Editor: There have been a lot of anti-LRT letters appearing in local papers, filled with acrimonious rhetoric and favouring, building with SkyTrain instead.
Why, after being on the market for almost 40 years, only seven SkyTrain proprietary railways have been built and only three (soon to be two) are seriously used for urban transport?
If LRT is so bad, why, during the same period, have now over 200 such systems been built, bringing the total to almost 600 LRT type systems in operation around the world?
What we call SkyTrain is a collection of three railways, the ALRT Expo Line: the ART Millennium/Evergreen Lines, an updated version of ALRT and the Canada line, which is just an elevated railway operating couples sets of EMU’s and not compatible in operation with the ALRT/ART Lines.
The answer makes a lot of people unhappy, ART costs more to build, operate and maintain, than LRT, with the bonus of LRT’s ability to carry more people.
For those, especially politicians, who want to keep building with SkyTrain, the following will further prove embarrassing.
Transport Canada’s Operating Certificate for SkyTrain limits capacity at 15,000 pphpd. To increase capacity, the following must be done:
1. All stations must have platforms extended to 120 metres to allow for longer trains and have more entrances and exits added to cater to higher volumes of traffic.
2. The electrical supply must be renewed a and upgraded, to handle capacities beyond 15,000 pphpd.
3. The automatic train control system must be upgraded with about 10,000 km of cable to be replaced, just on the Expo line.
4. All switches on the Expo line must be replaced with faster switches, in order to meet the new closer headways.
5. Sections of guideway on the old Expo Line must be replaced.
6. A new source for vehicles must be planned for, as Bombardier may shut down the ART production line at any time.
The cost of refurbishment is now said to exceed $3 billion and no money is budgeted for this.
If the $3 billion Broadway SkyTrain subway is built, it will push back any thought of extending SkyTrain until the mid 2030s, as the $3 billion refurbishment of the ALRT/ART lines must be done before any thought of extending SkyTrain in Surrey/Langley.
This also gives insight to why LRT is being built in Surrey, transit customers and taxpayers will get a far bigger bang for their transit buck with light rail.
So, politicians and taxpayers in Langley and Surrey must face a Hobson’s Choice: take LRT now or see no transit improvements until the mid 2030s at the earliest.
Rail for the Valley