Archive of earlier Letters to the Editor

The following is a partial compilation of Letters to the Editor that were collected in the early years of the Rail For the Valley Campaign.

Voice needed at transit table

The Chilliwack Times

Published March 16, 2010

Editor: I appreciate our mayor’s financial prudence and her open-mindedness to transit. I have been frustrated in the past to hear local politicians repeat that Chilliwack needs to be a fortress against the outside world in order to avoid becoming a bedroom community. (Again, I have appreciated their concern about bedroom communities, and I have appreciated other efforts to keep Chilliwack independent and viable, such as the creation of CEPCO. I just never thought it protected Chilliwack to cut off all transit links to the outside world: many good Chilliwackians who live, work, and shop here still need or choose to leave town occasionally).

I hear Sharon Gaetz saying that she is open to inter-city transit: hooray!

I hear her saying that we don’t have extra millions of dollars for railway crossings, and I believe her that there is no secret bank account with millions of unallocated dollars. However, I don’t think the city currently provides the millions of dollars for Highway 1 to run between Chilliwack and Sardis.

As a taxpayer, my taxes go into municipal, provincial, and federal buckets. I don’t particularly care which dollar comes from which bucket, but I know that every person who chooses to travel by train saves tax dollars. Money is saved from policing, ambulances, coroners, hospitals, highway expansion, road resurfacing, ocean oil spill clean-ups, etc.

Completely aside from money, a train would increase the quality of life and the quantity of joy in the Fraser Valley. Enthusiastic drivers will regain the joy of the open road once reluctant drivers stop clogging the highway. Train passengers will spend their trip drinking tea or coffee, visiting with each other, or reading good books and local newspapers. Some passengers may work on the train with laptops and the Internet, so these people may be able to count travel time as work time. Children could colour, eat, or sleep in their mother’s arms. Some people would drive to the train station, but others would walk or ride bikes, making exercise part of transportation.

It sounds like a number of valley politicans are working together on the South of the Fraser Rail Task Force to find some dollars for a demonstration project. If there are federal funds for me to make my furnace more energy efficient, I am sure there are federal funds to provide citizens with alternatives to the private car. I appreciate the good work of those task force members, and I hope that Chilliwack sends a representative to the table. I look forward to riding the train when the train demonstration project launches, but it would be with a heavy feeling of disappointment if I had to drive to Abbotsford for the eastern terminus of the route.

Beverly Jones Redekop

Chilliwack


Take Transit Campaign to Province Published: July 6, 2009 Editor:

Re: TransLink Workshop Consultation Process, June 1-2.

Kicked off with a May 27 editorial in the Vancouver Sun by TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast and accompanied by a barrage of print, radio and TV advertising, the TransLink Community Consultation Workshops Showboat made eight stops in the GVRD.

Reports on attendance vary from 15-30 people per event, totaling less turnout than we had for the Mufford Crescent Overpass Open House hosted by the Township at Milner Community Hall on January 31 this year. Why such an abominable turnout despite the major advertising campaign promoting the event, depicting the upcoming challenges and begging for input?

We firmly believe the citizens of the GVRD are very concerned as to how we intend to cope with the 1 million-plus émigrés anticipated over the next 20 years. However, the citizenry simply declined to attend because they are resigned to the fact that in the long run TransLink will do as it pleases and taxpayers will be turned upside down and the required funds to subsidize TransLink will be shaken from their clenched fists. The only question remains in which manner and how painfully will the funds be extracted.

We don’t believe the boardgame used to delineate the options as tabled truly reflected the costs of the various levels of service. We would love to know what it cost for the media advertising blitz, board game development/production, etc. Was this the best use of funds considering the response from the public at large or must it be written off as the cost of the consultative process?

Joe and Mary 6-Pak can only be girding their loins for the inevitable shelling out of $800 per family of four in after-tax dollars, in perpetuity. The best they can hope for is it may possibly arrange for a bus to come closer to their front door with more frequent service or light rail will finally come to the South of the Fraser.

South of the Fraser, and in the Langleys specifically, we are third class citizens compared to North of the Fraser. We will reluctantly contribute the same dollars per capita, endure most of the population growth and continue to receive the least service. Unfortunately, plans I have seen for the future promise little more and guarantee nothing.

We want nothing but the best for South of the Fraser and only ask we somewhat receive in the proportion to what we will give. We await to see where the consultative process now takes us.

VALTAC will conclude by thanking the hundreds of citizens who stopped by our booth at the Langley Canada Day Celebrations. The interest and enthusiasm of the younger crowd (aged 16-23) who do not want to purchase a car and wish to avail themselves of light rail as a transportation alternate was overwhelming and encouraging. The 53-foot-long ‘mobile sign’ has been a truly effective outreach vehicle and was instantly tied to our booth display.

With BC Hydro committed to reconfirmation of passenger running rights on the BCER and all Mayors and Councils South of the Fraser supportive of same, we must now elevate our campaign to the provincial government.

Lee Lockwood, VALTAC Chairperson, Aldergrove


Light rail for the Valley
Aldergrove Star
Published: March 18, 2009
Editor: TransLink should not even think about imposing more taxes.

The relevant agencies must recreate light rail transit in the Fraser Valley to service Surrey, Langley, Aldergrove, Abbotsford and beyond. You will see a great improvement in the movement of people in the Lower Mainland. TransLink must get its head out of the sand!

Elaine Godwin, Surrey


Investing now in light rail makes sense given other transit options
The Abbotsford Times
Published: March 10, 2009
EDITOR, THE TIMES: Re: Dog-gone transit dilemma, Page 1 story in the Feb. 27 Times:

The proposed cuts to Greyhound service present a challenge, but also an incredible opportunity for our region: the timing couldn’t be better for the establishment of a limited passenger rail service on the Interurban rail line.

A basic limited service could be up and running within about a year.

Even a modest service would be a great improvement for Abbotsford, as the rail line runs near all south-of-Fraser colleges and universities and most commercial centres, unlike the Greyhound bus, which only has one stop per city and provides a cumbersome, awkward ride

Contrary to popular belief, investment in light rail has been repeatedly shown to be less expensive than investment in buses.

This effect is amplified due to the Interurban rail line already being in place.

The main cost would be the addition of crossing guards where necessary. Stations could be very simple. This is a shovel-ready, shovel-worthy project that is an ideal candidate for infrastructure spending.

The City of Abbotsford is already planning to support a 2010 light rail demonstration project.

By investing in light rail today, we will be one step closer to a comprehensive network connecting the entire Fraser Valley.

John Buker,
Rail For The Valley


Valley light rail an obvious transit solution
Abbotsford News
Published: February 28, 2009 12:00 PM
Editor, The News: I refer to Light Rail Transit (LRT) service between Chilliwack and Vancouver.

It is about time.

Think about it – the government want to erect a huge bridge to entice more road traffic and of course collect more carbon taxes, planning to replace a bridge that still has years of life left.

Just think, the money set aside for the bridge and all its problem, such as tolls, could be diverted to the LRT service.

The LRT must have sufficient cars to operate a realistic schedule, one that will cover the rush hours. The LRT can use the SkyTrain bridge, all this requires is proper scheduling, the LRT would stop on the west side of the bridge, exchange passengers from the Coquitlam LRT and the sky train, then continue down the cut to the transportation centre in Vancouver, where passengers could continue by using either connecting Skytrain or bus.

This entire project is a no brainer. It is obvious, it is using our money in a proper fashion and will do exactly what the government wants – greatly reduce carbon pollution from autos.

I would further suggest that by setting up, at long last, a reliable transportation system that will bring about a major reduction to carbon pollution, then those people living in Hope and the rest of the province have the hurtful carbon tax rescinded entirely. Of course I would agree the tax be left in place covering the Lower Mainland, the area west of Hope.

Thanks Mr. Malcolm Johnston, please keep up the good work and show the cost benefits to both government and the people.

Even a stubborn government must agree with you.

R.C. Hawkes


Light rail an obvious solution
Abbotsford News
Published: February 21, 2009 12:00 PM
Editor, The News: The opinion piece (What worked then won’t work now, Feb. 17) by columnist Mark Rushton is simply based on a total ignorance of modern urban transport including modern light-rail.

Using existing railway trackage and rights-of-ways makes good sense as it dramatically reduces the cost of “rail” transit, and he should not consider it foolish.

The former BCE interurban route, still in use by the Souther Railway of BC, connects Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, and Vancouver. It would provide a good transportation link for the population centres South of the Fraser River at a fraction of the cost of commuter rail, SkyTrain or even new highways!

The interurban line would not just be a limited (5) in and (5) out service like the WestCoast Express, but provide a regularly scheduled half hourly (or even more frequent) rail service that has proven to attract the motorist from the car.

Commuter trains like the WCE, lack operating flexibility and are dated, being replaced where possible, by modern LRT tram-trains which have the ability to track-share with mainline railways.

In Karlshrue Germany, where commuter/passenger trains were replaced with LRT, ridership increased 479 per cent in just a few weeks!

Karlshrue now enjoys over 410 km. of tram-train route, with the longest journey being over 200 km, which travels through the sparsely populated Black Forest.

Modern LRT is the transit mode in the 21st century. LRT naysayers are long on rhetoric and short on facts and one would advise, them “read a book on the subject!”

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee
Delta


Valley rail more necessary than ever
Surrey Leader
Published: February 19, 2009
Everyone knows we can’t build our way out of congestion, yet we keep trying when other cities are building more light rail and high-speed trains. In Surrey, most people drive because the alternative either does not exist or is simply not good enough.

Major bus routes I took in Surrey and Langley are overflowing at rush hour, even after service increases – which means people want to use it. I spent enough time on transit in the Valley and in a car crossing the Port Mann on weekends to know that a comprehensive solution to our big, messy problem is complex, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.

The Gateway project, which will result in more pollution, sprawl and congestion, is the B.C. government’s answer to traffic chaos south of the Fraser leading up to the Port Mann Bridge.

If the intent is to create more space for cars (less congestion), the only way to achieve this is to provide more public transit in the form of light rail (LRT) and rapid bus.

LRT is incredibly cost-efficient and has positive effects on community development and the environment, which means my friends in the Valley will have a faster, friendlier and healthier trip.

In just two years, we can address the transportation aspect of heavy commuting with a restored interurban light rail system. I believe we must urge our leaders to take the initiative and give the south of Fraser region the level of public transit it so desperately needs.

Isn’t it time we start using 21st century tools for the 21st century? Rail for the Valley is necessary now more than ever.

Erika Rathje, North Vancouver


Fight Promised
Langley Times
Published: February 12, 2009
Editor: How does Gordon Campbell justify signing off on an entirely new Port Mann Bridge project costing more money? Who exactly is Gordon Campbell working for? It’s certainly not the citizens of B.C., that’s for sure. Campbell is going to be leaving a legacy of debt and dirty air. We in the Fraser Valley have been asking for light rail service on a rail line that is already there. Put our tax dollars into projects that matter – not some mega bridge.

There are areas all over the congested Lower Mainland that require attention. Why spend this kind of money on one project when there are other areas in dire need of transportation upgrades and alternatives?

Campbell is going to have a fight on his hands with this one!

Kim Mallory,
Chilliwack


More transit, not mega-bridges
Abbotsford News
Published: February 11, 2009
Editor, The News: The proposed new 10-lane Port Mann Bridge is a very bad idea.

We need frequent, efficient rail service from among the Fraser Valley communities and into Vancouver, not a mega-ridge.

For the difference in cost between the (originally proposed) twinned bridge and the wrongheaded mega-bridge, the province could easily fund an electrified interurban rail service from Vancouver to Chilliwack, with a new Fraser River rail bridge, as well as light rail transit lines in Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford, serving the Abbotsford International Airport.

The bridge, as currently proposed, will soon be clogged again with cars. Commuters and other travellers desperately need alternatives to automobile travel, not more lanes of an auto bridge.

Melissa Walter


Money better spent on improved transit
Chilliwack Progress
Published: February 09, 2009
Re: Replacing the Port Mann Bridge (Port Mann to be single 10-lane span, Progress, Feb. 6). The politicians just don’t seem to get the true meaning of “going green.” The announcement of this mega-project flies in the face of all the evidence that some form of integrated rail system should be the way to invest public money in the Lower Mainland, not a means to funnel even more vehicles (yes, including buses and taxi’s) across the Fraser River into Burnaby. The traffic congestion on Highway 1 west of the Port Mann is going to be of epic proportions come 2013.

Light rail expert Malcolm Johnston stated “the $1.8 billion dollar difference, from the original ‘twinned bridge’ concept to mega-bridge, would fund a deluxe electrified Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban, with a new Fraser River Rail Bridge, independent LRT lines in Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford, serving the Abbotsford International Airport!”

A TV news program last year claimed that within the Langley/Mission/Chilliwack ‘triangle’, it is thought 700,000 additional people are anticipated to live in 10 years time. We need to plan wisely for this increased population with more vision than just a “bigger bridge.” We need to take the pressure off the road system and encourage people to take Transit, but we have to make it attractive and easy for them to change their automobile-based habits of the last 50 years.

If the government is going to spend large sums of infrastructure dollars on transit, then surely a rail-based idea is what truly eco-aware visionaries would chose? Now is the time and the opportunity to do so.

Alison Maas
Sardis


Take a stand against new Port Mann Bridge plan
Published: February 09, 2009
The provincial government recently announced, out of the blue and with no public consultation whatsoever, an entirely new Port Mann bridge to be built (Port Mann to be single 10-lane span, Progress, Feb. 6). It will not be a twinned bridge, but a single 10-lane span, and the existing bridge will be unnecessarily torn down, only 45 years into its 75 year lifespan. There will be no light rail component on the new bridge when it is forecast to be completed in 2013. The project’s estimated cost is $3.3 billion. If recent megaprojects are any indication, this cost will likely rise substantially. Government spin that the bridge is designed to accomodate light rail “sometime in the future” is just that – spin. Another word is “deception.” Never in history has this type of bridge been built, and then at a later date had lanes taken away to accomodate light rail. It appears the BC government is trying to deceive the people of BC, who will likely be expected to pay the equivalent of about $1000 for every man, woman, and child in the province for this one single-minded project.

Every premier wants a legacy. But while governments the world over are now making wise investments in light rail infrastructure, in BC we are building bridges, and tearing them down. Meanwhile, the Interurban rail line sits there, waiting, mostly unused.

While the Pattullo Bridge and the Fraser River Rail Bridge are in true need of replacement, this mega-project, and the utterly wasteful demolition of the existing Port Mann Bridge, will leave the province bankrupt of money for these, and other, important and necessary improvements.

When will we get long-overdue passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley? Commuters are supposed to cheer the temporary relief of traffic congestion on the bridge, while the light rail needs of the valley, and the united pleas of residents across the region, are completely ignored. Outside of inner political circles, I have not heard a whole lot of cheering.

Citizens of the Fraser Valley, the Lower Mainland, and the rest of BC, we can not stand for this.

Contracts have not yet been signed. It is time for us to stand up and make government listen. John Buker
Rail for the Valley


Good transit service for family makes environmental sense
Langley Advance
January 16, 2009
Dear Editor, I have longed for better public transportation for a number of years.

If vehicles built for our current roads do not have difficulty, then they are held up or hit by other vehicles.

My import car seems to be built for ice and snow; it has rear-wheel drive, automatic four-wheel drive, and four-wheel and low-range four-wheel drive, yet I fear for my safety because of other drivers.

Some couples with young children have to spend a fortune to keep up with all the activities of their young family and the necessities of life.

We need public transportation that is affordable, sustainable, reliable (even when it snows), and safe.

It would be great if this public transportation could be interurban, going past universities, airports, shopping centres, workplaces, and needless to say, be close to homes.

Then we would have a choice in transportation most of the time.

We would also be cutting down on air pollution and be less stressed out when going from one place to another.

The best public transportation has already been suggested by a great number of people, and that is light, modern, interurban passenger rail.

Instead of spending billions for SkyTrain and having to spend billions more on more roads and bridges, passenger rail would be in the millions.

Yes, we would need a few more roads and bridges, but not as many, and we would cut down on road rage and clogged roads.

Bill Taylor, Langley


Get on board
Aldergrove Star
Published: December 31, 2008
Editor: Lots of snow, roads in chaos, no other transit alternative but to drive?

This winter, when appointments up and down the Fraser Valley must be kept, a diesel light-rail line operating on the old interurban route, from downtown to Vancouver, would have been a popular and very useful option.

Unlike the wheezy SkyTrain, that prefers to stay indoors when it snows, diesel LRT keeps going and going and going, just like that funny little bunny on TV.

A diesel light-rail line connecting Vancouver, South Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and selected points in between, would have provided an invaluable service for valley residents during our exceptional snowfall this year.

Yet, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon will have none of that, preferring to spend billions of dollars more on a pigmy metro system that has difficulty operating in the snow and apparently no one else wants.

So, when your tires are spinning in the snow, with roads and highways clogged, take some time and write Mr. Falcon and Premier Campbell too; a letter asking why they refuse to invest in a viable diesel LRT Interurban line for the Fraser Valley.

Malcolm Johnston, Delta


TransLink shows anti LRT bias
Langley Advance
Published: Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Dear Editor, Ken Hardie, TransLink’s top spin doctor, is at it again, with his TransLink Speak – long on rhetoric and short on facts [SkyTrain not the only option, Nov. 28 Letters, Langley Advance].

TransLink has indeed blindly adopted SkyTrain as a preferred rail mode, as they have done everything in their power to dismiss modern LRT.

Hardie errs in suggesting that TransLink did not choose SkyTrain for the Millennium Line; it did, when the then NDP promised to pay the newly formed TransLink two thirds of only-SkyTrain construction west of Commercial Drive in Vancouver, if they opted for the light-metro!

There was little real public consultation with residents along the Canada Line, as TransLink remained deaf and dumb. The many lawsuits TransLink faces with disgruntled merchants and residents along the Canada Line route is testament to lack of or phoney consultation practice.

Hardie fiddles the truth, claiming strong support from SkyTrain supporters along the Evergreen Line. Port Moody residents actually voted for light rail in a referendum three years ago.

Gerald Fox, a noted American transit expert, easily shredded the so-called Evergreen Line SkyTrain business case, as TransLink “made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain.”

Further, Fox said, “It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding.”

SkyTrain is an obsolete light-metro, that has found very few takers, and yet has to prove in revenue service that it can achieve the same standards of service as modern LRT.

Being around the regional transit wars for over 20 years, I see history repeating itself again with TransLink’s involvement with regional transit planning in the Fraser Valley and their anti-LRT bias.

Malcolm Johnston,
Light Rail Committee


SkyTrain not the only option
Langley Advance
Published: November 28, 2008
Dear Editor, We see another missive from light rail advocate Malcolm Johnson in your in your online edition [Abby rail plan applauded, Nov. 24 Letters, www.langleyadvance.com], and it is timely that we respond to some of the points he raises.

Mr. Johnson’s implication that TransLink has blindly adopted SkyTrain technology is at best erroneous and at worst mischievous.

It should be pointed out that the technology choices of SkyTrain for our two existing lines were made by provincial governments long before TransLink was created. The choice of technology for the Canada Line was made collaboratively by the region and the province, based on consultation with the communities and by the service specifications necessary to move large numbers of people along a well-established corridor.

LRT was a serious consideration for the Evergreen Line, but there was strong opposition from SkyTrain supporters in the community that Mr. Johnson himself tried unsuccessfully to overcome.

Looking ahead to rapid transit expansion South of Fraser, TransLink joins many who believe the type of system chosen should reflect the needs of the public and its ‘fit’ with the community.

As such, SkyTrain, while proven to be an extremely efficient way to move large numbers of people, is not in any way, shape, or form assumed to be the only choice. Indeed, we join with many, including Mr. Johnson, in believing that LRT’s time has come.

Ken Hardie,
TransLink Communication


Transportation: Study announcement disappointing
Langley Advance
Published: November 27, 2008
Dear Editor, The BC Ministry of Transportation has today announced a Fraser Valley transit study, to be completed in late 2009. [visit

Rail For The Valley is extremely disappointed with both the timeline and the scope of the study. A study of the entire Interurban line was first promised last January, following public outrage in the Fraser Valley to the provincial government's $14 billion transit plan. Now it is November, and the government is again announcing the same study, which now appears to be a scaled-back version looking only at existing and projected travel patterns in the Fraser Valley Regional District. This study appears set up for failure, by only considering FVRD travel patterns.

The study will look at the viability of commuter rail along the Interurban line. We're not asking for commuter rail on the Interurban line. We're asking for an inexpensive Interurban light rail service to be implemented as soon as possible. You don't need a $400,000 feasibility study for that.

Light rail experts within Rail For The Valley need to be at the table, and not simply part of a general public consultation. The study is to be completed in late 2009, after the provincial election.

That is not acceptable. An Interurban study was announced last January. We would expect a result before the election. We wonder if the Ministry of Transportation has still not gotten the memo from voters across the Fraser Valley.

Rail For The Valley will request a meeting with Premier Gordon Campbell, following extraordinary municipal election results in the communities of the Fraser Valley. The municipal elections have proven there is overwhelming support for Interurban passenger rail from the nearly 1 million residents living here. Voters have sent a strong message to the province and we need to take this support directly to the premier. There is now a clear mandate across the valley.

We are confident that the premier will appreciate the need to meet to discuss such an important issue to Valley residents. We want to work with him to address this transportation need.

John Buker,
Rail For The Valley


Rail can work
Mission City Record
Published: November 26, 2008
Editor, The Record: Re: Why the Interurban won't work, Nov. 20 edition

There is much to find fault with in Kurt Langmann's column.

The full length of the Interurban ride between Chilliwack and downtown Vancouver may have been three hours back in 1910, but not a century later with modern LRT, and most importantly far fewer stations in rural areas.

It's true that the Interurban route travels extensively through the ALR, but so does Highway 1. Langmann's claim that most of the route between Chilliwack and Langley is almost as sparsely populated as it was a century ago, is meaningless. What matters is the population around the stations and a short drive or bike ride away, as well as having transit routes efficiently linked up to stations on the rail spine, instead of meandering uselessly and at great cost every which way through the suburbs as they often do today.

Abbotsford is now one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. Langmann proposes we wait for government to "finally get around to building a commuter rail line into the Fraser Valley as far as Chilliwack" (current estimates to build such a line are 25-30 years from now). In the meanwhile we would spend more untold billions on road infrastructure to service all the new automobile-based development that would occur without any rail network in place.

Or, we could prudently chart a sustainable course, starting right now. An initial light rail service could be up and running in two short years on an upgraded track that already exists, on a right-of-way that we own, at a very low cost to taxpayers. Langmann himself agrees there would be no technical problem in accommodating such a revival. Such a service could be extended using existing rail the short distance to Mission. Municipal elections have sent a clear message that this is what the valley wants. Will our provincial government now listen?

Of course, it is doubtful that this Interurban service would stop at stations out in the "boonies" for Langmann. I have a feeling though, that these neighbours, besides taking the train occasionally anyway, might be quite appreciative of all the extra money saved in taxes on future infrastructure spending, that they could spend instead on their old favourite hobbies of once upon a time.

John Buker
Rail For The Valley


Readers defend Interurban
Aldergrove Star
Published: November 26, 2008
Editor: Re: Aldergrove Star editorial Nov. 20, "Why the Interurban Won't Work"

The Interurban was conceived a century ago to provide comparatively reliable, rapid freight and passenger transportation up and down the Fraser Valley, thereby allowing the hinterland to feed Vancouver, the exploitation and use of the dense stands of timber in the valley, provision of a rail inter-tie with the American rail system at Huntington/Sumas and the impetus for the initial electrification of the Valley.

The portion from Brownsville (Scott Road) to Chilliwack was just a portion of a major investor owned, for profit system which serviced Steveston, Richmond, Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster.

The largest physical challenge to this project was Sumas Prairie or Lake Sumas, which forced the rail line along the mountain on the south side, thus making a very circuitous trip to Chilliwack. This area was subsequently drained and turned into viable farmland via the Vedder canal system.

While I will readily concede the Abbotsford-Chilliwack portion of the BCER as it presently stands would not provide the timely service required between these two points, a point to point version somewhat parallel to the current Highway 1 might be more appropriate.

However, the portion from Scott Road through to Abbotsford transects the north centre of Surrey, the Langleys and through to Abbotsford.

Many educational entities such as the Kwantlen and Trinity Western universities are steps off this right of way and it would service the Gloucester Industrial Estates, which as the largest commercial estate in Langley is not serviced at all by public transit.

If the BCER had been left intact as a passenger mover, the entire Fraser Valley would have had the housing inventory developed differently.

The current traffic-jammed, north-south model corridor between 200 and 208 streets from Brookswood to Port Kells would either not exist or would have had a rail component as the heart of same with an inter-tie to the current BCER.

There were two main east/west transportation corridors in the south Fraser Valley other than the Fraser River itself: the Fraser Highway (or old Yale Road) and the Interurban.

I want you to imagine how reliable a transportation route the road system was after weeks of rain and prior to modern roadbed building methods and asphalt paving processes.

The BCER of old took a leisurely two hours and 56 minutes to complete a run consisting of 57 separate stops. A proposed passenger run from Abbotsford to Scott Road would be 35 minutes with 4-6 stops.

Park and ride facilities and inter-ties with the conventional bus system would have to be planned and built.

Why would signaling be an issue? Gates would come down at every protected crossing and a 5-car train would pass in the same amount of time it takes the gates to engage/disengage.

The longer residents of the valley take to use the BCER Right of Way, an asset of the citizens of B.C., the more difficult it will be to integrate it into the fibre of current and future communities.

With communities south of the Fraser planning for the addition of 500,000 more inhabitants over the next 20 years, communities planned around a rail infrastructure are a must.

We are in the twilight of the petroleum age; the current lower gas prices just a temporary blip in the steep upward curve of worldwide oil demand and usage.

The mad rush to complete the Olympic venues is over and costs for construction commodites have decreased substantially over the past few months.

Now is the time to bring a revitalized InterUrban Light Rail passenger system back to life when it can be designed and implemented at comparatively bargain prices.

Lee Lockwood,
Aldergrove


Readers defend Interurban
Aldergrove Star
Published: November 26, 2008
Editor: Your opinion piece, "Why the Interurban won't work," may have been true in the 1970s but not in the 21st century.

The present Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban route is a viable proposition and would be a transit showcase in providing an inexpensive rail alternative in smaller towns.

The three-hour interurban Vancouver to Chilliwack ride quoted included numerous long stops for mail and freight, not just passengers.

Modern diesel LRT, with stops at Sardis, Yarrow, and Huntingdon, would provide a fast intercity service, with speeds up to 90 kph on some sections.

The same would be true from Vancouver to Abbotsford.

The old "not enough density" cliche is used again, yet those who claim that there isn't enough density, never say what density is needed.

One tires of this anti-LRT nonsense.

What a reinstated interurban, using diesel LRT (not to be confused with commuter trains or DMUs) will bring to the Fraser Valley is a cheap rail alternative that can grow with ridership.

A basic 30 minute Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban service, connecting Surrey, Cloverdale, Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack, could be had for about $500 million; a deluxe service for about $1 billion.

By comparison, $1 billion buys less than nine kms of SkyTrain.

Many European countries operate privately owned light railways on comparable routes and certainly we can too.

Malcolm Johnston,
Light Rail Committee,
Delta


Transportation: Abby rail plan applauded
Langley Advance
Published: November 24, 2008
Dear Editor, The Light Rail Committee applauds the City of Abbotsford decision to accept a recommendation to implement a light rail demonstration project!

Such forward thinking is rare in the region, and it's time for the cities of Surrey, Langley, and Chilliwack to get on board 'the train'.

Transportation Minister and Premier are mesmerised with the hugely expensive, now obsolete SkyTrain light-metro system and treat modern LRT as a poor-man's SkyTrain.

Yet, who builds with SkyTrain? No one in north America and Europe, it seems.

In a letter to a B.C. transit group, Gerald Fox, a highly respected American transit expert, easily shredded TransLink's Evergreen Line 'SkyTrain' business case which Campbell and Falcon loudly applaud.

Fox found "several instances where the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain."

He summed up, "It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding. In the U.S., all new transit projects that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of transit peers selected and monitored by the federal government, to ensure that projects are analysed honestly, and the taxpayers' interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US."

Valley politicians must stand up to Falcon's bully-boy tactics of forcing more hugely expensive SkyTrain onto the region.

To date, almost $6 billion dollars have been spent on SkyTrain, not including RAV, which will add another $2.5 billion to the total.

Despite all this, the percentage of people using public transit has remained at just over 11 per cent for the past decade and a half.

No wonder TransLink's board is a Liberal-appointed cabal, afraid of public scrutiny. TransLink is a Pandora's box of tax and spend policies, wildly applauded by Campbell and Falcon.

Malcolm Johnston,
Delta


Community rail is a dream bigger than buses
Chilliwack Progress
Published: November 18, 2008
Editor: The editorial “On the right track?” was very selective, if not somewhat inaccurate regarding the issue of community rail for the Fraser Valley. Let’s not confuse a commuter rail system to Vancouver with a community rail system to serve the Fraser Valley. The current population of the Fraser Valley communities from Surrey to Chilliwack is projected to top 1 million people by 2014. As most current vehicle trips originate and terminate within the Fraser Valley, a reliable, efficient transportation system is needed to move these citizens within this region for work, education, recreation, shopping and healthcare. Certainly, a connecting hub to the Skytrain system would be useful and welcome, but it is not essential.

The jobs that can brought to Abbotsford and Chilliwack will be made more attractive to all Fraser Valley residents if we had a first class transit system to serve this region.

Community rail will encourage development around the stations located in existing neighbourhoods which will discourage the urban sprawl and help preserve our inventory of valuable farm land.

In Abbotsford and Chilliwack, we once had a “slick rail line” at our feet. It allowed our citizens to travel throughout the Fraser Valley, and yes, to Vancouver. With a short walk to the downtown Abbotsford Station, a citizen had the freedom to travel on the longest interurban line in Canada. We gave it all away in 1950 in exchange for $40,000 in road improvements. What a great deal that was!

Now is the time for us to dream bigger than buses on roadways and make our political leaders understand that Fraser Valley Community Rail is the best long term solution to our transit needs.

Don Davis
Yarrow


Lack of rail option holding people back from the valley
Chilliwack Progress
Published: November 17, 2008
I would to give you a very personal perspective, relating to the proposal for Light Rail Transit to be introduced to the Fraser Valley. Myself and my wife have lived in downtown Vancouver for the past 5 years and are proud that we have made our efforts to guard this great earth from the various toxins that threaten it ...by not buying a car and instead using public transport to commute to work in Burnaby.

Like so many others, the escalating cost of living has resulted in our decision to move out into the Valley where housing is still relatively affordable.

I have investigated every possible way that I might be able to use public transit to get to work in Burnaby, however there is quite simply no option for me, but to buy a car and create one more stationary vehicle on the route 1 every morning and evening, pumping fumes into the atmosphere for 3 hours every day (not to mention directing a healthy part of our disposable income on running the darn thing!) .

For a government that does a great job of pretending to care about the environment and it’s people it blows my mind that they would not put all of their efforts behind a project such as this, which not only provides a great solution to the regular, hard-working folks of Vancouver, but also the planet we all share.

James Murphy
Vancouver


Support for rail overwhelming
The Chilliwack Times
Published: November 14, 2008
Editor: It is positive news for Chilliwack residents that in response to the Rail for the Valley questionnaire, virtually all of our local municipal candidates are now supportive of the need to establish passenger rail service.

Abbotsford city council last week gave its support to such a service, as Surrey has already, and Langley is on the verge of doing.

Recognizing the clear sentiment across the valley even Gordon Campbell recently reversed his position leaving little doubt that rail is coming.

Nevertheless, we still need to send a strong message in Chilliwack on Saturday that we'd like to accept Abbotsford's partnership in creating passenger rail for the valley and there is nothing significant that stands in the way of reaching this goal that can't easily be overcome with due diligence.

I encourage everyone to vote for those candidates who support passenger rail on Nov. 15 and to remember the councillors who stand for re-election that choose to ignore the public will and did nothing whatsoever to implement a service while every other community in the valley did.

William Chambers,
Chilliwack


Back to the future of passenger rail
Abbotsford News
Published: November 8, 2008
The date is September 30th, and a rail passenger train arrives in Chilliwack. This train makes a regular trip to and from Vancouver and connects the communities of Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack. This vital transportation link has proven to be an effective and efficient method to move people around the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. These trains are powered by electricity – the greenest power source available to us today. The fares are reasonable and the service is available 7 days a week. What a great statement this would be in the year 2008. HOWEVER, This train didn’t arrive in Chilliwack on September 30th 2008; the year is 1950. And this was the last day of service of the BC Electric Interurban electric passenger trains in the Fraser Valley.

Soon after this day, the overhead trolley wires were torn down, the rail cars were either sold, scrapped or pushed on to their sides and torched. Now, everyone south of the Fraser River had to take a bus or drive their car if they wanted to travel.

It would be 35 years before Surrey would once again be connected to Vancouver with an electric passenger train – we know it as the SkyTrain - and nearly 45 years before the Westcoast Express train service began to shuttle commuters between Mission and Vancouver.

Why should we support the return of Fraser Valley Community Rail?

Cities and countries all over the world have invested and continue to invest in rail transit. Investing in transportation infrastructure is always a long term decision – whether it be for roads or rail. The question that we have to ask ourselves is what will be the best way to move people in the future? The private automobile operating on larger highways is not a sustainable solution in the long term.

Studies have shown that rail transit is usually preferred over road transit. Trains are fast comfortable and GREEN. When people see rails in the ground, they see commitment to a transit system. Buses can be added and they can be taken away but trains are here to stay.

The Fraser Valley continues to grow.

When the interurban passenger service was terminated, the population of the Fraser Valley was approximately 75,000. The current population is around 850,000 and is predicted to top 1 million by 2014.

The right of way and tracks are still in place. The current freight rail service is operated by the Southern Railway of BC – however, the provincial government, through BC Hydro, owns the right of way and continues to own the right to operate passenger service on the line.

Community Rail will reconnect the communities of the Fraser Valley with a system that will encourage more concentrated development along the spine of the line with connecting transit to serve existing neighbourhoods. Further urban sprawl can be put in check and our shrinking inventory of valuable agricultural land can be preserved.

The cost to upgrade the line to current light rail passenger standards would be approximately $6 million per kilometer. This is cheap. Let’s compare this to the cost of the RAV line - $105 million per kilometer and the proposed line to UBC – over $233 million per kilometer.

What can we do today to support Fraser Valley Community Rail? Do your own research. Check out the websites for VALTAC; RAIL FOR THE VALLEY; SOUTH FRASER ON TRAX and FRASER VALLEY HERITAGE RAILWAY SOCIETY.

We need to engage our politician at all levels and convince them of the worthiness of this investment in our future. We have to start with the local cities and municipalities and challenge the candidates running for positions in the upcoming elections to commit to this vision of community rail.

We need to engage our MLAs, who also will soon be facing the voters next May, to look beyond the next 4 years and vision the next 40 years for transportation in the Fraser Valley. With the combined support of the provincial and municipal governments, the work to lobby the Federal Government for infrastructure funding has a greater chance of success. The current governing party has representation in all of the communities that will be served by Fraser Valley Community Rail. This is a unique opportunity to engage and encourage Federal Government support for this plan.

The goal of creating Fraser Valley Community Rail will be achieved with the interest and support of citizens like you. This system doesn’t have to be just a dream about the future or a pleasant memory about the past. Listen for the call of the conductor: “ALL A BOARD” Let’s all climb on this project and ride it through all communities of the Fraser Valley proclaiming that our future includes rail transit, and the future of rail transit is now.

Don Davis
Yarrow


Politicians must back rail
Langley Advance
Published: Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Dear Editor, I find it difficult to celebrate Kevin Falcon's announced transit plan with my MLA, Mary Polak.

While there are some exciting developments, nothing will be improved for those travelling east.

Thus, there is a choice between a four-hour round trip commute to Abbotsford by bus, or a one-hour alternative in a car. The latter remains the easiest decision for commuters to make (that is, if they have money for a vehicle, something many students like myself don't have).

While my 30-year-old self will be pleased to ride a rapid articulated bus to Surrey in 10 years, he will still be wasting half his day whenever he decides to visit Abbotsford. (Or perhaps by that time I will join hundreds of thousands of commuters clogging up our new bridges and highways in our guilt-free, non-polluting vehicles, because even after pollution, congestion will remain.)

Valley Transportation Advisory Committee (VALTAC), Rail for the Valley, and South Fraser OnTrax are all groups that are advocating a cheaper transportation solution that connects Langley with Surrey, but even more important to many, Langley to the rest of the Valley.

The solution is rail.

There are complications, though none that couldn't be resolved with serious consideration and $14 billion.

Ten more years on top of the decades spent without a car alternative is unacceptable.

These groups have done much of the groundwork; all that is needed now is some political will.

Nathan Moes, Langley


Future is in our hands
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Editor: In light of the current financial meltdown and the associated difficulties worldwide, it is critical we make the right choices for political leadership, be it federal, provincial or municipal.

We have seen a gradual decline of our municipality from its once rural charm, productive farmland and those glorious tree-covered hillsides into a developers' paradise, something resembling Burnaby. Abbotsford is well on its way and the transformation of Promontory, almost stripped of its tree cover, has all the earmarks of things to come unless we start taking matters into hand.

Questions we must ask of municipal candidates must focus on how they perceive and control future development, safeguarding our hillsides and farmland.

Secondly, how they would address the expanding use of drugs, drug trade and related crime.

Lastly, the use of clean, affordable transportation to Vancouver for Fraser Valley residents. Much research has gone into "rail for the valley" and could be put into operation for a fraction of Campbell's proposal to spend billions on Vancouver transportation. Most municipalities from Hope to Vancouver support rail for the valley, with Chilliwack a noticeable exception. We need a council that will support this and not the foot-dragging delay offered by Campbell.

Hopefully, we will see a good turn-out to the all-candidate meetings and hopefully with well-prepared questions.

Solms Coutinho
Chilliwack


New tourist revenue
The Chilliwack Times
Published: October 14, 2008
Editor: There is some confusion about what a reinstated interurban service would be, with many believing it would be a commuter railway like the West Coast Express. It definitely will not be, rather it will operate more like an European light railway, offering a regular scheduled service throughout the day and not a limited one-way in and one-way out service like the WCE.

It is essential that the new interurban service connects directly to Vancouver, because it omits a time consuming transfer with SkyTrain at Scott Road. It is the direct (no transfer service) that will attract customers to the train and a direct service from Scott Road to Vancouver would save the customer at least 30 minutes.

A direct service from Vancouver to Abbotsford and Chilliwack will invite a new tourist venue for those 'stuck' in Vancouver with limited travel options. Imagine 4,000 or 5,000 tourists a day, coming by the interurban, wandering the streets of Abbotsford and Chilliwack in the summer; a sure boom for local businesses.

For the locals, a regularly scheduled tram/train service, with city centre destinations in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley and Vancouver will ensure the new rail service, for many, be an attractive alternative to the car.

A reinstated interurban is just not a commuter railway, but a local railway that will bring prosperity to all businesses along its route, as well as a viable alternative for driving.

There is no need for further studies, rather it is time for action and have the rail service in operation in two years time. Why is Kevin Falcon, the Fraser Valley Regional District and politicians so afraid of success? Could it be that they just want to build roads instead?

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee
Delta


Rail best option for Valley transit
Surrey Leader
Published: October 07, 2008
Gordon Park's letter of Sept. 30 fails to point out why SkyTrain out into the Fraser Valley is completely impossible. Costing at least $100 million/km to build, it is far and away too expensive as a realistic transit option all the way to Chilliwack. In contrast, a modern light rail system on the old Inter-urban line would cost between $10-50 million/km. Conflicts with the bustling CP/CN network could be easily avoided by double-tracking all or part of the line.

Like the old Inter-urban line, the Highway 1 corridor also meanders through sparsely populated farmland. But the Inter-urban right-of-way goes straight through almost every major Fraser Valley community on its way to Chilliwack, something the Highway 1 corridor definitely does not do.

In short, the Inter-urban line is a perfectly positioned, highly adaptable rail line that is comparatively cheap in comparison to SkyTrain.

One thing Mr. Park and I do agree on however, is that rail transit is a badly needed fix for the traffic-choked highways south of the Fraser.

Corey Newcomb


Will MP Fast deliver some infrastructure funding here?
The Abbotsford Times
Published: September 16, 2008
EDITOR, THE TIMES: Following is a letter I sent to Abbotsford MP Ed Fast:

The Sept. 4 Province offered an interesting list of taxpayer dollars going to various urban areas. I was particularly attracted to the $4 billion going to Quebec City for "infrastructure funding."

My first question is, since it sounds like the province was a part donor in this largesse: what is the exact amount pledged by the federal government toward Quebec City's infrastructure funding?

My second question is: Is Abbotsford on the list to receive any federal funding for transit alternatives, in particular, regional inter-urban options? Regina Dalton,
Abbotsford


Rail is the way to go
Langley Advance
Published: September 16, 2008
Dear Editor, B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon hinted the government may look at light rail for the south of the Fraser region, but otherwise his letter of May 16 [Studies promised for light rail option, Letters to the Editor, Langley Advance] resembled a barrel full of words, signifying nothing.

It is frustrating to live in the South Fraser, where the only alternative mode of travel is fuel-guzzling buses, when Vancouver is building a $2.5-billion tram line and hinting at another billion-plus line which will probably be called the B.C. Line. Watch for all the flags to appear at these various opening ceremonies.

This is taxpayers’ money the government is scattering around – see the convention centre’s cost overrun.

The frustration is building to a point of excited delirium, which is a modernism for totally p***ed off.

I hear worries about ridership.

Of course, the line would have long stretches where it would pass through farmland. This is where it makes up its time.

We in the valley do not want farmland along the track to be used up with strip development. The commuter rail has to be used as a connector between built-up centres, and not for stopping every mile or so along the way. It would be silly in the extreme to think of it otherwise.

This corridor goes close by every university in the Fraser Valley. These would be convenient stopping places, for a start. Our education centres would be vastly enhanced by making it easier for students to travel to and from without the payout for cars and gas.

There is no need to wait until the whole valley is filled with development. The centres are there now, on or near the rail line. Fraser Highway is a strip development now, and the freeway has very little development at all.

I’m sure there are sneaky ways of expanding ridership, as was done on the RAV line, so fire the undemocratic TransLink board (which has been done before) and get on with it. The board is not comprised of transportation experts. They are un-elected appointees who will do as the government wishes.

R. Espin, Langley


Rail would make it easier to visit
Chilliwack Times
Published: September 16, 2008
Editor: Rail for the Valley is very much needed. I’m a Surrey resident, wishing for the opportunity to visit family in Chilliwack. Let’s make it a reality.

L. Johannes
Surrey


Politicians uninterested in rail solutions for the valley
Chilliwack Progress
Published: September 15, 2008
I attended a public meeting in Chilliwack at the seniors’ rec centre hosted by VALTAC (www.valtac.org ) on Sept. 13 and was rather disappointed that not one politician (municipal, provincial, federal) was in attendance representing the voter. There were a few there trying to get votes for the mayor’s position, but no one actually representing the people who would like to see some affirmative action on the pollution problem. Too bad, it was a chance to score some points with the voters. I suppose VALTAC was correct when it stated that governments (especially municipal and provincial) really aren’t interested with lowering pollution and getting people out of their vehicles. The presentation demonstrated how cost effective light rail is and how easily it could be put into service from Chilliwack to Surrey. But hey, you fellows aren’t interested in saving money or implementing ideas that would work and actually get people out of their vehicles, just doing it the easy way and taxing the voter seems to be the answer all governments have to answering the pollution problem or any problem for that matter.

If governments are actually serious about pollution and getting people out of their vehicles light rail transportation is a viable and inexpensive solution that would work for the Fraser Valley.

Rick Macleod


Gateway to global warming coming
Chilliwack Times
Published: September 12, 2008
Editor: Gordon Campbell’s government is planning a devastating development debacle known as the Gateway Project, which is commonly called the “Gateway to Global Warming.” This is due to it inducing car-dependent suburban sprawl and further traffic gridlock, seriously degrading Burns Bog (a carbon sink and “lungs” of the Lower Mainland) and the Fraser River estuary, and paving over fertile ALR farmland. Not to mention it is totally contradicting the GVRD’s democratic community planning process, the Livable Region Strategic Plan, and will cost at least $3 to 4.5 billion to implement.

Instead of this destructive development project, B.C. citizens deserve a healthier future with wiser transportation alternatives, particularly a revived light rail service from Vancouver to Chilliwack, which is both practical, economical, and absolutely necessary right now! Most of the rail line is already in place and could easily be upgraded and put to use.

The present government having been empowered by corporate funding interests is not answerable to the public and has no interest in such commonsense, sustainable options.

We need to plan for a transition away from automobile-centred societies, and therefore this election season, more and more people are demanding that the Fraser Valley needs rail now!

Nathan Loewen


Go heavy on light rail transit
Surrey Leader
Published: September 11, 2008
Imagine boarding a tram in downtown Chilliwack and alighting in downtown Vancouver, about 90 minutes later, with the tram stopping for passengers in Sardis, Abbotsford, Langley, Cloverdale and Surrey. Such a service, called the Interurban, operated over a half century ago. In an age of peak oil and massive traffic congestion, why would such a service not succeed today?

The tracks are there; the vehicles are easily obtainable; yet there is a complete lack of political and bureaucratic will to make it happen. Why?

The only answer is very unpleasant, either politicians and bureaucrats are woefully ignorant about modern LRT or they want to spend the taxpayers hard earned money on hugely expensive, glitzy metro projects that benefit only Vancouver.

Modern diesel LRT cars and track refurbishment, would cost less than $10 million/km for reinstating the Interurban from Vancouver to Chilliwack. By comparison, the SkyTrain metro system costs over $100 million/km to build.

Today in Germany, a transit customer can board a tram on the street in downtown Heilbronn and debark on the street in downtown Karlsruhe, some 90 km away, with the tram acting as a streetcar, light rail vehicle, and commuter train and operating on various trackage including mainline railways, through the very rural countryside.

The same customer could, if he/she wished, enjoy a coffee and croissant in the “bistro” car.

There is no reason, except for political and bureaucratic ineptitude, that such a service couldn’t operate in the Lower Mainland.

Mr. Falcon, join the 21st century generation.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee
Delta


Time for a rail link is now
Hope Standard
Published: September 10, 2008
The list of people, businesses and communities that would benefit from a light rail system in the Fraser Valley is extensive and fairly obvious. Why, therefore, do our elected representatives keep ignoring, deriding, or trying to refute it? Is it because of vested interests and lobbyists for the existing infrastructure, as in roads, bridges, fuel suppliers, automotive industry, Translink rhetoric? It can’t be because it is too new and innovative or off the wall. It has been done after all and is still being done, very successfully, in Europe and England. It should be seen as a win-win proposal. The Valley is a wonderful place to live, but not if the commute is too long, the cost is too high, and the public transit available is a joke. Then there is the danger of long commutes to the lives of drivers and passengers. On top of that, the proposed carbon tax as it stands seeks to punish vehicular traffic without offering a viable alternative to it. If workers could live in a clean safe environment, work for a sustainable wage, and not have to shoulder stress of commuting, and expense of running a vehicle, as well as the loss of family time, then congestive, high-density living in big cities could become a thing of the past. Economically, socially, environmentally, whatever “ally” you want, light rail connecting the small, isolated communities that are strung along an arbitrary black line on a map, seems like a good thing. Government studies have been done, results are suspiciously sparse and largely identical, and provable, satisfactory reasons for this are not. Independent studies, by reputable, experienced people, asking the people who live and work in the area, are dismissed with a similar lack of valid reason. Elections are looming, municipal, provincial, and federal. These issues should be part of the platform for any candidate who wants to attract a comfortable voter margin. Grassroots movements like this are the way democratic governments access the will of the people. If they don’t, the people will teach them at the polls. See ya there!

Terry & Eva Kristoff
Chilliwack


No celebration here
Aldergrove Star
Published: September 10, 2008
Editor: I find it difficult to celebrate Kevin Falcon’s announced transit plan. While there are some exciting developments, for those travelling east nothing will be improved. Thus, the choice between a four-hour round trip commute to UFV in Abbotsford by bus or a one hour alternative in a car remains the easiest decision for commuters to make (that is, if they have money for a vehicle, something many students like myself don’t have).

While my 30-year-old self will be pleased to ride rapid articulated bus to Surrey in 10 years, I will still be wasting half my day whenever I decide to visit Abbotsford.

Or perhaps by that time I will join hundreds of thousands of commuters clogging up our new bridges and highways in our guilt-free non-polluting vehicles. Even after pollution, congestion will still remain.

Valley Transportation Advisory Committee (VALTAC), Rail for the Valley and South Fraser OnTrax are all groups which are advocating a cheaper transportation solution that connects Langley with Surrey, but even more important to many, Langley to the rest of the Valley.

The solution is rail. There are complications, though none that couldn’t be resolved with serious consideration and $14 billion. Ten more years on top of the decades spent without a car alternative is unacceptable. These groups have done much of the groundwork; all that is needed now is some political will.

Nathan Moes, Langley


Rail service desperately needed in the Valley
Abbotsford News
Published: September 10, 2008
Editor: The Fraser Valley has a population of around 800,000, and still we have inadequate public transportation into the Lower Mainland. We absolutly need passenger rail service to Vancouver.

A plan to utilize the already in place railway tracks would help to solve our terrible traffic problem and make ourselves a more environmentally conscious place.

I am thinking of moving away from Abbotsford and into expensive Vancouver simply because the stress, cost and responsibility of having a vehicle to commute is too much. With proper train service, I would not have this problem.

Evan Sharpe,
Abbotsford


Dear editor, The Provincial Government is pushing forward with major transportation projects in the region, including funded plans for rapid transit and various studies. With the cost of fuel rising beyond what the Government used in its planning tools and reports for Gateway, the urgent need for frequent, reliable, effective public transit service is becoming clear. While living in the Fraser Valley, it became clear to me that what is needed there and everywhere is a frequent, reliable, and accessible, grid-based transportation network. At the moment we have a backbone of SkyTrain that is fed by unreliable, slow buses. Campbell wants to expand that SkyTrain at a cost that is mind-blowing. His government and TransLink refuse to seriously consider and take action toward building/resurrecting passenger rail in the region, a grand step toward what we envision will be a light rail grid network in the Valley. Until Highway 1 was considered to render it redundant, a passenger rail service from Vancouver to Chilliwack, the Interurban, operated for 40+ years with a population much smaller than today. From 1910 with 18,000 people in the Fraser Valley, to the 1950s with 80,000, it served commuters and the agricultural business. Today with 10 times the population (800,000) the Government believes our density and population is lacking in order to run a similar service. Meanwhile they’re able to justify an unnecessary and highly costly SkyTrain expansion.

It is absolutely urgent, for the sustainability of this region, for ridership, and for transit oriented development that we reinstate the Interurban service in the Fraser Valley. The cost is low while the benefits are very high. The time is now to change our direction and make a rail-based course for the future. The tracks are there; all that is needed now is political will.

Please visit railforthevalley.com for more info on the Rail for the Valley campaign and its partner organizations.

Erika Rathje


Need new leaders with vision – and open minds to valley rail
Abbotsford Times
Published: September 09, 2008
EDITOR, THE TIMES: With those irritating Environmental Assessments out of the way, it appears that the provincial government will twin the Port Mann Bridge, effectively stimulating and reinforcing the trend toward unsustainable automobile oriented development in the Fraser Valley.

Concurrently, very little in the way of transit options is planned for the valley. There is talk of eventual RapidBus connections to Chilliwack with dedicated bus lanes, and SkyTrain to Langley at some point in a future so distant it’s almost irrelevant.

Nowhere is there any money being committed to sustainable, effective transit options for the Fraser Valley today.

The Rail for the Valley campaign is now a year old and still going strong. It continues to advocate the most sensible and realistic transit option around, and that is reactivating the old Interurban corridor with passenger rail service from Chilliwack to Surrey.

The old Interurban corridor connects all the major urban centres (the Valley was settled around the Interurban) as well as many of the post-secondary institutions.

It is a practical solution for residents of the Fraser Valley that would provide an alternative to driving and yet authorities continue to pussyfoot around the issue.

A study on transit options for the South Fraser region is promised, but not to be delivered until after the provincial election.

Abbotsford council will be issued with a report on the feasibility of passenger rail in October. Let’s make sure this issue doesn’t get stalled any longer and use the upcoming elections, municipal and provincial, to elect politicians with vision. Vote for people who understand the long term and immediate benefits of re-activating the Interurban corridor.

Daniel van der Kroon,
Abbotsford, UFV student


Rail system would be good start
Abbotsford News
Published: September 08, 2008
Editor, The News: I’m an Abbotsford resident who currently commutes to Chilliwack during the work week.

For both work and leisure, I feel forced to take my car on Highway One and am guilty of guzzling an unsustainable and expensive amount of fossil fuel that further pollutes the air.

I understand B.C. air to be generally good, but the air in the Fraser Valley to be the worst, so the problem really hits home.

Gordon Campbell has introduced a carbon tax, I’m assuming, to encourage greener alternatives, but what is my alternative? I believe interurban rail south of the Fraser River is a good start.

Mathew Watkins


Bring back the Interurban, for everybody’s sake
Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, September 05, 2008
Imagine boarding a tram in downtown Chilliwack and alighting in downtown Vancouver about 90 minutes later, with the tram stopping for passengers in Sardis, Abbotsford, Langley, Cloverdale and Surrey. Such a service, called the Interurban, operated more than a half century ago. In an age of peak oil and massive traffic congestion, why couldn’t such a service succeed today? The tracks are there and the vehicles easily obtainable, yet there is a complete lack of political and bureaucratic will to make it happen.

Why? Either politicians and bureaucrats are woefully ignorant about modern light rapid transit or they want to spend taxpayers’ hard-earned money on hugely expensive, glitzy metro projects that benefit only Vancouver.

Modern diesel LRT cars and track refurbishment would cost less than $10 million per kilometre for reinstating the Interurban from Vancouver to Chilliwack. By comparison, the SkyTrain metro system costs more than $100 million per km to build.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee
Delta


Public Rail
Dear Editor: Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon policies are a train wreck–minus the “train” bit since he doesn’t want public rail into the valley. The people in Cloverdale, who elected him into office, want public rail and bridges without polls. Has he forgotten that we travel too?

Jim McMurtry, Cloverdale


Readers are asking for transit options
Abbotsford News
Published: September 6, 2008
Editor, The News: I am writing to you to say that I strongly believe that some form of light rail transit is necessary for the south side of the Fraser River.

I feel that it is ridiculous to provide yet another bridge to accomodate vehicle traffic when the point seems to be to get people out of their cars.

We have rising fuel prices, rising house prices – people have to move farther and farther aay from their work site and must, somehow, get to work each morning.

Vancouver is a major metropolis, comparable to other major cities in the world; and yet, we have no acceptable means of mass transit available to the residents.

Mr. Falcon, our Minister of Transport, will point to bus services that transport people from home to work. The services provided are woefully inadequate to meet the needs. I wrote to Mr. Falcon a number of years ago asking why the government did not consider light rail transit similar to Sky Train for the Fraser Valley using the highway median for the elevated track.

The answer I received was that the median was needed for emergency purposes and that, while my suggestion was welcomed, that option had already been discarded.

Having lived in, and vacationed in, some of the worlds largest metropolises and used their existing rapid transit, I do not see why Vancouver cannot have a similar system in place for the Valley as far as Hope.

West Coast Express is good if you need only at the times the service runs – early in the morning and late afternoon to early evening – one direction only at each time.

While many people do use it, it does not meet the needs of people who work different shifts to the so-called normal work day. We need a light rail transit system that will operate for at least 18 hours each day which would allow people to move in and out of the central core.

This would enable residents to commute to work, including shift work; to attend theatre, concerts and festivals, to visit friends – all without causing congestion on the roads and more pollution in the atmosphere.

Linda Harrison, Abbotsford

 

Editor, The News

Page A13 of the Vancouver Sun today (Sept. 3) carries this item: “Transit can’t keep up with Canadians moving to overloaded buses, subways”.

It seems a telephone survey in mid-August found that “20 per cent of city-dwelling Canadians who now drive a car claim they want to switch to the bus, subway, streetcar and light rail”.

I am certainly among that group. Only trouble is, if I want to go from the City of Abbotsford to the City of Langley or to the City of Surrey, I have to drive. The only real alternative is the Greyhound bus and, yes, it’s often full. There’s no rail transit at all. This must change.

Rail for the Valley is a local group trying to reactivate passenger service on the Interurban Railway that’s owned by BC Hydro (that is, by you and me). Track runs from Downtown Chilliwack through Abbotsford’s Historic Downtown and on through other downtowns and past university campuses to Scott Road Skytrain. In a recent BC-wide poll by online newspaper The Tyee that asked “Which of these 86 green projects do you support?”, railforthevalley.com’s idea came in SECOND. Here’s evidence of huge public support for light rail.

Elections are coming. Think about it.

V.A. Ridsdale, Abbotsford


Majority want light rail
Chilliwack Progress
Published: September 04, 2008
I’ve been looking into the question of whether or not the Fraser Valley could benefit from a Light Rail system and it boggles my mind that it’s not already here. From what I understand, the biggest issues for holding it back are, 1. The population density is inadequate, and 2. Even if there were enough people that used it, the revenue would not be worth it to its investors. To tell you the truth, I don’t know the details that well, but almost every person that I’ve talked to say that they would use the rail system. Some, who now don’t even leave Chilliwack say they would use it and go places they otherwise wouldn’t. Even if it financially breaks even, it would still be a social benefit. Think about this, if the majority of people want a Light Rail system in the Valley, there should be no question as to it’s construction. I know it’s more complicated, but isn’t that how democracy works? So, the main questions is, do the majority of people want it? Imagine, commuters could read the paper and drink a coffee without the hassle of traffic. Out of town college students could stop paying insurance and car payments. There would be easy and cheap transportation for those who can’t or don’t want to drive between cities. You wouldn’t need a vehicle to get to a Canucks game (that should be reason enough). The list goes on, but I think you get what I’m saying.

I for one would use a rail system often. Please, ask people to become informed about this, because I believe it would be very beneficial and that most people would agree with me.

Paul Gieselman


Rail forum keeps heat on
Chilliwack Progress
Published: September 03, 2008
An exhaustive study was carried out by Rail for the Valley as to cost and feasibility for light rail to Vancouver, utilizing the rails we already own and in fact were used to carry people in the Fraser Valley to Vancouver until 1950. That is when gasoline and autos became so affordable and no one cared or heard much about pollution. We now have all the facts and figures to go along with our claim that Lite Rail for the Valley is the right way for the future, in addition to being very affordable and non polluting. As the price of gas inches up to $6 a gallon, use of rail at half the price is a great cost saving, in addition to sitting in comfort instead of in lines of traffic.

Fraser Valley residents are now in sufficient support to make this an election issue. The provincial government now wants to make another elaborate study to further study this to death. Nothing more than a delay action by Campbell who prefers to spend $14 billion on his transit plan for the Vancouver area. We must ensure that the government concentrate on moving people within the Fraser Valley communities, not just down town Vancouver.

I encourage people to come out to the Chilliwack forum and rally on Sept. 13 at the Chilliwack Senior Rec Centre, College St. from 1 to 3 p.m. We invite Barry Penner, our clean air champion, and John Les to this rally. After all, you speak on our behalf.

Solms Coutinho


Light rail a good solution for students
Langley Times
Published: August 16, 2008
Editor: As university students, we would like to address the transportation problems in the Lower Mainland. With the costs of gas and parking, many students cannot afford to drive cars. Additionally, many of us are concerned about the environment and do not wish to add to the carbon output. However the current transit service is completely inadequate.

The SkyTrain does not service any of Kwantlen’s four campuses and many students have to transfer to multiple buses to get to class. During peak hours the trains and buses are filled to capacity already and cannot accommodate the growing numbers of riders.

Students attending evening classes may have to wait up to an hour for a bus. In the case of the Cloverdale campus, the last westbound bus leaves at 9:13 p.m., in spite of the fact that classes go on till 10 p.m.

The solution to the problem is readily available.

The old BC Electric Inter-Urban railway lines are still mostly intact and could be utilized for a light rail passenger service between the SkyTrain and Chilliwack. Coincidentally, the rail lines pass by each of the Kwantlen campuses.

Groups of Valley residents have been fighting for years to restore the Interurban system. Studies by local governments have shown that the light rail could be operated for a fraction of the cost of expanding the SkyTrain and with far less delay.

Many local politicians have voiced approval for the plan, so what are we waiting for? Governments of all levels need to get together and make this happen now. All residents, including students, should have access to safe, convenient and affordable transportation alternatives which are also environmentally friendly.

Leigh Nelsen
SAFE (Students Active For the Environment)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University


Mission ‘not accomplished’
Published: August 14, 2008
Editor: The need for modern light rail to connect downtown Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack has never been greater. Increasing population, with increased auto congestion and associated pollution, demands action now, not in 2010, not in 2020. The provincial government’s love affair with the obsolete SkyTrain light-metro is puzzling, especially when proprietary SkyTrain has been rejected by city after city ever since SkyTrain was first marketed in the late 1970′s.

We can today build, as other cities are, up to 10 kilometres of modern LRT for the cost of a single kilometre of Bombardier’s SkyTrain.

To put that in local terms – For the cost of the 10 kilometre extension of the Surrey SkyTrain line – currently being proposed by Minister Falcon and his appointed, closed-door TransLink Board – we could build a deluxe Vancouver-to-Chilliwack interurban service.

The first tenet of any “real” light-rail planner is: Use existing railway infrastructure first. This is because it makes it cheaper and easier for a new system to be installed.

But not here.

In British Columbia, despite all the talk about carbon dioxide and emissions, the credo seems to be “elevate or submerge rail transit so as not to impede the car driver.”

In British Columbia transit is to be designed to be politically prestigious, with no thought given about expense to the taxpayer.

In British Columbia with their obsessive determination to build SkyTrain, provincial and TransLink planners have invented a litany of half truths, lies, and damned lies about light-rail – a safe, affordable, and popular transit mode which is used in over 600 cities around the world.

This region’s inability to cope with burgeoning traffic congestion has now created an academic and political frenzy to punish the car driver with ever-increasing gas taxes. At the same time, little to nothing is being done to promote affordable light rail solutions.

It takes little or no effort to dream up new tax schemes to take money out of our pockets, but it takes a great deal of intelligent effort to promote popular and viable alternatives to persuade people out of their cars.

Our governments, elected and unelected, have taken the easy way out.

There is another issue that Valley residents and politicians must become involved with the planning for the new road and rail bridge. TransLink proposes to replace the dangerous, 70-year-old Patullo Bridge and the decrepit Fraser River Rail Bridge.

GVRD planners in the late 1970s understood this, and there was some preliminary planning, but today it is imperative that both river crossings be replaced with one bridge.

A new rail-bridge, with a three-track – one up, one down and one reversible – lift span would enable affordable LRT. Not only would that service the old Interurban line to Chilliwack, it would enable light-rail to service North Delta, South Surrey and White Rock at a cost far, far cheaper than a $200 million/km SkyTrain.

Unlike SkyTrain, modern light rail can track-share with regular railways with little problem.

Noted American transportation expert Gerald Fox, in a letter to a Victoria transit group, shredded the TransLink Evergreen Line’s business case, finding “several instances where the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain.”

Fox further stated, “It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding. In the US, all new transit projects that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of transit peers selected and monitored by the federal government, to ensure that projects are analyzed honestly, and the taxpayers’ interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US.”

What is crucial for the Fraser Valley is this: If the TransLink’s business case for the Evergreen Line was corrected for its many errors, dated assumptions, and anti-LRT rhetoric, the cost increase from using SkyTrain, instead of LRT will be comparable to the total cost of a modest Vancouver to Chilliwack diesel light rail Interurban service.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee
Delta


New council may see better
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Friday, July 25, 2008
Editor: Recently, approximately three million residents received a $100 cheque, courtesy of the premier. This supposed gift, the government calls it a saving, in reality is our tax money and part and parcel of the convoluted process to establish a cleaner environment. More recently a process referred to as the “cap and trade” system to go into effect by 2012 was approved by some provinces with exception of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Taking a quick look at Campbell’s cabinet we have to wonder what solutions, if any, we can expect to our environment when key members, including the minister of finance, minister of forests and range, the solicitor general and several key government aides under investigation for serious violations.

This leads me to the proposal of “Rail for the Valley” to provide clean and relative inexpensive tranportation for all Fraser Valley residents from Chilliwack to the Scott Roadd Skytrain. We already have and own the tracks which were in use until 1950 and eventually cancelled with the age of cheap gas and the automobile. A 2006/07 study by UMA Engineering of Burnaby, commissioned by the city of Surrey and Langley Township, places the cost at $6 million per kilometre. Compare that to the West Coast Express cost of $27 million per kilometre. on leased CP tracks, or the SkyTrain UBC line at $233 million per kilometre.

With gas at the pump at $6 per gallon, now is the time to take that first step for a cleaner environment plus savings for motorists.

We need new blood on city council who will support such a move with other councils and drag reluctant MLAs to the table to confront Premier Campbell with the light rail proposal for Fraser Valley residents.With a population over half a million and rising, this is surely a win-win solution.Remember, elections are just around the corner.

Solms Coutinho,
Sardis


Light-rail system could be the affordable answer to gridlock
The Province
Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The population of the Fraser Valley has increased, as has the daily traffic to Vancouver. Just ask anyone who has experienced the “parking lot,” otherwise known as the Port Mann Bridge. Aside from the environmental crisis all of this is precipitating, it is imperative that we begin to think outside the box to find alternative forms of transportation.

There is a potential viable alternative. It is literally on our doorstep.

The rail line that goes from Chilliwack to Vancouver is public property. It was, in the past, a functioning passenger rail line.

Light-rail systems have proved to be economical and efficient in other areas of the world.

Recent studies commissioned by the City of Surrey and Langley Township found that the cost of running a light-rail train from Chilliwack to the Scott Road station in Surrey, stopping at Abbotsford and Langley, would be relatively minor compared to the expense of the SkyTrain system in and around Vancouver.

I endorse this option, as do many others in our communities.

Jane Welsh,
Abbotsford


Transportation: Falcon’s studies puff pieces
Langley Advance
Published: Monday, July 14, 2008
Dear Editor, Kevin Falcon need not provide any more “puff” studies done by political cronies to deny good public transportation in the Fraser Valley [Studies promised for light rail option, May 16 Letters, Langley Advance]. B.C. doesn’t have the expertise to plan for modern light rail. Most consultants in the region have read little about modern light rail, and rely on extremely dated engineering reports or include very biased personal views. The result will be predictable: another anti-LRT report which says it is uneconomic to build, while in other locations, comparable projects are being built very economically.

Don’t include SkyTrain, because SkyTrain has been rejected by competent transit planners around the world; it is just too expensive to build and operate. According to the 1983 Toronto Transit Commission ART study, one can build up to 10 times more light rail, achieving the same capacity, compared with SkyTrain. LRT has made SkyTrain and its light-metro relatives obsolete decades ago.Unless transit experts such as LTK or others, with a modern, hands-on knowledge of modern light rail, are employed, the study will be a waste of paper. The region needs a serious and independent study, free of TransLink’s preconceived notions and incompetent light-metro-only planning.

The Light Rail Committee remain unconvinced, because as B.C.’s transportation minister, Mr. Falcon has dismissed light rail, despite overwhelming evidence of successful and economic operation (more than 600 in operation around the world). He has rejected light rail fact with SkyTrain/BRT myth.

It’s time, with vastly increasing oil prices, that the region engage in a fully independent transportation study, done by real transit experts.

If Minister Falcon fails to implement an honest study, congestion and pollution will become endemic in the region, and history will regard him as the transportation minister who “missed the tram.”

Malcolm Johnston,
Delta


Community rail the way to go
Langley Times
Published: July 12, 2008
Editor: It is good to read that you have discovered the comfort and convenience of rail travel. While I enjoyed reading your opinion article ‘Seeing Langley from the rails,’ (The Times, July 9), there are some points that must be clarified. All the rail groups in the South Fraser and Fraser Valley have been advocating for community light rail, which is different from commuter rail. Community light rail is about connecting the communities within our sub-region, while commuter rail is concerned with getting people from our sub-region into downtown Vancouver.

As an example, according to the most recently published Translink Trip Diary, a full 85 per cent of all trips stay within Langley and Surrey. Community light rail is what we need.

South Fraser OnTrax supports the concept of using the old interurban alignment. The alignment goes through key industrial areas, high employment centres, major universities, key transit interchanges, commercial areas, and is near both the Langley and Abbotsford airports.

The interurban alignment would also tie into the SkyTrain at Scott Road, allowing people to continue on into Vancouver. Using commuter rail on the CN mainline with a West Coast Express service would provide service to people in Fort Langley and possibly Walnut Grove, while completely bypassing Surrey. This would not help the 85 per cent of trips within our sub-region.

Freight rail traffic has always been an issue in Langley. This April, the Township of Langley wrote to the federal minister of transport and MP Mark Warawa requesting that the New Westminster rail bridge be replaced.

Warawa replied to this letter, stating that it was a priority of his. This would go a long way to reducing rail traffic through Langley.

Even if that bridge isn’t replaced, building a community light rail system is still very feasible. In 2006, TransLink commissioned a report on the estimated costs of restoring service on the interurban corridor. They took into account the freight rail issue and came to a number of $27 million/km. That is a song, compared to the $233 million/km for UBC SkyTrain extension.

Finally, you mentioned at-grade crossing safety. While there is a major concern with freight traffic, at-grade crossing and even running on the same streets as cars are used by pretty much by all light rail systems in North America.

For example, Calgary, Alberta and Portland, Oregon run their light rail systems on regular roads in their downtown cores, and mostly use at-grade crossings once they are out of the core.

With the ever-rising cost of fuel, community light rail is what we need in our sub-region. That is why the Township of Langley passed a resolution to further study community light rail.

Also, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon personally promised back in January to study the interurban corridor. We hope a fair and impartial report will be ready soon.

Nathan Pachal,
South Fraser OnTrax,
Langley


Carbon tax needs a light rail complement
The Abbotsford Times
Published: Tuesday, July 08, 2008
THE EDITOR: While I understand the reasoning behind the new carbon tax, I feel it is very unfair for the provincial government to start penalizing Fraser Valley residents for using gas while not providing any rapid transit alternatives to the city.

People in Vancouver have Skytrain and a well-developed transit system and can switch over to transit or bicycles with little inconvenience.

We in the southern Fraser Valley have to use our cars to travel from city to city because there is no viable alternative provided.

If it’s not too early to slap a carbon tax on us and start taking our money, then it’s not too soon for politicians to start acting on reviving and upgrading the light rail line so that people can have an affordable alternative to get to work and visit family members in other cities. Let’s face it, the gas prices are going to keep going up and it’s going to be increasingly difficult to get around.

If we act now we can avoid a transportation crisis and prevent our economy and mobility from coming to a standstill.

John Welsh,
Abbotsford


Carbon tax, but few transit alternatives
The Chilliwack Progress
Published: July 3, 2008
On July 1, the provincial government’s carbon tax came into effect. It included a 2.4 cents/litre tax on gasoline, rising to 7.24 cents/litre by 2012. The government has justified the tax by saying it will discourage vehicle use.

In Vancouver, it may be true that such a tax would help get people to switch from their cars to transit, but in the Fraser Valley, public transit is either completely inadequate or virtually nonexistent, depending on where you live.

While the provincial government has announced plans to invest $2.4 billion in a Skytrain extension to UBC, there has been no such announcement of investment in passenger rail for the Fraser Valley. The government is showing a disregard for the average citizen in the Valley, when it implements a gas tax without providing people with alternative transportation options to using their car.

The situation is more urgent now than ever before. Studies show that there will be no relief at all from the upward climb of gas prices, and that we are in fact only at the start of the trend. According to Jeff Rubin of CIBC World Markets, gas prices are forecast to rise 70 per cent above their current record levels over the next two years.

With political will, an initial passenger rail service along the Inter-urban corridor, serving the Fraser Valley from Chilliwack to Vancouver, could be up and running in less than two years. Studies show that a Valley-wide service would cost less to implement than five kilometres of Skytrain.

We are in the midst of a monumental shift in the price of oil. Governments, both provincial and federal, have to wake up and recognize the urgency of the situation.

Rail For The Valley demands that government take real, immediate, steps towards implementing a passenger rail service, as the first step toward a comprehensive Fraser Valley rail and transit network.

We ask the public to say no to being held captive by high gas prices and government taxation, and join our campaign at www.railforthevalley.com.

John Buker
Rail For The Valley
Chilliwack


WEB EXTRA: Light rail the answer to transportation woes
Surrey Leader
Published: July 3, 2008
SkyTrain is not the most efficient, cost-effective model of rapid transit, a letter writer argues. There has been a great wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding Premier Campbell’s carbon/gas tax. The Light Rail Committee (LRC) views the new tax as a cynical attempt by the provincial Liberals to make them appear eco-friendly.

If Campbell and the Liberal party wish to reduce pollution and highway congestion, the LRC advises that at least 300 kms of modern light rail must be built in order to provide a viable transit alternative. Modern LRT is very adaptable and able to track-share with regular railways, and construction costs for LRT can be as low as $10 million per km. This means that a 300-km light rail network, costing $3 billion to $5 billion, becomes a viable proposition to the taxpayer.

To emphasise the message this committee has tried convey many times over the years, even if the quoted $3- to 5-billion cost of LRT were to be padded to $10 billion, the cost of a region-wide Light Rail Network pale in comparison to the costs of the Bombardier/SNC-Lavalin SkyTrain alternative, which are already proven to exceed $100 million/km. A 300-km SkyTrain network (at a minimum of $30 billion) is a pipe dream.

Just last week, TransLink sounded the alarm bells over a projected $300-million shortfall by 2012, much of which is/has been caused by the debt-servicing costs for the Expo, Millennium and Canada Line projects.This, above all else, shows the folly of building metro SkyTrain and SkyTrain look-alikes on routes that do not have the ridership to support the mode.

Yet, in the face of these facts – facts which are recognized by international transit experts – Premier Campbell and Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon want to build more. In British Columbia, it seems, modern LRT, with over 600 examples of the transit mode in operation around the world need not apply.

The LRC has always predicted that, because of its huge costs, SkyTrain:

1. Would encourage new highway construction in the region; and,

2. Would dramatically increase municipal, regional, and provincial taxes.

Both predictions have come true. The LRC is not surprised, therefore, that the Campbell Liberals need more tax revenues. As it stands, the carbon tax at 2.4 cents/litre is not revenue neutral, but it is just the beginning.

By the time the bills are all in, not even the projected seven cents or more per litre will cover the costs of the decisions to build SkyTrain – a proprietary metro that has only five operating installations, even though it has been on the market for almost 30 years – despite this knowledge, and despite the fact that not one SkyTrain has ever passed public scrutiny in the U.S.

The SkyTrain Evergreen Line’s business case has been shredded by Gerald Fox – a prominent U.S. transit expert, furthering Vancouver’s reputation as a “transit anomaly,” as Vancouver’s transit planning “is contrary to what every other city in the world is doing.”

For too long, provincial governments and TransLink have played the media for fools and the carbon/gas tax is more of this sad legacy. To a large extent, transit plans have been given a “free pass” by the media and the result is more dubious transit planning and higher taxes for dated and obsolete “rapid transit” construction, which has to date, done little to alleviate traffic congestion and associated pollution.

The LRC views the carbon tax as a gas tax, with a one-time $100 bribe to the taxpayer to attempt to sell it. Better urban public transport has never been further away.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee
Delta


Transit lacking in the Valley
Surrey Leader
Published: Wednesday, July 2, 2008
On the topic of alternate transportation and the carbon tax. The provincial Government can tax/penalize the public for using motor vehicles or they can wise up and provide a viable alternative. For commuters on the south side of the Fraser River, from Delta to Chilliwack, SkyTrain is of no use if you are staying on the south side of the river for your commute.

Failure to provide adequate access to transit for many areas leaves large pockets of Surrey, Delta and Langley as isolated as they have been for decades. Of course, if you are willing to wake up at four in the morning and hike for several miles and transfer several times you might be successful at getting out of your neighbourhood and over to your destination for an eight o’clock start time. The fact that this arduous commute would otherwise have taken an approximate 30-minute drive, suggests that current transit is an unreasonable source of transportation.

If we are, as a society, to get serious about moving people on a reasonably comfortable reliable basis, then address the se,rious need for a light rail that runs across the valley and attach to that a barrage of connecting mini buses that access the many high density housing clusters that exist and continue to grow.

For example, along the 64 Avenue corridor from North Delta through Newton, Sullivan Station, Surrey Centre/Five Corners, Cloverdale, Clayton Hill and beyond, the population is dense enough to support a transit line.

It is evident local and provincial governments refuse to take seriously the many people that have made a great effort to request the provision of a light rail system clear across the valley to Chilliwack.

Premier Campbell and transportation minister Falcon, I suggest, listen to the people who live and work in these regions, show honest respect for the environment and get going on this practical and truly green initiative.

The best carbon reduction strategy is putting in place a real alternate means of getting around.

Deanna Welters
Surrey


Apply question to rail
Langley Advance
Published: Friday, June 27, 2008
Dear Editor, “Let’s see what the current double-whammy can bring to Langley.” I was intrigued by the question raised in the Langley Advance June 24 editorial – “Two ministers good politics.”

Since we now have Langley MLA Mary Polak joining Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman in the cabinet, perhaps both will speak out in favour of commuter rail service through the Fraser Valley.

And you would think that, with six south of the Fraser River – Cloverdale to Chilliwack – MLAs (one is the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure) now in cabinet, Fraser Valley citizens would now have enough representation at the highest level of provincial government to advocate for a Fraser Valley commuter rail system.

Now that the Canada Line and Sea to Sky projects are nearing completion, the provincial government can move away from being so Vancouver 2010-centric and begin to focus on the transportation needs of the Valley.

Shane Dyson
Aldergrove


Why we feel like chopped liver
The Abbotsford Times
Published: Friday, June 06, 2008
THE EDITOR: Re: Apply gas tax where it will work, Our View, Times, May 23

An underground line to service 70,000 potential customers living or studying at [the University of British Columbia] – not all of who would be interested in abandoning their cars – is projected to cost over $2 billion.

A light rail option from the Fraser Valley to the Lower Mainland would cost much less – and, same as UBC, not all of the 200,000 area residents would choose to use a transit option. But it seems sensible to compare overall potential numbers to overall cost – and to existing service. After all, there are already express buses to UBC.

Abbotsford not so much.

Twenty-two years from now, in 2030, Mr. [Minister of Transportation Kevin] Falcon has offered us a bus connection to SkyTrain.

Fraser Valley residents could be excused for feeling a little like chopped liver.

Now I realize that while [Abbotsford-Clayburn] MLA John van Dongen is rather busy with his new responsibilities, and [Abbotsford-Sumas] MLA John Les may want to keep a rather low profile for a while – perhaps [Abbotsford-Mount Lehman] MLA Mike de Jong could take some time out from advocating flights to India and lobby for transit to the Lower Mainland.

‘Cause you see, the $2 billion for the UBC route will not come from TransLink funds; if they had that kind of money to throw around, it would go towards making the Patullo [Bridge] a safe crossing.

No, the underground to UBC would come directly from provincial funds.

And since the Vancouver politicians are already pursuing that particular option, how about balancing that with some local action?

Regina Dalton
Abbotsford


Genuine rail study needed
Published: Friday, June 6, 2008
Editor:

In a recent announcement, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon has promised another study exploring the option of establishing a passenger rail service in the Fraser Valley. This is despite the fact that the province already claimed to have carefully studied such a service outside of Greater Vancouver, and determined that it would fail to attract ridership.

The Rail For The Valley campaign first contacted the provincial government about this eight months ago, asking that these studies be made public. Last week we finally received a “response” from the Minister of Transportation directing us to TransLink studies. TransLink confirmed there was in fact only one study, the DRL report, which we were already familiar with. This report examines only elaborate high-end rail options, includes only Greater Vancouver, and, to quote the report, states: “the study was prepared without the benefit of ridership projections.”

The reality here is that the Transportation Ministry is against light rail only because they have a politically motivated stake in Skytrain. There is no real evidence to support their position, while they have chosen to ignore available reports such as the UMA study by the city of Surrey or SFU’s Fraser Valley Light Rail report, which prove that light rail is far cheaper and quicker to implement than Skytrain, and both of which recommend using the Interurban Line. Furthermore the City of Surrey itself is opposed to Skytrain and supports light rail. Instead, the province promises future studies that are not conducted by light rail experts at all, and are being undertaken merely to dismiss light rail and support their arguments for expanding Skytrain.

We call on the province to display some transparency, by conducting a genuine implementation study that involves Rail For The Valley, the light rail groups, and the public, instead of continuing to follow their own agenda.

John Buker, spokesman
Rail For The Valley


Alternative needed
Langley Times
Published: June 6, 2008
Editor: This letter has been sent to provincial politicians and the Fraser Valley Regional District. This is notification that, should the freeway (Highway 1) be blocked for flooding or snow storms or other natural disasters for a significant length of time, there is no alternative road route between Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

We are asking regional support for a passenger rail route between those two cities on the Southern Railway of B.C. line, which does not traverse the Vedder Canal, which seems to block any through roads except the freeway.

This would also be a boost in service for those who cannot drive, and the community in general who would like an alternative to driving. I think if this idea has any validity, the district should bring it up at the provincial level.

Bryan Vogler
Rail for the Valley committee


‘Let’s get on with it’
Langley Times
Published: May 21, 2008
Editor: It’s interesting how Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon (letters, The Times, May 16) tries to take our attention away from using the established rail corridor of the old interurban rail line, while studies are ongoing for a final solution. While studying, he looks negatively upon the location of that route, stating that it is too far from the populated areas of the valley. Apparently, he has not heard of “Park and Ride” practices that work so well on many other systems.

He must have also forgotten about his previous remark about the dangers involved at the relatively few level crossings on the old interurban route, because there would certainly be more of them if he chooses a route through more densely-populated areas.

Expropriating properties to establish a route through, or near, populated areas would be a tremendous and unnecessary expense as well, and Falcon has made it quite clear that cost is one of the reasons for the long delay in establishing service south of the Fraser.

There’s obviously a big snow job in progress regarding commuter rail service in our area. Instead of action, we hear of nothing but studies, talks, meetings, and anything else that will delay a decision.

Reopening the old interurban rail line for passenger service can easily be seen as the slam dunk solution to our public transportation needs, so let’s just get on with it and save a pile of money in the process.

Ed Monteith
Aldergrove


Commuter rail will be studied
Langley Times
Published: May 16, 2008
Editor: Re: ‘Commuter rail could work,’ (The Times, May 4).

After reading Jeff Nagel’s article, there are a few points I’d like to make about public transit planning in the Fraser Valley.

Public transit in the valley is an important link in the transportation chain of British Columbia. The Ministry of Transportation is working with the Fraser Valley Regional District, BC Transit and TransLink to initiate a study to determine travel demand within the valley and between the valley and Metro Vancouver. We promised this study in the $14 billion provincial transit plan that Premier Gordon Campbell and I announced in January.

The study will look at the potential for commuter rail in the Fraser Valley, but will not be limited to that option. Our intent is to provide high quality transit service at reasonable cost to users. The study will provide the necessary information to make informed decisions.

For example, some people have raised the possibility of using the Southern Rail corridor for rail transit, yet much of that corridor goes through farming areas far away from the population. The study will help evaluate this corridor and other travel options relative to the demand.

Land use plans that support improved transit services will be necessary to provide the ridership to make transit cost-effective.

The provincial transit plan is supporting a significant increase in the number of buses south of the Fraser River, the establishment of a RapidBus service connecting Langley to the Expo Line in Surrey and the extension of rail rapid transit, ultimately to Metrotown. Other service improvements will be considered after the study is complete.

We look forward to working with our transit partners to find the best solutions for the Fraser Valley’s transit needs.

Kevin Falcon
Minister of Transportation


Revive rail line
Surrey Leader
Published: May 14, 2008
The Interurban Line needs to be revived – now. VALTAC (Valley Transportation Advisory Committe) is leading the movement to re-open the rail line for passenger rail use.

Light rail on the Interurban line through the Fraser Valley would be a fast, frequent and reliable option for commuters travelling westward from places like Langley and Cloverdale.

Such a service could be implemented in a very short period of time, at a relatively low cost.

Given the few barriers that exist to implementing passenger rail on the Interurban line, and the dismal state of public transit service in the Fraser Valley, our governments must act now to bring rail to the Valley.

Gas prices are predicted to jump to $2.25 a litre by 2012; we must plan ahead by providing real, affordable alternatives to driving for residents south of the Fraser.

Stephanie Ryan


Rail service would boost ‘metro centre’
Langley Times
Published: May 14, 2008
Editor: We’ve heard just in the past week that as part of Metro Vancouver’s forthcoming regional growth strategy, Surrey City Centre will be deemed the new ‘metro centre’ for all of the Fraser Valley. This is great news — it’s high-time that people in the Valley were provided with a closer downtown centre. We can only hope that this ‘metro centre’ will include lots more local jobs, a sports stadium and great performance and concert spaces. For far too long, people in Surrey and Langley have had to drive to Vancouver, through traffic and over bridges, to get to work, to sports games, and to shows.

People from all parts of the Fraser Valley are going to want to get to this new downtown core without getting stuck in traffic. There is a huge need for faster, more frequent, and more reliable transit from Langley Centre and Cloverdale, going in to the SkyTrain station and bus loop at Surrey Central. The #502 bus service just isn’t good enough, especially given the rapidly-growing population in Cloverdale and Langley.

The most cost-efficient way to bring people from Langley and Cloverdale into the Surrey metro centre would be to revive the interurban line and implement a system of passenger rail.

To build a system of at-grade passenger rail, it would cost between $6 to $7 million per kilometre, as compared to SkyTrain’s $100 to $233 million per kilometre. Because of the lower cost, passenger rail can probably be implemented much more quickly (maybe within a year).

Hopefully the Surrey metro centre concept can provide an impetus for moving forward with passenger rail for the Valley, at a time when everyone wants better public transit down Fraser Highway.

Stephanie Ryan


Passenger rail system not as costly as Plan B
Surrey Now
Published: Friday, May 09, 2008
The Editor, Re: “Benefits of rail often go unseen,” May 2 Now.

Matthew Claxton’s point that implementing a passenger rail system through the Fraser Valley would be expensive is well-taken.

Certainly, no one wants another government boondoggle. However, I’m not convinced that the cost of rail for the valley is either prohibitive, or a good reason for not going ahead with the project.

Yes, it is predicted that passenger rail in the Fraser Valley could cost $6,000,000 per kilometre.

However, this is a fraction of what a system such as Skytrain would cost.

Claxton also argues that passenger rail may not be an ideal solution because it will be subsidized by all taxpayers, including those who never use the system.

He seems to forget that most, if not all, government projects are paid for out of the general tax base.

Any economist could tell you that if everyone had to pay for their individual share of government services – roads, schools, and hospitals, for example – no public goods would ever be provided.

Stephanie Ryan


Politicians need to consider light rail
Langley Times
Published: May 02, 2008
Editor: The organizers of the VALTAC transportation forum on Saturday should be congratulated. Now we have to hope our mayor and other mayors south of the Fraser, along with provincial politicians, are listening. All too often the obvious is overlooked in solving major problems. Costly, over-thought solutions are brought forward by bureaucracies intent on justifying their existence. Whatever happened to common sense?

Light rail transit is not new. It was thought of and implemented back in the early 1900s and, as one panel member said on Saturday, they designed, planned and constructed the interurban line in three years. We couldn’t design or plan that infrastructure today in three years – let alone build it.

This unique opportunity is available to us – all we need is to use our common sense and get on with it. The problem with that notion is that we assume our politicians, municipal, provincial and federal, are listening and interested in common sense.

The province, municipalities and unelected TransLink board are forcing two options for transit – buses or SkyTrain (at an estimated $120 million per kilometre). Gordon Campbell’s recently announced transportation plan has a $14 billion price tag, but it may as well be $30 billion, because the likelihood of that kind of money being spent on our regional transportation needs within the suggested time frame is pie in the sky.

It is just plain unrealistic politics, and make no doubt about it, it is just politics. When we have such a cost-effective option as light rail available to us, it would be completely irresponsible not to get on with a plan to move forward.

We are told we can’t institute light rail on a line carrying so much heavy rail traffic (which is growing considerably).

Some of the VALTAC directors have delved into, investigated and obtained copies of agreements that are still valid, regarding the interurban line’s history. There are rights that flow from the historic agreements dealing with passenger travel on this line.

While we seem to be willing to sit back once again and take what is thrown at us, it is now time, as part of the commuter initiative, to deal with the relocation of heavy rail.

If you look at the current number of unit trains that are running through the Township and the City daily, the powers that be are looking at doubling that number in the not too distant future.

If we keep turning our back on this problem and take on the population that is intended for Langley under the Livable Region Plan, our children and their children will be wondering what was wrong with the politicians and the electorate of the past. We will be known for our lack of foresight, the opposite of our ancestors, who had considerable foresight.

Mayor Kurt Alberts sat on the former TransLink board that approved of the implementation of a bus program for our region, giving no support to light rail. Like so many municipal leaders in the region, Mayor Alberts has lagged behind the wishes of the taxpayer.

They stand up and pump their chests at the building of rail overpasses (at considerable cost to Township taxpayers), when those dollars could be spent to build a new rail bridge over the Fraser at New Westminster to help solve the problem of unit trains going through the middle of the Township and City.

Politicians must start listening, using their common sense and take action. It was great to see Mayor Alberts attend the forum on Saturday. He should have stayed longer.

Rick Green,
Langley

Editor’s note: Mr. Green is running for mayor in Langley Township.


Rail service in the valley is needed now
Surrey Leader
Published: May 02, 2008
A light rail service from Vancouver to Chilliwack is indeed both practical and necessary right now. Most of the rail line is already in place and could easily be upgraded and put to use. The responses we get from government are specious arguments at best, disinformation and lies at worst.

This truly green service will not come to pass any time soon as it fails to serve and reward corporate governance.

The present government having been empowered by corporate funding interests is not answerable to the public.

This agenda requires the heavy handed barriers of secrecy we see growing exponentially in every aspect of our so called “representation.”

Today’s politicians being plastic and hollow answer only to the big money directives handed them by the corporate lobby. Politicians reap further significant rewards for their legislative compliance after their terms of usefulness in government have expired.

Mega public/private projects are about servicing the ever increasing need for corporate profits and control and is never about the citizens who pay for it all.

We can abandon hope for any workable transit in the valley until after the road builders and developers completely denude the valley to extract their profits.

It is time Canadians awoke and took control of their lives while they still can.

W. Robert Blair


Time to demand the infrastructure required
Mission City Record
Published: April 24, 2008
Editor, The Record: A Fraser Valley Regional District draft report says the levels of transportation demand can easily be met by improved bus-transit options. They have totally missed the mark for providing viable transportation in the region. The erroneous assumption that bus options will suffice for many decades is fallacious and misleading at best.

Not only was our country developed and expanded because of the railroads, there is no reason that couldn’t occur again. If the rail lines again traversed the Fraser Valley and beyond, people would move out of the congested cities and put their roots down outside the Lower Mainland. It could provide recreational activities for the whole region where people could take their bicycles and their picnic lunches for excursions without putting more polluting particulates into the atmosphere.

I suspect the reason this option isn’t being explored vigourously is because the special interests, such as the oil and automobile industry, don’t want it. It’s time we refuse to accept the double speak public officials are feeding us, and demand the infrastructure we require to make our region more livable and less stressful, as well as providing an alternative life style more conducive to healthy living.

Rita Pollock
Mission


Railing for rail
Aldergrove Star
Published: April 3, 2008
Editor: Rail for the Valley has blasted a draft FVRD report that has suggested passenger rail would not be feasible for the foreseeable future.

The study is not an independent study. We have seen the report. It’s a blanket dismissal of passenger rail, containing no quantitative evidence whatsoever that an Interurban rail service would not work.

Based on the contents of the 65 page report, it looks like rail was nothing more than an afterthought, tacked on and dismissed at the last moment when it was noticed that there is a growing public appetite in this direction.

We’re very disappointed that passenger rail was beyond the scope of the study.

What we see in this report are a couple paragraphs telling us that people won’t ride trains in the Valley, without any real statistical evidence. This is not surprising, since the study’s focus is on current traffic patterns and rubber-tired solutions, and not light rail. That being said, never have I seen a report, even a draft report, that was so out of touch with the mood of the region.

With the political bias against light rail in this study so obvious, the lack of any factual information against it makes the argument for a passenger rail system for the Fraser Valley even more convincing.

John Buker


Transit report offers more of the same
The Chilliwack Progress
Published: April 03, 2008
The Fraser Valley Regional District draft report says the levels of demand can easily be met by improved bus-transit options. They have totally missed the mark for providing viable transportation in the region. The erroneous assumption that bus options will suffice for many decades is fallacious and misleading at best. Not only was our country developed and expanded because of the railroads there is no reason that couldn’t occur again. If the rail lines again traversed the Fraser Valley and beyond, people would move out of the congested cities and put their roots down outside the lower mainland. It could provide recreational activities for the whole region where people could take their bicycles and their picnic lunches for excursions without putting more gas polluting particulates into the atmosphere. Instead of having to commute long distances to work, they could work closer to home. Businesses could expand throughout the region creating employment closer to where people live, instead of having to travel into Vancouver.

I suspect the reason this option isn’t being explored vigorously is because the special interests, such as the oil and automobile industry, don’t want it. And the power bases in Metro Vancouver want the public to commute to downtown locations for their profits, not for our wellbeing. They are not interested in the long-term effects of not relying on the automobile or the accompanying health benefits to the populace.

It’s time we refuse to accept the double speak public officials are feeding us and demand the infrastructure we require to make our region more livable and less stressful as well as providing an alternative life style more conducive to healthy living.


At-grade rail needs political will
Surrey Leader
Published: April 02, 2008
Re: “Growth must be managed: Watts.” Congratulations to Mayor Dianne Watts for advocating and pursuing at-grade rail. As she stated in her State of the City address, at-grade rail is significantly cheaper, easier to build and much more aesthetically pleasing than SkyTrain.

Most importantly, such a service could be implemented in a matter of two years or less. This is because the Inter-Urban Fraser Valley rail right-of-way and track already exists, with passenger rail rights already owned by the government.

Why should Surrey have to wait 12 more years for incremental transit improvements in the form of costly SkyTrain?

It is high time we think on a grander scale south of the Fraser, with our population now pushing 1 million, than incremental SkyTrain improvements many years away.

The whole Fraser Valley, from Chilliwack to Vancouver, could be connected with a modern Inter-Urban passenger rail service for less than half the cost, for instance, of the proposed UBC SkyTrain extension.

This would include a new rail bridge over the Fraser River, with express service between Surrey and downtown Vancouver in 20 minutes, and connections to Scott Road, Braid and Waterfront SkyTrain stations.

All we need is the political will to make this happen. Mayor Watts’ views are encouraging.

You can join our campaign at www.railforthevalley.com

John Buker
Rail for the Valley
Chilliwack


Lost in the 1950s
The Province
Published: Sunday, March 30, 2008
Who in the Fraser Valley Regional District is an expert in rail transit, especially modern light rail transit? ["Passenger rail a long way off," March 27.] Obviously no one, because it’s nonsense to claim that the combined population of Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Kent, Harrison Hot Springs and Hope — 237,550 people — isn’t sufficient for rail transit.

A Vancouver-to-Chilliwack LRT/interurban service would operate in an area of population of more than two million.

Isn’t it interesting that TransLink and the FVRD never stipulate what population or population density is needed for rail transit? It’s always “not enough density.”

Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hames shows his utter disdain for the region’s burgeoning population and seems lost in a 1950s rubber-on-asphalt dream.

Malcolm Johnston, Delta


We’re missing the train here
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Friday, March 28, 2008
Editor: I feel it necessary to inform local residents of the positive steps taken recently by the communities of Abbotsford, Langley and Surrey toward inter-regional transportation planning and implementation of a passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley, in contrast to the steps taken here in Chilliwack.

Abbotsford has established the Inter-Regional Select Committee with the aim “to explore options and opportunities for regional transportation initiatives, including light rail” and have extended an invitation to Rail For The Valley to sit on the committee. Langley council opposed the province’s $14 billion transit plan, voting to endorse it only with multiple conditions being met. Nevertheless several councillors remained steadfastly against it. Councillor Kim Richter said the plan should include a corridor for light rail transit and also asked council to delay a decision on endorsing it, until the council and VALTAC (Valley Transportation Advisory Committee) saw the completed Community Rail Study.

Last week, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts also brought up the need for a light rail system.

Meanwhile, in Chilliwack, two weeks ago Mayor Hames suggested that we should continue waiting to see the findings of current studies. Several months ago we also asked transportation Minister Kevin Falcon to provide the details of the province’s studies for public scrutiny and have yet to receive any response. Numerous similar studies have taken place over the years and these new studies hardly expand on them or offer anything that hasn’t been looked at countless times already. Nowhere in them has there been any sort of transparency or meaningful engagement with the public.

Their real purpose has been to buttress the preconceived notions of the political leadership who are responsible for their creation, and to fool the general public into believing that any action is seriously taking place. These studies will carry on like this for years and years without any change to the status quo. The FVRD study the mayor alludes to is not an independent study at all nor does it contain anything whatsoever which quantitatively refutes light rail.

From the beginning, support for passenger rail has been strongest in Chilliwack. A poll conducted back in September gauged public support at 87 per cent. Hardly a week passes without a letter or article in the local papers.

Yet Chilliwack council has done little to recognize that massive interest and finds itself falling far behind its neighbours. We have an opportunity here, in Chilliwack, to see beyond the tired old political games that we have become accustomed to, and push passenger rail firmly on track. The time has come for real public participation in the process both in choosing how studies are done, who does them and ensuring that planning is not decided solely by local leadership that so casually ignores its own citizens. We encourage everyone to remind council that meaningful steps need to be taken now.

E-mail council by going to www.gov.chilliwack.bc.ca, and join us online at railforthevalley.com.

John Buker,
Rail For The Valley


Reader would welcome alternatives
The Chilliwack Progress
Published: March 14, 2008
I echo Mr. Wimpney’s comments on the greyhound bus system. Pleasant and courteous the drivers are. Punctual and practical the service is not. This is only to be expected, when buses start off in Alberta or winter BC. Speaking of buses, here’s a rare sight: a full bus in Chilliwack. In fact, I have rarely counted more than five people on a 30+ seat bus. Is this efficient, and why is this? Could it be that the local system is complicated and impractical? We have looked into using the bus to get to the Greyhound, or to a service dealership. It involves a fair walk then a change at the loop. Schedules are not easily to find and the buses arrival times seem irregular. Features that are accepted stoically by my friends and patients who have to use the bus system. As a child in the UK everyone used the bus. Then everyone had one or two cars and empty buses roamed the streets. The solution was to privatize the bus system, use smaller mini buses and have flexible routing. So now buses are popular, green and full again.

Wading into the bus vs. train debate I previously compared the cost and practicality of using Greyhound, West Coast Express or my car to get to Vancouver; the car won hands down. As gas prices and my social conscience rise, I would love to see a practical alternative.


Re: Let’s make sure we’re not on the wrong track, Robert Blacklock
The Chilliwack Progress
Published: March 7, 2008
I’m amazed that Robert Blacklock questions the need for light rail, comparing such a service to the existing Greyhound bus, when he has obviously never had to use a Greyhound bus in his life! I’ve tried using the Greyhound, but it makes no sense. Cost-wise, to go to Vancouver and back costs $33, I’m better off driving. To Abbotsford, the trip itself usually takes half an hour, but often buses are half an hour late, or worse. Often they’re completely full and you have to wait, could be hours, for the next bus. Sometimes, every bus is full and there are people who end up waiting for 6 or 8 hours. To get to Abbotsford? What kind of a deal is that?

At each Greyhound station, getting on and off the highway, pulling into the station, and loading and unloading passengers, takes about 20 minutes (if you’re lucky). With a train, each stop might take 20 seconds, and there would be many more stations to get off at, getting you closer to where you want to go. There wouldn’t be any sudden bumps and jerks like with a bus, with all its slow clumsy grinding through traffic.

And where do people get this idea that rail is so expensive? Let me guess, the mayor told you. It’s true that trains are more expensive than buses to buy, but they hold many more people and still only need one engineer to drive them. I notice Mayor Hames talked about a “free” bus to UCFV. Well, you could have a free train just the same. Buses aren’t “free.” One new “rapid bus” costs $1 million, and unlike trains buses typically need to be replaced every 10 years.

I’m surprised at how many people actually do end up using Greyhound out of necessity. Business has got to have doubled in the last few years. Often there are long lines of people waiting, and the buses just fill up. Imagine, with so many people using such an unreliable service, how many more would travel by comfortable, on-time rail, were it only available?

Nick Wimpney


Commuter rail now would prepare region for future growth
The Chilliwack Progress
Published: March 04, 2008
Re: Hames defends rail stand (Progress Mailbag, Feb. 26). The logic used by the mayor to defend his stance on transit solutions reminds me of the W.C. Fields quote, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with b#%7&.”

Let’s see if we can figure out what he’s trying to claim makes any sense.

1. The majority of trips begin and end in Chilliwack. Is this a surprise? I work in Abbotsford, so I begin in Chilliwack, drive the 40 km or so to Abbotsford and drive back again, obviously ending in Chilliwack again. Am I one of the 87 per cent?

If, on the other hand, he’s trying to make the point that the majority of day trips by the citizens of Chilliwack are to local Chilliwack destinations, I would have to agree, but frankly, what does that have to do with making commuting outside of Chilliwack more efficient and environmentally friendly? If I need to buy groceries at Safeway, I’m not likely to make a detour to Abbotsford before coming back to Chilliwack mall.

2. The most recent census data (2001) established that there are 2,415 people who commute into the Metro Vancouver Region from Chilliwack each day.

I personally believe this number is very far out of kilter, but regardless, it really doesn’t matter how many people drive from Chilliwack to Metro Vancouver every day. What needs to be considered are all the other people from other destinations also using the same freeway to get to wherever they’re going. I don’t think we’re trying to build or be part of a Chilliwack only solution, but rather a longer term strategy where we deal with the transportation issues within the entire Lower Mainland.

The rest of his letter to the editor simply uses this number and compares it to the cost of providing the transit solution. I could make any proposal seem ludicrous if I implied that an expensive solution would only benefit a very small number of people. Politicians are very adept at using numbers to their advantage regardless of the situation.

For arguments sake, let’s assume that the rail idea is the best solution (and I’m not saying it is). Even using his cost estimates to provide the service, what will the same property and labour costs be in the years to come when the need for a solution is even greater? I wonder where we would be now if someone with some foresight had been in power 20 years ago? Someone who would have foreseen the need and ensured that the infrastructure would be there. What was a piece of property worth 20 years ago compared to today?

The mayor’s own population projections for Chilliwack show huge growth coming our way. Why not prepare in advance? Infrastructure before growth. You don’t keep inviting people to the table without having enough food in the kitchen.


Hames rebuttal astounding
The ChilliwackTimes
Published: Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Editor: I am astounded that Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hames is so against the reestablishment of the Chilliwack to Vancouver interurban service.

The old ‘moving the utilities’ trick, to inflate costs, is an old trick that the anti-LRT lobby use. I am also astounded that he tries to confuse the issue with his invented costs; who is he taking his orders from?

The cost of a ‘bare bones’ service (four to six return services a day) would cost about $250 million or about the same cost of one kilometre. of the proposed SkyTrain Millennium Line subway extension to UBC.

One billion dollars (or about one half the cost of the 19 km. RAV/Canada Line) would buy a fairly comprehensive service from Chilliwack to Vancouver and would include the cost of double tracking in strategic places, etc. Of course, the more one spends, the more deluxe service can be provided.

Mayor Hames obviously hasn’t read much about modern public transit philosophy, nor does he seem to care about the ever increasing traffic congestion and associated pollution in the region. He also has no qualms that local tax money is being spent on gold-plated transit projects in Vancouver.

Track sharing with existing railways, which many of the 600 LRT operations around the world do quite successfully, reduces the cost and increases the flexibility of the light rail service. LRT, in its various forms, is 21st century transit philosophy.

Mayor Hames has missed the bus.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee
Delta


The Editor; During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. (George Orwell) The newly established Carbon tax should be called the SkyTrain/Bombardier tax, for that is what the carbon tax is.

TransLink’s fascination with the now obsolete proprietary SkyTrain light-metro system and the provincial government’s announcement of a $14 billion transit plan, which includes the under construction $125 million/km. RAV light-metro line; an over $230 million/km. extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line to UBC; the over $100 million/km, SkyTrain Evergreen line, and future $100 million+/km. SkyTrain extensions in Surrey, needs a very large tax to fund it. The Carbon tax is the vehicle.

Bombardier Inc. is the sole owner and supplier of SkyTrain and the cars for the RAV/Canada Line are Bombardier metro cars built under licence by Rotem.

SkyTrain is so expensive to build and operate (the driverless SkyTrain costs a lot more to operate than LRT systems the same size) that no other city in the world uses the light-metro exclusively for public transit.

TransLink has cunningly manipulated transit planning to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding. In the US, all new transit projects that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of transit peers selected and monitored by the federal government, to ensure that projects are analysed honestly, and the taxpayers’ interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US.

For less than half the cost of Kevin Falcon’s and Premier Campbell’s announced provincial transit plans, the city of Denver is building three times the ‘rail’ transit by building with LRT. Denver is spending $6 billion to increase its present light rail operation by 195 km.

Until we start building affordable ‘rail’ transit for the region, expect the Carbon/SkyTrain/Bombardier Tax to increase on an annual basis, until it bankrupts the province.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee


Don’t listen to commuter rail critics
The Chilliwack Progress
Published: February 26, 2008
Shortly, the BC government will release a report which will conclude that passenger rail service in the Fraser Valley will not be viable for at least another 20 years. After this report there will be more that follow saying the same thing. All manner of official statistics are being drawn on to prove rail has no place in the Lower Mainland. It is difficult to argue otherwise when these studies are put together by those who are opposed to rail and each report is designed merely to back up their claims. It is hard to make people understand by means of writing simple letters to newspapers that political opposition to rail is great, and to dispute countless twisted “facts”, “statistics”, and bogus “findings”. But consider that BC is now ranked as the most urbanized province in Canada, with nearly a million people living on the south side of the Fraser and virtually no transit options for Delta, South Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack, and none coming for at least another two decades and then only in the form of ill-proven and inadequate rapid buses.

The time has come for passenger rail connecting the Fraser Valley.

The city of Calgary already has an excellent light rail system and only has a million people, so how can we be expected to believe that it won’t work here with 2.5 million? Why do these same people ignore the terrific success of the West Coast Express? Why should we be the last major city in Canada to get light rail, simply because the money and vested political interest is tied up in roads and motor transport? Maybe you don’t even care, but you most assuredly will in just a few more years when tomorrow’s gas prices make today’s look like a bygone age, while today’s traffic woes are nothing compared to the storm that’s coming. We’ve got to get through to our political leaders now, today, while we can that Rail’s time has come. There is no basis whatsoever to the argument that passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley is not viable. Do not believe otherwise.

Support Rail for the Valley.

William Chambers
Chilliwack


Send message: Rail over roads
The Abbotsford News
Published: February 23, 2008
Editor, The News: We are now in a very crucial time with regards to transportation decisions in this province.

Many have spoken, and clearly stated our case.But we must not stop now. If we do, Premier Gordon Campbell, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon, and the new TransLink Board will do what they planned to do all along.

They all need to be convinced of the importance of “rail over roads” again and again.

We know better than they do what is the very best for us, our children and grandchildren. We must say it repeatedly, loudly and clearly, for they are very deaf and have very short memories.

We must hold our elected and non-elected officials in our democracy accountable. This is our job. We are responsible for what they decide, and we have to live with it.

Keep on speaking out!

Mail Premier Gordon Campbell, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4 ; Fax: 1-250-387-0087; e-mail: premier@gov.bc.ca ;or phone after 5:00 PM and leave a short message 1-250-387-1715.

Walt Friesen, Abbotsford


Light rail not that hard to figure out
The Abbotsford Times
Published: Friday, February 22, 2008
THE EDITOR: I find it hard to believe that we’re only now waking up to this.

Our people in Victoria and on the TransLink Board cannot be accused of seeing ahead.

How hard can it be to figure out that we don’t need the expense of Skytrain – just find a way to mate it with a light rail system and make use of what we already have.

All we have to do is look east to Calgary and Ralph’s Choo-Choo – we don’t even have to go as far as Europe.

How many miles of LRT could be built for the price of a roof on Robson Square?

Let’s quit sending dumbkoffs to Victoria.

Gill Picard,
Abbotsford


Rail would offer more options
The Chilliwack Progress
Published: February 22, 2008
A scientific survey of the vehicles using Highway No. 1 is urgently needed. Accurate details should be tabulated for all vehicles including hour of the day, days of the week, month, type of vehicle, purpose of trip, starting place, destination, etc.

After the facts are clear, sensible decisions about how to solve our traffic and air pollution problems can be made. The rift between the mayor and the public about whether to rebuild the light railway can be resolved. As it is, decisions on both sides are being made on assumptions. That does not endear the mayor to us. Many of us are ready to vote him out because he opposes the rebuilding of the light railway (interurban?) I don’t know the difference in meaning.

I think there is a growing predominance of huge trucks. I think most truck cargo should be in containers and be transferred to rail for most of their journey. How can this necessary change be speeded up?

There is a huge stockpile, or whatever, of containers near Abbotsford.

Why?

The trucks used to carry fresh produce from California and Mexico should be converted to carry the produce in containers by rail rather than on highways. Therefore perhaps more rail lines east to west and south to north are nec. That would make the roads less congested and safer, and reduce air pollution.

A lot of the Upper Fraser Valley pollution comes from south of the border.

I very much favour rebuilding of the light railway from Chilliwack via Yarrow and other stations to Surrey or Delta, or thereabouts.

Would it/should it be able to carry half size and huge containers destined for overseas shipment?

I have specialist appointments and special tests in New Westminster, Guilford and Surrey. Getting to them is always difficult and sometimes it is impossible to find a driver. Some people choose rather do without than pay for or feel indebted to a friend or volunteer driver.

I would dearly love to go to concerts and social events in Vancouver if I could go peacefully by train. Living in Chilliwack I am afraid to drive to Vancouver. I dread the journey. I even dread driving to Abbotsford.

Myrtle Macdonald,
Chilliwack


Message to politicians: Get on board or move off the track
The Chilliwack Progress
Published: February 22, 2008
I found the crowd at the Lions hall enthusiastic about commuter rail on the south side of the valley to match the north side. The politicians were shy to this meeting and that is good. There was a lot people who had ideas of their own when they came up to question the speakers. While that is not a bad thing, not staying on the topic is. This meeting was to decide what mode of rail was best, and a lot of different models of light rail came up in that class. Quite a few learned how railway laws work, and it is not as simple as it looks. It was a great afternoon at the Lions hall, and everybody walked away smiling with more optimism after than before the meeting.

The people of Chilliwack have met the challenge of putting an issue forward on passenger rail, a federal election looks closer now than three weeks ago. However I doubt if MPs will lose their seat on this one issue. But at least we should have one all party rail meeting so we know where they stand on the issue. They cannot hold us to the freeway, and be oblivious to alternatives when it’s been so obvious. If this is ignorance, lack of intelligence, or a silence response, we all overlook things sometimes.

If the issue were a speeding passenger train, and the politicians car was stalled on the crossing tracks it would get the same response. The train always wins. Politicians do not always win against a public train at high speed.

That is where the public in Chilliwack have left the politicians, on the crossing and they cannot stay there, get hit or get out of the way.

Interurban commuter rail is on its way, and its little sister light rail loves a big brother to join tracks with.

Bryan Vogler


Rebate better spent on transit
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Friday, February 22, 2008
Editor: It is a great pity that the provincial government, which is about to impose its green tax upon us, could have shown more foresight and have the intention to use the tax accrued to get going on developing a decent rail structure throughout the whole province.

I, for one, would forgo my $100 cheque if I knew that this money could be put to such a purpose.

I do, however, live in the hope that rail travel will eventually be forced onto any future government as I am reading that oil will be starting to run out around 2015.

Then we’d all better get used to living like Cubans.

Doug Morley,
Chilliwack


Time to provide better transit
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Editor: Oxymoron? I have seen this word used an awful lot of late in the media, Vancouver and Chilliwack especially.

It has confused me as to the situation with public transit. I live in Agassiz and if provided, would use public transit on a regular basis. I fail to comprehend the purpose of widening the Port Mann Bridge to accommodate more traffic and buses. Can you tell me where all these vehicles are going to park in the Lower Mainland once they get there? I’ve listened to the locals in the Fraser Valley who express their desire to have an existing rail line returned to service and I believe there is the possibility these trains would run on hydrogen? Sounds pretty good to me. Why not?

Arnie Kozak,
Agassiz


Need to stop being ‘insular’
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Editor: Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hames is doing his best to convince us that he is taking the prospect of real transportation solutions for the Lower Mainland seriously, but sadly this is not the case.

After being called out by John Buker to debate the issue publically with the Rail for the Valley group, you think he might have attended the transit forum held in Abbotsford that 200 others chose to attend two weeks ago. There, a panel of experts which included former Translink planners all but said that rail is the answer, its cost to B.C. taxpayers is a bargain, and the only thing stopping it from running right now at this moment and working is political roadblocks at the provincial, but primarily municipal level.

Are we hearing this? Because the crowd that left that forum sure did and hopefully it filters out into the general public who are still being deceived by all sorts of little facts which have been twisted to make them believe rail is expensive and not viable. The MLA of Abbotsford John Van Dongen even accused Abbotsford and Chilliwack of “insular thinking” and a genuine failure to work together and toward interurban transportation. When asked by John Buker if he knew of a study that our own mayor had stated would be released in a few months time at which point he then would be willing to talk about rail publically and back up his anti-rail claims, Mr. Van Dongen replied that he was unaware of any timetable on the study and implied that it was probably far off and not extremely significant.

And we don’t need to believe what Kevin Falcon tells us either, just because he is the Minister of Transportation and “somebody” let him know he’d better do something in Chilliwack and Abbotsford to discourage passenger rail, now that folks are starting to realize its time has come.

Hopefully those who are committed to achieving passenger rail for Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley will be able to continue to inform the public that all we have to do is demand it and we will get it, and that we won’t be misled any further by those who are trying to stop it.

William Chambers
Chilliwack


RapidBus not the answer to transit problems
The Chilliwack Progress, February 5, 2008
So Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon is on the stump, preaching for RapidBus, but he fails to mention where RapidBus has actually worked as predicted. The fact is, RapidBus has been around a long time, yet for the added cost of the mode, never achieved much. In Ottawa, after the RapidBus busways were opened, ridership dropped almost 16% in the first 11 years of operation. Ottawa is now planning for LRT. In Adelaide , Australia their expensive 0-Bahn guided bus (the ultimate of RapidBus)has proven spectacularly average, with ridership remaining at levels as non RapidBus routes. Transit official in Adelaide are now refurbishing the 80 year old Glenelg tramway to LRT standards.

There are many more examples of RapidBus disappointing its proponents.

The Lower Mainland is about 50 km wide and 110 km long which is 5500 sq. km, in which you have about 2 million people. This is about 365 people per sq km. Belgium has about 350 people per sq. km. and is criss-crossed with 3,500 km. of rail lines and Falcon only offers a rather limited RapidBus, sometime.

What Falcon is really saying is that his boss and former Vancouver mayor Gordon Campbell wants another multi-billion dollar showcase subway for Vancouver, at the expense of good ‘rail’ transit for the Fraser Valley. So Vancouver gets another hugely expensive yet needless subway while the rest get crumbs.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee


No foresight in transit plan
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Friday, February 01, 2008
Editor: The unveiling of the transit mega-plan will, no doubt, horrify those living in the South Fraser Valley, where the services and routes would have ultimately extended east to both Abbotsford and Chilliwack, and now will do so possibly by 2020. How about Hope?

The promise includes in total, for all areas (it is presumed) 600 more buses, which will sadden many when the amount of pollution spews forth into the atmosphere and may have been avoided with rail and trolley services. Why should the oldies worry about it anyway, we’ll all be underground by then.

What has not been taken into consideration is the less than farsighted appreciation of the movement of population and businesses to the South Fraser Valley as a result of the increasing house and suite prices in and around Vancouver, driving families further and further away.

The disturbing, distressing and breaking point of the transit plan is the lack of a rapid rail service to the South Fraser Valley and no hope of ever having something in the near future, even though the taxes collected are for all the people of British Columbia and not just for Vancouver, the surrounding suburbs and Victoria, which seems to be the opinion of the premier, as he splashes our money around his domain.

We, in the Fraser Valley, are British Columbians and do pay our taxes. So, how about a decent share of it.

Mary Hartman,
Chilliwack


Falcon’s announcement today about the Evergreen line, means that one has to change governments, to get rail to the valley. The Editor; So Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon is on the stump, preaching for RapidBus, but he fails to mention where RapidBus has actually worked as predicted.

The fact is, RapidBus has been around a long time, yet for the added cost of the mode, never achieved much. In Ottawa, after the RapidBus busways were opened, ridership dropped almost 16% in the first 11 years of operation. Ottawa is now planning for LRT. In Adelaide , Australia their expensive 0-Bahn guided bus (the ultimate of RapidBus)has proven spectacularly average, with ridership remaining at levels as non RapidBus routes. Transit official in Adelaide are now refurbishing the 80 year old Glenelg tramway to LRT standards.

There are many more examples of RapidBus disappointing its proponents.

The Lower Mainland is about 50 km wide and 110 km long which is 5500 sq. km, in which you have about 2 million people. This is about 365 people per sq km. Belgium has about 350 people per sq. km. and is criss-crossed with 3,500 km. of rail lines and Falcon only offers a rather limited RapidBus, sometime.

What Falcon is really saying is that his boss and former Vancouver mayor Gordon Campbell wants another multi-billion dollar showcase subway for Vancouver, at the expense of good ‘rail’ transit for the Fraser Valley. So Vancouver gets another hugely expensive yet needless subway while the rest get crumbs.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee


Write Campbell about transit
Abbotsford News, January 31, 2008
Editor, The News: Rapid buses to Abbotsford by 2020? SkyTrain to Langley by 2030? What century is our government living in?

We need action on our transportation quagmire, and we need it now!

A promise by the Ministry of Transportation to “look into” the feasibility of putting a commuter train on the already existing rail from Chilliwack to New Westminster is worse than nothing. It may lull many of us into believing the government is hearing us and will eventually get the rail line going again.

I’m here to tell you that no such thing will happen. I’ve had extended experience with the Ministry of Transportation of this government. Nothing except smoke and mirrors will happen, unless we all – each and every one of us who believe in rails over roads – will write, fax, email, or leave a phone message for the premier. Yes, the premier, because no one else in Victoria has any power to decide where, when, or how money is spent in B.C.

Thank-you for caring enough to act.

Walt Friesen,
Abbotsford

The addresses and phone and fax numbers for the Premier are: Premier Gordon Campbell, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C., V8V 1X4, Fax: 1-250-387-0087, e-mail: premier@gov.bc.ca


Make transit finance a priority
Abbotsford News, January 29, 2008
Editor, The News: The provincial government is going to study the feasibility of restarting the former Interurban transit line to connect with the transit system of the Lower Mainland.

But Abbotsford-Clayburn MLA John van Dongen cautioned that it can’t happen without the support of local politicians and cost sharing.

Why is it that paying for transit services is such a problem, when there is always money for projects such as a perimeter road from a new port facility, a new bridge over the Fraser for vehicle traffic, and for major improvements on highways such as has been done recently on the 401 through the Fraser Valley?

Yet the cost for transit improvements is often calculated in nickels and dimes as to who is going to pay, and there is always the assumption that the users must pay.

The implication of all this appears to be that the highway system is essential (obviously it is), and the transit system is a luxury that users must pay for.

It’s time that transit be considered essential, and it should be a provincial-federal expense as the highways are.

Many who use transit are those who cannot afford cars, many are on minimum wage etc., and yet they are being asked to share the burden of expense in creating better transit services that all can enjoy eventually.

The cost of the highway system is born by all taxpayers, and cost of transit should be born by all taxpayers.

People don’t pay a fee to drive on our highways; and by the same token fares on public transportation should be kept affordable.

I have heard people say that it was cheaper to drive their car than to use transit.

That doesn’t bode well for the future of transit.

Shirley Walker
Abbotsford


Rail the only way to go
Abbotsford News, January 26, 2008
Editor, The News: After living and working in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver-Burnaby-New Westminster area) for years, I retired to Chilliwack.

I used public transit in the past, and although there were and still are some pretty scary places when waiting for the bus or SkyTrain, the system on the whole was good.

I would like to see a similar rail system in the eastern Fraser Valley for several reasons – the most important one being an alternative to driving my car to visit friends or spend a day being a “tourist.”

Buses are not the answer, as far as I’m concerned. The buses can’t travel any faster than a car in the congestion of the freeway.

It took a while for people to accept the WestCoast Express (it was costly, you had to leave early and park your vehicle, etc.) but it does cut down on emissions and people are more relaxed when they get to their destination, because they don’t have to fight the traffic.

I think rail is the only way to go. Pay now or pay later, the taxpayer is going to absorb the cost, despite promises that they won’t.

I don’t think that the advocates of buses take future generations of working people into consideration. Our community is only going to grow, especially for young families, because Chilliwack is still affordable for working people.

Dora Hall
Chilliwack


Transit plan takes step back in time
The Delta Optimist
Published: Saturday, January 26, 2008
Editor: Gordon Campbell’s new $14 billion vision of transit, which seemed to be cobbled together on a back of an envelope, is based on failed 1950′s transit philosophy.

The real winner is Bombardier Inc., which will receive over $1 billion for new SkyTrain cars, cars no one else wants to buy.

Like the RAV/Canada Line, extending the SkyTrain Millennium Line to UBC will only take the current bus riders to the university and like subways elsewhere, will be poor in attracting new ridership. Building another cut-and-cover subway will destroy local Broadway businesses; the lessons of RAV are unlearned.

Rapid bus is another dated transit mode, which in the end tends to cost more than LRT and attracts fewer passengers. Ottawa’s busways (needed for Rapid Bus) cost more than LRT to build and the bus system saw a 16 per cent decline in ridership for the first 11 years of operation.

The transit mode of the 21st century is modern light rail, operating on-street/at-grade, taking the transit customer from where he lives to where he wants to go, in a seamless (no-transfer) journey. With over 100 new light rail systems opened in the past 25 years and an almost an equal amount either under construction or in the late stages of planning, it underscores the fact LRT is the transit mode to alleviate transit woes. But not in Vancouver!

The taxpayer is saddled with massively expensive transit plans, based on dated, obsolete or even failed transit philosophy, which in the end will prove very poor in offering an attractive transit alternative that will entice the motorist from the car. The high taxes to fund such a mistake will further burden the poor with high taxes and compel them to move further out into the Fraser Valley.

It should come as no surprise that those who penned this plan, seldom if ever use the transit system and have never read a book on the subject.

Malcolm Johnston,
Light Rail Committee


Quick action needed to encourage commuter rail in Fraser Valley
Chilliwack Progress, January 25, 2008
The time is now! We have about two weeks to let Mr. Campbell know that his plan for transportation in the Lower Mainland is not enough, and we will not stand for it. We have more funds available for this purpose than ever before. And it will be a long time before this ever happens again.

Will we let Mr. C. spend much of the available funds on his pet motorcar project – The Gateway? And will we let the GVRD spend most of the rest of it on themselves? Surely the federal and provincial funds now made available are not for GVRD only.

We need to send a loud and clear message (from about 10,000 of us) to Mr. Campbell that his plan has some good points but is not good enough.

Further we need to insist on scrapping The Gateway and embracing The Corridor instead. To be effective, this rail corridor must connect both Chilliwack and Abbotsford to Langley, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, Vancouver, and Coquitlam. Nothing less will make even a dent in the control, not to mention the reduction of greenhouse gases.

We need to send 10,000 faxes, e-mails, letters, or phone messages to Mr. C. and a copy to at least one newspaper to give each message double impact. Mr. Campbell and Translink need to know that what they propose needs to be amended drastically.

Let’s do it, and let’s do it now!


Transit woes plague Fraser Valley and anger readers
The Abbotsford Times
Published: Friday, January 18, 2008
THE EDITOR: Re: Transit Plan Panned [Page 3, Tuesday Jan. 15.]

While I had hoped for a glimmer of hope for services past Langley, especially to connect the Abbotsford International Airport with the travelers from Metro Vancouver, while Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and Premier Gordon Campbell were back-slapping their fellow politicos prior to the announcement, when no mention was made of the Valley past Langley, I knew we were yet again to be a bridesmaid.

Even more astounding was the post-announcement reaction of our MLAs John van Dongen and Mike de Jong.

For both to say this will benefit the valley leads me to two scenarios.

Both MLAs were either under the influence of some infamous valley weed, or both had been standing in the face of the Valley Transfer Station when they made their comments.

Both missed the mark. Not so surprising was the reaction of Abbotsford Coun. and transit advocate Lynn Harris, with her comment that the citizens of Abbotsford will feel we got left out ‘a little bit.’

Councillor, if we were in fact left out, ‘a little bit’ as you suggest, I would hate to see the valley, and the City of Abbotsford being totally neglected by our beloved Liberals.

[A] tip of the cap to John Vissers, the only one of the lot with a clear, albeit, sorry view of reality. Once again the valley [was] gassed by Victoria, John van Dongen and Mike de Jong included, no matter how they may try to tap-dance this traffic minefield.

Rob Ironside
Abbotsford


Langley needs rapid transit Langley Times, January 16, 2008 Editor: As a concerned Langley citizen, I, along with many around me, feel that the new plan for rapid transit expansion in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley region is not going to be efficient enough.

On Monday. Township Mayor Kurt Alberts said on television that Langley does not need rapid transit as much as it needs local buses. He said that Langley residents do not want to travel into Vancouver, thus we don’t need to extend the SkyTrain into Langley.

This was a poor spin by Alberts to avoid the truth, which is that he simply was lazy in fighting for the extension of rapid transit into Langley. Vancouver city has greater political sway and the Langley Township mayor seems to be either complacent in his position of power or he is scared of disrupting the political game by demanding that Langley’s needs are met.

I concede and agree fully that Langley needs a better bus system within its borders, but I completely disagree with the statement that Langley residents do not want or need to leave the area via transit.

The news report had already stated that 90 per cent of people working in Vancouver are living in suburbs. Langley is one of those suburbs.

Increasing rapid transit service into Vancouver would cut the congestion on Highway 1 and Highway 99. Highway 1 is always backed up during rush hour right to the 200 Street exit, and investing in rapid transit for the Fraser Valley would greatly reduce this line-up.

It would also reduce the large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions that result from this commuting.

When Alberts stated that Langley residents don’t travel into Vancouver on transit, he was somewhat right. Langley residents don’t take transit because it takes two and one-half hours to get into Vancouver on the current transit system.

Not only has Langley been ignored in this new transit policy, so has the rest of the Fraser Valley. Abbotsford and beyond is completely cut off from the rest of the Lower Mainland under this new transit plan.

If Langley had the SkyTrain out this far, there could be express buses from the SkyTrain out into the valley. That would continue to reduce traffic that would otherwise be polluting our air.

Alberts either does not have enough spine to defend his constituents, or he is ignoring the fact that Langley residents do not wish to be isolated from the rest of the Lower Mainland and would rather have more innovative and environmentally friendly ways to commute, instead of having to rely on vehicles that continue to add to the growing problem of global warming and environmental (as well as health) disasters.

Instead of saving for money for the destructive Gateway project, we should be investing in better transit options that will help sustain the fast-growing populations of the Lower Mainland.

Transit in Europe should serve as a good role model for us. Their rapid transit systems serve millions in high density areas and they do not suffer from congestion.

One can take transit to most reaches of the European Union and not need a gasoline- powered vehicle. Canadians, especially those on the West Coast, should take note and follow older countries’ innovative measures.

We will soon be home to many more millions, as world population continues to rise.

Ashley Zarbatany,
Langley


‘Why do all the transit ideas end in Langley?’
The Province, Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Premier Gordon Campbell has announced that billions of dollars will be spent on transit. But yet again, Fraser Valley residents get nothing but the bill. We need a train on this side of the Fraser River.

Mission already has the West Coast Express. But if the government wants fewer vehicles on the road, then something must be done on the corridor stretching from Hope through Chilliwack and Abbotsford into Vancouver.

Most of these areas are booming with people who have moved out into the valley. So why do all the transit ideas end in Langley?

The Trans-Canada Highway is on the Abbotsford side of the Fraser River, and a bus heading from Abbotsford into Vancouver will be struck in traffic, just as I am in my car.

Bring the train out to the valley. Why should we pay for transit if we are getting nothing?

Rick Fladager,
Abbotsford


Letter, Vancouver Sun: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 The multi-billion-dollar transit announcement is a superb example of PR smoke and mirrors. The only things that are new are the bus lanes; the $2-billion airport line is not new money. What the plan is saying is: Don’t expect real new progress until 2020 is past. Meanwhile, we will spend your money on the damaging new Fraser River bridge instead of putting it into rail links for freight and rail transit development for commuters in the valley. Thank you, Mr. Campbell, for your hypocrisy when it comes to the environmental challenges we face.

Andrew Demain


More roads not wanted Chilliwack Progress, January 15, 2008 I was reading the editorial in the Chilliwack Progress from January 8 2008. It just makes my blood curdle.

Finding low-tech transit solutions? One of the more intelligent suggestions on ways to offer better transit for the Fraser Valley came just before the Christmas break.

Good grief. It also said “Few politicians are prepared to ask voters for the billions of dollar necessary to build commuter rail this far east, especially when money can’t be found to complete parts of the existing SkyTrain network”

Tell me how much money it will take to widen the road to make a bus lane? Doesn’t that also cost billions of dollars.

Building roads is not a solution to any problem. More roads, more cars, more buses adds up to more pollution we don’t want a new road.

I am just a housewife with some simple common sense. Why is it so hard to relate. You also charge money to ride the rail, which would be packed, guaranteed. All of the taxpayers want a rail not a bus and not a new road for a bus.


Attn: Editor, The News, It’s a good thing that amenities will be provided on the proposed commuter bus to downtown Vancouver (re: Westcoast Express eyes premium commuter buses, Jan 03, 2008). Passengers will need as many distractions as possible while waiting to cross the Port Mann. Unless the bus has optional wings, or a link to the Abbotsford Airport, it will be stuck in the same traffic congestion that car drivers find themselves trapped in on their daily commute. In fact, traffic congestion on the Port Mann is the reason transit bus service was stopped decades ago on the same route. There is, however, an alternative that our elected leaders can provide in a cost effective and timely manner. Our older residents will recall that that a commuter and freight rail service, the Interuban, ran from New Westminister to Chilliwack from 1910 to 1950. Some library and online research shows that the rail lines still exist. We now find ourselves in a situation where road construction has not kept up with population growth and additional roads will only temporarily relieve the pressure. With our knowledge of the environmental impact of automobiles and the cost and complexity of buiding additional roads, the time has come to re-activate Interurban service. The tracks already exist and only need to be upgraded. The route runs through all of the population centers, in the Fraser Valley, south of the Fraser river. We now have 10 times the population that existed when the line was originaly constructed. Interurban service is independant of any roads and can be connected with the Surrey skytrain to provide service to downtown Vancouver. I, for one, would gladly sell one of my vehicles and commute by train if the service was available. It’s time to look at all of our options and provide a commuting solution that is environmentally responsible, services the majority of Fraser Valley residents and does not add to congestion on our overcrowded roads . Sincerly, Al Pearson


Commuter rail plan a breath of fresh air
Chilliwack Progress, January 11, 2008
More and more, I worry about what kind of community we will be living in, in future years. Congestion, smog, hot hazy summers and growing population have me wondering why, with global warming becoming more and more evident and in need of active response, we cannot focus on some type of light rail rapid transit to the Eastern Fraser Valley? We need a more sustainable method of travel back and forth from Vancouver. We need to assure future generations of their right to breathe clean air in Chilliwack!


Commuter rail needed in Chilliwack
Chilliwack Progress, January 11, 2008
A short time ago I received an e-mail from Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon. We had mailed him a petition about the lack of commuter rail service from Chilliwack to Vancouver. Well, he got back to me two months later with the message that the B.C. Government would consider bus service from Chilliwack in the future (he didn’t say when ….). He claimed that rail service would be too expensive and inappropriate.

I can just see it buses being stuck in the long line-ups on with all the other traffic. What a foolish idea.

Any ideas what the Gateway plan will cost us?

We need commuter rail service from Chilliwack now via either the old interurban or the CN tracks both in place.

Alphonse Litjens


Dear Editor, Today I found myself driving from Abbotsford to Langley to Fort-Langley and back home to Aldergrove after class at UCFV to drop off a couple of friends who are unable to get home from their evening classes any other way. They were discussing spending the night at peoples’ houses and the etiquette of it all and I was wondering why they should have to consider that as the only possible option. Well, with transit as it is at present this is sometimes the only option left for students. Driving is expensive and frequently time-consuming (both for the amount of time one spends in traffic or paying for it), but transit in the Fraser Valley takes even longer. Translink is the most expensive transit services in the country but the buses in the Fraser Valley outside of Vancouver don’t run often or late in most areas, and the bus from Abbotsford to Aldergrove (part of ValleyMax) doesn’t run past 5:47 p.m. I see a lot wrong with this picture, and so do others it seems because we’re having this conversation while attempting to patch together carpools.

Simple solutions to the problems of getting people from point A to point B, our growing traffic congestion, and the crummy state of the environment are few and far between; however, I believe that there is great potential in the movement proposed by Rail for the Valley to bring back the Interurban railway.

I believe that as residents of a burgeoning metropolis we have a right to be able to get around in a safe, economical, environmentally sustainable way without too much fuss. There are more than enough people in the Fraser Valley to warrant a proper transit system so I start to wonder why we are we wasting our efforts on projects like Gateway which, while it may help relieve some of the traffic congestion presently, will not be of much use when it is finished and our population has exploded beyond the capabilities of even those mega-highways to handle.

Better transit first, I say, starting with some railway tracks, and then we can decide if we need Gateway.

H.A. Hogeterp


Worried about our future The Chilliwack Times Friday, January 11, 2008

Editor:

I am at the age now where my grandson’s future is becoming more important than my own. I worry about what kind of community we will be living in. Congestion, smog, hot hazy summers and growing population have me wondering why, with global warming becoming more and more in our faces, we cannot focus on rapid transit to the Eastern Fraser Valley?

Our mayor says he does not want to become a bedroom community and yet, when I see the number of people buying up the large numbers of houses and townhouses being built in the area, I wonder what planet he is on?

Kirsten Hauge
Chilliwack


Dear editor, As Fraser Valley communities continue to grow, the need for an affordable, sustainable transportation alternative to the car becomes more urgent. The answer is passenger rail. A movement of support is surging, spearheaded by initiatives such as Rail for the Valley who aim to educate the public and push the government into action. The Interurban service began 98 years ago; its revival has many advantages including existing infrastructure, short completion time, low cost, environmental benefits and a quick, relaxing ride. Now it’s time to get the train moving! Let the government know that their far off, expensive promises aren’t good enough, that we need rail now! Learn how to get involved at www.railforthevalley.com.

Erika Rathje
Surrey


Editor: Here’s a message from the south side of the Fraser Valley to the people of Metro Vancouver. Think your streets are crowded now? Think your air is polluted? Just wait til the Port Mann Bridge is twinned.

Twice the present vehicle capacity will mean twice the cars, trucks and buses coming in to clog your streets and parking spaces. Sound good?

A better idea for our tax dollars? COMMUTER RAIL. Please urge our government to (instead) restore the Interurban Railway. That’s the tram, or electric streetcar, that served the Valley from 1910 to 1950. Its tracks are still there. The rolling stock needn’t be fancy like the West Coast Express — just something that travels from A to B. With this done, many of us who now drive SOVs (single-occupancy-vehicles) would be able to come in by train. Then you wouldn’t see, smell or hear our cars — we’d have left them at home. Sound better?

Yours truly,

Val Ridsdale


Hello to the residents of Metro Vancouver, You don’t know us but you’ve seen us many times and probably cursed us a few times as well. We share (i.e. clog up) your streets and highways, take up your city parking spaces and pollute your air. But, believe me, this isn’t our choice. We are the commuters of the Fraser Valley who have few other viable options in getting to work or school other than to drive our cars into your space. We would much rather be able to board a train that would whisk us up the valley where we could link up with efficient transit connections to arrive at our destination. Trust me, we do not appreciate the daily commuter grind anymore than you. Time spent in traffic gridlock, costly gasoline burned and pollution spewed into our mutual airshed is not how any of us want to live our lives.

Please tell the provincial government that the time for Rail for the Valley has come. Further waffling (commuter busses by 2013??) is intolerable. Please give us back what was taken from us almost 60 years ago … a new Interurban Rail service. It will benefit us all.

Sincerely,
Andrea Mikulan,
Abbotsford


Clear DayGentleman: The lower mainland is hedging on dysfunctional, having only one form of inefficient passenger transportation. Anyone unfortunate enough to have to drive Highway 1 and its branches, on a daily basis, surely deserves sympathy. The rumoured suggestion of commuter buses on yet more highways and bridges is a Band-Aid solution on a femoral artery puncture. The costs in time, fuel and air quality will continue to soar as politicians ignore these types of issues as if they, fossil fuel and car lobbyists will be untouched by the consequences…. the planet does not differentiate a Hummer driver from a bicyclist. Time (overtime) to get with the program, BC politicians, and put light rail passenger service on the agenda. Deborah Crawford
Chilliwack, BC


Dear Sir: Now that the price of crude oil has exceeded $100 a barrel and gasoline at the pump is forecast to go well beyond $1.50 per litre, surely we need to find transportation solutions more economical than automobiles and roads. Economics is making alternatives like light rail more and more feasible despite what the politicians claim. The future is clear. Bob Hocking
Chilliwack


Short End of the Transit Stick The whole concept of “improved service” for public transit anywhere outside the GVRD seems to be completely lost on TransLink, BC Transit and our local, as well as federal governing agents. For years the South Fraser region and farther out east, has always gotten the short end of the stick as far as transit goes. I have lived in the lower mainland for almost 50 years, paying my taxes, and listening to all the transportation groups over the years, say the need is in Vancouver where the majority of people live and work. We had to move to Chilliwack to be able to purchase a home and build a life. Let me tell you.there really is no such thing as transit of any kind out here!

I am part of a large group of people living in Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack, (well over 1,200 strong as of this date) all looking to find support from other communities on its borders, for a Light Rail Transit

system, using tracks from the old Interurban Rail tracks of the early 1900′s. This would link the Fraser Valley, from Chilliwack out west, with Surrey and ultimately with New Westminster.

How many times have we all heard that “something” will be done in the next 20 years? We need a real alternative to traffic congestion and we need that “something” now! Before it gets completely out of financial reach because as we all know, everything only goes up in price. TransLink is considering adding a ‘West Coast Express Bus’ from Chilliwack to downtown Vancouver. I hardly think this is a real solution to the problem.

We need a rail system that allows the user to transfer to other modes of transportation and travel throughout the region. In doing this, there’s also the initiative to preserve the quality of our air and lowering, and hopefully one day, preventing green house gasses from being emitted and destroying our planet.

Will our children and children’s children be expected to pay for all this, as we and television all preach to do something now about saving our planet? What kind of message are we sending them when many of us are doing what we can, but in fact the governing agents are actually doing very little about it? And in Chilliwack’s case, there are no other options but TO drive.

I’m sick of paying taxes and hearing platitudes from all governing agents. Vancouver is NOT the only city in our region that deserves good transit – and it’s time for TransLink, BC Transit and both the Provincial and Federal governments to realize that! Start earning the salary we all help to pay, by putting my money where your mouth is because Chilliwack is sick of being treated like a poor country cousin when it comes to Transit. We need our rail back and we need it now!

L. Bowman
Chilliwack, BC


Dear editor, 98 years ago, Interurban passenger rail service from Vancouver to Chilliwack commenced. Today, there are continuous rumblings that can be heard coming up through the woodwork all across the valley. Ordinary people are making some noise. Bumper stickers are selling out at www.railforthevalley.com. Everywhere you go people are talking – Why can’t we ride in trains instead of being stuck in traffic? Why are the powers-that-be not doing something? Do they think this issue will just go away?

Another year has passed.

We now hear suggestions of a “premium bus” service bandied about. I guess our provincial politicians and translink bureaucrats are beginning to feel the heat – but dressing up a bus as a train and calling it “Westcoast Express” insults the intelligence of all of us. The proposal is nothing more than a glorified Greyhound, and will do very little to get vehicles off our road.

What we need is a real alternative to traffic congestion, for you and for me.

We need our rail back, and we need it now!

Get involved. Visit www.railforthevalley.com.

John Buker
Chilliwack


The Editor; The City of Vancouver, upon hearing the residents of the Fraser Valley asking for improved transit including the reinstatement of the interurban, is now demanding a SkyTrain subway to UBC! What Vancouver demands, Victoria’s politicians deliver. Vancouver, like the spoiled child it is, wants very expensive subways (even though subways have proven poor in attracting new ridership) instead of elevated light-metro. Vancouver got RAV/Canada Line at least four times the cost of LRT built on the existing former rapid transit route the Arbutus Corridor.

The city of Vancouver’s cherished subway is being greatly subsidised by regional taxpayers, yet very few will be able to use it. Added to this TransLink has the highest transit fares($5.00 3-zone) in North America. It is time valley residents demand provincial Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon to force Vancouver City taxpayers to pay for needless subway construction and transit tax money collected in the Fraser Valley, spent on transit projects in the Fraser Valley.

Vancouver’s residents enjoy expensive ‘electric’ trolley buses and two (soon to be 3) metro lines, yet the transit fare in the city is a mere $2.50.

It is time for Fraser Valley politicians and taxpayers demand that the Campbell Liberals stop favouring Vancouver with both cheap transit fares and needless expensive metro subway construction.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee


Democracy: By the people for the people right? Then why is it that Politicians won’t listen to what the people of the fraser valley want? We need a fast, affordable, green alternative to commuting into Vancouver and other cities nearby. The answer to this is to reinstall the interurban passanger rail system. We had it before, and most of the old track still exists, making cost and workload less of an issue. The rail could connect the towns from Chillwack to Surrey. Opening up a clean, cheap and overall easy way to get from the valley to the big cities. Let’s face it, the towns and cities in the fraser valley are growing up. We have more and more people all the time. All these people need jobs, some of which will inevitably be out of town. These people also want to enjoy the many other things the big city has to offer, like concerts, shopping and sports events. Not to mention with the olympics on the horizon interurban rail would be an exellent way to include more people in this historic event. This would be avantagous for the People of Vancouver and the other big cities as well. it would bring new customers more often to their business all while decreasing the traffic congesting amidst the urban sprall, making the cities more enjoyable for everyone. Not to mention it would make it eaiser for urban dwellers to get out of the hustleand bustle of the city and enjoy the scenic fraser valley. Ah the best of both worlds for both sides! Everyone can enjoy the city and the country, and without the fun of sitting in traffic all day! So now it lies with the politicans, the people have spoken! We want our rail for the valley back! The ownus lies with you. Democracy is at work.

Paul Falardeau


Dear Editor, At this moment, all across the world countries are either building anew or re-building their railway systems. Among others, Europe and Japan have steadily increased their passenger and freight services over the past 50 years in favour of a more congestion-free and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Yet here in Vancouver we ignore world trends, and despite claiming that we live in a “world class” city, one of the hallmarks of all true world class cities – a decent passenger rail system – is next to non-existent. I would like to join the call for our government to begin to correct this glaring omission in our transportation system, and suggest as a start that Interurban passenger service between Vancouver and Chilliwack be reinstated.

Never-ending congestion and the increasing costs of oil make one thing clear: the days of the single occupancy vehicle are numbered, and we need to begin (re)planning an alternative now!

Sincerely,
Corey Newcomb


Dear Editor, Everywhere I go I find encouragements to lower my ecological footprint: advertisements on busses, newspaper articles, and university classes. After opting for public transit in the fall of 2007, I feel that instead of being rewarded, I am being punished with absolutely inadequate service and expensive fares. Public transit south of the Fraser is long overdue for some forward thinking planning and implementation. As a public transit using student attending UCFV, my commute time is triple that of car commuting students. Bussing to UCFV from Langley costs me 3 hours per day. Nearly a third of that is spent waiting outside due to poorly planned connections, often without weather cover. The transit trip spans two Transit systems: TransLink and ValleyMAX, costing users $9 per day to commute to and from their destination. On top of this, I am unable to attend evening and night classes because the Abbotsford/Aldergrove connection does not run past 6PM. It’s no wonder we aren’t a bus culture!

The sprawling Fraser Valley needs an alternative to congested freeways and inadequate busses. The growing and proactive movement Rail for the Valley is the forward thinking eyes for the seemingly blind congested car culture. Commuter rail could cut through the disparate, inefficient, and expensive bus systems to service the spread communities of Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack.

And we aren’t a train culture? I have never even had a chance to be a part of one.

Nathan John Moes


“WestCoast Express eyes premium commuter buses” Here we have another consultant being paid big bucks to study a premium bus service sponsored by Translink. Something in me raises a big red flag when I read that article. My friends have horror stories trying to commute by bus to Vancouver and in that regard I support change. It is very necessary to own a car here in Abbotsford because the transit connections outside our city are missing. Translink wants Highway coaches and Double-Decker highway coaches to enhance the areas not served by the WestCoast Express. These riders will still be subjected to the traffic volume and variable commutes because they are traveling on our existing highways. How does this support our reduction in greenhouse gases? Who is profiting from these studies and how much will be going to fund the millennium overrides when/if Translink comes out to Abbotsford and Chilliwack. I think a viable alternative would be a dependable rail service. This will take traffic off the highways and could be initiated on the existing tracks in our valley. I believe this is extremely important especially with our aging society and the new regional hospital about to open.. We have commuters coming as far as Hope for work or medical appointments some traveling as far as Surrey and New Westminster. The highway is very aggressive to navigate especially during the morning and evening hours. I prefer to travel outside of these hours and still find the volume extreme but I have an option because I drive. I am concerned about the regular person who needs to get to the other end of the valley or the senior who has turned in their license.

The front page article leaves you with the impression the Westcoast Express is an affluent work related commute and possibly this is the case. The hours never worked for me to take it to Vancouver even if there was a bus connection to Mission from Abbotsford. A rail service was available in the 1950′s for the whole valley and could work again with some good will.

(Ms) Terry Broadworth,
Abbotsford, BC


Total lack of transit choice The Chilliwack Times Published: Friday, December 14, 2007

Editor:

People of the South Fraser Valley will be elated to hear that the mayors of Delta, Surrey, White Rock, the City of Langley and the Township of Langley unanimously rejected the draft plan aimed at improving transit south of the Fraser river, feeling that it did not meet the needs of the rapidly growing region. Now a formal letter rejecting the South Fraser Area Transit draft plan will be mailed to Translink stating these objections.

The mayors stated that it focused too much on trips to destinations outside of the South Fraser Valley region, when 80 per cent of those trips do not cross the river.

As Translink’s 25-year plan for this area is estimated to cost $1.3 billion, presumably including the twinning of the Port Mann bridge (not necessary), 376 new fleet vehicles, 60 kilometres of new bus lanes or busways and upgraded facilities, such as exchanges, transit depots and bus stops, all this expense could include instead those associated with a rapid rail transit service which is needed south of the river. Translink should concentrate more on SkyTrain extensions to get cars off the roads to reduce greenhouse emissions.

People of the South Fraser Valley do not want fleets of pollution spewing buses rushing up and down Highway 1, all and every day and many have suggested that a modern rapid rail transit service be delivered from Hope to Surrey, up the middle of Highway 1.

The thought of 367 buses (plus 300 more, estimated to be short), is horrendous and the amount of pollution unimaginable, if Translink’s plans go ahead. The rapid growth of Chilliwack with many condominiums and other building plans for the near future, already has a bumper-to-bumper situation every lunch hour and quitting time.

Without a regular transit service the population of the South Fraser Valley has no other choice but to use their cars and Translink should take note of this problem. The urgency for action is now, not years into the future.

Mary Hartman

Chilliwack


Light rail must be priority
Burnaby Now
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Dear Editor: For the record, although I would not oppose the Gateway project if it included light rail transit as a primary and equal solution to the Port Mann Bridge problem, I feel that light rail should take precedence over adding more lanes and cars.

It is amusing to read the pro-Gateway sheep such as Silvester Law (No conspiracy at work, Letters to the editor, Burnaby NOW, Oct. 20) write in with no real arguments except to say that the arguments of the naysayers are baseless and unfounded. Mr. Law argues that “there is no conspiracy” at work behind the Gateway Project.

Let’s think about the “no conspiracy” argument. The problem is that there are too many automobiles because there is no alternative for commuters to get across the Port Mann Bridge. The Gateway project calls for an accommodation of the status quo (cars) method of commuting as the primary solution with rapid light rail transit as a “possible” solution after the bridge is twinned and more lanes added.

There is nothing creative or innovative in this plan, and the rapid transit rail line may not be built as more lanes and cars are being touted as the only primary option.

The conspiracy: Despite the problem that too many people are using cars due to no alternatives such as rapid rail transit, it has been decided that accommodating more automobile usage will be the primary solution. Despite automobile pollution being an increasing problem, it has been decided that the “solution” will be to allow for more cars (resulting in more pollution) to pass through the same corridor without rapid rail transit over the Port Mann crossing and without expansion of the existing Expo Line to Langley even being considered as a primary solution.

What is wrong with a light rail transit connection from the Braid SkyTrain station out to Langley and beyond along Highway 1? More cars on more lanes is not the solution if there is no alternative. Build light rail over the bridge at the same time as the bridge is twinned, and we will see which commuting option is more attractive in 10 years when automobile traffic plugs up the twinned Port Mann Bridge. In the long run, money will be saved as the building of the light rail will be more costly in the future.

Either there is a conspiracy when it comes to the Gateway plan, or Mr. Law can not see the flaw in the current plan. Which is it, Mr. Law? Your silly pro-Gateway letters will be remembered in 10 years when there is no light rail, a clogged, twinned Port Mann Bridge and more automobile pollution.

Harmel Guram, Burnaby


Elected officials need to speak up
Chilliwack Times
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Editor: As a government you have been touting “green,” save energy, cut greenhouse gases, car pools, even transit.

You offer $50 million over 10 years for new buses–that’s a joke, right?

Or 20 express buses for the Fraser Valley East over six years? Ha!

We need rail now, not buses later.

The right-of-way is still there, as are most of the rails, CN mainline, and the will of the people.

What we need now is the will of our elected officials.

I wait to hear from you.

Fred Gehrs,

Chilliwack

P.S. When is the next election scheduled? I look forward to seeing something by then.


Inaction = gridlock
Langley Advance
Published: Friday, October 19, 2007
Dear Editor, As a car-less bus rider, I was excited to hear that rapid transit access to Burnaby and other communities on the north side of the Fraser River might soon be a reality for residents of the valley [Rapid bus service reaching Langley, Oct. 9, Langley Advance].

Our provincial government’s proposed twinning of the Port Mann Bridge will allow new express buses to carry riders from park and rides along the Number One highway over the bridge and will connect to transit services, like SkyTrain, on the other side. I was excited until I read further and noticed an incredible oversight in the logic of the government’s plan.

A recent government news release reads: “An express bus service will establish transit’s presence along this corridor, which leaves the way open for future rail options depending on growth and development in the south-of-Fraser region.”

Unfortunately, this vision overlooks the fact that rapid transit lines can and should play important roles in shaping and promoting residential development, not just reacting to it.

What’s more, when communities develop without transit in mind, it makes incorporating rapid transit in the future even less likely. Sprawled communities don’t produce the ridership densities necessary for effective rapid transit, and low-ridership projections are likely to deter cost-averse governments from the pursuit of such projects.

However, when rapid transit lines are incorporated into community developments from the get-go, the chances for dense, transit-focused development are high, and ultimately higher levels of ridership result.

No matter what, rapid transit projects are expensive in the short-term. Nonetheless, short-term pain for long term regional livability trumps short-term inaction resulting in certain long term pain: gridlock.

If we have learned nothing else from SkyTrain development, it is that commuter rail lines, once built, affect the way a region develops. One has only to look to the high-density developments that cluster around SkyTrain stations through Burnaby and Surrey.

In these communities, transit led, and compact development followed.

When you prioritize highway expansion and neglect rapid transit, sprawl follows. It is counter-intuitive to talk of eventually providing commuter rail service to a region that has is allowed to develop in an environment where rapid transit is non-existent and where the focus is on freeway expansion.

Citizens expect government to exercise leadership. We expect not merely reaction to changes, but long-term planning that shapes the way our communities develop. By not aggressively pursuing the construction of rapid rail transit to serve communities in the Fraser Valley, our government commits us to a model of suburban development that is harmful to community, the environment, and human health.

We are already choking on Vancouver’s air pollution, we cannot afford to be further asphyxiated by our own.

Communities south of the river have been unfairly neglected by infrastructure allocations in the buildup to 2010. The provincial government has an obligation to address the concerns of frustrated commuters living in the Fraser Valley.

It also has an obligation to make clear that, in addressing these concerns, it faces a choice between myopic freeway expansion and a long-term, transit-focused vision for the Fraser Valley.

Alex Etchell, Langley


Put rail transit down centre of Hwy 1
Chilliwack Progress
Published: October 19, 2007
Despite the many letters and emails floating around B.C. and especially from the Fraser Valley, championing a new rapid rail transit service from Hope to Vancouver – particularly as far as Surrey, to join an extended SkyTrain system from The King George Highway out to Highway 1, there seems to be a tunnel vision mentality where no one appears to be able to move out of this rut. They are harping continuously about twinning the Port Mann bridge and widening Highway 1, to accommodate the ever expanding traffic. For whom are the experts catering, when we hear about the 20 new buses, in the future plans, which will be crossing the Port Mann bridge every 10 to 15 minutes – from where and to where? Just think of all that pollution spewing out into the atmosphere, compared to a rail service.

No one can deny that a definite increase in traffic exists in Chilliwack and along Highway 1, as the population begins moving eastward and who can blame them, when the exorbitant cost of condominiums and houses in and around Vancouver is driving young families and businesses elsewhere, usually eastward, out into the Fraser Valley.

Furthermore, we now have the ever increasing cost of fuel, with which to deal and for lack of available jobs locally, workers are now finding themselves forced to seek positions in surrounding towns and cities, sometimes travelling long distances. If using a car, the cost in money and frustration would be daunting, but a nice quiet relaxing rail trip would be most attractive. With global warming hanging over everyone’s head, the less pollution spewing into the atmosphere means we do not want to suffer the consequences by increasing the problem, and should find the easiest way around it – rail systems!

Why can’t the middle lane of Highway 1 be used for a rapid transit rail system, from Hope to Surrey and from there to an extended Sky Train meeting Highway 1, and express Sky Trains to Vancouver or other necessary stoppages? Few would then need the Port Mann bridge, missing those worrisome bottlenecks, accidents, long hours on the road, frustrated and angry drivers, arriving home refreshed, relaxed and ready to enjoy the family atmosphere.

Naturally, there would have to be more SkyTrain carriages etc., built and the expense of its extension to Highway 1 from King George Highway, but, at least no one would have to worry about going over the Port Mann Bridge. Think of those happy commuters.

Mary Hartman


Buses not the answer
The Abbotsford News
Published: October 18, 2007
Editor, The News: The movement for increased transit in the valley is making headway.

We’ve been promised a connecting bus from Abbotsford to Vancouver in six years. Unfortunately, that pathetic attempt at appeasement is a joke.

Buses will do little to relieve traffic. Studies of bus usage (Australia’s O-Bahn comes to mind) show that even with a more convenient bus system, few people are willing to change their ways, and these new bus lines do little to increase ridership, even when the system is able to avoid traffic, which our eventual route will not.

Light rail, on the other hand, does create a significant amount of transit users where there were drivers before.

Current estimates for the reinstitution of existing rail lines and building of supplemental infrastructure to create a 90-kilometre interurban line put the price tag at $1 billion.

To put that in perspective, the 19 kilometres that make up the RAV/Canada line are costing $2.4 billion, and Kevin Falcon’s proposed Gateway Project for highway expansion would run up a $3 billion bill.

Stephen Jersak

Abbotsford


Trains past promises
Langley Advance
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Dear Editor, Heavy freight trains are going to be longer and there are going to be at least 40 of these trains coming right through the centre of Langley.

When these trains come, we can say goodbye to light passenger trains forever, since there will be too many trains now, and these heavy freight trains will be using a stretch of the old Inter Urban tracks.

In September, 1968, Langley municipality was promised that there would only be one freight train per day each way.

There is a solution to get the super port, and that is to replace the New Westminster rail bridge to facilitate using the industrial corridor through Delta.

To replace one bridge, compared to nine bridges at about $38 million each, would be a bargain. The bridges being promised are not even on the major roads, and if they were, they would negatively affect businesses, as it does now with the 204th Street overpass.

We have paid taxes to the Greater Vancouver Regional District for years, and we have received nothing back. In and around the 1950s, we were sold a bill of goods that getting out of light rail and into carbon monoxide-producing vehicles was the way to go. I cannot believe we are being conned again.

Please, for the sake of health, sustaining our environment, and our property prices, do not surrender to this dangerous plan. Trains do have accidents, and they do carry hazardous materials.

We need to work as a team and show the politicians who want to get elected again that we must modify Gateway now.

The politicians are not taking us seriously, since the people who are trying to change things for the good of everyone are not getting the support that they need.

Bill Taylor, Langley


Rail system makes us greener
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Editor: As you are aware, lifestyles featuring heavy automobile use contribute significantly to global warming and that mass transit is much less wasteful of fossil fuels than automobile use. Getting more electricity, transport, and industrial output for less coal, oil, or gasoline is a no-lose situation; more profit, less pollution, less global warming . . . although initial outlays for better equipment and technology can be expensive.

Businesses and governments tend not to supply products, services, and policies people want or need, only because “it’s too expensive” or there “aren’t enough people” to warrant this type of service.

I want you to know that the people of the Fraser Valley desperately need a transit system linking them with the rest of the lower mainland because it is completely non-existent, especially here in Chilliwack. There are no transit choices. We are forced to get in our cars and drive the already over-crowded highways on dark, stormy, and rain-slicked or icy roads, and in blinding snowstorms, gripping the steering wheel, only praying to get home safely. To be able to travel without fear of being involved in a life-threatening traffic accident, especially through the Sumas Prairie in winter, surely would make everyone’s lives a lot less stressful.

We are asking for provincial, federal and local government funding to be put into place for a commuter rail system linking the upper Fraser Valley (Chilliwack) to the Lower Mainland (Surrey).

We already have the rail lines in place, although some upgrades would be necessary. It would be a long-term, cost-efficient, win-win solution.

If we could ride the rail and be on the road less, it would obviously contribute to fewer greenhouse gases by taking hundreds, and potentially thousands, of vehicles off the road every day. We are aware that the 2008 provincial budget is asking for the public’s help in reducing B.C.’s greenhouse gases by at least 33 per cent below current levels by 2020. A rail system would certainly fit the bill.

We’re asking you how long will it take all levels of government to finally listen to and be in support of what the voters want and need?

Be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. That’s all we’re asking for–the opportunity to choose which mode of transportation we’d like to use.

Lori Bowman

Chilliwack


Rapid bus plan an ‘abomination’
Chilliwack Progress
Published: October 16, 2007
It is an abomination what has occurred regarding transportation in the whole region of the Fraser Valley south of the Fraser. No alternative to car travel has been built up over the years. And now it has become clear the planet desperately needs less of the pollution cars cause. Buses are worse than cars for comfort, so who is going to sit in one? Why can’t we get an eco-friendly passenger train system common in so many countries ?

Forget for a minute population growth in the region; Chilliwack alone already has 80,000 residents, and most of us would like to travel in as pollution-free a mode as possible. A modest expenditure introducing train travel to the region would benefit all of us.

Don Buker


The Editor; It seems Transportation minister, Kevin Falcon, hasn’t read the book on how to get people onboard transit. The dated ‘Rapid Bus’ connection, proposed for the twinned Port Mann, will not take a car off the road as Falcon’s announcement has more to do with a growing public discontentment with how transit money is being spent, or not spent in the Valley. Buses have proven not to attract the motorist from the car. This phenomenon was first noticed with the two new O-Bahn guided-bus systems in Essen and Adelaide. In Essen, O-Bahn operating on a converted tramway did not attract ridership, while adjacent LRT lines increased ridership and in Adelaide, O-Bahn routes did not show an increase in ridership when compared to conventional bus routes. New ‘rapid bus’ systems and busways have proven disappointing in attracting new ridership, unlike new LRT systems.

The comprehensive Haas-Klau international study “Bus or Light Rail; Making the right Choice”, found it was not speed that was the prime choice for customers taking transit, rather it was the over all ambience of the service, ease of ticketing, and ease of use were more important than speed.

Sadly a bus, is a bus, seen by many as a ‘looser cruiser’ and Mr, Falcon’s desperate attempt to fool Valley residents that he is actually doing something may backfire badly.

The cost of a 90 km. reactivated interurban line from Vancouver to Chilliwack (including a new Fraser River rail bridge is put at about $1 billion; cost of the 19 km. RAV/Canada Line, now $2.4 billion. It is easy to see where Valley transit tax dollars are going.

Malcolm Johnston

Light Rail Committee


Politicians should take a bus
Maple Ridge News
Published: October 13, 2007
Editor, the News: Re: Express bus route to cross Port Mann, Golden Ears (The News, Oct. 10)

All I see in this article is the continuation of pie-in-the-sky thinking and endless political and bureaucratic double talk.

In reading this, along with the another article, “Region 2nd for green transport,” it made me almost fall off the chair laughing.

It’s crystal clear that not one of these politicians or bureaucrats has ever made any use of the transit system in this area, outside the odd photo-op. I dare them to try to get from Maple Ridge to any downtown Vancouver appointment on time, using the bus. To try and get home, after 6 p.m. by bus.

The last time we had any kind of real rapid bus service in this area was 30 years ago, with the PCL bus line. Since getting Translink, one would be better off going by mule train, after all its faster and more reliable.

As for Kevin Falcon’s comment about population density not being enough, this continues to baffle me. Time and again these same people tell us that the Lower Mainland is going to expand and that we are looking at over two million people living here. So what on earth are they waiting for? Why wait until they reach that ‘magic number’ before doing anything. Once again the politicians and bureaucrats seem to be unable to see past the end of their desk. Their plans for the future are already 25 years too late.

If this government is under the impression that the bus is the answer to our transit problem are looking through rose -coloured glasses.

Tim Wittenberg

Maple Ridge


The Editor; The premier’s announcement that buses will return to the Port Mann route is an embarrassment and shows that he is completely out of touch with ‘transit’ reality. The announcement is a farce, done solely as a ‘photo-op’ to help quell rumblings from Fraser Valley tax-payers ,that their tax dollars are being squandered on the RAV/Canada line subway. Mr. Premier, these rumblings are getting louder and a rapid bus line is an insult to their intelligence. What is needed is a new Minister of Transport, who understands modern public transit and is prepared to fund workable transit solutions.

Buses, including rapid bus, have singularly proven that they do not attract the motorist from the car. But don’t tell that to TransLink’s planners, who get generous car allowances or the politicians who sit on TransLink’s board, who know little or nothing about public transit.

What is surprising is so much space given to a non-event, sponsored by publicity seeking politicians who don’t give a damn about good public transport, and merely want to cut ribbons on multi billion dollars rapid transit projects.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee


Politicians should ride a bus
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Editor: After many years of living in a town where transit seemed to be a non-issue, it is exciting to see so many people raising their voices to inspire some action from our political leaders.

During the 18 years I have lived here, inter-city transportation in the Fraser Valley has deteriorated considerably. Although Greyhound service has always been available, it used to be accompanied by transit from other bus systems such as Cascade Coach Lines, Fraser Valley Bus and Charter, or City Link. These additional services are no longer offered.

Since I do not own a car, and have family members living on the Island, I have had the opportunity to become intimately familiar with the bus systems throughout this region and beyond. Those who have not used transit regularly may not realize how inconvenient and frustrating it can be.

Travelling between Chilliwack and Victoria, for example, takes a minimum of seven hours, if you make your connections. I could fly to Montreal in less time. Taking the trip means travelling from Chilliwack through Abbotsford, Langley, and Coquitlam. Upon arriving in Vancouver, one then transfers to a Pacific Coach Lines bus to continue the trip to Tsawassen, onto the ferry and into downtown Victoria.

Fortunately, most of these buses are run by efficient and polite drivers, many of whom attempt to lessen the tedium of the journey with their cheerfulness and humor.

Between dealing with jam-packed coaches, and the frustration of continual traffic jams between Langley and Coquitlam, this says a lot about their integrity.

I would like to invite every city council member and provincial politician to give this journey a try, but be sure to check the schedules first. You will discover that travelling to Victoria on a Friday afternoon means that you must be on the Greyhound bus leaving Chilliwack at 3:10 p.m. The next trip does not leave until after 6 p.m., and it arrives in Vancouver almost an hour too late to make the Pacific Coach Lines connection to the 9 p.m. ferry. For most working people, who cannot leave their jobs in the early afternoon, a weekend trip to the Island is a logistical nightmare.

I encourage everyone who shares these concerns to add their voices to the growing wave of support for rail in the valley. Many of us find the desperate need for improved transit to be a very convenient truth.

Elaine Foxgord

Chilliwack


Listen to the people Hames
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Friday, September 28, 2007
Editor: Mayor Hames, as so many politicians who have been around too long, has forgotten what kind of society we live–as a reminder, it’s called democracy, and when the people speak he had better listen.

There is no doubt, and he can’t hide the fact, during the past five or six years our environment has been of little concern to him or the council, as they allowed development to spin out of control, with nary a thought given to our future. Now we the people of Chilliwack are paying the price. His ‘most desirable city in the world’ is now, for these transgressions, snarled in traffic, grid lock and choking with pollution. Our farm land and old growth trees are vanishing by the day, and as we learn from the last council meeting, more will soon be lost. Even as he and the council know this, they are determined to denude our beautiful hills and mountains.

As this assault on our city continues, Hames fiddles in denial, he turns his back on the growing avalanche of protest seething in the minds of the citizens. They realize, as he apparently does not, we cannot continue in this downward direction and must now reduce the use of automobiles in the city and the valley, a solution that seems to have passed over the heads of our politicians, specifically our environment minister, Barry Penner. We need to reinstatement the valley rail line and introduce a clean, efficient transportation system for the city. To ignore these facts, and the voices of the people, will give no choice–it’s either the well being of city and its future generations–or Clint Hames.

To borrow on the words of Winston Churchill used in another time of pessimism–Go sir, for God’s sake go.

Bob Olsen,

Sardis


London has great transit
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Friday, September 28, 2007
Editor: One would hope that fact finding trips by local officials to the UK or other parts, would have received input from officials from other communities within the Lower Mainland, who may share similar or common concerns. Taxpayers money is better served.

One aspect of this trip seems to have been overlooked–public transportation. London has an exellent public rail system with all the outlying towns and cities. Absolutely essential.I trust this will be included.

Solms Coutinho,

Sardis


By Lori Bowman Sep 25 2007 Re: Rail link would kill Chilliwack: Mayor (Chilliwack Progress, Sept.. 11).

I can’t believe that Mayor Clint Hames honestly believes that having rail service available here in Chilliwack would destroy the essence of our community and make rail commuters too tired to contribute to the community!

None of us look forward to getting up long before the sun rises and driving on dark, stormy mornings and rain-slicked roads. Let’s not forget about blinding snowstorms, and icy roads, gripping the steering wheel, only hoping to can get safely home. Most people drive too fast for both the weather conditions and their vehicles. To be able to travel without fear of being involved in a life-threatening traffic accident, sure would make everyone’s lives a lot less stressful. If we could ride the rail, and be on the road less, it would also contribute to fewer greenhouse gasses, by taking hundreds, and potentially thousands, of vehicles off the road every day.

Lifestyles featuring heavy automobile use contribute significantly to global warming. Businesses and governments tend not to supply products, services, and policies people don’t want. Mass transit is much less wasteful of fossil fuels than automobile use, but if the public hasn’t demanded mass transit and the necessary train lines and bus routes haven’t been built, then they aren’t quickly available when and if people change their minds. Momentum has to be built up for such changes… and yet, paradoxically, if the options aren’t available, it’s hard to establish momentum for them.

Yes, Mayor Hames, we do need bus transportation in our city, but it still doesn’t get the thousands of people off the highways. Getting more electricity, transport, and industrial output for less coal, oil, or gasoline is a no-lose situation: more profit, less pollution, less global warming – although initial outlays for better equipment and technology can be expensive. We already have the rail lines in place, and even though some upgrades would be needed, it is a long-term, cost-efficient, win-win solution.

How long will it take to have local and provincial governments take action in support of what their voters want? Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. That’s all we’re asking for – the opportunity to choose which mode of transportation we’d like to use.

And at the end of the day, would we choose to be more involved in our community? I sure think so!


The editor: We are told by Mary Polak that the Fraser Valley does not yet have the density for light rail service. We don’t even need to look as far as Europe to see that this view is utter nonsense. Calgary, with its sprawling suburbs, has the C-Train, a light rail system that today carries 250,000 passengers per day, in a spread-out city of 1 million. Calgary was able to reduce costs by building track at grade, allowing more distance of track to be built for the same money. Here in the Fraser Valley, we already have the conveniently-located Interurban track just waiting for us to use again. Are the Liberals so indebted to Gateway roadbuilders and RAV-line construction that they can’t afford to do the right thing and finally start investing in long-overdue light rail south of the Fraser, the only real solution to our traffic problems?

Mary Polak, with her tired old statements regarding light rail, is the one who is out of touch.

John Buker
www.railforthevalley.com


The Editor: MLA’s Mary Pollack’s statement, “the population isn’t big enough south of the Fraser to support it, yet.” is false. In Karlsruhe Germany region, which is roughly the same size and population as the Fraser Valley from Hope to Vancouver, has three cities with urban LRT systems, which includes the city of Karlsruhe and it’s world famous 470 km. network! The longest journey one can take in Karlsruhe is 210 km. Yet the per km. cost of Karlsruhe’s LRT system is quite cheap, under $15 million/km. complete. Why?

German planners in the 1980′s realised that to get people out of their cars and onto transit, transit must go to them and take them where they want to go, without transfer. To make new LRT lines affordable, planners designed a streetcar that could not only travel on tram tracks in cities, but trackshare on mainline railways. German planners just reinvented the interurban. It’s not density that is important, but where the LRT services.

Ms. Pollack is beating the old “not enough density”drum, like her friend Kevin Falcon, who only think of regional “rail’ transit in the terms of extremely expensive light-metros like SkyTrain and RAV.

Sad, LRT has made light-metro obsolete.

The two reason that the Liberals do not want to talk ‘rail’ transit in the Fraser Valley is:

1) Their political friends, the Road Builders Association, want the over $3 billion of taxpayers money, for new roads, spent on them. 2) Embarrassing questions would be asked if $15 million/km. LRT built in the Fraser Valley were to be compared to $125 million/km. RAV/Canada line project.

A message to Ms. Pollack, your ignorance about light rail, is deafening.

Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee


The Editor; So valley politicians, hope for a transit plum, let us hope that the plum isn’t sour. The BC Liberals, under intense pressure because of Gateway and a lack of transit funding to the valley, may try some hocus-pocus planning that has been done on the back of an envelope to appease the electorate. Trouble is, the Premier is a ‘rubber-on-asphalt’ type of guy and transit is for the lower orders. Sure Vancouver gets billions of dollars for expensive show-case SkyTrain or a subway and Vancouver now wants a showcase subway under Broadway.

Here is the problem and it is unique to the GVRD; we build with light-metro and light-metro is expensive to build. We do not build with much cheaper light rail, even the so called Evergreen LRT Line at over $90 million/km. has more in common with SkyTrain than real LRT.

Light metro or SkyTrain is obsolete and has been so for over two decades. No one. SkyTrain has been made obsolete by modern light rail, but no one has told our planners at TransLink who continue to squander hundreds of millions of dollars on bogus light metro planning, operating is great rapid transit corridors.

Who builds with SkyTrain? No one!

Our out of touch planning bureaucrats, who only plan for light-metro, sell out of date light-metro planning to equally out of touch politicians, who make fools of themselves selling it to the public. Now, we are getting more of this extremely expensive, yet obsolete light-metro style planning and like the previous $5 billion spent on SkyTrain, not create the all important modal shift from car to transit.

The so called transit plum, just may just prove to be more sour grapes for the transit customer and the taxpayer.

Malcolm Johnston


Editor: Westbound to the Port Mann Bridge, Highway #1. Stuck in traffic. Inch forward. Shoulders hunched. Frustration builds. What, only the “Last Exit to Surrey” sign? Breathe in exhaust fumes – close the window. Check the time – going to be late. The other lane is moving faster. Inch forward a little more. Does this sound familiar? The B.C. Government plans to widen Highway #1 and twin the Port Mann Bridge. This would seem to solve the problem, but the solution would be temporary, as these new lanes would soon be clogged with even more cars and trucks. Then we’d be worse off than before, and we’d have spent the tax dollars that could have gone to a better solution: Light Rail.

Let’s urge the Government to do this: Reopen the old Interurban Railway to Chilliwack. It carried passengers and milk from village to village to Vancouver in the early 20th century, and the track is still mostly there. Highway-widening funds could be reallocated to the purchase of rolling stock and the construction of commuter rail stations similar to those of the West Coast Express. Ten or twelve years ago this idea came up, but the railway rejected it because part of the track was needed for coal freight trains bound for Deltaport. With Premier Campbell now saying he wants to massively reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions (many of them from Single Occupancy Vehicles), isn’t it time for change?

If you’d like to see commuter rail serve the south side of the Fraser River, check out www.railforthevalley.com. We can make it happen.

Val Ridsdale, Abbotsford


We had light rail 100 years ago
Published Sep 21 2007, Langley Times
Editor: It still shocks me to think that from 1910 until the 1950s, we had a complete light rail system that connected all areas of the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver. People back then (when the population was about one-quarter of what it is today) had access to a better system then we do today. They tore that system up in the 1950s for buses, ridership plummeted, and the rest is history. In this day and age, we should be asking ourselves why we are building greenhouse gas-causing roads that don’t work, and not building light right.

They had light rail over 100 years ago, we can have it now.

The attached map (above) was sent to me by Henry Ewert, who has written a book about the Interurban system.

Nathan Pachal, Langley

Editor’s note – Mr. Ewert is a regular speaker on the B.C. Electric Railway, and always draws a sizable crowd when speaking in Langley.


Ready for the rail line
By Mary Hartman, Chilliwack
Published Sep 21 2007, Chilliwack Progress
The ongoing litany of words advocating a rapid modern rail transit service from Hope to Vancouver, or even as far as an extended Sky Train out to Highway one at Surrey, seems to be increasing in volume, as letters pour into papers and the Internet. How many of the population’s opinions need to be expressed, before “the powers that be”, take notice? Those continually denigrating the views of advocates, seem to stubbornly and persistently, present the same old reasoning and are prepared to spend billions of taxpayers’ and private funds on, in their views, an ever expanding (polluting), highways, whereby, congestion, bottlenecks, frustrated drivers and an ever increasing global warming occurs.

Why twin the Port Mann bridge and expand Highway 1, when no one wants it, saving billions of dollars which could be used for a system which will last well into the future and remain patent, giving the population something on which to expand.

A comfortable, relaxing, swift journey to work every day is all people are requesting. Why knock it! Whose money is it anyway? Certainly not the planners’.

Nobody wants to ride to work in buses, however new and modern, which will only add to the usual bottlenecks, accidents, pollution, delays and frustrated bus drivers and passengers – spewing pollution all day, every day.


Freeways won’t reduce the traffic congestion
By Alphonse Litjens, Chilliwack
Published Sep 21 2007, Chilliwack Progress
Recently there have been a number of articles about Chilliwack requiring a rail connection for travellers to destinations west of us. I was very happy about that, because already in the 1960s I was part of a group asking for this. The provincial and city governments nixed that and they still do.

Today I was on Highway 1 going to Vancouver for one of my frequent medical appointments and especially on the way home to Chilliwack it was gridlocked – a transit bus was in the lineup for the Port Mann stop-and-go traffic going nowhere! Mr. Hames, are you listening?

If only 15 per cent of the freeway traffic are heading to work – pray tell where are all these other peole going?

There are all kinds of people on the freeway because of appointments, shopping, visitng and doctors’ appointments and there is no convenient, frequent, affordable alternative.

Freeways or their expansion are not the solution; rapid rail transit is the answer!

Over to you, Mr. Hames.


Rail would connect campuses
By Don Buker, Rosedale
Published Sep 21 2007, Chilliwack Progress
UCFV students, are you having trouble with transportation to your Abbotsford classes? Car travel is costly, polluting, and in the winter, it sucks. But there is an existing railway (the interurban) running from Chilliwack, through Sardis, then Yarrow, and over to the Abbotsford UCFV campus, (and beyond).

The interurban train went out of service in the 1950s as everyone bought cars. In the meantime, the true heavy cost of daily and long car use for a larger population has become apparent.

But the larger population of Chilliwack (5000 in 1950; about 80,000 today) makes passenger rail service for Chilliwack and the rest of the Fraser Valley feasible once more.

Earlier efforts to revive passenger rail service in Chilliwack stalled amidst a feeling that “car culture is king here.”

But it is not hard-wired in the brain. It might be surprising what an actual train would do to inspire “a train culture.”

You can help by talking to your family and friends about finally getting an environmentally clean, and affordable travel option for students, and for all of us. Also, you could log on to railforthevalley.com to compare notes with other train-lovers in the Fraser Valley.


Politicians hindering rail
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Friday, September 21, 2007
Editor: Last week Mayor Hames stated he was worried that Chilliwack would become a bedroom community with the introduction of the rail system. Well Mayor Hames, we are a bedroom community when you see how many people commute from Chilliwack each morning and return each evening.With the more affordable housing out here where else do you think people are going to move?

As it stands now people have no alternative to commute to Abbotsford, Langley, Mission, Maple Ridge, or Surrey. You take any comparable city to that of the Lower Mainland and you will not see such a fractured transportation system such as what we have.

When you look at the past, you come to see that there was a better system for travel towards Vancouver than what we have. They had the Interurban, later Pacific Coach Lines, then later there was Cascade Charter Service (which provided commuter service). As it stands now we do not even have a bus system that would even get to Abbotsford that is 20 minutes down the road, let alone get to Langley to join with Coast Mountain.

There is Greyhound, but their service is geared not for commuters as their service is primarily provincial, and seats are limited if one wants to travel through the valley. The alternative is not so much as a rail service (which would be the ideal) but an express bus service as well a local bus service connecting with Coast Mountain and the SkyTrain.

The only hindrance to this solution is those politicians such as Mayor Hames who have this village style thinking that those 20 miles between Chilliwack and Abbotsford is going to insolate us from the urban sprawl.

It is about time our local politicians get away from this 1980s small town thinking and realize this is 2007 and we need 2007 solutions to our transportation needs. Terry BelyeaK
Chilliwack


Penner needs to get on board
The Chilliwack Times
Published: Friday, September 21, 2007
Editor: More than 80 years ago our forebears, with wisdom, instituted a clean electric system of transportation for the Lower Mainland and extended it to cover the Fraser Valley as far as Chilliwack.

The teminal was near where the public library stands today. It was the most advanced system in North America.

Due to the power of the automobile industry, the rubber tire manufacturers and the bus lines, the system was negligently allowed to fail and henceforth Chilliwack has relied on an inadequate and polluting diesel bus service and the private vehicle with an average occupancy rate of less than two people per vehicle.

Fundamentally we need to consider the carrying capacity of the different alternatives to moving goods and people against the energy required with its subsequent pollution. A diesel-electric train carries at least 20 times the load per unit of energy required than a diesel truck. A diesel barge carries approximately 100 times the load per unit of energy than a truck. A light rapid transit electric railway “bud” car carries 200 people as opposed to 100 vehicles to provide that capacity. It is essentially 100 times more efficient providing 100 times less pollution.

I know that Chilliwack has a poor record regarding the amount of pollution produced by its bus service and there is no alternative electric rail transport available. This need has been observed by a group of students and others who have arranged their own website to publicize the need for electric transit which would eneable students more easily to reach other campuses of University College of the Fraser Valley; linked with a terminal at our new Abbotsford International airport and allow motorists the attractive less polluting way to visit Vancouver either on business or pleasure.

It is significant that our intelligent young people can see a time when the polar ice cap will be only 1/8 its size and the polar bear population decimated. They will certainly see this horrendous change in their life times.

The institution of an electric rail system linking Chilliwack, the valley and beyond would enhance the efficiency of commerce and also really show that we want pollution from the automobile engine to be reduced. Our present Liberal MLA, the Hon. Barry Penner, is the Minister for the Environment. I contend that he must be more active in support of electric transit for the valley and the need to reduce pollution.

H.D Rogers, MB., MRCS
Chilliwack


Rail service should be a council priority Published: Sep 18 2007 Passenger rail inking the Fraser valley with Vancouver would destroy the essence of Chilliwack? Such are the musings of our worthy mayor. Just what particular “essence” have you been sniffing, Clint? Such statements border on the absurd, and are best left for discussion with your peers in council. People are moving into Chilliwack from all parts of the country, including Vancouver, without a rail link, real estate here is a hot commodity. Many of us regularly travel to Vancouver for a variety of reasons, including business, and going by car, depending on time of day, can be a nightmare. Cities such as Toronto, Chicago, Washington D.C., Montreal, to name a few, all have excellent rail service with outlying communities. A rail service extending to Hope would give us the convenience and pleasure to ride in relative comfort to Vancouver, with stops in Abbotsford and other designated areas. With Skytrain service in place and further extensions planned, virtually all main points of interest in Greater Vancouver can be reached in relative comfort and convenience. This will include the national airport in Richmond.

In addition to the convenience, Mr. Hames, consider the enormous pollution created by vehicular traffic in contrast to a rail service.

As for your “essence” of Chilliwack, look no farther than the Promontory skyline, now virtually treeless, resembling the ugly clearcuts seen around Abbotsford. What were you thinking of?

We sincerely hope there is enough independent thinking among council members, who will see the merit and positive aspects of a railway link and make this a much needed priority.

Solms Coutinho, Sardis


Valley needs rail service now
The Times
Published: Friday, September 14, 2007
Editor:
People in the Fraser Valley want better access to the big city. Public transportation is working in other parts of the world. Why not give the Fraser Valley a better connection to Vancouver? Helga Kramer,
Chilliwack


Tried to take bus but too frustrating
The Times
Published: Friday, September 14, 2007
Editor:
I’m another member of Rail for the Valley (www.railforthevalley.com), a group which has ballooned to more than 800 members since it was started two months ago. I hate that I’m forced to drive a car in order to participate in our society, even though I am a healthy person who owns both a licence and a car. It’s horrible that we marginalize young people, seniors, and disabled people by offering no alternatives to the private car for moving about this valley. (I once tried to take Greyhound from Chilliwack to Abbotsford when I uninsured my car in a fit of eco-enthusiasm. The bus was two hours late, and no passenger information was provided about the situation.)

I’ve heard that Mayor Clint Hames opposes rail service to Chilliwack, on the grounds that it would transform Chilliwack into a bedroom community. I appreciate his concern for our city, and I also would not want us to become a bedroom community, but I would need more information to trust that rail service would have such a result. Has Mission become a bedroom community? Were we a bedroom community back when the B.C. Electric Railway provided service to New Westminster?

Trains are not automatically commuter trains. I’d like to take my sons into the city to visit friends and family or to go to Science World without fighting traffic. UCFV’s trades program is now at the former base: it’d be fantastic for students from Langley and Abbotsford to take the train to school. Vancouverites would love to load their bikes onto the train to ride around our countryside visiting agritourism businesses.

We have responsibilities to reduce global warming and to allow more of our citizens to fully and safely participate in our society.

Beverly Jones Redekop,
Chilliwack


Long-term answer is dedicated rail
The Times
Published: Friday, September 14, 2007
Editor:
I used to work in Chilliwack, commuting from New Westminster on a daily basis. I saw the idling traffic stretching from 176th Street (and often enough, 200th) to the bridge, and I agree there needs to be a solution to the congestion problem which is strangling the Lower Mainland. However, I don’t think that expanding the highway is a long-term solution, whatever temporary relief it will provide. Eventually, enough residential growth in the valley will just choke the highway off again, if we don’t find an alternative way for people to travel to and from the Valley and the communities north of the Fraser.

I think a long-term solution lies with dedicated rail service from Chilliwack into downtown Vancouver, with stops in Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, etc.

If our province was really committed to solving congestion problems in our region, it would invest in the long-term rail service solution now, rather than the short-term relief of highway expansion.

Kevin Washbrook,
Vancouver


Mayor’s rail stance disappointing
The Times
Published: Friday, September 14, 2007
Editor:
Only a few weeks ago, concerned citizens from across the entire Fraser Valley wrote letters to their local papers demanding our elected leaders accept the need for a passenger rail service. Dozens of articles and opinion pieces sparked by this effort appeared in many newspaper, radio, and television outlets from Vancouver to as far as Hope. It seems that the majority of citizens recognize the need for light rail and are talking about it. Ask people on the street if they think a service should be established and support is overwhelming.

So we must ask ourselves the question, are our elected leaders listening to what we are telling them?

Amongst all this public attention and media buzz, the Rail for the Valley Movement tells us that Chilliwack’s Mayor Clint Hames has been very non-public in his efforts to discourage and even sabotage passenger service. The Langley-based Valley Transportation Advisory Committee VALTAC, closely associated with Rail for the Valley, asks Hames for Chilliwack council’s support and he writes them back a quiet ‘no.’ When the media comes knocking he says buses are the answer. If they really were the answer why has he done nothing? Why are bus trips between Chilliwack and Vancouver nothing short of appalling?

He doesn’t want residents leaving town, and if they do only to the towns immediately adjacent to them. He is against commuters and says the focus should be on those who need to get to post-secondary institutions, hospitals, and airports. Yet anyone who is pushing for passenger rail knows that the tracks run right past all those places.

How is it that a political representative can make such a strong statement on behalf of those who elected him which is so clearly against what they are telling him. People, there is a Mr. Hames in every city in the Fraser Valley, including yours, silently blocking change, shortsighted beyond belief, and arrogantly disdainful of the public interest. And nothing is going to change unless we take the slightest effort to tell them we are tired of waiting for a passenger train service, we are tired of the highways being gridlocked, tired of being told to wait 10 years, and tired of excuses. All we have to do is take two minutes to e-mail and tell Mr. Hames at chames@fvrd.bc.ca. We can’t sit back and do nothing any longer.

William Chambers,
Chilliwack


Riding a tram would be better than bus
By R.B. Anderson
Sep 14 2007
Re: Rail link would kill Chilliwack: Mayor (Chilliwack Progress, Sept. 11) I read Mayor Hames comment’s about how passenger rail would kill Chilliwack or even more upsetting, turn it into a bedroom community. Thank god they are the rambling’s of only one man, He actually wants to put more buses on the already packed and crowded roads, he wants more exhaust belching, smoke blowing buses on the roads to add to the already polluted air.

At least on rail service you don’t have to sit behind line ups of cars stalled because of an accident or just plain volume. I had the pleasure of riding the BC Electric tram into Vancouver when I was a child. It was great: no pollution, no back ups.

Mr. Hames, the BC Electoral Board is adding another seat to our area. Have you considered following Mr. Les, and Mr. Penner into provincial politics? Your negativity is starting to reach far and wide. Chilliwack does not need that.

I used to think you were a visionary, when you were first put into power, now your just another disappointing politico, who’s time has come.


Trains have historic appeal By Matthew Redekop
Chilliwack, BC
Sep 14 2007

My son loves trains. He plays with his set all the time, likes the way they go over bridges, pull and push loads, connect and disconnect. He lives and breathes trains, dreams of them. I often am woken (at too early an hour) to the enthusiastic, loud, and demanding call to “play trains!”

To me trains are also very appealing, although for more boring reasons. I like the idea of making a morning commute with a paper in hand, and a coffee in the other; the idea of arriving relaxed. Of significantly decreasing my contribution to the local haze in the air, and to global warmth; something for which my sons’ generation will no doubt judge me harshly.

I understand there used to be passenger rail service between downtown Chilliwack, and downtown New Westminster. I think of this historic service wistfully as I make my frequent commute between these two locations amidst hundreds of other frustrated drivers. This, and the idea of progress. Perhaps some backward-thinking mixed with a bit of train enthusiasm and we could regress to a time of better train service for us in the Fraser Valley.


Chilliwack should look to the future By Malcolm Johnston
Light Rail Committee
Delta, BC
Sep 14 2007

Re: Rail link would kill Chilliwack: Mayor (Chilliwack Progress, Sept. 11). Mayor Clint Hames certainly doesn’t show the forward thinking his predecessors did in the early 1900s, welcoming the interurban. His claims that “passenger rail would create an unbalanced economy;” “will bring people, but not jobs;” and “believes passenger rail would wreck Chilliwack’s strong volunteer base” is not based on fact and with the last comment, utter nonsense.

The reinstatement of the interurban would offer an affordable transit alternative to the car, for people travelling not to Vancouver, but to Abbotsford, Langley and Surrey. Certainly the interurban must service Vancouver, but it would be a conduit for tourists and their money coming to Chilliwack.

The good mayor should have look outside his office window and see the daily congestion on Highway 1 at peak times as people commute from their homes in Chilliwack to jobs west of Chilliwack. The key for better jobs in Chilliwack is better communication, including LRT, and cleaner air, a bonus using light rail. Good “rail” transit would be a sure inducement for businesses wishing to relocate from the tax mad and congested GVRD.

No man or city is an island and Mayor Hames should look to the future for his city, just as city fathers did in the early 1900s, welcoming the interurban.


EditorHow safe do you really feel on Highway 1 during your daily grind of commuting? Just feet away from the car behind you doing 120 km/h. 

An accident, even one as simple as a fender-bender will slow the highway to the status of a parking lot for hours, never mind the many disastrous crashes which take multiple lives.

Take the bus? It won’t move any faster than a car on this highway.

Lets leave the highway to the big trucks, professional drivers and the foolhardy. Take the train.

Oh wait, there are no real commuter trains.

Happy Commuting.

Join the cause, because we need safe, comfortable, reliable trains, not buses or more highways through the valley.

How about commuter trains from Hope to the Surrey Skytrain station? Make sense?

The rails are already there; let’s use them. It’s our tax dollars.

Join: www.railforthevalley.com
Graham Dalton,
Chilliwack


Political inertia keeps rail from being built The Chilliwack Times
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007
THE EDITOR:
It is clear that our region needs an affordable rail transit mode TransLink, the GVRD’s transit authority, either lacks the skill, or the will to design and build such a service. Stuck with metro mentality, TransLink only plans for extremely expensive metro style systems such as SkyTrain and RAV.

Even the so-called Evergreen LRT line exceeds the per km. cost of the $80 million/km. Millennium Line.

In Europe, transit planners found, with much chagrin, that expensive metro and mini-metro systems failed to attract the all-important motorist from the car.

Despite spending billions on fancy metros, ridership declined.

What has been found is that much simpler and cheaper, at-grade/on-street light rail had proven superior in attracting new ridership. This has lead to a new public transit philosophy – build it cheap and build lots.

Today, in Karlsruhe Germany, one can board a streetcar, on-street, and alight 210 kilometres later in downtown Onrigen, with the streetcar acting as tram, light rail vehicle, and a passenger train, tracksharing with mainline railways, all for a cost of $10 million per kilometre or less.

It’s only political and bureaucratic inertia, that prevents the Fraser Valley from having a viable rail transit network.

Malcolm Johnston
Delta


Rail works for everyone else, so why not us? The Abbotsford Times
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2007
THE EDITOR:
I live in Abbotsford and I work in Surrey and Richmond. I have had other offers of work in downtown Vancouver, but I have made the choice to not accept the work there because of the commuting problems. There is only one real way to get to downtown Vancouver and that is via the Port Mann Bridge and while the bridge often resembles more of a parking lot there are more than enough accidents before the bridge.

Most of these occur during peak traffic flow times. I have taken 1.5 hours to get to work some days because of accidents and clogged side road arteries. There is no other simple route that you can easily deviate to off of Highway 1.

The Fraser Valley is increasing in population so this problem is only going to get worse and not better. There is no way for me to commute to my job other that driving.

I know as I have looked. Going into Vancouver at times other than early morning isn’t possible on the West Coast Express as they have limited service. Surely a system more like what Toronto has is possible here for commuting in from the valley. Is there no way our politicians can see this?

I happen to live just off the freeway and let me tell you, rush hour is closer to being 24/7 than not. Traffic never stops, except for snow. I can only imagine how bad it will be in five to 10 years. Something needs to be started now.

Rail would seem to be successful other places. Why not for the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland?

Shauna Ryall,
Abbotsford


Valley-to-Vancouver transit woeful
Sep 13 2007
Editor, The News:
I’m a student. I don’t have much money. I have no car, and couldn’t afford gas if I did. If I want to go to Vancouver from Abbotsford I have to pay $9 for a charter bus each way. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to make my way through a maze of bus routes through Aldergrove, Langley, and Surrey to get to a SkyTrain, but I’m not holding my breath on that. The WestCoast Express is not a viable option for me; I can’t catch one after school.

Abbotsford needs mass transit! Light rail is more environmentally responsible, not to mention more enjoyable, than sitting in an idling car waiting to get over the Port Mann Bridge.

I have little faith in local government. Time for them to prove themselves.

Stephen Jersak, Abbotsford


Editor, The News: Folks in the Lower Mainland need to take notice! The push for a commuter train beyond the limited access of the WestCoast Express is a serious endeavour that people across the region are willing to fight for. I urge all to pledge their support to initiating a serious discussion in the governments of the Lower Mainland to realize the importance of making transit reflect the integration of communities that already exist. Commuting is a reality we can no longer ignore and it’s time to creatively respond to the challenges we face.

A commuter train on the south side of the Fraser River can be a plausible and necessary option for responding to the social and environmental challenges that highway gridlock presents.

David Warkentin, Abbotsford


Editor, The News: In England, the trains that run during the day mostly carry passengers, and the trains that run during the night time mostly carry freight for industry. This system creates supply for both industry and transit on the same rails. This system has not been implemented in Canada, but its implementation would lead to a significant social benefit. I write this letter on behalf of a community of young adults in downtown Abbotsford who must own vehicles for the sole purpose of travelling to Vancouver to visit friends and seek arts and culture.

Unlike our peers in Surrey, Burnaby, Port Coquitlam or even Langley we have no means of public transit to access the city. The sole exception could be our Greyhound service, which only makes eight runs into the city per day,

It would be a preventative, socially beneficial step to create a partnership with our industrial rail users in order to create a passenger service into the Fraser Valley. There has been a significant demand for this service, and it will not be long before this discussion becomes a provincial election issue.

Douglas Malcolm McLean, Abbotsford


Fraser Valley needs a train system
Sep 11 2007
Editor, The News:
The Fraser Valley is in dire need of an effective public transportation system that will allow for commuters, shoppers and day trippers to access the GVRD in a fast, cheap and most importantly environmentally friendly manner! The so called Gateway project is a tremendous policy blunder that not only outrageously avoided true public consultation but will greatly increase carbon emissions, while doing nothing to solve traffic congestion and the real problems of travel into the city.

We need a train!

Anyone who has travelled in Europe or many other developed places in the world must have their heads aching at the absurd lack of efficient rail links in this province

We built Canada with a railway, let’s keep it going!

Tim Burkhart
Vancouver


We need viable transit in valley and we need it now The Times
Published: Friday, September 14, 2007
THE EDITOR:
My husband commutes to Burnaby. It takes up the better part of one-and-a-half hours each way every day to get to work. If he was to take transit – the transit that is available now – it would take him four or five transfers to get to work and the time would be one-and-a-half to two hours each way. So where is the alternative?

RAV line to Richmond is a waste of our tax dollars – there is already viable transit to Richmond. We need viable transit to the valley – to the fifth largest city in the province. And we need it now!

Paula Kast
Abbotsford


Rail’s a clean solution to frustration of traffic The Times
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007
THE EDITOR:
The experience of driving around town these days, or of travelling to any of our neighbouring communities, is fast becoming an unbearable chore. This congestion is no secret, yet we are offered no alternatives. Why don’t we focus our newfound affluence and productivity on an updated transportation system? Why not a passenger rail system to service the needs of the valley? Something clean, efficient and downright pleasant to replace the frustration of snarled traffic.

Jeremy de Haan
Abbotsford


Transit solution in rails
Langley Advance
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Dear Editor,
Anyone who has driven the highways in the Lower Mainland on a busy day knows that, at peak capacity, the system breaks down. The solution is not to build more highways, as extra capacity will be quickly swallowed by more drivers. The solution is to invest in commuter rail options that will efficiently move people around the region and reduce our dependency on the automobile.

Christopher Porter, Vancouver


Light rail needed – now
Langley Advance
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Dear Editor,
We need a rail service in the Fraser Valley, and we need one now. We need to have a transit option for many reasons, including quicker and cheaper access, pollution reduction, safety and efficiency, and reduction of dependency on gas.

Further consideration should be given to re-introducing the Inter-Urban Railway, an electric train system that stretched through the entirety of the Lower-mainland until it ceased operation in the 1950s.

Light rail systems exist in many areas of the world, and questions must be asked as to why B.C. is so reluctant to follow their lead.

The politicians try and tell us we are not a train culture, but anyone who uses the SkyTrain or the West Coast Express knows that we are as much of a train culture as any European nation, and if we are less so, it is only because our government won’t give us trains.

Not only is a significant portion of the Lower Mainland’s population utterly ignored by the bulk of taxes used for this province’s transit, but our own elected leaders outright deceive us into thinking that there is no alternative but to go on like this indefinitely.

I don’t hear anything from our government on the most sensible of decisions to secure a fast, affordable, efficient, and eco-friendly rail transit system for the residents and commuters in the ever-sprawling, increasingly urban Fraser Valley.

The Fraser Valley needs rail now, not in 10 years, and not in 20. Light rail, passenger rail, expanding the Skytrain – all are options which should be considered in lieu of highway expansion.

To top it all off, trains are even profitable, and that is the thing the politicians don’t like to talk about when they tell you how much money it will cost to put down tracks, because after all, highways don’t make money.

We have a real responsibility here to fight for something that is long overdue, and also a real opportunity, with the upcoming 2010 Olympics, to put some of our money into something that will benefit everyone, and for which our children will be able to thank us.

Glynis Sylvester,
Murrayville


Scrap Gateway funding and put it into proper transit Surrey Now
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The Editor,
Public transit on the south side of the Fraser needs to be improved. I attended the information meeting put on by TransLink at SFU Surrey in June and came away thinking that we need rail for the valley. While population is expanding in Surrey and Langley, these areas seem to be afterthoughts in the planning of public transportation. We should divert funding away from the Gateway Project and develop a new rail link. I don’t want to have to drive my car everywhere I go, but I have no realistic alternative.

Tom Bomhof
Surrey


An old idea
Letter
Published: Friday, September 14, 2007
What to do with the Pattullo Bridge? The answer is so simple and so clear that TransLink’s expensive planners can’t deal with it. Simply, they can’t see outside of the box. The decrepit Pattullo and Fraser River rail bridges both need replacing, so why not replace both with one bridge, just as the Greater Vancouver Regional District planned in 1978?

It proposed a new road/rail/ light-rail bridge across the Fraser to carry a proposed LRT service across the Fraser. But instead we got the proprietary SkyTrain, which needed its own bridge. And the proposed new crossing was moved west and became the Alex Fraser Bridge.

A new combined bridge would be much safer for car traffic and, with a three-track drawbridge, would provide ample capacity and increased speed for the railways. A bonus would be that modern LRT would be able to use the bridge for a new interurban service from Vancouver to Chilliwack at a fraction of the cost of SkyTrain.

Now, TransLink, please send the million-dollar consulting fee to: Malcolm Johnston, Delta


Editor 

Public transit in the Lower Mainland needs improvement. This is obvious to anyone who has been riding the packed buses in Burnaby this past week. As climate change and fuel cost issues have become increasingly troublesome, it is clear we must improve our system so that people are offered as many routes and destinations as possible. We need the Canada Line to Richmond and the proposed Evergreen Line to Port Coquitlam. But South of the Fraser, even with these expansions, present transit options are very limited.

The time has come for Burnaby residents to ride beyond Surrey on TransLink’s system. The current rail links through the Fraser Valley should be re-utilized for the purpose of public passenger rail, and a service like the West Coast Express must be developed for this region. This new rail link could even be part of a sustainable alternative to the Province’s Gateway plan which was rejected by Burnaby Council last week. It would make transportation through the South Fraser region at least possible without a car, and would be an effective component of any greenhouse gas reduction strategy. Although Burnaby residents won’t be using the service as much as those in Abbotsford, unlike the proposed Trans-Canada Highway expansion, its presence would mitigate congestion and pollution issues. The Province should divert funding from the Gateway Project to the development of this new rail link. Instead of further encouraging Fraser Valley residents to drive into Burnaby and clog our streets, why don’t we give them an alternative?

Graham Anderson
Rail for the Valley


Editor 

Its totally unfair that young people should have to pay so much more for car insurance than everybody else and then we’re not given any alternatives. We have to either be gouged driving a car or just stay home all the time! I’d be riding the train everywhere if there was a choice but there isn’t. We need rail for the valley!

Joe Granger


Dear editor, I have found the public response to my recent “Rail for the Valley” initiative, that I started two short months ago with the creation of a simple facebook group advocating passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley, to be nothing short of amazing. Interestingly, the greatest support seems to be coming from right here in Chilliwack! I was very disappointed to hear about the mayor’s negative comments. He is taking a small view of Chilliwack, in having such a visceral reaction to an idea that has captured the imagination of the people, an idea whose time has come.

Mr. Hames thinks that with passenger rail there would be no time for people to invest in their community, because they would be too tired. But, if you have ever ridden in a train, you would know that it is a very relaxing experience. You can stretch out, or get up and walk around. You can have a coffee, read the newspaper or read a book, look out the window at the scenery, or you can even sleep it is so smooth. Certainly it is a far more relaxing and potentially productive time spent than driving in traffic. When you step off the train, you just feel energized and you want to do things. There would be plenty of time for the community!

Hames’ argument basically is: in order to keep Chilliwack from becoming a bedroom community, the powers that be have to artificially restrict the mobility of their citizens by denying us the right to travel in a relaxing, environmentally friendly way.

By doing this, however, we are diminishing the potential for our city. We are driving our people away, by making them choose between family and ambition, community and the larger world.

I respectfully ask the mayor to re-think his position on this issue.

The day passenger rail first came was the ‘greatest day in the history of Chilliwack.’ The day it finally arrives again will be another great day. You can join the newly-created Chilliwack chapter of Rail for the Valley by going to www.railforthevalley.com. Be a part of history!

John Buker
Chilliwack


Dear Editor, The Fraser valley is long overdue for some form of valley wide, affordable passenger rail service. Many might argue that we’re not a “Rail Culture”, and that passenger rail isn’t economically feasible. Obviously, building a train system will be expensive, even if using the existing tracks. To be fair, however, we should hold our road system up to the same scrutiny. It is clear that expanding our highways is really no better in this regard. The same money which could be used to expand our highways could be used to implement a passenger train service which, unlike highways, would at least partially pay for itself through the fares. It too, would help reduce automobile traffic, but would have many additional benefits.

With the rising prices of gasoline, parking, and automobile insurance, many people would welcome an alternative to driving purely for financial reasons. Add to that the fact that you can actually do something with your travel time rather than having to concentrate on the road and the choice just seems obvious.

Regarding ridership, I don’t think there will be any problems. There are plenty of people, myself included, who will make use of it immediately. Many others who are currently indifferent will use it once they’ve tried it and experienced the obvious advantages of transportation by rail.

Nick Wimpney
North Vancouver


Commuting within the Fraser Valley has reached crisis levels. Morning commutes are marred with gridlocked traffic, accidents, road closures, and construction. Spot improvements (focused on the Port Mann Bridge area) via the Gateway Project have been hailed as the saviour to this problem, but in truth they are hasty responses with no regard to future ease of transportion. This provincial response is typical of regional government across North America. Many other metropolitan areas have attempted to build their way out of traffic congestion, but to no avail (see Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington D.C.). The problem with spot improvements is that wider highways simply attract more commuters, and as a result commercial, industrial and residential development will follow, attracting even more drivers. Spot improvements are only short-term solutions. If Translink built a light-rail line along Highway 1, more commuters would leave their vehicles at home and use the rail line, thereby alleviating the amount of vehicles on the road. Furthermore, one of the benefits of putting the rail line along the middle of Highway 1 is that commuters during rush hour will see the railcars rapidly pass them each morning and could encourage them to give the system a try. Another benefit of building a rapid transit line through the Fraser Valley is that it will provide options for those who cannot or simply do not want to invest in an automobile. Currently, in order for residents who live east of Surrey to get around from one city to another with relative convenience, they must drive. Bus systems are long and disconnected from city to city, and taxis and charter buses are simply unaffordable. For many people (such as students), purchasing, insuring, fueling and maintaining a personal vehicle is unaffordable. On average, a car owner would end up spending around $6000. A regional transit system would allow residents of the Fraser Valley to pursue affordable transportation options that don’t involve the automobile.

A regional transit system would also increase the environmental sustainability of the Fraser Valley. It is common fact that the vehicle is one of the major modern sources of pollution in our urban areas. Considering transit options also makes economic sense. If our infrastructure relies solely on one dominant mode of mobility, what will happen when that mode crumbles under the pressure? A balanced and diverse transportation infrastructure is one that will reap the greatest long-term rewards.

It is time for the provincial government to stop reactionary responses to transportation problems in the Fraser Valley. Highway expansion is an expensive and uneffective (in terms of the future) solution and alternative options need to be considered as soon as possible.

Bruce Timothy Mans
Langley, BC


September 10, 2007
Dear Editor,
It is high time to improve the lives of Lower Mainland citizens. We generally depend on the automobile to get around, wasting time and polluting the environment. Traveling by automobile is also dangerous! Solutions to shorten the commute include widening the highway, which will certainly bring even more congestion and pollution to Lower Mainland roads. This idea is shortsighted and will only worsen things in the medium and long term.

Traveling by rail is much more comfortable and convenient. It produces less pollution. Instead of sporting hunched-up shoulders and white knuckles, a person arrives at ease and perhaps having enjoyed a novel or the morning paper, or having completed work-related tasks.

Demand more foresight and a better lifestyle for Lower Mainland citizens! Join the movement, Rail for the Valley.

Sincerely,
Andrea Tothill
Member, The Fraser Valley needs passenger rail service NOW! Facebook group


Dear Editor; I have now live and worked in Valley for a year. We use to live and work in Vancouver. We are a family of 4 and the number one thing I noticed is that transit in the valley is not very extensive. In Vancouver we had one car which was used only on the weekend. Because we took transit or walked, everywhere. We now have 2 car which we almost now live in to get anywhere, we do not go anywhere without it because we can’t, mostly because it’s too far to walk as where we live there is no transit. We also travel to Vancouver quite often at least 1 or twice a month. With the increase of number of vehicles on the # 1 to Vancouver, I believe the number of fatal accidents have increased. I truly feel that there really has to be some sort of transportation available to the public other than personal vehicles into and out of the city from the Valley. It would truly be amazing to be able to take public transit from downtown Vancouver to say Cultis Lake for the day or to camp for the weekend. To enjoy the fresh air that everyone contributed to because of public transportation

Katherine Warren


Dear [newspaper], I am writing to you concerning what I believe to be a transit crisis: my typical commute by bus from Langley to North Delta takes upwards of an hour; by driving – though during rush hour – the time is equally as such! Considering that transit transfers are only valid for one and a half hours after purchase, I would have to pay at least twice if not more to get from Langley to Vancouver. While the first purchase would only have to be a one zone transfer, I hardly find that to be much consolation after waiting for hours for, and in, packed busses and Skytrains. My other alternative, to drive, is equally as frustrating: shall I take the Portman Bridge and further impede an already overcrowded major transit line? While I am apt at complaining (as the above should already have given great indication) I am also enthusiastic to help solve these problems. However, I find that what has been suggested clearly lacks much – if any – understanding, both practically and financially, of what the person, who, being bombarded continuously by media to be more environmentally conscious and take public transit, really desires! Will the expansion of Highway #1 really alleviate congestion? Or simply provide a larger arena for more accidents? Is this really an environmental solution the “most livable” city can come up with? An obvious solution, to me, would be to resurrect the light rapid rail lines that run between Surrey and Chilliwack. I must admit that before, with interest in Skytrain routes increasing, it seemed an obvious solution, to me, to expand Skytrain service into Langley. Yet, now that I know rail lines already exist, there wouldn’t need to be expenditure on expanding the already costly mode of transit: the light rail lines are easily available to be used with minimal costs to refurbish them! While there are details that need to be worked out, I am more than certain that these minutiae are quite capable of being overcome within a small frame of time compared to costly, cumbersome and non-environmental alternatives. Sincerely,
Ian Bryce


Dear editor, I have found the public response to my recent “Rail for the Valley” initiative, that I started two short months ago with the creation of a simple facebook group advocating passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley, to be nothing short of stunning. Rail for the Valley membership has now passed 850, and is rising as we speak. It seems everyone wants to climb on board what is now a runaway train of momentum, and it’s easy to see why. The idea is a winner. By investing in Fraser Valley passenger rail, we can simultaneously reduce the congestion on our roads, provide safer, more relaxing, and cheaper transportation possibilities for people, and do our part to fight global warming and save the environment. With less money being sucked into gasoline consumption, there is the added benefit that more money would be available to boost the entire region’s economy.

You can join one of our newly-created local Rail for the Valley chapters by going to www.railforthevalley.com. Be a part of history!

John Buker
Rail for the Valley


Vancouver Sun letter, Re: Bottlenecks, bridges and tunnels: The joys of commuting, Sept. 3 There are train lines that could be used by commuters: the line from White Rock to Main and Terminal used by Amtrak and the old train line south of the Fraser River. TransLink has been running one commuter line for years. It has the expertise to run a couple more — just add more rolling stock. It would be cheaper and cleaner than twinning the Port Mann Bridge. Lynn Kisilenko


Trains can still make the station before Olympics Editor: In 2010 Vancouver will play host to the Olympic games and before it does this province will have spent millions on infrastructure development. Meanwhile our highways remain choked with idle vehicles jammed bumper to bumper. The main onramps are entangled messes of backed up cars striving desperately to nudge a few more feet forward. The slightest construction projects and most minor accidents create epic traffic jams for us to grind our teeth at. Our Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and all those like him tell us we need more lanes, we need more construction, and we need more money… But the truth is more lanes will just mean more traffic, you only have to go to Los Angeles to figure that out. We need to get people off the highways not on them.

The truth is we need Passenger rail service. For a world class city Vancouver and the Lower Mainland are woefully backward. If the average person here went to Europe and saw rail transportation for what it really is they would feel ashamed.

The politicians try and tell us we are not a train culture but anyone who uses the Skytrain or the West Coast Express knows that we are as much of a train culture as any European nation and if we are less so it is only because our government won’t give us trains! Not only is a significant portion of the Lower Mainland’s population utterly ignored by the bulk of taxes used for this province’s transit but our own elected leaders outright deceive us into thinking that there is no alternative but to go on like this indefinitely.

The Fraser Valley needs rail now, not in ten years, and not in twenty. Rail is cleaner, quite often quicker, far more relaxing then driving, and through all seasons completely safe and reliable.

To top it all off trains are even profitable and that is the thing the politicians don’t like to talk about when they tell you how much money it will cost to put down tracks because after all highways don’t make money.

We have a real responsibility here to fight for something that is long overdue and also a real opportunity with the upcoming 2010 Olympics to put some of our money into something that will benefit everyone and to which our children will be able to thank us for.

People are already beginning to make a difference at railforthevalley.com www.railforthevalley.com and you can, too, so let’s act.

William Chambers
Chilliwack


THE EDITOR:
Commuter rail equals happier commuters.
With fewer cars on the road, rail commuters can relax on the way to work or school, and traditional car-dependant commuters will compete with fewer drivers on the road. Commuter rail also equals less environmental impact, as fewer cars spew fewer greenhouse gases, and less asphalt is needed to build and maintain roads and parking lots.

Many of the tracks needed for this to become a reality are already in place. Would Fraser Valley politicians please consider this option?

Derek Weiss,
Abbotsford


Stop excuses, get some trains
THE EDITOR:
Trains – our governing politicians say it isn’t viable “at this time.” Maybe in 20 years, they say. Of course, they said that 20 years ago. They claim there won’t be enough riders and that the cost would be too much. ‘We’re not a train culture,’ they say. ‘Our population is too spread out.’

These are just excuses. While billions of dollars have been given to projects north of the Fraser River, basic transit needs south of the Fraser continue to be neglected.

Maybe, just maybe, the reason the Fraser Valley is not a train culture is because we have no trains.

Now, Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon wants to spend billions of dollars on highway expansion, including $3 billion to expand the size of Highway 1 to 10 lanes, as part of a “Gateway” project.

Traffic, pollution, greenhouse gases and sprawling developments would all rise dramatically as a result.

We need to stop him in his tracks and spend that money on a modern train network that connects people across the whole Fraser Valley.

Glynis Sylvester,
Langley


The overwhelming evidence is that highway expansion will not solve traffic congestion problems in the long term. Why waste millions on building highways? What the Fraser Valley needs is more public transit including passenger rail. There has been passenger rail to Langley in the past. Why can’t be have it again?
-Rob Baxter


A little more city and a little less country… I am proud to say I am from Abbotsford. It’s exciting to see a once fledging town emerge as a diverse and dynamic community in the Lower Mainland. A “city in the country” is an appropriate description of Abbotsford’s historical roots and geographical location. However, in some respects, it’s time to move on. The challenge is that with growth, come growing pains, and this is where I believe it’s time to add a little more “city”, and have little less “country.” The issue I want to address is public transportation, particularly the point of rail transit between Abbotsford and Greater Vancouver. How many thousands of people commute west for work, school, family, special events, etc… One only has to spend one afternoon crossing the Port Mann bridge (Yes, it can take a whole afternoon to get to Vancouver!) to realize the dire need for residents across the Fraser Valley to wake up and hear the train whistle. Cars, trucks, and SUVS are not the answer to efficient transportation. It’s not too late to consider this as a possibility that will have lasting effects on the future of Abbotsford and the entire Lower Mainland. The train needs to come, and I’m all aboard!

David Warkentin
Abbotsford


To the Editor; How many people reading this would be able to make frequent use of a passenger rail service connecting Chilliwack to Abbotsford and every major city center and post-secondary institution South of the Fraser? My guess is there would be a lot. Imagine an extensive bus system which provided access to a passenger rail system by which one could travel from one side of the valley to the other, and do it without the hassle of driving? Now think of this line connecting to the Skytrain stations in Surrey, and you have huge potential to vastly upgrade transportation infrastructure in a way that would substantially reduce transportation related air pollution.

Here’s the kicker. The route for such a line already exists. In fact, residents of the Fraser Valley could boast of being able to ride such a system right into Vancouver until just before the middle of the 20th century. It was known as the Interurban.

I’m writing to say to our politicans and transportation policy decision makers, let’s restore this service. While parts of the existing InterUrban line are now used for heavy rail, what many people do not know is the the rights for passenger service have been retained in the BC Hydro contract, and are not required to pay cost until passenger service reaches a total of 33% of what’s known as “wheelage”.

For this reason, and because infrastructure already exists, passenger rail service in the Fraser Valley would be a bargain.

I for one would use it almost every weekend. Such a service would also expand my employability range, opening up opportunities throughout the Fraser Valley. Alternative transportation in our region has been neglected long enough, and it is time it received more serious consideration.

Sincerely,

Daniel van der Kroon
Abbotsford


Dear Editor: I belong to a growing number of citizens in the Fraser Valley who believe that the solution to many of our present woes – air quality, global warming, traffic buildup, high gas prices, among others, lies not in building more roads over precious farm land or pursuing new technology which will take time to become widespread such as hydrogen fuel cells, but rather in going back to a system that has worked in the past; passenger rail. Why build more roads when we can instead reduce the amount of traffic on the roads by providing viable alternatives. Anyone who has ever tried to use the transit system(s) in the Fraser Valley would probably agree with me that our transit is highly underdeveloped and therefore underused. Getting around in Vancouver and the surrounding areas isn’t too difficult, but there’s Skytrain to help supplement the well-developed bus routes.

But as for the rest of the Fraser Valley? A few buses that don’t run often or run late, and up until this fall there has been no effort to connect Abbotsford (part of the FVRD) to Translink and the GVRD which ends in Aldergrove and it has been very frustrating for those living in Aldergrove or Abbotsford who want to get to the other but don’t have a vehicle for a twenty minute drive.

The problem is needing a vehicle to get around – it shouldn’t be necessary with this much development all around us, there’s more than enough people to merit a proper transit system, such as those used in Japan or much of Europe. Light rail, passenger rail, expanding the Skytrain – all of these are options which should be considered in lieu of highway expansion.

I’m sure there are many who agree with me – and many who will bring up problems with it, the chief of which is cost. To those I ask, what kind of cost do we put on our air and how much is it costing you and how long is it taking you to drive to and from work every day?

Consider it.

Sincerely,
H.A. Hogeterp
Aldergrove


To the editor, I am a resident of Vancouver, and have a car, but I try to take transit as much as possible. It is much more relaxing and I also feel better about my contribution to the huge problem of fossil fuel consumption, global warming, and pollution. Most of the time, this works reasonably well within Vancouver, and even on my commute to Surrey where I spend some of my working days. I enjoy catching up on reading and letting someone else do the driving. I have family and friends in the Fraser Valley, and a trip out there usually means driving. I am struck by the lack of rail service in the Lower Mainland, especially compared to the more environmentally progressive Europe, where travelling by rail is convenient, and a pleasure. It makes much more sense to invest money in developing our rail system than in creating yet more lanes for congestion and pollution, not to mention headache and hunched-over, stressed-out postures on arrival at our destinations.

We won’t become a “rail culture” without rails!

Check out the facebook group “The Fraser Valley needs passenger rail service NOW!” and the website railforthevalley.com…

Sincerely,
Andrea Tothill


When are Kevin Falcon and the BC Liberals going to move into the touted new era of “we don’t need any more roads” and get serious about passenger rail service out into the fraser valley? Is this party so indebted to road builders, car saleman, old school engineering, and the oil companys that they have no other vision? The only ones who don’t seem to be concerned about the state of our world, climate change, the environment, and responsible forward thinking government are those electing these fools and the fools themselves. I don’t hear anything from our government on the most sensible of decisions to secure a fast, affordable, efficient, and eco friendly rail transit system for the residents and commuters in the ever sprawling increasingly urban Fraser Valley. Maybe they are planning a fast ferry up and down the fraser? -Gordon Scott


To the Right Honourable Kevin Falcon,
I am writing this letter to plead to you and your government to act now on the transportation crisis in the Lower Mainland. The amount of traffic that congests our streets and highways is unbearable and inexcusable. The problem is only exacerbated by the constant freight trains dividing sections of our cities periodically throughout the day. Local transit is a farce anywhere south of the Fraser River. Langley is so excruciatingly terrible that everyone opts to drive – and will soon be a place where cars outnumber people. (What kind of legacy is that?) I, like many others, have tried to take the bus to work and school but they are sparse and their schedules unrealistic.
By expanding our highways, doubling our bridges, creating over-passes, nothing is accomplished. It would be like using a band-aid for a bullet wound. In fact, all that is happening is that taxpayers’ money is being spent to subsidize the automobile and freight industries. I am not 100% against these ‘improvements’ but why is nothing being done to actually reduce the amount of traffic on our roads? I am suggesting that further consideration be given to re-introducing the Inter-Urban Railway: an electric train system that stretched through the entirety of the Lower-mainland until it ceased operation in the 1950s. Much of the track still exists and some is being used for freight traffic but could be re-routed. For that matter, read up on John Cummins’ (Delta M.P.) ideas. VALTAC, (Valley Transportation Advisory Committee )a volunteer run organization is fantastic for information as well.

Skytrain was a start and Light Rail is a practical and economical and not to mention a more environmentally friendly solution. The people of the Fraser Valley are not asking anyone to re-invent the wheel, they just ask that there be a better way to use it to move them around.

Sincerely,
Brandon O. Yan


If the Province of BC intends to take climate change seriously, they must address transportation.Pavement solutions beget increased emissions of noxious greenhouse gases. Rail is the only way to move goods and people quickly, efficiently and with lowered climate change consequences. In my experience as a member of Esquimalt Council and the Capital Regional District, from talk to implementation takes at least 3 to 5 years. This government needs to commit immediately to Light Rapid Transit and Commuter Rail to address climate change. Both the IPCC and the Stern Report predict that governments have less than 10 years to act. If half of that time is consumed by planning, design and securing infrastructure financing, it is way past the time to act. I support the advocacy of railforthevalley.com in proposing a rail solution for the Fraser Valley. Hopefully, their success will stimulate rail solutions throughout the province.
Jane Sterk, Ph.D., BC Green Party Leadership Candidate


Dear Editor I am writing to you today to talk about the issue of transit in the lower mainland. We the people of Vancouver and the surrounding areas feel that the current system is not functioning properly. For anyone living in the lower mainland and commuting to the city center it is obvious that we need to think of new and innovative solutions to link Chilliwack, Sardis, Yarrow, Abbotsford, & Langley to Vancouver City. That is why I am suggesting a passenger rail network, this would not only solve our need for transportation but would also make a step in the right direction for climate control and the environment. What we need is green options to travel and commute, moving away from our dependancy on cars and saving this valuable landscape for future generations. That is why I urge the government of BC to seriously look at this issue and join us in setting up rail networks and in doing so helping to maintain this Beautiful British Colombia. Kind Regards, Jazmin Allen


Dear Editor, Anyone who has driven the highways in the Lower Mainland on a busy day knows that at peak capacity the system breaks down. The solution is not to build more highways, as extra capacity will be quickly swallowed by more drivers. The solution is to invest in commuter rail options that will efficiently move people around the region and reduce our dependency on the automobile.
-Christopher Porter


Dear Editor,
We the people believe that the Fraser Valley is growing rapidly, and merging into Vancouver our large neighbour. In order to Accommodate many people we feel that there is a great need for passenger trains to get us into the city. Although Passenger rail is expensive and will cost time and money, It will also save gasoline and eliminate car crashes and highway traffic, this will prove to be much safer for everyone, including our environment. Something must be done about this problem that has come to the attention of many of us, and we feel giving you our opinion on this matter will cause a much needed change. You are our outlet to the public, our larger voice. Hear us roar. My Voice and Your Open Mind,
Judy Hartford


Dear editor,
For a fraction of the cost of the proposed Highway 1 expansion, we could have an interurban passenger rail network connecting Chilliwack, Sardis, Yarrow, Abbotsford, Langley, on westward to the Surrey Skytrain station. Following the old interurban right-of-way (that the government owns), this route goes right through the city centres, and is in walking distance of ALL the universities and colleges! With the money we would save, we could, in addition, extend the West Coast Express from Mission out to Chilliwack!
We in the Fraser Valley do not wish for further increases in the smog that wafts our way, the natural result of adding more traffic to our roads. There is now also the global warming threat to consider. Given that gas prices will in all likelihood keep on rising in the future, and the fact that relaxing in a train is simply much nicer than driving in heavy traffic, the choice of rail service for the whole Fraser Valley ahead of doubling the size of a section of the highway, is obvious. If you think about what happens to that highway every winter when there’s a little snow and wind, the choice becomes a no-brainer. Our governing politicians don’t seem to get it though. They have other insterests to consider, and it appears they will not bend their reasoning towards common sense. Since they aren’t listening, the next step is to organize ourselves. Check out www.railforthevalley.com and join the campaign!
John Buker
Chilliwack


Dear Editor, The state of public transit through much of Metro-Vancouver is appalling. We need better rail transit through the Fraser Valley. Without proper transit through the valley, the myth of car dependence will be propagated. It is possible to have reasonable public transit outside of Vancouver for less than the cost it would be to expand Highway 1 to accommodate an ever increasing number of car-dependent residents. Sincerely,
Andrew Eisenberg


Dear Editor, The long line of cars on the highway is actually very similar to a train (with “cars” attached end to end) EXCEPT that the train is moving quickly and smoothly, with all the passengers free to do what they want with their time, and without a gas-guzzling motor attached to each and every car!!
As we realise this absurdity, the need for passenger trains connecting towns in the Fraser Valley becomes clear.
Sincerely,
Jane Buker Adams
(with family in both Chilliwack and Vancouver)


Open letter to the Honorable Gordon Campbell. Much time and thought has gone into this letter. While I have addressed you, if the shoe also fits any other minister, let them wear it. However, you as the leader, bear ultimate responsibility. You have heard about global warming, carbon emissions and traffic congestion from many sources and you do not need statistics and more number crunching from me. Appearances are that you have chosen to negate the actions that should have been taken to correct or minimize some very serious problems within the geographical area of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. They are also in relation to your obligation to provide an efficient and safe transportation infrastructure. You have not offered any solutions to these problems but you have made plans to increase them manifold.

Let us address your plans to widen Highway #1 and twin the Port Mann Bridge. You know this is not necessary except for the thousands of trucks from the expanded port. There is nothing in it for us at all but poisoned air and complete devastation of land and waterways. On top of that you want us to pay for it! You have been elected and your mandate is to act for the good of us all. When you do not do what is right and extremely urgent, are you then acting for your own personal and political expedience? Every politician and person in leadership is expected to be on board doing what is right.

It is possible to address the dual problems of carbon emissions and transportation by the installation of train service from Vancouver to Chilliwack or Hope – a rapid, frequent, comfortable, affordable, well-connected conveyance system. This is the only way to move many people within an area of congestion and reduce carbon emissions simultaneously. Even red-blooded Canadians glued to their car seats will have to acknowledge that and you are no exception. Anything else will not work. A bus carries but few people and remains part of the congestion/emission problem. Buses are needed for the excellent and frequent connections required to final destinations thus eliminating the need for huge parking lots. Our population is too large and our need too great to suggest a connection to the Skytrain in Surrey as a solution.

If you say we cannot afford it, the retort of all thinking persons will be that we cannot afford not to. We have put this off for far too long and we must now bite the financial bullet for each year the price increases. Look to Calgary and their ‘green’ planning. Their C-train is fueled by wind power. Wind is free and there are no emissions. They are working towards having the system pay for itself. Probably not feasible but it would be superb If we had a magnetic system such as is used in Japan. Imagine: no wheels to wear out and negligible noise!

Thinking of some of the other side benefits, breathing comes to mind! Mental health: when commuters are not stressed because they can relax, catch up on sleep or get work done they would otherwise have to do at home. The divorce rate may even go down. Less road rage. Less stress in the family. Diminished pressure on the healthcare system for there will be fewer accidents. Savings could extend beyond the obvious one for less gas consumption, to perhaps the second family car not being required.

In the end, this bullet must be bitten, especially when expectations of a million or more extra commuters are anticipated in the years to come. Even those folk who have never left their car would have to admit that widening the highway is like a personal invitation to stay in their car. To heck with the mess it creates. Idling in the inevitable gridlock will exacerbate the emission issue while we inch our way along the road. Case in point: it was just the other day, while on a necessary trek to Vancouver, it took three hours from a few kilometers west of 200 Street in Surrey to the First Avenue off ramp. There were no accidents or other events that would have caused the traffic to slow down. Even the H.O.V. lane was bumper to bumper. It was purely congestion and it was not in the ‘rush hour’. Throw in an accident or two and the odd construction site and you can imagine the rest. That is what you want for us. Widening the highway will not diminish congestion for long but it will absolutely increase the traffic permanently.

Although you were voted to represent us and act wisely on our behalf, Mr. Premier, you have not been given the green light to work to our detriment. It is understandable that you are eager to be voted in at the next election and that you possibly think the train issue will cost you that vote. I do not believe that will happen, I believe the opposite but, even if that were true, the fact remains that your mandate is to serve us. And your plans, or your lack of plans, do not serve us. Believe me, when the time comes that our air has been cleaned to a large extent and everyone is enjoying excellent, smooth transportation, you will have saved the day, Mr. Campbell. Unfortunately, right now it is my opinion that you are only paying lip service to the green ‘tide’. You even have your ministers spouting that clean air is one of your primary objectives. Once people have been informed what the Gateway Plan is all about and the lie they have been dished up, they will never vote you back in, for your intent is to destroy what we have.

When the global warming moves the thermostat up even one degree, the calamity that will befall 100′s of millions of people because of the rising water levels around the world is worse than any nightmare. Guess how much that is going to cost? That unaffordable train will seem like pocket change! The rising water level is only one of the terrors. We can nip that in the bud. We can and we must do it now. Your Gateway Plan will very certainly accelerate global warming and the maddening thing is, it may all be for nothing for there is no guarantee that freighters will offload at our port. And you will have spent all our money.

We beseech you to recognize that everyone is very busy and has no time to arrange for rallies and signature gathering in order to persuade you that we mean business. You know that a majority would sign and I know that you are afraid of that. We need you and your ministers to take this request very seriously. Let me, instead, thank you in advance for showing great leadership and standing up to be counted: for earning the right to bear the salutation, The Honorable Gordon Campbell.

I implore each reader to write to the premier, even if only a sentence or two. Include other ministers. This is no time to procrastinate. The website will take you to their addresses. . http://www.dir.gov.bc.ca/ Include Prime Minister Harper for he has supplied funding. Please make yourself aware of what the Gateway Plan really means. In case you cannot access the non-government version, contact the Wilderness Society phone 604 683 8220 for their info sheet.

Sincerely,
Simone Greiner

 

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