The Evergreen Line is a long-awaited extension to the rail transit system in Greater Vancouver. The route of the line is from the Lougheed Mall area in eastern Burnaby to the Coquitlam town centre. The following letter was sent to the Premier of BC to give Transport Action BC's input on the planning of this important link in the transportation network.

June 10, 2008

Right Hon. Gordon Campbell,
Premier British Columbia
P. O. Box 9041 Stn. Prov. Govít.
Victoria, B. C. V8W 9E1

Dear Premier,

Subject: Rail Transit Expansion in the Vancouver Region

First allow us to congratulate you on the Provincial Transit Plan published last January. We endorse the priority being given to the Evergreen Line, the proposed rapid transit expansion to UBC and the significant bus expansion.

Transport Action BC strongly supports a multi-modal transportation system with the most suitable technologies used for each corridor, and strong consideration given to minimizing the number of transfers for maximum ridership and passenger and environmental benefits. To this end, we believe that the Evergreen Line must operate as an extension of the Millennium Line, with direct service from Coquitlam to VCC-Clark, to maximize the benefit of a direct line.

However we have a concern about the technology which forces all future construction to be grade separated either on structure or in tunnel, as the line is extended west to UBC.. Using the present Sky-Train technology would make this a very expensive extension, as the only publicly acceptable option is to tunnel all the way to UBC. We are already seeing a substantial cost escalation on the Evergreen line as it went from Light Rail to SkyTrain technology.

There are two alternatives that we would encourage the Province and TransLink to consider in order to reduce costs.

Alternative One is to use a vehicle that has the same dimensions as the Mark II SkyTrain. This vehicle would have a rotary motor rather than a linear motor. The reason is that a linear motor works with close tolerances between the windings on the train and the reactor rail between the two tracks, this makes crossings at grade impossible. This new kind of vehicle would have the same current pick-up as the SkyTrain, but in addition would be able to switch to a pantograph for overhead electric pick-up. Similar dual electric pick-up vehicles already exist, for example in Rotterdam. On the existing Millennium Line and as proposed Evergreen line, this unit could still use the automatic train control, with all its benefits. Any existing investment would not be wasted.

In alternative one, future extensions west and east could be designed for manual operation on at least linear separation (for example in the median of an arterial road or the conversion of an existing railway line). We are also thinking of a possible Light Rail line as part of the Gateway project. Such a line for example could tie in with the Valley line that is being advocated.

Alternative Two is to create a high-quality transfer providing a transfer between the Millennium Ė Evergreen line using SkyTrain technology and a less costly alternative mode for west of Arbutus. We understand the City of Vancouver has long-term aspirations to extend their proposed streetcar system along the Arbutus corridor. Thus a high-capacity light rail/streetcar line from Arbutus to UBC could then complement the Millennium Line and the Cityís streetcar line.

In order to reduce emissions more electric rail lines will be needed in the Vancouver region. If we can use lower cost alignments, we should be able to construct more kilometres and serve more taxpayers for the limited funds available.

We recommend this approach to the Government and through you to the TransLink board.

Yours sincerely,

John J. Bakker,

Acting President Transport Action B.C.

As of September 28, 2008, no reply received.

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