Surrey Leader – Why no light rail?

Why no light rail?

Published: October 14, 2010 1:00 PM

Updated: October 14, 2010 1:45 PM

So Premier Campbell has promised SkyTrain to Langley, but does anyone believe him?

To refresh everyone’s’ memories, SkyTrain is a proprietary, automatic (driverless) railway that is now owned by Bombardier Inc. First marketed in the late 1970s, what we in the Vancouver Metro region call SkyTrain has gone through at least four official name changes and a complete redesigns, yet only seven such transit systems have been built and now relegated to the niche airport people-mover market.

SkyTrain was even too expensive for the truncated Canada Line subway and a generic metro system was used and is incompatible with the proprietary SkyTrain Advanced Rapid Transit or ART.

Only Vancouver has expanded its SkyTrain ICTS/ALRT/ALM/ART light-metro system and is the only one of four cities in North America having SkyTrain (there is no SkyTrain operation in Europe) to do so.

Why? The answer is simple economics: SkyTrain costs more to build and operate than comparable light rail systems and despite dubious claims by TransLink, SkyTrain has yet to prove that it has a greater capacity than light rail.

The grade crossing argument used by the SkyTrain lobby is a man-of-straw argument as rail/road crossings are more than 10 times safer than road/road intersections. The proposed TramTrain grade crossings will be protected by lights, bells and a gate. Compare this to a typical light-controlled traffic intersection or the cheaper four-way stop intersection. The road/rail intersection is much safer. If a car driver disobeys a road/rail crossing protected by lights, bells and a gate and collides with a TramTrain, should not the car driver’s licence be revoked?

For the premier’s proposed $2-billion SkyTrain line to Langley, we can build a “full build” (Vancouver/Richmond to Rosedale TramTrain) and a new multi-track Fraser River Rail Bridge and at least two LRT 10-km LRT/streetcar lines in Surrey and Langley.

It seems Premier Campbell is waiting at the station for a SkyTrain that will never come.

Malcolm Johnston

Light Rail Committee

Rail for the Valley

via Surrey Leader – Why no light rail?.

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