New Jersey’s River Line, using diesel light rail TramTrains, enables to provide a quality transit service on a predominantly single track rail line. The River Line could be a template for several rail services, both in metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, track-sharing with lightly used freight lines.
First published in 2009 A note from Zwei: These costs were taken directly from Calgary Transit, which once had a fine web page giving accurate statistics about the C-Train, unlike TransLink and BC Transit, which hid the real costs in a baffle-gab of nonsense and phony news releases. One did not need a F.O.I. to [...]
Classic single track TramTrain operation through a rural village. I am updating this post due to a series of recent posts on Facebook and other transit oriented blogs. Karlsruhe’s TramTrain 210 km route S-4 travels through the sparely populated Schwarzwald or Black forest region of Southern Germany. There are no musings about “not enough density” [...]
This comment from Mr. Cow deserves a post of its own as there is so much information here, it deserves a wider audience. As Mr. Cow is a Canadian Transit Engineer, his comments are well worth reading. When SkyTrain ‘crapped-out’ in the Summer of 2014 there were no drivers or attendants to oversee the evacuation [...]
The Vancouver Sun is famous for its ‘puff’” stories about SkyTrain but with each “puff” story comes little slips and new information. 870 employees seems a lot for a “driverless” system, which was sold to the public that it had fewer employees, thus cheaper to operate than light rail. Somewhat inconveniently, SkyTrain costs about 40% [...]
It has been six years since the release of the Leewood Study, yet to date most regional politicians do not even realize that it exists. Internationally, the Leewood Study is a winner, featured in two international transportation magazines, locally though the Leewood Study has been ignored or discredited by neanderthal thinking municipal politicians. There are [...]
An interesting read. Why would Quebec’s Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, invest in the obsolete SkyTrain? Could the real reason be to help Bombardier out of its aerospace financial embarrassment, by buying ART? At the current rate, the proposed 67 km Montreal ART light-metro system will cost well over $8 billion or more [...]
Gridlock is endemic in metro Vancouver. TransLink has become the “clown of transit planning” and now with with two very expensive vanity projects, the truncated Broadway SkyTrain subway and the Surrey LRT, which is being planned as a “poor man’s” SkyTrain, the clown is turning into a nightmare. TransLink has had good teachers. Now, all [...]
The only agency that can come close is assessing public transit systems in Canada is the Canadian urban Transit Association and they do a reasonable job at it. The preceding graph is from C.U.T.A. and shows that the cost per revenue passenger in Metro Vancouver is about one third higher than Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto. [...]
The FRA standards for rail cars in the USA also sets the standards for railcars in Canada and a change in crash worthiness of new cars is big news as it would make the realization of TramTrain much easier. Is it not time to build ‘rail’ transit vehicles for the 21st century and not for [...]
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We’re a growing group who agree that the Fraser Valley needs passenger rail service NOW!
Some of our governing politicians still don't seem to get it. They say it isn't viable "at this time." Maybe in 20 years, they say. Of course, they said that 20 years ago…. They plan to spend billions of dollars on more highways, but they continue to ignore the obvious, long-overdue solution to our traffic congestion [...]
Be a part of the movement to get us Rail For The Valley! The success of this campaign has come from people like you getting involved. By writing letters and pressuring the politicians, passenger rail is closer than ever to being realized, and all of it has been achieved through email and the internet. 1) [...]
Some of our governing politicians still don't seem to get it. They say it isn't viable "at this time." Maybe in 20 years, they say. Of course, they said that 20 years ago…. They plan to spend billions of dollars on more highways, but they continue to ignore the obvious, long-overdue solution to our traffic congestion – passenger rail service for the Fraser Valley! Since they aren't listening, the next step is to organize ourselves…
Voted TOP CLIMATE ACTION PROJECT IN BC, Reader’s Choice Award, The Tyee Online Newspaper
"SRY Rail Link is open to the concept of passenger rail services that would utilize our rail assets throughout the Fraser Valley." -Ken W. Doiron, VP Business Development, Southern Railway of BC (Interurban operator)
“It was the clever boys in Vancouver and Victoria who killed the Interurban transit system that served a far less densely populated Fraser Valley half a century ago. It’s long past time to correct that mistake.” -Langley Advance
“The most efficient and “green” way to move large numbers of people is via light-rail transit. Given the population growth in the Fraser Valley, this transit option should be a no-brainer.”-The Province
“If the government is to meet its goal of cutting air contaminants by 4.7 million tonnes in the next 12 years, the revival of the interurban line will be one of many initiatives aimed at getting commuters out of their cars.” -Abbotsford News
“Now is the time, when our population still allows it, to finally look at light rail. We have the rail ready and the cost of getting it up and running would be a fraction of the cost of building more SkyTrain routes… Not only are we convinced that rail is the best solution for the Fraser Valley, we are convinced that it will be used.” -Abbotsford Times
“One of the biggest disappointments in Victoria’s new transit plan is its failure to include the possibility of light-rail passenger service — along the old Inter-Urban rail route from Vancouver to Chilliwack. In our view, any transit plan that doesn’t include such an environmentally-sound option is deficient to some degree.” -The Province
“Where is the much-needed light rail for the Fraser Valley?” -Surrey Leader
“We can learn from history. Rail-based transit will work in the Fraser Valley.”-Langley Times
“There’s far too much foot-dragging when it comes to the issue of a proper transportation infrastructure for the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. Maybe the politicians need to take a load off and hop on the train.”-Chilliwack Times
Make no mistake, passenger rail service from Chilliwack to Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, and even to Vancouver would be a great thing.-Chilliwack Times
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts:"South of the Fraser, we want at-grade light rail. You see it all over the world."(link)
"I for one am a firm believer that instead of SkyTrain expansion in Surrey we should be looking at At Grade Rail. At Grade Rail is significantly cheaper, easier to build and much more aesthetically pleasing than SkyTrain. Surrey cannot wait until 2020 for improved rail transit. At Grade Rail can be completed much faster. I have great confidence in the potential of At Grade Rail, and I am currently having City staff analyze this option so that we can move it forward."(link)
During her [2011 State of the City] speech, Watts called for a sustainable funding strategy at TransLink within "a month or two," as well as design plans for a Light Rail system completed by next year. "I don't want to have SkyTrain cutting our communities in half – that is going to destroy our city." (link)
Delta Councillor Bruce McDonald:"I really do believe 10 years, 15 years from now that line will be as important to the valley as the old Interurban was." (link)
Langley Mayor Rick Green: "Interurban services should be fast tracked, at least achieving excursion runs within the next couple of years." (link)
Abbotsford Councillor Lynne Harris: "I think the movement will take hold. I think there's feasibility to it. The infrastructure is already there, and in terms of economic affordability, it's an idea that should be explored." (link)
Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz: Light rail linkages between communities would be invaluable. The track could connect the University of the Fraser Valley and there could be tourism and business opportunities that we've only dreamed of." (link)
A note from Zwei: These costs were taken directly from Calgary Transit, which once had a fine web page giving accurate statistics about the C-Train, unlike TransLink and BC Transit, which hid the real costs in a baffle-gab of nonsense and phony news releases. One did not need a F.O.I. to get actual operating costs!
At the time the Calgary C-Train carried more customers daily than SkyTrain and that an “apples to apples” comparison showed that LRT was indeed much cheaper to operate than SkyTrain. It also goes a long way explaining why Bombardier Inc. refused to let SkyTrain compete directly against light rail and why no one builds with SkyTrain today!
C-Train’s Development and Operating Costs
Total system development costs to date: $548 M
Original cost of vehicle acquisition/unit: $1.2 M
Current vehicle replacement cost: $3.9 M
Total costs of track construction per meter:
above ground $30,000
below ground $35,000
at grade $15,000
What is interesting is that Calgary’s C-Train operating costs in, 2006, was nearly $33 million, while SkyTrain’s annual operating costs during the same period was nearly $80 million (not including the $157 million provincial subsidy) and Calgary’s light rail system carried more passengers! The Interurban, by comparison would be far cheaper to operate on an annual basis.
Ah, such a photo-op for our new PM; oh, such an announcement, but really, this just a rehash of old news releases tarted up for a photo-op so PM Trudeau can claim that BC has not been left out of the Liberals game plan of shoveling money off a back of a truck. The stumbling block of course is that regional mayors must ante up to pay for this lemon and that will be a hard sell.
The public spoke loud and clear last spring about the Mayor’s plan, but regional politicians remained deaf to the taxpayer’s wishes. They will have a very hard time to convince the regional taxpayer to ante more money in what is fundamentally a very bad transit plan.
The big winner it seems is Bombardier Inc. who are the only makers of the proprietary ART cars and Bombardier Inc. also produce the bi-level commuter cars for the West Coast Express.
More cars for the Canada Line is rather silly as the small stations preclude operating longer trains and it seems nothing more than a sop to SNC Lavalin who heads the Canada Line’s mock P-3 operating consortium.
Trudeau did not mention that when a new Seabus is delivered, one of the two older ones will be taken out of service.
The $157 million for pre planning the daft Broadway subway and badly planned Surrey LRT, is a delight for our inept gang of planning bureaucrats who will make sure the money will be spent promoting their incompetence.
Sorry, Trudeau the Younger seems you belong to the “lets throw more money at it” club, in the vain hope that just by throwing money at transit, things are bound to improve, especially at election time.
As for the transit customer, that train has long past, as money spent on transit is to win elections.
Prime Minister Trudeau announces $934 million transportation investment for B.C.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls it “very good news B.C. has been waiting for.”
Speaking in Burnaby, he says his government has completed negotiations on an agreement with the province to provide federal funding to support public transit.
“So today, I am very happy to announce that our government will be investing four hundred and sixty million dollars in public transit in British Columbia, including three hundred and seventy million for public transit right here in Metro Vancouver.”
With contributions from the province and the cities, it will be a total of $934 million to be invested in public transit across the province.
This will cover, among other things, additional SkyTrain and West Coast Express cars, a third Seabus, and planning and pre-construction of the rapid transit line to UBC and the South of the Fraser light rail system.
$3.4 billion was previously pledged nation-wide for transportation.
A fleet of SkyTrain cars ordered for the new Evergreen Line will be pressed into service even before the $1.4-billion line opens next year, as TransLink looks to ease rush-hour crowding on the Expo and Millennium lines.
The change will increase the average capacity of each train on the system by 100 passengers.
Vivienne King, president of TransLink Subsidiary B.C. Rapid Transit Co., said seven of the new Mark III trains (Bombardier Innovia metro cars – Zwei)will be added to SkyTrain as soon as they have been tested. That will likely be this summer.
Most of the increase is because adding the new trains will free up some of the Mark II cars to be added to the old four-car Mark I trains to make up more six-car trains (Mk.1 & Mk. 2 cars do not operate coupled together, as the different wheel diameters cause problems with the automatic train control – Zwei). That will boost the capacity of the older trains to 500 passengers from about 320 passengers.
“As soon as they’re available and released for service we will look at doing that,” King told The Vancouver Sun editorial board Wednesday. “You need to put your resources where they’re going to get the best bang for the buck.”
The additional capacity is expected to help address crowding on the Expo line, particularly between the Commercial-Broadway and Waterfront stations in downtown Vancouver during the morning rush hour, TransLink said, at least until the Evergreen Line starts operating in early 2017. The 11-kilometre rapid transit line will connect Coquitlam and Port Moody with the Millennium Line in Burnaby.
The new Evergreen Line trains have fewer seats — with 30 in each car — but are more open to allow a few additional standing passengers, TransLink spokesman Chris Bryan said (In North America, lack of seats deter customers – Zwei). This is consistent with changes during previous SkyTrain upgrades: The first batch of Mark II cars had 41 seats and a capacity of 130 people, while the latest generation of Mark II SkyTrain cars seat 33 people with a total capacity of 145 people. By comparison, the first Mark I cars, which went into service in 1985, had 36 seats a car and could carry a total of 80 passengers a car.
(General note, capacity is measured at approximately fiver persons per metre length of car. TransLink uses the figure of all seats occupied and 6 persons per metre/2, which gives theoretical capacity only – Zwei.)
TransLink’s 10-year funding plans calls for additional SkyTrain cars for the transit system, along with more buses and rapid transit line expansions for Surrey and Vancouver.
Meanwhile, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said he is in discussions with InTransitBC, which runs the Canada Line, about boosting capacity on that line between Vancouver and Richmond. He said extending the platforms on the Canada Line would be expensive but there may also be ways to expand capacity with additional rail cars.
(Canada line has a maximum capacity of only 7,500 persons per hour per direction – Zwei)
I am beginning to wonder why TransLink hired this chap from Seattle, as he seems a wee bit out of his depth.
Zwei’s opinion is that Kevin Desmond was given the nod because of his familiarity with light-metro, which indeed the Seattle LRT is with now well over 80% of it route grade seperated either on viaduct or in a tunnel.
Mr. Desmond does have a good record winning plebiscites in King County, but his unfamiliarity with TransLink and especially the driverless SkyTrain light-metro, which he is looking into to operate 24 hours a day, could be his Achilles heel.
He erroneously claimed that the vehicles have only four hours each night available for maintenance. It’s not the cars old chum, which a maintained as per schedule; it is the signalling system which needs to be constantly checked and kept in good repair, lest the system stops working during revenue operation. Driverless transit systems need down time every day to maintain good operation, unlike light rail, which with driver, does not have the problems that a driverless transit system does and can operate 24/7 if need be.
The cliche; “TransLink runs a system that is envied by many cities in the world.” is so tiresome that it makes the BS metre go off the dial. Just what cities envy Vancouver Mr. Desmond, please name names, because with Zwei’s 30 years experience very few cities knows very much about Vancouver’s transit system, let alone envying it.
This smacks of ignorance and I am beginning to wonder if Mr. Desmond will last any longer than Tom Prendergast.
TransLink needs help to improve customer experience: CEO
TransLink runs a system that is envied by many cities in the world: CEO
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The CEO of TransLink is hoping the federal government keeps its promise to contribute some of the money needed to fix transit issues.
Kevin Desmond says customer experience will only improve if we invest in the system, otherwise, there just isn’t any way to address issues like under serviced routes and overcrowding.
“That is going to require as well some new funding going forward, so I am focused on how to improve the customer experience both within the resources that TransLink has and hopefully if we can obtain new funding to grow the system; that is where the real customer relief is going to be.”
“That would include a 50 per cent contribution to the TransLink regional transit needs and that is a big boost from the prior 33 per cent assumption of federal revenue,” he explains.
Desmond believes people will always be critical of a company that serves so many but is quick to point out TransLink runs a system that is envied by many cities in the world.
If there is to be a new passenger service on the former BCR route
VIA Rail would be the operator.
The return of the North Vancouver to Prince George passenger rail service is a good idea, both for travelers and for tourists. Leaving from downtown Vancouver would, I think, seal the deal.
The Gordon Campbell BC Liberal Party sold BC Rail in a sweetheart deal to the CNR, whose CEO just happened to be the party bagman! The Railway was sold, in part, to kill the passenger rail service so another political friend who owned the Rocky Mountaineer could operate expensive tourist trains on the run.
As the CNR is a federally mandated railway and, VIA Rail would operate the passenger service and those who want passenger service must petition their MP’s.
How a Talgo ’tilt’ train on the run or even a TramTrain service to Whistler?
Maybe a Talgo ’tilt’ train would be a ticket operating on the former BCR route.
Regular train at Lillooet station on a winter West Coast Rail Tours trip. Photo by Gordon Hall
North Vancouver city council is joining the chorus asking for a new passenger rail service from Prince George to the North Shore.
Lillooet Mayor Margaret Lampman sent a letter to all the municipalities from Prince George to North Vancouver requesting support for the idea.
“The hope is that we can get some passenger rail entity to come forward and put into service the passenger rail line,” she said.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea and I fully support it, as does this council as well,” said City of North Vancouver mayor Darrell Mussatto,adding he hopes CN Rail will let the project use a freight line, which according to him “is not as much as it used to be in the past.”
“Hopefully there’ll be a business opportunity. An entrepreneur might want to come forward to purchase some cars,” said Mussatto.
“The loss of the ‘Budd Car’ in 2002 was a loss of economic and social investment in the future of British Columbia,” stated the letter signed on March 7.
Todd Stone, minister of transportation and infrastructure, said in a statement that relatively low ridership and the loss of “several million dollars every year” caused the service to be discontinued.
“Given the fact that market demand for passenger rail service along this route remains marginal, the provincial government is not considering reinstating this service,” said Stone.
Lampman said she’s not asking the province to reinstate the passenger rail service. “I’m asking the premier for help in facilitating talks with CN who has the lease on the line.”
According to Lampman, since Lillooet doesn’t have transit system or a Greyhound station, it’s difficult for people without vehicles to reach other areas.
“If you have a medical appointment with a specialist in Vancouver and you don’t have a vehicle, you have to hire someone to take you down and that is a lot of money for some people to pay up just to go down to access medical care.”
The $370 million pledged to TransLink in the federal budget is starting to arrive in Metro Vancouver.
The first of three ultra-articulated, block-long buses will make its debut today after a series of late night and early morning tests near the Tsawwassen ferry terminal this week.
TransLink’s congestion-clearing super-bus.
At 200-metres long, the B.C. Bus Train can hold 500 passengers. The 14-wheeled accordion bus, which runs on natural gas, is like six buses in one. It even comes with free wifi, space for an on-board bike mechanic, a barista stand and disc jockey.
The surprise addition to the Coast Mountain Bus Company fleet could go a long way to solving the problem of 1,000-plus passengers left behind every week by full buses around the region.
The bus will be christened shortly before noon on April 1 by new TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond and Coast Mountain’s chief driver Larry Aprilscherz at Broadway and Commercial. First 500 passengers ride for free. The bus will run rush hours on the route to the University of B.C. A second vehicle will arrive next month to serve the Fraser Highway in Surrey.
Five Generations of Toronto Streetcars, a little history: The Peter Witt was the first streetcar class purchased by the then brand new TTC in 1921 and ran in Toronto until 1963. The PCC streetcar ran in Toronto from 1938 to retirement in 1995. The TTC had the largest fleet of PCC’s in North America operating up to 745 at one point (203 second hand). The PCC’s replacement the CLRV (Canadian Light Rail Vehicle) has been running in Toronto since 1979 and its longer stable mate the ALRV (Articulated Light Rail Vehicle) began its TTC carrier in 1983. The Flexity Outlook from Bombardier just started serving Toronto in 2014. The Flexity will replace all of the CLRV’s but it appears quite a few ALRV’s are going to be updated and will continue to be in service for some time.
Bombardier Inc. is in trouble with their aircraft program; are near bankruptcy and need cash.
So what is the Federal government going to do?
Simple buy Bombardier’s light-metro and call it light rail. The same ruse certainly fooled the Social Credit Party in BC in 1980 by renaming the unsellable Urban Development Transportation Corporation (UDTC a Ontario Crown Corporation) Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS or light-metro) to Advanced Light Rail Transit (ALRT).
Sad fact is, this name change ruse still fools TransLink, as well as MLA’s!
What ever the City of Montreal want to call the dated and now obsolete SkyTrain, it is definitely not light rail.
To quote Quebec transit advocate Avron Shtern: “This is scandalous. Everything will be done in secrecy. No public consultation when it matters. Public pension money is being used and is being framed as private enterprise. If Quebec were in Latin America, it would be run like a Venezuela, etc… ”
And the federal Liberals? Well, they are paying for this and have certainly given Quebec a “wink and a nod” to go ahead and are no better than their BC provincial namesakes.
Good old SkyTrain Mk.2 cars with coaches (Mk.3) and pantograph – definitely not LRT.
People have had plenty of gripes with the new Champlain bridge (the overall budget, tolls) but one feature may make up for all of the woes accompanying the major building project:
Two special light-rail lines may be built on the bridge that will allow Montrealers to easily reach both the West Island and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport from Downtown, according to the Gazette.
Talks are set to begin on the feasibility of creating such a public transit service, with the the light-rail project headed by institutional funds manager La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the City of Montreal.
An estimated cost for the construction of the light rail lines is set at $5 billion, with the project inspired by a public transit study carried out by the AMT and the City of Montreal.
The massive transit conglomerate has had too easy for too long and now is accused of “‘duping’ the British capital into awarding it a train-signalling contract that it was incapable of delivering, creating “nothing short of a disaster” for the London Underground.”
I would like to remind everyone that Bombardier’s influence on TransLink in the past being the sole supplier of ALRT/ART SkyTrain, is now affecting our present transit planning with a $3 billion subway under Broadway to Arbutus and the $2.5 poor man’s SkyTrain disguised as LRT in Surrey.
Is Bombardier’s legacy helping to “stuff it up” in Metro Vancouver?
London’s city council has lambasted Bombardier Inc. for “duping” the British capital into awarding it a train-signalling contract that it was incapable of delivering, creating “nothing short of a disaster” for the London Underground.
The scathing report, prepared by the London Assembly’s Budget & Performance Committee, doesn’t mince words in its criticism of Bombardier and Transport for London (TfL), the government body that awarded the contract.
London Mayor Boris Johnson also didn’t equivocate, telling the committee that Bombardier “totally stuffed it up.”
In June 2011, Bombardier’s transportation division was awarded a contract to upgrade the London Underground’s automatic train control, or signalling system.
The company said it could do the job by 2018 for 354 million pounds (about $670 million) but it quickly became apparent that it wouldn’t be able to deliver on time or on budget, according to the report, which calls Bombardier’s performance “shameful.”
Toronto city council is being asked to endorse a network of new transit lines worth billions of dollars without essential information needed to justify those plans.
On Thursday night, city staff posted 369 pages worth of studies about the new network which mostly deal with how many people are projected to ride those lines.
But the studies consider a transit map that’s already been redrawn. Updated numbers aren’t expected until June — just two weeks before council will be asked to approve building that map, to be built out over the next 15 years, and long after public consultations have already wrapped up.
Councillor Josh Matlow said it’s not good enough that those numbers will be provided at the “11th hour.”
“That’s not a responsible way to plan transit, to spend billions of dollars, and it’s not fair to councillors or the public we serve,” he said.