View obscured from ivory tower

View obscured from ivory tower

The Times July 16, 2010


This summer, interesting news will be released that will delight supporters of the Return of the Interurban to the Fraser Valley.

In the Metro region, we have placed all our hopes for rail transit on the very expensive light-metro model and philosophy, that forces all bus riders on a light-metro trunk line to their destinations or next transfer. Indeed TransLink admits that 80 per cent of SkyTrain’s customers, first take the bus to the metro. This is not good transit.

TransLink has been signing hosannas that the newly opened Canada Line is carrying 94,000 people a day and nearing capacity. TransLink forgets to mention that nearly 45,000 former bus customers have been cascaded onto the new metro line which translates to about 90,000 trips a day. Only about two to three thousand new transit customers are using the over $2.5 billion metro system.

The sad fact about the Canada Line is that due to escalating construction costs, the scope of the project was cut back so much that a much larger $1.5 billion cheaper LRT network, with much higher capacity, could have been built instead.

The Light Rail Committee and the Rail For the Valley group, in conjunction with several transportation experts will be offering a much cheaper and proven alternative to hugely expensive light-metro, in the form of TramTrain.

TramTrain is simply a light rail vehicle that can operate on existing railways and on its own tracks, greatly reducing rail transit costs while at the same time providing a much larger light rail network.

As an example; for the cost of a SkyTrain Evergreen Line, we could build a Vancouver to Chilliwack TramTrain and a Vancouver to Maple Ridge TramTrain. A larger rail network. servicing more destinations, at a cheaper cost should be number one TransLink’s planning goals.

Sadly, what I see from the Ivory Towers on Kingsway is more of the same, plans for hugely expensive metro lines, with no realistic way to fund them.

Malcolm Johnston

Light Rail Committee

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