Portland’s light rail model is worth considering

Editor: Re: SkyTrain model worth supporting over LRT (The Times, Dec. 10)

The writer makes claims for and against the SkyTrain over LRT.

The one that caught my eye was, “a negative business case: LRT is expected to generate less in transportation benefits than it cost to put it in. A dismal reality for funding authorities.”

Is this not the dismal reality of the SkyTrain and the never ending grasping for more money?

I recently spent a few hours riding the MAX line LRT in Portland, Oregon — a great way to see the city and outlaying area.

A day pass is $5. For me, age 65 plus (they call that an Honored citizen) $2.

Because of the much lower cost of building ground level stations there are many more of them giving much better service in all areas. This gets away from the ghetto living around the monster SkyTrain stations we have here.

The claim that LRT is slow is incorrect.

In the square, an area of downtown the trains travel at the posted limit, but very seldom ever stop for a traffic light as the trains trigger the lights to give them a green.

In four seconds the three-car train is through the intersection and the traffic light returns to its automated cycle. Drivers in the know just slow down a bit and usually don’t come to a complete stop.

This is also the case in rural train routes. The train goes through the crossing so fast there is almost no interruption to the road traffic.

If you are a couple of blocks away and see the train warning come on just slow down a bit. By the time you get to the crossing the train has gone by.

The MAX line has been up and running for 30 years, and in that time have worked out all the operational bugs. The system is world famous for its efficiency and rider/cost proportions.

Many cities have modeled their transportation systems after the Portland MAX line; Greater Vancouver should have done the same.

It’s not too late. The LRT system proposed by Surrey can showcase a modern LRT train system and can be built for the cost of just one route of the SkyTrain.

If you want to ride the train in Surrey the ground level LRT is the system to root for and would link up with Light Rail in the valley very nicely.

It’s time to abandon the great concrete white elephant.

For the elderly and folks without cars, the LRT with many stations is a benefit as some can walk to the station. Ridership will always be greater if there is easier access to the train. Crime around the station is eliminated because everyone passing by can see what is going on. The MAX ticket has no zones.

The price is all the same and covers time. You can, on the way home get off, get a few things for supper, get back on the next train and be on your way.

Just stay within your ticket time which is adequate for these little adventures. Try doing that on SkyTrain.

A two-hour pass is $2.50, youth and student $1.60 and, for an Honored citizen, $1.

The benefits of LRT are many when you think about it. So if you are curious about LRT Google MAX light rail.

Better still, take a drive to Portland, get a day pass on the MAX Light and enjoy a fast, clean, smooth ride and have fun day taking in the sights.

John Winter


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