Letters - Now News - Dec 22,2004
I wish to add my words of encouragement to Coquitlam city councillors to persist with the debate on SkyTrain for the north east sector. Virtually everyone with whom I have discussed this decision thinks an at-grade system such as is being proposed is a poor investment of taxpayers' money.
Last week, I navigated the bus and SkyTrain system to attend a meeting in downtown Vancouver. What I enjoyed about the SkyTrain system is the regularity and reliability of travel time. It allowed me to maximize my day and minimize my travel time.
My concern with the proposed tram is the use of two, (or three if you include buses) different technologies requiring the rider to get off one system and get on another. This not only adds time, but presents one more obstacle to the rider, thus increasing the inconvenience of public transit.
As well, if I understand the tram system correctly, it will be an at-grade system that will compete with vehicular traffic. As the city becomes even more congested, this system will get slower and slower over time.
If we are to encourage riders to get out of their vehicles and adopt public transit, it must be both convenient and rapid.
City councillors - hold out for a referendum on SkyTrain. A rapid transit system should be both "rapid" and a "system."
Open Letter to Kevin Falcon
Minister of Transportation
I'm writing to express my concern with the recent TransLink decision to implement light rapid transit on the north east extension, instead of SkyTrain.
My primary concern with this decision is based on future extendibility. The Lougheed Highway from Coquitlam to Maple Ridge is often in gridlock and is quickly getting worse, with extensive development in the north east. Rapid transit extension to Coquitlam should be designed with the best way to effect future extension to Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge factored in.
While TransLink certainly has an ambitious agenda of projects planned, I've seen nothing regarding a rapid transit system solution. As an example, why not integrate and add to various projects already planned, so that rapid transit will not only run to Coquitlam, but then out to Pitt Meadows, over the Golden Ears Bridge, out to Langley and then up to Surrey to the King George SkyTrain station, forming a loop that would provide multiple options to commuters, serving an enormous percentage of people in the region?
Cost? Yes, this proposal would be expensive. But so would the cost of not creating an integrated system. The current projects being planned simply add more roads and bridges, which will then encourage the use of more cars and the subsequent pollution that is already turning the sky brown.
Do we need some new roads and bridges? Absolutely. Transportation has been so badly neglected that we have no choice but to do some building to relieve the congestion (e.g. twinning the Port Mann). But this expansion must be done in concert with new rapid transit, otherwise we're just continuing along the same course that got us into these traffic problems in the first place.
The provincial government is in a surplus budget situation. I hope that you and your colleagues, through vision and leadership, can encourage TransLink to develop some better long-term solutions that will ensure the sustainability of the region.
Leneen Robb's article on the front page of The NOW Dec. 18 reflects on Coquitlam Coun. Diane Thorne's move towards having a referendum to decide how "pro" Coquitlam citizens would be for SkyTrain rather than the tram system that our mayor is for.
As I see it, in a built-up area, there is room for only so many traffic lanes. A tram track on one side may take up the space of one lane, with another land needed for the tram's return trip.
I like Thorne's suggestion to go, by referendum, to the people for their views. That, I think, is a much better course to take than, without thought, to barrel on ahead and put in place, for now, a monstrosity that in a few years would have to be replaced by something else, maybe at triple the cost of going SkyTrain now.