What’s best for Surrey: LRT or SkyTrain?

The rail-based debate continues in a series of letters.

Why choose SkyTrain over Light Rail Transit (LRT) ?

1. SkyTrain is faster than LRT

According to TransLink documents, a trip from Surrey City Centre to Langley Centre would take 22 minutes by SkyTrain and 29 minutes by LRT.

2. SkyTrain is safer than LRT

According to the YouTube video “Destroyed in Seconds Houston Metro Rail,” there were 62 accidents in just one year on the LRT system in Houston, Texas. SkyTrain has been in Vancouver since 1985 and has proven to be a very safe system.

3. SkyTrain is cheaper than LRT

Initial construction costs may be lower for LRT, but SkyTrain saves time and time has a monetary value. Tens of thousands of riders will save time every single day for 100-plus years. The value of time savings, according to conservative estimates, is $7.86 billion. (Visit http://bit.ly/1PjvCqV for full details).

Other cities such as Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, New Westminster and Coquitlam have SkyTrain systems. SkyTrain stations also attract development. Just look at Metrotown, Brentford, Lougheed, Richmond Centre, Surrey Centre, Gateway and  King George stations.

Kuldip Pelia, SurreyBCnews.com

 

Light rail has major shortfalls

In a previous letter (“LRT is the right solution for Surrey, The Leader, Dec. 23, 2015), Light Rail Links coalition chair Anita Huberman submitted three LRT “facts” which are misleading.

Firstly, Huberman suggests we can’t get a better transit system for the same cost as 27 kilometres of LRT. But 17 kms of SkyTrain and 10 kms of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) could be built for the same cost. This proposal would offer faster service, better reliability, no transfers to Vancouver, and the most travel-time benefits with lower operating costs in the long run.

Secondly, Huberman says that in a survey, most Surrey residents support LRT. No such survey has ever been released by Light Rail Links or the City of Surrey.

Thirdly, Huberman claims the demand on King George Boulevard would equal that of Vancouver’s Broadway B-Line today and result in the same unacceptable overcrowding with rapid buses. A full BRT system could use larger, double-articulated buses and offer a much higher capacity than Broadway’s B-Line.

Light rail supporters have continued to disregard major shortfalls such as potential for vehicle-train collisions, lack of travel time reductions, lane loss on 104 Avenue, high operating costs and lower off-peak frequencies – while spreading myths such as how LRT will be “better for shaping communities” and whatnot.

My organization has debunked 10 of these LRT myths at skytrainforsurrey.org/debunking-myths

Daryl Dela Cruz, Campaign Chair

SkyTrain for Surrey

 

SkyTrain model is obsolete

The problem the SkyTrain lobby faces is simple: SkyTrain costs more to build, operate and maintain than LRT.

No one builds SkyTrain anymore; only seven such systems have been built in almost 40 years. Modern LRT has made SkyTrain obsolete.

That being said, I find the light rail plans for Surrey unworkable and expensive.

In the real world, modern LRT is built on transit routes which see traffic flows in excess of 2,000 persons per hour, per direction. This is because one modern tram (one driver) is as efficient in operation as four to six buses (four to six drivers). With every bus or tram operated, one needs at least three people to drive, maintain and manage them. As wages account for over 70 per cent of a transit system’s operating costs, the savings that come with LRT are large enough to pay the operating costs and most or all of the capital costs of the line over a 25-year business cycle.

SkyTrain does not see this kind of fiscal economy.

However, the LRT in Surrey is being planned as a poor man’s SkyTrain and as a Canadian transit consultant told me, “not to best Canadian practice.”

Herein lies the problem. TransLink is unable to plan for user-friendly, taxpayer-friendly transit and instead, plans for expensive vanity projects to satisfy politicians. Light rail is only good if it is planned properly and serves the transit customer’s needs, which I do not see happening in Surrey.

Malcolm Johnston, Delta

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