Letter: Light rail advocate questions support of SkyTrain

A regional group lobbies for light rail to be built through the Fraser Valley.

Dear Editor,

I read with amusement, the letters from loyal SkyTrain fans, uttering every man of straw argument against light rail. Yet, the use of actual facts seems to elude them.

They never mention that ALRT/ART SkyTrain has been on the market for over 40 years, and only seven of the proprietary railways have been built and only three seriously used for regional transit.

The SkyTrain lobby never mentions that over 200 new light rail systems have been built during the same period.

There is no mention that SkyTrain costs much more to build, operate and maintain than light rail and being driverless, SkyTrain is prone to more break downs and stoppages when compared to light rail.

The many comments extolling the virtues of SkyTrain, omit the fact that SkyTrain is a proprietary railway, which patents are owned by Bombardier Inc. and SNC Lavalin.

There is complete silence on the fact that SkyTrain’s operating certificate with Transport Canada, limits capacity to 15,000 persons per hour per direction, until at least $3 billion is spent upgrading the ALRT/ART system.

The same folks who decry LRT remain mute on the fact that traffic flows to Langley do not warrant an expensive light-metro, meaning that any SkyTrain built to Langley will be heavily subsidized. And speaking of subsidies, the GVRD found in 1992, that just the Expo line was subsidized at $157 million annually, more than the entire bus system at the time!

Has anyone who wants to build with SkyTrain actually talked to a real transportation expert, you know the type, the people who actually design and build rail transit for cities?

I have, with many and the answer is the same, ALRT/ART SkyTrain is a dated and expensive transit system and offers no real benefit when compared to light rail, costing one half to one third the cost of SkyTrain to build.

So the SkyTrain Lobby face a “Hobson’s Choice” on transit; either build with LRT now or plan for SkyTrain and in 20 years, when the funding is in place, then find that Bombardier has long abandoned SkyTrain production and ultimately have no rail transit at all!

ALRT/ART SkyTrain, is the Edsel of rapid transit.

Malcolm Johnston, Rail for the Valley, Delta

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