LRT Financing Header

Surrey Light Rail “Plan B” doesn’t work

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC

The City of Surrey has jeopardized its own “Plan B” for Light Rail Transit by neglecting to account for the financial effects of poor ridership and a fare revenue short-fall.

A previous joint study commissioned by TransLink and the Province found that the proposed LRT will require an operating subsidy of $22 million per year on opening day, rising to $28 million per year by 2041. This is on top of the $60 million per year for capital financing that Mayor Linda Hepner declared to the Globe and Mail, plus the long-term costs of repaying private capital investment.

Accounting for this short-fall Surrey taxpayers would be on the hook for nearly $100 million per year to finance LRT as a public-private partnership (P3).

This is because a street-level LRT attracts less ridership, owing to slower and less reliable service. A SkyTrain extension would attract significantly higher ridership, generating enough fare revenue to cover its own costs and offering a superior transit alternative for Surrey residents.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit previously noted that the city’s new LRT study ignored transportation aspects and sidestepped issues that our campaign and others had raised. Commuters will save only 1 minute with the proposed Phase I LRT, versus the present commute on the 96 B-Line.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit (SkyTrain for Surrey) is the citizens’ campaign against ground-level LRT in Surrey. Our campaign manager is Daryl Dela Cruz, a popular regional transit issues voice whose research has been cited by transportation professionals.

***

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

###

Attachment: A P3 doesn’t work for LRT in Surrey

The Canada Line P3 was a successful P3 because its ridership and fare revenue exceeded projections.

The private partner’s capital investment in the project is returned as a profit through the performance payments made during operation. If fare revenue from ridership meets or exceeds the costs, financing proceeds as planned and excess operating revenue is returned to the taxpayer. If the fare revenue does not exceed the costs, that represents significant additional costs to taxpayers to subsidize operations.

The Surrey LRT system will not recover its operating costs. Under a Canada Line Design-Build-Finance-Maintain-Operate P3 model, it will cost the city nearly $100 million per year to finance LRT.

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 This is on top of the $60 million per year for capital financing that Mayor Linda Hepner declared to the Globe and Mail, plus additional costs added to concession payments so that the private operator makes a profit. The annual cost will be nearly $100 million, increasing over time.

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

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

The Canada Line, which carries 122,000 daily boardings2, required 100,000 (5200 passenger boardings per km) to cover its annual operating costs.3 Surrey’s LRT will carry only 2970 riders/km on opening day.4

If SkyTrain is extended down Fraser Hwy. to Langley, it will carry 5443 riders per km on opening day.This is comparable to SkyTrain’s present system-wide average of 5693 riders per km.5

A SkyTrain extension to Langley will carry as many riders/km as existing SkyTrain.

SkyTrain would offer faster, safer, and more reliable service – which would attract more ridership, generate more fare revenue and as a result cost only $6 million per year to subsidize operations.6 This would be eliminated entirely with concurrent optimization of local bus routes.7

SkyTrain would generate 2x as many new transit trips and has a positive benefit/cost ratio of 1.45:1, a far better business case for any funding. The proposed LRT has a poor benefit/cost ratio of just 0.69:1.

A SkyTrain extension is the only viable option for rail rapid transit in Surrey.

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; costs increase to 2041 levels in 2041
2.  ProTransBC (operator) website – http://www.protransbc.com/service-performance/
3.  TransLink media release – Addressing Canada Line capacity questions
4.  See SRTAA PAGE 301 for ridership estimates (divided by track lengths listed on SRTAA P. 347)
5.  Based on APTA ridership data from Q4 2014
6.  See attached graphic, or SRTAA PAGE 369
7.  Suggested on SRTAA PAGE 536: “For RRT 1A, savings of $170 million” (Discounted net present value)

Below: this advertisement keeps our website up and running. Thank you for your understanding.

LRT Financing Header

A P3 doesn’t work for LRT in Surrey

The Canada Line P3 was a successful P3 because its ridership and fare revenue exceeded projections.

The private partner’s capital investment in the project is returned as a profit through the performance payments made during operation. If fare revenue from ridership meets or exceeds the costs, financing proceeds as planned and excess operating revenue is returned to the taxpayer. If the fare revenue does not exceed the costs, that represents significant additional costs to taxpayers to subsidize operations.

The Surrey LRT system will not recover its operating costs. Under a Canada Line Design-Build-Finance-Maintain-Operate P3 model, it will cost the city nearly $100 million per year to finance LRT.

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 This is on top of the $60 million per year for capital financing that Mayor Linda Hepner declared to the Globe and Mail, plus additional costs added to concession payments so that the private operator makes a profit. The annual cost will be nearly $100 million, increasing over time.

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

Financial details for Surrey Rapid Transit, reported in the TransLink/MOTI joint study, on page 369

The Canada Line, which carries 122,000 daily boardings2, required 100,000 (5200 passenger boardings per km) to cover its annual operating costs.3 Surrey’s LRT will carry only 2970 riders/km on opening day.4

If SkyTrain is extended down Fraser Hwy. to Langley, it will carry 5443 riders per km on opening day.This is comparable to SkyTrain’s present system-wide average of 5693 riders per km.5

SkyTrain would offer faster, safer, and more reliable service – which would attract more ridership, generate more fare revenue and as a result cost only $6 million per year to subsidize operations.6 This would be eliminated entirely with concurrent optimization of local bus routes.7

SkyTrain would generate 2x as many new transit trips and has a positive benefit/cost ratio of 1.45:1, a far better business case for any funding. The proposed LRT has a poor benefit/cost ratio of just 0.69:1.

A SkyTrain extension is the only viable option for rail rapid transit in Surrey.

A SkyTrain extension is the only viable option for rail rapid transit in Surrey.

Sign our petition for SkyTrain by following this link:


Take action now - Sign the petition!

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. ProTransBC (operator) website – http://www.protransbc.com/service-performance/
  3. TransLink media release – Addressing Canada Line capacity questions
  4. See SRTAA PAGE 301 for ridership estimates (divided by track lengths listed on SRTAA P. 347)
  5. Based on APTA ridership data from Q4 2014
  6. See attached graphic, or SRTAA PAGE 369
  7. Suggested on SRTAA PAGE 536: “For RRT 1A, savings of $170 million”
A SkyTrain extension instead of LRT would save hundreds of trees in Green Timbers.

SkyTrain alternative would save hundreds of Green Timbers trees

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC

The City of Surrey has rejected SkyTrain alternatives on Fraser Highway that take up less space, saving hundreds of trees in Green Timbers forest slated for destruction to widen the road for LRT.

In letters (see below) sent to the Green Timbers Heritage Society, our campaign manager Daryl Dela Cruz notes several faults in the city plan. Among these is the inclusion of drainage ditches on either side of Fraser, indicating a lack of design innovation as other roads through Green Timbers (i.e. 96th Ave) have no such ditches on the sides.

The City of Surrey has also failed to communicate a proposed widening of 100 Ave through Green Timbers. This will be needed to help offset loss of traffic lanes on 104 Ave for proposed Light Rail.

An elevated SkyTrain extension on Fraser Highway, which was an alternative examined in the Surrey Rapid Transit study, would have a smaller at-grade footprint than an LRT in its own lanes. SkyTrain uses space above the roadway, meaning less trees would need to be cut down.

A SkyTrain extension would require only 24m, just over half of what LRT requires.

SkyTrain on Fraser would fit within the maximum 27m width endorsed by the Green Timbers Urban Advisory Committee in 2008. (See Appendix A).

Combined with Bus Rapid Transit, a SkyTrain extension would remove more cars from Fraser Hwy. and other city roads, by providing faster, more reliable services that attract higher ridership. This would generate twice (2x) the transportation benefits of proposed Light Rail.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit (SkyTrain for Surrey) is the citizens’ campaign against ground-level LRT in Surrey. For an overview of an issues please see our new campaign video (linked on the right).

***

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

###

Appendix A – Diagrams

(graphics: Streetmix.net)

The currently proposed LRT right-of-way (R.O.W.) through Green Timbers:

Fraser Hwy with Surrey LRT

Below: The original Surrey Rapid Transit Study assumes a ~27m total R.O.W. for SkyTrain on Fraser.

Fraser Hwy with Surrey Skytrain 1

With more adjustments (i.e. multi-use path under guideway), the R.O.W. can be reduced to 24m.

Fraser Hwy with Surrey Skytrain 2

Appendix B – Letter to Green Timbers Heritage Society

Read our letter to the Heritage Society now on our website at [OPEN HERE]

Or use the Scribd display below:

Below: this advertisement keeps our website up and running. Thank you for your understanding.

Proposed LRT is only 1 minute faster than the 96 B-Line

LRT study ignores transportation outcome [REVIEW]

The City of Surrey has released a new report by Shirocca Consulting titled “Economic Benefits of Surrey LRT”, available on the city website.

Our initial analysis of the report finds that there is a very wide gap between what this study is trying to push and what transit riders and commuters actually care about. As a result of these gaps, we have found that the majority of the findings in the study are invalid – and cannot acceptably represent a positive business case for Surrey LRT.

The original Surrey Rapid Transit Study, commissioned by TransLink and endorsed by Surrey, found a negative business case for Light Rail in terms of transportation benefits failing to outweigh the cost. By contrast, this study is avoiding the transportation case and is focusing on numerous other things like how many workers get hired to build the line, how much is being paid to drivers and operations staff, and other vague indications of effectiveness that do not actually matter.

Transit riders and commuters are not interested in these vague details – they want to know if they’ll be able to get around the city easier. The study continues the assumption that Light Rail will make a meaningful improvement to access, which it does not do. Tangible improvements in travel time and access are a fundamental requirement to realizing economic developments from rapid transit. The fact that Light Rail fails in this regard invalidates the entirety of the study’s section 5 (“Contributions to economic development”).

The proposed “L-Line” on 104 Ave/King George Blvd is only 1 minute faster than the current 96 B-Line, which could receive Bus Rapid Transit enhancements at a far lower cost.

A SkyTrain extension would let Langley riders reach Waterfront Station in under 60 minutes, or any and every major regional centre within an hour and a half. An LRT would only allow commuters to reach Surrey or New Westminster within 1 hour. That is why there is strong opposition to LRT in the Township of Langley.

We have identified two additional key flaws in this study. The first flaw is that the study attempts to suggest that Light Rail is the solution that “makes sense” for Surrey because it will have more stops than a SkyTrain extension on the same route. This does not match the trends on recent SkyTrain expansions, where rider surveys have indicated that trip speed and quality of service are the #1 factor in attracting ridership and promoting transit use.

It should be noted that SkyTrain has a ridership per kilometre that is unmatched by any single Light Rail system in Canada or the US (numbers from APTA, CUTA – compiled [HERE] and [HERE]).

The second flaw is the continued suggestion that because Light Rail is a railway with tracks, it creates “permanence” and is more attractive. Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, can receive the same “permanence enhancements” such as branding, way-finding information, landscaping, lighting, and a dedicated right-of-way. BRT can be equipped with sheltered stations/stops that have wait-time displays, off-board payment, seating and other useful amenities which add comfort and ambience, just like LRT.

Studies cited by professional transit consultants, such as renowned consultant Jarrett Walker, suggest that BRT actually attracts more development per dollar of investment. We are very displeased with the dismissal of BRT – which could cover far more of the city, in conjunction with a SkyTrain extension, for the same cost as proposed LRT.

Ontario's York Regional Transit VIVA is an excellent example of a successful BRT.

Ontario’s York Regional Transit VIVA is an excellent example of a successful BRT.

Our biggest concern is that this study sets up many other major issues we have pointed out to continue to be completely ignored by decision makers.

This includes the damage, in terms of monetary compensation and the severe delays to commuters, with every accident along the LRT lines including vehicle-train collisions. Or the negative effect of removing a lane of through traffic on 104 Ave, the city’s primary corridor from City Centre to the Trans-Canada Highway.

This also includes the performance metric. Light Rail systems across North America are unable to rival SkyTrain-type rapid transit systems in on-time performance, reliability and ridership. Bus Rapid Transit systems are also more flexible than Light Rail – buses can detour in the face of blocked tracks and accidents, and through-run onto other corridors to provide more direct service (i.e. a continuous 96 B-Line from White Rock Centre to Coquitlam via Surrey Centre).

We have no choice but to refuse to acknowledge the results of this study as an acceptable case for proposed light rail and rapid transit in Surrey. It would seem that the results have more to do with appeasing developers, business prospects, pro-light rail advocates and other such entities as opposed to transit riders and the actual stakeholders on the proposed lines.

Released 16 May, 2015

***

Better Surrey Rapid Transit (SkyTrain for Surrey) is the citizens’ campaign against ground-level LRT in Surrey.

For additional information, contact: Daryl Dela Cruz, Campaign Manager
Email us at: info@skytrainforsurrey.org

###

Below: this advertisement keeps our website up and running. Thank you for your understanding.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit = SkyTrain for Surrey

New “Light Rail Reality” outreach video

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC

Better Surrey Rapid Transit has released a new outreach video focusing on issues in the proposed Light Rail Transit system in Surrey.

The new video is available on YouTube (above), as well as on the campaign Facebook page.

The video also brings attention to a proposal that has been supported by our campaign, of extending the SkyTrain down Fraser Highway to Langley and establishing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors throughout the City of Surrey. (SEE MORE: Our Vision page)

“With Light Rail support dropping among citizens and flaws in the plan clearer than ever, Better Surrey Rapid Transit is set to deliver its goal of stopping proposed Light Rail in favour of a better solution,” says Daryl Dela Cruz, the campaign manager for Better Surrey Rapid Transit, in an online address to supporters.

“Light Rail supporters have been out of touch with what Surrey residents need. They didn’t do their homework, ignored raised issues, proceeded to brainwash citizens, and now continue to support something that causes more problems than it solves,” Daryl has said in a previous release.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit (SkyTrain for Surrey) is the citizens’ campaign against ground-level LRT in Surrey.

***

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

###

Below: this advertisement keeps our website up and running. Thank you for your understanding.

Light Rail Reality: At-grade trains are caught in service disruptions that do not affect SkyTrains and B-Lines.

LRT opposition in Township of Langley

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC

Better Surrey Rapid Transit is applauding a senior planner from the Township for Langley for raising necessary questions about the proposed Surrey Light Rail Transit project, and asking TransLink to change the current proposal.

Rapid Transit questioned by Langley Township planner

A TransLink proposal that would use a ground-level light rapid transit (LRT) line to connect Langley and Surrey, rather than extend the elevated SkyTrain system, has been questioned by a senior Township planner, who says the line may not help Langley commuters get to Vancouver and could mean delays for riders and a higher risk of accidents… [READ MORE – The Langley Times]

“It’s about time that someone asks needed questions about Surrey’s proposed Light Rail. I’m not impressed by how the region has moved this proposal while sidestepping many serious issues” says Daryl Dela Cruz, the campaign manager for Better Surrey Rapid Transit.

Daryl is now working to further engage public policy-makers – with letters being written to city staff and council-members in Langley and throughout the Lower Mainland, to inform them about sidestepped issues, as well as falling support for LRT in the South of Fraser (see Appendix A below).

The campaign has already launched a YouTube Video to inform residents, launched a petition, and posted ‘6 Myths on Light Rail Transit’ as part of an ongoing effort to debunk misconceptions.

“Light Rail supporters have been out of touch with what Surrey residents need. They didn’t do their homework, ignored raised issues, proceeded to brainwash citizens, and now continue to support something that causes more problems than it solves,” Daryl has said in a previous release.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit (SkyTrain for Surrey) is the opposition campaign against ground-level LRT in Surrey. We’ve raised, among several issues, that the first phase LRT – with a 25-min. travel time between Newton & Guildford – saves commuters only 1 minute over the 96 B-Line.

Other issues that have been raised include issues with centre-street running, vulnerability to accidents, slower service, and negative effects on the current transportation plebiscite.

***

Appendix A – Writers have flooded local newspapers with editorials and letters expressing concern about LRT in the Mayors’ transit plan:

***

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

###

Below: this advertisement keeps our website up and running. Thank you for your understanding.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit is urging you to vote YES for better transit!

YES for Transit Statement: Light Rail destroying Surrey “YES” vote

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC Better Surrey Rapid Transit announces its support for a “YES” vote in the transportation plebiscite.

A better transit future for Surrey starts with the approval of sustainable funding. As part of efforts to secure a “YES” vote, Better Surrey Rapid Transit is advising “YES” coalition supporters that the promotion of Light Rail Transit in Surrey – a component of the Mayors’ Council’s transit plan – is having a negative impact on the transit “YES” vote.

“The excessive focus on the Light Rail component is destroying the yes vote in the South of Fraser,” writes campaign manager Daryl Dela Cruz in a letter to “yes” coalition supporters. [VIEW the letter NOW by clicking here]

“Surrey voters aren’t prepared to approve a specific technology. They remember that they’ve been lied to by the City on LRT benefits, and realize more problems will be created by the LRT than solved. The province took the lead by removing the lock-in to “Light Rail Transit in Surrey” from the referendum ballot; “Yes” campaign supporters need to be doing the same.”

A recent report outlining increasing support for a “NO” vote outlines Surrey’s mention of a Plan B to move LRT with or without a “YES” vote as a reason. Several letters-to-the-editor from citizens dissatisfied about the LRT plan have circulated in local newspapers, citing major issues with the proposal left out of the consultation process by the city.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit (SkyTrain for Surrey) has raised several issues with the LRT proposal endorsed in Surrey. The proposed Phase I LRT – with a 25-min. travel time between Newton and Guildford – saves just 1 minute over the current 96 B-Line.

The campaign will be working to reverse damage done by the City of Surrey as a result of its excessive promotion of Light Rail.

***

Writers have flooded local newspapers with editorials and letters expressing concern about LRT in the Mayors’ transit plan:

See our “letter” to YES supporters now:

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

###

Below: this advertisement keeps our website up and running. Thank you for your understanding.