B.C. government willing to talk about light rail to Langford – From the Victoria Times Colonist

Good news from Victoria!

Though I find the proposed cost of $950 million rather steep ( the full build 136 km. Rail for the Valley Leewood TramTrain report cost less than $50 million more to build), that the provincial government is actually talking LRT is ground breaking. Victoria’s geography may play a part in this as acquiring land for new highways may cost more than acquiringAi??lands needed for rail, in fact by using light rail existing rail corridors/railway tracks can be utilized.

As for the E & N railway, if the provincial government can’t ante up $7.5 million to maintain the tracks is just shameful, considering that they subsidized the SkyTrain light-metro system by over $250 million annually and just the Hwy 17/Gateway HwyAi??interchange in South Delta must cost well over $500 million alone.

Le Mans, France, recently opened a newAi??15.4 km.Ai??light rail system in November 2007 and it is interesting to note that the city of Le mans has a population of 150,000, yet can afford a quality public transportation service. The cost of Le Mans new tramway (streetcar) ai??i?? 302, or a little over $425 million! By using TramTrain and streetcar operation in downtown Victoria, the cost for LRT in Victoria should be considerably less than $950 million.

Has anyone dared to ask; “How cheaply can we build light rail in Victoria?”

An Alstom Citadis 302Ai??Le Mans Tram

B.C. government willing to talk about light rail to Langford

By Rob Shaw and Bill Cleverley, timescolonist.com

April 28, 2011

Victoria, B.C. – A proposed $950-million light rail transit system from Victoria to Langford has met with mixed reviews.

The B.C. government is willing to talk to capital region municipalities about whether it can help pay for the system, said Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom. “I think they’ve done a very good job with their plan to put forward the options they feel work best for the Greater Victoria area,” said Lekstrom.

“We are prepared to enter discussions and see what we can do to accommodate what the needs are here. Obviously it’s very important. You don’t have to be from here to recognize that there’s challenges with the transportation issues that are taking place here.”

Funding from senior governments ai??i?? both the province and the federal government ai??i?? is just one of the issues that has to be sorted out before any decision can be made on LRT, said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, a Victoria Regional Transit commissioner.

“It [LRT] is what our future should look like. In fact I think in the next generation LRT should also be part of the future for McKenzie to UVic and Pat Bay to the airport and the ferry. In a generation I think that’s what our region needs to look like,” Leonard said.

However, he said, it has to be determined if the federal and provincial governments are willing to offset the costs; local taxpayers have to be given an opportunity to comment fully and there has to be more detail about issues such as the potential effect on Douglas Street traffic.

“We want to make sure we can commit to the big picture but still resolve issues at a later date.”

Bev Highton, chairman of the steering committee for the Association of Douglas Street Businesses, is concerned a dedicated LRT route into Victoria will reduce space for general traffic on Douglas Street to one lane in either direction. He does not think the potential benefits of LRT come anywhere near to justifying the $950-million cost.

“For a fraction of that amount of money you could have a commuter car running up and down the E&N [rail line] from West Shore into Victoria. You could build a rail link across the Blue Bridge [for $12 million]. Fix up the E&N and have a commuter car ai??i?? maybe that’s $20 million to $30 million. Throw in an interchange at McKenzie for $40 million,” Highton said. “So where is the sense to all of this.”

Both Victoria and Saanich councils are on record endorsing LRT as their preference for future rapid transit.

Coun. John Luton, also a transit commissioner, wants to ensure the LRT routing along the Trans-Canada Highway does not affect the Galloping Goose Trail.

Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said his preference would be to initially build the project just to Six Mile Road at a cost of $770 million. If the federal and provincial governments pitched in one-third each, that is roughly equivalent to the $250 million it would cost just to add more buses in the status quo option, Fortin said.

“So if we can get light rail, which is a fundamental shift, but at a business-as-usual cost to the residents, then that’s a model that works. But it means we need the provincial and federal governments to step up and help like they have throughout Canada and throughout the Lower Mainland.”

Lekstrom was not specific on how much money, if any, could come from the province.

The minister also faces pressure from Vancouver Island communities to cough up $7.5 million to help fix the badly damaged E&N rail track. The communities also want $7.5 million from the federal government.

“We want to make sure if we are able to come up with the funding, along with the federal government, that it isn’t just a Band-Aid solution,” said Lekstrom.



2 Responses to “B.C. government willing to talk about light rail to Langford – From the Victoria Times Colonist”
  1. Thomas Cheney says:

    I am concerned about the cost. I think bus rapid transit/ basic rapid street car on Douglas and fixing up the E and N should be the proposal. 950 million is extravagant or 3000 dollars per household of the CRD, some of which live on the Upper Sannich Peninsula, Gulf Islands and would get little from this. Good idea, but lets start small like Sacramento did, eg a line Downtown-Mayfair and find ways of delivering services in a more affordable fashion.

  2. zweisystem says:

    I too think $950 million for LRT in Victoria is a wee bit too pricey, but TransLink works on the formula that LRT costs a minimum of $50 million/km. and I am sure BC Transit used this figure as well.

    I think the following would suffice for a start. A 20 km. TramTrain service from Langford to Victoria [cost approx. $120 mil to $150 mil as per RftV/Leewood study] plus a 10 km Parliament buildings to University of Victoria streetcar {approx. $200 mil to $250 mil], for a grand total of $320 mil to $400 mil. These figures are approximate at best, but I think a combination streetcar TramTrain service could be had for under $400 million or about $550 million less than BC Transit’s estimate. I would wager that this sort of plan is very affordable and very buildable.

    I am of the firm opinion, if we want light rail, BC Transit and TransLink should not be involved.