LRTA – How other countries see light rail and appraise light rail investments?

From from 2009

Article from the March 1999 edition of Tramways & Urban Transit

As anyone involved in a British light rail scheme knows, the appraisal system is rigorous and, many feel, fatally flawed, oriented as it is to short term and financial criteria rather than a properly broad social cost-benefit analysis. It is now also heavily influenced to favouring projects which are attractive to private companies under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and public-private partnership requirements which though they may well be the Nineties version of the Emperor’s new clothes, are certainly the the flavour of the decade in the U.K.

Tramways & Urban Transit is pleased to publish a summary of the report prepared by Prof. Carmen Hass-Klau and Dr. Graham Crampton of consultants ETP (Environmental and Transport Planning). This article is a for a DETR Project on the examination of the appraisal methods and financial support mechanism used for light rail outside Britain. The full report studied the appraisal methods in France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and the United States.

Advantages and disadvantages of Light Rail

Among the aspects discussed were the advantages and disadvantages of light rail in comparison to other public transport modes. The main disadvantage of light rail is that investment in light rail is more expensive than running buses along the same corridor because for buses the basic infrastructure – the roads – are already there. However there is quite a wide variation in the cost per km of light rail.

One of the advantages of light rail versus buses is that a typical light rail vehicle carries between 144-188 people (units with two or three carriages could carry 288-465 people) whereas an articulated or double-decker bus is only able to carry 80-160 people.

An update – as this article was written almost 15 years ago, most trams today are much longer and there fore have even higher capacities. A coupled set of modern trams has the capacity of over 500 persons.

On the Continent, public transport experts believe that modern trams are perceived by the public to be a superior transport mode to buses. This appears to be in contrast to Britain where the run down trams of the 1950s and 60s left negative memories in the minds of many people.

Buses may have to use bus bays and make other sharp manoeuvres, as well as suffering engine vibration and road surface unevenness. Modern trams in contrast normally have a smoother and more comfortable ride.

As many trams have their own right of way, often established a long time ago, they are more protected from congestion and are normally faster than buses. Furthermore the same tram corridor can often also be used by buses. Even if bus lanes are available buses have problems with parked cars, which is not the case for trams as tram corridors are mostly in the middle of the carriageway. However at junctions delays can occur if cars are allowed to use the same right of way as trams.

Normally trams blend in better with the built environment of a city centre and other historic parts of the urban area. In practice the construction of a tram line can be used to redesign large parts of the city centre into a more pedestrian-friendly environment. With modern on-street running, there is no separation between the tram track and the rest of the carriageway. Pedestrians and trams mingle especially well together. Streets with trams can be designed much more attractively than streets with bus lanes. In Britain, the ugliness of overhead cabling is often an issue, whereas on the Continent, firstly people are used to it, and secondly it is normally designed to a high standard. Some tram routes have trees on both sides and/or lawn track beds. In the city centre similar pavement as in pedestrianized streets is used. Increasingly the traditional design of having tram beds looking like railway tracks has been abandoned.

Whereas underground rail is not visible to the public, surface trams have a strong marketing effect in favour of public transport. Zurich or Strasbourg trams have become a tourist attraction and are featured on public relations material for the cities, like the red buses in London. In contrast, elevated systems such as the VAL or the Docklands Light Rail are difficult to integrate into the urban environment; they are mostly too intrusive.

Environmentally, trams are much cleaner than normal diesel buses but increasingly local authorities are switching to earth-gas buses which have very low emission values. Trams are quieter than buses but this is not always the case.

Trams can be attractively designed, representing a futuristic image of a public transport mode as in Strasbourg. Buses have so far not been able to change their design significantly.

Conditions for successful running of light rail

The success of light rail is dependent on many factors, of which population and the employment density of the light rail corridors and the frequency of service seem to be the most important aspects. Trams which run at low headways (high frequency) can gain a significant number of passengers. The higher the frequency of a public transport mode the more passengers will use it (or the more additional passengers can be won). However, the operators have to weigh the higher operational cost against the advantages of a high frequency. In many cases there is not even a choice, because the capacity to increase the frequency is not available.

In the past transport experts believed that the speed of the public transport mode was one of the major features to attract passengers. Again, there is little established evidence of this. Today we know from surveys carried out that speed itself is not the crucial factor. Passengers prefer ‘seamless’ journeys or short interchange times with immediate connections.

Even so, speed is still important. Many light rail lines in Europe have priority at traffic lights which can increase average speed and therefore give trams an advantage over cars.

We know little about how other factors like design and the comfort of the vehicle generate passenger growth.

The success of light rail is also dependent on the administrative and operational structure of which light rail forms a part. Competition between public transport modes is not particularly helpful in creating a successful public transport infrastructure.

An overview of the operational structure of public transport in some of the European countries shows great differences in the ways in which public transport is organised, with the Netherlands having the most centralized approach and Britain having in most cases no transport authority at all.

The financing of light rail

Light rail investments have been funded by German governments since 1971. A specified percentage from national petrol tax revenues is awarded to urban public transport systems.

In previous years, up to 60% of the cost of urban rail investment has been paid by the Federal Government, up to 25% by the Lander and the rest by the local authorities. Since 1992, the Federal Government maximum funding percentage has been increased to 75% in West Germany and up to 90% in East Germany.

With the constitutional changes which introduced a new regional rail transport law in 1994 an amendment permits the Lander to receive even more petrol tax for those parts of the railway network which are defined as `regional’ rail transport (in practice the local rail network). This will also affect those light rail modes which run on traditional rail track like the ones in Saarbrucken and Karlsruhe.

Since 1992 all French transport regions with more than 20,000 inhabitants have the right to demand a public transport tax which can only be used for public transport investment but also helps to pay operational costs. Every employer with more than 9 employees who is located inside a transport authority may be asked to pay between 0.55 – 1.05% of its total payroll as Versement Transport to the authority.

The local transport authority can decide, following agreement within the Communes, how they want to spend the money, as long it is on public transport. However the upper limit can be increased if new public transport investment is built, and since 1990 this upper limit in provincial France can be 1.75%. In the Paris region the variation lies between 1.3 – 2.2%. However, there the employers also pay half of the cost of travel cards for their employees. This is in addition to the Versement Transport.

At the beginning of 1995, of 190 transport regions about 90%, which had the right to collect this tax, actually used this opportunity.

The Federal Government of the United States spent about $18.5 billion over 1980-95 on discretionary grants for new rail starts and extensions, contributing between 50-80% of the construction costs for these projects. This funding made it easier to initiate projects, and often made up funding shortfalls when projects ran over budget. Critics have argued that the whole capital grants program is discredited and the Federal Government has no business in funding new rail public transit systems at the local level at all. Others conclude that the main focus of any reform of the process should be to remove discretionary control of the funding, which has proved to be an easy target of misuse. The 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) launched the first major re-structuring of the US’s surface transportation programs since Interstate Highway construction began in 1956. It embodied a Surface Transportation Fund, which includes roads amounting to $120.8 billion over 6 years. Within this was included a Mass Transportation Fund amounting to a $31.5 billion mass transit program over 6 years, with its 80% Federal share for capital programs and 50% for operating expenses.

The evaluation of light rail investments

When studying the financing and evaluation methods in the various European countries and the United States, the political dimension of any method to justify light rail investment becomes apparent. Generally speaking, investing in light rail is seen by most politicians as being a good cause.

In Germany a traditional cost benefit analysis is used to justify the funds which come from the Federal Government. (This method is also applied in Switzerland, Austria and parts of Italy). One of the most important factors is the time savings to the public transport customer if a new line is installed. It is normally assumed that with each 1% time saving, additional demand of 0.75% for light rail service is created. It is further assumed that the transfer is made by the car users and not from any other mode. In reality, there is little evidence on how many people actually switch from car to public transport. Neither the public transport operators nor the Federal Government seemed to be interested in this question.

Although comprehensive traffic studies are normally carried out by the French transport authorities, no cost benefit analysis is demanded by the Central State. The British reader may find this surprising but this was also the case in Germany until 1982. Most major investment decisions regarding German light rail and underground were all made before this date. One of the reasons why the French may not require such an evaluation method may lie in the relatively low financial participation of the State in providing funds for light rail (only a maximum of 30% is funded). Funding of the rolling stock is not included in France but is in Germany. But the Versement Transport provides a significant proportion of the funds needed for light rail investment.

A very different approach is carried out in the Netherlands. Here the integration between land use and transport appears to be a very important factor. A traditional cost benefit analysis is combined with a multi-criteria approach, consisting of 20 different criteria. They include hard and soft measures and each of them is valued and weighted. This creates a balance sheet where the cost side is financial and the benefit side non-monetary. The results are provided as a benefit-cost ratio. Yet, independent of these calculations a high quality factor seemed to be decisive.

The Swedish studies allowed relatively little insight into their procedures but in the past a more traditional cost benefit analysis has been applied. This approach is questioned and new methods are being discussed that are similar to the Dutch appraisals.

The Federal U.S. Government does not seem to work with a cost benefit analysis as a decision device for the funding of light rail projects. But this does not imply that for an individual State that wants to obtain funding, cost benefit analysis is not carried out. In the past the decision making was highly political and more based on an equal distribution between the States than on a strict evaluation method. This may have been a deliberate choice because if such a method had been used the eastern States with their higher population and employment densities might have got most of the funding.

Complementary measures

Apart from the operational and technical aspects and the location of the lines the role of complementary measures may be decisive for the degree of success of light rail investment. Whether a system is characterized as successful or not depends on the indicators used. If the success of light rail is measured in passenger growth since the start of operations then most newly built light rail lines are thriving. There are only very few exceptions known among experts, though unfortunately Sheffield’s tram is one of them. However, if success is measured by the extent to which car drivers are lured out of their cars, then most light rail lines are not as successful as they could be, possibly because there is a lack of policy measures that could be used to strengthen the role of light rail.

Complementary measures are defined as all those measures which are not connected directly to the operation of light rail for instance restraint policies (pedestrianisation, closure of town centres to through traffic), ticketing and marketing. Complementary measures can be divided into hard and soft. Measures which support light rail in order to ‘force’ a transfer from car to tram are called hard measures. Some authors prefer the word ‘stick’ instead of hard. In contrast, all those methods which primarily try to persuade car drivers to use light rail are soft measures such as marketing or comfort improvements. Ideally a combination of soft and hard measures should be used. Hard measures have to be sold well politically, otherwise people may not be willing to accept them.

The full report can be purchased from ETP, 9 South Road, Brighton BN1 6SB, Tel. 1273-540955, Fax 1273-508791, E-mail:


Prof. Carmen Hass-Klau has a Professorship in Engineering and European Public Transport at the University of Wuppertal, Germany, and has also set up and directed Environmental and Transport Planning, a consultancy based in Brighton, England. She was also a member of the DETR Expert Committee advising on the preparation of the 1998 Transport White Paper.

Dr. Graham Crampton is a Lecturer in Economics at Reading University, England, and works for Environmental and Transport Planning on transport policy research projects.

A Letter to NDP MLA David Eby

A letter by D. M. Johnston that is circulating around town.

Light Rail – SkyTrain – subways – myth and fact

Mr. Eby;

On Wednesday night I was a guest speaker at the West Broadway Business Improvement Association meeting, giving a talk about modern light rail on Broadway. Those attending the meeting were quite savvy on the subject of transportation issues on Broadway and I was shocked to learn from them that you and the other Vancouver NDP MLA’s support a SkyTrain subway under Broadway.

If one talks to ‘real’ transit experts and not the career bureaucrats working a both the City of Vancouver and TransLink, one would very soon discover that there isn’t the ridership to justify a subway at all. Present peak hour traffic flows along Broadway are well under 4,000 persons per hour per direction which is barely the ridership to justify building with much cheaper LRT. Peak hour congestion and pass-ups on the 99 B-Line has more to do with bad management, with TransLink failing to provide the buses to deal with present passenger flows and I am convinced this is being done deliberately by TransLink to force the impression onto transit customers for the need of a subway.

The claim that LRT would take away all parking and that trees would be cut down is another juvenile scare tactic by the CoV and Translink, to make local residents and merchants fear modern LRT. Real transit experts know that parking is very important to local merchants and would design a LRT in such a way to keep the all important merchant’s parking on Broadway. The tree issue is all the more bizarre when one considers the supports and span wires for the proposed LRT are already in place, holdovers from when streetcars operated along Broadway in the early 1950′s. In fact, the foundation for modern LRT is already in place along Broadway from the streetcar days and building LRT would be far cheaper than Translink and the CoV would have us think.

The LRT/SkyTrain capacity debate is more ludicrous as in revenue service, modern LRT has proven to obtain higher capacities than SkyTrain. The City of Ottawa rejected SkyTrain, in favour of modern LRT, due to its lack of capacity. The notion that SkyTrain has a higher capacity than LRT is based on 1970′s studies in Toronto, comparing ICTS (early version of what we call SkyTrain) with 40 year old PCC streetcars and not modern articulated light rail vehicles. For comparison, a modern tram has the same capacity of four car train of MK.1 stock. Modern trams, operating in coupled sets, would give a higher capacity than a six car train of SkyTrain MK. 1 stock or a four car train of MK. 2 stock.

SkyTrain’s capacity is also constrained because of its small 80m station platforms, which limits SkyTrain’s practical capacity to its contracted 15,000 persons per hour per direction. Most modern LRT station platforms are now 120m in length and the City of Ottawa is designing its stations with 150m station platforms to accommodate even longer trains. A SkyTrain subway would be limited to 15,000 pphpd unless all SkyTrain station platforms were extended by at least 40m, which would increase the cost of a Broadway SkyTrain subway by $1billion to $1.5 billion!

Modern LRT is both a ‘Green’ and economic. Green because is leaves a small carbon footprint and its proven ability to attract the motorist from the car. Economic because LRT greatly reduces operating cost of the transit route. One modern tram or streetcar (1 driver) is as efficient as six buses (6 bus drivers) and with wages accounting for about 80% of a transit systems operating costs, the economy of LRT replacing buses is easy to see. Even though SkyTrain is driverless, it still has more employees than comparable LRT operations making it about 40% more expensive to operate and SkyTrain needs buses to shuttle passengers between widely spaced stations. Operating SkyTrain only drives up operating costs of a transit route, not reducing operating costs as does modern LRT.

Subways are notorious for their high energy use as the cost of electricity to power lights, elevators, escalators, and ventilation is about the same as the electricity consumed by the subway trains themselves.

Doorstep to doorstep journey times on subways, with widely spaced stations, are only faster than LRT (with stops every 500m to 600m) if the journey greater than 7 km. The Hass-Klau International Study “Bus or Light Rail – Making the right Choice” found that transit speed was not as important as many would like us to think, as the study found that the ambiance and ease of use of a transit system far outweigh speed in customer importance. Subways are notorious in not attracting new customers and in fact, in some cases, forced transit customers back into their cars! Modern LRT has an opposite effect as it actual attracts new customers to transit. In South Delta, the forced transfer from bus to the Canada Line has deterred ridership to such an extent that suburban bus services have been reduced to post Expo 86 days.

The Canada Line, despite the hype and hoopla, has only 40m to 50m long station platforms, which can only accommodate two car trains, which means the Canada Line was at capacity the day it was built! Internationally, the Canada Line is seen as a “White Elephant”, as it is the only heavy-rail metro in the world, built as a light-metro, which has less capacity than a streetcar costing about one tenth to build!

SkyTrain was first conceived to mitigate the high cost of subway construction in Toronto, at a time when the heritage streetcar system was facing expensive major renewals or abandonment. In 1978, as SkyTrain’s development proceeded, the world’s first new-build LRT system opened in Edmonton. Today, only seven Skytrain systems have been built (only three used seriously for urban transit), has been marketed under five names; ICTS, ALRT (two versions) ALM, and now ART. During the same period, over 150 new LRT systems have been built and scores more are either under construction or in the final stages of planning. Not one SkyTrain type system has ever been allowed to compete against modern LRT. There are now over 500 LRT/tram systems in operation around the world, with one the newest LRT systems being built in Beijing.

I see SkyTrain and subway planning as pure Lysenkoism (Lysenkoism is used metaphorically to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.) to subsidize land speculators and land developers who have assemble properties at potential subway stations. SkyTrain subway planning is not about building a sustainable transit system for the future and in fact the massive construction costs of a subway, coupled with equally massive maintenance costs will make it impossible to fund future transit investment in Metro Vancouver, especially in Surrey, Langley, and North Delta.

If no other transit authority is building with SkyTrain, why are we? When subways are not considered until ridership is at least three times what Broadway is currently carrying in the peak hour, why are we planning for a subway?


D. M. Johnston

Complaints Up and Service Down At TransLink

Nothing new here as TransLink fumbles along trying to operate the Transit system.

The important question is: “Should we pay more taxes for more of the same?”

The problem with Translink is that transit operation is not provided on a sound economic model, rather the hocus-pocus model of SkyTrain and densification. Vancouver is unique in not providing adequate transit on high demand routes and operates scores of buses on politically inspired routes, which cater to the very, very few. Broadway is a good example; if ridership is down, why is there overcrowding and daily pass-ups on the 99-B Line route, while the 609 (Wally-Wagon) in South Delta, operates a daily hourly service that carries less than 20 passengers a day? This is example is compounded by the fact there are two other bus services in South Delta that carry less then 20 passengers a day!

TransLink’s real problem is management, or the lack of and throwing more money at this grandiose bureaucracy is just like flushing money down a toilet.

TransLink got 31,595 complaints about transit service in 2013

Last year, Metro Vancouver’s transportation authority received a total of 36,390 complaints, up from 32,617 in 2012.

The number of transit-related complaints went up about 10 percent, to 31,595 in 2013 from 28,408 in the previous year.

TransLink released today (April 3) its 2013 statutory annual report, which contains a complaints summary.

The report notes that the ratio of complaints per 1,000,000 boarded passengers rose to 88.9 from 78.2.

Why? “Some of the key reasons for this increase include: changes to the Fare Tariff policy that saw elimination of longstanding fare programs (WCE monthly and weekly passes, Employer Pass Program), a technical issue for SkyTrain in October that caused significant delays for customers, service optimization changes and a controversial advertising campaign that ran on the TransLink system,” the report states.

Transit service and ridership both decreased in 2013. Service hours were tightened to 6.792 million from 6.927 million. Boarded passengers declined to 355.2 million from 363.2 million.

By the way, of the transit-related complaints, 28,494 pertained to the Coast Mountain Bus Company, 1,526 to HandyDART, 599 to the West Coast Express, 551 to the Expo and Millenium lines, and 425 to the Canada Line. (CMBC operates the SeaBus.)

Regarding the Coast Mountain Bus Company, a little more than half of complaints related to staff and a third to service.

As for TransLink’s customer service performance ratings, this is what the report says about the transit system: “In 2013, six out of ten transit riders, or 60 per cent, gave the system good-to-excellent scores of 8, 9 or 10 out of 10 for overall service. This is down from 2012 (63 per cent) suggesting that overall perceptions of service quality have declined.

“Similar to 2012, the transit system service attributes that customers are most critical of include: the amount of transit information available at stops and stations and on-board buses; as well as the number of bus shelters available throughout the region. Less than half of customers consistently rate these aspects of transit service as being good to excellent (8 or higher out of 10). In addition, less than half (44 per cent) of TransLink’s customers feel they are getting good-to-excellent value for the money they spend on transit, this also is down slightly from 2012 (48 per cent).”

TransLink can look forward to more complaints in 2014 with the delayed rollout of the Compass card system.

Worlds Longest Trolleybus Line

In Vancouver, we think of trolleybuses as a holdover from the streetcar days; a sort of green transit system used primarily in Vancouver and a few other cities in North America. What was once the replacement for the streetcars, are themselves seeing waning days.

Not so in Russia, where trolleybuses are seen as a work horse transit mode, with the flexibility to both carry passengers and freight and over long distances too.

The Crimea, which has been in the news recently also hosts the longest trolleybus route in the world, the 86 kilometre Simferopol to Yalta line.

From Wikipedia:

Managed by the public transport company Krymtrolleybus, it was built in 1959 in the Ukrainian SSR as an alternative to extending the railway line in Simferopol over the mountains to the coast. It opened in two parts: Simferopol–Alushta in 1959 and Alushta–Yalta in 1961. The journey time to Alushta is about 1½ hours, to Yalta about 2½ hours, and the fare is about 15 hryvnias

It passes through the Crimean Mountains across the Angarskyi Pass, reaching 752 metres (2,500 ft) at the highest point, then descends to the resort town of Alushta on the coast. The remaining distance to Yalta is 41 kilometres (25 mi) and winds around the mountains above the sea.

Škoda 9Tr and Škoda 14Tr vehicles are used, being replaced from 2010 by Bohdan T601-11 trolleybuses.

From the Gulf News.

Bus or Light Rail, the Evidence Is Clear

Public transit is a necessity in today’s congested cities, yet politicians and their planners tend to ignore the importance of public transit in the 21st century city and either invest in the “cheap and nasty” rapid or express buses, or overly expensive gadgetbahnen like our Skytrain and Canada Line mini-metros. There is also the disturbing notion that by building a subway, will solve all transit woes along a given transit route; sadly not so.

The following two studies should give insight to the fact that modern light rail, built either as a streetcar (tram) or as LRT complete with a reserved rights-of-ways and priority signalling at intersections out performs both bus and gadgetbahnen, in economy of operation; ease of use; and the ability to attract the motorist from the car.

New light rail projects in study beat BRT Evaluating New Start Transit Program Performance: Comparing Rail And Bus

Modern light rail is not a panacea, but it’s proven ability to provide an attractive alternative to the car, while at the same time not bankrupting the taxpayer has made LRT the first choice of transit planners around the world. This singular fact disturbs the LRT naysayers and their beloved SkyTrain, but SkyTrain is nowhere to be seen in the following studies and the reason why is very simple. Despite the shrill cries to the contrary, modern LRT has made gadgetbehnen like SkyTrain obsolete and unless induced by senior governments or questionable politics, no one builds with SkyTrain any more and only three (soon to be two) of the seven SkyTrain type systems built are seriously used as “rapid transit”.

Many politicians do not want to invest in good public transit at all and instead promote BRT or Bus Rapid Transit. BRT is nothing more than an express bus with a dedicated rights-of-way and such is only somewhat cheaper than LRT to install and operate and many so-called BRT operations are merely a tarted up bus operating on only a few kilometres of dedicated R-o-W’s and hardly worth the name “rapid transit”.

Transit Ridership – Rail vs. Bus

It is clear the Metro Vancouver Region needs public transit improvements, but the region has already spent over $9 billion on just three gadgetbahnen lines which merely regurgitates bus riders as rapid transit riders, with only a 3% increase in ridership in 20 years! At the same time auto mode share has remained static at 57%, hardly a statistic to boast about.

The much ballyhooed Evergreen line will not change a thing, as it is merely the uncompleted portion of the Millennium Line, which was too expensive to complete.

The region needs to drag its transit planning from the 1970′s dogma it finds itself in and enter the 21st century and embrace modern LRT. It is modern LRT that has proven to give the biggest transit bang for the buck than any other transit system or mode available and this singular fact worries a great many planners and bureaucrats in Metro Vancouver.

Not so reliable, our SkyTrain – Eh?

SkyTrain is on the fritz again. The problem with proprietary transit systems is that they age very poorly.


SkyTrain delayed by communication system disruption

Vancouver Sun March 28, 2014

METRO VANCOUVER – TransLink says there are system-wide delays on SkyTrain today following a disruption to the communication system.

SkyTrain is running single-track between Broadway and Nanaimo stations. All Millennium Line trains will only travel between Columbia and VCC-Clark stations.

TransLink asks riders to allow for extra time when planning their journey on SkyTrain.

From the Halifax Herald

SkyTrain Strike?

One of the big advantages touted by the then Social Credit government for the SkyTrain ALRT system, was that is was an automatic transit system and being driverless could not go on strike.

Ha, ha, ha, the joke is on TransLink, as the 537 SkyTrain operators, attendants, dispatchers, and office and maintenance staff have voted 95% to strike. The news item also sheds some light on how many people are employed by the SkyTrain system and 537 unionized workers seems a tad too much for a transit system this size.

Also important, is that the number of employees listed do not include management, nor those who work on the Canada line.

It is just another solid indication that the operating costs for the SkyTrain light-metro, despite the fact of being automated and driverless, when compared to modern LRT is very much higher.

SkyTrain workers vote 95 percent in favour of strike

by Stephen Hui on Mar 24, 2014

SkyTrain workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees have voted 95 percent in favour of a strike mandate.

CUPE Local 7000, which includes 537 SkyTrain operators, attendants, dispatchers, and office and maintenance staff, would have to give 72 hours’ notice to the B.C. Labour Relations Board before taking any job action.

In a news release today (March 24), the union says negotiations with TransLink subsidiary British Columbia Rapid Transit Company Ltd., which runs the Expo and Millennium Lines, broke off last month and they are meeting for mediation next week. Its members’ contract expired last August.

“The strike vote result shows just how frustrated our members are,” CUPE 7000 spokesperson Annaliese Hunt said in the release. “In light of other recent settlements with transit workers, there’s no good reason for the employer not to settle this. What we want is a new collective agreement so we can get on with the job of serving the public.”

Issues left to be settled involve wages and benefits, according to the union.

“This should be very straight forward,” Hunt said in the release. “We need a realistic contract that respects the hard-earned benefits our members have negotiated and a fair settlement for all our members.”

BCRTC also operates the West Coast Express commuter rail service. A private contractor, InTransit BC, runs the Canada Line under a 35-year agreement with TransLink.

Streetcar Porkies From Vancouver

You just got to hand it to Vision(less) Vancouver and its lap-dog bureaucracy in finding ways to discredit the heritage streetcar.

The Olympic Line, which operated just two Bombardier Flexity trams (3050 & 3051), had about 550,000 boardings in its short two month run and was proven to be extremely successful, so successful in fact it won the Light Rail Transit Association’s ‘Worldwide Project of the Year’ award in 2010!

Vision(less) Vancouver has now sold its soul to the SkyTrain Lobby and wants a multi billion dollar SkyTrain subway under Broadway and in true Orwellian fashion is making the successful Heritage railway and Olympic Line, unsuccessful;  making truth, untruth.

“The most effective way to destroy modern light rail in Vancouver is to deny and obliterate any understanding of successful LRT in Vancouver’s history, history.” (Apologizes to George Orwell.) The mayor and the rest of Vision(less) Vancouver’s councilors and their compliant bureaucracy are creating a regime of untruths about LRT in any form, starting with the, until now, successful Olympic Line.

Shame on Vision(less) Vancouver and shame on Peter Judd, a manager of engineering.

Addendum: This is an updated post to correct a mistake. There were two trams in operation and not one as originally reported. Zwei shut off comments because of a mass of spam(over 80) and inflammatory comments.

Vancouver’s streetcar service a costly ‘novelty’ marred by problems: report

 By Matthew Robinson, Vancouver SunMarch 23, 2014

Vancouver’s historic streetcar line is a bust, according to a recent memorandum to city council on the viability of maintaining the service.

The Downtown Historic Railway, designed in the late 1990s to promote the use of streetcars in the city, has been plagued by service disruptions, carries less passengers per year than an average city bus route does in a day, and should not be revived, according to the report, prepared by Peter Judd, a manager of engineering with the city.

“It is a novelty,” wrote Judd, who recommended the city’s cash and effort be permanently directed away from passenger service on the railway, which has not been in use for a few years.

The line normally runs from July to October and is serviced by a pair of city-leased, vintage streetcars, according to the report.

But not only do the cars tend to serve few passengers when they’re working, wrote Judd, when they’re broken, staff find themselves bartering with collectors and museums to bring in replacement parts.

His report also points to the potential for collisions — there have been ten to date, costing the city $90,000 — as well as liability for rail operations and the risk of third party claims as reasons why now should be the end of the line for the streetcar.

“The risks and challenges have certainly impacted the reliability of the service and therefore made a scheduled service extremely difficult to maintain,” wrote Judd. “As such, it does not provide a useful or reliable transportation service.”

The railway originally ran from Granville Island to Science World, but it was chopped in half during the 2010 Winter Olympics, and now only stretches as far as the Cambie Street corridor.

Tourism Vancouver told city staff the railway is a nice tourist experience, but the report notes that it does not appear to be an economic driver.

One of the two streetcars will be turned over to the Transit Museum Society and the other will be repaired and delivered to its private owner, according to the report.


Trolled by trolls

“If you tell a SkyTrain lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The SkyTrain lie can be maintained only for such time as the province  and TransLink can shield the people from the political, economic and/or transit consequences of the SkyTrain lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the province to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the SkyTrain lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the province and TransLink.”

The SkyTrain lobby are up in arms because they refuse to believe basic transit facts. To bad.

There is a magic aura about the internet and many think that everything that is posted is honest or truthful; sad fact is the opposite is true. Today, I can prove via the internet that the holocaust did not happen and that aliens have landed and there is a great cover up. I can give you the links if you wish, but I rather not.

The internet is home to some of the most fanciful and illogical nonsense ever thought of, yet here are many that believe.

The SkyTrain boys and girls just can’t get over the fact that no one builds with it anymore and the world has moved on from light-metro. Many of the studies supporting light-metro are so badly skewed in favour of the mode, it becomes laughable, yet there are still those who still believe. One can visit the ‘skyscraper’ SkyTrain page to get ones fill of stuff and nonsense. The empty rhetoric that is breathtaking.

Many transit studies are not on line and can be purchased for a fee. Zwei has invested $500 for the four Hass-Klau, “Bus of Light Rail – making the right choice” series of studies which do not appear on line. In fact, Zwei has invested over $2000 on studies in the past decade or so and non of these appear on line, yet they are important studies. The same is true with industry periodicals, which again many are not on-line.

So to Richard and Rico please answer this simple series of questions, please link when you can, if you dare to:

  1. SkyTrain has been on the market since the late 1970′s, yet only seven such systems have been built, why?
  2. During the same period over one hundred and fifty LRT systems have been built. If SkyTrain is so superior to LRT why doesn’t anyone build with it today?
  3. Not one of the SkyTrain systems built ere allowed to compete directly against light rail, why?
  4. Though the SkyTrain Lobby claim that SkyTrain is cheaper to operate, why has Translink refused to compare SkyTrain with LRT in a “apples to apples” comparison, why?
  5. Why do the SkyTrain Lobby claim that SkyTrain has a larger capacity than LRT, despite the fact the contracted capacity of the present SkyTrain system is 15,000 pphpd, while at the same time modern LRT can and does carry more during peak periods?

Answers please.