South Fraser Community RAIL

An environmentally friendly hydrogen powered passenger train connecting the Pattullo Bridge in Surrey to Chilliwack

Former Delta councillor blasts SkyTrain plan

Photograph By SANDOR GYARMATI for the Delta Optimist

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The facts are not good at all for taxpayers.

That’s what former Delta councillor and Langley mayor Rick Green is saying in a letter to the current Delta council regarding Metro Vancouver mayors’ decision to move forward with a SkyTrain extension in Surrey, saying there’s far more cost-effective solutions.

Listing a series of points he says proves the approval for the extension to appease new Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum was a bad one, Green, representing the South Fraser Community Rail Society, said it’s long past time the TransLink board of directors rethink and review their decisions and planning related to both SkyTrain, light rapid transit and the interurban south of the Fraser proposal.

“Throughout all of this discussion, our transit provider TransLink is still not facing the reality of the fact they are promoting an outdated, highly overpriced, unaffordable, and poorly performing technology at great cost to us taxpayers. We urge the Provincial Government to implement the ‘South of Fraser Transportation and Housing Study’ already promised through this year’s Throne Speech and Budget Announcement before any decisions are made on South Fraser Regional Transit or Inter-Regional Transit,” Green wrote.

Green’s group is advocating interurban passenger rail by re-activating an old interurban line, a 99-kilometre corridor that would run all the way from the Pattullo Bridge to Chilliwack.

The proposed system would use hydrogen rail, a propulsion system that has a fuel cell device, converting the chemical energy contained within the hydrogen in order to generate electricity.

Ladner resident and former premier Bill Vander Zalm is also a member of the society and has been critical of the scrapping of a pervious light rail plan in favour of the SkyTrain extension.

In a previous interview, Vander Zalm described the decision as ridiculous and making no sense.
“For that kind of money they can run on the old B.C. Electric track all the way from the Pattullo Bridge SkyTrain, through North Delta, through Kennedy to Newton, and off to Cloverdale and Langley, and still have enough left over to run a tram on the ground from Guildford to Newton if that’s what they want to do,” he said.

Vander Zalm said their proposal would have the new system built in phases with service out to Langley first, but eventually to Chilliwack.
He also noted that when the track rights were sold during his time in government, the freight rights were sold to CP Rail mostly, but the province ensured the right to have passenger service was reserved for that line.

In his letter to council, Green noted it’s not too late to go back to the original LRT project in Surrey.
The Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council recently approved a $39-million deal that will see the City of Surrey compensate TransLink for the expansion of the SkyTrain line to Langley.

The Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Expo Line project along the Fraser Highway currently has about $1.63 billion in available funding, but that’s only enough only to extend the line to Fleetwood.

Sandor Gyarmati / Delta Optimist