The SkyTrain Cult Is Today’s Version Of The Cargo Cult

The Cargo Cult is a millenarian movement first described in Melanesia which encompasses a range of practices and occurs in the wake of contact with more technologically advanced societies. The name derives from the belief which began among Melanesian’s in the late 19th and early 20th century that various ritualistic acts such as the building of an airplane runway will result in the appearance of material wealth, particularly highly desirable Western goods (i.e., “cargo”), via Western airplanes.

Millenarianism has been found through history among people who rally around often-apocalyptic religious prophecies that predict a return to power, the defeat of enemies, and/or the accumulation of wealth. These movements have been especially common among people living under colonialism or other forces that disrupt previous social arrangements.

The SkyTrain Cult is obsessed with SkyTrain and almost have attributed magical powers to the proprietary railway. The SkyTrain Cult refuse to face facts, but rather live in a world of fake news and alternative facts.

SkyTrain is just a railway, albeit an expensive railway.

The following is rather elegantly presented, but is full of misinformation, false assumptions and down right exaggerations of the truth..

To lay one’s cards on the table, I found the Surrey LRT ill planned and not sustainable, but to build SkyTrain instead is nothing more than insanity.

The following is from a person who is naive of modern public transit philosophy and has thrown his lot in with the SkyTrain Cult.

Only seven SkyTrain systems built in forty years, speaks volumes on the subject, but Millenarians pray to false gods and it is very hard to get someone out of a cult, just ask former members of Scientology.

And those European ideals? Providing an affordable and user-friendly transit service that will attract the motorist from the car, is what the Europeans strive for.


Opinion: Surrey’s obsession with light rail is a misguided pursuit of European ideals

Guest Author Jan 04, 2018

Written for Daily Hive by Sam de Groot, a lawyer in Vancouver with a longstanding interest in urban design and transport.

Itai??i??s time to call time out on Surreyai??i??s light rail transit (LRT) plan. In 2012, TransLink studied the costs and benefits of the various transit expansion options in Surrey, and LRT was found to be the worst option.

We need to heed that pivotal study that clearly identifies the gross shortcomings of the LRT option.

First of all, LRT is not that much cheaper than SkyTrain over the longer term because LRT has higher operating costs and lower fare revenue due to the forecast of lower ridership from its slower speeds through city streets. For instance, LRT on King George Boulevard to Newton, 104th Avenue to Guildford and Fraser Highway to Langley would have a net present cost of $1.63 billion.

SkyTrain along Fraser Highway to Langley with bus rapid transit (BRT) on King George and 104th would have a net present cost of $1.67 billion. And a pure BRT system on King George, 104th and Fraser Highway would have a net present cost of $0.82 billion.

This is all in 2010 dollars, with the project facing significant cost increases ever since these initial estimates.

Both LRT projects combined are now expected to far exceed $2 billion.

Secondly, LRT provides the least transportation benefit. The same 2012 study estimated that the LRT plan outlined above would result in 5.7 million hours of travel time savings per year, the BRT plan would result in 6.5 million hours per year, and the SkyTrain-BRT plan would result in 12.6 million hours per year. The dramatic superiority of the SkyTrain-BRT plan is due to both higher speeds and higher ridership.

It is no surprise then that the estimated cost-benefit ratio of the LRT option is a dismal 0.69 compared to 1.30 for the BRT option and 1.45 for the SkyTrain-BRT option.

A number below 1.0 means that for every dollar invested in the project, less than a dollar of benefit is realized including all the non-cash benefits like travel time savings and environmental benefits. Calculating cost-benefit ratios is no exact science, but it is useful for comparisons, and clearly LRT is the worst option.

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8 Responses to “The SkyTrain Cult Is Today’s Version Of The Cargo Cult”
  1. Haveacow says:

    That article may have been created by the folks at SkyTrain for Surrey, it sure sounds like their stuff and writing style. Since they used the same flawed study that was produced by TransLink, I am not surprised that they came to those conclusions. Does everyone remember the old computer programming acronym GIGO, garbage in, garbage out?

  2. subway4van says:

    Extend the skytrain to Langley!

    Zwei replies: Not cost effective, SkyTrain was never designed as a regional railway. Hugely expensive for what it will do.

  3. Ron Kinch says:

    Yes, LRT is 20th C technology, driverless, above ground PRT is the way to go for a fraction of the cost and people can get used to elevators they can get used to horizontal elevators I’m sure.


    Zwei: Funny that everyone seems to plan and build with LRT.

  4. Dondi says:

    This study from the University of Calgary School of Public Policy found that the LRT proposed for Surrey is a very bad idea:

    See p. 17: This $2.2 billion project is estimated to have a net present value of MINUS!!!!! $0.5 billion.

    Not every LRT project makes sense. There is no universal transit solution.

    Zwei replies: I have never supported the Surrey LRT, simply because it is being designed as a poor man’s SkyTrain. It has all the ills of SkyTrain and non of the befits. What Surrey’s LRT does confirm is the utter incompetence of TransLink.

  5. Johan Annon says:

    While I agree with some of your arguments on LRT relevance over SKYTrain as supported by transportation projects across Canada and US. The comments on Surrey business case are unwarranted as ridership support can be changed by rezoning all along KG corridor like Vancouver is doing along Cambie. Recent projects have sold out in record time along any transportation/business hub. Surrey plans to connect the 5 or so hubs with LR T and the spawning of business along the stops creates jobs and adds eyes on the street making it safer than SKYTrain at night
    Safety accessibility and local job growth make sense with the future density and share of housing that Surrey absorbs each year. With the largest school district soon Surrey will be the largest city both by population and area.

  6. Subwayforlangley says:

    A 2012 transit study recommend extending the subway to Langley. The mayors are ignoring this study.

    Zwei replies: You have just lost all credibility. You haven’t a clue about the cost of construction, nor anything about rail transit.

    Subways are built when passenger flows on a transit route demand long trains and stations with long platforms to accommodate the long trains. In North America, the threshold is 15,000 pphpd before a subway is considered and in Europe 20,000 pphpd.

    By comparison, Broadway has passenger flows of around 4,000 pphpd – now what is the passenger flows for Langley? Well the bus route 395, runs 6 buses an hour in the peak, giving the maximum capacity of under 500 pphpd.

    The mayors are ignoring this study because they do not want to spend$3 to $4 billion on a subway to move 500 people per hour.

    Read a book on the subject sunshine.

  7. Dondi says:

    Mr Zwei, could you please adopt a new year’s resolution to be less dismissive if not abusive of people who offer their comments on this blog?

    Transit blogs seem to be among the worst in terms of bad behavior but there is no reason to occupy the bottom of the barrel in this regard.

    Zwei replies: Who? The subway to Langley chap? A subway to Langley? Just double Mr. Cow’s estimate for elevated SkyTrain.

  8. Haveacow says:

    One of the significant issues about building a Skytrain extension to Langley is that of geographic scale. Not only is $2.5-$3 Billion a likely cost for this line extension (maybe even more). This line has another big issue, that of travel time due to geographic scale. You are looking at a trip of over an hour or more to get from Langley to downtown. 30 minutes or more if you are going to places like Metrotown. These do not include transfer times. Once a particular stage of a multi-stage transit trip gets to 40-45 minutes, you are losing most of your “Choice Transit Riders”, these are the customers who have choice to ride transit or can access something else (usually a private car). You also loose other “Choice Transit Riders”, who now get on at or near the end of the line current and usually get a seat. Now there is the possibility that the rider who gets on at King George or Surrey Centre may not be able to get a seat at all. This rider is now standing for his or her entire trip on the Skytrain. maybe up to 40-45 minutes, if he or she is going all the way to downtown. This person may still have to transfer and or may have transferred already from some other transit vehicle. If this person has a choice they now will probably take another form of rapid transit or drive this all assumes that there no problems on the line delaying the trains even further.

    Zwei replies: A transportation professional told me 2 decades ago that metro Vancouver should not be worried about capacity or speed, rather coverage. He said Metro Vancouver needed a network, such as what the GVRD planned for in the 70′s, not a few there and back mini-metro lines. I do not see this happening and in fact I beginning to predict that we have past the point of no return with transit.

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