IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC

A community transit coalition is calling out the Conservatives and Liberals for dumping millions of dollars of operating debt from an LRT system onto the community with no consultation.

SkyTrain for Surrey, a local coalition of transit users calling for an extension of SkyTrain over Light Rail Transit, has previously noted that there has been no discussion on how the proposed LRT’s operations will be funded after it opens. Unlike an extension of existing SkyTrain, an LRT system would require new maintenance facilities and drivers on every train – resulting in high operating costs that must be paid for every year in addition to the capital cost of building the system.

The annual operating debt, accounting for fare revenues, was estimated by TransLink and the Province in a commissioned joint study to be $22 million from opening day.

That’s 40% of the cost to provide the South of Fraser’s existing transit network.

No one in either the Conservative Party, Liberal Party, City of Surrey, Mayors Council, or TransLink has explained how this annual operating cost is going to be paid. With no plan, raising the money to pay for LRT operations will require cuts to local bus services and/or tax increases, against the will of regional voters who voted “No” to a new tax in this year’s transportation plebiscite.

“Anyone committing to a Light Rail Transit project specifically for Surrey should realize that in doing so, they leave massive operating debts on the backs of local taxpayers and that will severely hurt our residents’ and businesses’ prosperity.”

Daryl Dela Cruz, SkyTrain for Surrey campaign manager.

With faster and more reliable service, a SkyTrain extension would pay back its operating costs through higher ridership and create no new operating debts. A SkyTrain and Bus Rapid Transit alternative has been previously studied by TransLink and the Province, and would cost the same to build as an LRT – yet cost less to operate and offer twice the travel time savings benefits.

More info can be found here on our website at skytrainforsurrey.org.

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For additional info, contact: Daryl Dela Cruz, Campaign Manager – Better Surrey Rapid Transit.
Email us at: info@skytrainforsurrey.org

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APPENDIX: Operating deficit summary

Financial details for Surrey Rapid Transit, reported in the TransLink/MOTI joint study

The Surrey LRT system will not recover its operating costs. This is because the fare revenue projected over 30 years creates a $720 million shortfall over the 30-year lifecycle. It will require a subsidy of $22 million per year on opening day ($28 million per year by 2041) to operate the LRT.1

Adjusted for inflation, this is 40% of the existing cost to operate all 300-series, 500-series and C-series routes servicing the South-of-Fraser.2

SkyTrain would offer faster, safer, and more reliable service – costing only $6 million per year to subsidize operations. This would be eliminated entirely with concurrent optimization of local bus routes.3

Footnotes

According to data from the 2012 TransLink/MOTI joint study Surrey Rapid Transit Alternatives Analysis (SRTAA) Phase 2 Evaluation Available on our website at [LINK HERE]

  1. SRTAA PAGE 369; Undiscounted value; measured over 30 years, with costs increasing to 2041 on year 2041
  2. TransLink’s Transit System Performance Review reports the operating costs of every route. We adjusted the numbers for inflation and found the LRT operating debt to be just under 40% of the cost of our bus network’s operating costs in 2014.
  3. Suggested on SRTAA PAGE 536: “For RRT 1A, savings of $170 million” (Discounted Net Present Value)

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LRT commitments ignore future operating debts

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