SkyTrain for Surrey, not LRT!

This is a problem

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 LRT cannot be used generally unless the implementation described is the same kind of implementation and not something totally different.

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 is necessary in the proposed Surrey implementations along King George Highway, Fraser Highway and 104th Avenue, which 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 costs to well above that of an LRT-type implementation on a pre-existing right of way.

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.

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