the projects’ capital cost. That highly political process could take 5 minutes or years, you never now! Then choose a winning bid and begin the pre-construction process.

    That is 4-5.5 years! This is assuming the stage 2 part of the Broadway project doesn’t steal money, time resources and political capital away from your process. Which project wins when the feds and the province announce that, there is only enough funding for one project? It won’t be Surrey and Langley, I guarantee you.

    This is all assuming the original portions of the Expo Line line doesn’t start collapsing by this point. It’s already warn out and there is nowhere near enough budgeted for the needed work.

    Zwei replies: Not a hint of that here. According to Surrey’s mayor they will use the Evergreen Line’s designs and start construction sometime this spring. He’s full of it of course, but the rest of the crew on the Mayor’s council are as dim as dishwater and will probably go along with this charade.

    My guess, from some comments I heard from a TransLink type is 7 years before the first spade hits the ground for SkyTrain. The Broadway subway is also getting a growing bad reception.

  12. steve says:

    **What transit customers really want is a direct service to Vancouver with no forced transfer to the Canada Line.**

    Exactly and for me it was faster. Even if it was 10 or 20 minutes longer it would still be worth it and transferring 2-3 times sucks.

    **The comment by Steve who thinks that the skytrain to Langley will force people to transfer to and from Skytrain. Bad news for you. An LRT to Langley will do the same. An LRT will create even more transfers, as it forces you to transfer in Surrey to Skytrian to Vancouver. A Langley skytrain eliminate a transfer in Surrey. Skytrain is faster than LRT.**

    The point I Was making transit should be convenient as in fewer transfers or none the better not being forced all over the place to force one on skytrain or even lrt just to pump up numbers. In the mid 80′s The 330 should for example should never of been stopped going over port mann and down hastings, it was full and quicker than being forced to New West station and then having a second transfer at broadway. Same goes for 311. One direct route downtown and now two transfers so no thanks and I drive now. I am also sure many other bus routes have been screwed up or messed with just to force one on skytrain and customer convenience be dammed..

    Correct me if I am wrong but is not car use still the same as it has been for last 40 years or so at 57%? Sure transit may have a few new users but so does the car do to so many new people moving here. Still 57% take car and that hasn’t really changed..

    Most if not all the community shuttles I see are empty. Unless it is coming up from White Rock beach in summer…

    Zwei replies: Yes, correct!

  13. T says:

    It would be good idea to extend some south delta routes to downtown during peak hours. Canada line gets very crowded during peak hours expecially between 4-6pm. At other times, Canada line is not too crowded. The short trains is bad design decision.

    @Haveacow Mayor of Surrey had meeting with Prime Minister. P.M. made public statement that it is up to mayors to decide how t0 spend federal money. Mayors council have final say on Skytrain or LRT. Looks like Skytrain will go to Langley.

    Zwei replies: First off, a 15 minute chat with Trudeau, who probably hasn’t a clue about the rules and regulations of how federal money is spent, probably nodded in agreement, hoping that the senile old man just goes away.

    As for SkyTrain to Langley, show me the funding!

    Zwei got a phone call yesterday from a local engineer working on the LRT project. He recons it will take year to clean up the LRT project (if Translink decides to and remember it is a Translink project and not a Surrey project) and he said it will take a further 7 years to get the planning done for SkyTrain.

    Mccallum’s claim to save money by building SkyTrain at grade is laughable because I do not think those along the Fraser Highway want a massive Berlin Wall type structure with 10 foot, razor wire topped fences separating North from South.

    Every foundation for the guideway must be drilled for core to see what the foundation is like.

    It is the 2 km Serpentine River Valley route that is problematic and will be very expensive for SkyTrain and its much, much heavier guideway. I was told that it was one of the reasons they went for LRT, was much cheaper and simpler to cross this bog.

    Construction won’t start until 2026 at the earliest and the cost will be well above $3 billion, so what will probably happen is that SkyTrain will be built elevated to Fleetwood and go no further.

    There is another problem. The chap indicated to me that if TransLink does not place any orders for new cars past 2019, there maybe no new cars available. This was also in the back of the minds of planners.

    The SkyTrain Lobby folks maybe embarrassed in the next few years as escalating costs and lack of cars may again derail the project.

  14. Haveacow says:

    Guys, I just checked, the money for the Surrey LRT has been officially, “shelved” by the federal infrastructure fund. They won’t get anything until a new EA is written. The money is safe but Translink has to reapply and complete the paperwork. It’s done, no LRT, no Federal money. You won’t get that money for years now! I found out because a friend of mine works in the Director-General’s office of the Infrastructure Canada’s Finance Directorate.

    Zwei replies: There is much depression form the engineers working on light rail and a few will be losing their jobs.

    Light Rail was supposed to be game changer for the region, but now SkyTrain, if built, will be a truncated spur line, doing nothing, but give a background for politicians cutting ribbons.

  15. Haveacow says:

    The money is safe for a Skytrain Line but they still need more to cover the extra cost. There is no guarantee but the Liberals will probably give in and provide more funding however, if the government changes, it’s all gone!

    @T there’s federal and provincial money involved. 2/3 of the money doesn’t belong to Translink’s. A new EA has to be done for the project. The federal government can’t legally give it to the Skytrain to Langley project, unless there is a new EA done. I’m not sure what the rules are in BC for new EA requirements. But the feds will need a new EA as well as a new P-3 process. The old EA and P-3 process was done for a LRT line built in the center of the road. Most of the Skytrain is on one side of the highway and will require more land for stations and a bigger Maintenance and Storage Facility than the LRT needed. It will also require different suppliers than a LRT line, so there’s a definite need for new P-3 arrangement. Remember the existing Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility for the Skytrain Network will have all it’s extra capacity used up by the first stage of the Broadway Extension. You will need a new one. Mayor Mc Callum hasn’t even budgeted for this yet.

  16. Haveacow says:

    The P-3 arrangement has to change mainly because the LRT was going to be run by a private group not Translink where as, the Skytrain has Translink’s subsidiary, the BC Rapid Transit Company actually run the network. Thus, just for that reason alone and there are many more, a new P-3 process and agreement is needed to satisfy legal requirements.

  17. Haveacow says:

    A year to clean up an entire LRT project process that’s been going for a minimum of 2 to 3 years, is very ambitious. I seriously doubt it but we will all find out I guess.

  18. Rick says:

    It is good to finally get rid of this LRT.

    P3 projects are never good for the taxpayers. The Canada line was a P3 is turning into a diaster. Maybe one day when the 30 year contract is over, translink takes back control and give it to the BC rapid transit operations, then It will be decent. This P3 LRT would just be like the Canada line.

    There is advantages to building skytrain to Langley. It will use same technology as Broadway extension. The same suppliers can be useed and creating an economy of scale. If both are built at same time or one right after the other, then there can be money saved. They can use same equipment and people to build both. Broadway extension will be elevated part way then go underground. New trains for both lines can be built at same time.

    That hatch report includes a new maintenance and storage facility in Langley. Millenium line already have a small maintenance and storage facility in Coquitlam.

    Build both at same time and save money.

    Zwei replies: First of all, you haven’t been reading the narrative, all federal money must include a P-3 for the proposed SkyTrain. The SkyTrain Line to Langley will also be a P-3.

    SkyTrain is a proprietary railway and there is only one supplier. What is needed is cement and steel, the problem is funding.

    The new maintenance facility is needed because the current one will be soon at capacity and SkyTrain cars need a lot of maintenance, the facility is needed.

    The problem with the trains is that there is only one supplier, Bombardier and if they choose not to produce the cars because their production facility is engaged with more lucrative orders, no cars.

    And finally, there isn’t the ridership on the line to support light metro and SkyTrain will just get more and more expensive to operate. The current annual subsidy for SkyTrain is somewhere around $400 million annually. The Canada Line alone is subsidized by Translink at over $110 million annually. The original Expo line (not to Surrey) was subsidized by $157 million annually.

    Huge costs, which the SkyTrain Lobby wish to ignore.

  19. Haveacow says:

    1 ALL FEDERAL CAPITAL TRANSIT FUNDING IS P-3! You can’t have federal funding without it being private public partnership. This policy started under Harper in 2009 and was continued under Trudeau’s Liberals.

    2 Considering after spending $50,000,000 in engineering and planning and another $20,000,000 in pre-construction costs for the LRT, and the end result being nothing, I would be pretty pissed.

    3 In exchange your getting, a line with no Federal funding (all your federal LRT money was officially shelved by the Infrastructure bank in Ottawa yesterday), until a new Environmental Assessment is done and a new P-3 framework set up.

    4 No guarantees that senior levels of government will even fund the more expensive Skytrain project.

    5 A minimum of 4-5 years, probably longer, before construction can even begin.

    6 On top of it all, you are getting inferior Skytrain operating technology that’s more expensive to operate than LRT.

    7 When the project is ready it will be competing for funding for stage 2 of the Broadway line and the total upgrade of the original section of the Expo Line. You will loose to both those projects.

    8 Skytrain technology could be completely out of production by the time the Langley extension is ready. Bombardier is laying off 5000 more workers, 2500 in Quebec, from both the rail and aviation businesses. 8 Rail plants in Europe will be shut down as well. This means a much lower production capacity for rail vehicles.

    You have been scammed! You won’t get anything for any Surrey line for a decade.

    Zwei replies: Exactly. Here is another wrinkle a blog reader posed to me. SNC Lavalin is in Federal Court, Re: the Libyan bribery case. If found guilty, SNC is not allowed to bid on a federal contract for 10 years. As SNC Lavalin owns the engineering patents for the proprietary SkyTrain and is found guilty, would the feds deny federal money to any SkyTrain project?

  20. Rick says:

    “all federal money must include a P-3 for the proposed SkyTrain. The SkyTrain Line to Langley will also be a P-3.”


    Where did you dig up this BS from?

    The skytrain extension to Coquitlam was completed a couple years ago and was not a P3.

    It will be difficult to make a P3 work with an extension to Langley or UBC.

    It will be complete sooner than you think.

    Skytrain is not out of production yet!!

  21. Daniel says:

    Zwei, that’s called democracy. Surrey residents didn’t want light rail and voted for a candidate that promised it’d be scrapped. From the other hand I invite you to visit Edmonton and Seattle to see what a gong show the light rail has created for those cities.

    Zwei replies: Both are very happy with their light rail and in fact both Edmonton and Seattle rejected SkyTrain.

    Well I hope Translink bills Surrey for the $70 million spent on light rail and not pay a penny towards SkyTrain until Surrey pays the bill.

  22. zweisystem says:

    Funny thing was, it was a regional project, 10 years in the making with lots of consultations, with full agreement by Surrey. There was no question on the ballot and the new semi senile mayor wants SkyTrain?

    The sad thing is, the SkyTrain lobby are ignorant and politicians love ignorant voters.

    You will pay a price for voting this yesterdays mayor into office and that is massive tax hikes.

    Already businesses are rethinking about locating along Fleetwood and a few are already considering lawsuits for breach of promise as they located there because of light rail. They did their homework and found that where LRT runs, business increases by about 10%. Not so with SkyTrain, as it is user unfriendly.

    When and if SkyTrain is built, sometime in the 2030′s, Fleetwood will be another Newton and nothing more. For the SkyTrain Lobby, a Pyrrhic victory.

  23. Freddy says:

    “Funny thing was, it was a regional project, 10 years in the making with lots of consultations, with full agreement by Surrey.”

    Consultations with whom?

    It was more like consultations between the former mayor and the developers. The residents were nether consulted or asked for input.

    This is why they voted for a mayor that promised to cancel LRT.

    Zwei replies: Utter bullshit, take your history rewrite elsewhere.

  24. Daniel says:

    Zwei replies: First of all,

    And finally, there isn’t the ridership on the line to support light metro and SkyTrain will just get more and more expensive to operate. The current annual subsidy for SkyTrain is somewhere around $400 million annually. The Canada Line alone is subsidized by Translink at over $110 million annually. The original Expo line (not to Surrey) was subsidized by $157 million annually.

    Can you point me to the report that you source your subsidy claim upon?

    Zwei replies: The figures come from TansLink, B.C. Transit and metro Vancouver.

  25. Haveacow says:

    @Rick I have been doing these types of planning projects for more than 20 years. All federal funding for transit is P-3 only. The Evergreen funding was promised by the feds in 2007 and 2008 before the P-3 policy was started, so the funding wasn’t included under that federal legislation. Since then, all new big infrastructure projects are in some form or another, a P-3 contract. In the case of the LRT in Surrey it was a Design, Finance, Build, Operate and Maintain contract. The Skytrain line to Langley will likely be a Design, Finance and Build, turn key contract. The old contract doesn’t apply to the new conditions so, a new P-3 agreement has to be done.

    The advantage is that, P-3 budgets can’t increase, they are a static legal agreement. They are also project specific. Meaning, if you want to have this money go to another project, you have to re do all the planning procedures that lead up to all the necessary steps that get the financing for projects like this, in the first place. Unlike what the press insinuated with the PM, they just can’t transfer the cash because Trudeau approves of the idea. Even the PM is not above federal legislation.

    Once the parties involved agree on a price (which is the project budget), all cost overruns are paid by the private companies involved in the project’s winning consortium. They, the companies in the consortium, assume all the risk. The risk assessment and mitigation costs can be up to 20-25% of the entire project. It actually costs less to have private companies assume risk costs than a government agency like Translink. For example, there are certain legal and health/safety risk costs that become significantly higher with public agencies get involved in a construction project, than if a private company builds a project because they are not legally responsible for many compensation costs. These compensation costs are paid by government, if the government is in charge of a project, these costs become part of the project’s budget, if the project is private it’s not included.

    The concept of risk mitigation and it’s associated costs, is a major reason why some infrastructure projects don’t get built. Ottawa’s LRT project costs $2.137 Billion and not around $2.57 Billion because of the P-3 agreement structure is privately and not publicly administered.

    However, P-3′s don’t protect a infrastructure project from being late or poorly built. The lack of oversight becomes a problem because these P-3 driven projects now fall under private commercial legal rules, not government public rules. You can’t suddenly demand information about a private commercial project, unless you’re directly involved. This is hard when you have private companies building public infrastructure. Under Canadian Law, there are things the general public are not allowed to see if the project is private run and administered. For example, you can’t get details about the nature of a condo project and it’s construction company’s financing deals with Banks unless, you are involved personally. Unfortunately, with these P-3 deals they can actually deny access to the public under these rules, even if they are building a public infrastructure project. No system is perfect!

  26. zweisystem says:

    Thank you! Your knowledge and insight is singularly missing from our transit debates.

  27. Bill Burgess says:

    Switching to Skytrain will delay rail transit service in Surrey and Langley.

    But I predict that we will soon see that Zwei and Mr Cow are exaggerting the extent to which the environmental assessment and P3 issues contribute to that delay.

    P3 screening for federal infastructure grants for transit ended in 2015. (

    It is true that, “The Liberals have played a privatization shell game. While the mandatory P3 screen will end, which had forced all large infrastructure projects through a P3 evaluation process, the CIB is explicitly designed to promote privatization.” ( However, it is good that the extent of any P3 associated with Skytrain will be less than for the LRP project.

    The EI is probably required for federally-funded projects. However, I believe that if the BC governments wants to, it can decide that the BC EI Act does not apply, or to apply it in a way that easily ensures the result it wants. The Regulations under that Act do not require an EI for a rail line project under 20 km long (see ). The Minister can and will order an EI but will make sure that its scope allows prompt completion.

    If the political will is there, the EI or P3 issues can be easily overcome.

    The political will does seem to be there.

    Disagreement with the choice of Skytrain should be distinguished from the difficulty of implementing this choice.

    Zwei replies: As the route travels through the contentious Green Timbers Park, you can bet the province will implement an Environmental impact study.

  28. Haveacow says:

    Sorry it didn’t end in 2015. It still hasn’t ended yet and it won’t for a very long time. Municipalities, transit agencies and provincial governments just don’t want to pay the very high risk mitigation costs for infrastructure projects. P-3′s entirely eliminate those costs from their financial records. You see guys risk mitigation is everything now! Its more important sometimes than who gets the project. In fact, your new “no-touch fare gates” for Translink’s rail transit stations, are a P-3 program, project!

  29. Bill Burgess says:

    Are you saying the two sources I quoted are wrong that infastructure funding continues to be limited to projects that are deeply P3?

    Or is that the municipalities, transit agencies etc.continue to (wrongly) believe in P3 principles, and so many projects include P3 elements, but this by their choice (though influenced by the bias towards P3 by the Liberal government)?

    The issue was how difficult it is to drop a project that was mostly P3 (like the Canada Line and LRT were) and shift to one that has less P3 (more like the Evergreen line). We will see if you are right about how hard this is.

  30. Causa Causans says:

    It is intriguing how a urban transit system is now a suburban transit system, as far as we know on this side of the pond, your SkyTrain was never designed for the job it does.

    From our own investigations, your SkyTrain is very poor in attracting ridership and various nefarious ways are used to capture ridership. This would not be tolerated in Europe.

    LIM’s are very unsuited for railways and the LIM’s used in Vancouver are very unreliable., as attractive LIMs are. Repulsive LIM’s are the only way to go for MAGLEV’s.

    Your SkyTrain has defenders, but really, they should grow up and understand that this type of railway is no good, as it is very expensive. It suffers the same deffest as our VAL system, which is also very expensive to build and operate.

    We do not understand Canadian P-3 projects as they do not include prospective bidders in the planning process. Your SkyTrain would never be considered for a P-3 as it is too expensive and certainly not subways, again too expensive.

    What makes us sad, nothing has changed in Vancouver since the Canada Line and Vancouver’s transit system suffers from being very dated.

    Such a city should have a quality transit system, but no, not with SkyTrain.

  31. Daniel says:

    Causa Causans says:

    From our own investigations, your SkyTrain is “very poor in attracting ridership”

    Any credibility you had is out of window with this false remark. Don’t twist the fact to advance your cause. Transit planning is based on facts, not fiction.

  32. Causa Causans says:

    Daniel, further to your comment, Vancouver’s SkyTrain has been very well investigated by many parties, over many years.

    On our side of the pond, attracting ridership is extremely important, yet your SkyTrain by Translink’s own numbers is extremely poor at this.

    Recounting bus riders onto to your metro is not a good way to determine ridership.

    We can ascertain ridership very easily as we are trained to do and your metro comes very poorly.

    In France a 10% to 15% modal shift is expected and transit is designed to accomplish this.

    Your SkyTrain has not offered a modal shift and ridership comes from population increase. Your SkyTrain is very poor at this and is recognized internationally for this. This is why SkyTrain can’t find a market and has no sales.

    You are making a big mistake and it will be very costly in the end.

    Where is the oversight? We would not tolerate a council that lies to get different transit and there are laws to prevent this. The public are not protected.

  33. Bill Burgess says:

    Mr. Causa Causans, I occasionally scan the trade and scholarly literature on urban transit available to me, and I have not seen the negative conclusions you cite regarding Skytrain. Please point me to representative examples.

    If, as you say, Skytrain is “very poor” at attracting ridership, this should be obvious from comparing ridership in Vancouver and cities who don’t have Skytrain. The facts here don’t agree with your claim.

    A first example is that Vancouver has a higher transit commuter rate than every US metro except New York (see,

    A second example is Seattle. According to the American Public Transit Association’s 2017 Fact Book, the Seattle metro area had a 69 “unlinked trips” per person in 2015 (calculated from p. 32 of; “unlinked trips” are the same thing as Translink’s “boardings”). By comparison, Metro Vancouver, which is roughly Translink’s service area, had 165 boardings per person in 2017, more than twice the Seattle rate. (Translink ridership from, Vancouver 2016 population from

    Perhaps a better comparison with Translink/Metro Vancouver is King County, the central county of metro Seattle with a population of 2.2 million vs. Vancouver’s 2.5 million. King County had a transit ridership rate of 71 “riders” per person in 2017, less than half the Vancouver rate (population from,_Washington, ridership numbers from; what this source refers to as “riders” are actually “unlinked trips” or “boardings”).

    Considering only rail transit, Seattle’s Link LRT system has a ridership of 24 million in 2017 ( compared to Vancouver’s Canada Line’s 46 million and the Expo/Millenium Line’s 105 million ( ). The Link LRT is 35 km long, so a fairer comparison might be to the Canada Line’s 19 km plus the Evergreen Line’s 11 km. The Evergreen Line’s first year ridership of about 9.4 million (calculated from, plus the Canada Line’s 46 million is twice the Seattle Link LRT’s ridership.

    The most recent indication that is available of Skytrain’s influences on transit ridership is that there was a 44% increase in total transit ridership (“boardings”) in the NE sector of Metro Vancouver over the first year of service by the Evergreen Line to that area (

    The third and more apt comparison is between Vancouver and other metros in Canada. The Canadian census asks 20% of those surveyed how they commute to work. In 2016 Metro Vancouver had the third highest transit commuter rate of all Canadian metros (

    Mr Causans, the very reliable Canadian census data on commuting is also at odds with your claim that Skytrain-influenced transit ridership has only kept pace with population growth. The census found that metro Vancouver has had the greatest increase in the transit share of commuting trips among large metros in Canada. The transit share rose from 14.4% in 1996 to 20.4% in 2016, while commuting by car declined from 76.9% to 69%, or by 7.9 percentage points.

    I am not suggesting that Skytrain is the best transit technology out there. Like all cities in Canada, the US and even Europe Vancouver’s record at attracting ridership to transit is pathetic relative to what is necessary for social equity and to minimize climate change. The choice of this vs. that transit technology is actually a rather secondary issue in all this.

    But like all urban transportation infrastructure, once in place we are stuck with Skytrain for a long time and we need to make the best of it. Whether to extend this backbone of the Vancouver system and when to switch to something else are very practical issues, and in practical discussions it is important to get the facts right.

  34. Causa Causans says:

    Mr. Burgess, I find that your lack of knowledge is typical of what we expect in Vancouver.

    In the EU, there are many agencies who do detailed statistics on transit and other agencies check those statistics for veracity. Your notion that your transit planning is done around your census is more than laughable.

    Your aging population can account for much of the decline in auto use as the elderly do not drive as often and being retired, do not drive to work.

    A real expert can tell you that your claims are spurious.

    I made an inquiry with a colleague in your city and he told me of a few things that just do not add up.

    Your new transit line to the NE seems not doing very well as it operates 2 car trains, which also happen to smaller than one of our modern trams, at frequencies that would cause an investigation here. If there has been a 44% increase, it is not reflected by the new SkyTrain.

    I do not want to be drawn in your Internecine wars regarding SkyTrain as they a puerile to the extreme.

    The world has washed its hands of SkyTrain and those who support it, as Mr Zwei keeps repeating, only 7 systems built in 40 years and only 3 used realistically for city transport.

    The ignorance of those supporting SkyTrain astounds us and is regarded as a disease best kept on your side of the pond.

    As I type this, Bombardier is busy closing down factories in Europe due to financial ills, your venerated SkyTrain may soon join the endangered species list. We understand that Bombardier winding down its Innovia program and concentrating on metro cars and trams.

    They do not want to do small run contracts.

  35. Bill Burgess says:

    Another source-free, fact-free, change-the-subject contribution by Causa Causans.

    But Mr. Causans, since you raise it, your aging/retired population argument does NOT explain the decline in the auto share of commuters in metro Vancouver (which, again, is far less than what is needed), because, by definition, the commuter rate is about driving to….work.

  36. Causa Causans says:

    You do not understand many things. Many studies are proprietary, and those who commission such studies do not wish them released.

    Your SkyTrain……why bother you wish not to acknowledge many facts.

    A metro operating as a tram as you have in the NE, just will not give you the statistics that are released and unless they are independently reviewed, they are worth nothing to me or my colleagues.

    Again, SkyTrain is no more; no believes you or your statistics. I hope you have a lot of money.

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