Fear of Subway Costs Grips Mayors Council

As our friend, Haveacow indicated some time ago, the Broadway subway is going to cost a lot more than many think.

Some years ago, Zwei entered into correspondence with a German transit Engineer, Wolfgang and he warned of subway construction and operating costs, which hobbled German transit authorities and also lead to the rebirth of the tram in Germany.

In Toronto, the TTC estimates that the cost to operate and maintain a one station 5 km subway is $40 million annually.

The last post now sees Vision Vancouver and the mayor, rushing ahead with subway plans, yet the very same council is afraid to release the estimated costs for the subway.

Memo to Premier Horgan: Enforce a moratorium on all subway planning until TransLink releases:

  1. Total construction costs for a SkyTrain subway.
  2.  The annual maintenance costs for a SkyTrain subway.
  3. Present passenger flows on the 99B buses on Broadway.

Planning by stealth never works and fear now grips the mayor’s Council on Transit as they are afraid of releasing the real costs of subway construction.

Thank you to Bob Mackin and the Breaker news!

 

Fear of huge costs of the Broadway subway has scared TransLink and the Mayors Council on Transit. There is a long dark tunnel of escalating subway costs.

Exclusive: Mayors got secret update last year on TransLink megaproject costs, but kept public in the dark

Bob Mackin

Internal TransLink documents obtained by theBreaker strongly suggest the estimated costs for three Metro Vancouver transportation megaprojects have skyrocketed and the agency is grappling with how and when to break the news to the public.

Document obtained by theBreaker confirms TransLink and Metro Vancouver mayors are keeping secrets about megaproject costs.

The 2015-adjusted estimates were $2.53 billion for light rail transit in Surrey, $2.28 billion for a subway under Broadway and $1.1 billion to replace the 80-year-old Pattullo Bridge. Documents released to theBreaker on Dec. 11 under the freedom of information law confirm that the costs were further updated in 2016 and given secretly to the Mayors’ Council, “but not publicly released.” Further estimates were crafted this year.

A March 9, 2017 communications plan said the cost pressures include rising real estate prices, inflationary pressures on contractors and a Canadian dollar that is lower in value than when the estimates were made for the regional mayors’ $8.08 billion, 10-year plan in 2014.

Specifically, the Broadway project is feeling increased pressure because of geotechnical assessment. The cost of an operations and maintenance facility is adding pressure to the Surrey-Newton-Guildford phase of Surrey LRT, along with utility relocation and the rising cost of land to accommodate corridor widths.

The communications document indicated that TransLink was planning to hold media briefings to provide in-depth information about the projects, business cases and updated costs. It contemplated holding a major media event in conjunction with the B.C. and federal governments. Development was underway on project websites and social media content, it said, was shared with mayors and the province.

Project cost estimates were censored from January updates to the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund steering board. The documents did show that more than $11.6 million had been spent on the Broadway project and $15.2 million on Surrey. Other documents warn that every year of delay adds $300 million to $500 million to capital costs.

An April 2 email from Sany Zein, TransLink’s infrastructure management and engineering vice-president, to TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond did not show dollar figures, but it said “the project inflation numbers are higher than recent GDP growth and higher than general recent inflationary growth; so some level of ‘hot market’ inflation is accounted for.

“The contingency percentages have been getting lower as the design definition improves. If interest during construction and internal labour charges are excluded from the gross total, the contingency value would represent a higher percentage.”

Inflation was estimated at 3.5% per annum for construction and 2.5% for systems prior to contract award, 2.5% for construction and systems during construction and 2.5% for management and professional services.

Donald Trapp, the ParternshipsBC project director, wrote April 7 to Zein that contingency estimates for construction costs ranged from 19% for Surrey-Newton-Guildford to 25% for Pattullo. Trapp also offered some optimism.

“Cost inflation for heavy civil does not follow residential/commercial domestic market trends,” Trapp wrote. “Major projects attract contractors and consortia from around the world, and some areas (think Europe) the outlook is not secure; our projects will be very attractive.

“Cost control is achieved through proper management of the scope and schedule throughout the project from inception to substantial completion.”

TransLink’s Sany Zein

Final business cases were supposed to be completed and submitted for approval to the NDP government this fall. The documents estimated that, pending funding confirmation, construction work on all three projects could be underway by 2019. Pattullo and Surrey-Newton-Guildford could be completed in 2023 and Broadway in 2024.

An update on major capital projects is on the agenda for the Dec. 14 board of directors meeting at TransLink headquarters in Sapperton. It will be the swansong for Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, who were replaced as the Mayors’ Council-appointed directors last week.

The region’s mayors chose Burnaby’s Derek Corrigan to replace Robertson as chair and North Vancouver District’s Richard Walton to replace Hepner as vice-chair.

Corrigan, a pragmatic, longtime NDP member, suggested that smaller municipalities are growing anxious.

“Both Gregor Robertson and Linda Hepner were very much focused on the big projects in their cities, so I think there was a feeling that maybe there would be a little more regional perspective if they got people in that were from more neutral ground,” Corrigan told the Burnaby Now.

Vancouver’s Dirty Subway Politics Continue

A Vancouver reader to this blog received the following letter today from the City of Vancouver.

 

The gentleman received the letter one day past the RSVP Date and the city evidently got the bus route numbers mixed up, as well.

This continues the dirty subway politics practiced by Vision(less) Vancouver and with a former Vision(less) Councillor, now advising the Premier, more bad and expensive transit decisions may soon be coming from the Premier’s Office.

Why the hurry?

Could it be that the CoV and Vision Vancouver want to ramrod this $3 billion+ subway through before sticker shock becomes an issue in the region?

Dirty politics abound with transit issues and only the Premier and the Minister of Transportation can change this.

I am not holding my breathe.

The Big Shake Up

Good news everyone, there has been a shake up at TransLink and Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan is at the helm of the Mayor’s Council on Transit.

Mayor Corrigan is the only mayor who actually has knowledge of transit and transit operation as he was a former CEO of BC Transit. The rest of the metro mayors haven’t a clue and have supported building massively expensive transit projects that will not alleviate congestion in the region at the behest of special interests. Special interests I must say, that did not care about proving an affordable ans user-friendly transit system.

Under Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson, transit planning was Vancouver centric with multi billion dollar vanity projects, with the proposed Broadway subway being at the top of the list!

The Broadway SkyTrain subway, with costs now rumoured in excess of $3 billion, will not take a car off the road, yet pile on massive debt onto TransLink.

The badly planned Surrey’s LRT is being designed as a poor man’s SkyTrain and again offering little or no advantage to transit customers and/or the taxpayer.

The so called experts still pining for the Broadway subway demonstrate a complete lack of knowledge on transit and still believe in the old adage that;

“the more money you spend on a transit project, the better it will be.”

Not experts they!

Simple math kills the Broadway subway as current traffic flows along Broadway are less than 4,000 pphpd in the peak hour and the bare minimum traffic flows recommended for a subway is at least 15,000 pphpd!

Toronto’s much debated Scarborough Line replacement subway is suffering from the same issues of not enough traffic flow to justify a now $3.6 billion $5 km. one station subway. The proposed Broadway subway will be 5.5 km long and have six stations.

As mentioned before, an European transit specialist once told me that Metro Vancouver’s mayors are not mature enough for LRT, well maybe some maturity is now being shown.

Some fear shakeup at mayor’s council could doom Broadway subway, Surrey light rail

Published on: December 8, 2017

Transit watchers are offering different takes on what this week’s regional transportation leadership shakeup means for major projects on Metro Vancouver’s horizon.

On Thursday, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan replaced Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson as the chair of the Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation after the council held an election, while District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton replaced Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner as vice-chair.

The mayors of the region’s two largest cities were ousted at a time when those leaders are hoping to get major transportation projects built in their municipalities: Vancouver’s Broadway subway and Surrey’s light-rail line. Corrigan has been an outspoken critic of both projects, citing them as the reasons that, in 2014, he was the council’s only dissenting member to vote against the 10-year transportation plan.

Despite that, former Vancouver councillor Gordon Price believes it’s unlikely that the Burnaby mayor taking over as council chair will seriously jeopardize the Broadway subway or Surrey light-rail.

“That would really surprise me,” said Price, who believes both projects as well as the Pattullo Bridge replacement are critical priorities for the sake of the region. “That would just raise a lot of antagonism, needlessly. … I don’t think Corrigan is going to go there, I just can’t see that kind of fight.”

“Here is Corrigan’s chance to establish his big-picture legacy, beyond Burnaby,” Price said. “And I think he will go with it, I think he’ll take it.”

But Patrick Condon, a professor in UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, disagrees.

Condon said Price “has been a strong advocate for the subway despite its costs, so it’s no surprise he would put a hopeful spin on it.”

Following this week’s change in the mayors’ council leadership, Condon said, “The tea leaves suggest a reconsideration of what will get built and where the money will go and what comes first, second and third.”

Some have speculated, Condon said, that the “Broadway subway might end up going to the back of the line.”

And, he added: “With a mayors’ council which has shifted dramatically in its power base away from Surrey and Vancouver, you might see some big changes, or at least a delay for the big projects, and at the most, potentially, a reconsideration.”

Other municipal politicians reacted to Corrigan’s election with concern Thursday: Langley City Coun. described Corrigan as “anti-TransLink,” while New Westminster Coun. Patrick Johnstone tweeted: “TransLink finally has a (provincial government) ready to work with them; mayors put the most transit-regressive mayor in charge.”

Thursday’s vote result also means a change in the composition of TransLink’s board of directors, as the mayors’ council’s chair and vice-chair sit on the board, said TransLink spokesman Chris Bryan. The next TransLink directors meeting is scheduled for next week, which Robertson and Hepner are expected to attend, Bryan said, and then Corrigan and Walton will replace them in those positions starting in January.

Corrigan and Robertson were not available for comment Friday.

But in an October interview about TransLink governance, Corrigan told Postmedia’s Jennifer Saltman the region’s mayors want to know they’re represented by mayors who are “looking at the broad interests of the whole of the region.”

Robertson and Hepner “like where they are” on the TransLink board, Corrigan said in October.

“Both of them have a vested interest in being on the board because both of them have major projects that they’re pushing forward,” he said in October. “So they see the ability for them to get what they want as a high priority, while the rest of us are saying: ‘Sure, it’s nice that you can advance your big projects, but the rest of us don’t have any voice.’”

Commuter Rail Is Passe – It Is The Age Of TramTrain!

The anti-rail brigade is hard at it on Vancouver Island and there is a good reason why.

The author of the piece, consults with SNC Lavalin (a major red flag there)  and SNC Lavalin only wants high profit projects.

Example 1: The Canada line faux P-3 consortium, lead by SNC Lavalin,  receives about $110 million annually from TransLink for operating the mini-metro. Put another way, SNC Lavalin receives more on an annually than what is needed to get the E&N operational.

Example 2: The $100 million needed to renovate the E&N would buy you less than 250 metres of the proposed Broadway SkyTrain subway.

But is is the love affair with commuter rail that is worrisome. Despite the hype and hoopla, commuter rail, with long rakes of bi-level cars is a rather dated concept and indeed would be a failure on the E&N Railway.

The West Coast Express, is regarded as a success, but its extremely limited service, five trains in and five trains out, has not reduced congestion, rather it has exacerbated it by allowing an almost unchecked development of the North Shore of the Fraser as far as the City of Mission. Massive amounts of new housing has brought massive population increase, which has lead to massive congestion. All commuter rail has done is allow politicians to rezone lands for housing, making good profits for political friends.

For many, the WCE is not a transit option.

A regional rail servcie is a far better investment than commuter rail because it offers a daily scheduled service, which will offer a realistic transportation alternative for the car driver.

There is not much profit to be made by large corporations on regional railways because the tracks are in situ and all that is needed is an operating agreement, diesel multiple units, a maintenance facility, and a few employees.

Here is the issue, the simpler the transit the cheaper it is to operate.

All the the Times Colonist article states the obvious, that a commuter rail line on the E&N, will not work.

A regional passenger servcie, operating a regular timetabled service from downtown Victoria to downtown Nanaimo has  yet to be studied.

For SNC Lavalin and those who work for SNC Lavalin, there is no profit in a regional railway and they will make damn sure their consultants will see that none are built!

An Alstom diesel tramtrain operating on a railway portion of route.

Comment: Economics show E&N rail line is a lost cause

Times Colonist December 2, 2017

Noting that the E&N Rail corridor is again drawing media attention and our current provincial poohbahs are launching yet another study of the entire rail line, I was taken with the photograph in the Nov. 26 edition of the Times Colonist, which shows a gentleman walking his dog along the rail line.

It is beyond my imagination that some people believe that this 19th-century junk pile has any future as an operating railway. The E&N was built in the 1880s as a resource railway to haul coal and timber. The former is unlikely ever to be mined on Vancouver Island in any quantity again, and the lumber industry abandoned rail transport on both the E&N and the Canadian National by the early 1970s. No railway in a lightly populated area such as Vancouver Island is ever going to thrive on passenger traffic alone.

At best, there were only a few hundred carloads of freight over the entire line, most of it between Port Alberni and Nanaimo, when the Canadian Pacific Railway surrendered ownership of the E&N. The now-departed Via Rail passenger service carried no more than 40,000 passengers in any year, was massively subsidized and then abandoned more than six years ago because of the unsafe condition of the entire railway between Victoria and Courtenay.

The costs of rehabilitating the E&N were in excess of $100 million when I was engaged as a consultant to the CPR in Calgary in the late 1990s. That figure has more than doubled today, and the deficiencies to bring the line up to current railway standards are lengthy — substrate, ballast, ties, rail, bridges, signals and the list goes on and on.

Don’t forget rolling stock — Via Rail had three Budd rail diesel cars on the Island that are long gone, not to mention that they were built between 1956 and 1958. Don’t forget the 180-plus grade crossings on the system, which are major hazards in themselves.

It was definitely to the CPR’s advantage to “give the railway back to the people” for a tax receipt rather than to attempt to rebuild it, given no meaningful freight revenue, the associated cost of upkeep and a once-a-day Via Rail passenger service that was a giveaway. Why our provincial government would spend money on yet another study raises the question “why?” but this is an NDP/Green government.

I can fully understand the merits of a high-speed commuter rail service in areas of large, dense populations. To be safe, systems need to completely separate rail from pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and the Skytrain system in Vancouver is an excellent case in point. Does anyone really want to contemplate running a commuter-rail transportation system at grade level through Admirals Way and Goldstream Avenue with the frequency necessary to maintain a viable system?

To operate safely and efficiently, a system needs to be dual track and connected to the heart of the urban centre it serves. If one really wants to consider seriously a commuter-rail system, envision an elevated line using the Galloping Goose Corridor, which would serve a population base as far west as Sooke and connecting it to the heart of downtown Victoria, noting that connection was cut at the time the Via Rail service was discontinued.

Until the day comes that economics justify a commuter-rail system that can be operated safely and efficiently, the best use of the E&N corridor is exactly what was illustrated in the photograph, a place to walk your dog or perhaps ride your bicycle.

James P. Crowley has been a consultant to Canadian National Railways, B.C. Rail and the Canadian Pacific Railway, specializing in heritage rail projects and working extensively on commuter-rail development with SNC-Lavalin and its predecessor companies, including portions of the Vancouver Skytrain system. He is the outgoing board chairman of the Victoria Airport Authority.

Scarborough Subway Sticker Shock

More info on the Scarborough controversy.

First, modern LRT can carry more than 15,000 pphpd, in fact modern LRT can carry well over 20,000 pphpd. In Karlsruhe Germany, one tram line carried over 35,000 pphpd in the peak hour! Toronto’s old Bloor Danforth streetcar line, using coupled sets of PCC cars were known to move about 12,000 pphpd!

The 15,000 limit for LRT in Toronto, is probably a holdover from the old streetcar days and as Toronto is finding out, belatedly with King Street, transit priority on tram routes greatly improves productivity, which translates into higher ridership.

The big, big  problem is sticker shock for subway constriction. The same sticker shock is now echoing in TransLink’s ‘Ivory Towers”.

 

Protestors gathered at the front entrance of Toronto city hall on Dec. 5, 2017 voicing their concerns about the Scarborough subway, which critics are already calling a white elephant. One of the protestors came dressed as a white elephant.

By Jennifer PagliaroCity Hall reporter
Tues., Dec. 5, 2017

Is the Scarborough subway good value for money?

Council has never seen a comparison of the options when deciding how to spend $3.56 billion for Scarborough transit as critics decry a single-stop subway plan as a “white elephant”

By JENNIFER PAGLIAROCity Hall reporter
Tues., Dec. 5, 2017

 

Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown, outgoing TTC CEO Andy Byford and transit activists sporting a “white elephant” costume and masks all had something in common this week.

All expressed support that council get a value-for-money analysis of the controversial Scarborough subway extension so it can be compared to the light-rail alternative.

Whether to request that study, will again be up for debate at council on Wednesday after it was deferred at a meeting last month.

“I think residents want council to be sure that they are providing as much transit to as many people as possible with every dollar that they’re entrusted with,” said Councillor Josh Matlow, who will move a motion that his colleagues direct the city’s auditor general to do that work.

“And if council doesn’t have that basic relevant information then they’re making decisions in the dark and that’s not responsible nor acceptable.”

On Monday, both Brown and Byford told the CBC’s Matt Galloway they supported such a study.

“I support a value-for-money audit on every aspect, on everything the government spends taxpayer dollars on,” Brown said when asked specifically about Scarborough transit on Metro Morning.

In a separate interview, outgoing TTC CEO Andy Byford said he has “no objection” to that analysis being carried out.

As a debate, characterized by political rhetoric and often missing and misleading information, resumes here’s what you need to know:

What is the subway plan?

Council has endorsed a one-stop subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line that currently ends at Kennedy Station to a new station adjacent to the Scarborough Town Centre. It will replace the existing and aging six-stop Scarborough RT that runs from Kennedy Station to McCowan Station.

Wait, I thought there were going to be three new stops?

An earlier plan replaced the existing SRT with a three-stop subway from Kennedy Station to Sheppard and McCowan Aves. But last year, city staff presented a plan to build more transit, they said, within the $3.56-billion envelope of available funding. City staff said that by removing two subway stops, a 17 to 18-stop LRT along Eglinton East could also be paid for. But as costs of the subway ballooned, that LRT line has been left largely unfunded. A cash-strapped city council would have to find hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for any addition subway stations.

What was the LRT plan?

LRT stands for “light-rail transit” which is different, more modern technology than is currently what’s used on the SRT line and what is used in many other North American and European cities. The city originally approved a seven-stop LRT in the same corridor as the SRT, separated from traffic, that would have run from Kennedy to Malvern at Sheppard Ave. and Markham Rd.

The plan had already been studied, was agreed to by the province and city, and was just three months away from going out for contractor bids to do the construction work when in October 2013, council, under former mayor Rob Ford, voted to scrap that plan in favour of a subway that was then estimated to cost $2 billion more.

How much does the current subway plan cost? Is that the final cost?

The one-stop subway extension is currently estimated to cost $3.35 billion, but since that figure is based on very preliminary design work, it could climb by as much as 50 per cent, city staff say, putting the upper end estimate at just over $5 billion. There are also significant and necessary costs not included in that figure, including the cost to finance construction of a project of that size, City Manager Peter Wallace told council in July 2016. The former chief financial officer said that financing could cost the city an additional $200 million for every $1 billion in project costs, or roughly $670 million for a $3.35 billion project.

What does the LRT plan cost?

The province, according to a still-signed master agreement, is committed to fund the entire project, what was estimated at $1.48 billion in 2010 dollars. Since then, the design of Kennedy Station has changed to accommodate other connections and would require redesign. Since staff stopped studying the LRT in 2013, that cost has not been estimated. Though a controversial briefing note produced by the TTC put the updated cost of the LRT on par with a subway, a recent investigation by the auditor general found that cost estimate could be off by at least $570 million.

Has council ever seen a comparison of those plans?

No. That kind of study has never been requested by council and therefore never produced. Matlow moved a motion in March 2017 to request that study, but the motion lost 17-27. A buried draft report from the provincial transit agency Metrolinx found the subway was “not a worthwhile use of money” when compared to the LRT.

Can the city’s auditor general perform a value-for-money audit of the two options?

Yes. The auditor general, Beverly Romeo-Beehler, in her recent investigation, said she was considering conducting such an analysis. She does not need council direction to do so. However, Romeo-Beehler later told the Star she has decided against doing such a study, saying it isn’t her role to re-open council decisions. Requesting the auditor general to add that study to her 2018 work plan, as Matlow will attempt to do, requires a two-thirds majority of council to pass, or 30 votes.

Will I get where I’m going faster on the subway?

Not necessarily. The one-stop subway extension would improve the time it currently takes to get from Scarborough Centre to Kennedy Station on the SRT by five minutes, according to city staff. When considering the elimination of a transfer at Kennedy Station the time saved is eight minutes at most. But that time savings does not consider the extra time most Scarborough residents will spend on the bus getting to the one new subway station or that residents like those in Malvern would see their travel times cut in half by an LRT. An analysis by Ryerson University found most transit users would spend on average of 6.8 minutes more on the bus to get to the subway stop compared to the closest LRT station, and 3.6 minutes longer than they do now to get to the existing SRT.

Transit plan for Malvern residents does not improve travel times

OPTION TRAVEL TIME TRANSFERS BEYOND KENNEDY
Bus + Scarborough RT 35 min 2
Scarborough LRT 16 min 1
Eglinton Crosstown East 33 min* 1
Bus + Scarborough Subway Extension 30 min 1

(Source: Scarborough LRT Environmental Assessment, 2010; Scarborough-Malvern LRT EA, 2009; Scarborough Subway Extension updated business case, 2017)

*The original design for the Eglinton Crosstown East (then called the Scarborough-Malvern LRT) considered an extension terminating at Sheppard and Morningside Aves., not the Malvern Town Centre, so travel times would be longer

Won’t an LRT be crammed full of people? Isn’t a subway needed?

Not according to city data. By 2031, the number of people expected to ride the subway in the busiest direction at the rush hour is 7,300 people. That is less than half the 15,000-person capacity of an LRT and would leave subway trains, which have a 25,000-person capacity, at least 70 per cent empty at rush hour. The LRT was earlier projected to carry 8,000 people at rush hour in the busiest direction in 2031, well within an LRT’s capacity.

Isn’t that still pretty busy for one stop?

When you factor in that this will be the longest single gap between stops in the TTC’s entire system — 6.2 kilometres of tunnel — this subway stop does not rank anywhere near the busiest comparable stretches that exist today. While the extension would carry 64,000 passengers daily by 2031, the stretch between Museum and Bloor-Yonge stations sees station usage of 755,750. The Sheppard subway, which is almost six kilometres and has been considered to be a “white elephant” because it must be heavily subsidized by taxpayers to operate, has a daily ridership of 98,150.

How much would the LRT impact traffic?

Not at all. The LRT replacement for the SRT was planned to run in the same corridor, separated from all vehicular traffic.

I’ve heard LRTs don’t work well in the winter. So, isn’t it a bad idea to build an LRT in Toronto?

“LRT is a proven technology that is used around the world including extremely cold places such as Edmonton, Minneapolis, Stockholm and Bergen,” a fact sheet from Metrolinx reads. The city is currently building a 19-kilometre LRT through the heart of midtown called the Eglinton Crosstown, and nine kilometres will run at street level.

Would I have to get off the LRT to transfer onto the Bloor-Danforth subway at Kennedy?

Yes. An LRT means riders would still have to transfer at Kennedy, but the station was originally designed to significantly improve that transfer — just a single flight much like the transfers that already exist in the subway system such as at St. George, Bloor-Yonge and Sheppard-Yonge stations. That connection would have to be moved if council went back to the LRT. As part of a redesign of Kennedy Station, it’s likely the LRT platform would be on the same level as the subway, requiring passengers to just walk across a platform.

But haven’t they already agreed to build a subway?

Council still has to vote to approve construction for a subway once staff provide a more accurate cost figure, which is now not expected until 2019. Though Mayor John Tory and others have pointed out the number of votes the subway has already faced, most were part of the regular approvals process and the others were the result of the subway being modified from a three-stop plan to today’s single-stop proposal under Tory’s administration.

TransLink CEO No Better Than A Cheap Carny Huckster

In Metro Vancouver, local journalists remain largely ignorant of transit issues and believe, without reservation, what they are told by TransLink.

There is no investigative journalism with TransLink and its favourite, SkyTrain.

This “puff” piece is nothing more than softening up the public for both the Broadway subway and Road Pricing, which is needed to finance the subway.

Many of those 34,000 people a day claimed by TransLink using he Evergreen Line previously took the bus to Lougheed Mall and then transferred to metro. What is important is how many of those 34,000 a day are new to transit?

Silence.

It is also interesting that bare minimum customer flows for a modern LRT line to be built is about 30,000 persons a day. In the real world, but not TransLink’s world, LRT costs up to a quarter to build than light-metro. Thus the $1.5 billion Evergreen Line seems grossly overbuilt, to deal with such weak passenger flows.

But the business case for SkyTrain was badly tainted.

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond acts as a cheap carny huckster, desperately trying to sell one “puff” story after another, while at the same time ignores the truth.

The Evergreen Line, grossly overbuilt for what it does translates to higher subsidies for the mini-metro system and higher subsidies mean transit elsewhere suffers.

The Evergreen Line, very expensive for what it does.The Evergreen Line – Very expensive for what it does.

Evergreen sees more than 8.6 million boardings over last year

Average weekday ridership hits 34,000, a 13% increase over the early 2017 figures.

Tri-City NewsDecember 2, 2017

More than 8.6 million boardings have occurred since the Evergreen Extension opened and TransLink officials said the line is poised for further ridership increases.

On Friday, exactly one year since the opening, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said transit use in the northeast sector has seen significant growth over the last 12 months. He cited numbers released this week showing that average weekday boardings has hit 34,000, a 13% increase from early 2017.

“It’s clear that the Evergreen Extension has been a catalyst for a boost in transit use in the Tri-Cities,” Desmond said, adding that 51% of all transit journeys in the Tri-Cities begin on Evergreen. “The growth we’ve seen since the launch of Evergreen is nothing short of astounding, and demonstrates the kind of impact that this kind of transit infrastructure investment can have.”

Desmond said he believes there is significant ridership growth still to come, noting the pace of development that has been occurring around the Evergreen stations.

According to TransLink, there is currently $3.8 billion in real estate projects in development or under construction on land next to the rapid transit corridor between Lougheed and Lafarge Lake-Douglas stations. That includes approximately 9,800 future housing units.

With that growth in development, TransLink said it will move closer to its goal of 70,000 Evergreen riders per day.

“The heightened interest for commercial and residential development around the stations is an indication there is much more demand,” said Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay, adding: “With immediate accessibility to transit providing increased affordability and a major attractant for employers.”

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

The Ignorance Of Light Rail Knows No Bounds – Distinctly In Vancouver

It is sad that anti-tram journalist, Francis Bula, writes such tawdry articles about transit and by doing so, demonstrates that she does little or no research and repeats the anti-tram myth.

Citing Jarret Walker as a renowned transit expert is stretching it a bit, as he is a bloggist, catering to the anti-tram crowd. He is merely a planner and lacks that core knowledge which a European degree in Urban Transport would bring and offers yesterday’s solutions to try to solve today’s problems.

Zwei has never liked the term “streetcar” as it it brings visions of clanky and rattlely vehicles trundling down city streets, while trams give a vision of modern low-floor articulated vehicles, operating mostly on dedicated rights-of-ways.

The modern tram; designed to grow with ridership, giving affordable transit solutions to cities in the 21st century.

It is the modern tram that has rejuvenated transit planning in the past 30 years and bringing livability to the 21st century city.

As early as 1984, it was recognized that the simple and flexible tram was a good solution for congestion and pollution in major cities. Mature city planners opted for transit systems that had a good record of providing efficient servcie and rejected the expensive and gimmicky “gadgetbahnenn” style light-metros or monorails.

Vancouver’s SkyTrain is a good example. An over hyped proprietary mini-metro with limited capacity, extremely expensive to build, operate and maintain,  has bamboozled local politicians, planners,  and most journalists for almost 40 years and continues today!

The mythical “rapid transit’ again raises its ugly head from the swamps of ignorance, as the great solution for transit, but there is no definition of “rapid transit’ other than it is not light rail and that is good.

Really?

Mr. Bracewell, at the city engineering department, said

  “We see the need for rapid transit to UBC. A streetcar is not rapid transit.”

Sorry Mr. Bracewell, the modern streetcar or tram, operated as light rail has a greater capacity than our so called rapid transit and is far more user friendly than our Rapid Transit, which I guess is SkyTrain and costs a fraction to build. What don’t you get?

The modern tram on a dedicated R-o-W.

That our universities are turning out engineers and planners so ignorant about modern public transport is appalling, but the very same engineers and planners remain so ignorant about LRT is equally appalling.

 

The Modern Tram in Essen

VANCOUVER
Special to The Globe and Mail

The City of Vancouver is studying ways to ensure it keeps its options open for a network of streetcars in the future, despite the irritation the vehicles have generated among travellers in some cities.

The transit vehicles operating on electricity have been maligned by some in Toronto for slowing traffic, but in Vancouver, the city is about to hire outside consultants to study what needs to be done to ensure that no new building projects or road changes shut the door to a future streetcar line.

The line would run down Arbutus Street and around False Creek to Yaletown, Chinatown, the central waterfront and Stanley Park. A streetcar line likely wouldn’t appear on Vancouver streets inside of a decade. The line would need to be approved by regional mayors in the next 10-year plan of the regional transportation authority.

“There are places in the city where something higher capacity than a bus would be good,” said Dale Bracewell, the city’s manager of transportation. Powered by electricity, streetcars are better for the environment and quieter than buses, he said.

Streetcar fans also argue that they are great additions to the city, because people like taking them and they tend to attract new development around them.

“Streetcars are place makers. They are an urban benefit,” said Anthony Perl, an urban-studies professor specializing in transportation at Simon Fraser University. They’re not the magic solution for all transit problems, Prof. Perl said, but they’re a part of a complete system in mature cities.

Streetcar systems, which were once common throughout North America, almost disappeared in the 1950s as cities chose to hand over road space to cars. Only a few cities, such as Toronto, New Orleans, La., Boston and San Francisco retained some lines.

But they’ve become popular again with civic authorities in the past two decades, with new lines being installed in places as diverse as Atlanta, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., and Portland, Ore.

But those new lines have sparked some public backlash, as the ridership has not met expectations in many places, with Portland’s successful system being a notable exception.

Renowned U.S. transit expert Jarrett Walker has said that cities need to examine the case for streetcars more carefully. He argues that, even when streetcars attract more riders than the bus lines they replaced, it’s often because cities make huge improvements to the streets they’re on.

Toronto went through a debate earlier this year about its streetcar system, after a city hall committee suggested keeping the line on Queen Street closed for an extra two weeks beyond a planned shutdown for renovations to study whether buses would be more effective.

Drivers often gripe about being stuck behind the streetcars, while riders sometimes complain that the streetcars get so slowed down by traffic that walking is faster.

Toronto just started a pilot project with its King Street line that gives the streetcar priority and limits car drivers to being able to travel for one block on the street. That has significantly improved travel times.

In Vancouver, the proposed study for a future streetcar, whose bid deadline closes on Tuesday, is meant to update work that has been going on since the early 1990s in streetcar planning in the city. The city is asking for consultants doing the new study to look at a possible connection between the streetcar line and the planned Broadway subway.

It’s something that the city’s most ardent streetcar advocate welcomes. “This could be the beginning of a network,” said University of British Columbia professor Patrick Condon. “And to put this system in, which is greenhouse-gas-zero, is a good direction. It’s a promising direction.”

He said streetcars do much more than just transport local residents. “Studies show a million tourists a year are likely to use it.”

Prof. Condon hopes that Vancouver engineers will also study the feasibility of streetcar lines that have been suggested in the past. One is along the Fraser River from Arbutus to the city’s eastern boundary. The other is from Arbutus Street, where the first phase of the Broadway subway now being planned is scheduled to terminate, out to UBC.

But Mr. Bracewell, at the city engineering department, said neither of those is part of the current study. “We see the need for rapid transit to UBC. A streetcar is not rapid transit.”

New York To End 24 Hour Subway Service

Not all is roses for 24 hour subway service.

The reason for ending 24 hour subway servcie in New York is……

 that it would allow for longer windows to perform maintenance work needed to keep the system in good repair for daytime commutes.

….is the same as TransLink’s maintenance needs for its light-metro lines.

The real problem is that those who call for 24 hour servcie on subways or light-metro, haven’t a clue about the costs of metro operation, nor the time needed for proper maintenance.

Trains just don’t magically operate, yet many politicians and the public think they do.

Subways are just very expensive, any way you look at them.

Preventative maintenance is essential to prevent delays on transit.

Sweeping Proposal Calls for End to Overnight Subways, Massive Rail Redevelopment

The Fourth Regional Plan, released Thursday, also calls for a reenvisioned Penn Station, uniting the region’s commuter rail systems and changes

By Andrew Siff and R. Darren Price

A new, greatly expanded Penn Station complex. Linking Metro-North, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad into one regional commuter rail system. Ending overnight subway service. Moving Madison Square Garden.

These are just some of the radical infrastructure changes recommended in the influential Regional Plan Association’s long-ranging blueprint for the future of transportation in the tri-state area, released Thursday.

The recommendations, part of a nearly 400-page document called The Fourth Regional Plan, outline potential fixes for not only the city’s transit woes but everything from coping with climate change to increasing the quality of life and economic prowess of the region as it moves into the 21st century.

And these aren’t necessarily pie-in-the-sky ideas: the Regional Plan Association’s previous three plans, released in 1929, 1960 and 1996, all included many recommendations that were later adopted by city, state and federal governments and bodies in the years that followed.

Here’s some of the biggest things to look out for in the transportation portion of the Fourth Regional Plan:

Ending overnight subway service, adding new subway lines and modernizing the mass-transit system under new management

For any New Yorker who has grabbed an early-morning train home from a late night at work or out on the town, this one could hurt: The Fourth Regional Plan calls for an end to 24-hour subway service, replacing overnight trains with bus service. The reasoning behind the move is that it would allow for longer windows to perform maintenance work needed to keep the system in good repair for daytime commutes.

For the rest of the story, click here.

Morning Smile

Thank you Bob Mackin and the Breaker news!

 

TransLink hopes to move people to buy its souvenirs

News item: Just in time for Christmas, TransLink opens an online souvenir store

Coffee mug, for that superior joe. (theBreaker)

Buy a wayfinding throw pillow ($59), SeaBus bottle ($25.95) or SkyTrain scale model ($20) to remind yourself of all the times the Metro Vancouver transit system has been out of service and the shock you get when that tax bill to pay for it comes. 

theBreaker suggests TransLink offer even more designs, like the following. 

 

 

 

 

The Bus Bridge T-shirt, when you really need it. (theBreaker)

Keep your spirits up. A flask, to hide your hooch from the Transit Police. (theBreaker)

A soft pillow, for the end of a long day of riding TransLink. (theBreaker)

 

King Street Welcomes Toronto to the 21st Century

Toronto’s King Street experiment, bringing 21st century tram philosophy to Toronto and has opened a great many eyes.

What has happened is simple, on portions of King Street, the streetcar has been turned into light rail at very little cost.

There is no war on the car, rather priority has been given to transit customers over the car. This is mature transit planning, something that is missing in Vancouver, where sometime ago a senior consultant of an overseas transportation company told me that; “Sadly, Vancouver was not mature enough to embrace light rail”.

What Vancouver has been doing is building obsolete metro systems and perverting statistics to show that light-metro really, really works because it is world class.

This is not world class, rather third world thinking.

Toronto’s King Street should be a template for Broadway, where on selected portions of route, priority is given to trams. Sadly, those in power prefer to play trains and build $3 billion plus subway to nowhere.

How world class is that?

 

King streetcar pilot represents a monumental shift for Toronto

For the first time in living memory, the city has taken a step that prioritizes public transit over the private vehicle, Christopher Hume writes.

By Christopher Hume Urban Issues and Architecture
Tues., Nov. 28, 2017

As much as the King St. pilot project will help bring Toronto’s wholly inadequate transit system into the 21st century, more important, it will enable the city to establish contact with reality, albeit to a limited degree.

Since 1998, when the province forcibly amalgamated Toronto and its surrounding suburbs, the mega-city, as it was then known, has existed in an infantilized state. Rather than acknowledge the facts of life in a growing city, Toronto has buried its head in the sand and resorted to the tired rhetoric of the “War on the Car.”

Fueled by these nonsensical notions, Mayor John Tory has launched a series of minor traffic fixes. Some have promise — why shouldn’t deliveries be made before or after rush hour? — others are more symbolic. Does anyone really believe we can eliminate illegal parking? Still, in a city that never lets reason get in the way of transit planning, these tweaks matter enormously.

But now, for the first time in living memory, the city has taken a step that prioritizes public transit over the private vehicle, streetcars over cars, truth over illusion. This represents a huge change, a paradigm shift of monumental proportions.

Of course, the stretch of King included in the pilot is too short. Toronto never does in full measure what it can do by half. The Bloor bike lanes are another example of a city trapped in its own timidity. The lanes are too short, but 2.4 kilometres was as far as council could see.

The real issue — mobility — has historically been equated with vehicular traffic. But the automobile is only one of many forms of mobility. This is a point that civic and provincial politicos have difficulty grasping. For them, getting around the city begins and ends with the car. It’s no surprise, then, that Toronto transit has fallen two or three decades behind much of the advanced world.

The King St. experiment accepts that transit isn’t simply an alternative to the internal congestion machine, but is actually preferable. Accordingly, it gives streetcars precedence. Cars can still use King, but only a block at a time. Streetcars fly along the street. If the 504 route carried 65,000 passengers daily in the bad old days, how many will ride it now? The big problem remains lack of rolling stock.

The real test won’t come, however, until police aren’t on the spot daily writing tickets. Just as Toronto drivers routinely ignore bus and bike lanes, police routinely ignore offending drivers. The story of the city’s favourite cop, Const. Kyle Ashley, is instructive: he came to prominence tweeting his struggles to keep bike lanes free of illegally parked vehicles only to be silenced, ominously, by police brass.

In its willingness to go against history, the King St. project is a reminder of how poor transit planning has become in these parts. Even the Vaughan subway extension that opens next month is fundamentally flawed. It will attract more riders, but without increasing the system’s capacity to handle them.

This and the failure to create network connectivity have been transit’s tale since the Bloor line was built in the 1960s. The Sheppard line loses money with every ride. Tory’s proposed Scarborough line is already recognized internationally as a white elephant of global proportions. The only exception to this record of failure, the Eglinton Crosstown, an underground LRT, should have been a subway. And let’s not get into the lack of funding for the eastern portion of the line.

But now Torontonians have King St. as a reminder of what transit could be. It offers a glimpse of a different, smarter, more humane city. Of all the numerous problems the TTC faces, the most pressing is the need to be taken seriously, not treated as a goody handed out by vote-hungry politicians, municipal and provincial. For Tory, whose dismal transit record includes the Scarborough subway and SmartTrack, the pilot offers a desperately needed win. Most likely he will gain more votes in next year’s election by dealing with the reality of downtown transit than promising subways to nowhere.

Meanwhile, several weeks ago, the city quietly requested proposals for tunneling sections of the relief line. Though this marks another move in the right direction, construction isn’t scheduled to start until 2025. That’s a long time to hold your breath.