Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Translink CEO likes Light Rail

A voice of reason coming from the new CEO of Translink Tom Prendergast. I’ll let you read the full article at the Black Press website, but I wanted to quote from the article:

“SkyTrain isn’t for every place and for every time,” Prendergast said in his first wide-ranging interview with Black Press.

“If there’s one thing I feel, I feel that it’s not clearly evident that an alternatives analysis is gone through when people decide what technology to use to deliver the service in a corridor.”

It’s not the most politically correct answer. The provincial and federal governments have lined up behind SkyTrain technology for both the Evergreen Line and an Expo Line extension through Surrey to Langley. So far rejected is light rail, which costs less than a tenth as much as SkyTrain, or put another way, 10 to 15 kilometres of light rail can be built for the same budget as a single kilometre of SkyTrain.

“Your capital costs are generally far lower than a SkyTrain,” Prendergast said, adding the line can usually be built far faster as well. He predicts that as rapid transit lines drill deeper into suburban (he’s reluctant to use that term, preferring “different density”) neighbourhoods, elevated SkyTrain will run into more resistance than in urban core areas where towers and other overhead structures are expected.

“If you’ve got wide street right-of-ways in Surrey and Langley, you can take some two or three lanes, put in a dedicated guideway in the centre or off to one side that would be light rail, and it will work very effectively.”

He points to light rail systems going into Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, but adds each corridor here needs to be assessed individually.

So it looks like this new boss at Translink is a fan of light rail. This is potentially great news for people in the South Fraser region. If the new CEO of Translink is talking with our Ministry of Transportation, could this be a shift away from the multi-billion dollar 6km Surrey SkyTrain expansion? Will we see light rail before 2030? Let’s hope so. Let's also hope that he knows about the Interurban!

Please read the whole article on the BC Local News website.

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