An Idiot’s Delight In Surrey

Delusional, is all what Zwei can say.

The LRT in Surrey is not a Surrey project, it is a TransLink and Metro Vancouver project and Metro Vancouver has shown no signs that it will cancel LRT as of yet.

The Money earmarked for the LRT is not transferable, so if Surrey manages to stop light rail, the funds will be withdrawn.

TransLink, some years ago, estimated the cost to extend SkyTrain to Langley, was about $2.9 billion. The problem is, the cost of cement and steel are rising at three times that of the rate of inflation, thus the cost to build SkyTrain to Langley, after a further five years of planning will be very much higher, with the added danger that there may not be any cars available to operate on the new line if and when it is built.

Then there is the $3 billion or so rehab of the Expo and Millennium Lines or the Innovia Lines before any extensions to SkyTrain can be made.

So Mayor McCallum, where are you going to to get over $6 billion in funding for your grossly ill informed, if not delusional promise to switch from LRT to SkyTrain?

One wonders if Surrey voters would have been so eager to switch from LRT to SkyTrain, knowing the real costs and the massive tax hikes required for extending SkyTrain anywhere?

The SkyTrain roller coaster ride is just beginning

McCallum breaks his silence, says Surrey’s LRT project will be cancelled at first council meeting

LRT will be replaced with SkyTrain for the same $1.65-billion price that LRT was estimated to cost, all of which is funded by three levels of government, McCallum said.

Surrey mayor-elect Doug McCallum broke his silence with Postmedia News on Sunday and emphatically hammered home the point that light rail will be spiked as soon as the new council first meets Nov. 5.

It will be replaced, McCallum said, with SkyTrain for the same $1.65-billion price that LRT was estimated to cost, all of which is funded by three levels of government.

“I think that most of the region, this is what they want,” McCallum said Sunday. Postmedia had previously left messages with the mayor-elect since the municipal elections Oct. 27. Sunday was the first time he replied.

“A large majority of people in Surrey want SkyTrain,” he said. “Voters wiped out the whole previous council. The new team is solidly with residents who want SkyTrain and not light rail.”

McCallum beat Surrey First challenger Tom Gill by 17,000 votes, ending a decade-long dynasty for the party in the city. McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition elected seven councillors, while Surrey First elected just one, and she is new to council.

“I think the reaction to the election in B.C., and to a certain degree nationally, was a bit of a shock,” McCallum said. “But the people of Surrey are in complete agreement they want a change and they showed up at the ballot box.”

There has been $50 million already spent on LRT in Surrey, according to TransLink, and Surrey has spent $20 million in pre-construction costs.

Some other regional mayors on the Mayors Council, such as Richard Stewart in Coquitlam and Malcolm Brodie in Richmond, have expressed their opposition to McCallum’s plans, while Kennedy Stewart, Vancouver’s mayor-elect, said he would do what he could to help Surrey get SkyTrain.

Critics of switching at this late date say SkyTrain would cost another $1 billion to $1.5 billion, but McCallum scoffed at that figure, saying based on what it cost to complete the Evergreen Line, SkyTrain could be built along the Fraser Highway to Langley for the same $1.65 billion already given the green light.

“All we ask is that they change the technology from light rail to SkyTrain and apply the money to SkyTrain,” McCallum said. “I don’t think (up to $1.5 billion in estimated added costs) is very accurate, TransLink has a history of not having costing right.

“I think we can build SkyTrain along the Fraser Highway for that $1.65 billion.”



8 Responses to “An Idiot’s Delight In Surrey”
  1. Michael McPhee says:

    The 1.6 billion is taxpayer money (my money and your money), it is not their money! It is not Surrey’s or Langley’s or Translink’s or the Federal Government’s. It is ours! It boils my blood when anyone refers to it as “ear marked” and to be “taken away”. The only point of rapid transit is to get as many regional people as possible out of their cars onto efficient electric systems. From my view, that Surrey LRT line was a glorified bus line that would have simply moved locals around their own City and would not have solved any regional needs. While I have not studied all the engineering, on the face of it, extending the Skytrain to Downtown Langley, does make make a lot of sense. By the way, I 100% agree with Light Rail to Chilliwack – it should have happened years ago, and it must be electric. Easily, both will be needed.

    Zwei replies: You have it all wrong in so many ways that I think you should look yourself in the mirror and re access how you think the world works.

    I love it when SkyTrain types want to spend spend lavishly on their pet mini-metro and quickly condemn light rail, which is on record making SkyTrain obsolete in the late 80’s.

    Extending SkyTrain only make sense to the uninformed. The huge costs associated with extending the now obsolete proprietary light metro, make it a very bad bargain indeed. SkyTrain was never and I repeat NEVER, designed to be a regional transportation system, it was designed for inner city use where ridership was too much for the old streetcars to handle and costing less than a subway to build. It was a complete failure and was repacked to sell to rubes in Vancouver. Only Vancouver wants the damn thing.

    No one factors in SkyTrain’s high operating and maintenance costs, which are 40% to 60% higher than Calgary’s. These costs are massive. In 1992, the cost to subsidize just the Expo Line to New Westminster was $157 million or more than the trolley and diesel buses! Over time, these costs compound, with age, as we see with the Expo Line.

    SkyTrain eats up your money faster than LRT, which is one of the many reasons no one wants it.

  2. Haveacow says:

    Like I said many times before, you can build Skytrain to Langley without upgrading the existing Expo Line! It’s a not a really good idea but you can do it. There seems to be some Federal flexibility regarding the funding because really only the operating technology has changed and the existing bills to be paid off are small, relatively. HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER, there is a big cost difference between what Surrey’s Mayor-elect says and what Translink says they need for this line. My suspicion is that the new mayor doesn’t necessarily know what exactly is needed for this Skytrain line. Remember guys, YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY YET FOR A SKYTRAIN LINE TO LANGLEY!

    I suspect that the new mayor probably hasn’t included a new light maintenance and storage centre somewhere along this new line for the new trains. This is a 17 km long line and your existing facility is at it’s limit of what it can do and handle. It’s also a fare trip away from the centre point of this line, let alone it’s east end of track.

    My guess is he hasn’t figured out what the lack of a new light maintenance and storage facility will mean for operating costs of the line. He definitely hasn’t figured out that the current Expo Line has higher operating costs because of the needed updates. He also hasn’t figured out that the new ridership of Surrey and Langley extension are simply going to run into a wall of existing riders and many technical issues due to the advanced age of the remaining part of the line.

    I suspect that, he has also not included costs like more trains. In his total costings.

    I suspect that, he hasn’t included the cost of certain stretches of expensive above-grade rights of way that, Translink thought was needed even for a mostly at-grade Light Rail Transit Line. My guess is that, the planners and desginers at Translink probably thought that certain intersections or areas should be avoided for not just technical reasons but political reasons.

    As Zwei pointed out, structural concrete has and is continually been going up in price for a generation or more, for different reasons all across North America, at a rate that has been massively exceeding the general rate of inflation.

    Steel continues to fluctuate wildly week to week and now there are those Trump induced tariffs to deal with. They haven’t disappeared yet, even though, the new free trade deal seems to be a go. Most of the special types of steel used in transit construction is only regularly available from one plant in Pennsylvania the other is a plant in Ontario but it’s lower quality and even more expensive, tariffs or not.

    I’m sure there are quite a few things that Translink included in their design that were needed and only they know about and only they can explain because quite frankly, they do operate the Skytrain and very few others do. If the guys operating the technology say that the cost will be $2.9 Billion, I generally believe them over a angry old man who has been out of the loop for a while. Especially since I thought that, Translink’s estimates were very close to mine. I therefore say that, there figures should be trusted over someone screaming out at the limit of his lung power, during a political campaign that, it should only be $1.65 Billion because of the cost of the last line!

    Zwei replies: Mayor McCallum has said on the radio, that by using the Expo Line’s method of construction and building SkyTrain at grade, will save a great deal of money. No one on the radio questioned him on this. McCallum is the mere puppet in this charade and it seems som e major league land speculators and developers are pulling the strings.

  3. Causa Causans says:

    We continue to be amazed by the naivete of those who want your SkyTrain.

    Years ago, it was found to be terribly complicated and expensive for what it could do.

    This mayor joins the long parade of clueless irresponsible politicians who are gullible enough promote
    this nonsense, with their desired transit. Most cities suffer from this, but there are checks and balances before any new transit line is built on our side of the pond and your SkyTrain would not even make it to the starters gate.

    With your SkyTrain, corners are routinely cut even on safety relevant issues for ridiculous “savings”.

    Your soap opera of transit will continue to entertain us but we sadly reflect that Vancouver, which was a little pretty sort of town, has lost any international cache, except for the criminal classes of people. For many in Europe, Vancouver has become a no go city, how you call it, a tourist trap.

  4. zweisystem says:

    Zwei was told by a professional engineer years ago that SkyTrain uses up to 10 times more cement than LRT, with most of it underground. So by any logic, one cannot build SkyTrain for the same price as LRT. People also forget that 17KM (34km in total) long reaction rail, which LRT does not have, also adds to the price.

    I was also told in confidence, some years ago, that it was the added cost of the reaction rail which tipped the scales for the Canada line, which trains do not have LIM’s. SNC Lavalin, was bidding against itself for the Canada Line and they understood the difference. It seems then Premier Campbell was dumbfounded when he was made to understand that he two systems were incompatible in operation. As the Hon, Judge Pittfield, observed during the Susan Heye’s lawsuit against TransLink (failed on appeal) that

    “the bidding process for the Canada Line was a charade”

    Here is something else no one has considered, is snows a lot more out in Langley than it does in Vancouver and Burnaby and we all know the LIM’s just do not like snow.

    One of the engineers working on the Surrey LRT, lamented to me that the “madness continues” and common sense has disappeared from Surrey.

    My prediction is that the Feds will cave and make an exception and they will build an 8 km SkyTrain to Fleetwood, to save face in the upcoming federal election, then promise it to continue, sometime to Langley.

    But the real fun is soon to begin about the Broadway subway, as the newly elected council may have completely different thoughts about SkyTrain and the subway.

  5. Dan says:

    Did you read the report for translink by Hatch?

    It says It will cost $2,462,681,409 to extend skytrain to Langley.

    It will not cost $2.9 billion that Translink says.

    Translink can’t be trusted.

    Zwei replies: Did it include the cars? I believe the cost is in 2016 $, we are fast approaching 2019 and the cost of cement and steel have Skyrocketed.

    We alson need to know the real operating costs and the the cost to keep the reacion rail ice free in winter.

  6. zweisystem says:

    Excuse me, on page 58 of the HATCH report the total cost of inflated dollars for SkyTrain to Langley is $2,914,798,721.00, which includes 55 vehicles. I have a lot of complaint about TransLink, but they are on the mark with the cost.

  7. Michael McPhee says:

    With respect – just responding to your comment and all I can say is: if you want meaningful discussion and support for your group, I suggest you maybe take a different approach. This is not helpful: Zwei replies: You have it all wrong in so many ways that I think you should look yourself in the mirror and re access how you think the world works.

    FYI zwei – I do know how the world works and I do not know all the solutions. I come to this site to learn and exchange ideas.

    If you re read my comment, I said I have NOT read all the engineering and I do support some sort of electric rail to the valley. As for Skytrain, to me it is just a train that has no driver, and it does not have to stop at intersections. Call it what you want but some sort of train should get to Langley Center down Fraser Highway and connect to the Expo line without having to change trains, if a chunk of it is fenced in and on the ground, so what, if they have to modernize Expo, fine. Expo to Langley City would give about 80,000 people an easy option to get to Vancouver with out driving. I drive Fraser Highway a lot, there is room to get it done and I get that the big issue is – can the Expo line handle it?

    Zwei replies:, Really, I thought I was quite polite. You do have it all wrong. What was being planned for Surrey was a comprehensive LRT network, providing a user friendly transit for Surrey, which would attract the motorist from the car. You will never see that with SkyTrain, never.

    When, oh when, will people see that SkyTrain is obsolete, made obsolete by light rail.

    if it is so fucking good, why don’t people build with it? Why is there notat least 10 SkyTrain’s operating in the US cities?

    Why? It is an expensive crap system that has proven inferior to light rail.

    Why then do we keep building it in Metro Vancouver?

    Answer: CORRUPTION!

  8. Michael McPhee says:

    OK fine Zwei, we can respectfully disagree about Surrey’s LRT: I think it is just a glorified bus line that will do little to move paying, working commuters out of their cars. I also think that in 10 years or so “inner city” bus lines will be obsolete because of autonomous vehicles. I do agree with you regarding political corruption and influence peddling. My ultimate pet peeve is the permanent stupidity of Translink. They never get anything right starting way back in 1984 when I phoned into CKNW and told the Translink CEO that to have stations with no turnstiles to check tickets was just stupid.. At that time I also advocated that Translink stations “co-habit” with private business for safety, convenience and operating cost reduction. I was right on both counts. When they built the Expo to Surrey King George, I again spoke on CKNW: Why not just keep going to Langley? They had equipment and the trained workers, why not just keep building a few KM or so at a time. (FYI – at the same time I also pushed that the two Langley’s be amalgamated, and Langley City would now be a vibrant City center with direct access to Surrey Center, Metrotown and Vancouver, It would be so cool, and the Langley monstrosity of urban sprawl aka Willoughby would still be trees and farmland) I digress. So after reading this blog, I am trending to thinking reading is that the Expo Line was full at Capacity in 1994 and it still is now (I am pretty sure Translink engineers knew that then, that is why it stopped being extended, Translink suppressed this monumental con job)

    So there we have it I agree that Bombadeirs “INNOVA (aka Skytrain) is not a plan. Fine, so what now? I want to focus on solutions and I still think that a track down Fraser Highway to Langley’s City core is still the best way to get thousands out of their vehicles. I am back to the Expo line – you can’t just waste this 21 km line with all it’s stations and a bridge, so how can it be upgraded to current standards and standards that will get it to Langley? If you simply can’t upgrade Expo line, then you would somehow, run an LRT from King George down Fraser highway and then everyone would have to change at King George? Or, do the railforthevalley thing and focus on the Langley to Scott Road (Appendix B Leewood Report) – upgraded to electrification with at least 10 “over roadway” bridges? If I were railforthevalley, I say focus on the details of this route now and get it to City of Surrey and the Langleys. Translink can fiddle with getting more capacity on Expo. The goal is to get the 1.6 billion from Justy and his minions, before he gives it to someone else.

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