A single accident along a light rail corridor, such as this one in Houstin Texas, could affect transit service along an entire corridor for several hours, until the track is cleared.

LATEST NEWS: LRT proposal a step backwards for Surrey

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC

Better Surrey Rapid Transit (SkyTrain for Surrey) expresses disappointment in a recent election platform announcement by the Surrey First party in favour of Light Rail Transit (LRT).

“LRT would be a giant step backwards for our city,” says Daryl Dela Cruz, a prominent Surrey transportation advocate and the campaign manager for Better Surrey Rapid Transit.

“I had a City committee, which included Councillors currently running for Surrey First, review a detailed Rapid Transit report revealing numerous flaws in this LRT proposal. If that should say anything to voters, it says that Linda Hepner and her colleagues don’t listen to the stakeholders.”

Surrey First candidates, as Councillors, previously failed to address issues pointed out in the LRT proposal – like what happens to the 96 B-Line during LRT construction. 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, and will considerably disrupt 96 service, increasing travel times, during construction.

Among other issues pointed out, LRT is very prone to traffic accidents and associated service disruptions – and makes streets wider and more difficult to cross for seniors and young children.

“LRT would be a giant step backwards for our city.”
– Daryl Dela Cruz, Campaign Manager

Our 16-page “Rapid Transit Vision” report, which was sent to the city’s Transportation Committee for review last month, detailed and advocated a more practical vision with SkyTrain and enhanced Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) instead of LRT. This vision also points out LRT issues and is available on our website at skytrainforsurrey.org/vision.

We are continuing to expand campaigning efforts this elections, and are working hard to advocate the best and most practical transit for Surrey.

***
For additional info, contact: Daryl Dela Cruz, Campaign Manager – Better Surrey Rapid Transit.
Email: daryl@skytrainforsurrey.org
Call: 81-80-3962-9281 or ask for Skype handle
(Note: Daryl is currently out of country; long-distance fees apply)

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Featured photo above: On-street LRTs are vulnerable to accidents like this one, which disrupt other trains and passengers behind it.

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CONCEPT: A Mark III SkyTrain enters 160 St-Fleetwood Station on an extended Expo Line.

LATEST NEWS: Discussion on LRT, Rapid Transit issues urged

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC

Election candidates are being urged by campaigners to raise Light Rail and Rapid Transit issues during the Surrey municipal elections.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit (SkyTrain for Surrey) is concerned about the silence in discussion of Surrey transportation issues during the current municipal elections, and is urging campaigners to inform stakeholders on the issues of the city’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) proposal. The campaign, headed by popular Surrey transportation advocate Daryl Dela Cruz, is expanding its efforts for the municipal elections.

“The $2.44 billion Light Rail vision hurts the entire city, because it starves our city-wide bus system from receiving the funds it will need to expand in frequency and extent. To put it shortly, if we don’t stop this Light Rail vision, it might just stop us from receiving any more transit improvements,” Daryl says in a letter sent to each individual Council and Mayoral candidate (SEE BELOW TO VIEW LETTERS).

As part of Better Surrey Rapid Transit, Daryl has previously raised issues of a faulty Surrey Light Rail proposal and has worked hard to inform citizens of hidden and downplayed LRT project shortfalls. The campaign’s 16-page “Rapid Transit Vision” report, which was sent to the city’s Transportation Committee for review last month, advocates for a more practical vision with SkyTrain and enhanced Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) instead of LRT. The report’s segments point out a number of serious flaws in the current LRT proposal.

This rapid transit vision and the recent letters sent to candidates can be viewed on the campaign website here at skytrainforsurrey.org.

***
For additional info, contact: Daryl Dela Cruz, Campaign Manager – Better Surrey Rapid Transit.
Email: daryl@skytrainforsurrey.org
Call: 81-80-3962-9281 (Note: Daryl is currently out of country; long-distance fees apply)

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Concept image: Mark III SkyTrain leaves 160th Street Station on Fraser Hwy in Fleetwood.

LATEST NEWS: “Rapid Transit Vision” exposes faulty Surrey LRT proposal

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC

A new rapid transit vision for Surrey, released by Better Surrey Rapid Transit’s Daryl Dela Cruz, exposes serious faults in the City of Surrey’s at-grade rail (LRT) proposal approved by the Mayors’ Council.

The “Vibrant Communities, Productive Citizens” vision, released Friday, details a “more practical rapid transit vision” for the City of Surrey. The 16-page report includes a segment on the Surrey LRT proposal that lists a number of serious flaws in the current LRT proposal.

One of the most serious flaws pointed out is a total lack of benefits on 104th Ave to Guildford, a corridor that was featured in a prominent City of Surrey LRT concept video. The report notes that express riders on the 96 B-Line will save just 1 minute on the proposed LRT, after facing significant travel time increases during construction – and also notes that the loss of nonstop express service will increases travel times for riders from Fraser Heights (337) and Walnut Grove (509).

Key slides from the report:

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Other faults were pointed out, including a serious service disruption risk to the project benefits. The LRT passes through the region’s most accident-prone intersections, creating a risk that riders face service disruptions as frequently as once every two-days as Light Rail trains are not as flexible for detouring around accidents unlike Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and cannot avoid them like SkyTrain.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit (skytrainforsurrey.org) has pointed out in previous releases that the City of Surrey LRT proposal poses little transportation benefits to Surrey stakeholders with a negative business case, and has increased in cost to $2.44 billion, which could afford two SkyTrain extensions in the South-of-Fraser to Langley and Newton. SkyTrain campaigners like Daryl have worked tirelessly to raise issues with the current proposal and advocate for the adoption of more practical rapid transit solutions for Surrey and the South-of-Fraser.

Daryl is hoping to attract the attention of Mayor and Council candidates in the upcoming municipal elections, and has pledged to tour community associations this summer in presenting the vision and educating stakeholders on the downsides of the current LRT proposal that have been continuously ignored by advocates.

***
For additional info, contact: Daryl Dela Cruz, Campaign Manager – Better Surrey Rapid Transit.
Email: daryl@skytrainforsurrey.org
Call: 81-80-3962-9281 (Note: Daryl is currently out of country; long-distance fees apply)

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Appendix

Our vision: bus priority upgrades on 104 Ave, a median busway/BRT on King George Blvd, and a SkyTrain extension to Langley.

The “Vibrant Communities, Productive Citizens” vision proposes an alternate, more practical solution that involves the following improvements instead of the current LRT vision:

  1. Bus priority upgrades on 104 Ave
    Corridor enhancements for 96 B-Line: Increased service, signal priority system, introduce all-door boarding, new queue jump lanes and congestion management.
  2. Median busway/Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on King George Blvd
    Dedicated median bus-way from Surrey Central to 56 Ave, for enhanced/BRT operation of 96 B-Line. Has full signal priority and accessible, sheltered stations.
  3. SkyTrain extension on Fraser Hwy
    Extend the Expo Line SkyTrain from King George Station to Langley Centre on a mostly elevated right-of-way down Fraser Highway.

View the full vision

The vision compiles data from sources such as the TransLink Surrey Rapid Transit Study, finding that there is a potential to generate 2x the transportation benefits compared to the current LRT proposal, with a lower capital cost requirement of just $2.3 billion vs. $2.44 billion for the proposed Surrey LRT and a positive 1.13:1 benefit-cost ratio.

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REALITY CHECK: Surrey light rail coalition massively misleads public

A Light Rail opposition group in Surery is displeased that a coalition for Light Rail Transit in Surrey is massively misleading and manipulating the public again.

A Light Rail opposition group in Surrey is displeased that a coalition for Light Rail Transit in Surrey is massively misleading and manipulating the public again, according to a media report by the Business in Vancouver report.

The report claims that Light Rail Links members saw problems with expanding SkyTrain versus building light rail.

“SkyTrain, in our opinion, does not build communities. It separates them with the big, tall concrete structures,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, a backer of the Light Rail Links coalition.

(From Business in Vancouver)

Light Rail Links members and supporters all over Surrey seem to think that SkyTrain separates communities with its visual impact, yet study after study and statistic after statistic has found that SkyTrain has done the opposite; in spite of its visual impact, it has had a phenomenal impact in shaping dense, transit-oriented communities and neighbourhoods throughout the region, and efforts continue to be made to utilize the SkyTrain system to attract dense, transit-oriented development. Major centres near SkyTrain such as Metrotown, Brentwood, Lougheed Town Centre, Oakridge, and Downtown Richmond are booming with transit-friendly developments due to their SkyTrain proximity.

In an internationally reknowned thesis submitted to the University of London Centre for Transport Studies, SkyTrain was found to be the most effective system between 20 around the world (including Light Rail systems) in shaping urban growth, and the only system of the 20 which had a significant revitalizing impact on slum areas.

Huberman also made a flawed statement with regards to Light Rail versus buses, reasoning that:

“Buses congest the road. They increase pollution, and they’re not efficient in terms of moving people around.”

(From Business in Vancouver)

This statement completely neglects the possibility that buses can be used in dedicated lanes (as has been planned by TransLink, the regional transportation authority) in the same manner as Light Rail, and can use overhead electric wires (as is done in Vancouver) and electric propulsion to provide emissions-free transportation.

These discrepancies again expose the lack of research and weak case among Light Rail Links coalition backers. On the day of their launch, Better Surrey Rapid Transit (a citizens’ group that opposes Light Rail Links and advocates for SkyTrain for Surrey rather than LRT) launched a REALITY CHECK [CLICK HERE] that revealed that no new research was brought forward by the Light Rail Links advocacy, which rehashes vague reasons that have already been used by other advocates and unproductively adds nothing new to the discussion.

“I am becoming extremely concerned with the amount of misleading information on Surrey rapid transit that is circulating among advocacy groups, and how it’s manipulating the public to accept an option that is clearly not the best option for Surrey, as some would like to suggest” says Campaign Director Daryl Dela Cruz.

The Better Surrey Rapid Transit advocacy has frequently pointed out that Light Rail is not a suitable option for the City of Surrey because it does not meet regional and local transportation goals, and offers transportation benefits that do not exceed the costs, which do not make the option very viable to either TransLink or the provincial government. Light Rail options are slower, less reliable, less attractive, and will fall victim to a service disruption every day. Neither emissions reductions nor mode-share shift from car to transit goals are met with Light Rail Transit options.

Attached to this press release and reality check are a collection of slides from the “Rapid Transit and Surrey’s Needs” report, which was prepared by Better Surrey Rapid Transit and recognized by the City of Surrey in a presentation this last April. (see below)

For more reality checks, [CLICK HERE]

Also see: Why SkyTrain | Why not LRT

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ABOUT BETTER SURREY RAPID TRANSIT

Better Surrey Rapid Transit

Better 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 beeny launched at [CLICK HERE] and promotion efforts (including new videos, online and on-location canvassing efforts, and associated media advisories) continue to advance.

For more information, please contact:

Daryl Dela Cruz
Better Surrey Rapid Transit – Campaign Director
Website: skytrainforsurrey.org – Email: info@skytrainforsurrey.org

Slide 1

PRESENTATION: Rapid transit and Surrey’s needs Executive Summary

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 has prepared for future presentations.

A longer, fully detailed version (which was presented to the City of Surrey Transportation & Infrastructure Committee in April 2013) is available at [CLICK HERE]

SUV hits C-Train in downtown Calgary - Photo: CBC News

REALITY CHECK: Light Rail Links does not have case for LRT.

Tuesday morning was triumphed by the launch of the new Light Rail Links coalition, a membership of different organizations advocating for Light Rail Transit in Surrey, BC.

The new coalition presents four vague reasons for “Why LRT”:

  1. LRT will connect communities south of the Fraser
  2. LRT will create pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods with new developments and businesses
  3. LRT has easily accessible cars that can carry high volumes of passengers
  4. LRT is a cost effective solution that will link the most communities

These reasons are vague reasons and they do not explain why Light Rail in Surrey is a better solution than SkyTrain expansion.

By comparison, Better Surrey Rapid Transit (an advocacy for SkyTrain rather than light rail) has prepared a full case [CLICK HERE] that explains why SkyTrain is the best solution for Surrey, BC. Better Surrey Rapid Transit does not rely on vague reasons for this case. It relies on the facts presented in the Surrey Rapid Transit Study. Key facts that were revealed in the Surrey Rapid Transit Study include:

  1. Even with both a Light Rail system across the city and transportation demand management to raise the cost of driving, 65% of commutes will still be by car
  2. No Surrey Rapid Transit options involving Light Rail will meet 2041 transportation modal shift goals
  3. Light Rail Transit will generate less monetary benefits versus cost, and has the worst business case of all the Surrey Rapid Transit alternatives
  4. Light Rail Transit generates on average of 53% the ridership of SkyTrain on the same corridor

In addition, at-grade Light Rail Transit:

  • provides slower transit compared to SkyTrain and potentially less reliable transit compared to even buses. This provides less options for citizens (esp. young citizens) who, in a time of economic recession, desperately need more options.
  • has a smaller impact on pressing issues like auto use growth because it attracts less modal shift
  • causes traffic mayhem and disrupts communities by taking away road capacity on major corridors such as 104th Ave and creating less auto to transit modal shift.

See pages on Better Surrey Rapid Transit website: Why SkyTrain | Why not LRT

For more reality checks, [CLICK HERE]

ABOUT BETTER SURREY RAPID TRANSIT

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 beeny launched at [CLICK HERE] and promotion efforts (including new videos, online and on-location canvassing efforts, and associated media advisories) continue to advance.

For more information, please contact:

Daryl Dela Cruz
Better Surrey Rapid Transit – Campaign Director
Website: skytrainforsurrey.org – Email: info@skytrainforsurrey.org

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]

Footnotes/sources:

  1. IBI Group and TransLink -SURREY RAPID TRANSIT ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS PHASE 2 EVALUATION