What The Hell Is Going On At TransLink?

Zwei knows that there are huge issues with TransLink’s mega-projects, but does this ponderous bureaucracy have a clue what it is doing?

I don’t think so.

Past comments from Mr. “haveacow” from Ottawa has the cost of the Broadway SkyTrain subway passing the $3 billion mark and two thirds of the Surrey’s $2.5 billion LRT’s costs are in a form of hidden subsidies for land developers and land speculators in the form for street and underground utility renewal, in short, the taxpayer is subsidizing Surrey’s favourite land developers!

All the Vancouver Sun and Province can do is write “puff stories”, but Bob Mackin, independent reporter and his breakernews.com is zeroing in on the TransLink mega-project story. A story that Rail for the Valley has been reporting on for years.

Mr. Horgan and Ms. Trevena will have some tough decision to make in the very near future and let us hope they break the mold and make the right decisions.

B.C.ai??i??s biggest secret: the cost of TransLinkai??i??s Surrey and Broadway megaprojects

Bob Mackin

The mystery continues, even after the provincial election, ai???clone speechai???, fall of the BC Liberals and the swearing-in of the NDP government.

Surrey secrecy

What are the new cost estimates for TransLinkai??i??s Broadway subway and Surrey LRT megaprojects?

In early 2016, City of Surrey revised the cost of its project, from $2.14 billion to $2.6 billion. The Broadway subway estimate was $1.98 billion.

TransLink chief financial officer Cathy McLay admitted in spring 2016 that costs had risen for both. She blamed the price of real estate and the costs for equipment and materials that would be sourced from the United States. The organization is steadfastly refusing to come clean on the numbers.

Have the projects doubled in price? When government agencies are unreasonable and wonai??i??t be honest to the governed, then it becomes reasonable to pose such a question. Especially in British Columbia, where the phrase ai???on-time, on-budgetai??? isnai??i??t a rule or even an aspiration anymore, but a punchline. It is not entirely a B.C. phenomenon.

The Journal of American Planning Association published ai???Cost Underestimation in Public Works Projects: Error or Lie?ai??? in the summer 2002 edition by Bent Flyvbjerg, Mette Skamris Holm and SA?ren Buhl. They studied 258 transportation projects worth U.S. $90 billion.

ai???Based on the available evidence, we conclude that rail promoters appear to be particularly prone to cost underestimation, followed by promoters of fixed linksai??i?? The average difference between actual and estimated costs for rail projects is substantially and significantly higher than that for roadsai??i?? The average inaccuracy for rail projects is more than twice that for roads, resulting in average cost escalations for rail more than double that for roads.ai???

On Aug. 8, TransLink released two heavily censored reports on the projects to theBreaker, plus its latest direct refusal to comment on the revised cost estimates.

TransLink infrastructure and engineering vice-president Sany Zein cites ai???commercially-sensitive information that should remain confidential in anticipation of commercial negotiationsai??? for refusing to offer an update on the dollars and cents of the megaprojects, which the ruling NDP, their allies in the Green Party and the opposition Liberals all support.

TransLinkai??i??s Sany Zein

Are Zeinai??i??s words just word salad to mask the fear of widespread public sticker shock?

TransLink is withholding more than 1,200 pages of documents about the Broadway subway, which is officially called the Millennium Line Broadway Extension. It disclosed a cover page for a May 5 2017 report called ai???Due Diligence Technical Response,ai??? but it didnai??i??t even show theBreaker a table of contents.

The Surrey project is officially known as South of Fraser Rapid Transit and TransLink gave theBreaker parts of two reports: the October 2016 Newton-Guildford Traffic Modelling Report by Steer Davies Gleave and Hatch and the Phase One: Surrey-Newtown-Guildford LRT project business case, dated Nov. 28, 2016.

The former says Newton-Guildford will be ai???an urban style LRT system, integrated into the existing streetscapes, using modern lower floor Light Rail vehicles.ai??? The second phase could be SkyTrain technology.

ai???Work is ongoing to determine the preferred rapid transit technology for the Surrey-Langley Line, but if LRT is selected as the preferred technology, then the two lines will run on a common section of track in the Surrey City Centre area between King George and 104 Ave.ai???

The latter report is a joint TransLink and PartnershipsBC business case that recommends the Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT project. The estimated capital cost of the 11-stop, 10.4 kilometre LRT line is censored. The project schedule foresees construction from mid-2019 to the end of 2022, with LRT operations beginning in 2023.

Claire Trevena, the NDP Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, has not responded to theBreakerai??i??s request for comment. We will let you know if she does.

  • Stay tuned. theBreaker will not give up trying to get you the cost estimates for these projects. If youai??i??re a TransLink or government insider, theBreaker welcomes your tips, in confidence. Click this contact link.Ai??

FOI Release Memo 2017-341 ai??i?? Cost Estimates by BobMackin on Scribd


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