The FACTS – South of Fraser Community Passenger Rail…. Lets look at WHY it MUST be the South of Fraser Passenger Rail corridor AND NOT the Fraser Highway option!

Posted: September 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

The “South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor” (Interurban) Connects ALL Cities, Towns, Municipalities and Communities South of the Fraser…. Just look at the reason and rationale for our argument – Economic – Jobs – Community / Commuter access and growth – Environment and Financial responsibility (Costs per KM and Costs per Capita!). In my previous two BLOG Posts I covered the issues above from a 30,000 foot level. Now for some very real comparisons of the options….

Translink’s 10 year Plan calls for Light Rail Transit down the Fraser Highway Corridor to Langley City. WHY? It is nothing short of a short sighted parochial view that is Surrey central centric. It lacks any regional responsibility and recognition, we want to change that thinking! We have three very viable engineering reports to support our option!

I served on the Mayor’s Translink Council from 2008 – 2011 and participated on many debates with the members of the day about Metro Vancouver issues, needs and demands. I am not blaming members of that body as they are serving the population of Metro. (Up to the Eastern border of the Township of Langley – 276th Street) For starters we have to change that thinking as our regional needs for transportation goes beyond Metro Vancouver and INCLUDES the cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack. Housing price escalation has dramatically forced thousands to move further east up the valley. Their transportation needs are looked after for the most part by BC Transit and regional needs by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD). Is this why the transportation needs of half of the Township of Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack are not being responded to?

The West Coast Express catchment area serves a population north of the river that is 31% that of South of the Fraser. In that case it covers both the FVRD and Metro Vancouver. For the record, as mentioned in an earlier BLOG Post, Translink (West Coast Express) pays CP Rail $20 MILLION PER YEAR for the use of it’s rail line annually. That’s correct $20,000,000…. Per-year for 5 trains a day each way, PLUS Capital and Operational costs. What are they, so far they have been hidden so we have submitted an FOI request! Stay tuned for the results!

So, back to the issue at hand. The proponents of the Fraser Highway option would like everyone to forget or more appropriately ignore the cost and the tragic environmental impact (large amount of clear cutting which would be unavoidable) of the Green Timbers Urban Forest. What have we heard just lately? In the heat of an election campaign they are saying are second-class-citizens having to accept LRT and not Skytrain? That’s Skytrain and not LRT DOWN THE FRASER HIGHWAY. What? Are you kidding me, what part of the world are they living in? Since when is it their turn and right to be irresponsible with our tax dollars? What possible rationale argument can be made to support the Fraser Highway option that is responsible? I believe the following answers that question!

If you read my earlier BLOG Post we touched on the cost issue. Obviously however, the impetus to that cost escalation for Phase 2 (Surrey LRT – 104th as well as King George Blvd.) was land speculation that fed land acquisition inflation costs as admitted by the Translink CFO in a public oral statement. Extrapolating that inflation factor we have projected the total cost of Phase 3, Fraser Highway to Langley City (16.6Kms) to be an estimated cost just shy of $4,000,000,000 (that is $4 BILLION) as compared to the FREE USE of a 99Km passenger corridor, protected by a previous Provincial Government for passenger service. To be clear that is 4,000 – $1,000,000,000.

Looking at the benefits of the South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor the Fraser Highway option can be nothing more than a land deal. If approved we will all pay with our tax dollars!

This corridor sits a short 5 kms south of the Fraser Highway option, right thru the town/community of Newton! The state of the art reactivation of the South of Fraser Community Passenger Rail cost would be $1,200,000,000., as stated we have three engineering studies to support our position. FYI – Newton was created by the BC Electric Railway going through that community on or about 1910.  

I was very pleased to see one of our region’s premier columnists (Vaughn Palmer) with the Vancouver Sun broach the subject of cost escalation on our just announced transit projects, questioning how these costs have escalated to such an extreme level. (Van. Sun update Sept. 5th 2018) (Van. Sun update Sept. 6th 2018) These are questions that are long overdue being asked, so a well done to Vaughn Palmer! It would be worth everyone’s time to view these two columns. Now where are the answers he has asked for?

So lets lay out the expansion of Transit and their costs. We will start at the beginning with the EXPO Skytrain line circa 1986!

Expo Line – 1986

21.4 Kms – Length of the original Expo Line

$854 Million – Final project cost (1986 Dollars)

$39.90 Million – Per Km Cost                           

Included elevated stations

Included elevated guideways

Included bridging

Millenium Line Extension – 2002

31.2 Kms – Length of the Millenium Line

$1.2 Billion – Final Project cost (2002 Dollars)

$38.46 Million – Per Km cost                                                            

Included elevated stations

Included elevated guideways

Canada Line – November 30th, 2009

19.2 Kms – Length of Canada Line                                   

$2.1 Billion – Final Project Costs (2009 Dollars)

$110 Million – Per Km cost               

Included bridging

Included cut and cover tunnels

Included elevated stations

Included elevated guideways

Evergreen Line – December 2nd, 2016

10.9 Kms – Length of Evergreen Line             

$1.43 Billion – Final Project Cost (2016 Dollars)

$131.19 Million – Per Km cost                                         

Included extensive tunneling

Included elevated stations

Included elevated guideways

When viewing the proposed projects in terms of value for money it is relevant to compare to past projects and ask the questions that are obvious, what are the reasons for the dramatic escalation in project costs. As I have stated, the above costs are in the dollars of the year indicated and the projects have a varying number of differences with respect to tunneling, bridging, cut and cover and elevated guideways and stations. For the purpose of our discussion and comparison, all of that makes the costing of Surrey LRT that much more remarkable. WHY?

Now lets look at the recently approved Transit Projects, the distance and the cost for Surrey LRT and the Broadway subway corridor. Remember this is only Light Surface Rail with obviously surface stations.

IMPORTANT NOTE RE COSTS: The following costs were identified in 2016 (dramatically increased over 2012 and 2015 estimates), costs are expected to increase dramatically over the following 2016 estimates due primarily to land costs as per statements from Translink. We are using their numbers!                                           

Surrey LRT

10.5 Kms – Length of Surrey Newton / Guildford Line

$1,080,000,000 (BILLION$) – 2015 Estimated Cost Project Cost

$570,000,000 (Millions) – Project cost escalation in 3 years primarily due to land speculation.                       

$1,650,000,000. (BILLION$) – April 30th, 2018 final projected cost estimate.

$157,142,857. – (Millions) Cost per KM                        

NOTE – Significant Land cost per translink.

                                   

Broadway Millenium Line extension to Arbutus

5.8 Kms – Length of Broadway project

$2,830,000,000. (BILLION$) – April 30th 2018 final projected cost estimate

$487,931,034. – (Millions) Cost per KM

 

Projected Phase 3 – Surrey Center to Langley City LRT

16.6 Kms – Length of line Surrey Center to Langley City

$2,608,571,426. (BILLION$) – 2016 Estimated project cost based on Surrey Newton / Guildford.                                 

$157,142,857. – (Millions) Cost per KM

$3,900,000,000. (BILLION$) – 2024 Estimated project cost based on Sur. Newton/ Guild. Cost Escalation

$234,939,759. – (Millions) 2024 Estimated cost per KM based on land speculation of Surrey LRT.

2 KMs through ALR (No population / Fry’s Corner section)

NOTE – Significant Land cost per Translink

 

“OUR PROPOSAL – The Benefits”

Comparing the South of Fraser passenger Rail Corridor vs Fraser Highway Option

99.23 Kms – Length of South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor

16.6 Kms – Fraser Highway LRT

 

$1,240,375,000. – Estimated Project Cost of South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor (All In – 2023 Dollars)

$3,900,000,000. – Estimated Project Cost of Fraser Highway LRT (2023 Dollars)

 

$12,500,000 – Estimated Cost per KM of South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor

$234,939,759. – Estimated Cost per Km of Fraser Highway LRT

 

Land Cost – Free on South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor

Land Cost – High on Fraser Highway LRT

 

Universities / Post-Secondary Institutions served – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor 14

Universities / Post-Secondary Institutions served – Fraser Highway LRT 3

 

Communities / Towns / Municipalities served – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor 16

Communities / Towns / Municipalities served – Fraser Highway LRT 4

 

Population Served – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor 1,200,000

Population served – Fraser Highway LRT 80,000

 

First Nation Communities served – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor 4

First Nation Communities served – Fraser Highway LRT 0

 

Serves the Abbotsford International Airport

(1,000,000 passengers in 2019) – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor YES  

Serves the Abbotsford International Airport

(1,000,000 passengers in 2019) – Fraser Highway LRT NO

 

Services Tourism and Agri-tourism – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor YES

Services Tourism and Agri-tourism  – Fraser Highway LRT NO

 

Services Campbell Heights and Gloucester Industrial Parks – South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor YES   

Services Campbell Heights and Gloucester Industrial Parks – Fraser Highway LRT NO

 

Dramatic intrusion into Green Timbers Urban ForestSouth of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor NO 

Dramatic intrusion into Green Timbers Urban Forest – Fraser Highway LRT YES

 

Remove cars from Highway #1South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor YES

Remove cars from Highway #1 – Fraser Highway LRT NO

 

Protect Environment & Fraser Valley Air ShedSouth of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor YES 

Protect Environment & Fraser Valley Air Shed – Fraser Highway LRT NO

 

7.9% the cost per KM of Sur. to Lang. LRT

20.23% of the cost per capita of Sur. LRT”

 

Per Capita Servicing Costs Based on Catchment Areas

Approved Surrey LRT

300,910 – The Population of Surrey Newton / Whalley / Guildford

$1,650,000,000 – The April 30th 2018 estimated project cost.

$5,483 – Cost per Capita

 

Projected Phase 3 – Surrey Center to Langley City LRT (Estimate based on Surrey LRT costs)

510,698 – The Population of Langley City / Willoughby / Clayton / Brookswood, Murrayville & Surrey less S. Surrey. 

$2,608,571,426 – The April 30th 2018 estimated cost using Surrey LRT numbers.

$5,107.85 – Cost per capita (Based on todays cost)

$7,636.61 – Cost per capita (Based on anticipated costs 2024) 

 

“Our Proposal”

State of the Art South of Fraser Passenger Rail Corridor

1,200,000 – The Population of the area Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack

$1,240,375,000. – The project cost based on 2010 Leewood projected cost plus inflation.

$1,033.64 – The “Cost per capita!”

 

By any measure, the South of Fraser Community Passenger Rail Corridor is head and shoulders superior to the Fraser Highway Corridor!

Value for money!

Service for Transportation dollar spent!

Fiscally / Financially responsible!

Protection of the Environment!

Job Development and growth and access!

Economic Impact for the region!

Fraser Valley Community Growth and Development!

Reduction of cars from all east west roads in the valley easing movement!

Ease of commuter movement!

 

Summary:

As they say “It is Priceless” – A very short story. In 2009 / 10 a gentleman named Tom Prendergast was the President and CEO of Translink, as some will remember. As a member of the Translink Council I invited Tom out to our Boardroom so we could make a presentation to him and his team on what we had available to us in the region. (Tom came to us from the US East Coast.) I told him that I thought that we had something particularly unique but he informed me that there were literally thousands of these corridors throughout North America. For the most part they were all abandoned in and around 1950 with the advent of the car and our highways. The thought of the day was they wanted to sell off these corridors so as to not have competition years down the road. What is of interest though AND VERY UNIQUE (in his words) according to Tom Prendergast was the vision of a Provincial Government of the day that didn’t sell it off but protected it for future passenger use. Tom was interested at the time to initiate a demonstration line, unfortunately Tom was sought after by the New York Transit Commission for the position of President and CEO and left about 4 months later. He ended heading up the world’s largest Public Transit authority in the world. The Municipal led South of Fraser Passenger Rail Task Force which I formed with Councilors from Delta, White Rock, Surrey, Langley City, Township of Langley and Abbotsford, was not renewed by Jack Froese, the current Mayor of the Township of Langley. Why, is the question? Was it pressure from the likes of Peter Fassbender and Rich Coleman? Just asking! Past reputations are hard to hide from, just saying!

It is our goal through Translink, BC Transit and the Provincial Government to form a Provincially endorsed, community led South of Fraser Community Passenger Rail Task Force. This task force would hold community meetings from Kennedy Heights in Delta up to Chilliwack to determine community support for such an initiative. This would be a very timely community process (before any firm decision or commitments are made for Phase 3) to establish the issues, needs and interest of the 1,200,000 residents that would be affected. More to come, stay tuned!

To the question on which option to choose, we are prepared to leave that up to the recommendations of a South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force that would consider ALL Options and present independent advice to Translink and the B.C. Government. Obviously our opinion is to Say NO to the Fraser Highway option and YES to open up the Fraser Valley Transportation corridor out to Chilliwack. We have made our case and will be making it further over the next number of months. Implementation and activation would be fast, it would be state of the art and it would provide economic stimulus throughout the valley, it would help feed 14 University Campuses, reduce the number of vehicles commuting and solve the environmental issues in the valley. Having said that, we want decisions to be made that are well thought out, and responsible to the region and not just one community.

DO YOU WANT A PRESENTATION OF THIS PLAN? We have started booking presentations starting Sept. 4th and through the fall. If your community association, business association, society, service club or political organization would be interested in a detailed presentation of this initiative our team would be pleased to do so. We have a very detailed presentation including an 8 ft. map, Shaw video documentary and much much more. Our contact information is listed below.

VOLUNTEER – If you are interested in getting involved in our campaign by volunteering please contact us through the email below.

NOTE: This post is only the start of an intensive and extensive campaign for the reactivation of the South of Fraser Community Rail Corridor (Interurban Corridor) from the Pattullo Bridge through to Chilliwack! Much more to come, stay tuned!

Special Note: Our 28 minute Shaw video documentary of this rail line (produced in 2010) is on this BLOG site, click on the “S Fraser Community Rail tab” on the top tool bar to view or the following link – https://langleywatchdog.com/topics/

 

W.R. (Rick) Green

Former Mayor Township of Langley (2008 – 2011)

Home / Office 604 607-7338 – Cell 604 309-7795

Email creeksidefarms@shaw.ca

On behalf of VALTAC – Valley Transportation Advisory Committee Members:

Lee Lockwood, Roy Mufford and Peter Holt

 ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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