Roll in a new transit authority

Don't expand SkyTrain, bring in light rail transit to improve commuting times.

The column “Fast Travel a Transit priority” (Frank Bucholtz, The Leader, March 14) has got it wrong. It is not the speed of a transit system that attracts ridership, rather it is the overall speed of the transit trip that attracts the transit customer.

The problem with the SkyTrain light metro system is its widely spaced, which gives the light metro its faster commercial speeds, but gives slower overall travel times because the transit customers must take longer to walk to stations or even longer if a transit customer has to take a bus first. According to TransLink, 80 per cent of SkyTrain’s passengers first take a bus then transfer onto the metro.

Ever notice that no one builds SkyTrain anymore? Light rail generally has closer spaced stations, which gives the transit customer more options for travel and a gives a generally faster overall travel time.

TransLink has never understood this simple fact and continues building light-metro with widely spaced stations, which in turn need a shadow bus service to convey transit customers to the metro. This is an expensive proposition and gives a good indication why TransLink has financial problems.

Light rail is built on a transit route because it becomes cheaper to operate than buses when traffic flows exceed 2,000 persons per hour per direction. Generally it costs about half as much to operate LRT than buses.

TransLink’s problem is that its bureaucrats keep planning LRT as a poor man’s SkyTrain and BRT (bus rapid transit) as a poor man’s LRT. TransLink has never considered planning light rail as an economic transit alternative, instead plans LRT as a cheaper appendage of SkyTrain – a very expensive mistake.

TransLink’s ponderous bureaucracy has never recognized modern light rail as a powerful and affordable tool for urban transit solutions. Rather, TransLink reluctantly plans for LRT because it is told to do so.

The rot has gone far too long within TransLink for any good to happen and if LRT is to be successful in Surrey, a new transit authority, with no ties to TransLink, must come into being to ensure success.


D. Malcolm Johnston, Delta

Surrey North Delta Leader