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

PRESS RELEASE: Increase in Surrey LRT cost means 2 SkyTrain extensions can be built for same price

IMMEDIATE RELEASE -15th June, 2014

SkyTrain 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.

For additional information, please 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: Why SkyTrain | Why not LRT | Reality Checks

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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

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]

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
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

Explaining the Evergreen Line business case disrepancy

From BSRT campaign director Daryl Dela Cruz

One of the biggest things that apparently gets critics of the Evergreen Line SkyTrain line is how the cost of the “Light Rail” option apparently “suddenly jumped” from a cost estimate of $970 million to $1.25 billion between the 2006 and 2008 business cases. Some critics have noted this, spreading such words as these ones from transportation critic Gerald Fox:

It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding.

So as a voice for the region in defending SkyTrain as the best and most effective solution for the region’s rapid transit expansions, I would like to offer my researched explanation of this.

The most recent update on the cost estimate for the Evergreen Line rapid transit line as an at-grade Light Rail Transit line put the estimated line cost at $970 million in 2007 dollars. Below is a table taken from page 29 of the original Evergreen Line LRT business case from 2006, which is still available for download from TransLink’s website [DIRECT LINK].

Original 2006 Evergreen Line cost estimate (as LRT)

Original 2006 Evergreen Line cost estimate (as LRT)

When this number is adjusted to the same 2008 dollars used in the final business case (using the Bank of Canada inflation calculator), the result is a cost estimate of approximately $987.60 – a number that is still far short of the $1.25 billion cost estimate proposed in the final 2008 business case released by the province.

Excluded costs in the 2006 business case

The reason for the increase in the number, while having to do with numbers that were not detailed to the public, may have largely to do with the inclusion of additional related costs that were not included in the original 2006 cost breakdown.

An e-mail that was posted to the Connect2Edmonton discussion forum reveals a number of additional costs that are included as part of the current $1.4 billion SkyTrain cost estimate (and, thus, also in the $1.25 billion LRT cost estimate). Questions directly to the Evergreen Line project office will probably get the same response as was posted.

See post: [CLICK HERE]
To answer your question the 1.4 billion budget includes a lot more than the guideway, tunnel and new stations that will be built by the prime contractor. The budget includes new cars, all the studies (environmental, socio-economic and geotechnical to name a few) that went into the planning stage, preliminary engineering, property acquisition, community relations, consultations with the communities, and numerous “early works” projects.

Early works, which have been underway since last January, are projects that have helped set the stage for the prime contractor to be able to quickly start work on the major infrastructure (guideway, tunnel and stations). Early works projects include:

  • North Road widening project. Building an additional lane on this major commuter route to replace the lane that will be lost with guideway running up the centre of North Road. Building the new lane now means the prime contractor will be able to keep traffic moving during guideway construction. This project also moves utilities out from under the guideway right of way including hydro, gas and optic fibre lines.
  • Power supply upgrades. There are several places along the project where there was not sufficient existing power capacity needed to power the Evergreen Line. Additional power was needed at Lougheed and Barnet, Como Lake and Clarke, Pinetree Way, Falcon Avenue, Mariner Way, and at the Port Moody tunnel portal additional power was needed both to drive the SkyTrain system but also to power the tunnel boring machine.
  • Rail track relocation. There is a short section of track in Port Moody that needs to be shifted slightly to the north (along Clarke Street between Queens and Grant). This will make room for the guideway to be built between the existing rail tracks and Clarke Street. This work also included relocation of several underground utilities.
  • Building demolitions / modifications. The construction of the Evergreen line requires several building demolitions and a few building modifications. Much of this work is being done as early works to help expedite the construction schedule for the prime contractor.

In addition to all of the above the 1.4 billion dollar budget includes all the Ministry of Transportation oversight and quality control for the early work and the prime contractor’s work. It also includes a significant community and business relations program to minimize the impacts and maximize predictability for local residents and businesses in the Evergreen Line corridor.

The original October 2006 business case did not state the inclusion of several of the budget elements that were named above; specifically, they are:

All the studies (environmental, socio-economic and geotechnical to name a few) that went into the planning stage, community relations, consultations with the communities, and numerous “early works” projects.

——————

SkyTrain capital costs were initially lower

In addition, one of the significant things not known by most people speaking about the Evergreen Line is that the cost estimate for the SkyTrain option was also lower in the 2006 business case. It is clearly stated on page 10:

However, the additional capital cost of $300 million for SkyTrain is a significant factor favouring LRT.

A capital cost premium described as “$300 million” suggests that the original SkyTrain capital cost estimate was closer to about $1.27 billion. The 2008 business case estimated the cost of SkyTrain at a higher $1.4 billion (including the elements listed above), and the final cost (including Lincoln Station) is reported to be slightly above this in the final project report.

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

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Slide 1

PRESENTATION: Rapid transit and Surrey’s needs

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 prepared for a 2013 presentation to the City of Surrey Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The full 62-slide presentation can be downloaded at [CLICK HERE]. For its online release on our site, the presentation has been split into its 5 segments, which can be individually viewed below: