Light rail makes SkyTrain obsolete

he fact is, modern LRT made SkyTrain obsolete almost two decades ago.

A letter by a Mr. Daryl Dela Cruz grossly misinforms the public about modern light rail (LRT).

The difference between modern LRT and a streetcar is the concept of the “reserved rights-of-way” or a R-o-W for the exclusive use of a streetcar – in layman’s terms, a HOV lane with rails. The reserved R-o-W enables the modern streetcar to operate as fast as and carry as many or more transit customers than an elevated light-metro like SkyTrain, The fact is, modern LRT made SkyTrain obsolete almost two decades ago.

Modern LRT can operate at speed of 80 km/h to 90 km/h at grade on a reserved R-o-W in complete safety and does in hundreds of cities around the world.

Accidents do happen on LRT lines when car drivers disobey signals, but when a rare accident does occur, only a portion of the line affected is closed and in most cases the streetcars can be easily switched to the unaffected line to continue their journey.

At-grade LRT actually is better in attracting new ridership than grade-separated mini-metros like SkyTrain, simply because stations or stops are handier and easier to use. LRT is far more convenient than SkyTrain and convenience attracts customers.

Since TransLink has no experience in planning and building with LRT, I would question any transit plan presented by TransLink, but since modern LRT can handle higher capacities than SkyTrain, future customer demands would be of little problem.

Today, in Karlsruhe Germany, the main tram (streetcar) line on Kaiserstrasse is dealing with peak -hour capacities in excess of 40,000 persons per hour per direction. This is 10,000 persons per hour per direction more than the maximum theoretical capacity of the SkyTrain mini-metro.

SkyTrain does not have lower operating costs than LRT; instead the opposite is true. SkyTrain costs about 40 per cent more to operate when compared to modern LRT.

Since SkyTrain was first marketed in the 1970s, only seven systems have been built and not one was allowed to compete against LRT. During the same period, over 160 new LRT systems have been built, with a further 30 under construction.

It seems knowledgeable transit planners around the world do not support the Dela Cruz’s SkyTrain hype and hoopla.


D. Malcolm Johnston

Rail for the Valley


Surrey North Delta Leader