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

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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
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.

[READ MORE AT THE SURREY NOW - CLICK HERE]

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.

[READ MORE AT NEWS1130 - CLICK HERE]

BSRT presentation to Surrey

“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.

LOCATION

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

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 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
Website: 
skytrainforsurrey.org – Email: info@skytrainforsurrey.org
BSRT campaign launch

BETTER SURREY RAPID TRANSIT: Official campaign launch

Better Surrey Rapid Transit is OFFICIALLY launching a petition campaign for Better Surrey Rapid Transit today. Media are asked to be alert for more news from Better Surrey Rapid Transit regarding a campaign urging the city to change plans and pursue SkyTrain expansion rather than at-grade Rail.

BSRT campaign launch
ABOUT 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. 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. The final option must look forward to this city’s transportation needs in 30-50 years.
For more information, please contact:
Daryl Dela Cruz
Better Surrey Rapid Transit – Campaign Director
Website: 
skytrainforsurrey.org - Email: info@skytrainforsurrey.org
SkyTrain and Light Rail

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

SkyTrain and Light Rail

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

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