A Repost – McCallum’s $2.9 Billion Question – From 2018 – Updated To 2021

From October 20, 2018; well its November 2022 and the cost for The Expo Line extension to Langley has now surpassed $4 billion and Zwei’s prediction has come true. SkyTrain construction is not to be started until 2028, if ever and transit for the Fraser Valley has been set back not 20 years, but 40 years!

What is sad, Rail for the Valley was almost alone condemning comments by Surrey Mayor, McCallum stating that SkyTrain would cost $1.65 billion to Langley, when in fact in 2021 the cost more than doubled to over $4 billion!

Sticker shock will soon be the order of the day because a little birdie tweeted in Zwei’s ear that the cost for the Surrey Expo Line extension to Langley will top $4.5 billion.



From the 2017 Steer Davis Gleave – HATCH report, the total cost for SkyTrain, including fifty-Five new cars is $2,914,798,721.00. As 2019 nears, the cost is rising.

Memo to Doug McCallum: we are not building SkyTrain to 1980’s cost of construction.

Memo to Gord Lovegrove: I think you need to join the Light Rail Transit Association and learn about LRT.

Memo to Steer Davis Gleave – HATCH: What we call SkyTrain is now known as ART or Advanced Rapid Transit, which patents are owned by SNC Lavalin and Bombardier Inc.. ALRT was repackaged as ALM the early 1990’s, when the UTDC patents for ALRT were sold to Lavalin, which promptly changed the name to Automated Light Metro. When Lavalin amalgamated with SNC to form SNC Lavalin, they retained the engineering patents and sold the technical patents to Bombardier Inc.

Question for Doug McCallum, how do you calculate that the ART Line to Langley will only cost $1.65 billion?

Let’s see your math sunshine or has that envelope been thrown in the incinerator?

Experts weigh in on the costs of SkyTrain vs. LRT in Surrey

Studies and past projects don’t seem to support mayor-elect’s SkyTrain cost estimates

 October 29, 2018

A decision to ditch light rail transit plans in Surrey in favour of a SkyTrain extension would give up on a vision to grow the city and come with a price tag that is ‘magnitudes higher,’ experts say.

Doug McCallum, that city’s mayor-elect, told Postmedia News this weekend that a SkyTrain extension from King George station to Langley City could be completed for $1.65 billion — the same price as a planned LRT system that would connect Surrey City Centre to Guildford and Newton.

But that figure is far lower than a $2.9 billion estimate engineering firm Steer Davies Gleave & Hatch provided to TransLink in a July 2017 study. That estimate, in 2022 dollars, covered an eight-station, grade-separated, 16-kilometre rail line that would run cars consistent with those designed for the Expo and Millennium Lines.

McCallum has previously stated the project could be done for far less than that $2.9 billion if about half the SkyTrain line was at grade. It is unclear if McCallum’s $1.65 billion SkyTrain figure is supported by any reports, but he cited the roughly $1.4 billion spent on the 11-kilometre Evergreen Line in reaching that number. McCallum did not return a request for comment Monday.

Gord Lovegrove, an associate professor at the University of B.C.’s School of Engineering, said the last time he checked, each kilometre of SkyTrain line could be expected to cost around $150 million to build.

His per-kilometre estimate is not far off the 2011 dollar costs of the Evergreen line once they are adjusted for inflation. It is also consistent with an estimate in 2016 dollars that Steer Davies Gleave & Hatch provided for the Surrey to Langley SkyTrain extension.

“You have order of magnitude differences in costs” between LRT and SkyTrain systems, Lovegrove said.

He said the problem North Americans tend to have with light rail, which is relatively new on the continent, is that “we want to have our own exclusive right-of-way. We’re not willing to take the risk safety-wise, timetable-wise or schedule-wise to have it run with traffic.”

But Lovegrove said exclusive right-of-ways need not be the case any longer, citing Hamburg’s system as proving you can run at grade in traffic.

“I would just recommend maybe take a second longer look. Otherwise, if you’re spending an order of magnitude more, then you’re just not able to do as much with that same taxpayer dollar.”

Anthony Perl, a professor of urban studies and political science at Simon Fraser University with a focus on transportation, said that in every category he could think of, SkyTrain “costs more and does less.” Among other things, the automated system demands separated infrastructure, he said.

For Perl, part of the problem with SkyTrain is that it creates “development deserts” between stations. In contrast, the LRT system would have encouraged more density, he said.

“If the City of Surrey goes ahead and cancels the LRT plan, it’s going to set public transit back by 20 years south of the Fraser River,” Perl said.

Peter Hall, an associate professor in SFU’s Urban Studies Program, said swapping LRT through Surrey for SkyTrain to Langley was not just a change in transportation technology.

“It seemed to me that light rail was an attempt to give something to Newton as a node and give something to Guildford as a node, while at the same time building up the central area,” he said.

“You’re giving up on a vision on how you want to build Surrey as a place with a strong core and a set of well-developed successful sub-centres. I don’t get it. I don’t get why they’re so keen to turn their back on this.”



4 Responses to “A Repost – McCallum’s $2.9 Billion Question – From 2018 – Updated To 2021”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Has Mayor McCallum ever been really held to task for his election promises? Outside of an election. First he proposes dumping the current police force (the RCMP) in favor of creating a new municipal police force, then he dumps a paid for rapid transit line for another which is almost 2.5 times the price of the original line and is not paid for yet. The capital cost of the new line hasn’t stopped growing yet either. Has a final cost for a municipal police force been agreed on yet? Is it going to happen?

    I’m beginning to believe he never really had any intention to do both. He for some reason, doesn’t like the RCMP, maybe they keep ticketing him, so he proposes a municipal police force. He doesn’t like the direction and the built form of an LRT city. On top of that, he really doesn’t like that he will loose car lane space to an LRT line so he decided, let’s dump that and replace it with a Skytrain line. He doesn’t care how much either project will actually costs, how much time it will take or how far it sets back other plans in his community. Then he realized, if I run again for public office I could probably do both and look like a hero doing it.

    Zwei replies: No one took McCallum to task, not the mayor’s council; not Metro Vancouver; not TransLink; not the media, and not the province.

  2. Major Hoople says:

    When we first read about replacing LRT with light metro, we wondered why it took so long?

    After our shabby treatment by all concerned with the now called Canada Line most in the industry realized that your part of the world was nothing more than a rogue state, something that Orwell or Huxley would enjoy.

    Facts do not seem to matter and the yellow journalism that pretends to be news by your journals is anything short of breathtaking. And the public gobble it up.

    Vancouver was once a beautiful city but from recent news reports it is no longer as the march of time and bad decisions are now taking its toll.

    Pastei’s comment is based on a delusion that light metro somehow has made the city better but from the reports we read on our side of the pond, we think not. to expensive to expand, no modal shift and a tenuous supply chain. Forcing bus customers to change to light metro is not evidence of of a workhorse system, but a transit system trying to pad its numbers.

    Again, we are sad about Vancouver as things will only get worse I am afraid.

  3. Haveacow says:

    I spent a good part of the weekend cleaning, then moving furniture, then installing a new faux hardwood floor upstairs, then cleaning and again moving furniture. Briefly, I spoke to Terry, a friend of mine who works for the City of Ottawa in the Infrastructure Department. I spoke to him about Surrey’s Mayor 2018 election promise that an entire 16 km double tracked, above grade, linear induction driven, rail rapid transit line extension for $1.63 Billion. He immediately said the same thing I did back in 2018, “$1.63 Billion wouldn’t have even paid for the concrete and the plastic coated, steel mesh reinforcement for the concrete, on a 16 km long double tracked anything. Either now in late 2021-early 2022 or back in 2018.” Unlike me, Terry isn’t a planner, he is a structural engineer. A structural engineer who just finished working on Ottawa’s 10.6 km of 4 m diameter, Ottawa River storm water overflow storage tunnels.

    This guy really knows concrete, wether he wanted to or not. He is by sheer experience over the last 5 years, a conrete laying expert. I told him of the price increases from the original $1.63 Billion (the original LRT money) to the hefty $3.95 Billion ($4 Billion) capital cost of mid July 2021. He joked, the price of delivering to the site or mixing on site of the concrete, is increasing at 1.25% a month right now because of (hopefully) post-pandemic price inflation. He also commented, that, “the Combined Ottawa River Run-off Tunnel Project’s (2016-2020) capital budget cost for concrete would be 17%-25% higher today if we were starting the project this year. In fact, we would have had to handle concrete production completely differently then we did back in 2016, if we were building right now.”

    I added that, Zwei, believes because information he has been told that, the price would rise to $4.5 Billion. Even I was skeptical about that and so was he until I told him, they are reworking the business case and business plan and that the province of B.C. ‘s Infrastructure Ministry was taking over the project management from Translink because of the budget difficulties of the transit agency. That they expect a new business plan and business case scenarios by 2022 or 2023.

    “What the, oh my, wow”, he replied (I cleaned up what he really said). “If they don’t have the new business plan and business case scenarios completely done for the line by March 2022 at the absolute latest, then expect a 10%-25% cost increase across the board, over last July’s estimate.” He continued, “many things like the prices, the cost and availability of equipment and construction materials, are just changing so fast right now, you have got to put a cost lid on this project now, or you are done. 2023 is way too late! The End of March. You have got until then, if you want to keep a handle on capital costs” His last warning was, “anything beyond March, and big cost increases will occur. This isn’t a case of poor government management. Everything is just changing so fast right now, by 2023 costs, availability of construction materials will be entirely different than it is right now.” He later told me that the Mayor of Surrey should have been given a “stern talking too”, by his professional staff about the reality of modern infrastructure projects. He referred to these as a “Listen up and shut up ass—-e” conversations about the reality of modern construction with new or rehashed municipal politicians.

    Zwei replies: The lil birdie is a local engineer who is rather pro SkyTrain, but not extending it to Langley. he is afraid that TransLink’s financial house of cards will collapse under the current funding arrangements. His main concern is the Serpentine Valley ans lack of any cost estimate for SkyTrain to cross it. Presently it is under a metre of water.

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