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

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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

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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.

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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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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.

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

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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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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.

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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

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VICTORY: The original referendum ballot (right) was changed by the provincial government to remove the lock-in for 'Light Rail Transit' in Surrey.

Province removes Light Rail lock-in for Surrey from referendum ballot

We have scored a major victory in the battle for better Surrey transit.

The oncoming transit referendum (the Metro Vancouver Transportation & Transit Plebiscite) had been centered on a 10-year-plan crafted by the region’s Mayors, that naturally pushed Light Rail Transit for Surrey and the Langleys. The initial intent was to lock future transit funding to the proposals in this plan (including LRT) to the extent that the tie-in was written on the referendum ballot. The provincial government has amended the referendum ballot to remove this preference. Here’s a comparison between old and new:

Here's a comparison between old and new. The original ballot mentioning LRT is on the right - the current revision, amended by the provincial government, is on the left.

The original ballot mentioning LRT is on the right – the current revision, amended by the provincial government, is on the left.

“Build Light Rail Transit connecting Surrey” has been changed to “Build rapid transit connecting Surrey”, a neutral description that does not center on any transit technology and leaves room for the proposal to change to a different one.

Additional info:

The provincial transportation minister has additionally maintained that the final decisions on Surrey rapid transit funding will be a matter of the project’s business case, not the referendum question. Our campaign head, Daryl Dela Cruz, confirmed this with the Minister in a Twitter conversation during the consultation process for a new provincial transit plan last year, before this amendment was made. Tweets below:

We applaud the provincial government for keeping the Surrey rapid transit debate open, and hearing our concerns about the Surrey Light Rail proposal.

TransLink’s rapid transit study found a negative business case for LRT (a less than 1:1 benefit-to-cost ratio). Meaning the city’s continued push for LRT is putting any hope of quality rapid transit in Surrey in jeopardy. We have been pushing for an alternate vision that builds a SkyTrain extension and bus rapid transit for the same cost a proposed LRT, resulting in 2x the ridership and transportation benefits. See link below:

Our Vision: Vibrant Communities, Productive Citizens

This amendment is a major victory in the push for better Surrey transit. We’ve been relentless in reminding decision-makers and residents that proposed ground-level Light Rail in Surrey creates more problems than it solves, and results in benefits so minimal that even transit riders won’t be saving any meaningful amount of time or seeing an improved quality-of-life in Surrey. See link below:

Light Rail Reality

We thank you for your support, and would like to reiterate that our push for better transit is continuing. We will shortly be releasing a statement on the transit plebiscite (including a “yes” or “no” position) as well as comments regarding the ongoing matters in Metro Vancouver.

People don't move faster with proposed Light Rail Transit in Surrey. It's just 1 minute faster than the current 96 B-Line.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit to continue campaign against Light Rail

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPh52UrHTBE IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC Better Surrey Rapid Transit vows to continue a relentless campaign to overturn ground-level Light Rail in Surrey, despite recent election results favouring a party supporting Light Rail. The campaign leader is calling out the LRT supporters for leaving out issues and effectively brainwashing citizens into supporting LRT. “The moment that shovel for Light Rail hits the ground, thousands of Guildford residents will be sacrificing their ability to get around during construction, for a 1 minute improvement. When I approached the City of Surrey with issues like these, the City refused to acknowledge them and continued to tell people to support Light Rail. That’s brainwashing, and Surrey citizens deserves better” says campaign leader Daryl Dela Cruz, a well-known advocate for better Surrey transit. Better Surrey Rapid Transit called for a voter boycott of (now-Mayor) Linda Hepner and the dominant Surrey First party, due to excessive misleading on Light Rail. Among issues raised were the issue that a 2-3 year completion timeline (“open 2018”) for Phase I Light Rail is unrealistic. Recent developments by the citizens’ campaign include:

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

People don't move faster with proposed Light Rail Transit in Surrey. It's just 1 minute faster than the current 96 B-Line.

Citizens noting unrealistic LRT promise by Surrey First

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC

Citizens all over Surrey are taking notice of an unrealistic campaign promise to deliver Light Rail Transit (LRT) by 2018, by mayoral candidate Linda Hepner and the Surrey First party.

Independent writer Laila Yuile, a popular political issues commentator, is among concerned Surrey citizens. She has recognized the insensitivity of the claim, noting that without the results of a spring 2015 referendum, a proper business case, and funding commitments, no LRT project can proceed. She has called out the promise’s fallacy on her blog site “No Strings Attached.”

Better Surrey Rapid Transit adds to this by having noted that no LRT projects in Canada have been completed within the 3 year timeline Surrey First requires. The misleading campaign promise, along with other examples of excessive misleading on LRT, had resulted in Better Surrey Rapid Transit calling for a voter boycott of the Surrey First party.

“Surrey’s transit future needs to be put into the right hands. The right hands don’t mislead citizens constantly on transit issues and proposals,” says Daryl Dela Cruz, a Surrey transit advocate and the campaign manager for Better Surrey Rapid Transit.

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

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Above: Excerpt from Laila Yuile’s “No Strings Attached” outlining issues with Surrey First’s “LRT complete 2018” claim. Full read: lailayuile.com/2014/11/13/countdown-to-surrey-votes-2014

Above: Excerpt from Laila Yuile’s “No Strings Attached” outlining issues with Surrey First’s “LRT complete 2018” claim. Full read: lailayuile.com/2014/11/13/countdown-to-surrey-votes-2014

MYTH: Light Rail can be completed and running by 2018; REALITY: Full LRT build-out will likely take longer.

No rail rapid transit project in Canada has ever made it from absolute zero (with no detailed design work completed at all) to project completion within this sort of timeline. Reference projects: 8.2km Calgary West LRT – 3 years, 2 months; 19km Kitchener-Waterloo ION LRT phase I: 4 years; Missisauga, 23km Hurontario-Main LRT: 5 – 8 years.

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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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Disclaimer: Better Surrey Rapid Transit (SkyTrain for Surrey) is an ongoing, issues-oriented activism campaign and is NOT an election campaign.

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