Report says Evergreen Line is already six months behind schedule

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      With the Evergreen Line, it would take about 40 minutes to get from Coquitlam Town Centre to downtown Vancouver. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure estimates that this will save rush-hour commuters at least an hour a day.

      However, many will have to continue making the long drive, as funding questions and delays in the environmental-assessment process have cast doubt on whether the rapid-transit line will be ready for the scheduled start of operations in late 2014.

      Construction of the 11-kilometre line was expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2010, but according to a City of Burnaby staff report, the project is already half a year behind schedule.

      Even worse, members of Burnaby city council, who received the report at a meeting on June 28, believe that the line is actually going nowhere.

      “If I can say from council last night, most people feel like it will never be built because there’s no funding, and now we see that Vancouver is pressing for the Broadway line to be a priority,” Coun. Colleen Jordan told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview on June 29. “It doesn’t look good.”

      The Evergreen Line would connect Coquitlam and Port Moody to the Millennium Line at Lougheed Town Centre Station in Burnaby.

      Citing the provincial government’s time line, the Burnaby staff report noted that an environmental-assessment certificate is supposed to be issued by the third quarter of 2010, paving the way for the start of construction before the end of the year.

      “The first quarter of next year appears to be more realistic [for when the certificate will be issued], suggesting the project is currently about six months behind the above schedule,” the report states. “It is not known what effect this may have on the date for commencing operational service.”

      In February 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Gordon Campbell announced funding for the line, whose construction has been contemplated since the 1990s.

      Out of an estimated total project cost of $1.4 billion, the federal government is kicking in $417 million, while the provincial government’s share is $410 million. TransLink is supposed to pony up $400 million, while the provincial government is supposed to find private funding for the remaining $173 million.

      However, in its draft plan covering the years 2011 to 2013, TransLink hasn’t allocated money for the expansion of transit services, let alone the Evergreen Line.

      As well, according to the Burnaby staff report, the province has neither secured the $173 million nor identified the “project partners” that will provide this amount.

      “As such, funding for the Evergreen Line remains uncertain,” the report notes. “The Province has not indicated how the funding shortfall will be addressed. While the Province can continue to fund preliminary work on its own, the funding shortfall will need to be addressed before the project can proceed to construction.”

      Dave Duncan, spokesperson for the transportation ministry, told the Straight by phone that the line is still set to be completed by the end of 2014. Construction will start in the spring of 2011, he said.

      The provincial government has touted the numerous benefits of having this north of the Fraser River rapid-transit line. A media backgrounder states that the line will enable faster travel times for commuters. It could also remove up to 60,000 cars a day from the roads, and eliminate 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually by the year 2020.

      Coquitlam councillor Brent Asmundson drives a bus for the Coast Mountain Bus Company, and he said he’s familiar with how the Evergreen Line has been derailed because of the priorities of the provincial government.

      “There’s frustration because in 2007—when we approved the Canada Line construction—it was to go concurrent with the line to Coquitlam,” Asmundson told the Straight in a phone interview. “Well, that got pushed off till 2009, then 2011.”

      For now, all that Tri-City residents can do is wait for the Evergreen Line to come, if it ever will.




      Jun 30, 2010 at 7:31am

      “If I can say from council last night, most people feel like it will never be built because there’s no funding, and now we see that Vancouver is pressing for the Broadway line to be a priority,” Coun. Colleen Jordan told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview on June 29. “It doesn’t look good.”


      No kidding.

      It's the same old, same old. Another Vancouver centric project will be advanced ahead of any further service to the Northeast sector, or anything south of the Fraser

      And yet you still have the creme de la creme people denouncing "welfare transit" and claiming, with the help of BC Comptroller General Wenezenki-Yolland, that some supposed increased service to lower density areas is the root cause of Translink's financial problems.

      Rod Smelser


      Jun 30, 2010 at 8:50am

      Coquitlam already has rapid transit to Vancouver...the West Coast Express. 25 minutes to downtown, rather than the 40 plus minutes (plus transfers) for a useless transit line to Burnaby. Expand the WCE, make it an hourly service, (with counter rush hour trains, like the GO Lakeshore train in the GTA), add the long-planned stop at Willingdon (with rapid bus connection to Hastings St, Brentwood and Metrotown Skytrain Stations), and be done with it.

      Evil Eye

      Jun 30, 2010 at 9:58am

      God knows the government of the day, was that NDP, said the same thing in 1996. Yawn - The Evergreen Line will take 60,000 cars off the road a day? This is the same sort of bullshit as the claim that the Canada line will take 200,000 car trips off the road a day. By all accounts, the Canada line has attracted only about 5,000 new riders to the transit system, mainly a few people going to the airport; $1 a day U-Pass students; elderly Chinese going to the Asian markets, and gamblers going to the River Rock Casino.

      There is absolutely no hint (unless you are Bill Good with blinders on) that the RAV/Canada line has attracted the motorist in the car. And all this for a now $2.8 billion investment in the metro/subway line. Bully!


      Jun 30, 2010 at 11:11am

      ===>>> Fersure

      Agree 101%.

      Still, I think the Skytrain or other LRT line to Coquitlam has complementary uses, chanelling traffic south to New West and North Surrey.

      However, WCE is the least favoured of all the Translink modes at Translink, in Victoria, and with most of the Metro Vancouver types and the community of blogging urbanists and self-proclaimed transit experts [read: Ben West, Eric Doherty, Stephen Rees, etc.].

      They don't like it because it doesn't fit their British colonial concept of mass transit (uncomfortable, unpleasant, but cheap) and because it serves longer distance commuters.

      The Metro types and the NGO types are united in their iron-clad opposition to commutes longer than about 5 to 10 kms. That's part of their "livable region" strategy and the associated "live close to work" doctrine.

      Rod Smelser


      Jun 30, 2010 at 11:41am

      @Fersure: You are assuming (and the article implies) that people want to get to Vancouver. Most of the time this is not the case.

      Trips are increasingly between other city centers, not to Vancouver. The hub-and-spokes layout of our network no longer corresponds to where people go. According to a 2004 Translink report only 19% of the westbound traffic over the Port Mann bridge travels into Vancouver. There are more trips between the Tri Cities area and Surrey. I very much doubt that a high proportion of Evergreen trips would be to downdown.

      Furthermore, though I agree with the desirability of improved WCE service, it is an altogether different beast. Infrequent, long-distance, high speed commuter service between a few widely-spaced stations does not serve most transit users. Most trips are not commutes, and most do not go downtown.

      Improved WCE service is no substitute for a connection to the rapid transit network.

      Vanc Guy

      Jun 30, 2010 at 2:44pm

      Hey how about living closer to where you work? It's not realistic that we can afford rapid transit from every corner of the earth into Vancouver.


      Jun 30, 2010 at 2:51pm

      Hence the stop at Willingdon, per Burnaby's transportation plan. (p43).

      What does the Port Mann, and travel to Surrey in general, have to do with the Evergreen line? A slow at grade system may be desirable for those who live, or will live on North Rd., but will do nothing to attract riders from lower Port Moody and Coquitlam Centre. Do you really think people are going to hop on a LRT system from the main tranist hub in the area (Coquitlam Centre), ride for 30 minutes + to Burnaby, hop on board a rapid PMH bus for another 20 minutes to get to Surrey? No, they'll drive, or do the 169 shuffle at Braid/New West. Furthermore, there is no reason why people can't be served by the existing bus system through Port Moody. PM is nice, but there is hardly any reason why someone from Coquitlam would hop on a LRT system to visit Port Moody.

      Do you even ride the current 97 B Line/160 or shuttles in the Tri Cities? The only time they are near capacity required to serve an LRT line is when they connect to the overflowing WTC!


      Jun 30, 2010 at 7:17pm

      @Fersure: Please reply to what I say, not to the position you imagine I may have staked out. I did not say anything about a slow at-grade system. I am undecided about the relative merits of Skytrain vs LRT for that route. So while what I said would also be true of LRT, I was referring to the current proposal for Skytrain. The plans are for a 13 minute trip to Lougheed station, not 30.

      I used to live at Coquitlam centre. I have a car, but I generally prefer transit if it is practical. The 97B-line is a slow connection to the Skytrain. The fastest connection is through Braid, as you describe. My wife worked in Surrey. She usually drove, but took transit a number of times - as did I. Frequent dependable transit would make it a pretty good option.

      I have since moved to Burnaby, away from the proposed route. Still, I go to Coquitlam frequently and downtown seldom (downtown is not nearly as attractive when you have a young child). If Evergreen existed, I'm sure I would use it sometimes instead of driving. Whether Evergreen is a better use of the money than improved bus service is another matter, but there is a legitimate need for rapid transit that your WCE idea does not fulfill.

      Evil Eye

      Jun 30, 2010 at 8:34pm

      At grade transit systems are slow because they are designed to be slow. Both Portland's and Calgary's LRT systems exceed 80 kph on portions of their at-grade routes.

      let's pull numbers out of thin air, it makes us look good

      Jun 30, 2010 at 10:11pm

      Where does TransLink get this "the EGL will remove the equivalent of 60,000 cars from the roads stuff"? For crying out loud, it is much more plausible that the EGL will lure people who once walked or cycled to work out to the sticks to take the EGL, and no cars will be removed from the roads. I didn't see 100,000 cars evaporate from the roads after the RAV Line. I just see skanklink shuttling bus riders to the RAV Line to make its quota for the politicians who are clueless.