A Transit Delight For a Wet Weekend

Moscow's Modern tram

Moscow’s Modern tram

 

The quietest station in London
https://www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/i-visited-londons-least-busy-21581255
The Tivvy Bumper brought in from the cold
https://www.nrmfriends.org.uk/post/the-tivvy-bumper-brought-in-from-the-cold
Chasing Chrome Special train with private cars on Surrey Railway, British Columbia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C81E5F1kibE
(Spotter: Neil Kearns)

Great Central Railway – 1940’s Wartime Weekend 2021
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oh1IYYZTaOA
A Fantasy Double Header! Mayflower & Bahamas On The Welsh Dragon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyafT1jE0sY
LMS 46115 Scots Guardsman in Full Cry on the Dalesman 2/9/21
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TXId4rBQ18
Talyllyn Railway – Edward Thomas 100 Steam Gala – Corris on the Talyllyn – 11/09/2021
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cv5LB5UPAU
The Last Trains of Summer on the Yorkshire Dales Model Railway
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWSX35-uqpE
Site visit to Cheshire Lines
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQNaa33ZWN8
(Spotter: Ted Millward)

Winning photographers capture Britain’s maritime heritage
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-58585399

 

 

Entering The Land of Unicorns and Pixie Dust – TransLink’s Current P.R. Gamble

Well, the first surprise was that this news item came via the Alaska Highway News of all places.

This tells me TransLink is spinning the story to everyone it can to give the good news to!

The big problem that there is no money to fund these grand schemes and the post Covid economy may not support the level of taxation that politicians have deluded themselves that they can shake from taxpayer’s pockets.

Metro Vancouver’s rapid transit system needs to quadruple by 2050 with 300 kilometres of new routes including SkyTrain, subway, light rail, or bus rapid transit, says a TransLink report released today.
So someone please tell me, how much will that cost?
The Expo line extension to Langley is topping $250 million/km and the Broadway subway will surpass the current $500 million/km to build. The city of Vancouver claims a 12 km streetcar will cost over $1 billion, so where is the money coming from?
It also becomes evident why Kevin Quinn was hired to be TransLink’s CEO. Kevin holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University.  Translation, he is an over paid spin doctor with expertise manipulating facts and truths to be fed to the public.
I sent an email to he Baltimore MTA inquiring about Mr. Quinn and what I got back was less than reassuring.

You are about to get a new CEO of TransLink in the person of Kevin Quinn.  this is a good news/bad news situation.   Good news is we are rid of him, bad news you are getting him.

Mr Quinn may be the nicest yes man you will ever meet.  he is very personable and friendly but have yet to actually see him in 6yrs have an opinion of his own  and if he has any use for light rail he has kept it well hidden.

Hopefully you will have better luck than Baltimore, ridership is off (before pandemic) 2% year over year since he took over.

 TransLink has serious financial problems; TransLink has not sourced the extra $1 billion dollars to complete the Expo Line expansion to Langley. TransLink does not have the funds to cover cost overruns on the Broadway subway. Covid has cut deep into ridership and ridership revenue. So what does a university trained spin doctor do, smother us with dreams of transit here, there and everywhere, while lurking in financial shadows deflecting the truth.
TransLink also has ridership problems, as transit use has been slowly dropping pre Covid as the following table records. The ridership numbers are increasing at a slower rate when compared to rising population numbers.
Let us not forget that transit ridership in Baltimore decreased 2% a year every year, during Mr. Quinn’s tenure there!
Pre Covid, Mode share for transit was declining.

Pre Covid, Mode share for transit was declining.

What TransLink is doing is opening the first shot for the 2022 civic campaign giving current politicians platforms to win their reelections. TransLink has no money, revenue is dropping, there is a $1 billion and growing shortfall of money to complete the Expo Line expansion, costs are sure to increase for the Broadway subway, so the big transit lie is offered and…………

when you repeat a transit lie often enough, the people tend to believe it!

Metro Vancouver rapid transit needs major expansion: TransLink report

300 kilometres of new SkyTrain, subway, light rail, or bus rapid transit routes needed, study finds.

What’s wrong with the REM?

REM

The Canada Line’s big cousin, Montreal’s REM.

The problem with REM. like the Canada line is that it is more of a financial tool than a public transit line and because of this, the transit customer has been ignored.

A healthy transit system offers multiple ways to get between points A and B — not only does this offer users choice, it helps spread people out and offers alternatives in case of service disruptions.

The Canada Line has never gone under the scrutiny that REM has, as our extremely lazy mainstream media uses rosy news releases from TransLink as  actual news.

With the Canada Line, suburban transit customers lost their direct service to downtown Vancouver with the forced transfer from bus to metro at Bridgeport station and because of this the expected increase in suburban ridership never materialized.

As there are many post secondary institutions along the Canada Line, including the downtown campuses of UBC and SFU, Langara College and a many other private schools and colleges and the proliferation of the $1 a day U-Pass, the Canada Line ‘s two car trains tend to be full.

The question TransLink refuses to answer is:

What percentage of the Canada Lines customers are U-Pass holders?

In fact TransLink and the SkyTrain lobby gets touchy when one asks this and one wonders why? How many daily unique uses of the Compass Card/U-pass is there on the light metro system?

TransLink refuses to release this information and instead, continues to use boarding’s, which is hardly helpful.

The REM light metro is nothing more than a financial tool, with the carrot that the politicians do not have to take responsibility for the system, but still can use the the light metro as a backdrop for pre election photo-ops. The problem with this is what is currently happening in metro Vancouver is that the transit customer is abandoning transit for the car.  Mode share for transit has dropped to 14% pre Covid and the post Covid recovery is not materializing as fast as TransLink would have wished and the near future looks somewhat bleak.

If this sort of transit planning and construction continues, bodes ill both for quality transit in Vancouver and for the fight against global warming.

Canada Line Platforms

What’s wrong with the REM? A feature report on Quebec’s mass transit con

“Just like the construction of the Olympic Stadium, Montrealers can do little but watch billions in public money wasted on a glamour project of dubious necessity.”

Every time there’s an announcement about the Réseau express métropolitain (REM), the pundits, politicians and PR hacks frame it like a late-night infomercial advertising some product you never knew existed but was now available to solve your and all the world’s problems. Finally, they exclaim, Montreal is getting the REM.

Ever since the government of Quebec awarded a no-bid, sole-sourced contract to the provincial pension fund (the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, or CDPQ) to build a new mass transit system, I’ve been concerned this might not be the best idea. I support public transit because I believe it’s the best way to control carbon-dioxide emissions and to make cities far more liveable. Congestion, pollution and emissions all work together in depreciating our quality of life, and I often find myself wondering how we might use our public spaces differently if we only had to contend with a quarter, third or half as many cars.

That aside, the REM is behind schedule, over-budget and bits and pieces of it are being scaled back. It will open later than originally stated, have fewer stations and may not go to all the places we were told it would. Perhaps more disturbingly, both the CDPQ and the political class are now talking about extending it all over the metropolitan region, as though more of this overhyped panacea to all our transit and traffic woes will distract us from the fact that it hasn’t even gotten off the ground yet.

Much like a runaway freight train, there’s little hope of stopping the REM. Indeed, our future REM trains are supposed to be fully automated — no need for pesky unionized transit employees dipping into the profit margin — and so likely won’t have anyone aboard to hit the brakes in case of an emergency. The REM — and this cannot be forgotten — was a decision of the Quebec government in collaboration with the provincial institutional investor, the CDPQ. Neither Denis Coderre nor Valérie Plante had anything to do with it, despite what they may tell you. This was never Montreal’s decision to make, as our transit agency was never initially consulted.

The main reason why the REM won’t be stopped, no matter how many problems it produces, is because there will be incredible financial penalties to pay. Moreover, the work that’s already been done has been so expensive that no government would risk pumping the brakes to re-evaluate just what exactly it is we’re doing, or ask the question whether this is really worth it.

All we can do at this point is complete the project and try to wrestle back some control into the hands of the people who need and use public transit, rather than those who seek to profit off it.

So with all this mind, let’s consider some of the most recent developments.

Anyone who’s not too stoned to recall 2015-16 (when the REM was first announced) will doubtless remember the centrality of the airport connection. Finally — we were told so many times — Montreal would have a quick and efficient connection to the airport. Now it seems that Aeroports de Montréal is unable to come up with the estimated $600-million to build the connection. It’s a neat idea to have direct public transit connections between airports and city centres, but in Montreal’s case the passenger estimate for the new airport stop isn’t terribly impressive. One estimate prepared for the CDPQ back in 2016-2017, and based on data from 2015, put the daily average number of airport REM station boardings between 4,600 in 2021 (what was supposed to be the first year of operation) and 5,600 in 2031 (after a decade-long “ramp-up” in use). This would put the airport REM station in the same range as some of the lesser used metro stations. Some of the more optimistic pre-pandemic projections indicated 10,000 passengers will use the station per day. While it’s true the number of passengers using Trudeau airport has been steadily increasing over the years, it was still just 20 million passengers per annum, and that was before the pandemic. It may not be until the end of this decade that we get back to that level of passengers, and of course, the major reductions in flights also means major reductions in airport workers too, further sapping the number of people who may use a new REM airport station.

The airport station reveals other shortcomings of the REM. The way the system was designed, the only trains that will run directly to the airport are those leaving the McGill/Central Station nexus downtown. If your starting point is on the South Shore, in Deux Montagnes or in the West Island, you’ll have to switch trains, as none of those branches will run trains going directly to the airport.

While the estimated travel time between downtown Montreal and the airport will probably clock-in at 20-25 minutes, passengers coming from other areas can expect much longer commutes. For the majority of West Islanders, Lavalois and people living on the western side of the off-island suburbs, taking a cab or driving will unfortunately still be the most efficient way to get to the airport. And at 20-25 minutes, the REM isn’t that much more competitive on the downtown-airport run than the existing bus service.

Worse, it’s not like Montreal can take the $600-million earmarked for the airport station and use it somewhere else — like buying 600 brand-new electric buses from a local bus manufacturer (NovaBus’s fanciest, fully electric buses cost $1-million apiece). For comparison’s sake, 600 new buses, each carrying 80 passengers, just increased Montreal’s public transit capacity by 48,000 people per minute. This would be a considerable improvement over the few thousand additional passengers handled by the airport stop, but more significantly, the buses, unlike the REM, can go anywhere.

Why are we so caught up with the idea of riding the REM to the airport? It probably stems from the same minds that think a REM monorail over René-Lévesque is also a good idea. In sum, Montreal’s getting transit solutions to problems that don’t really exist, dreamt up by people who may not live here and likely haven’t used public transit in decades.

The people who are calling the shots consistently pitch the REM as a solution both to congestion as well as something that will encourage people to abandon their cars and hop on board the sustainability train. They pitch the REM as something “cool” that people will look forward to trying, and I can’t help but wonder how many of these people marvelled at the various new fangled transit technologies demoed at Expo 67, like hovercrafts (no longer will your boat be confined to water!) or gondolas (they’re not just for Switzerland anymore!).

Yes, people do need to be encouraged to take public transit, but this won’t happen if you spend several years ripping up the existing transit infrastructure. The STM’s ridership numbers were increasing steadily year over year until the Coderre administration made serious service cutbacks in 2014. Consequently, use declined, something REM construction exacerbated.

When it was originally proposed, the REM was supposed to use existing infrastructure. The public was assured that the construction of the REM would have a minimal impact on extant infrastructure. But rather than buying trains to fit extant infrastructure, the CDPQ instead decided to build everything anew, from the trains to the track to the power systems. In so doing, the most-used commuter train line in Greater Montreal was shut down, and the excessively expensive Mascouche Line was cut off from downtown Montreal, rendering it essentially useless. New double-decker trains bought less than a decade ago are no longer needed. It goes on and on like this. Just like the construction of the Olympic Stadium, Montrealers can do little but watch a white elephant get built, billions in public money wasted on glamour projects of dubious necessity.

There’s a common denominator to this mess: Montreal’s transit isn’t planned by Montreal. The REM was always a Quebec government and CDPQ project, and it’s worth pointing out that the CDPQ had no prior experience in the construction or management of mass transit systems, let alone public transit.

Montreal is actually legally prohibited from developing its own public transit systems (see item #151 here). That is to say, if Montreal had $10-billion lying around, it would still not be allowed to expand the metro.

We have no choice but to involve middlemen in our own transit planning decisions. With regards to the REM, the Quebec government handed incredible power over to the CDPQ. They were given exclusive rights to public infrastructure (like the new Champlain Bridge and the Mount Royal Tunnel) and further granted non-compete agreements with other modes and services of public transit. Looping back to the issue of the airport station, the CDPQ actually managed to get the government to agree to force the STM to cancel the 747 airport shuttle to give the REM exclusive airport access (see pp. 10-11 here).

No public transit planner would ever plan transit like this.

Once the REM becomes operational, all other transit modes and systems will be reoriented to serve it. Eliminating duplication may seem like a good idea to the number crunchers, but users and planners understand that operational redundancy is vital. A healthy transit system offers multiple ways to get between points A and B — not only does this offer users choice, it helps spread people out and offers alternatives in case of service disruptions.

What concerns me most of all about the REM — aside from the fact that we’re essentially subsidizing the CDPQ’s real-estate development plans and being used as guinea-pigs for their infrastructure development business — is that we’ve been forced to hand over control of public transit to a for-profit organization. The CDPQ included a clause stating their annual return on investment would be set at 10% irrespective of the REM’s actual revenues. If the REM doesn’t produce this return, taxpayers foot the difference.

There’s nothing really novel about the REM. It’s just another imposition on the city of Montreal by people who claim to have our best interests at heart, but are truly only interested in sucking as much money out of the public purse as they possibly can. The REM is shiny and new, and may or may not reach the airport, but it isn’t the boring old solutions that would likely have the best overall impact. There are experts, but they weren’t consulted. There were consultations, but the people were ignored. There was an environmental assessment that was highly critical of the project, and then-Premier Couillard decided it had exceeded its mandate. We were given the bare minimum opportunity to speak, but no one was really listening.

So what do we do now?

It’s an election year, there’s a good chance Coderre will run, and he’ll likely position himself as the REM king. Mayor Plante, not wanting to be upstaged, will likely match or exceed whatever Coderre’s position is on transit development. Expect a lot of talk about a Blue Line extension to Anjou (finally!), more talk about a Train de l’Est and/or some kind of Pink Line/ Train de l’Est amalgam (finally!!) and monorails over René-Lévesque (finally!!!). They’ll likely each have a position on the airport connection as well, and here Montrealers may have a chance at regaining a degree of control over public transit. We can say no, we can demand the REM be subsumed into the STM and we can insist the citizens and government of Montreal be given the control they deserve over their own transit systems.

We have no need for more white elephants. ■

And You Think Wider Highways and Bigger Bridges Will Solve Congestion?

vancouver-traffic_p3043244_p3435930

Let’s build more highways and bigger tunnels and bridges to cure congestion. Let us build 10 lane tunnels and bridges; let us build ten lane highways: let us build ourselves out of gridlock.

Sorry, facts show that one cannot build oneself out of congestion and gridlock as building bigger bridges and tunnels and wider highways does not cure congestion and the opposite happens, congestion and gridlock gets worse.

Gordon Campbell’s multi lane Port Mann bridge replacement has not cured congestion and in fact has made congestion worse, with Highway 1 gridlocked from Chilliwack to Vancouver.

The Massey Tunnel replacement is more of the same with politicians wanting bigger and wider bridges and tunnels to solve gridlock but the opposite will happen, as it has done over and over again, congestion will increase and gridlock continues.

Thus Metro Vancouver’s bridge, tunnel and highway expansion craze, costing billions of dollars, will not solve congestion, but make it worse.

Why then all those cars on the road? Why are they not using SkyTrain?

Simple answer is, SkyTrain does not go where they want to go. The transit system is wedded to an extremely dated hub and spoke, transportation philosophy where buses meet rapid transit at hubs and customers transfer and transfer again at the next hub.

Unlike much cheaper light rail (up to ten time cheaper), SkyTrain is stuck in a 1970’s bubble in a 2020’s world and customers are voting with their cars their dislike of transit.

The big problem is that regional, provincial, and federal politicians still believe that transit is a side show, a distraction and the real vote getter is bigger and bigger bridges, tunnels and highways with affordable transit options quietly ignored.

gridlock

The Unstoppable Appeal of Highway Expansion

U.S. transportation authorities have spent billions widening urban freeways to fight traffic delays. What makes the “iron law of congestion” so hard to defeat?

Letters

Letters

Letters

From the Langley Advance Times

Dear Editor,

For over 12 years, Rail for the Valley has been advocating the reinstatement of the Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban service and in doing so, are being advised by professionals and engineers who have a sound knowledge of public transit systems and transportation modes.

The following are pertinent facts being overlooked by local, provincial and federal politicians.

  • Prior to the 2018 civic elections, the current mayor of Surrey claimed he was an expert and that the SkyTrain could be built to Langley for $1.65 billion.
  • The current estimated cost for the 16 kilometre Expo Line extension to Langley is in excess of $4 billion.
  • The name of the actual proprietary railway used on the Expo line is the Movia Automatic Light Metro (MALM)
  • MALM is the sixth rebranding of the proprietary railway and is now owned by Alstom after it purchased Bombardier’s rail division. Previous brands were Innovia Light Metro; Advanced Rapid Transit; Automatic Light Metro; Advanced Light Rail Transit; Intermediate Capacity Transit System.
  • Due to the flip flop from LRT to MALM, a new business case must be presented and a two year bidding process must be restarted from scratch.
  • The Expo Line extension to Langley is now underfunded by over $1 billion.
  • There has been no planning for building a cement viaduct over the Serpentine Valley and this will greatly increase the cost of the project.
  • The cost of cement and specialty steel needed for light metro construction is rising 2 to 3 times that of the rate of inflation. Inflation is projected to be 2.2 per cent in Canada in 2022.
  • To operate more trains on the Expo and Millennium Lines, a $3 billion rehab must be done to: replace and increase the electrical supply; replace the Citiflow automatic train control system as Bombardier Inc. is no longer supporting it; all switches must be replaced to permit faster running to increase headways, needed to increase capacity; all stations must be refitted to permit higher customer flows (is being done piecemeal).
  • As Vancouver is now the only customer for MALM and as Alstom will complete outstanding (paid for orders) by 2025, they may cease production altogether. This also coincides with the closure of two (Detroit & Toronto’s SRT) of the seven systems built around the world.
  • Two of the now called MALM systems in Yongin, Korea and Kuala Lumpor in Malaysia have involved both Bombardier Inc. and SNC Lavalin in court battles involving misinformation and corruption.
  • The cost for a 130 km, Vancouver to Chilliwack passenger service connecting Vancouver to North Delta, Cloverdale, Langley, Abbotsford, Vedder/Sardis and Chilliwack, with a maximum of three trains per hour per direction is $1.221 billion.

Rail for the Valley

RftV3

 

Delta Optimist

Letter: Better transit for Delta?

Public transit in Metro Vancouver is designed to meet political agendas and not customer needs

Ottawa’s Troubled LRT, Er……. Light Metro ~ Updated

UPDATE OCTOBER 14, 2021:

City manager Steve Kanellakos said Rideau Transit Group reported on the root cause of the derailment: a gearbox came loose and dragged along the tracks. Kanellakos said RTG learned the gearbox bolts weren’t torqued properly.

 

What was going to be a showcase LRT has turned into a Light Metro fiasco.

When politicians get involved with a transit project, especially a rail projects, things get derailed quite easily.

Some historical context:

In September 2009, the City of Ottawa paid Siemens Canada Limited, PCL Constructors Canada Inc., Ottawa LRT Corp. and St. Lawrence Cement Inc. the sum of $36,718,500.00 in order to settle their lawsuit for the wrongful termination of a contract for the design, construction and maintenance of a light rail transit system in Ottawa.
The project consisted of 27 kms of electrified track, 21 specially designed and built vehicles, associated mechanical and electrical equipment and various buildings.  Construction was to begin on October 15, 2006.  The project was a public-private partnership between the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada each agreeing to contribute $200 million in funding.
In October 2006, the Government of Canada announced that its funding contribution was conditional upon receiving a notice of support for the project from the newly elected City Council following the November 2006 municipal election.  Following the municipal election, the newly elected council voted to change the scope of the project.  The Federal and Provincial governments would not guarantee funding for the changed scope.  In response, Ottawa terminated the contract on the basis that the condition precedent of funding from Provincial and Federal government had not been satisfied. The Project Agreement had limitation of liability clauses which purported to cap the plaintiff’s recovery at $2 million.
In June 2007, the plaintiffs commenced an action in Superior Court in Brampton, alleging fundamental breach and breach of the obligation to perform the Project Agreement in good faith. Brampton is the jurisdiction in which the lead plaintiffs were headquartered.  In September 2008, the City of Ottawa’s motion for a change of venue from Brampton to Ottawa was dismissed. In September 2009 a settlement of the action was reached on the basis of a payment of $36, 718,500.00.  Siemens Canada Limited, PCL Constructors and the Ottawa LRT Corp. were represented by McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Dean Novak, Siemens Canada Limited’s Assistant General Counsel, and Douglas Stollery, Q.C. General Counsel of PCL Constructors.

That’s right, Siemens was going to build a 27 km LRT system for $1 billion and a change of government, changed  it to a $2.1 billion 12.5 km light metro.

So, the politicians in Ottawa built a light metro instead, but by using modern trams, they could call it LRT.

Sounds very familiar doesn’t it. Well it should because after the 2018 civic elections, the new Surrey mayor rejected a $1.63 billion LRT to Newton and Langley, for a now over $4 billion, 16km  light-metro extension to Langley instead!

The following is a long read and Zwei will comment where deemed necessary.

Why the bumpy, two-year ride of Ottawa’s multi billion-dollar LRT system is sparking calls for a public inquiry

In The News

Just in time wasn’t it?

Jjust a few days after Justin Trudeau’s $600 million cabinet shuffle, SNC Lavalin raised it’s dirty head out of the swamp, like a monster that refuses to die.

SNC Lavalin is one of the biggest movers and shakers with Metro Vancouver transit projects and many former employees working for TransLink, civic government and at the Ministry of Transportation.

It is safe to say, SNC lavalin has tremendous influence in Metro Vancouver and BC.

SNC Lavalin is the lead company of the P-3 consortium that operates the Canada Line and in the final bidding,SNC Lavalin bid against SNC Lavalin! for the P-3 and to no one surprise, SNC Lavalin won!

The judge, overseeing the Susan Heyes lawsuit (She won but the judgment was overturned on appeal) against TransLink called the bidding process for the P-3 a “charade”!

The mainstream media, compliant as always, never raised an eyebrow.

Maybe the RCMP should take a look?

 

theo_moudakis_snc_lavalin

 

2 former SNC-Lavalin execs arrested, charged with fraud and forgery

Charges relate to bribes that RCMP allege were paid in exchange for obtaining contracts

 

 

It is also coming to light that both the Broadway subway and the Expo Line extension will increase house and accommodation prices, who would have thought!

“Our biggest transit investments have inadvertently displaced affordable rental with market condos,”

Good old Zwei has been telling people the same thing for almost 10 years and it is no coincidence that the term “demoviction” was coined in Vancouver.

SkyTrain is being built strictly for land use or in laymen terms, SkyTrain construction is the driver for land assembly, land speculation, the demolition of affordable housing and enriching land developers who get the same land up-zoned to higher densities to build unaffordable high rise condos for the monied set, especially overseas.

Building SkyTrain has nothing to do about good public transportation.

 

Election 2021: Liberal campaign promises may not achieve housing, transportation goals of British Colombians

The Liberals have promised to address housing affordability with first-time home buyer tax credits and savings accounts

Lisa Cordasco
Publishing date: Sep 22, 2021

Federal promises to increase affordable housing and expand rapid transit in the Lower Mainland could result in a higher cost of living, less-affordable housing and more climate destruction, according to some analysts and advocates.

During the recent election campaign, the Liberals made promises to address housing affordability with first-time homebuyer tax credits and savings accounts. They made other pre-election commitments to contribute up to $1.3 billion toward the construction of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain expansion.

But housing and climate experts say neither set of initiatives will achieve its goals without integration.

“Our biggest transit investments have inadvertently displaced affordable rental with market condos,” said Alex Boston, executive director of Renewable Cities, a policy and planning think-tank at Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. “The Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project will actually increase carbon and congestion because it is facilitating urban sprawl.”

Jill Atkey of the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association agrees.

“We have dislocated policies. Transportation planning is separate from housing planning and housing planning is separate from school planning, even with health care, we’re building a giant hospital at St. Paul’s with no new housing planned, around it,” she said.

Both Atkey and Boston believe a new approach is needed where groups like TransLink work with municipalities, developers and the province to create housing alongside transit corridors, and for the federal government to demand such links before providing funding.

Atkey said she is disappointed that the election promises made by the Liberals have focused more on new-home ownership.

“We were hoping to see increased investment in affordable housing, but we didn’t see much of that in the Liberal platform. There was more of an emphasis on new-home ownership, which a lot of economists say is not a good idea because it simply stokes the demand for unaffordable housing,” said Atkey. “Even with those incentives for first-time homebuyers, unless you have an inheritance, you don’t have much chance of getting into the market, so what about the rest of us?”

Boston said first-time homeowners are being pushed to the suburbs, where their costs for transportation will increase. He said vehicle growth is 2 1/2 times the rate of housing growth.

“The further you are from employment hubs and services, the more you drive. Housing developments in places like Surrey, Langley and the Tri-Cities, for example, are being created to accommodate cars. They are not transit-oriented and they are not walkable. Instead, they need to create neighbourhoods around transportation corridors.”

Boston suggests TransLink partner with developers or non-profits to build affordable housing on transit-owned property, where SkyTrain stations and transit hubs are built, and he adds the federal and provincial governments must make that a requirement to receive transit funding.

“Single-family housing developments never pay for the cost of the infrastructure they need,” said Boston. “Densely populated neighbourhoods actually subsidize those costs.”

Atkey said the Liberals did make some election promises aimed at affordable rental housing but they’re not new initiatives. Most are enhancements to the continuing National Housing Strategy.

“They plan to double the existing Co-Investment Fund, but that is not a fund that has taken off here in British Columbia. We’d rather see a complete retooling of that program,” she said.

The Co-Investment Fund offers loans to underwrite housing developments, but Atkey said the requirements cut out most non-profit and co-op housing proposals.

“You need to get municipal approval processes before getting the federal funding committed, but municipalities want funding commitments before they will entertain approval processes, so it’s a catch-22,” said Atkey. “To get though the approvals process, a non-profit would have to put up close to $500,000 and that is a huge risk to take without the certainty of that final approval.”

Atkey says groups like hers will be watching with interest a new federal promise to examine the tax regime for large corporate owners of residential properties.

“For every unit of affordable housing we are building, we are losing two affordable housing units, so the solution is not just to build, but to preserve what we already have,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of details on this yet, but this could limit the excessive profits that result from rennovictions. We’d like to see assistance for non-profits to take over these properties. The provincial government is interested, but we haven’t heard much from the federal government.”

Atkey is also interested in a federal promise of a rent-to-own program, which the province already has.

Analysts like Boston and advocates like Atkey agree more integration is needed between programs that target health, transportation and housing plans along with more co-operation among governments to align their programs and funding priorities.

“The disconnect is we have strong provincial housing programs rolling out right now and they don’t really align with the federal programs,” concluded Atkey.

Boston said there are signs that various levels of government are understanding that integration is crucial: “There is big support provincially for strengthening sustainable land use and transportation policies. The UBCM has identified it as a priority, Infrastructure Canada is internally recognizing these linkages and that’s hopeful.”

Premier Horgan’s FastFerry Redux!

 

Before reading on, please remember this figure of $1.3 billion, as it represents an updated (2021) cost for Rail for the Valley’s Leewood Study, offering a three trains per hour per direction from Vancouver to Chilliwack.

Doing the Rail for the Valley blog for the past 12 years has been an interesting experience and I have learned a tremendous amount. To keep the RftV blog credible, I had to reach out to real professionals to get an accurate account of our transit situation in Metro Vancouver. Their comments are gob-smacking!

The following is from RftV’s old friend, a transportation engineer from Ottawa, who uses the avatar Haveacow.

Mr. Cow wishes to remain anonymous due to the small and arcane world of transit planning in Canada, which for telling the truth, could mean being blackballed or worse.

This from another engineer commenting why Mr. Cow uses an avatar.

…… can understand the reason for the pseudonym I know they once found out what they thought was mine (it was) and I paid dearly for it.

The SkyTrain lobby just love to get even with those who deal in fact.

The main takeaways are from this fact filled essay on the future of the Expo Line reaching Langley:

  1. The Expo line extension is no longer a TransLink project, it is a provincial project being driven by the premier’s office.
  2. Surrey Mayor McCallum’s claim that the Expo Line extension to Langley would cost $1.63 billion was wildly wrong, yet no one, except Rail for the Valley, said anything! Where was the Mayor’s Council on Transit; where was the ministry of Transportation; where was TransLink’s CEO; who was protecting the taxpayer?
  3. There is currently no funding agreement, no business plan, no direction at all.
  4. The cost of the completion of the Broadway subway will cost $4.98 to $5.12 Billion and will take precedence over the Expo Line extension to Langley.
  5. Structural concrete prices increases alone, could add anywhere from $36 Million to $55 million per year on top of just the basic inflation for both projects.
  6. No mention of the much needed $3 billion rehab.
  7. TransLink has serious financial issues.
Dismal reading, as premier Horgan seems to be following the path of former premier Glen Clark and his liking of FastFerry boondoggles. We all know what happened afterwards, the NDP were unelectable for 19 years.
Premier Horgan is playing with fiscal fire a la the dread FastFerry fiasco!
It is extremely scary for both the taxpayer and the transit customer that the premier’s office is driving the expansion of SkyTrain, especially to Langley because we all know, when the premier of the province gets involve, common sense fiscal responsibility are thrown out the window, as the projects becomes a personal ego trip and we all know, premiers cannot seem to be wrong, especially at election time.

 

First, let us be honest with ourselves folks. I have crunched some numbers. The change in scope for the Surrey to Langley Skytrain Expo Line Extension Project (The SLS), from 2 stages into a single stage project was because of cost and nothing else. The cost to go 7 km to Fleetwood was around $1.69 Billion to $1.72 Billion, exceeding the $1.63 Billion budget. This is why they combined the 2 stages into a single stage project. The project to Fleetwood died months ago.

According to the second stage of Translink’s 10 year funding plan and the Rapid Transit Funding Agreement for the Surrey LRT Line, roughly $165 Million of that $1.63 Billion was coming from some past but mostly future tax and fee revenues (2018-2028 period). Translink’s local fuel taxes, development charges, parking fees, property tax increases as well as targeted amounts of Translink’s own passenger revenues were to help fund roughly 8.6% of the $7.3 Billion Second Stage of the 10 year funding plan, roughly $627.8 Million in total. This plan included the Broadway Millennium Line Extension to Arbutus, the Surrey LRT Line and many, many other smaller capital programs.

So far, the Translink funding for the Broadway extension is unaffected (no surprise). However, because of the pandemic, Translink is short $78.8 Million in planned revenues from 2019 and 2020 (their figures not mine), 2021 is not done yet and it may take years for Translink revenues to return to pre-pandemic levels. So it’s not $1.63 Billion in existing rapid transit funding, it’s actually around $1.55 Billion and dropping. If you don’t want to touch rapid transit funding, no less than $78.8 million must be taken out of the remaining $2.88 Billion in capital funding for the many other projects of the second stage of Translink’s 10 year capital funding plan.

My point, turning the Surrey to Langley Skytrain extension plan from a 2 stage plan to single stage plan was no gift to the public, the finances around the original 2 stage funding plan for the extension, quietly died. The massive increase in construction costs and the loss of Translink revenue from the pandemic, killed it.

Not only is a new business case needed but a whole new funding plan as well and it’s going to take 2 to 3 years to redo this process. So let’s be honest, currently, there isn’t enough funding for this $3.95 Billion extension. No business case, no funding plan, Translink isn’t even involved in the project management anymore, this is now a completely provincially run project. Translink may not be capable of being a full financial partner in this project or any other large capital project for some time, due to its current budget issues.

You have a PROMISE of $1.3 Billion but no specific formal funding agreement from the federal government as of yet (you guys are so lucky the Conservatives didn’t get elected).

The province of BC is now completely running the Surrey to Langley Extension. The project is $3.95 Billion and they could be having to kick in the entire remaining, $2.65 Billion, assuming there are no other cost increases in the coming months and the Liberals make good on their pre-election funding promise. This is not a good thing for the Surrey Extension.

The dark cloud on the horizon is beginning to show itself. According to the last information I had, Translink had to begin serious final planning and engineering on the second stage of the Broadway Millennium Line extension from Arbutus to UBC by 2024, if construction was to begin in 2026.

Again I crunched the numbers, as of today (in 2021 dollars), I estimate this extension project to cost between $4.98 to $5.12 Billion for the planned 7.3 km long tunnel and above grade structure into UBC, that’s right now, 2021. Zwei, can tell you about my accuracy in these matters if you don’t believe me. The actual date of final bidding and procurement will determine its actual final cost, when that is complete the final total will be known.

Again, I predict the cost of the Broadway Millennium Line extension from Arbutus to UBC to be between $4.98 and $5.12 Billion and the cost is growing between $158 to $164 Million every year due to the current estimate of inflation. That cost figure range I just gave you doesn’t include inflationary costs of construction materials, which is usually considerably higher than the basic inflation rate. Structural concrete prices increases alone, could add anywhere from $36 Million to $55 Million per year on top of just the basic inflation.

With the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in control and probably having to kick in most if not all of the remaining $2.65 Billion for the Skytrain to Langley as well as the coming political pressure to fund the UBC extension, assuming they again have to pick up almost 2/3 of that project in 2024, (to finish it around 2031), this leaves a total cost for the UBC project in 2024, to be around $5.62 Billion. Which means, a roughly 2/3 funding portion of $3.77 Billion for the BC government.

In a fight for just British Columbia’s portion of 2 Skytrain line extensions, whether they pay $2.65 Billion for the Langley project or wait and fund $3.77 Billion for UBC extension, both will not be funded at the same time. I believe Langley will lose out in this choice. Unless something drastically changes soon, the current Langley Skytrain extension project in its present form is dying and may be put off, well into the next decade.

Even when experts told people during your last civic election he was dead wrong, Surrey’sMayor’s claim of $1.63 billion was wildly wrong. The current Mayor said he could build this entire Skytrain project to Langley for just $1.63 Billion! Fun times! I warned everybody then, kill the LRT line, you are going to get nothing until the 2030’s.

And to think, we could have had Rail for the Valley’s Vancouver to Chilliwack passenger rail service, with a maximum of three trains per hour per direction, connecting Vancouver and Chillwack to Sadrdis/Vedder, Abbotsford, Langley, Cloverdale, and North Delta/Surrey for $1.3 billion!

Rail for the Valley Told You So!

So the opening of the Expo Line extension to Langley has been delayed to 2028, well don’t bet the farm on it as a more realistic date is 2030, if ever!

RvtV just commented on this issue two posts ago: Will SkyTrain Light metro Ever Reach Langley

One just has to laugh at the politicians and bureaucrats circling the wagons defending the Expo Line extension to Langley. The truth has seemed to take a holiday with the various comments.

Cut through the politcal blather and the reality is that this 16 km, now over $4 billion light metro projects will probably not take a car off the road.

Remember the nonsense touted by politicians with the Canada line that over 200,000 car journey’s will be taken off the road?

Well, it never happened and all we get is typical TransLink spin. The limited capacity Canada Line, has not shown any modal shift from car to transit. I can also say from personal experience, that driving to Richmond to collect family members after 8 PM,when buses only ran hourly, became a two to three time weekly event, pre Covid!

In 2017, mode share for transit in the metro Vancouver region was dropping from about 14% to 12%.

This is hardly indicative of a successful public transit system.

The many problems associated with the Expo Line extension to Langley has been discussed before including, wrong technology, obsolete technology, huge cost (now past $4 billion), lack of operational flexibility, change of commuter driving habits, the Serpentine Valley, possible abandonment of production of the Movia Automatic Light Metro now owned by by Alstom, the escalating $1 billion shortfall in funding and more.

The true believers will still shout their support for SkyTrain, but ignore the real issues such has funding the $1 billion funding shortfall and the never mentioned but most needed $3 billion rehab of the Expo and Millennium Lines.

As TransLink is still held in high odor by the taxpayer, increasing taxes to fund an obsolete light metro system, on a route it is ill suited for, will make for an interesting civic election in 2022!

The SkyTrain wall of transit, coming to Langley, well maybe!

Surrey-to-Langley SkyTrain won’t be up and running until 2028

Posted September 20, 2021

The Surrey-to-Langley SkyTrain won’t be up and running until 2028, says a new report that will be presented to TransLink’s board of directors this week.

“Opening day” for the much-anticipated, 16-kilometre line has been delayed three years from the projected completion date of 2025, according to the update that will go before the board on Sept. 23.

The report says federal funding for the project, which permits an expansion of the project’s initial scope, “introduces additional requirements.”

In July, the federal government committed up to $1.3 billion in additional funds for the project, allowing it to extend from six stops to eight, beginning at King George Station in Surrey City Centre and ending at Langley Centre.

On Tuesday, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum sent a statement express frustration with the delays, calling them “disconcerting.”

“It has been close to 30 years since the last rapid transit expansion in Surrey,” he said.

“For a city that is home to close to 600,000 people, rapid transit is long overdue and is of critical need now.

When completed, the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain is expected to increase the size of the Expo and Millennium Line network by 24 per cent, bringing the total track length from 66 to 82 kilometres.

Langley Mayor Val van den Broek has also said the project could bring “more than 25,000,000 active transportation trips” by the date of its completion.

In his statement, McCallum lamented that the jobs the project would create will also be punted further into the future.

“The time of talk and promises must come to an end,” he wrote.

“What we need now is the political will by all levels of government to get this long talked about project off the drawing board and to get shovels into the ground.”

Some additional funding must still be identified in order to pay the $3.94-billion tab for the line, and the report lists other action items, including clarifying TransLink’s responsibilities for the project.

An investment plan must also be developed, the report says, to account for the line’s finances, ridership and other outcomes.

Are We just Deaf To Global Warming?

In the first week of July’s record heat and the fireball that turned the Village of Lytton, which for the previous three days recorded the highest temperatures in Canada, to ash, our politicians stood mute. Oh, there were those 10 second sound bites and photo-ops of care, but the lesson did not sink in.

It seemed not one politician seemed to grasp the real meaning of Global Warming and continued to treat the subject as a talking point in photo-ops, but nothing more.

Federally, $10 a day daycare is more important to politicians and the media than BC changing climate and how to deal with it.

The provincial government seems utterly inept in handling the Global Warming crisis, with the premier actually going on a holiday in the middle of this summer’s wildfire crisis. If the NDP are inept at handling this major emergency, how can they tackle the massive global warming issue?

What is the government doing to mitigate global warming?

Not much!

Government increased the carbon tax and other user fees, but that is a bureaucratic/photo-op solution that taxes the poor but in reality does nothing. The bureaucratic/photo-op solution tries to portray that to fight global warming, the taxpayer must feel pain.

No pain, no gain!

It also gives the government more money to had out to politcal friends and insiders.

Oh, the federal, provincial, and regional governments are funding a $4.8 km extensions to the Expo and Millennium light-metro lines, but again, great for photo-ops at election time, but as a solution, not even close.

Even though over $15 billion of the taxpayer’s monies have been invested on light metro in Metro Vancouver, pre Covid, mode share for transit is dropping!

Yet, the government continues to do the same things over again, hoping for different results.

Global warming is a fact, yet government will not take the real steps needed to help mitigate the many issues associated with a warming earth. The government spends billions of dollars building bigger tunnels and bridges for cars and trucks, yet ignores any sort of rail alternative for carrying freight and passengers. The government spends billions of dollars on prestige rapid transit projects, not ignores cheaper and more viable rail solutions.

Better politically to invest $4 billion on a 16 km, photo-op ready extension of the Expo line, than spend $1.4 billion reinstating a Vancouver to Chilliwack rail service or $1 billion rehabbing the E&N railway and operate regional railway as other countries are quickly doing.

Civic, provincial and federal governments, by paving over paradise, building bigger and more expensive parking lots are also paving over our children’s future and our children know it!