Transport Action BC

2014, December 5

“BC on the Move” Online Survey Closes Soon

The BC Government’s online survey for its latest 10 year transportation plan closes on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone announced the next 10-year transportation plan (“BC on the Move”) and consultation in October 2014. Consultation documents and details are here. Take the survey here.

SFU’s Gordon Price notes that funding for the planned projects is not subject to voter approval even though Vancouver area transit projects are subject to a “Yes” vote in the upcoming transit funding referendum. According to Price, the plan continues the province’s current highway projects with a bit of a sop thrown to cycling and transit.

The plan does mention rail but only as a mode for moving bulk goods and containers efficiently. Improvements to / support of intercity bus and rail passenger services are not considered.


2012, June 8

6-lane Pattullo bridge not in best interests of Metro Vancouver

Filed under: Studies — Tags: , , , , — Matthew @ 8:32 am

Letter that Transport Action BC sent to TransLink this week.

We are writing regarding TransLink’s decision to replace the aging Pattullo Bridge with a wider, 6-lane facility. We do not think that a higher capacity Pattullo Bridge is in the best interests of our region. It meets neither the goals of TransLink’s 2040 vision, nor does it fit into the strategies set out to meet TransLink’s goals. Given the extraordinary cost and risk of this project, the relatively small constituency it serves and the exemplary opportunity in this corridor to create the 2040 mode shift which is so critical to the economic viability and livability of our region, we urge TransLink to rethink its plans for this bridge.

image of the bridge arches

Pattullo Bridge details, photo by Flickr user GS+

When it opened in the 1930’s the Pattullo Bridge was the primary crossing of the Fraser River for vehicle traffic and served as a regional connection between the Burrard Peninsula and the Fraser Valley/USA. With the opening of the Port Mann Bridge and the Hwy 1 corridor in the 1960’s this role was, however, lost. Indeed, the primary role of the Port Mann Bridge was reinforced recently by the Provincial decision to replace it with a massive 10 lane structure and to widen Hwy 1. The Pattullo now serves mostly the local needs of Surrey, New Westminster and Burnaby residents; a connection which is largely duplicated by the SkyBridge and the extensive SkyTrain network which has successfully served the residents of these communities and remains less than full capacity. In short the local needs of the Pattullo Bridge users (typically less than 40,000 users/day – 2 way trips) do not justify the almost 1 billion dollar investment from the regional Transportation authority, particularly when other options are available.

TransLink’s models have predicted significant traffic growth in the Pattullo corridor yet these predictions cannot reflect our region’s changing demographics, the influence of peak oil on travel patterns and choices, and the improved land use patterns throughout the region, all of which reduce the need to travel distances to get to work or amenities. These factors have already resulted in a considerable reduction in travel demand in many cities throughout North America. TransLink has an opportunity to encourage this shift in travel behavior by investing in quality public transit and preferentially supporting energy efficient modes for goods movement. To achieve this mode shift TransLink must invest in the quality transit connections to SkyTrain, particularly in Surrey where lack of transit services continues to fail the expectations of residents. In addition, improved transit connections within Surrey will promote land use changes which will reduce the need to travel throughout the region.

Much of the growth in goods movements envisioned for this corridor can be handled through the rail and river modes using existing or modestly upgraded facilities and investments in better intermodal connections. In the future the role of these modes will be much more important if our ports are to compete on the international stage in a world of high energy costs and unsolvable congestion challenges.

Finally we are concerned that the high cost of a 6 lane Pattullo Bridge could have detrimental impacts on transportation throughout the region if the traffic predictions are not met and TransLink is left with unfunded liabilities similar to the current situation with the Golden Ears Bridge. It seems that TransLink’s traffic models over-estimate the traffic demand when tolls are involved. Additional debt servicing costs could leave other essential elements of the transportation system starved of operating funds.

In conclusion, we ask the board of TransLink to reconsider its determination to build a 6 lane replacement to the Pattullo Bridge. TransLink should be using the strength of its multi-modal mandate to ensure that transportation corridors and facilities are used as efficiently as possible and that all major investments contribute directly and effectively to the important goals outlined in TransLink’s 2040 vision.

2011, November 12

LRT expansion in Surrey

Filed under: Buses, city transit, Rapid Transit, Streetcar-LRT, Studies — Tags: , — Matthew @ 11:49 am

South of Fraser Mayors want for Light Rail Transit in Surrey, and the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure is listening. LRT technology is a better fit for the lower density region consisting of Surrey and Langley many believe.

TransLink is doing a comprehensive study of transit options in Surrey called the Surrey Rapid Transit Study. Phase 1 has been completed and phase 2 is underway with public meetings scheduled for early 2012.

As reported in the last Western Newsletter of Transport Action, Surrey has put together a vision of LRT on its website.

Surrey’s video on YouTube:

CBC Story – Mayors push for new transit line for Surrey and Langley  (Mobile version)

Portland LRV

An example of a low floor light rail vehicle in Portland, OR

2011, June 30

Good News for Vancouver Island Rail (E&N)

Filed under: Announcement, Inter-city rail, Studies — Rick @ 8:26 pm

The Island Corridor Foundation (formerly the E&N Railway on Vancouver Island) received some good news on June 28, 2011. The B.C. government agreed to provide funding for much needed track maintenance, albeit with provisos.

As a starter investment, the province will provide $500,000 to perform safety evaluations on the rail line’s 40 bridges. An additional $7 million will be provided, once the bridges are determined to be safe, AND when the ICF has found other partners willing to invest another $7.5 million. The obvious ‘other partner’ is the federal government. Local MPs are working to ensure federal support for the maintenance project.

Coincidentally, this funding announcement comes almost a year to the day, after the province released a major evaluation study on the E&N. The report has a detailed analysis on commuter rail, freight activity and potential, passenger rail scenarios and tourist train possibilities.


2011, March 8

Fraser Valley Rail – Two conflicting visions

Filed under: Inter-city bus, Inter-city rail, Studies — Tags: , , — Matthew @ 12:10 am

The latest issue of The Sandhouse (Vol 35, No. 4, Issue 140 – Winter 2010/11) which is the journal of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association, Pacific Coast Division has a good summary of the Fraser Valley transit studies, one done for the BC government, the Fraser Valley Regional District, BC Transit and TransLink. The other study was sponsored by the group Rail for the Valley.

The article titled Visions of Fraser Valley rail collide in two studies: by Ian Smith. The first paragraph states:

Duelling visions of the future of rail transit in the Fraser Valley have emerged in two recent studies. One is decidely lukewarm on the prospects for rail even over an extended period, while the other proposes that work should start as soon as possible.

The eight page article describes both studies in depth and is well worth reading. Rail for the Valley is a group of people that want to see the old BC Electric Railway right of way, that is currently used for freight only, restored for passenger use. A major bottleneck would be the single track portion of the line in Langley between Cloverdale and the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 10. This portion currently sees up to 18 coal trains and 12 container trains from CN and CP as well as trains of the short line operator Southern Railway of BC.

The Sandhouse is not widely distributed, I couldn’t find a current website for the group, but copies of the Sandhouse are available at Central Hobbies in Vancouver, and Kelly’s Kaboose in Kamloops.

For more information:

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