Surrey’s Proposed LRT Advances

Looks like the proposed three line LRT network in Surrey, is advancing.

The old anti-LRT rhetoric continues, despite well over thirty years of commercial operation by over 500 tram/LRT lines around the world that disproves this nonsense.

No mention that only seven Skytrain systems have been built since the late 1970’s mind you, demonstrates that the SkyTrain Lobby would prefer for that statistic to quietly fade away.

Zwei believes the costs for LRT are much too high, but with TransLink in charge, planners may wish to gouge the taxpayer, rather than lose face that modern LRT is a considerably cheaper to build than SkyTrain, especially when Vancouver wants a $4 billion subway under Broadway.

Surrey LRT plan passes key federal hurdle
Adrian MacNair / Now Staff
October 31, 2014

SURREY ai??i?? A federal agency overseeing public-private infrastructure projects in Canada has given preliminary approval to Surrey’s application to help fund Light Rail Transit.

According to a press release by the city issued Thursday (Oct. 30), the P3 Canada Fund has granted “screened in” status to the application, meaning it will move on to the next phase for further funding consideration.

ai???With Surreyai??i??s population growing so quickly, securing new rapid transit options have been a top priority of mine,ai??? said Mayor Dianne Watts in the release. ai???This decision to have Surreyai??i??s application for federal funding move on to the next stage is a significant step forward in making a Light Rail Transit system a reality in our

City staff are working with TransLink, the regional transportation agency that would administer the LRT network, to refine the design and cost estimates for the project. The design work is also necessary to enable the preparation of a business case for federal funding.

Surrey’s objective is a funding arrangement composed of one-third federal, one-third provincial and one-third regional. The regional support already exists in the form of the Mayorsai??i?? Councilai??i??s Regional Transportation Plan, which has identified Surrey’s LRT plan for 27 kilometres of track as a top priority. However, any such funding will depend heavily on the results of a TransLink referendum expected in the spring of 2015.

P3 projects (or public-private partnerships) involves a contract between a public sector entity and a private company, in which the private contractor usually assumes the financial, technical and operational risk in the project to reduce the cost to the taxpayer.

The City of Abbotsford received P3 approval from the federal government in 2011 for a $291 million water project intended to meet municipal growth projections. But after overwhelming public opposition, a plebiscite overturned the decision.

However, there are several successful examples of P3 projects in Canada, including transportation infrastructure. Seven projects have been approved by P3 Canada, including 13.2 km of LRT track in Edmonton, and closer to home, Lincoln Station on the Evergreen Line in Coquitlam.

Mayoral candidate Linda Hepner, a member of Surrey First’s near-unanimous majority on council, has already committed to seeing phase one of an LRT system in the city by 2018. She said she would commit land and development revenues along the route to help pay for the system.

Even if the plan is voted down in the referendum, Surrey can apply to the New Building Canada Fund, a $14 billion federal infrastructure program.

Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition has also committed to starting work on an LRT system within a year, and for construction to begin within two years.

Mayoral hopefuls Barinder Rasode and John Wolanski have also spoken in favour of LRT, although some candidates like Grant Rice (who said he’s a regular SkyTrain rider) would like to focus on getting more buses in the city.

Not everyone favours the idea. One Surrey candidate Brian Young said a ground-level LRT system would make road congestion even worse.

But proponents for the plan say LRT is more cost-effective than a SkyTrain extension, with 27 kilometres of LRT track costing the same as 16 kilometres of SkyTrain. Studies estimate that a SkyTrain from Surrey City Centre to Langley would only be five minutes faster than light rail, and that number might decrease once more detailed technical work is completed on the track’s location.

As well, LRT trains can carry more passengers than B-Line buses and, according to the city, would be able to meet future population growth projections and needs for transit.

ai??i??with file from Amy Reid

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4 Responses to “Surrey’s Proposed LRT Advances”
  1. Keith White says:

    Would be interesting to see the proposed routes

  2. Haveacow says:

    While doing research I discovered something quite shocking and maybe the a big part of the reason North American LRT projects cost so much more than their European equivalents. In North America and in Europe the cost of concrete is increasing at about 8-10% a year per cubic metre. The cost has been rising at this rate since the mid 90’s and shows no intention of slowing down or stopping. From 2006 to 2014 prices effectively doubled across the continent. Prices vary from place to place, region to region, state to state, province to province for many reasons but the increase in total cost has been fairly uniform world wide.

    In Canada presently basic building concrete is between $135-175/ cubic metre. That’s the cheap stuff that’s in our sidewalks and slabs and foundations in our homes. It is generally rated at strength of 3000 psi. Stronger structural concrete rated used in lager buildings, bridges, dams, highway and transit projects is rated at a strength of 4000 psi and higher. This stuff costs depending on where you are between $165-210/ cubic metre. When you add in the various qualities and different materials required for reinforcement, complexity of form work and its own material costs (which is also increasing) as well as site preparation costs, the total price balloons to $210-270/ cubic metre. Remember this price is rising at between 8-10% a year and show no sign of slowing down.

    In Europe the EU and many national governments subsidize concrete producers with tax money. They do this to keep the costs of large infrastructure projects down. The degree of subsidy varies but is highest in countries with the lowest costing infrastructure projects (logically). These hidden cost of all these subsidies is one of the many reasons the UK has refused to pay its EU dues! The present cost in dues is costing roughly 5.5 – 10 Million Pounds a day not counting the fines. The government of the UK just got a 3 Billion Pound fine from the EU and is seriously thinking of leaving the Union. It is a complex subject and because the British economy is doing much better than most of its continental neighbors it’s expected to pay even more in dues than it does currently (it’s a similar to our equalization payment system between provinces in Canada). The British do not want to pay more and continue to subsidize Europeans over their own citizens.The British government does not subsidize its concrete producers and receives very little help from the EU on this regard thus, they have higher construction costs than many of their European equivalents (still lower than North America though). The problem becomes quite large in Europe when smaller projects that don’t qualify for the concrete subsidy reveal their actual costs. In the UK, 3000 psi concrete without reinforcement for smaller projects like home construction, pay 165-195 Pounds/ cubic metre. The costs for similar non subsidized smaller projects in other parts of Europe are even higher! Again, the increase in the cost for concrete of 8-10% a year shows no sign of slowing down.

  3. Haveacow says:

    I forgot to mention this. These concrete costs I quoted are when you buy from the truck, so to speak. Meaning your are getting large quantities (8-10 cubic metres per truck) of concrete that most people will never need for their own home use. When you buy it by the bag in 40,60 & 80 pound varieties from Home Depot or other similar building/hardware stores, the cost is even higher! The builders of the many Condo projects in Ottawa for example have to also pay an extra charge of $15/ cubic metre if its delivered to the work site on a Saturday or Sunday. So many construction projects that are building 7 days a week, including the Confederation Line LRT project, to save money mix their own concrete on site and just rent the equipment and mixer trucks themselves. The LRT project gets many of the component parts for concrete like gravel and the aggregate from the tunnel construction site itself.

  4. eric chris says:

    Haveacow, sand used to produce concrete is in short supply and this is driving up the cost of concrete. Refer to the following email being sent to reporters in Vancouver:

    Emily and Mario, isn’t the annual payroll at TransLink ($45 million and climbing) excessive for what the staff at TransLink do (nothing)? You aren’t really suggesting that TransLink is worthy of more funding in the form of an additional sales tax on top of the myriad of taxes which TransLink already collects? Are you? At TransLink, the only thing that the scores of managers at TransLink manage are the garbage cans at their desks.

    What truly amazes me is that all at once, every newspaper in Metro Vancouver runs with the same propaganda piece on the same topic couched as news – namely, how the sales tax (as in Seattle) can be used to fund poor “underfunded” TransLink. What a coincidence, all of a sudden, every newspaper receiving advertising revenue from TransLink just happens to (out of the blue) do the same story favouring more taxes for TransLink.

    I truly do understand that newspapers today don’t rely on subscription revenue anymore and instead have to compromise on their objectivity to keep advertisers (such as TransLink) happy. Still, if you are going to compare transit funding in Seattle to transit funding here, at least put transit funding here and there in the proper context.

    – Seattle transit in context –
    I lived in Seattle for years. Metro Seattle whose population is double Metro Vancouver’s population has an annual operating budget which is only one-half TransLink’s annual operating budget (transit). Over two years, TransLink spent $2.8 billion to operate transit and King County transit spent $1.4 billion to operate transit:

    “The King County Council approved Metro’s 2013-2014 operating budget in November 2012. Metro’s total expected operating cost for the two-year period is approximately $1.4 billion”

    I’d certainly be willing to trade my present $1,000 (or so) in annual taxes for transit (parking taxes, gas taxes, property taxes and hydro taxes) for the annual 0.1% regional sales tax and $60 annual vehicle fee, as in Seattle. For $100,000 in purchases, the sales tax will cost $100. Taxing transit here like in Seattle reduces my taxes for transit from $1,000 annually to $160 if I spend $100,000 annually, in the Lower Mainland. Great.

    However, this isn’t what TransLink wants. TransLink which is gouging everyone in Metro Vancouver to pay for its lavish bureaucracy fleecing taxpayers – just wants more funding to cover the $200 million thrown away for Compass and the $10 billion pissed away on elevated and buried s-train lines. TransLink can’t pay for its current infrastructure (s-train) and operations with its fare structure (~ $30 monthly student passes for one-third of its riders) and is scheming to obtain more funding. Most of the new funding being sought by TransLink is to pay for its fiscal imprudence and gross incompetence – its current bad debts.

    Have you ever had the misfortune of visiting the TransLink headquarters for a meeting? I have.

    Managers at TransLink can’t do the work expected from a junior engineer – they know nothing about designing the electrical, mechanical… structural infrastructure for their s-train lines or even trolleybus network. Who and what do they manage? What do they spend their days doing? They spend their days in meetings. They talk business – the business of awarding big contracts to concrete firms lining up to pour the concrete for their subways and elevated guide-ways used to separate their s-trains from pedestrians who they’d electrocute if TransLink didn’t spend all the extra money to elevate or bury its s-train lines at a huge cost to taxpayers, to ironically make transit slower than transit at grade.

    – Concrete used for transit in context –
    Sand is in very short supply and is being dredged from the ocean floors to produce the concrete for not only the high rise condos being constructed near s-train lines but also for the guide-ways and sub-ways for the s-train lines. Entire aquatic eco-systems are being wiped out for the sand to make concrete used by TransLink. When TransLink pays for the sand dredged from the ocean floors, sand from the beaches slides into the holes produced on the ocean floors and beach-front is lost. This leads to the disappearance of entire islands. Islanders in the Maldives are losing their homes for transit by TransLink.

    Gregor Robertson leading the charge for another subway line constructed from concrete touts the concrete driven economy which TransLink supports as Green. While we are on the topic of Gregor, according to the grapevine and rumours swirling around the hair salons (heard it from the gossipy girl cutting hair next to me, so take it with a grain of salt, even if she is right most of the time) in Vancouver, Gregor dumped his wife (removed for legal reasons) Is this true?

    Personally, I don’t really care whether Gregor (removed for legal reasons) for that matter. It isn’t totally out of character for a two faced individual such as Gregor and isn’t going to shock too many people if he does, anyhow. In Vancouver, overflowing with creeps and misfits, it might even help his bid to become mayor and he might want more of his adoring followers to know more about his personal life.

    Back to the sales tax for TransLink, you aren’t seriously suggesting that we pay more in addition to the crazy amount already paid for the “talent” at TransLink, are you? You might as well fund the public zoo, instead. Monkeys at the zoo know about as much about transit as the managers at TransLink do.

    Stories about simply cutting out the fat at TransLink costing taxpayers $45 million in salaries every year and plowing the $45 million saved into transit just don’t cut it. How come? What motivated you to write your article on the sales tax to fund TransLink? Transit by TransLink is a lemon, isn’t this newsworthy (see trailing email)?

    Vancouverites already pay more than enough taxes for transit – for all the freeloaders, misfits, creeps and students taking transit degrading the environment here. Writing about this to question more funding for grossly overfunded TransLink is off limits.

    Newspapers here are benefiting too much from the rot and corruption at TransLink to kill their golden goose – TransLink feeding them all the “advertising” revenue in exchange for stories on how the referendum for more transit taxes (sales taxes) is winnable. It is all about keeping the good times rolling at TransLink and playing along with the rot at TransLink for TransLink to reward you with more advertising. That is the reality, whether or not you want to admit it.

    Zwei replies: Please keep rumours of ones personal life off the blog as Gregor is in a suing mood of late.

    Eric’s comments are valid and I am shocked (no not really) that the Vancouver Sun doesn’t do a more thorough evaluation of taxes for transit in Vancouver and Seattle.

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