SkyTrain for Surrey, not LRT!

Bombardier's Innovia ART train and track

We’re all shocked to find misinformation still hitting newspapers and other media.  Leading the battle against misinformation is SkyTrain for Surrey Founder and Leader Daryl Dela Cruz, who just submitted this letter to the Province newspaper in response to a deceiving individual from Aldergrove:

SkyTrain IS a winner

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Mr. Atkinson, SkyTrain IS a winner, and you are misleading people.

The $30 million needed by TransLink as part of their Moving Forward 2012 Supplemental Plan is a supplement for capital funding.  That is: funding to EXPAND TRANSIT SERVICES.

In fact, TransLink is operating the system just fine – and it is BECAUSE OF SKYTRAIN. Upon the introduction of the driver-less Canada Line, which lowered system-wide operating costs while attracting significant extra ridership – including those who used to drive to work – system-wide operating cost recovery rose significantly from 54% to 60%.

(Note that this is not clearly documented because of the way the capital, operations & maintenance costs for the Canada Line are being paid for as yearly concession payments; the capital portions of those performance payments are not subtracted in TransLink’s annual reports, thus the recovery % might be mis-stated).

If anything it is a move to surface, driver-manned rail transit that will corrupt this system with its high operations and maintenance costs and low level of service/competitiveness, turning away potential riders.

Just look at what is happening in Portland (transit there recovers only 27% operating cost by fare compared to TransLink’s 60%). With so few riders being attracted to the service, making it unprofitable, TriMet are planning fare increases just to be able to maintain existing service. TransLink isn’t doing that; they want fare and tax increases but at the same time they’re actually trying to make our service better.

Daryl Dela Cruz
Founder, Chair – SkyTrain for Surrey Initiative – skytrainforsurrey.org
Email: [email protected]

He sent that in response to this letter:

TransLink needs to realize that SkyTrain will never be profitable

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Isn’t it about time TransLink admitted they have backed the wrong horse?

Right back in 1986, when the first section of SkyTrain was opened on Terminal Avenue (how fitting) for Expo 86, they were told by the experts of the day that the system would never pay for itself. Twenty-six years later and TransLink is still trying to break even.

The quandary TransLink find itself in is obvious: if they raise fares to the amount necessary to recoup operating and capital costs, ridership will drop off dramatically and they’ll collect even less revenue. This means the business model used to justify SkyTrain was faulty out of the gate.

The truth is it will never pay for itself. They have admitted as much in their statement that just to keep the system operating, never mind the Evergreen Line costs, they need to raise another $30 million.

It’s time to do what other cities have done: abandon SkyTrain and move to surface transportation. Fraser Valley has a viable rail track system for commuter traffic, not only to Vancouver but to other communities in the Valley and all the way to the coast.

It’s time for someone at TransLink to have the stones to stand up and admit SkyTrain is a loser.

Colin Atkinson, Aldergrove

© Copyright (c) The Province

SkyTrain for Surrey responds to Misleading Letter

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