False assumptions worry rail expert

False assumptions worry rail expert

BY PAUL J. HENDERSON, THE TIMES FEBRUARY 22, 2011

The provincial government’s lack of interest in interurban light rail from Chilliwack to Surrey is biased and based on a number of false assumptions, according to a British light rail consultant.

At the request of the Rail for the Valley advocacy group, David Cockle of UK-based Leewood Projects analyzed the provincial government’s Strategic Review of Transit in the Fraser Valley. Cockle found that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and Translink “appear to have predefined that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was the only option and the report was to prove that point of view.”

Chief among the criticisms is that a maximum of 250 passengers per day was assumed when the province considered daily interurban rail service. But when it came to equivalent bus service, the number of 800 boardings was assumed.

Cockle also said the province’s report uses false assumptions to extrapolate costs of $18.6 million per kilometre for light rail. That dollar figure was based on double-tracking the entire line with stations every 1.6 kilometres “and other costs entirely unnecessary for Light Rail Transit.”

“The MoTi had formed their conclusion prior to commissioning the report, and the evidence in the report has been selectively incorporated, in order to substantiate the conclusion that they wanted to see; despite the proven facts that the light rail option, for the Fraser Valley, would have an annual cost of less than a quarter of the figure quoted in the FVTS report.”

Cockle pointed out that while B.C. seems set against passenger rail, in the first few weeks of 2011 seven new, and three extensions, of UK and European light rail systems were announced as were three new and three extensions in the U.S.

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