Sep 20,2006

Council hears pitch for SkyTrain

By Brooke Larsen - Staff Reporter

Coquitlam council should ditch light rail transit in favour of SkyTrain technology, according to members of Citizens for Appropriate Evergreen Transportation (CAET).

"I believe this council is getting what we call 'streetcar mentality,'" CAET spokesman Douglas Mazur told council in a presentation Monday night.

Mazur said CAET members are worried about cost overruns in the proposed light rail line, adding that he believes SkyTrain technology is cheaper.

"How can you continue to spend money (on light rail) when the funds are unsecured?" Mazur asked council.

"Spending continues unabated to the point of no return," he added.

Mazur also worried about the effects of street-level rapid transit on vehicle traffic in the Tri-Cities, particularly in the case of emergencies.

"We wonder who has the right of way - a fire truck or a street car?" he asked councillors.

Coun. Lou Sekora told Mazur he had "learned a lot" from the presentation.

Earlier this month council gave its unanimous support to a resolution urging TransLink to open the Evergreen Line in 2009.

The resolution also calls on the provincial government to contribute roughly $600 million to the $953-million project.

In July, Coquitlam Mayor Maxine Wilson, who sits on the TransLink board, voted in favour of delaying the line's opening until 2011, as did fellow TransLink directors Port Coquitlam Mayor Scott Young and Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini.

A TransLink report states that delaying the opening would save the transit authority $107 million by eliminating the need to buy two tunnel-boring machines - the first machine is already being used to construct the RAV or Canada line.

The Evergreen Line will come before the TransLink board for approval again in October.

Plans for the Evergreen Line include 10 stations over more than 11 kilometres, linking Burnaby, Port Moody and Coquitlam and connecting with SkyTrain, the West Coast Express and bus routes.

published on 09/20/2006