Friday, April 11, 2008

Interurban Community Rail Study Executive Summary

So on March 10th, as I reported earlier, the staff of the Township of Langley with the help of Translink recommended that Township council support Translink’s South of the Fraser Area Transit Plan while holding off support of restoring the Interurban. The staff report included negative statements such as:
The study identifies a number of significant obstacles that would need resolution before such a service could be established. The finalization of the study was delayed to allow for the incorporation of the findings of the other studies into the document but does not include the latest information on the Provincial Transit Plan. Due to the number of significant obstacles, the time and resources required to pursue further work, the significant duplication that the proposed service now has with the SoFA Transit Plan and Provincial Transit Plan along with the lack of analysis on potential ridership or a cost/benefit analysis staff does not recommend pursuing Community Passenger Rail at this time.
All this basically translates into, “We really, really, really don’t want you to support the Interurban because if you do, we won’t need SkyTrain or Rapid Bus on Fraser Highway.” The staff's recommendations were supposedly based on a UMA Community Rail study done for the Township. (This is the same company that did the same study for Surrey.) I would like to point out that Township staff didn’t release the original report from UMA to the public or council, and are only now providing access to their updated version. Sounds a bit fishy to me…

Luckily the Township of Langley council saw beyond the excuses and voted to “write to Minister Falcon requesting his urgent review of the inclusion of the interurban line in current Lower Mainland transportation plans.”

Anyway, I have obtained the Executive Summary of the updated Township of Langley UMA Community Rail study. I’m working on getting the complete report online. Even the updated UMA study is not as bleak as Township staff would have you beleive.

The report states that the Interurban could run on the exciting downtown corridor as long as freight service through the downtown Langleys is not double tracked. It also states that “recent indications from work completed in regard to the expansion of the Roberts Bank area are that a double track for freight traffic through the Langleys downtown in the exciting freight corridor may be required, as well as the creation of new long siding facilities.” That is a very scary statement, but even triple tracking is not a show stopper for the reintroducing the Interurban. It goes on to say that it would be ideal to create a new corridor through the Langleys downtown area. The report does not address the costs of new corridor section which would be about 4km, but Translink did a study of restoring the Interurban service and recommended that light rail use the old Interurban alignment. Today this is Michaud Crescent in the City of Langley. The City of Surrey UMA report states that service could get up and running from Scott Road SkyTrain to 264th Street for about $200 million. If we use the Translink report cost of $27 million per kilometer for light rail, the total cost of getting the Interurban restored would be $296 million. This is less then the cost of 2km of the proposed UBC SkyTrain.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wow. Well, some good news, some bad news.

How much is Gateway, again? Is it $1.3 billion? Or was it $11 billion... I can't remember... but a billion dollars would buy a heck of a lot of light rail. ;)