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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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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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
Linear Motor train in Guangzhou, China

REALITY CHECK: The dishonesty of “No one builds with SkyTrain anymore”

Reality Check: "No one builds with SkyTrain anymore"

In a recent letter response to our news feature in the Surrey Now [LINK HERE], a LRT advocate (Mr. Malcolm Johnston of the Rail for the Valley transit initiative), sent a response claiming that SkyTrain is an obsolete system. [LINK HERE].

Today, SkyTrain is now considered an “Edsel” transit system, with only seven such systems built since the late 1970s. No one builds with SkyTrain anymore. Compare that with LRT, with more than 160 new systems having been built and more than 30 more under construction during the same period.

Light Rail advocates have frequently mislead the public with claims such as “No one builds with SkyTrain anymore” and “only seven SkyTrain-type systems exist worldwide”. These claims are largely rhetorical and are incorrect.

This is based on a misleading perception that the technologies and systems used in SkyTrain (such as linear motor propulsion) are proprietary – that is, they are only supplied by Bombardier and must be exactly identical. This is incorrect. Competitors can offer linear motor propulsion rolling stock that is directly compatible with SkyTrain and SkyTrain-like systems, according to a Bombardier document that was submitted for review in the selection process for the Honolulu Rapid Transit system in Hawaii [1].

Linear Motor train in Guangzhou, China

Linear Motor rapid transit (just like SkyTrain) in Guangzhou, China – this train was built by CSR-Sifang

The propulsion technology being used in Vancouver’s SkyTrain system is seen as unique because there are few rapid transit systems around the world that are exactly identical (i.e. they use the ART rolling stock manufactured by Bombardier, and linear motor propulsion). The only other ones in service as major urban rapid transit lines are located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Yongin, Korea. However, as proven above, SkyTrain and these other systems are not limited to purchasing rolling stock systems by Bombardier.

Other companies (including Kawasaki, Kinki Sharyo, CSR Sifang, Itochu) have committed to large-scale manufacturing of linear motor propulsion rapid transit vehicles for systems in several other cities, especially in Asia (i.e. lines in Osaka, Japan and Guangzhou, China), for benefits of lower maintenance costs, lower vehicle height and smaller tunnelling. Guangzhou, China has more than 600 linear motor rapid transit cars on order, and has committed to using linear induction motor propulsion in all new rapid transit lines that do not need to integrate with older lines, one of which is under construction and at least ten of which are planned [2].

Automatic train control or driver-less operation, the other technology that is thought to be unique to SkyTrain (which is supplied by another company called Thales) because SkyTrain pioneered its use, is the worldwide standard for rapid transit signalling and operatons. More than 100 systems use ATC technology, including more than 30 that are fully automated with no drivers whatsoever [3].

More than 20 other driver-less rapid transit systems are now under construction, and several other rapid transit systems (including some of the world’s oldest and most heavily used, such as the New York Subway) that used traditional signalling and operations systems are converting their operations to driver-less, automatic train control [3] – a technology pioneered by Vancouver’s SkyTrain.

By 2020, more than 150 rapid transit systems around the world will have been inspired directly by technology invented in Canada and pioneered in the City of Vancouver.

The grade-separated, driver-less, linear motor propulsion rapid transit system being marketed by Bombardier itself is far from dead. Investments into the next iteration of SkyTrain technology (known as Bombardier INNOVIA Metro) have been made for extensions of rapid transit in Vancouver (Evergreen Line) [4], Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Kelana Jaya Extension PLUS Port Klang LRT) [5] and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Riyadh Metro line 3) [7].

By using rhetoric and misleading claims to push an opinion on public, Light Rail Transit advocates who are opposed to SkyTrain (often for capital cost reasons) demonstrate that they are motivated by opinion and not by facts. They utilize a poor knowledge-base in attacks on SkyTrain rapid transit, which is the most cost-efficient rapid transit system in North America [6].

For more reality checks, [CLICK HERE]

Footnotes/sources:

  1. Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project – RFI Information – Pages 79 & 80
  2. ITOCHU Japan media release: ITOCHU and China’s CSR Sifang Accept Additional Orders for Guangzhou Linear Metro Cars
  3. Wikipedia and sources: List of driverless trains
  4. BC Newsroom: Contract signed with Bombardier to supply Evergreen Line SkyTrain cars
  5. Bombardier Highlights Expertise at Rail Solutions Asia, Kuala Lumpur
  6. Vancouver Broadway Subway presentation (last slide) and Federal Transit Administration 2006 data
  7. Bombardier to deliver technology for new metro line in Riyadh