The Second letter Sent To Surrey Council

April 18, 2017

The second letter sent by Malcolm Johnston to Surrey council and a possible solution for South of the Fraser transportation woes.

Mayor and council;

Two weeks ago I sent a letter to Mayor and Council about modern light rail and this letter is a follow up.

Our urban transit planning is an expensive mess because those who plan for public transit, have no foundation for planning public transit. Unlike Europe, BC and Canada do not have university courses in urban transport, nor offer university degrees in modern public transport and a great many graduate planners have little or no knowledge of modern public transportation philosophy and because of this, fundamental errors are being made to long term transit planning.

Our regional transportation ills started when the then Social Credit government forced the proprietary Advanced Light Rail Transit light-metro system on the GVRD instead of originally planned for LRT.

The problem was, for the cost of LRT from Vancouver to Richmond and from Vancouver to Surrey and Lougheed mall, via New Westminster, all we got ALRT from Vancouver to New Westminster.

What the public was not told, was that ALRT was really the renamed Ontario government’s Crown Corporation, the Urban Transportation Development Corporation, unsellable Intermediate Capacity Transportation System or ICTS.

ICTS was designed to be a bridge between what the maximum loads that could be carried by Toronto Streetcars and that of a metro or subway.

Modern LRT, with longer articulated cars, effectively and affordably bridged this gap and the need for ICTS disappeared almost overnight.

What sealed ICTS’s demise was the Toronto Transit Commission’s Accelerated Rapid Transit Study (ARTS) found that:

ICTS could cost as much as ten times as much as a conventional light rail line to install, for the same capacity, or, put another way, ICTS cost more than a heavy rail metro with four times the capacity.”

From the original 1978 GVRD Study for LRT, with estimated costs included.

The UDTC quickly renamed ICTS to Advanced Light Rail Transit, to compete against modern LRT and quickly cut a deal with the BC Social Credit government to build with the newly renamed ALRT, in full knowledge that it was a costly proprietary light-metro that was inferior to modern light-rail.

The propaganda campaign commenced creating the SkyTrain myth.

The cost of the original SkyTrain was at least twice the cost of Calgary’s new LRT and four times the cost of Portland’s new LRT line.

SkyTrain cost over twice as much as Calgary’s LRT to build; over four times more than Portland’s LRT and seven times more to build than San Diego’s premier LRT line.

As ALRT expanded, it sucked money from the rest of the transit system and prevented affordable transportation planning in the region.

Despite the fact that SkyTrain was heavily marketed and showcased at Expo 86, transit authorities that did proper due diligence rejected the proprietary light metro and Vancouver remained the sole example of ALRT operation.

The UDTC and ALRT was sold to Lavalin, which renamed ALRT to Advanced Light Metro (ALM), but Lavalin became bankrupt, in part, trying to build an ALM line in Bangkok Thailand.

As a result of the bankruptcy, Bombardier acquired the technical patents (the cars) and the Engineering patents (the guideway) stayed with Lavalin when it combined with SNC, to form SNC Lavalin.

Today what was once called ICTS is now marketed as Advanced Rapid Transit.

SkyTrain was so expensive to build, that BC’s Crown Corporations Secretariat stated:  “that the only reason rapid transit should be built was for land use….

Thus the great SkyTrain density myth was created and ‘rapid transit’ was built, not to efficiently and affordably move people, rather to create and increase density.

SkyTrain was not built to satisfy transit customer’s needs, rather developer and land speculator needs!

This set off a chain reaction with many academics, who tried to rewrite the book why ‘rail’ transit was built and in doing so dismissed modern LRT as a relic, where in reality, LRT made ALRT a historical footnote!

This is an example of Lysenkoism, (The term Lysenkoism can also be used metaphorically to describe 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, academic,l or political objectives.) where the manipulation and distortion of LRT fabricated a predetermined decision to build with ALRT and ART in the Metro Vancouver region and it is still happening with the proposed Broadway SkyTrain subway and Surrey’s LRT.

The taxpayer keeps getting SkyTrain shoved down their throats.

The region needs to rethink on how and why ‘rail transit’ is built as in the real world, ALRT/ART (SkyTrain) has been long rejected by transit planners.

Even the ‘white elephant’ Canada Line, which is just a heavy rail metro, built as a light metro demonstrated that conventional railway was cheaper than ART.

This shows the comparison of MK.1 cars with MK.2 cars and the Canada Line EMU’s. Please note that the station platform lengths, where the Canada line station platforms are half the length of the Expo and Millennium/Evergreen Line station platforms, thus the Canada line can only operate short trains and effectively has little more than half the capacity of the E & M/E Lines.

Questions that must be asked before any more investment for “rail” transit:

Why is TransLink still planning for extremely expensive ART (SkyTrain) in the region, when it has been rejected by transit authorities for over fourty years?

Why have only seven SkyTrain type systems (ICTS, ALRT, ART) been built in the past fourty years?

Why has modern LRT been prevented to compete, by senior governments, against ALRT/ART in those seven application?

The answers are unpalatable for some, including those who cheerlead more building of ALRT/ART, especially in subways. What we call SkyTrain is inferior and expensive transit mode and putting it in a subway is just fiscally irresponsible.

The base principles that should guide transit planning are readily available.

  • Good transit provides a network of options that moves masses of commuters effectively where they need to go. Most jurisdictions can’t afford a subway to everywhere so the wise course is to provide movement along the essential corridors where citizens connect.
  • In a tight economy, decision makers do cost-benefit analyses and deliver the best bang for the buck.
  • And they use universal, tried-and-tested measurements to evaluate options, striving to remove partisan and parochial and political influence from polluting the outcome.

TransLink’s present planning does not follow this pattern.

Surrey’s LRT is being planned as an appendage to the Expo Line and not a transit system unto itself, which will doom it as a mediocre and expensive transit line.

The major problem confronting TransLink is that the Expo line is at capacity and it will cost between $2 billion to $3 billion to increase capacity on the ALRT/ART lines.

Today, 15,000 pphpd is the upper legal limit allowed on the Expo line. However, it’s not just government paperwork and rules that hold SkyTrain back, other obvious issues come into play.

Unless TransLink plans to seriously change the operating conditions on their operations certificate, higher capacity is just not going to happen. But if TransLink does want to do change things then, some seriously expensive upgrades need to be done, including power systems, swapping out the out of date signaling system technology for something newer, big time software upgrades, track and switch replacement and wholesale station rebuilding.

It is time to have a complete rethink of Surrey’s planned LRT to make it a successful operation. LRT needs a plan to take Surrey and Langley transit customers, not only to destinations in Surrey, but into Vancouver and this can be done much cheaper than one would think.

After conferring with transit specialist in Canada and Europe, who have very kindly helped me in the past, I offer this three step program for an affordable LRT operation for Surrey and the South Fraser transit customer.

1)The proposed Patullo Bridge replacement must include a heavy- rail crossing (replacing the decrepit Fraser river rail Bridge) for at least two tracks, either in the form of a ‘lift-span’ or draw bridge. Dutch engineers have made great strides in water crossing, due to the topography in their country and it would be good money invested consulting with a Dutch engineering firm. The GVRD even proposed such a bridge in the late 1970’s.Estimated cost $1 billion.

 

The GVRD planned for a combined LRT/heavy rail/road bridge in the late 1970’s


2) A modified and enhanced Leewood/ Rail for the Valley TramTrain (TramTrain: A tram-train is a light rail public transport system where trams run through from an urban tramway network to main-line railway lines which are shared with conventional trains. This combines the tram’s flexibility and accessibility with a train’s greater speed, and bridges the distance between a main railway stations and a city centre.) service from Langley to downtown Vancouver, allowing 20 minute headways, with double tracking in strategic locations, including the Grandview Cut (2.5 km.); Fraser Hwy. and 184th (4.5 km.) and 152nd to King George Hwy, (3.75 km.) using Diesel LRT such as the Stadler GTW which is FRA compliant.

Estimated cost $750 million.

A Stadler GTW diesel LRT in operation in the United States

3) 24 km. White Rock to Surrey Central electric LRT, via 152nd Ave. the SRR of BC (between 152ndAve. and King George Hwy.), then up the King George Hwy. to Surrey Central

Estimated cost $1 billion.


Total Cost including contingency: $3 billion

With the three step transportation program completed, it would provide direct access from White Rock & Langley to Vancouver and, thus benefitting the region with a quality and affordable ‘rail’ network.

With LRT, the transit customer in Langley and South Surrey can ride direct to Vancouver, without transfer, in under an hour, which is superior to any plan TransLink has offered.

This plan also offers redundancy in the transit system by having two routes from Vancouver across the Fraser River, especially as the aging SkyTrain is now prone to frequent breakdowns.

The system can affordably expand in the future, to suit the needs of the traveling public. Extending TramTrain service to Abbotsford and Chilliwack would cost under $10 million/km., cheaper than new highway construction.

The cost of the three phase transportation plan would cost about the same as the proposed $3 billion plus Broadway SkyTrain subway and attract far more new customers to public transit.

This plan demonstrates 21st Century public transport philosophy by combining modern LRT with existing infrastructure to provide the transit customer with a quality service that will not impoverish the taxpayer.

This plan should be the vision of the Mayor’s 10 year plan and not the present hugely expensive parochial and politically prestigious transit planning now taking place.

Malcolm Johnston

Comments

One Response to “The Second letter Sent To Surrey Council”
  1. eric chris says:

    Of course, all three proposals in this post are fantastic ideas. People are working on them. Adios TransLink.

    “Evil Empire = TransLink”
    To put the ideas in this post into effect requires the consignment of the “evil empire” which has taken over public transit (TransLink) to the ash heap of history. Planners at TransLink have spent billions of dollars to raise and bury trains to keep trains from interfering with cars on the roads. They then flooded the roads with diesel buses to transport passengers to the trains for the diesel buses to interfere with the cars on the roads, instead.

    “Fentanyl, organ trafficking, filth = TransLink”
    TransLink is the root cause of Vancouver’s housing crisis, road congestion and fentanyl overdoses. Here are the facts:

    Bombardier can’t extend the Millennium Line along Broadway without 100% isolation of the tracks from the public; otherwise, the 600 volts powering the trains could fry passengers and pedestrians. Alstom or Siemens offer superior public transit (trams or LRT) compared to Bombardier’s linear induction transit (LIT) used in Vancouver. TransLink paid SNC Lavalin (which is Bombardier’s engineering partner) to produce a fraudulent study favouring isolation of the track (subway) costing $5 billion extra for Bombardier to extend the Millennium Line to UBC via Broadway.

    In other words, for Bombardier to exclude Alstom or Siemens offering tram or LRT service at grade, from beating out Bombardier, TransLink has committed fraud in an attempt to toll roads and overcharge citizens in Vancouver by $5 billion. What do SNC Lavalin and Bombardier have to lose if they have to compete with Alstom or Siemens proposing trams along Broadway? They stand to lose billions of dollars in fees and contracts to build and maintain the subway which crooked politicians who are working for SNC Lavalin and Bombardier want to tax citizens to build.

    What do developers have to lose with Alstom or Siemens proposing trams along Broadway? They stand to lose prime real estate for money launderers (selling drugs and trafficking organs) looking to build high rise “investment” condo towers along the “planned” Broadway subway which can be used as an excuse to “bulldoze old rental properties having rent controls” to make Vancouver more unaffordable and chase more families from Vancouver for more people to drive into Vancouver on highways and make more roads and bridges necessary.

    Everywhere you have public transit by TransLink: you have unaffordable housing created by TransLink, worsened road congestion created by TransLink and run away drug over doses created by TransLink.

    “TransLink welcome to the final show”. “TransLink you were pretty good but you aren’t good.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0GKGpObgPY

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