The Real Costs of Subways – Is The Provincial Government Listening?

There is a misconception by Vancouver politicians and engineers; TransLink’s planners and bureaucrats; Ministry of Transportation bureaucrats; and The Minister of Transportation and the Premier, that subways are rather cheap to build.

TransLink has fortified this perception by deliberately over-engineering light rail to sell the idea that the cost of at-grade and or on-street light rail is near of that of a bored or cut and cover subway. The mainstream media has certainly has been fooled by this ruse.

In reality, the cost of subway construction is massive, as is the cost ofAi?? maintenance as the subway ages. The real cost of a Broadway subway would soon consume any TransLink tax increases and have TransLink crying pauper, yet again, is very short order.

The Metro Vancouver area is facing a grave transportation crisis, which simple minded MoT bureaucrats think they can solve with building more highways and have advised the provincial government of this. The provincial Liberal government (as with the NDP before) see highway and bridge projects, as well as subways, as election gimmicks to get reelected, so they demand great bridge schemes as legacies to their public spending.

The sad fact is that new highways and bridges, increases road traffic, which leads to more traffic chaos and gridlock.

The BC Liberals penchant for subways and , new highways and massive new bridges, is leading the Lower mainland to the highway of hell!

What Scarboroughai??i??s subway means for taxpayers: James

his one project will add more than $40 a year to each property tax bill for 30 years, on top of regular increases, putting the ai???freeai??? subways lie to rest forever. And what of the cityai??i??s other dire transit needs?


5 Responses to “The Real Costs of Subways – Is The Provincial Government Listening?”
  1. eric chris says:

    Let me guess, the new subway in Toronto will banish road congestion, just as the new sky train line in Vancouver will. Nope, not a chance, it will do the complete opposite.

    As difficult as it might be for some “transit experts” (Gordon Price and Geoff Meggs in Vancouver come to mind) to understand, subways and sky trains which are regional transit schemes are the root cause of road congestion and the out of control transit costs. They encourage people to live far from work or school and to travel great distances on “fast” and very expensive transit. Fast transit creates satellite communities – in Metro Vancouver, the satellite communities to Vancouver are Surrey, Richmond, Delta… Burnaby.

    At the same time, sky train lines and subway lines with distantly spaced stations are too user unfriendly to appeal to drivers living in Richmond, for instance – Richmond roads are chop full of BMWs and the roads are stuffed. Major businesses are setting up in Vancouver and avoiding Richmond which has “poor local” transit.

    This is repeated wherever you have sky train lines in Metro Vancouver – major businesses are setting up shop in Vancouver and avoiding the outskirts. In Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond… Delta – the roads are stuffed because the local transit sucks and sky train is for long distance commuters rather than the majority of commuters who are short distance commuters. So, what’s the answer?

    You got it, build transit for the masses who only commute short distances – build LRT and tram lines which will encourage major businesses to set up shop in Surrey, Richmond, Delta… Burnaby for more drivers to make shorter trips (reducing the cost of providing transit) and to use transit. Sky train and subways are stupid transit schemes by stupid people who are throwing money away on “fast transit” to make road congestion worse and worse.

  2. Haveacow says:

    I do have 1 problem with the cost comparsion’s for the subways. These are really apple and orange comparisons due to the fact that, both the Downtown Relief Line and the Yonge Extension have greatly enhanced costs over the last 2 subway extensions due to several factors.
    1. Both DRL and the Yonge extension will require 1 new massive yard or 2 smaller new yards where Sheppard and the Vaughn (York Region) extension did not.
    2. The DRL and the Yonge Extension will require an enormous purchase of new service trains and equipment where as the existing fleet could cover the last 2 extensions. The TTC tends to make in shop as many of the service vehicles as possible themselves. Usually the projects come from converted retired subway cars or surplus railway cars, this time that will not be possible.
    3. Both the DRL and Yonge Extension will require an expensive upgrade of the traffic control centre last updated when the Sheppard Line was built.
    4. Both the DRL and the Yonge Extension will require the purchase of new trains again at great cost where the existing fleet had enough because the needed trains had already been planned for ahead of time and pre purchased.
    5. The costs for the DRL and Yonge Extension also include planning (EA’s and public meetings) and legal issues (purchasing of non conforming properties) where Sheppard and Vaughn are just construction.

  3. zweisystem says:

    What is relevant is what will be the cost of a Broadway subway?

    The public did not know the real cost of the Vancouver to New Westminster Expo Line until 1989, when the late Des Turner embarrassed the provincial government into releasing it. The direct cost was in the neighbourhood of $899,000.00 or about $100.000 more than the proposed Vancouver to the much longer Richmond/Lougheed Mall/Whalley LRT.

    Listening to the government, the $2 billion Broadway subway will terminate at Arbutus, 6.5 km away from UBC, which would increase costs considerably. Then there is the damned question of Capacity. To increase capacity, the station platforms must be extended on the entire SkyTrain mini-metro system, a cost which I have been told would exceed $1 billion in today’s numbers.

    I know that Bombardier have added a MK. 2 coach to increase capacity, but that will now involve selective door opening or SDO, as the 5 car set of MK. 2 stock will be longer than the present station platforms. some local SkyTrain types are trying to pass off these cars as ‘articulated’ but they are not.

    So, in a sense, the apples and oranges comparisons of Toronto’s subway schemes, may indicate, that all is not what it seems and the bargain basement sale price of a $2.5 billion subway under Broadway, maybe another TransLink subway “white elephant’ (a la the Canada Line) vastly over sold and grossly costly for what it will do.

  4. David says:

    Sadly, the more it costs the better for the Provincial Government. They can boast of how much money they put into transit. Few outside the blogsphere will bother asking whether the money was well spent and simply accept that any money for transit is a good thing and by extension more money must be better.

    Bus lanes that cost millions rather than billions just aren’t sexy enough for our photo-op obsessed politicians determined to build monuments to their “greatness”.

    I don’t have the exact measurements of a 5-car Mark II train, but my rough calculations indicate that only the noses of the trains would be beyond the platforms and that all doors will be accessible. And I sincerely hope Broadway SkyTrain, if built, stops at Arbutus because peak hour, peak direction travel to/from UBC has no room left to grow. Dramatically increasing capacity for stagnant demand is the same idiocy we’re seeing in the Massey bridge proposal.

  5. Sean says:

    In my opinion, the need for long-distance travel (Surrey to Vancouver and vice versa) has ended. What we need now is short-distance travel modes, which includes light rail. If there is a huge need for long distance travel, express light rail lines or subways (if the justifiable ridership is high enough) can be used. Right now, constructing a Broadway subway would miss out communities east of Commercial, which need transit more. So priorities have shifted to light rail until time has come.