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

Report says Evergreen Line is already six months behind schedule

with 12 comments

The Georgia Straight headline above refers to a City of Burnaby report. (City reports are a lot easier to locate than Translink reports!)

Construction of the 11-kilometre line was expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2010, but according to a City of Burnaby staff report, the project is already half a year behind schedule.

Even worse, members of Burnaby city council, who received the report at a meeting on June 28, believe that the line is actually going nowhere.

“If I can say from council last night, most people feel like it will never be built because there’s no funding, and now we see that Vancouver is pressing for the Broadway line to be a priority,” Coun. Colleen Jordan told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview on June 29. “It doesn’t look good.”

This seems to reflect the anxiety that I reported on last week, that was heard at the community meeting in Kitsilano. Quite why the province is supposed to be prejudiced in favour of Vancouver is not articulated, but I suppose that since the Premier runs everything in this province out of his office, and he represents a Vancouver constituency, then whatever was promised previously (the Evergreen Line was supposed to be built at the same time as the Canada Line) has no validity. Well that last bit is, of course, quite true. As we have seen with the HST. And BC Rail – I could go on but won’t.

Out of an estimated total project cost of $1.4 billion, the federal government is kicking in $417 million, while the provincial government’s share is $410 million. TransLink is supposed to pony up $400 million, while the provincial government is supposed to find private funding for the remaining $173 million.

As I keep on repeating, Translink does not have $400 million. Its current three year plan has nothing for transit expansion, and the major chunk of capital funding it is being forced to spend on the ridiculous fare gates project. That does nothing to improve service – or net revenue either. As Translink themselves state, there is no business case for turnstiles on Skytrain, and that does not change even if the province does kick in some additional funding. It might make Translink’s books look a little bit better, but it does not change the rate of return on the capital employed one bit. Since it all comes out of taxpayers pockets one way or another, there should be outrage. But the common misperception that no-one pays when they get on Skytrain persists – and it does not matter what anyone says to the contrary.

Dave Duncan, spokesperson for the transportation ministry, told the Straight by phone that the line is still set to be completed by the end of 2014. Construction will start in the spring of 2011, he said.

But he does not explain where the missing funds will come from. Until those are identified – and confirmed – do not expect to see anything started between Lougheed and Coquitlam. Unless the ministry is wiling to take the risk of there being one of those embarrassing projects that are started then abandoned. Toronto has had more than one of those. So far we have managed to avoid that pitfall – but there’s always a first time.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 30, 2010 at 10:42 am

Posted in transit

12 Responses

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  1. Somewhere in my clippings file is a news headline that reads “SkyTrain to Port Moody by 1990, Promises Premier.”

    Me thinks the good Burghers in the Tri-Cities will wait rather longer, than shorter for their metro.

    DM Johnston

    June 30, 2010 at 11:05 am

  2. IMO, I wouldn’t rely on Mayor Corrigan and Burnaby Council to provide leadership on transit issues, or regional issues.

    [1] “Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, however, warned TransLink’s plans are unaffordable and argued scarce funding should be used to sustain service to areas with strong existing ridership rather than areas with low transit use if cuts are required.

    “There are significant subisides going into many of the South of Fraser routes that are questionable in terms of business efficiency,””

    [2] “Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan believes his fellow Metro Vancouver mayors will “capitulate” and approve $130 million in additional funding to keep TransLink solvent and stave off service cuts. ”


    That being said, if I don’t hear an announcement in the next while to clear up questions about start dates and funding answers, i’m gonna be upset…


    June 30, 2010 at 12:42 pm

  3. What is really frustrating is that the FEDS have given billions of $ (at least promised..) to Ontario to improved Toronto transit but hardly give Vancouver anything. Ontario is actually putting billions of their own money in Transit while Campbell has found around 500 millions–pretty much the amount needed for the Evergreen line–for a new roof on BC Place, just to placate a private developper! The very type of people that are always complaining about governments spending too much money on “socialists” type projects like low-income housing etc. (Mind you I would prefer myself that the B.C. government help low income people BUY homes, as other governments –even non socialists ones– do, but that another story)

    Red frog

    June 30, 2010 at 12:58 pm

  4. Cameron Station isn’t on the current list of optional stations (only Queens, Falcon and Lincoln are) – it would appear that City of Burnaby staff are trying to paint a rosier picture for Council than is likely – perhaps setting themselves up to be “outraged” at being denied an additinal station.

    Here are the current plans filed with the Environmental Assessment Office
    (Volume III contains drawings of the allignment – you can clearly see that the there is no planned future station at Cameron because the grade shown is will not allow a level platform at Cameron Street):

    I also wouldn’t rely on City of Burnaby staff to provide accurate information – even in their staff reports. I remember that a couple of years ago one of their staff reports supporting the Everegree Line as LRT instead of Skytrain said that even if the Evergreen Line is bult as Skytrain, trains would not be able to through run to VCC-Clark (which is incorrect (the trains will be able to through run from Coquitlam to VCC-Clark)).

    Ron C

    June 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm

  5. Somewhere in my clippings file is a news headline that reads “SkyTrain to Port Moody by 1990, Promises Premier.”

    Yeah, that was Vander Zalm / Rita Johnson and would have branched from the Expo Line at Royal Oak to Lougheed and Coquitlam – The only part of that building plan to proceed was the extension to Scott Road and Surrey Central (the Richmond Line was also announced at that time too). They got turffed out by the NDP who changed priorities and started up the Westcoast Express to serve their NE Sector ridings instead.

    WRT Toornto – the Ontario government recently slashed funding of the LRT lines for Toronto and pushed back construction of those that were not cut.

    Ron C

    June 30, 2010 at 3:24 pm

  6. ^^If anything, according to the CoB report, Burnaby is asking for provisions for a future Cameron station without increasing the density of the surrounding area. (pg 7, 1st paragraph)


    June 30, 2010 at 5:52 pm

  7. Cameron station could be at less than 500m of the Lougheed one, so well into the Lougheed catchement area.

    By the way, I rode a couple of time the 97, and basically no-one use the Cameron stop, for good reasons: the reasons could be still there whether LRT or ALRT, disregarding the density increase at Cameron

    Looking at satellite picture, redevelopment opportunity are especially concentrated South of Cameron and West of North Road (and south of Austin street). so all more centered on Lougheed than on Cameron.

    The general tonality of the CoB report is well biased toward an at grade solution, and the Cameron station request seems to participate to a relatively parochial-esque perspective exposed in the CoB report


    June 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm

  8. Funny, but every day between 7 and 9 pm I get off the 97 at Cameron, along with a couple of others, and there are people waiting for that bus or another one. Same thing when I go towards downtown..there are people waiting for buses at Cameron on the East side of North Road. There are definitely more people using that stop since PriceSmart, Shoppers, the Liquor store etc. opened at Cameron.

    Red frog

    June 30, 2010 at 11:55 pm

  9. […] Marpole residents start to mobilize against towers [State of Vancouver] Report says Evergreen Line is already six months behind schedule [Stephen Rees's blog] British Columbians loaded up on gas in 2009: report [Vancouver Sun] BC First […]

    re:place Magazine

    July 1, 2010 at 8:33 am

  10. The key to a station at Cameron (assuming that it’s not too late to reverse a decision made a couple of years ago) is that Burnaby must accept a “side of the road” alignment for the line along North Road (i.e. on the Burnaby side – even in the existing curb lane).

    The current “centre of the road” alignment resulted from bickering between Burnaby and Coquitlam as neither wanted to have the guideway on its side of North Road.

    The added cost of providing for a “future station” at Cameron while retaining the “centre of the road” alignment would be too great. An entire stretch of columns would have to be heightened in order to accommodate a mezzanine station above the centre of the street (like at Brentwood). A “side of the road” alignment wouldn’t require such drastic measures (like Holdom Station, the future Capstan Station, Future Lincoln Station or any of the existing No. 3 Rd. Stations).

    Land costs could be an issue with a side alignment, but if Burnaby was really committed to a station, it would allow construction in the southbound curb lane of North Road.

    Ron C

    July 2, 2010 at 12:03 pm

  11. “…An entire stretch of columns would have to be heightened in order to accommodate a mezzanine station above the centre of the street (like at Brentwood)”

    Not really…we could have space bridges linking a station on the Burnaby side of North Road to platforms cantilevered from the guideway.

    Seriously now…when the new development on the Burnaby side of North road at Cameron was 1/2 way finished quite a few locals were convinced that the 2 level area with a curved roof, on the top floor of the commercial building, was a new SkyTrain station.Pity that TransLink has no imagination..this would have been a good location..Both in Europe and in Japan trains have long run on viaducts that have businesses below them. Some elevated Japanese freeways also have stores under them. click on the photos to enlarge them.

    Red frog

    July 2, 2010 at 10:26 pm

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