The Mayor of Abbotsford wanting to borrow $8 billion for a rapid transit line to Abbotsford is, to be polite, not well thought out.
As the person responsible for the Leewood Study, done by Leewood Projects (UK) and released by Rail for the Valley a decade ago, I do have some insight it transit issues and costs reinstating passenger service on the former BC Electric interurban line from Vancouver to Chilliwack.
The proprietary Movia Automatic Light Metro that operates on the Expo and Millennium Lines was never designed for long haul service; in fact light metro is only used in densely populated urban centres if it is used at all.
The cost to Extend the Expo line to Abbotsford would be very costly and including the extension from Fleetwood to Langley (unfunded) would cost more than $8.5 billion plus a much needed $3 billion rehab of the Expo line to accommodate higher capacities would increase the cost to over $12 billion.
A new, stand alone rapid transit or MALM line from Vancouver to Abbotsford, via the Number 1 Hwy, would cost over $14 billion.
The operational costs for such extensions would be massive and would dwarf the almost $400 million annual in subsidizes for the light metro lines!
Commuter rail would almost be just as expensive, if a new rail line were to be built as “greenfields” construction is hugely expensive.
There is an answer, which tax and spend politicians wish to ignore because it isn’t glamorous or trendy and that is a diesel or hydrogen powered regional trains, operating from downtown Vancouver to Chilliwack, via New Westminster, North Delta/Surrey, Cloverdale, Langley, Abbotsford, and Sardis; as well servicing numerous post secondary institutions and industrial estates along the route.
The cost for a basic hourly service per direction would be around $800 million; three trains per hour per direction $1.5 billion, by using the existing, former BC Electric route.
The choice is rather simple, do what is affordable or suffocate in congestion and gridlock, waiting for a $12 billion train that will never come.
Rail for the Valley