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.


4 Responses to “Rail for the Valley Told You So!”
  1. Haveacow says:

    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, its 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 loose out in this choice. Unless, something drastically changes soon, the current Langley Skytrain extension project in it’s present form is dying and my be put off, well into the next decade.

    Even when experts told people during your last civic election he was dead wrong, Langley’s 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.

  2. John says:

    Thank you very much for the information, Haveacow. It is appalling all the official Skytrain misinformation bandied about there by the powers-that-be.

  3. paul says:

    This project is only delayed. It will be completed by 2028. Translink said the delay is caused because the project is larger and takes longer to complete.

    “I think this is actually just a much more realistic timeline,” said Mayors’ Council chair and New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote.

    “The [reality] is that this project is much different than was originally anticipated three years ago, which is a much larger and better transportation project for south of the Fraser River.”

    The full plan is estimated to cost $3.94 billion.

    In 2019, TransLink had planned for the extension to be built in two phases, with the first part a seven-kilometre, four station extension to 166th Street in Surrey’s Fleetwood neighbourhood, which would cost $1.6 billion and be completed by 2025.

    They could still build the skytrain to fleetwood by 2025 if they start soon. Then finish the rest to Langley by 2028.

    in the past three years, planning for the project was delayed due to the pandemic, which was followed by the provincial government taking over project delivery from TransLink later in 2020.

    “I think we are still looking at approving an investment plan early in 2022. And I think that will be the final commitment to get this project fully financed.” Langley City Coun. Nathan Pachal agreed the longer timeline made sense and was enthused that the new project also considers a SkyTrain car operation and maintenance centre for Langley City.

    Zwei replies: Sorry old chum, the financial problems that beset this project are far more than you would like to admit. The project is now estimated to cost more than 44 billion and there has been no planning how to cross the Serpentine Valley.

    I have been told locally that the cost will be more line $4.5 billion, if built.

    Sadly, it is now one project due to cost and it is either build to Langley or don’t build.

  4. zweisystem says:

    Just to remind everyone, the Expo and millennium lines need a $3 billion rehab, especially the Expo Line because it has been in continuous operation for 35 years and is worn out. Also there is the supply of compliant vehicles as Alstom now owns the proprietary MALM system and by 2025 only 5 will be left in operation and only Vancouver would be an active customer for future orders.

    As for costs, light metro is growing costlier by the year and the simple there and back operation of the Expo line extension, will not attract much new custom. As congest and gridlock escalates in the Fraser Valley, the folly of extending a $250 mil/km light metro will soon be evident.

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