The column “Urgent need for rapid transit in Surrey” (The Leader, July 5) includes a mistake commonly made by those comparing SkyTrain with LRT as illustrated by the following quote: “However, SkyTrain is separated from road traffic and as such can offer quicker trips and not get tied up by intersection crashes.”
The claim that SkyTrain makes quicker trips than LRT is based on the fact that SkyTrain has much fewer stations per route kilometre than LRT. Fewer stations equals quicker times, but fewer stations also deter ridership.
The main differences between streetcars and modern LRT is the concept of the reserved rights-of-way or a rights-of-way for the exclusive use of the tram or streetcar to operate on. The reserved rights-of-way can be as simple as a HOV lane with rails or as complex as a linear park with grass, instead of ballasted or paved, track complete with shrubbery and flowers. The Arbutus corridor in Vancouver is a very good example of a “reserved rights-of-way” as well as the former BC Electric interurban route that bisects Surrey.
A reserved rights-of-way enables a tram or streetcar to operate as fast and carry as many passengers as its much more expensive cousin, light-metro (SkyTrain). In fact, modern LRT has made SkyTrain obsolete two decades ago but no one has apparently told TransLink, which continues to squander taxpayer’s money on dated SkyTrain transit planning.
The notion that LRT causes crashes at intersections is nonsense; rather it is car drivers ignoring red light signals that causes crashes at signal controlled LRT/road intersections and studies have shown that a LRT/road intersections are about 10 times as safe as a road/road intersections.
In the 21st century, modern LRT has proven to be faster, able to carry more customers at a far cheaper cost, to more destinations than SkyTrain light-metro and Mayor Dianne Watts is correct in demanding modern LRT for the City of Surrey.
Rail for the Valley