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.

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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 (Note: Daryl is currently out of country; long-distance fees apply)

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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: Worse reliability found on At-Grade Rail systems

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 23rd July, 2014

At-Grade Rail systems, like the Light Rail Transit (LRT) proposed in the City of Surrey, are more vulnerable than SkyTrain in experiencing large service issues like the two issues with SkyTrain seen in the past week.

Three weeks ago, riders and news agencies were describing a major service disruption on the Portland, Oregon MAX LRT system as a “service meltdown”.

This was similar in nature to Monday’s SkyTrain incident, completely halting train service on the Yellow and Green LRT Lines and intermittently disrupting Red and Blue Line service. Portland’s transit authority and media reported that it took more than 7 hours to fix the problems and return normal service to all lines, during which passengers needed to be ferried around with shuttle buses and faced significant delays during the morning rush hour.

The June 30th meltdown was one of more than 6 service disruption incidents in the past three weeks on Portland’s MAX LRT, with delays to passengers exceeding 30 minutes, and the second “service meltdown” in 3 months.

On-time performance chart

“SkyTrain is one of the most reliable rapid transit systems in the world – which is part of why I want to see more of it in Surrey,” says Daryl Dela Cruz, lead campaigner for Better Surrey Rapid Transit. “At-grade rail systems, on the other hand, can suffer from worse reliability records – especially where they have on-street sections”

Daryl has voiced active opposition to the Surrey LRT proposal, and is pushing with Better Surrey Rapid Transit for an alternate, more practical vision for Surrey Rapid Transit involving investments in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and an Expo Line SkyTrain extension to Langley.

Recent research he conducted into rapid transit systems in North America revealed that on-time performance in rapid transit systems declines the less a system is grade-separated. Grade separated rapid transit systems like SkyTrain see on-time performance rates higher than 90%, whereas LRT systems in mixed traffic like the Toronto streetcar and San Francisco Muni Metro operate as little as 50 to 60% of service on-time.

Surrey’s proposed system will operate separately from mixed-traffic, but will still be entirely on-street – and be very vulnerable to service disruptions that can last hours, require shuttle buses and inconvenience passengers.

The City of Surrey has just released a CitySpeaks survey to gauge stakeholder support for Light Rail Transit. This survey conveniently omits mention of serious LRT project downsides and risks to project benefits and ridership.

Better Surrey Rapid Transit is working hard to point out flaws in the Surrey Light Rail proposal, and advocate for a more practical vision that offers better reliability for Surrey stakeholders.

For additional information, please visit skytrainforsurrey.org or contact:

Daryl Dela Cruz, lead SkyTrain campaigner – Better Surrey Rapid Transit
Cell: (604) 329-8082; E-mail: daryl@skytrainforsurrey.org

King George Blvd: Service Disruption Risks. Service disruption threat poses severe risk to LRT project benefits, business case, ridership

PRESS RELEASE: Proposed Surrey Light Rail would suffer worse service disruptions than recent SkyTrain meltdowns

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 22nd July, 2014

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts admitted a major weakness of at-grade rail technology in a recent radio interview with CKNW News Talk 980 radio.

“With an LRT system the problems may be different, you would have a driver, and you would be at grade, however if there is an accident there would be some challenges as well,” Watts said in an interview with CKNW that followed a SkyTrain disruption incident caused by human error.

Proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines in Surrey could suffer from a worse service disruption record than the SkyTrain has in recent service meltdowns – made especially vulnerable by on-street running.

Unlike bus services, LRT services do not easily divert: ANY disruptions – trains or no trains involved – that block the track can require lengthy line closures, shuttle buses and severe inconvenience. Daryl Dela Cruz – Lead campaigner for Better Surrey Rapid Transit – pointed out in a recent “Rapid Transit Vision” report that the proposed at-grade rail system in Surrey passes through some of the most dangerous, accident-prone intersections in Metro Vancouver – and that this poses a significant risk to project benefits, business case and ridership.

“88th Avenue and King George Blvd. saw 180 crashes in 2013. Every one of those could disrupt a 4km stretch of the proposed Surrey LRT system, on a fairly regular basis,” says Daryl. “If it’s really bad, the track is blocked and it takes hours to investigate and clear the intersection, then the LRT line has to remain closed for that entire time.”

Other intersections such as King George & 72nd, King George & 104th and 104th & 152nd also experience several accidents yearly. Multiple accidents at once would paralyze transit in Surrey.

Daryl is the lead campaigner for a group pushing for an alternate, more practical vision for Surrey Rapid Transit involving investments in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and an Expo Line SkyTrain extension to Langley. He has voiced active opposition to the Surrey LRT proposal since its announcement by Mayor Watts in 2011.

Study information indicates that this vision has the opportunity to generate twice the benefits – including twice the new transit trips – at a lower capital cost than the LRT plan.

“If we continue with the Light Rail alternative, shuttle buses and rider frustration are going to become a weekly ordeal for Surrey transit riders,” says Daryl.

For additional information, please visit skytrainforsurrey.org or contact:

Daryl Dela Cruz, lead SkyTrain campaigner – Better Surrey Rapid Transit
Cell: (604) 329-8082; E-mail: daryl@skytrainforsurrey.org

About us

Vibrant communities, productive citizens. Better Surrey Rapid Transit = SkyTrain for Surrey

We advocate SkyTrain because evidence shows that the City of Surrey’s decision to plan at-grade rail and oppose elevated SkyTrain rapid transit was not based on legitimate facts, statistics, or logical reasons. It made absolutely no sense. Learn more: visit our website at skytrainforsurrey.org.

See pages on Better Surrey Rapid Transit website: Light Rail Reality | Our Vision

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

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.

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

LATEST NEWS: Surrey LRT money can buy 2 SkyTrain extensions

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Surrey, BC

Campaigners are urgently calling on stakeholders and decision-makers to drop support for at-grade Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Surrey after discovering an increase in the cost of the proposal.

The capital cost of the proposed system has increased to $2.44 billion, meaning that it now costs the same to build two SkyTrain extensions in the South of Fraser as it does to build the two LRT lines.

SkyTrain campaigners like Daryl Dela Cruz for Better Surrey Rapid Transit (skytrainforsurrey.org) were behind the discovery of the cost increase, which is hidden in the appendices document of the Mayors’ Council’s Regional Transportation Vision.

“The dismal cost-effectiveness of at-grade rail is now clearer than ever,” says Daryl. “For the same price as a proposed LRT that alienates communities with traffic mayhem and fails our region’s modal shift targets, we can build a truly rapid transit network that creates veritable benefits for our citizens. Obviously, our decision makers have some work to do.”

A double extension of SkyTrain to both Langley and Newton would pose a positive benefit-cost ratio of 1.47:1, unlike the proposed LRT which now poses a negative benefit-cost ratio of 0.56:1. Such extensions would generate 2.5 times the transportation benefits, including over 3 times the travel time savings, over 2 times as many new transit trips, and over 2 times the reduction in annual vehicle-kms travelled (VKT) – at half the cost per added rider compared to LRT. The SkyTrain extensions would provide faster, more frequent service and superior on-time reliability with a fully grade-separated right-of-way.

SkyTrain campaigners for Better Surrey Rapid Transit are completing a proposal that will call for SkyTrain on Fraser Highway, median busway (BRT) on King George Blvd and bus priority enhancements on 104 Ave – creating vibrant communities and productive citizens in Surrey at a more affordable price. A presentation of this plan, which will be touring advisory committees, business groups and community associations throughout the summer, is in the preparation process.

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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 (Note: Daryl is currently out of country; long-distance fees apply)

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Don't believe the Light Rail Lie! This is how much the proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Surrey will benefit you.

PRESS RELEASE: LRT proposal in Mayors’ Council plan does not benefit Surrey

IMMEDIATE RELEASE -12th June, 2014

Regional Mayors are hailing a new regional transportation vision that “benefits all of Metro Vancouver”. However, the Surrey Light Rail Transit (LRT) proposal in the Mayors Council’s new transportation plan has a negative business case, which could result in Minister Todd Stone rejecting the new regional transportation plan.

The Surrey Rapid Transit Study, commissioned by TransLink, identified that the proposed LRT will generate only $1.1 billion in actual net transportation benefits on a $1.8 billion capital cost, plus operating costs. 96 B-Line passengers will save less than 5 minutes end-to-end, and will deal with construction impacts that will double or triple 96 B-Line travel times for up to 4 years of construction until the line is complete, especially on 104th Ave.

SkyTrain campaigners like Daryl Dela Cruz for Better Surrey Rapid Transit (skytrainforsurrey.org) have worked tirelessly to point out the flaws, and are disappointed by the now-finalized and approved Transportation Plan.

“A responsible transportation plan takes a serious look at not only the costs, but the benefits in travel time saved, flexibilities opened and communities revitalized. This new plan does none of those things for Surrey,” says Daryl.

Background
  • LRT was first proposed by popular 2008 Council candidate Paul Hillsdon, who contended that several light rail lines could replace a single SkyTrain extension. Hillsdon used light rail capital cost numbers that omitted street-scaping and design costs and vastly underestimated the true cost of on-street rail.
  • Mayor Watts officially rejected the SkyTrain proposal in 2011, making an unfounded claim that a SkyTrain expansion will “split up and destroy our community”. SkyTrain has attracted more than $20 billion in economic development in the past 10 years, has built vibrant communities in Surrey City Centre, Metrotown, Brentwood and Richmond, and studies find the system to be one of the best in the world in shaping urban communities and revitalizing slum areas.
  • For the past several years, city staff, Council and a new community organization have been advertising the LRT proposal as the most practical solution for Surrey – despite studies that have indicated that a SkyTrain expansion to Langley with BRT to Newton and Guildford costs the same, suits demand, attracts twice the new ridership, and generates 3x the travel time savings and over 2x the total monetary benefits.

 For additional information, please contact:

Daryl Dela Cruz, lead SkyTrain campaigner – Better Surrey Rapid Transit
Cell: (604) 329-8082; E-mail: daryl@skytrainforsurrey.org

Attached below: slides from a presentation to the Surrey Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in 2013

 

About us

Vibrant communities, productive citizens. Better Surrey Rapid Transit = SkyTrain for Surrey

We advocate SkyTrain because evidence shows that the City of Surrey’s decision to plan at-grade rail and oppose elevated SkyTrain rapid transit was not based on legitimate facts, statistics, or logical reasons. It made absolutely no sense. Learn more: visit our website at skytrainforsurrey.org.

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

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