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DEBUNKING MYTHS: Inconsistencies in Paul Hillsdon’s “Transit for Tomorrow” 2008 LRT proposal

Back in 2008, Paul Hillsdon (, today a Civic Surrey ( blogger, was receiving some rather notorious attention for his independent candidacy for City Council at Age 18 – and no doubt many people praised him for that, as would anyone with an appreciation of young people who are able to do so-perceived great things, amazing things.  He chose to pursue a platform promoting Light Rail Transit as a solution for Surrey as opposed to SkyTrain.  Several times he was featured on the news for it:

Hillsdon continues to speak about Surrey and rapid transit expansion within today including concerns about the more recent Rapid Transit Now website and announcement:

Progress has also lacked any political organization. That failure rests on the shoulders of all of us. While I am proud to say that I helped put Light Rail on the map of Surrey residents back in 2008, we’ve failed to turn that into any meaningful advocacy movement.

The propaganda that was spread back in 2008, forming his legacy in the eyes of Surrey residents, without a doubt continues today in the eyes of Surrey politicians – politicians who are nearly unanimously clamouring for light rail today.  In fact, his Transit for Tomorrow plan, which backed up his 2008 candidacy, is still available online and he occasionally makes reference to it.

What may have helped lead to the initial belief that LRT is more cost-effective that has plagued our citizens was the result of a serious mistake in capital cost estimations.

This is a problem

The capital cost estimates are based on a conceivably generic number of $27 million per km and that is a problem.  One cost estimate for a certain type of implementation cannot be generally used everywhere unless the implementation described is the same kind of implementation and not something totally different – and what he points out as the cost he uses in addition to the use of a general capital cost further helps to kill his proposition.

What this cost he is using (pointed out in the above image) describes is the cost of a fully electrified light rail service on the Interurban corridor, a pre-existing right of wayThe same cost cannot describe the cost of implementing an at-grade Light Rail service on-street in Surrey, which is not a pre-existing right of way.

Significant street modification as would be necessary in the proposed Surrey implementations along King George Highway, Fraser Highway and 104th Avenue would escalate per-km costs to well above $27 million per km.  Extra costs associated with the need to integrate the track with the street, redesign intersections and move utilities can escalate the construction cost of at-grade LRT towell above that of an LRT-type implementation on a pre-existing right of way as opposed to one that is not “pre-existing”.

We have found this to be a widespread problem, noting that even writers among the media like those of the Vancouver Sun have made this mistake.

The DLR (sic) Interurban Report that contains this estimate and other information on possible Interurban Light Rail is archived at [CLICK HERE].

According to the same DRL report, the same cost also assumes that only enough trains are bought to run the service every just 15 minutes – this is already less frequent than current South of Fraser bus services along those major corridors (as the 320, 321 and 502 all maintain more frequent 5-10 minute frequencies during peak periods).  It also positions the service well below TransLink’s goal of maintaining a maximum 5 minute frequency on Surrey rapid transit.

Surrey citizens should have known about this 3 years ago.

So long as his insisting that the generalization of costs works for the creation of cost estimates, his original idea for light rail is a failure and is not referable.

We like to have people applauded based on how much research and work is put into something of their doing – and obviously, Mr. Hillsdon has not done very much.

The future of Surrey transportation is at stake!

Dominating the “vibrant” future of the City of Surrey is a cataclysmic light rail transit scheme that may make transit service worse instead of better.  The city’s push for LRT (light rail transit) over SkyTrain RRT (rapid rail transit) may be a tremendous mistake.

For years upon years, we have been listening to the wrong people about the notion of transit expansion.  A wave of support for Light Rail, fueled by a concealing of several facts and realities from the public by Light Rail Advocates, has overtaken public debate sites and newsletters.  Several realities and facts are being hidden from the public.  Tough is the search for someone trustworthy with facts and realities about the choices made for the future of Surrey transportation.

With the election for Surrey’s City Council coming up very soon, now is the time to decide who we listen to about the city’s matters.  The Council election is a serious matter; it is absolutely crucial that the citizens of Surrey need to listen to and elect people with proper knowledge and insight towards several City of Surrey issues, including the future of Surrey transportation.

Independent candidate Paul Griffin is running for Surrey City Council for this November’s election.  He is a supporter of SkyTrain in Surrey and has stated this publicly on his campaign website at

Paul Griffin is an independent City Council candidate and a supporter of SkyTrain in Surrey. This is a screenshot of Mr. Griffin's website.

Paul Griffin is an independent City Council candidate and a supporter of SkyTrain in Surrey. This is a screenshot of Mr. Griffin's website. Click the image to visit his website.

He states that it is entirely premature for the Mayor and her Council to commit Surrey to a second-rate transit system, which will create traffic havoc in North Surrey and make it more difficult for commuters in South Surrey to get to work.

The City of Surrey need more people like Paul Griffin to listen to about issues regarding public transportation in Surrey.  The people of the city have voted in various public polls expressing their concerns, and it is widely accepted that transportation is one of the most pressing issues for the City of Surrey.  The right choice for the City of Surrey’s transportation future needs to be made.

Surrey CiTI (Citizens Transportation Initiative) is hosting a series of public debates on Transportation in Surrey.  Several Council Candidates – we will assume Paul Griffin will be present – will be debating the future of Surrey transportation at the Newton Library and the Fleetwood Library on November 5th and 13th, respectively.  For more information, [CLICK HERE].

If there is anything you would like to say about the future of Surrey’s transportation (including any thoughts about transit expansion), those are the places to express your concerns.  We encourage you to go.