Group wants interurban back on track
Quite a decent piece on Rail for the Valley. John Buker has apparently decided to get in ahead of Monday’s Abbotsford Council meeting which I wrote about earlier. The idea of a demonstration poroject is the one that seemed to get most response at public meetings in both Abbotsford and Chilliwack. But it seemed to get less response from the Interegional Transportation committee and therefore is not the main plank of their report.
One of the things that I tried to stress was that is is feasible for this to happen without expecting a lot of money from the province. It would need a partnership with the current freight operator (owned by the Washington Group) and one of the companies that operate passenger trains. It would almost certainly be a limited time temporary thing, but it would meet the objection of the sceptics “I’m from Missouri, show me”.
Rail can capture people’s imagination, but a demonstration would be a practical way to allow people to experience what is possible and at relatively low cost. In my view this is more likely to actually lead to a real service in the near future – and much mire likely than any report or plan to shift attentiion away from freeway expansion to a much more efficient mode – and one that can be implemented in a shirt time scale. It would also increase choice – something that is notably missing now and in the current plans.
Ken Hardie’s response stressing the north of the Fraser and the suggestion that West Coast Express could get to Chilliwack seems to miss the point completely. Chilliwack has very little long distance commuting since it took the idea of a complete community seriously and is relatively self contained. The growth of the valley population will be mainly in the south – Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford – where there are no real current plans to do more than small increases to bus service. This is not nearly enough to meet present needs let alone the expected growth, which will all be highway oriented absent any other alternative. It is also clear that the current FVRD councils have no interest at all in getting swallowed up in SoCoBriTCA. No is there any expectation that Kevin Falcon is actually listening to what people in this part of BC are saying. They do not want SkyTrain – which in current plans is too little, too late and at huge cost. They want a lot of rail now and at low cost!