Smoke And Mirrors for The North Shore

Smoke and mirrors.

Classic political bait and switch; bait the public into thinking that the province is really doing something, but in reality, doing nothing.

The key is funding and of course funding is never mentioned.

Without having each option showing cost, means the study is next to useless as people don’t have real information.

Before everyone jumps on the rapid transit train, we must define light rail and cost; then define light metro and cost. Then look at the costs over 50 years for both modes.

Just what is the province’s definition of light rail?

This has not been done.

In truth, the federal, provincial and civic politicians do not know. TransLink does not know.

Despite the hype and hoopla, the North Shore transit plans have no validity without these costs included. What we have now is classic Provincial bait and switch; baiting the public with meaningless planning, and switching, doing nothing.

What have the taxpayer not been told?

Today, we have funded $4.6 billion to extend the Millennium and Expo lines 12.8 km. This cost could escalate, if Alstom, who is currently buying Bombardier Inc. were to cease production of the proprietary Movia Automatic Light Metro, used on the Expo and Millennium Lines; including spare parts.

They have done before with other obsolete product lines.

Hint: Vancouver is the sole customer for MALM.

As mentioned, we have funded $4.6 billion to build 12.8 km of what is now MALM, with 5.8 km in a subway.

Unfunded costs for planned rapid transit extensions and needed rehab.

1) Expo & Millennium Line rehab – $2 to $3 billion, needed before extensions to Langley and UBC.
2) Extension to Langley – near $2 billion
3) Extension to UBC – over $4 billion

The wish list, with estimated costs

1) SkyTrain to Abbotsford – $8 billion to $12 billion.
2) SkyTrain to the North Shore – $5 billion plus
3) Canada Line (not compatible with the Expo & Millennium Lines) rehab needed after the end of the P-3 and to increase capacity – minimum $2 billion.
4) Extending the Canada line to Steveston and Ironwood mall, up to $5 billion. South across the Fraser, another $5 billion.

Total cost to date to the taxpayer of the present light metro network $11 billion; 50 year costs of the network, including mid life rehab, $600 million/km grade separated, $1 billion/km for subways.

By comparison, the 50 year costs for light rail is about $200 million/km and LRT has more capacity!





6 North Shore rapid transit routes possible, province says

Brent Richter

 North Shore News

March 2, 2020



There are six potential routes for a rapid transit line linking the North Shore to the other side of Burrard Inlet. image supplied

The province has long-listed six potential routes for a rapid transit line connecting the North Shore to the other side of Burrard Inlet.

After hiring Mott MacDonald Ltd. in October 2019, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure released an interim update on the Burrard Inlet Rapid Transit study Monday, as the first phase of the research is completed.

After months of studying the physical geography and topography, structural requirements, ridership projections/needs, traffic models, weather and climate change impacts, as well as notional costs to construct, operate and maintain infrastructure, the engineers say there are at least six projects worth a serious look:

•           Downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale via First Narrows (tunnel crossing)

•           Downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale via Brockton Point (tunnel crossing)

•           Downtown Vancouver to West Vancouver via Lonsdale (tunnel crossing)

•           Downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale via Second Narrows (new bridge crossing)

•           Burnaby to Lonsdale via Second Narrows (new bridge crossing)

•           Burnaby to Lonsdale via Second Narrows (existing bridge crossing)


“I think, honestly, any movement towards the rapid transit solution for the North Shore is extremely exciting,” said North Vancouver-Lonsdale NDP MLA Bowinn Ma. “These are more than just lines on a drawing where somebody has said ‘It would be great if we had a crossing over the Burrard Inlet here. … Instead, what’s happening under the Burrard technical feasibility study is that we’re actually looking at whether we can make this work.”

Connecting the Lonsdale core to Vancouver via a rapid transit line was one of the recommendations of the Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project, led by Ma in 2018. All three North Shore municipalities and the City of Vancouver chipped in $50,000 for the $450,000-rapid transit study, along with the province, which put in $250,000.

While all six alignments performed well when it came to ridership and greenhouse gas reduction modelling, given current and predicted land use and commuting patterns, options 1 and 4 showed the best results, Ma said.

The study considered rapid transit bridges and tunnels, a gondola crossing and more cross-inlet ferries.

Previous studies have found the existing Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing cannot be expanded due to structural limitations, but Ma said she was particularly interested to learn it may be at least technically possible to run a transit line under the existing bridge deck through the bridge’s trusses.

Ma said the ministry won’t be releasing more details, including the cost estimates, until completion of Phase 2 of the study this summer. She did say that that all six options came with cost estimates in the same ballpark.

“And it will definitely be in the billions,” she said.

Phase 2 of the study, which will involve engineers drilling down into much more technical detail, is expected to last another three months. Once Phase 2 is complete, Ma said she expects the current list to be narrowed down to just three options for TransLink to consider.

Exciting as it may be to see some tangible options, Ma cautioned the BIRT still has some rather large hurdles to clear. In order to get built, it must be approved by the TransLink Mayors’ Council as part of TransLink 2050, the next major phase in transit expansion.

Ma acknowledged that a traffic-weary constituency may be running out of patience; however, the study is both prudent and necessary before anyone will commit money to the project, she said.

“We’re building credibility. We’re building a case for a rapid transit solution to the North Shore. And that can only be accomplished if the entire region pulls together and that’s what INSTPP is about. And that’s what this study is about,” she said.


2 Responses to “Smoke And Mirrors for The North Shore”
  1. Haveacow says:

    I read the article and this is why engineers and planners should have some background in politics and basic geographic planning. As in the basic political and emotional value of public and private geography (I include myself as a planner in this comment). The studies show 6 possible routes across the Burrard Inlet and through I’m quite sure, highly comprehensive and competent work the 2 best locations were selected and further engineering and design research will now begin.

    One route is very much east of Central Vancouver and according to the experts with some expensive but straightforward design and engineering work, reusing existing infrastructure is possible. However, for that route to reach downtown Vancouver it must turn 90 degrees and travel 4-6 km west, massively disrupting a major main east-west regional road and many associated residential neighbourhoods.

    The second route goes through one of the most beloved urban parks in North America as well as passing through a population dense, high income urban residential neighbourhood.

    I’m sure both routes are technically correct and justified however, personal and professional experience as well as emotional and politically reality tells me, NO for both! If it is pain you seek, political and emotional, your guys have found it with both these routes.Good luck people!

  2. Paul McGown says:

    Skytrain (or something) from Burnaby to Lonsdale via 2nd narrows makes the most sense in the long run. The population “centre of gravity” in the metropolitan area is actually closer to the Burnaby/New West border and moving eastward every week. A tram from downtown running along Hastings to a station at Cassiar could tie in. I think the sea bus can suffice nicely.

    Zwei replies: As there is no funding for any rapid transit to the North Shore, there is not much point commenting on it. The MALM proprietary railway, used on the Expo and millennium Lines will be long out of production by the time any thought would be given to the North Shore. The Canada Line as its own problems with future growth as well.

    I think some sort of enhanced Seabus service would suffice, including a service from the North Shore to Jericho Beach. I would also like to see the operation of a wee car ferry from Ladner to Steveston. Oh where is the Delta queen when you need her!

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