Complete Street the French Way

Complete Streets: From Policy to Implementation

How the French Blend Light Rail and Complete Streets for Total Accessibility 

A PowerPoint presentation from Rail~Volution Minneapolis, 22 September 2014

by Greg Thompson . Tom Larwin . Tom Parkinson 

of  the Transportation Research Board Subcommittee  on International Light Rail Development

Since 1985 when the first modern tram line opened in France 56 additional lines have opened in 33 provincial cities and various part of the Paris region carrying in aggregate well over three million passengers per day.*  Almost all of these passengers become pedestrians on at least one end of their daily trips, and most do so on both ends and places where they transfer from one line to another or change modes.

The French approach for accomplishing these results has 2 major steps.  The first step is schematic.  Planners conceptualize a multi-modal transit network. The schematic’s conceptual geography must make sense in terms of satisfying people’s travel needs. 

Complete Streets French Light Rail


After Intense Pressure From the Provincial Government……………..

The following is part of an article, The direction of TTC planning in the 1980′s, by Philip Webb, which appeared in the December 1983 edition of Modern Tramway and Light Rail Transit.

By 1983, the UDTC knew that the ICTS/ALRT system could not offer the capacity as advertised. The ICTS/ALRT proprietary transit system did not have an advantage over the then new LRT mode and was “up to ten times more to install than a conventional LRT line”.

BC Transit, which always claimed that the maximum capacity of a MK.1 car was 100 persons, and now TransLink, which claims a capacity of 80 persons per car, have been accused in the past of inflating ridership numbers by basing their guesstimates on the higher capacity numbers claimed by the UTDC, which were then known to be false!

Oh what tangled webs we weave………………

Also of interest is the claim that Toronto’s Bloor-Dartmouth streetcar line, using coupled sets of PCC cars could carry, “12,000 pphpd at times“, more than ICTS and in a age before the modern articulated tram The Bloor Dartmouth Line was made into a subway, opening in 1966.

30 second headways or less on the old Bloor tram line!

Modern Trams – from the US Point of View

From a recent issue of the US magazine Trains – is an article which is uploaded to the web:
“Modern streetcars take back US cities”
– “A Streetcar named Revival”.

Modern Streetcars in US cities (2)

and  TheStreetcarRenaissance


Canada Line Train Catches Fire

The fire was on the Canada Line, which isn’t SkyTrain. For those who are not in the know, the SkyTrain system cars are powered by Linear Induction Motors or LIM’s and the Canada Line cars are powered by “squirrel cage” electric motors.

Much of Canada Line down

By DAN FUMANO, The Province December 20, 2014

Much of the Canada Line is down after a SkyTrain caught fire.

Photograph by: Submitted, Robin Leung

Electrical problems on the Canada Line caused sparks, smoke and delays Saturday afternoon in Richmond.

TransLink released a statement around 3:30 p.m., advising there was no train service between Richmond-Brighouse Station and Aberdeen Station due to a “problem train.”

By the time of the announcement, shuttle buses were in place, running between Brighouse and Bridgeport Stations.

An hour later, an update from TransLink said: “An investigation is ongoing. Early findings indicate that there was an electrical fault. We will know more after a full investigation.”

Videos and photos taken at the scene showed smoke rising from the train and bright sparks shooting from the track underneath, while it appears passengers move around the train cars.

Canada Line passenger Kevin Snaden said the “train smelled like smoke” when he and other passengers were told to disembark at Aberdeen Station.

Snaden, a 29-year-old visiting from Calgary, said: “Two fire trucks, ambulance and police cars were there very quickly.”

Canada Line service was operating as usual between the Airport and Waterfront Stations.

TransLink’s statement said: “We advise customers to plan for extra travel time this afternoon and we thank everyone for their patience.”

- Were you aboard this Canada Line train Saturday afternoon? The Province would like to hear from you — please reach us at

(Video courtesy of Twitter user @markrobinsonyvr)

A trip down memory lane

The shape of things that never were; a model of an articulated UTDC ALRT vehicle.

An advert for ALRT, circa 1983. Sadly for Diane Edgecomb, the Detroit ICTS has been nothing more than a curiosity, which quickly earned the name the “Mugger Mover”.

Notice that the gap between the two MK.1′s have been ‘photo shopped’ to make them appear as one car, in order to compete with the emerging articulated light rail vehicles. Already, the management at the UTDC were aware that SkyTrain’s small cars were a disadvantage to sales.

Oh, what fools we mortals be

In charge of our of our Metro band,
Moonbeam is here at hand,
With a higher PST, mistook by me,
While pleading for a congestion fee.
Shall we their fond referendum see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Apologies to the bard!

The regional mayors who support a $0.5% increase to fund TransLink have shown their utter ignorance of transit issues by calling the upcoming Transit referendum the “Metro Vancouver congestion improvement tax.

Ha, ha, ha, because the fools that coined this phrase are utterly incompetent because the only way to reduce congestion is to reduce road space. The name is an oxymoron but the mayors are too clueless to understand this.

What this tax should be called is the “TransLink Executive Bonus Tax“, or the “Mayor Moonbeam Subway Tax“; because a transit  improvement tax, it is not.

Incresing Transit Capacity By Reducing Transit Stops – A New Stragety For Broadway

The following table from Bus or Light Rail – Making The Right Choice, shows that in Germany, the distance between bus stops is far greater than that of the City of Vancouver. On Broadway, from Granville Street to Alma, on average there is a bus stop every 260 metres, making bus stops very much closer in Vancouver than comparable European transit systems.

Many European transit systems also offer exclusive rights-of-way’s for buses, especially through choke points.

By reducing the number of bus stops along Broadway by over a third, thus making the the average distance between bus stops every 400 metres to 450 metres and having exclusive rights of ways or bus lanes at strategic points along the transit route, TransLink could speed up trolleybus commercial speeds on Broadway and by doing so, increase capacity on the trolleybus routes with the same number of buses presently used, with very little new investment needed. With proper planning, TransLink make the 99B Line buses only stop at Fraser, Kingsway, Granville, and Alma, with the new faster trolleybus service able to provide fast journeys to UBC West of Granville Street.

How so?

Fewer bus stops means faster commercial speeds and faster commercial speeds means that the us can complete its journey faster thus able to run more trips on a transit route per day. With strategically placed bus lanes, avoiding choke points, would ensure punctual service.

With the trolleybuses having faster commercial speeds, a lot of pressure would be taken off the 99B-line limited stop express buses, by offering a faster service, while at the same time capacity along Broadway would be increased because of the faster ‘turn around’ time of the buses.

This begs the question:

“Has TransLink purposely kept trolleybus service on Broadway as well as other trolleybus services slow, to ‘show-case’ the B-Line express buses and to keep the illusion of overcrowding to make customers think that the only recourse is a multi-billion dollar subway?”

What is Translink Afraid Of?

I can see with the TransLink referendum, that the SkyTrain lobby is claiming all sorts of misleading information about SkyTrain; a SkyTrain subway and SkyTrain fiances.

The following is from the GVRD’s 1993 The cost of Transporting People in the British Columbia Lower Mainland.

Please note that the annual subsidy for one SkyTrain line was $53.54 million higher than the diesel buses, the trolleybuses and Seabus combined! One is staggered at though of the SkyTrain and Canada Line’s subsidy today.

The table clearly shows the $157 million operating subsidy for that year and now twenty-one years later, TransLink and Metro Vancouver are loath to enter an updated table showing the the annual subsidy for the SkyTrain and Canada line systems. Before next years referendum, the public should demand a concise table as like the one above, showing the transit operating subsides for transit in 2014.

What is TransLink afraid of?

The truth?

The GVRD’s 1978 LRT/Rail/Road Bridge – A Bridge Too Practical

In 1978, the GVRD were poised to install a three leg light rail system on the region and to cross the Fraser river a new bridge would have to be built.

Demonstrating the forward thinking of the era, GVRD planners conceived a multi-use bridge for ‘rapid transit’; the mainline railways; a cycle path; and when the Pattullo finally went kaput; a four lane vehicle bridge.

The LRT lines were so designed to have a two lane car deck above when needed and a ‘fast’ lift span would have two railway tracks, giving ample capacity, including a Vancouver to Chilliwack rail service which was envisaged at the time.

It is now history, as the provincial government imposed SkyTrain on the region and a stand alone SkyTrain, Sky Bridge was built instead and a replacement for the badly aging Pattullo Bridge is about a decade away and a replacement for the absolutely decrepit Fraser River Rail Bridge is no where in sight.

Maybe metro Vancouver should dust off the 1978 rail/road bridge and build it to replace both decaying bridges.

Capacity and speed of transit vehicles in the city

In the past few weeks, the merchants of misinformation have been busy spreading their anti tram rhetoric in a vain attempt to justify a Broadway subway.

Unfortunately the mainstream media have repeated the same misinformation without any independent research done.

The following charts come from Bus or Light Rail Making the Right Choice, Second Edition, by Prof. Carmen Haas-Klau, Graham Crampton, Carsten Biereth, and Volker Deutch, published in 2003. Bus or Light Rail Making the Right Choice, was a very important international study of public transit systems, focusing on buses and trams.

Table#7 gives an accurate capacity numbers of various kinds of buses and LRT and table #8 gives the commercial speed of trams and buses in mixed traffic and on its own rights-of-ways.

It can be easily seen that trams generally have faster commercial speeds than buses in mixed traffic and trams operating on their own rights-of-ways have higher commercial speeds than buses operating on exclusive rights-of-ways as well, with the exception of the Ottawa and Pittsburgh busways.

When the anti-LRT crowd claim that trams are only as fast as buses in the city or that trams can only carry as many passengers as a bus, please refer them here.