Thursday, May 1, 2008

Councillor Bateman Presents 200th Street Plans

On April 30, 2008 Township Councillor Jordan Bateman, a light rail advocate on council, presented his forward-thinking rail plans to the Valley Transportation Advisory Committee. The committee has supported a revival of the old Interurban rail line from Chilliwack to Delta for 2-3 years now. After his main presentation, Bateman took the group through a historical tour of council motions and votes that he has supported to advance the cause of light rail in the south Fraser, as well as previous support for this group.

We here at South Fraser OnTrax thank the committee for their support of an Interurban solution for the south Fraser, and the hard work of their many volunteers. We realize it takes the actions of more than any one person to achieve results. Well done committee!

There is always room for groups that compliment and build on a plan and that is what South Fraser OnTrax is all about...CHOICE. Its the hallmark of a democratic society. As you will recall from previous Blog posts and website solutions, South Fraser OnTrax has supported Councillor Bateman's 200th Street strategy. We have heard from several elected officials that also agree with the streetcar concept. The upcoming densification plans along 200th Street create a perfect case for a streetcar along this corridor. A connection to a completed section of the Interurban LRT route would build a terrific business case for further Transit Oriented Development that we also fully support, as well as more ridership for the Interurban regional system.

South Fraser OnTrax is also the first light rail advocacy group to outline and support a smart phasing plan for the Interurban. We believe a Langley to Surrey line could be up and running in a fairly short period of time (3-5 years).

We are happy to see Jordan's plan presented to a wider audience, and we look forward to council's approval of his Notice of Motion to take the next steps in the Interurban process. We also appreciate all those council members that spoke in favor of light rail during the April 21, 2008 Township Council Meeting. Township Councillors Mel Kositsky, Grant Ward, and Bob Long have applied many hours of hard work to this topic, as well as attending numerous meetings over the years. Mayor Alberts has expressed several times to this writer that he recognizes the need for light rail solutions in an integrated strategic context. South Fraser OnTrax supports that integrated system starting with a tandem implementation of a 200th streetcar combined with a Langley to Surrey Interurban that feeds expansion across the region. Go light rail for the south Fraser!

Thanks to Councillor Bateman for the slide above and this presentation:


Light Rail Guy said...

The 200th Street streetcar makes sense but does anyone knows the difference between LRT and a streetcar?

What makes LRT, light rail and not a streetcar is the concept of the reserved rights-of-ways. A reserved "rights-of-ways" simply a route that has been reserved for the streetcar and can be as simple as a HOV lane with rails. The Arbutus Corridor is an excellent example of a reserved rights-of-way. LRT, operating as a streetcar can obtain the same commercial speeds and capacities as a light-metro for a fraction of the cost.

When the rights-of-way is grade separated, it is called a metro or light-metro, depending the capacity it can obtain.

Many LRV's can happily operate as a streetcar and all streetcars can operate as LRT.

Joe Zaccaria said...

South Fraser OnTrax Says:

Generally a streetcar (also known as a tram or trolley) is lighter than light rail and can basically be built cheaper and run along the street. Streetcars can use a dedicated lane or share a lane with passenger vehicles. Signaling can be accomplished through regular traffic lights.

LRT requires a heavier rail car and is therefore a little more expensive. They run along rail tracks and not streets.

Streetcars can run on LRT rail lines, but LRT's cannot run on streetcar tracks. LRT's have a lower capacity or lower speeds than heavy rail and metro system.

A right-of-way is required for LRT, and that track is sometimes shared with heavy rail and freight.

Light Rail Guy said...

Sorry Joe, your information is incorrect. A streetcar is considered LRT when at least 30% of its rights-of-ways operate on a 'reserved' rights-of-way. A 'reserved rights-of-way' can be as simple as a HOV lane with rails.

LRT cars are not necessarily heavier or larger; Strasbourg's Jumbos (tramcars) have a capacity of 350 persons and Soller's light railway operates vintage cars with a capacity of less than 75.

What you have confused is not track, rather turning radius, which many larger light rail vehicles can't negotiate tighter radius curves on streetcar lines.

Portland is a good example: The Bombardier and Siemens LRV's can't negotiate the tighter radius curves on the city streetcar lines, yet some innovative design will allow larger radius curves on the the second streetcar line allowing regular LRV's to operate on them. The Skoda cars can and do operate on the LRT lines, though not in revenue service, yet.

Just about all LRT lines in service today operate on streetcar trackage in city centres, branching out onto their own rights-of-ways, once out of the city centre.

In Europe, the term LRT is not used, rather tramway, reflecting the fact that light rail can operate, on-street (tramway) when needed.

In the UK, light rail comes from the English Light Railways Act, or an Act passed by Parliament to make tramway legal. Light Railway Act > LRT.

Remember, the interurban operated on streetcar tracks in downtown Vancouver.

Nathan Pachal said...

I think some of the confusing was about the cost of constructing the tracks. In Portland, they were able to save money because apparently they didn't have to build the rail-bed to same standard. They saved money because the bed was shallower and they didn't have to relocate utilities. Apparently a CTrain or MAX train would be too heavy to operator on the Portland Streetcar tracks.

Maybe we could save money on building the interurban to the lighter Euro standard?

Light Rail Guy said...

I don't think axel wieght is the problem. The Portland streetcar is laid with girder rail, set in concrete, which is steurdy enough to handle the larger MAX LRV's. The main problem is that the streetcar line has tigher turning radius, which the LRV's can't negotiate.

This nonsnese about relocating utilities has more to do renewing utilities on the backs of light rail construction, than anything else.

Many alignments of new LRT systems are increasingly placed in public thoroughfare rights-of-way (on-street). For example:

· Portland – over 28%
· Sacramento – nearly 23%
· San Jose – nearly 56%
· Dallas – over 20%
· Salt Lake City – nearly 19%
· Tacoma – 100%
· Houston – 100%
· Minneapolis – nearly 22%
· Phoenix (planned) – over 95%
· Seattle (planned) – over 32%

As much as possible, construction methods and practices which have significant potential for lowering costs should be considered. For example, in the case of the Portland Streetcar, the shallow-slab construction method (see Figure 3) proved to be a major cost-saving technique for in-street construction. instead of digging three and four feet deep, disrupting utilities, and rebuilding much of the street in the process, builders use a quick "cut and cover" European-style track system that goes down between 12 and 18 inches and is 6 to 7 feet wide. A pad is laid down, followed by a light layer of gravel, and then a special dual rebar side frame is laid into this shallow trench.

Each running rail is encased in a "rubber extrusion rail boot" to provide electrical isolation as a corrosion control measure. This covers the rail entirely wherever there is ground contact, and is then attached to the specially shaped rebar frame with dielectric fasteners. The boot also provides some basic level of noise/vibration attenuation. The boot-encased rails are held only by the concrete between anchor plate assemblies, which are placed at 3.0-meter intervals on straight track and broad curves, or at 1.5-meter intervals on curves sharper than 300 meters in radius. The fastener assemblies remain separated from the running rails by the rubber boots to maintain electrical isolation of the rails. There are no gauge bars.

A major advantage is the minimization of subsurface utilities relocation. Instead, a kind of "bridge" (the slab, carrying the guidance rails) is installed over utilities. This enables utilities workers to make an adjacent excavation, as necessary, to access understreet utilities for repairs or other servicing.

Slab depths are 300 mm (about 12 in) for the RI 52 girder rail used on streetcar construction for cars weighing about 30 tons empty, and 360 mm (14 inches) for RI 59 girder rail used where streetcar and "interurban" tracks cross. Prudent planning would suggest designing and building for future use of heavier, interurban-type vehicles, since these might ultimately be needed if the original system is successful. It's far more difficult to upgrade underdesigned trackage than to upgrade stations and procure larger vehicles. To accommodate the possibility of heavier, "interurban"-style LRT in the future, a slab depth of 18 inches should be sufficient.

Joe Zaccaria said...

Great research and I'm sure very informative for those readers that enjoy the technical aspects of light rail. I don't profess to be a technical expert, so this is why we appreciate people like you.

I guess the thing to point out for the layman is the light rail technology and engineering is advancing by leaps and bounds. This means that the challenges of yesterday can be solved today. The basic light rail technology is adaptive enough to meet our challenges and therefore is not a big deal killer for us. It can also serve us where we live, work and play and is not restricted to just a place where we have a commuter parking lot. You can't do that with SkyTrain!

Unknown said...

Bateman said the "gap" between 152nd and 168th is "empty," when in fact it's agricultural land and other nature... far from "empty."

Hopefully a 200th St LRT would encourage some rezoning in Langley City to produce a more walkable, denser, mixed-use area. Who knows... Exciting news!

Joe Zaccaria said...


He did say "a small bit of empty space", and we certainly agree with you that the ALR and the nature there is of value.

In my numerous conversations with him I know that he respects and appreciates the ALR. But for far too long Langley and our neighbours have been effectively penalized (and denied the Interurban) by those out towards Vancouver way for being the stewards of the ALR.

I'm thinking that because in the past our Interurban detractors have used the ALR and density nonsense to deny us, therefore Bateman decided to take a different approach.

I'd like to point out that the thing I like about this stretacr plan is that with smart growth strategies, we can build Interurban ridership and grow the connections between even our local communities. Otherwise we will suffer with urban sprawl that will one day ONLY be able to be served by buses.

Light Rail Guy said...

Many European light rail tramway, or light railways travel through agricultural land or non populated lands.

LRT doesn't need high density to operate effectively, rather LRT needs to service where people want to go, to provide the all important seamless journey.

All this talk about density is nothing more than a land developers scam, concocted by the highest official in the region!