Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Transportation minister expects fast track for Evergreen Line

with 11 comments

Evergreen Line diagram

Evergreen Line diagram

There’s a shortfall –

The B.C. government has already committed $410 million and TransLink $400 million to the long-awaited Evergreen Line so the federal funding is the “missing piece,” Falcon said.

The federal government, which is required to pay a third of the project, has provided $67 million so far and Falcon said he’s confident Ottawa will match Victoria’s contribution. That would leave the project $200 million short

Interestingly, that sum is what Translink says is the difference between LRT and SkyTrain. But take a look at that map. There are three types of track “elevated” “tunnel” and “route”. Now whatever that last is supposed to mean, the only thing that is not either over the surface or under the surface must be ON the surface. And that is one thing you cannot do  with a LIM rail and automatic trains – unless the whole thing is fenced to keep out intruders. No at grade crossings either.  There are a couple of places on the Expo line that work like that. But that diagram looks very much like LRT to me with significant sections of onstreet running.

So, since there is not likely to be any P3 contractor out there who can raise money in the current climate and the idea is to have a project ready to go then dumping SkyTrain (which means you have no chocie of partner since it has to be Bombardier) and going for a really competitive tender for a LRT makes a lot of sense. Not that sense has ever mattered in planning for rapid transit in BC.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 16, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Light Rail, transit

11 Responses

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  1. The map they released to the media was an old map for when the Evergreen line was supposed to be LRT. I think somebody in TransLink’s media relations department grabbed the wrong map file for their press release.

    Also, Falcon did clearly say they expect to get the last $200 million from a private sector partner. It will be interesting how they structure that. The central banks in the US lowered their lending rates to between 0 and 0.25% for lending between banks. Obviously there is money out there to be given away….literally given away. Still, $200 millions is alot without a long term operations and maintenance deal to go along with it. This could mean either something will be cooked up that encompasses more than just the Evergreen Line (like the privatization of the BCRTC), or some other trick is up Falcon’s sleeve. There was talk about real estate development. Perhaps any private sector deal would include a large scale development on TransLink owned lands around Coquitlam Centre. Mind you, I’m not sure too many would be willing to jump into a deal in this economic climate to build a bunch of towers around Coquitlam Ctr. However the final chips fall into place, it will be most interesting.


    December 16, 2008 at 6:42 pm

  2. I am not surprised that the map was a mistake – but my point is valid. And the reason nominal central bank rates are so low is that no-one is lending. Falcon is simply blowing hot air – I do not believe that there is anyone out there right now who could sign on to such a deal. But equally it is really not necessary.

    Stephen Rees

    December 16, 2008 at 6:52 pm

  3. Who, in the private sector would invest in this lemon? There is so much wrong with the Evergreen Line, it begs description.

    I have always said that there wasn’t enough ridership on the route to justify LRT, let alone SkyTrain and I have not seen anything new to change my mind.

    Some years ago I researched a rack and pinion option for LRT, instead of a tunnel. Quite surprisingly the Swiss company Stadler, makes R & P kits for trams and were quite forthcoming with information. The cost, was about 10% more than basic track construction with the bonus of saving tunnel construction costs. R & P trams could also service SFU in all weathers!

    The chap I corresponded with, had traveled to Vancouver and was familiar with the geography, simply said “If you build major transit destinations (SFU) in extraordinary places, then extraordinary measures must be taken to service them.”

    Of course no one was interested ,as the planning chaps at TransLink were busy planning LRT as a light metro, to drive up the cost to equal that of SkyTrain. A trick used on the Millennium Line. Nothing ever changes.

    Will the feds give Gordo money for the Evergreen Line?, not if they are going to bail out the auto industry. Harper and his crew do not like giving money for ‘rail’ transit schemes, as Ottawa found out 2 years ago.

    Malcolm J.

    December 16, 2008 at 7:44 pm

  4. Thanks for the post Stephen. I’ll be eagerly watching how they figure out this funding formula, but I do hope it happens quickly. I still think its a good project for the feds as so much work has been done already at the planning and design level. Shovels in the ground is what the feds want though and this is definitely much further along than either the Millenium or Expo Line extensions. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the Port Moody MP, James Moore is a huge booster of this project. Hopefully he can convince Baird to up the federal committment. As for the private partner, lets deal with one problem at a time.


    December 16, 2008 at 11:48 pm

  5. Hopefully they can secure the federal funding.

    Even when the NDP was building the line as the “PMC Line” – i.e. Millennium Line Phase 2 – the segment through Port Moody was planned to be at-grade along the CP right-of-way.

    Residents complained of loss of access to the waterfront at the time (although the CP tracks do that to some extent). When the line was switched to LRT, residents complained that children would be run over in the street.

    If you haven’t seen them, here are links to the possible service plans for integrating the Evergreen Line with the Millennium Line for a one seat ride to Commercial Station and points west on the Millennium Line.

    Click to access Q8-0123_-_11_RTM_SkyTrain_Evergreen_Rev3.pdf

    Other Skytrain background information available at the TransLink website under RFPs for studying the UBC and Expo Line upgrades.

    Ron C.

    December 17, 2008 at 2:13 pm

  6. Construction and material cost especially steel have plummeted lately. Wouldn’t surprise me if the cost of the line is much less than the estimates from last year. They might not need the $200 million contribution from the private partner.

    Richard C.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:25 pm

  7. The $200 million could also come from property deals around stations which is what they’ve been talking about for this line.


    December 17, 2008 at 10:36 pm

  8. With the financial mess, not sure that property deals are going to be a big money maker in the short term. As the bubble has burst and the speculators are out of the market, they will have to adjust their expectations downward.

    Richard C.

    December 18, 2008 at 12:53 pm

  9. The estimated cost of the line wouldn’t have been dependant on making money from nearby real estate development – but rather, as Richard C. has mentioned, the the cost of the project may have gone down because the cost of land required to be expropriated to build the project will have dropped.
    In addition, if there are idle construction crews around teh region – the bidding conpetition for their services won’t be as fierce, so there will be savings on labour costs too.

    Ron C.

    December 18, 2008 at 3:20 pm

  10. I guess all this combines to make really support infrastructure spending during the downturn. Things get cheap and the public gets a better deal for their dollars.

    Interesting Ron C., in that first link you posted, it looks like the selected option is to convert the Millennium Line into just the link between Columbia and Lougheed – at 8 minute headways at off-peak.

    Evergreen Line will probably be the Douglas College to VCC route.


    December 20, 2008 at 9:31 am

  11. (pardon the typos)


    December 20, 2008 at 9:32 am

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