– Is it time to replan the Evergreen Line?

Rail for the Valley

Both the provincial and federal government want TransLink to build SkyTrain on the Evergreen Line and it is clearly evident that the decision to build with SkyTrain is purely political to keep Ontario and Quebec jobs secure in Bombardier owned plants. With the ongoing propaganda campaign of the SkyTrain lobby, combined with the complete ignorance of Transportation Ministers, both provincial and federal on the subject of regional transit, TransLink persists in planning for unworkable and unfordable light-metro. Despite clear indications that after the huge investment in SkyTrain and RAV light-metro (SkyTrain was too expensive for the Canada Line) TransLink’s ridership share has only risen with population increase. There has not been a modal shift from car to transit. Yet, TransLink and provincial and federal governments still want to squander billions of dollars more on SkyTrain and light-metro, in the vain hope they will get different results on the next metro line they build.

They won’t. Then the question should be asked: “should there be complete rethink on both mode (light-rail & light-metro) and TransLink’s role in transit planning in the region that is free of political interference.”

Regional Mayors want light-rail to be built on the Evergreen Line at a supposedly $400 million cheaper cost, but the provincial Transportation Minister and her federal counterpart will hear none of it. It’s SkyTrain or nothing.

Why?

Simple, to keep jobs in Ontario and Quebec. Further proof that the regions rapid transit plans are geared for Eastern Canadian politicians using local taxpayers subsidize jobs in both Ontario and Quebec.

This further gives credence for the call for TransLink to get out of transit planning altogether and shed the ponderous bureaucracy that is fixated on SkyTrain and light-metro and rejects light-rail out of hand. By rejecting light-rail, TransLink’s planners rejects modern public transit philosophy based on almost forty years of proven and affordable light-rail, in revenue operation in over 600 cities around the world.

One must remember American transit expert, Gerald Fox’s comments on the TransLink’s Evergreen Line business case:

“I found several instances where the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain. If the underlying assumptions are inaccurate, the conclusions may be so too.”

Fox sums up with:

“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. In the US, all new transit projects that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of transit peers, selected and monitored by the federal government, to ensure that projects are analysed honestly, and the taxpayers’ interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US.”

A different plan for the Evergreen Line

The Light Rail Committee proposed a different plan for light-rail in the Tri-City area which is based on modern light-rail philosophy that has proven so effective elsewhere in the world.

The plan also takes into account the advice of several transit consultants, would use use diesel and diesel-electric light-rail vehicles, combining track sharing with existing railways and the use of on-street operation where practical. The plan consisted of on-street operation from Port Moody to Coquitlam Centre, with a spur line using the Ioco freight branch to the Esso refinery line to 1st Ave. in Ioco. The line would then travel South along Lougheed highway till it connected to the  CPR rail line paralleling the Lougheed highway, connecting to the BNSF/CN mainline until it reached Pacific Central Station in Vancouver.

This would give very fast journeys for people living in the Tri-Cities to Vancouver and visa versa. The Light Rail Committee estimated that the cost of this line would have been in the neighbourhood of $400 million to $600 million and giving a superior and direct service to downtown Vancouver. For a fraction the cost of SkyTrain or TransLink’s grossly over engineered light-rail plans, we could get a much larger usable ‘rail’ network that would be available to far more transit customers than a truncated light-metro line.

TransLink officials quickly shot down the plan because: “We had just built a $1.2 billion metro line and we had get get as many passengers on the new rapid transit line as we can.”

Maybe the time has come for TransLink to get out of the business of transit planning and hire independent consultants to compete to provide plans for the best and most affordable transit solutions for our endemic regional transportation chaos. The taxpayer can no longer afford TransLink’s grandiose gold-plated rapid transit lines that, in the past, have not attracted the motorist from the car and at best, gives the bus rider a questionably faster, yet more inconvenient journey.

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Explore posts in the same categories: BRT, Bus, Canada, Commentary, Evergreen Line, funding, Light Rail Transit, Provincial government, skyTrain, Translink

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