Flexity Freedom

REALITY CHECK: Cost of 3 LRT lines vs. SkyTrain to Langley

The City of Surrey has often stated, including on its current Rapid Transit Now advocacy page, that 3 Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines across the city would cost less than building SkyTrain to Langley. This claim is incorrect, and it may also be based on outdated data.

Flexity Freedom

A City of Surrey LRT Demonstration last summer was sponsored by a rolling stock manufacturer (Bombardier)

The latest cost estimate values in the Surrey Rapid Transit Study [1] anticipate that the capital cost at the assumed year of expenditure (i.e. when all work is complete, anticipated to be 2019 in the study) of alternative RRT1 is $1.8 billion, which is lower than the capital cost estimate of alternative LRT1 ($2.18 billion). When inflation to year of expenditure is not considered and costs are measured in proper 2010 dollars (year of study commencement), alternative LRT1 presents a capital cost of $1.99 billion versus RRT1’s $1.645 billion. This means the cost of 3 LRT lines is 21% higher (and not less) than SkyTrain to Langley.

When the net present value (NPV) of costs (which also account for operating costs as well as fare revenues – which are dependent on ridership) is compared, alternative LRT1 presents a capital cost of $1.63 billion versus RRT1’s $1.26 billion. This means that the net present total cost of 3 LRT lines is 29.3% higher (and not less) than SkyTrain to Langley, and is comparable to the net present cost of a SkyTrain extension to Langley with bus rapid transit (BRT) on other corridors.

However, Light Rail costs considerably more than SkyTrain in the study when the NPV of benefits (which accounts for measurable transportation and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction benefits) is added to the comparison. Light Rail generates less of both, because slower service speed generates less transportation benefits and also results in less ridership, less new transit trips, and less GHG emission reduction. As a result of a low NPV benefit that does not exceed the NPV cost, alternative LRT1 has a total net present value (NPV benefits – NPV costs) of negative $510 million. When compared to alternative RRT1’s positive $690 million net present value (among the best of alternatives), alternative LRT1 costs 235% more than alternative RRT1.

For the City of Surrey, LRT has been largely about an incorrect perception that it will cost less since Mayor Dianne Watts announced a campaign for it in April 2011 and again in March 2012. This campaign has never been backed up with accurate claims, and the City of Surrey has still not released an actual, statistical written case for building LRT instead of SkyTrain.

For more reality checks, [CLICK HERE]


About these ads
Support better options for Surrey rapid transit

Better Surrey Rapid Transit featured on Surrey Now, News 1130

Support better options for Surrey rapid transit

Today, we have been blessed with the great opportunity of a double feature. Following a successful presentation of our Rapid Transit and Surrey’s Needs presentation [CLICK HERE] to the City of Surrey Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, two news agencies in the region have contacted us for a feature. Below are portions of the resulting online articles on the Surrey Now newspaper and News1130 radio:

Surrey Now – Rapid transit proponents urge city to nix light rail (Surrey Now)

A pro-SkyTrain group is calling on the City of Surrey to go with alternatives to at-grade light rail transit, noting that LRT won’t meet long-term transportation plans in the region.

On Monday, Better Surrey Rapid Transit made a presentation to councillors Tom Gill, Marvin Hunt, Barinder Rasode and Barbara Steele – all members of the city’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – outlining the needs of Surrey and surrounding cities over the next 30-plus years.

Daryl Dela Cruz, campaign director for Better Surrey Rapid Transit, said LRT, backed by Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, will not reach regional modal shift targets to reduce car use to 50 per cent from its current position at 84 per cent.

Among the many concerns of transit users, travel time is the biggest issue, and because light rail is limited to speeds of 50 to 60 km/h, he said that will turn many users off of the proposed service.


jacobzinn@gmail.com -Twitter @jacobzinn

SkyTrain is better for Surrey than light rail: group (News1130)

SURREY (NEWS1130) – A group that wants to see better transit service in Surrey says expanding SkyTrain is a better option than a light rail system.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit Executive Director Daryl Dela Cruz says light rail is cheaper, but that doesn’t mean it’s better.

“Light rail provides an inferior transit choice,” he argues. “Similar light rail systems in other cities have not met ridership projections and have caused financial problems that are large in scale and affected transit all over the region.”

Dela Cruz made his case to Surrey’s Transportation Committee earlier this week. Committee Chair Tom Gill agrees the city’s transit network is in dire need of an upgrade, but he’s not sure SkyTrain expansion is the answer.


“Rapid Transit and Surrey’s Needs” presentation to Surrey

BSRT presentation to Surrey banner Banner

Better Surrey Rapid Transit is taking a remarkable step forward on Monday with a confirmed presentation to the City of Surrey Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to provide a report on Rapid Transit and Surrey’s Needs” Media may be interested in hearing this presentation as it details a primary case of the Better Surrey Rapid Transit advocacy, a group interested in seeing that Surrey is served by better rapid transit in the future than the current city Light Rail Transit proposal.

Slide documents for this presentation are available for previewing online here at the Better Surrey Rapid Transit website: [CLICK HERE TO VIEW]

The presentation will be occurring at Surrey City Hall’s Executive Boardroom, and is scheduled to occur at 2:35PM. The meeting itself will begin at 2:00PM.


Executive Boardroom,City Hall
14245 – 56 Avenue
Surrey, B.C.


Better Surrey Rapid TransitBetter Surrey Rapid Transit” (skytrainforsurrey.org) was established because Surrey is in need of a bigger solution than what is proposed. TransLink has proposed options for Surrey that do not meet mode-share reduction targets and are far behind what has been achieved in the City of Vancouver. Mayor Watts’ declaration of at-grade Light Rail Transit (LRT) over SkyTrain also does not make sense. Current options look forward to this city’s transportation needs to 2041 (within 30 years), but do not look forward to what the needs will be in 30-50 years and beyond. We want to tell Mayor Watts and TransLink that the solution that Surrey needs is bigger than what everyone wants, and we’re advocating for that bigger solution that Surrey needs – an expansion of SkyTrain.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit’s advocacy now includes a petition campaign that urges decision makers to plan for better Surrey rapid transit. This petition has been quietly launched at [CLICK HERE] and promotion efforts (including new videos, online and on-location canvassing efforts, and associated media advisories) will be advancing in the coming weeks.

For more information, please contact:
Daryl Dela Cruz
Better Surrey Rapid Transit – Campaign Director
skytrainforsurrey.org – Email: info@skytrainforsurrey.org

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: LRT in Surrey won’t fly, stick with SkyTrain – Vancouver Sun

Readers from around Metro Vancouver might have noticed writing from Better Surrey Rapid Transit’s campaign director in today’s issue of the Vancouver Sun.

The newsletter by Campaign Director Daryl Dela Cruz presents a strong message about the weak business case of LRT in Surrey, how the LRT pursuit weakens Surrey’s case for any rapid transit, and the need to pursue different options in order to make rapid transit in Surrey a reality.

LRT in Surrey won’t fly, stick with SkyTrain

Re: Surrey eyes dollars destined for infrastructure across country, March 22

Rapid transit decisions are about more than just capital cost.

There are other costs and measurable benefits that need to be considered. These together make up two different and more relevant numbers called “net present value” and “benefit-cost ratio,” which form the business case that determines the feasibility of a rapid transit project for approval and funding.

According to TransLink’s recently released final evaluations, Surrey’s preferred LRT option has a benefit-cost ratio of 0.69: 1 (meaning that every $1 invested will generate just $0.69 in cost return) and a net present value of negative $510 million. It is the worst out of all the options.

I have no idea how Surrey is supposed to get senior-level government funding, as needed to make any rapid transit a reality, if that is the business case for their preferred option. It is like trying to hit your target, but deliberately putting your foot in front of the barrel.

Surrey LRT will never become a reality.

I’ve been telling the city for two years to put LRT to rest and consider the positive benefit-cost ratios presented by SkyTrain options.

Daryl Dela Cruz
Campaign director at Better Surrey Rapid Transit

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Slide 1

PRESENTATION: Rapid transit and Surrey’s needs

Rapid Transit and Surrey’s needs

Examining the modal shift in TransLink’s Surrey Rapid Transit Study alternatives

This is a presentation document that Better Surrey Rapid Transit prepared for a 2013 presentation to the City of Surrey Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The full 62-slide presentation can be downloaded at [CLICK HERE]. For its online release on our site, the presentation has been split into its 5 segments, which can be individually viewed below:

Metrotown Station in 2006

DEBUNKING MYTHS: “LRT will bring mid-rises, SkyTrain will bring towers”

From Daryl Dela Cruz, Better Surrey Rapid Transit Campaign Director

Why does the City of Surrey have a Mayor that seems to have no idea of what she can do as mayor? Maybe I should be Mayor, because I apparently know more than she does about how cities can control land use.

A recent Vancouver Sun issue mentioned a comment by her on one of the reasons she is in support of Light Rail Transit over SkyTrain in Surrey. This is the comment:

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, who is pushing for light rail transit in her city, said she doesn’t expect to see the same problems in Surrey as Coquitlam or Burnaby, mainly because at-grade rail won’t bring the same densification pressures. Also, the corridors designated for the proposed light rail lines are already a mix of high density residential and commercial.

“We will densify but we’re not going to have to tear homes down,” she said. “Where we’ve got our corridors, we have enough space to implement at-grade rail.”

She said that’s one reason Surrey wants at-grade light rail rather than the elevated SkyTrain technology. “We wouldn’t have to get rid of housing.”

From the Vancouver Sun – In Metro Vancouver, densification is the price paid for transit [LINK]

Popular blogger Paul Hillsdon said this too, in a recent article he posted on Civic Surrey.

My point has been that it is a question of how much density a community is willing to have. LRT will bring mid-rises, while SkyTrain is almost guaranteed to bring towers.

From Civic Surrey [LINK]

This myth has to be ended. There seems to be a common (correction: FAR too common) consensus that “LRT will bring mid-rises, while SkyTrain is almost guaranteed to bring towers.” This is completely false. What land use is attracted to rapid transit and then actually built should have nothing to do with what mode-type of rapid transit is built, because everything can be restricted by the city’s land use policies. If an extension of SkyTrain in Surrey creates a push for densification (i.e. developers are encouraged to build skyscrapers all along the line and launch rezoning applications to see if the city will allow it), the City of Surrey does not have to approve these proposals and can restrict the maximum density of zoning along the line as it pleases.

For example: while SkyTrain has the potential to attract towers, SkyTrain also has the potential to attract mid-rise development if that is what the city wants, and restrictions and control of developer applications by City Council can help ensure that mid-rise developments are what is built around SkyTrain stations. The City of Richmond has been doing a great job at formulating an innovative land use plan around downtown Richmond and its Canada Line Stations that controls development proposals to ensure that certain stations create distinct districts around each one of them (i.e. commercial districts oriented around a certain culture or aura).

The Canada Line in Richmond integrates exceptionally well with the urban environment.

An example of a Canada Line integration plan

There’s a reason that many stations on the current SkyTrain system such as 29th Avenue, Nanaimo Station, and Lake City Way continue to be surrounded by low-density developments. The city which the SkyTrain line is passing through has not made the necessary modifications to land use zoning policies in these areas – and while better opportunities with lower developer risk for transit-oriented development still exist around many SkyTrain Stations and high-density areas (such as Surrey City Centre itself), developers have seen no need to push for any rezoning applications at these locations because not only will they face the cost, but they may face opposition from the property owners they will displace.

In my opinion, Mayor Watts is just saying this in desperation, because she is running out of legitimate reasons to advocate for Light Rail over SkyTrain. I have been debunking everything. I’m the challenger to her proposal that, as she pointed out back in her April 2011 State of the City speech, did not exist. Tonight or tomorrow, I’m going to be releasing a huge response to the 536-page Surrey Rapid Transit Study final analysis that should put a nail in the coffin for Light Rail Transit as a feasible solution in any way for the City of Surrey.

Mayor Watts, even Paul Hillsdon has changed his mind and is willing to endorse SkyTrain. It’s about time that you do the same.

Surrey Rapid Transit Now

DOWNLOAD: Final Surrey Rapid Transit Report

Better Surrey Rapid Transit is currently using this 536-page report to conduct a comprehensive modal share review that will be released in the coming days.

This report was shortly seen on the TransLink website recently, but has been taken down from there.

The report has returned to the TransLink website and is also available for download there.