Surrey’s Board of Trade Reality Check!

The business types with the Surrey Board of Trade don’t seem quite up to date with the cost of Transit projects in Metro Vancouver.

The provincial governments Friday news release (Friday is always used for bad news which is hopefully forgotten by Monday) that the “B.C. government commits $2.4B to transit in Metro Vancouver“, was more of a face saving venture after last Friday’s $1 billion museum announcement was received with a resounding dull thud by voters.

Nothing like a transit announcement to get the people back on your side.

So the NDP’s spin doctors and damage control team reissued a rather tired meme that the provincial government is committing$2.4 billion to transit – hurrah!

But with the 5.8 km $2.8 billion Millennium Line extension including the contentious Broadway subway, now said to cost well over $3 billion and the partially funded 16 km, Expo Line extension to Langley, serious funding problems are appearing.

Remember when the Mayor of Surrey said it was going to cost $1.63 Billion for the whole 16 km?

You should remember because that cost estimate was given the toss soon after and the estimated cost more than doubled to $3.95 billion. Well hold on to your hats because TransLink is now hinting that the cost for this 16 km line may top $4.95 billion! Thus leaving the project more than $2 billion unfunded.

Then there is that pesky $3 billion rehab of the Millennium and especially the Expo line, desperately needed before the extensions open so the system can operate more trains! There is no funding for this and TransLink and the provincial government will not even admit to it!

Broadway subway – $3 billion+

Expo Line extension to Langley – $5 billion

Expo Line mid life rehab – $3 billion

That is a total of $11 billion dollars and the NDP are only going to fund $2.4 billion?

TransLink and the provincial NDP has just sent a strong message to the Surrey board of Trade…..

No Rapid Transit for You!


Surrey needs more than SkyTrain, board of trade says

B.C. investing $2.4B in Metro Vancouver public transit improvements with Surrey-Langley SkyTrain and ‘electrification’ of bus fleet included

The provincial government announced Friday it is investing $2.4 billion in Metro Vancouver public transit improvements with the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension and the “electrification” of TransLink’s bus fleet included in that.

This, a press release states, is part of the government’s “ongoing commitment” to fund 40 per cent of a 10-year vision wrought by the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation.

“This sounds like a repeat announcement,” Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman said. “Knowing how construction projects develop in this region, we don’t think this Skytrain project will be in service until 2030.”

Noting Skytrain is very expensive to build throughout Surrey, she added, “There are other progressive modes of transportation technology.

“The investment announced today is positive but Surrey needs more transportation investments than this Skytrain line,” Huberman said.


5 Responses to “Surrey’s Board of Trade Reality Check!”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Quick bit of math here. The Fed’s said that they will invest $1.3 Billion in the Surrey to Langley Skytrain extension. The provincial government just announced it will invest $2.4 Billion in new buses (bully for you). The provincial government of B.C. is willing to cover 40% of future 10 year transit plans. None of these announcements gets you to 100% funding of anything including the Surrey to Langley Skytrain extension. I can assure everyone the cost of the Surrey to Langley Skytrain extension is no longer $3.95 Billion, it’s significantly higher. Unless secretly, the BC government just started in 2021 to pre order construction materials at 2021 prices, without going to tender. You can track that because there are websites by tendering service companies that must announce deals with governments and large companies above a certain sized order. Any order for a project the size of a Skytrain extension would easily show up. The sites are publicly viewable.

    The only announced funding that covers anything is the funding for buses. This is for the battery bus crowd. Remember that, each 12 metre (40ft.) Battery Electric Bus in Canada starts at $1.1 million per unit, almost double the cost of a diesel bus the same size, the electric buses don’t appear to last any longer either. That doesn’t include the charging infrastructure costs, maintenance training or maintenance parts packages which can add 15%-40% per unit depending on order size and type of charging and battery systems. You can drop the price by 20%-25% by buying buses that need more frequent charging but you have to purchase on route recharging facilities, increasing those costs. Your fleet has to be larger for any battery electric bus system compared to traditional diesel only buses because at any one time, a minimum of 33%-40% of the fleet needs to be charging back at the bus garage.

    Articulated Battery Electric Buses start at $1.6 million and can go as high as $2.2 million per unit. That’s with the snow issue of articulated buses and the lack of power and cold weather efficiency of electric motors on rubber tired vehicles. Double Deck battery electric buses have so far not been successful in cold climates, lacking the needed extra power in the motors, required to move the heavier vehicles efficiently or cost effectively.

    Zwei replies: and you once thought I was full of prunes when I opined that the Expo line extension was somewhere near $4.5 billion? Evidently there are big, big issues crossing the Serpentine Valley.

    As I said in the beginning, I think this was damage control with the $1 billion Provincial Museum “Brownwash”. Being announced on a Friday for the weekend. I now believe that the premier and the various ministers are completely unaware of the escalating costs or trying desperately trying to appear completely unaware of the escalating costs.

  2. Haveacow says:

    Well Zwei, I’m coming at it from the supply side. This year compared to last year, according to a few sources, the cost of coated steel reinforcement rods for reinforced concrete when up by almost 10.5 % in one year (since mid 2021). Other costs related to structural concrete, much of the world’s aggregate, the stuff you mix with the cement while making concrete, is up 9% in one year. The formula’s for several of the world’s most popular low carbon concrete formulations are up in price compared to the official 5-7% inflation related price increase in most construction items, no surprise there, the owners of those formulas would price gouge there own mothers to make a profit.

    I got into a debate on line with someone about how much of a price increase would he or you or more importantly, the government of BC, be willing to accept for a line extension that on opening day, isn’t moving a huge number of people. Translink likes to give numbers for 2050 but aren’t doing it for 2028, if that is the opening date. Apparently in the article, according to the Surrey Board of Trade, they are having doubts as well about the cost and usefulness of the Langley Skytrain extension. The project is already at $4 Billion for 16 km of above grade right of way (no tunnels).

    Here in Ottawa, we are building 44 km of electric and Diesel Multiple Unit lines (in the form of diesel LRT) for $4.6 Billion built on former Transitways and existing rail corridors as well as underneath a realigned NCC (National Capital Commission) Sir John A Macdonald Parkway and Richmond Road’s old Britannia Streetcar line linear parkway. Our right of way includes 4-5 km of shallow tunnels. I’m not being anti-Skytrain if I say, “you guys and gals in BC need to be asking some serious questions and need to start demanding serious answers from the powers in charge of this project! Right now!” Hey BC government, give us your best answer NOW, as of right now, how much is this line extension going to cost? If your answer is still around $3.95 Billion. Do it again please. Oh yes, include the cost of the new yard (OMC#5) in the total as well?

  3. Nathan Davidowicz says:

    SBOT is trying to come up with a comperhensive transit plan similar to the Toronto Board of Trade. Funding for SLS is 80% senior governments and 20% TransLink. TransLink just got its borrowing limit increased by $1.3 b so it can pay its 20% share.for SLS.
    BC is way behind Ontario and Quebec in Public Transit. Nobody even wants to work for TransLink look up and see how many vacant positions in their Head Office.

  4. Haveacow says:

    I am finally comfortable to make a prediction based on actual costs of materials right now, not when the last estimate was made in early 2021. Which was released to the public in mid 2021.

    I predict the line itself will cost between $3.69 Billion to $3.99 Billion plus a minimum contingency of 25%, given the rate of inflation that’s a bare bones contingency. That leaves a final cost range of $4.612 Billion to $4.988 Billion. A median value was $4.805 Billion. This price includes the new yard (OMC #5), a bare bones 25% contingency, no exterior support vehicles (Hi-Rail equipped pickups and or Hi-rail track support trucks) or skytrains, it does include basic yard support vehicles needed for railway maintenance of way.

    @Nathan Davidowicz, That cash support amount Translink is attempting to borrow ($1.3 Billion) is based on the valuation of $3.95:Billion for the project and the province severing the new yard (OMC #5) from it and paying the whole cost of the project. I would be very careful what you wish for. Any more price inflation and the entire project is hosed!

    The realization by the Surrey Board of Trade that, a Skytrain line extension that goes through Surrey is going to do little for Surrey, unless other projects like the canceled Surrey based LRT line is brought back is quite telling and reassuring.

    Zwei Replies: Yikes!

  5. Haveacow says:

    This new yard the OMC #5 is just one of the reasons why you can’t use Skytrain as a regional based transportation system. Skytrain is a suburb to downtown or a suburb to suburb based service, as long as those suburbs are close to the central part of the city. I just don’t understand why you people don’t understand that. Extensions to Skytrain lines going what are really regional distances, is a stunningly expensive misuse of the Skytrain technology. It’s not designed to do that, LRT which is better but would still require some new maintenance centres. However, DMU’s & EMU’s are better suited and cheaper to operate over these distances. Even conventional push-pull diesel or electric hauled passenger coaches (a la West Coast Express or GO Trains) are better for this type of line and distance being travelled.

    Even Stage 2 and the future Stage 3 LRT extensions in Ottawa are having to build multiple (2) satellite light maintenance and storage centres for the Confederation Line (mostly for the storage of existing and future LRV’s). One in the western portion of the National Capital Greenbelt (Moodie Yard, part of Stage 2) to make LRT service to the western Ottawa high-tech hub of Kanata-Stittsvile possible. The actual extension to Kanata and Stittsvile will be part of the Stage 3 LRT Project.

    LRT service to the southern communities of Barrhaven and the westerly portions of Riverside South, which are both south of the Greenbelt, are part of the future Stage 3 LRT project, including the future Barrhaven Light Maintenance Centre. This was all based on the existing Belfast Yard having its heavy maintenance and storage abilities built up to the maximum the yard can handle. This is now complete and was part of the current Stage 2 LRT Project. This will allow our Line 1 & 3 (The Confederation Line and its western branches) to expand to 60 km length (at the end of the Stage 3 project) and probably for about 20 km -30 km more but that’s it, any more expansion beyond that will require a new heavy maintenance facility somewhere.

    Whereas, the 24 km long Line #2 & #4 (the Trillium Line and Airport Branch) which are DMU’s that act like diesel LRT, with the ability to be convertible to be EMU’s acting like electric LRT, could have many, many more km’s of track added before another yard would be necessary. Although, a few more yard storage slot tracks would need to be built. The new maintenance and storage facilities being built at Walkley Yard for the Trillium Line, which will open soon, has plenty of expansion space on the new property or on the old adjacent Walkley Yard facility land for storage expansion.

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