The Affordable Tram, a Template for Surrey?

A few posts back, Zwei looked at the affordable tram for Vancouver connecting UBC with BCIT, so now let us see how the affordable streetcar would do in Surrey.

What should be of extreme interest is the low cost for the proposed Dundee tram compared to the sky high costs for light rail from TransLink!

The example of the 13.5 km Portland streetcar is of great interest as the costs break down as thus:

  • Rail, electrical and street workAi?? …….. USD$35.1m – CAD$38.94m
  • Maintenance facility …………………… USD$4m – CAD$4.43
  • Trams (5 +s pares) ……………………… USD$11.3m – CAD$12.53
  • Utility works (only in swept path) …. USD$3.8m – CAD$4.21
  • MiscellaneousAi?? ………………………….. USD$0.4m – CAD$0.44

Total………………………………………………….USD$54.6m – CAD$60.5(approximate)

LR Dundee Circulator Dec 13 v 28 (2)

If we look at a 28.5Ai?? km Surrey Centre to Guilford and to the Number 1 Hwy; Surrey Centre to Newton; and Surrey Centre to Langley Centre, tram or streetcar, we could build an economy tram/streetcar line far cheaper than what TransLink proposes. As with all transit projects, the simpler the better.

The following are adjusted costs for an economy LRT operation from Surrey Centre to Guilford and to the Number 1 Hwy; Surrey Centre to Newton; and Surrey Centre to Langley Centre. Total distance for the three lines 28.5 km.

Unlike Vancouver, there is no existing infrastructure from former streetcar service and would be ‘greenfields’ construction, which means more expensive. Median operation on all routes, with a major viaduct (shared with road traffic?) over the Langley By-Pass and the Superport Railway

Signalling: Line of sight, except for for a block signal system from 164th to 188th Streets.

Start up capacity: 5 minute headways (12 trips per hour) – approx. 3,000 pphpd. Capacity can be increased by adding by using longer trams or adding more trams.

  • Rail, electrical and street work: Approximately CAD$450m
  • Maintenance facility (2): Approximately $35million, based on fleet size.
  • Trams: 35 modular trams and spares with a design capacity of 250 persons: Appropriately $150m
  • Utility works (only in swept path): $30m
  • Bridge or combined overpass $75 million
  • Miscellaneous: $110m

Total cost ………………………………………………………… CAD$850 million.

Not only is $850 million for the economy LRT far cheaper than what TransLink proposes ($2.1 billion), there is enough money from the Surrey LRT budget left over to build the ‘full build’ Rail for the Valley/Leewood TramTrain, enabling direct service from the Surrey light rail network to go to downtown Vancouver and or Abbotsford and Chilliwack, still at a cheaper cost than what Translink proposes for three LRT lines in Surrey!


3 Responses to “The Affordable Tram, a Template for Surrey?”
  1. eric chris says:

    Really, TransLink does not arrive at the costs for any LRT line or sky train line. SNCL bribes TransLink to win the contract for the LRT or sky train line. Then SNCL pads the contract to pay for the bribes and the transit line, plus a premium to pay for their nice homes and cars.

    SNCL executives sure don’t ride sky train to work in downtown Vancouver. They have company paid parking for their luxury cars.

    Slim. Shady, aka Mayor Robertson loves sky train. I sure hope that Hootergate takes him down so that we can get down to business to build the tram line up Broadway:

    “B.C. is not only the wild west, but the widely undemocratic and unethical west when it comes to donations, lobbying, elections and dealing with ethical issues properly,”

  2. Roger Nathan says:

    There is potential to save on the cost of a bridge over Langley By-Pass and the Superport Railway. If one looks at Google maps, with high magnification, the under-construction and nearly finished 196 Street southward extension from Fraser Hwy to 56 Ave would provide suitable road infrastructure.

  3. There’s a reason that the Portland streetcar’s right-of-way was less expensive to build. It was designed for very light streetcars (and cannot handle trains such as the more heavy-duty, high capacity MAX LRVs) – with no ability to pair-up and create two-car consists, has no transit priority, runs in the edge lane (which could prove a great problem as edge lane streetcars in Surrey would be easily blocked by often-stuck right turning vehicles on Fraser or 104th, with no ability to pass), and is built for low headways of 10-15 minutes.

    In other words, what you’re proposing for Surrey would make transit worse – far worse, in fact – compared to the existing 96 B-Line rapid bus service and proposed 503 Aldergrove express bus.

    I keep up with Portland’s transit situation through Twitter and through several contacts.. and I’ve found that often when the streetcar service in Portland closes (i.e. accident blocking tracks), service is replaced with standard 40 ft buses at the usual headways and there is no problem with this whatsoever. There’s no overcrowding, no massive lineups to wait for the buses, not even delays due to the closure of the right-of-way because there is no dedicated right-of-way. With service being no better than a local circulator bus, expected ridership ends up being about the same as one.

    At-grade light rail with express stop spacings has already been found to be a horrible idea with a negative business case. This would be far worse.

    It might interest you in knowing that Dundee’s tram proposal has been questioned by many experts, citing that the proposal has been created without an adequate cost-benefit analysis.

    Zwei replies: Actually wrong Daryl as the so called streetcars used in Portland are indeed Czech trams or LRV’s. If streetcars are such a bad idea, why is everyone building with them and no one builds with SkyTrain.

    Daryl, you are full of it, instead of listening to twitter (for twits), try talking to the professionals, the ones who plan and build these things.

    If you have been away or late doing homework, SkyTrain has had many problems in the past month as well, including Monday night, where it wasn’t working between Stadium and Main Street stations.