Do The SkyTrain MK.3 Cars Have A Fatal Flaw?

Really. No, really, can’t TransLink come up with a better excuse than a “high tech glitch” for the recent embarrassing problems with the brand new MK.3 cars?

Evidently not.

Mk.3 cars high tech? No.

What the Mk.3 car is a new universal body shell to fit all of Bombardier’s ‘rail’ light-metros or other like light-metros that are in operation today.

The only real difference with a MK.3 car and a Mk.2 car, other than fewer seats, is that the light metro line now has coaches or cars that are gangwayed at both ends. Nothing high tech about that as railways have been doing that for over 100 years.

What the problem could be is that the new body shells are too heavy for the LIM’s and with heavier trains, the LIM’s overheat.

According to a letter, written to the late Des Turner, from the UK Professor Eric Laithwaite (who won a gold medal for his work on Linear Induction Motors) in the 1980′s , ALRT SkyTrian’s LIM’s were the wrong sort, as they were attractive LIM’s and not the more efficient repulsive LIM’s.

Professor Laithwaite

Being “attractive LIM’s” it was essential to maintain the almost impossible to maintain 1 cm air-gap between the LIM and the reaction rail. If not, the LIM would consume more power and generate more heat than it was designed for.

The LIM patents used by the UTDC on their ICTS/ALRT proprietary railway came from the Krause Maeffi MAGLEV which was once demonstrated at Toronto’s CNE and had a notorious reputation for not being able to operate on anything but a straight track.

The Krause Maeffi MAGLEV

From the start, SkyTrain’s LIM’s caused overheating problems and fans were added to cool the motors, which in turn cause problems in snowy weather where the fans blew we snow on the LIM’s causing short circuits.

The MK.2 cars or Bombardier’s ART cars used bigger LIM’s, to counter the problems of the heavier cars, which caused problems but most problems were “kept in trade” with but with TransLink replacing LIM’s at a high rate, which in turn drove up operating costs.

So, based on an educated guess, the new MK.3 cars are too heavy for the LIM’s; the LIM’s overheat; and the car stops. That is not a high tech problem, rather a production problem and it could be that the MK.3 cars have a fatal flaw for operation on LIM powered railways.

New Mark III SkyTrains so high-tech they’re glitching up

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver’s News. Vancouver’s Talk
New Mark III SkyTrains so high-tech they're glitching up

Posted: October 25, 2016

It was a ‘cooling fan’ issue that sidelined one of the new SkyTrain cars during this morning’s rush hour, causing commuter gridlock for a brief time, mainly at the Surrey stations.

The President and CEO of the BC Rapid Transit Company, which is responsible for the SkyTrain lines, says the new Mark III trains which were recently added to the system are so technically advanced they’re highly sensitive.

That increased sensitivity is what’s causing them to shut down when they detect what they see as a problem on the tracks.

Vivienne King says engineers are now working to re-calibrate the computers.

“What I’m doing is working with my engineers and because of this sensitivity of the calibration with the computers I’m going to put more techs around the system so that when these things do happen we can get in quickly, we can correct it, we can learn and start to adjust this calibration.”

She adds that glitches are bound to arise as the new technology is pressed into service.

“New trains will have bugs in them no matter how much we work and we test and we re-test.  I’ve commissioned a number of trains in my career and you will get those things happening in the beginning of running them.”

King will also be looking into how TransLink communicated the delays with commuters.

READ MORE: SkyTrain delays as another Mark III train fails

This morning’s disruption is at least the third time one of the new Mark III trains has failed.

Yesterday, another Mark III went down, due to a power surge.

And back in September, one was sidelined after losing power.

Seven of the new Mark III cars have been budgeted at $91 million, with 28 in total expected over the next three years.

In Metro Vancouver……

The subway lobby seem hard at it in Toronto and have been caught out by an independent public watchdog, set up to protect the taxpayer.

Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities has no such watchdog to watch for bureaucratic or political malfeasance and with the media well in bed with Metro Vancouver politicians, the taxpayer is greatly ill served!

In Metro Vancouver, Subway fantasies are taken for fact as are lies about LRT.

In Metro Vancouver, professionals are immune to professional misconduct charges and investigations.

In Metro Vancouver, the mainstream media myopia on current transit planning is based on who buys the advertising.

In Metro Vancouver taxpayers are being held to ransom by dishonest politicians and their enablers, dishonest bureaucrats and the provincial government, which just loves it that way.

Honesty is not a word used in Metro Vancouver, either by civic politicians and bureaucrats and no one gives a damn about the taxpayer.

Watchdog says city staff may have violated public service code over Scarborough subway advice

Ombudsman should investigate whether staff was serving the public interest, Democracy Watch co-founder says.

Spokespeople for the TTC and the city say staff provided their best professional advice with respect to the Scarborough subway debate.

By Jennifer PagliaroCity Hall reporter
Mon., Oct. 24, 2016

An independent public watchdog says city staff who contributed to and distributed information in the midst of a key Scarborough subway debate may have violated the city’s public service bylaw.

A Star analysis earlier found that a briefing note produced by the TTC was used by the mayor and allied councillors to kill any return of a light-rail plan in Scarborough and that staff discredited the LRT while advancing a one-stop subway now estimated to cost more than $3.2 billion.

“It says act with integrity,” Democracy Watch’s Duff Conacher said of the values set out in the bylaw, which are not clearly defined in the municipal code itself.

Spokespeople for the TTC and the city rejected Conacher’s characterization, repeating that staff provided their best professional advice.

It’s not clear who is responsible for enforcing the bylaw, but Conacher, who co-founded the advocacy group, said any investigation should be handled by the city’s ombudsman, who hears public complaints, not by city managers.

The ombudsman does not have the ability to discipline staff, only to respond to and report on complaints. If an investigation is initiated, the ombudsman can report to council with recommendations.

Failing to comply with the city’s bylaw, which came into effect in December 2015, means a staff member could be “subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.”

“These are incredibly serious allegations that, on the face of it, appear to attack staff’s integrity and professionalism,” TTC spokesperson Brad Ross wrote in an email. “We refute such characterizations strongly. Staff stand by the process, the briefing note and the answers provided to city council.”


For the rest of the story…………….


Trams for Kuala Lumpur? Evidently Light Metro Did Not Reduce Congestion!

Interesting news from Kuala Lumpur, transit experts urge that trams be used.

Kuala Lumpur already has an elevated RT line; a ART (SkyTrain) Line and an monorail, now transit authorities urge trams!

The key phrase; “…….the mode of transportation could also reduce vehicles on the road and simultaneously solve traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur especially in city centres which are areas of focus.“. Interesting because the grade separated, mostly elevated light-metro evidently have not!

Planners in Kuala Lumpur have now found that the only way to reduce congestion is to reduce road space and by using tram or LRT operating at grade, reduces road space with quality transit.

How many billions of dollars must be spent in metro Vancouver before our politicians and planning bureaucrats come to the same conclusion!

The puny Bombardier ART mini-metro just doesn’t have the

right stuff to curb congestion!

Experts back proposed tram service in KL

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 — Town planning experts have voiced support for the proposed tram service in Kuala Lumpur for which the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) will conduct a feasibility study.

The new mode of transport, they said, would encourage more city folks to use public transportation and help ease congestion in the nation’s capital.

Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP) vice president Noraida Saludin said tram rails which are built on roads do not use any structure so surrounding areas will not be affected during construction work.

“We do not want any more constructions of elevated structures as they interfere with the strength of existing buildings as well as affect the aesthetics of an area,” she told Bernama.

She said with the current sophisticated technology available, trams need not use cables such as the modern trams in Copenhagen, Denmark and Paris, France and are environment-friendly as they had low carbon emissions.

Noraida said the mode of transportation could also reduce vehicles on the road and simultaneously solve traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur especially in city centres which are areas of focus.

She added, the moderate speed limit of trams is also suitable with the busy city conditions and can lead to more pedestrian facilities.

However, she said a detailed study about it must be conducted by taking into account the technical aspect, ridership, geography, soil conditions, geometric and others.

Echoing Noraida’s views was Universiti Malaya’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning Programme coordinator Dr Nikmatul Adha Nordin who said that the authorities must have a proper strategy to include trams into the existing city ecosystem.

“Factors like safety, accessibility, crowd management, comfort and environmental impact need to be taken into account to ensure the scheme works well in the city,” she said.

Dr Nikmatul said it could also be a strategy to revitalise inner city areas as better connectivity would boost commercial activity in the vicinity of tramlines.

The service should complement existing Light Rail Transit (LRT) and bus services, she said.

SPAD chief executive Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah said input from other stakeholders such as the Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Road Transport Department and the public would be factored in as the implementation of the tram service would involve several authorities.

According to the Land Public Transport Transformation Journey 2010-2015, the study would be completed next year.

This initiative was stated in the Urban Rail Development Plan, which was a part of the Greater Kuala Lumpur Land Public Trans­port Master Plan, to enhance travel experience using the rail system. — Bernama

What – SkyTrain Ka-Put Again?

For a transit system that it’s supporters claims to be almost problem free, the proprietary ART/ALRT mini-metro has stopped working several times in the past week, mostly during the rush hour.

There is a new word in TransLink’s lexicon and it is “timed out”, what ever that means.

As for smooth talking Drennan’s claim that  “this delay has nothing to do with the changes to the SkyTrain system“, I wouldn’t believe a word of it as truth and honesty has “timed out” at TransLink.

SkyTrain problem solved but backlog will take time to ease

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver’s News. Vancouver’s Talk
Posted: October 24, 2016 08:25 am
  | Last Updated: October 24, 2016 08:43 am

SkyTrain problem solved but backlog will take time to easeTransLink says normal service has resumed on the Expo and Millennium SkyTrain lines, after a problem with a train at the Lougheed Town Centre Station earlier Monday morning.

Spokesperson Anne Drennan:

“We had a timed-out train on the Millennium line in the Lougheed Town Centre Station area. That train had to be driven manually into the platform. All normal service has resumed. People will notice some delays for a short period of time with some crowding on the platforms.”

Drennan expects that to clear up shortly.

She says this delay has nothing to do with the changes to the SkyTrain system that went into effect on Saturday.


One politicians “infrastructure” is another one’s waste.

It’s not transit or transportation projects we build, rather it is infrastructure.

The SkyTrain Broadway subway is deemed  by Vancouver politicians to be a good investment of the taxpayer’s money because it is “infrastructure” , but the subway is not based on sound transit and transportation planning, thus will cost the taxpayer dearly in the future. This is OK it seems as it is infrastructure.

The George Massey tunnel replacement bridge is called needed “infrastructure”, yet there is no coherent transportation plan that supports the bridge as designed and the governmet hides the true cost of the bridge.

It now seems, “investment in infrastructure” is the new key phrase in the upcoming election, replacing LNG chant from the last election; and we all know how that turned out.

Sadly in BC, and especially Metro Vancouver, sound transit and transportation planning has been thrown out with the dishwater and all major mega-projects in the region (Massey Tunnel replacement, Broadway subway and Surrey’s LRT) are not being built not to serve the public at large, rather they are investments in infrastructure and massive infrastructure investments means friends of the government will get very lucrative contracts indeed.

Andrew Coyne: Keep tax dollars and public pension plans away from infrastructure spending

Spectators watch as workers place a new section on the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in Halifax last year.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew VaughanSpectators watch as workers place a new section on the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in Halifax last year

Once upon a time there were things called roads and bridges. Sometimes they were built by private capital, sometimes by government, but nobody pretended they were more than what they were: services, like any other, useful for getting from one place to another.

But then someone got the idea of calling them infrastructure, and suddenly they were endowed with all sorts of miraculous powers: as short-term economic stimulus, as a longer-term spur to productivity, and beyond. Infrastructure was a jobs policy one day, an environmental policy the next, a national unity policy the day after that.

So I suppose one should be gentle with the first report of the federal Advisory Council on Economic Growth, the group of money managers and corporate executives the Trudeau government assigned to give it an economic policy. It is a product of its time, and it is very much a product of its sponsors.

There is, indeed, much good sense in the council’s initial outing. If Canada is to grow at a faster clip than it has, it will not be from injecting larger and larger doses of deficit-funded demand — the current experiment in something-for-nothingism having failed as spectacularly as past efforts — but from expanding its productive capacity: the supply, in other words.

That will require, first, more labour: hence the council’s call for an increase in annual immigration from 300,000 to 450,000. Second, it will require more capital: hence the council’s call for an aggressive courtship of foreign investment to supplement our meagre domestic savings.

And it will require combining labour and capital in more productive ways: the theme, one hopes, of a promised subsequent report on improving Canada’s “competitive market environment.” For there is no better stimulus to raising productivity than the fear that a competitor will eat your lunch otherwise.

So far so good. It is when the council turns to the subject of infrastructure that things start to go a bit off. The language becomes even denser with management consultant buzzwords, the “studies show” hand-waving more agitated.

Especially alarming is the council’s endorsement of the absurd, economically illiterate concept of an “infrastructure gap” — the difference, supposedly, between the economy’s infrastructure “needs” and how much governments are spending on it. To appreciate how utterly meaningless this is, note that estimates of the “gap” range from $150 billion to $1 trillion.

Well of course they do. You might as well say it’s $10 trillion, since the list of “needs” a province or city might think up is essentially limitless. It’s a wishlist, nothing more, with about as much economic relevance as a letter to Santa. In a world of finite resources, it is not enough to say you would like a pony. You have to weigh the return on any given use of funds against their other possible uses.

Economists do not like to speak of the “need” for something, but rather its demand, which is itself only meaningful as a function of price. Is an investment in x worthwhile? Only if its value to society exceeds its cost: that is, if enough people are willing to pay enough for it to cover its costs, including the cost of capital. Some costs, it is true, are hard to capture in price — the dreaded “externalities.” And sometimes it’s impossible even to charge a price: what are known as “public goods.”

But where it’s possible to charge a price, it’s usually good policy: as a test of demand; as an incentive for careful resource use; as a way of reserving scarce tax dollars for things that can only be paid for through taxes. So it’s good news that the council endorses pricing — what it calls “attaching revenue streams” — not only for new projects, but also, potentially, for existing public works.

Of course, if it’s possible to pay for infrastructure from user charges, then it’s equally possible to get private capital to finance it, in anticipation of those lovely “revenue streams.” Here again, the council gets it right: four of five dollars to be invested through its proposed “infrastructure bank” would come (it hopes) from private sources.

The question is: why only 80 per cent? Why not all of it? Large infrastructure projects carry large political risks, to be sure, and governments will need to do what they can to minimize those if they are to attract investors. But wherever public and private funds are commingled, the risk is of another kind — of privatized gains and public losses.

That’s not my major concern, however. For among the private capital sources the council envisages tapping are Canada’s public pension plans. I’ve written often enough of the problems at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, but the issue is more general. As a report in last Saturday’s Financial Post made clear, the funds are quite literally out of control, answerable neither to investors (contributions are obligatory), nor regulators (they have none), nor even their proprietors.

The result: a handful of managers in charge of gargantuan concentrations of capital, building empires, taking extravagant risks, buying up half the country. And now we want them to partner up with governments? With all the potential for mutual mischief this entails — taxpayers’ money subsidizing the pension plans, pensioners’ money underwriting governments and three levels of politicians hovering nearby, albeit “at arm’s-length”?

No thanks. If the infrastructure bank wants foreign pension plans to invest, godspeed. But keep the Canadian funds a thousand miles away from it.

The BRT Myth Exposed!

The following is from the Urbansit from Seattle and is quite interesting.

First of all, for those who care to know, Seattle’s LRT is indeed a light-metro, which ultimate capacity is over 32,000 pphpd (today, it’s 16,000″on the existing line before ventilation and emergency escape upgrades are made.”) True light rail operates mainly at-grade and doesn’t need ventilation and emergency escape upgrades.

Secondly, real Bus Rapid Transit costs more than LRT, something that TransLink and regional politicians are blind to. Of course, TransLink speak for “BRT” is just a tarted up B-Line express bus and not real BRT.

In Europe, real BRT or guided bus has fared poorly when compared to light rail and except for some niche applications and forced political decisions, it is not built because in the end it costs almost the same as LRT, but without any advantages of LRT.

A bus, is a bus, is a bus, no matter what it is called.

Again, transportation planning honesty just does not exist at TransLink or with the province and the taxpayer and transit customer are greatly ill served.

Bus rapid transit is common in third world countries because of cheap labour costs

but in Canada the costs  for the larger land take needed for BRT and realistic labour costs

make light rail the cheaper option to move large numbers of customers.

BRT Is Not Cheaper Than Light Rail


A common criticism of the upcoming ST3 ballot measure is that light rail is too expensive and we’d be better off with bus rapid transit (BRT), especially in the suburbs. This article looks at the economics behind such statements to see if ST3 is worth it or not.


Just an average morning on the regional highways. (Washington State Department of Transportation)

Just an average morning on the regional highways. (Washington State Department of Transportation)





First, we start with the rush-hour congestion map on the left (from October 4th at 8am). We can see that congested stretches of I-5 exist all the way from Everett to Tacoma and the same is true for local Seattle roads from Ballard and West Seattle. What this means is that more people are trying to travel on the freeway than its available capacity.

So how do we accommodate the extra people?

Why not widen freeways?

Before we do so it’s important to understand the concept of induced demand. This is really latent demand that only materializes once extra freeway capacity comes online. When congestion improves, people who were previously dissuaded from making certain trips now start making them. Moreover, as commutes shorten, new real estate development in areas previously deemed too far becomes possible, which in turn also creates new demand. So the new “empty” road space is quickly filled and consumed with traffic.

Now to be as fair as possible, travel demand is not infinite and it is possible to satisfy it with more lanes. The metric we are looking for is lane-miles per capita. Based on this, Kansas City, MO is #1 in the United States with 1.241 lane-miles per 1,000 people (1999 data) and experiences some of the lowest traffic delays for a major metropolitan area. Peak-time trips experience about a 20% increase in travel time (e.g., a 30-minute trip taking 36 minutes).

Seattle, however, only has half the number of lane-miles per capita at 0.652 per 1,000 people. If we want to have only a 20% delay in peak-hour trips we’d have to literally double all of our freeways and major arterials. Can you imagine a 22-lane I-405, a 20-lane I-5, and a 16-lane I-90 bridge? Even if you didn’t care about the impact on surrounding neighborhoods, building this across the region would cost hundreds of billions just for property acquisition. The cost would be at least one order of magnitude higher than what Sound Transit is proposing.

For the full story, please click………….

Willful Ignorance

The radio is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier. (Apologies to H. L. Mencken)

SkyTrain here, SkyTrain there, SkyTrain everywhere!

TransLink’s CEO, Kevin Desmond is an ignorant man and as such, makes a perfect CEO of TransLink, where ignorance is a prerequisite for employment.

I have kept silent about Mr. Desmond for over six months, just to see how he would fit into TransLink, but when I heard him on CKNW recently, he demonstrated that he was nothing more than a worm tongued bureaucrat, doing what worm tongued bureaucrats do best, deceive the public.

In other words he fits into TransLink very well

He suffers from the American “Metro” disease, which is the philosophy that “the more money one spends on transit the better it must be.”

His stand on SkyTrain to Langley is bizarre and underlines the fact he hasn’t a clue, but what is even more bizarre is his plan for LRT from Arbutus to UBC. His actions belies his ignorance of transit mode, which seems almost universal with those who come from south of the boarder where LRT is regarded poorly and streetcars are in the vogue.

As mentioned before, Desmond comes from the Seattle area and Seattle is building light-metro, using light rail vehicles and it is Seattle’s adherence to light metro that opened the door for Desmond to be CEO of TransLink, no others had needed to apply.

Let us hearken back to the era of Tom Prendergast, former CEO of TransLink, before he was “sent to Coventry” by TransLink management.

From 2008:

Prendergast is a consummate transit professional, as his more than 30 years in the business suggests. His previous posts include senior vice-president of New York City’s subway system and president of the Long Island Rail Road, which is the largest commuter railroad in the U.S.

Yes, the man knows his rails and, as he said yesterday, he’s not about to dismiss either light rail or the existing Interurban right-of-way options as TransLink plans its options for south of the Fraser.

Nor is he convinced that SkyTrain’s extension in Surrey has to be a continuation of the elevated system.

In fact, when TransLink announces today that it’s embarking on two new major studies — one covering a westward, rapid-transit extension to the University of B.C. and the other focusing on Surrey — the latter study will look at all options, Prendergast told me yesterday.”

Prendergast’s last words as he was forced out of TransLink, because he knew and understood LRT, was a question on the potential to extend LRT up the valley.

“There’s really no impediment,” Prendergast responded. “It’s overcoming the cultural embracement of SkyTrain that has existed to date.

He said TransLink is seeking to cut through the pro-SkyTrain “cultural bias” as it embarks on a careful examination of rapid transit technologies for line extensions west along Broadway and south of the Fraser.

Prendergast predicted the first light rail line that comes to the Lower Mainland will lead to much greater appreciation of its potential.

It seems that Mr. Desmond, knows how to  embrace the cultural of SkyTrain  at TransLink as he tows the line line as he blunders along in willful ignorance.

TransLink just didn’t rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic, but they seem to have hired the Captain of the Costa Concordia to run the show and I hope his tenure at TransLink is a short one.

Will Desmond finally sink TransLink?

The Tallinn experiment: what happens when a city makes public transport free?

An interesting read for those who want free transit, but remember, free transit comes at a price.


The Tallinn experiment: what happens when a city makes public transport free?

Since Estonia’s capital started providing free public transport for residents in 2013, it claims to have turned a €20m a year profit each year. But has the scheme achieved its ambitions of reducing traffic and saving people money?

Passengers board a public transport tram at a stop in downtown Tallinn


Since the scheme launched, thousands more people have registered as residents to qualify for free transport. Photograph: EPA


in Tallinn



In London a monthly travel card for the whole city costs almost £200. InCopenhagen, a city a fraction of the size, you’ll pay £160. So when you ask the residents of Tallinn about the benefits of free travel across the city, it’s a surprise to be met with a roll of the eyes or a sarcastic smile.

The capital of Estonia introduced free public transport at the beginning of 2013 after their populist mayor Edgar Savisaar called a referendum on the decision, dismissed by critics at the time as a political stunt that the city couldn’t afford.

Three years on Savisaar has been suspended amid allegations of corruption, but the city remains committed to the programme – claiming that instead of it costing them money, they are turning a profit of €20m a year.

To enjoy Tallinn’s buses, trams, trolley buses and trains for free you must be registered as a resident, which means that the municipality gets a €1,000 share of your income tax every year, explains Dr Oded Cats, an expert who has conducted a year long study on the project. Residents only need to pay €2 for a “green card” and then all their trips are free.

Since the scheme launched, an additional 25,000 people have registered in the city that previously had a population of 416,000, but this is where the tension lies. The more money for the city of Tallinn, the less there is for the places they leave behind, explains Cats, “so it’s not hard to see why the government and the mayor’s office might see things differently”.

Allan Alakula, the official spokesperson for the project, admits boosting the popularity of the mayor’s office was one of the key motivations for rolling out the project – but insists that it was primarily about easing the burden on people’s wallets, and the city’s roads.



The project took a year from inception to reality in which time Alakula and his team struggled to find cities to learn from. The city of Hasselt in Belgium had free transport for 16 years but they had to reintroduce fares when it became financially unsustainable. It is also free in the town of Aubagne near Marseille in France, but neither were on the scale of Tallinn’s ambitions.

Three years later the project has been inundated with requests – from the Chinese city of Chengdu, home to 14 million and desperate to ease traffic congestion, to Romania’s capital Bucharest. “We would be happy to hand over the title of the free public transport capital of the world,” Alakula laughs.



Tallinn is not a crowded or a big city, most journeys don’t take longer than 15 minutes, and transport feels like it’s part of the city’s furniture rather than something to be braved.

Drivers wait patiently as passengers cross their path to board a tram near Vabadus square in the centre of the city. It is nearing rush hour but everyone who needs a seat gets one. The trams and trains are clean and Tallinners have been enthusiastic about using them for free, with early polls delivering a 90% approval rating for the scheme.

Dr Cats, who is based at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, found that the number of people in Tallinn using public transport instead of cars was up by 8%, but at the same time the average length of a car journey had gone up by 31%, which he said meant there were more, not fewer, cars on the road in the time they tested.

He puts the increase down to a change in “shopping and leisure habits” rather than limitations of the scheme itself, and suggests that making driving more expensive, through parking fees and other taxes, could be more effective at cutting back on traffic.

A passenger holds his ticket card to a scanner aboard a public transport bus in Tallinn,


Early polls showed a 90% approval rating for the scheme among Tallinners. Photograph: EPA


So could cycling, which Alakula admits the city hasn’t done enough to promote: “less than 1% of people make their journey by bike, which basically means that cycle commuting doesn’t exist,” he says.

Cats also found “mixed evidence” whether the scheme has “improved mobility and accessibility of low-income and unemployed residents … [and] no indication that employment opportunities improved as a result of this policy”.

According to Cats, free public transport is not the no-brainer everyone might initially think it to be. “The idea still faces political opposition and visitors who use public transport are less satisfied with having to pay more for it than locals.” But in the case of Tallinn it is almost exclusively used by residents, not tourists – who rely on private buses, taxis and most recently Uber.



There is also a risk, says Cats, that free public transport could lead to less investment in the service. “In the event of an economic depression, investment in public transport will be more exposed to potential budget cuts if they are not earmarked,” he says.

Tallinn also can’t rely on increasing tax revenues by attracting new residents forever. Before the scheme started, 6,000 new residents registered annually. And while the numbers shot up to about 10,000 new registrations in the immediate years after the scheme launched, early figures Alakula has seen suggest that only 3,000 to 4,000 have registered in 2016 so far.

But Alakula is positive about its longevity and says they have also been able to funnel money back to improve their networks. “We are also in the process of building a tramline in to the airport that will get you there in 15 minutes.”

Calgary, Alberta: Green Line LRT tunnel option approved in principle by Calgary city council

Everyone wants tunnels and subways. Victorian railway companies in the UK, bankrupted themselves with needless and over engineered tunnels because they were in vogue.

Calgary’s LRT was designed more as a light metro than light rail, but that still did not stop transit planners from putting the C-Train mostly at grade, with on-street operation in the city centre.

The C-Train is now operating four car trains, with growth projections exceeding 15,000 pphpd for the ‘Belt Line’, building a subway becomes a viable option, but please note, Calgary’s politicos are much more fiscally prudent than those in Vancouver.

In Calgary, the $2 billion subway option is being considered (“councilors were careful to add a two-word caveat — “in principle” — to their recommendation to city staff to pursue the tunnel option“), while in Vancouver, city council is gung-ho on a $3 billion SkyTrain subway on a route with traffic flows projected to be less than 5,000 pphpd, past Cambie St.!

The only conclusion one can make is that the term “financial prudence” is not in the lexicon at Vancouver City Hall!

Green Line tunnel option approved in principle by Calgary city council

Councillors see underground route from north-central Calgary to Beltline as best, but worry about $2B cost

By Robson Fletcher, CBC News Posted: Oct 04, 2016 4:05 PM MT Last Updated: Oct 04, 2016 4:05 PM MT

Calgary city council voted Tuesday in favour of what’s seen as the best but most expensive option for the eventual new Green Line of the LRT — a $2-billion tunnel beneath Crescent Heights, the Bow River and downtown.

But, hedging slightly, councillors were careful to add a two-word caveat — “in principle” — to their recommendation to city staff to pursue the tunnel option, which was one of several proposed to get the future light-rail line from a point north of 16th Avenue North all the way to 10th Avenue South.

Coun. Peter Demong, in particular, worried about the price tag of the tunnel and whether it would break the still-uncertain budget for the megaproject.

“The underground option is, more than likely and from everything I’ve read, the best option,” he said.

“But just because it’s the best option, if we can’t afford it, when we look at the entire line or at least a good portion of line in its entirety, what’s the point of making something, if you can’t make it a usable option?”

The federal government has committed $1.5 billion to the Green Line, which is to run all the way from the city’s northern periphery to the deep southeast community of Seton, and the city has earmarked $1.5 billion of its own to be accrued over a period of 30 years.

The planned route of the Green Line is indicated by the green line on this map. (City of Calgary)

But the Alberta government has yet to make a formal commitment to the project and, even if the province kicks in matching funds, councillors expressed worries that the combined $4.5 billion will fall well short of what’s needed to build the entire Green Line.

Coun. Shane Keating acknowledged that major funding questions remain, but said that shouldn’t stop the city from pursuing the tunnel as a serious and leading choice for the north-central section.

“Let’s build the strongest possible skeleton for the future development of the Green Line,” he said. “As the funding picture becomes clearer, we can decide on how this project will take shape.”

At an estimated $1.95 billion, the tunnel was more expensive than four other options being considered for the north-central stretch of the Green Line, which ranged from $1.5 to $1.8 billion.

All those price tags are “Class 3″ estimates, meaning they are believed to be accurate in a range of -30 per cent to +50 per cent.

The full-tunnel route would see the LRT line run underground from a point north of 16th Avenue North all the way south to the Beltline in a tunnel beneath both the Bow River and downtown Calgary. (City of Calgary/Screenshot)

Other options for crossing the Bow River included running the LRT line down the existing Centre Street Bridge and building a new bridge that would run over Prince’s Island Park into Eau Claire.

To get through downtown, meanwhile, the other options included a shorter tunnel beginning at Eau Claire and an elevated LRT line that would run from Eau Claire down Second Street S.W., over top of +15 walkways along the way.

A consultant’s report suggested the elevated platform would hurt property values along Second Street, however, and cost the city an estimated $680 million in lost property taxes over 30 years.

For the section of the Green Line that would run through the Beltline south of downtown, council also voted Tuesday to instruct city staff to continue investigating an underground tunnel beneath 12th Avenue South as an option for moving trains to the east and connecting to the eventual southeast leg of the line.

That option had initially been ruled out by city staff but numerous area residents said they wanted it back on the table.

Scarborough Subway Derailing?

Unfortunately financial reality is now setting in in Toronto and building subways are a very expensive proposition..

The cost to replace the aging Scarborough ICTS mini-metro with a one stop, 6 km. subway (about the same length as a Broadway subway to Arbutus!) is now put at $3.2 billion and rising. Plans to revive a much cheaper, yet more effective LRT line with 7 stops were rejected by the mayor and council who campaigned for the Scarborough subway!

Metro madness, the legacy of former Toronto mayor  ‘mad’ Rob Ford has now gripped the city. Cost effective solutions are rejected for massively expensive ‘vanity’ subway projects, which sadly, Toronto has seem to have caught from Vancouver, where ‘metro’ madness has a firm grip on metro mayors, the Premier and TransLink.

So here is the problem we have with a Broadway subway: Which would better serve transit customers and the taxpayer, a $300 plus/km. plus,  limited stop (6 stops) and limited capacity light-metro SkyTrain subway or an at-grade LRT, with stops every 500 metres or so costing around $35 million/km.?

Scarborough subway might already be off track

TTC boss warns $3.2-billion budget and timetable are in danger as city works to finalize route.

By BEN SPURR Transportation Reporter
Wed., Oct. 5, 2016

The head of the TTC is warning that the Scarborough subway project that council voted for less than three months ago is already at risk for delays and cost increases.

In an exclusive interview with the Star, Andy Byford said it’s still possible to complete the one-stop extension by 2025 and at a cost of $3.2 billion, “but we’re flagging it’s a red, as in danger.”

“I’m still confident that we’ll meet the deadline,” Byford said, stressing that the transit commission is working daily with city planners to hit the project’s targets. But he added that “the window of opportunity is closing. We have to pin down the exact alignment and stick to it.”

The latest edition of the TTC CEO’s report listed the Scarborough extension’s 2025 in-service date as at-risk, and deadlines for completing an environmental assessment and having council OK the final routing were “tracking behind schedule.” The report says geotechnical, survey, and some design work has been halted pending approval of the final route.

Mayor John Tory has backed the subway extension despite increasing costs and questions about whether it’s the right technology to serve Scarborough. Asked whether Tory believed the project would be built by 2025 for $3.2 billion, his office stated via email: “We are confident that city staff and the TTC are working together to deliver this project on the timetable presented.”


In July, council voted 27-16 to reaffirm its support for a six-kilometre extension of the Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) subway from Kennedy station to the Scarborough Town Centre, rejecting an attempt to revive plans to build a seven-stop LRT line instead.


The report that informed the vote was authored by the TTC and city planners and estimated that building the subway along a route beneath McCowan Ave. would cost $3.2 billion and could be completed in nine years.

But those targets were already in jeopardy when council voted for the subway. The same report noted that the estimates were based on council picking a route by July, and that any delay could endanger the opening date and lead to extra costs.

Councillors weren’t asked to choose an alignment at the July meeting, and the route is still being studied. Although the report determined that the McCowan alignment scored high on many city criteria, according to chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat, since July planning staff have been working in conjunction with the TTC to assess alternate routes, including one along Midland Ave. and another along Brimley Rd.

She said that the review of alternatives, which was authorized by council, was motivated by higher-than-expected cost estimates for the McCowan alignment.

In an interview Tuesday, Keesmaat said staff was “still working through the final details” and she couldn’t say which route they would recommend. But she noted that the cheaper Brimley option likely wouldn’t support the city’s objectives, and the Midland alternative appeared too costly.

Keesmaat said staff intends to report back to council in December with a recommended route, which is in line with the TTC’s schedule for the project. Asked whether she believed that the subway extension would be built for $3.2 billion, Keesmaat responded the cost estimate had been provided by the TTC.

“Those aren’t our numbers,” she said, adding that estimates for the price of the subway are currently being reviewed by an independent engineering firm. As for whether the 2025 completion date was realistic, Keesmaat said staff have “been expediting this project at an exceptional pace” and “we have no reason to believe that timeline is not accurate.”

But she added that “the reality is there is a whole series of incremental decisions” that council needs to make to complete the project. “Does that affect timelines? Absolutely.”

Councillor Josh Matlow, who introduced the unsuccessful motion to revive the LRT plan, argued that based on the information presented to council, completing the Scarborough extension by 2025 was never achievable.

“We knew that then, it shouldn’t come to anyone as a surprise now,” said Matlow, who represents Ward 22 (St. Paul’s).

He expressed frustration that the report from the TTC and city planning didn’t spell out more clearly that the cost and timeline for the project were based on confirming a preferred route in July.

“I just question why that (2025) timeline would have even been in the report in the first place given that it was impossible to ever achieve,” he said. “Staff’s most important role is to provide clear, objective, factual, evidence-based advice to the mayor and council . . . I think it’s fair to say in this case, that wasn’t done.”

The estimated cost of the one-stop Scarborough extension has already ballooned from an earlier projection of $2 billion. In June, the mayor’s office announced that the price had jumped to $2.9 billion, and it was later revealed that the cost of maintaining the Scarborough RT during the subway’s construction would add almost $300 million to the bill.

Byford’s warnings about the Scarborough extension come on the heels of a consultant report that found the TTC’s oversight of capital projects was below the standards of a public sector organization.

Byford said that he accepts that the TTC has to improve its management of capital work and is already taking steps to do so. But he also argued that in the past the agency has been unfairly criticized for cost overruns that are outside of its control, including instances in which politicians have added expensive elements to transit projects after their initial approval.

As an example, he cited to the Yonge-University-Spadina subway extension, whose original budget of $1.5 billion eventually soared to $3.2 billion. While there were overruns related to delays and contractor claims, most of the higher cost was a result of governments vastly increasing the project’s scope by adding 2.4 kilometres and three stops to the extension.

Byford said that if the planning process delays the Scarborough project’s completion and leads to higher costs, he wanted to avoid another instance in which the TTC is left “carrying the can” for overruns that were not its fault.