From our photo file: It would be a cold walk
on the guideway tonight.
The aging SkyTrain shows once again shows the pitfalls of building with a proprietary light metro and TransLink’s ‘hub to hub’ transit planning. There is no redundancy, no plan B, except for buses that are promised but never come, and the transit customer, armed with his or hers expensive Compass Card, is once again left waiting at the station.
It seems no one at TransLink or in the provincial government gives a damn, just roll out those bonuses for a job poorly done!
SkyTrain ‘power issues’ halt service in downtown Vancouver
Vancouver Sun November 24, 2015 – 5:03 PM
METRO VANCOUVER — Service on a key length of the SkyTrain went down just before rush hour Tuesday, leaving commuters scrambling to get out of downtown Vancouver.
TransLink shuttered its Expo Line and Millennium Line stations from Waterfront to Main Street-Science World and told customers to use shuttle buses to bypass the problem section.
Long lines outside downtown stations awaited those taking that advice as TransLink slowly bolstered its bus service.
Anne Drennan, a TransLink spokeswoman, said additional Transit Police were sent to the stations “to ensure passenger safety and crowd control.
“Our crews are working hard to restore full service, but passengers should expect delays and allow extra travel time,” Drennan said.
The transit authority first blamed the service outage on a problem train near Stadium-Chinatown Station, then narrowed it down to “power issues” at that and the Main Street-Science World stations.
Service between Commercial-Broadway and King George stations continued with delays, and trains kept running from VCC-Clark and Columbia stations, according to TransLink.
The Canada Line was running as normal, Drennan said.
A year ago TransLink committed to spend $71 million over five years to fix system faults identified by an independent review.
Some interesting news items from abroad.
An interesting Australia Government paper on long term trends in public transport.
Some interesting comments have been made by an Australian observer:
It can be clearly seen that the Sydney tramways were the all-time record-holding giant of any Australian public transport system and never bettered since by any mode, including heavy rail. This explains why their techniques were so polished and way ahead of Melbourne’s – they had to be in order to do the job.
Note that the SE lines in Sydney were carrying 45 million ppa in 1960 just before the end. The initial projection for CSELR is 30 million, twice as many as Melbourne’s busiest, the 109. It’ll be a big one again if they can do it properly.
Meanwhile back in Los Angeles, The “Forbes” magazine site has posted an op-ed commentary that poses the question of whether LOS ANGELES can solve its well-publicized traffic congestion woes by building more roads.
Anyone who has visited Los Angeles doesn’t need statistics to confirm its traffic problems, but here they are anyway. America’s 2nd-largest metro area suffers the most congestion overall, the 7th-longest commute times, and the 2nd most hours spent in traffic per resident. The reason for this has been because of the city’s sprawling yet semi-dense built pattern, which forces people to drive. The solution proposed by urban planners has been to build more mass transit, so driving is no longer the only option. But a new Reason Foundation study argues that road expansion is the most cost-effective solution for L.A.’s congestion, thus countering the long-standing dogma…………..
Back in Australia a new toll road in Brisbane was sold for $2.8 billion (AUD) less for what it cost to construct. This should give some food for thought for those advocating a $3.5 billion mega toll bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel.
What is interesting is that is seems the same players behind the failed tollway are involved with the Massey Bridge project! Zwei thinks that Premier Christy Clark and her cabinet are playing with sharks and like LNG, are about to get eaten alive!
Brisconnections’ unhappy history
The deal rules off a very unhappy history for the Brisconnections consortium and its backers.
The consortium – put together by investment bank Macquarie Group and contractors Thiess and John Holland – won the right to build the tollway in 2008.
The heavy reliance on debt, financial engineering and use of equity from private – so-called “mums and investors” – led to one of the most controversial and calamitous floats in local market history.
On the first day of trading, the first $1 per share instalment in the $1.2 billion float lost 60 per cent of its value.
Within months, instalments were trading at 0.1 cents per share, the lowest possible price on the ASX.
Even before the price collapsed large institutional investors, who were becoming increasingly anxious about the GFC, bailed out, well aware of the damaging effects of debt and leverage in the financial environment.
The share price plummeted.
At the same time retail investors soaked up shares at what appeared to be a bargain price.
They were also often unaware that there was an obligation to buy two more $1 per share instalments down the track.
In 2009, more than 70 per cent of shares defaulted on the second instalment payment, prompting Brisconnections to sue and leaving many small investors facing financial ruin………….
Bombardier Inc. has had some recent finance problems with their aerospace division and is using its rail division as collateral so to speak.
They better make money now because if they don’t perform the CDPQ will own 42.5 % after 5 years.
What does it mean for us on the West coast? Definitely more pressure to buy more SkyTrain cars, meaning more pressure to build more SkyTrain. A sort of use it or lose it proposition.
Bombardier and CDPQ Enter Into Definitive Agreement: CDPQ to Acquire 30% of Newly-Created BT Holdco for $1.5B
Source: Bombardier Transportation Nov 19, 2015
Bombardierannounced it has entered into a definitive agreement with CDPQ for a $1.5 billion convertible share investment in Bombardier Transportation’s newly-created holding company, Bombardier Transportation (Investment) UK Ltd (“BT Holdco”). Under the terms of the agreement, CDPQ will acquire shares of BT Holdco convertible into a 30% common equity stake of BT Holdco, subject to annual adjustments related to performance. The transaction will be executed through a private placement and values Bombardier Transportation at $5 billion. The investment has been approved by the Boards of Directors of Bombardier and CDPQ.
This speaks for itself.
I must remind the unconvinced that going from 4,000 users a day to 15,000 users a day (in TransLink’s convoluted lexicon, this equates to over 30,000 boarding’s a day), which is a big deal in the U.S.A.
So here is a thought, instead of a $3 billion subway to Arbutus, with limited capacity, how about a $1 billion LRT/streetcar connecting UBC to BCIT and to Vancouver as far as Stanley Park?
The following video shows the Waterloo LRT under construction.
From our friend Haveacow in Ottawa, an update on the Ottawa light rail.
This is the legacy of the BC Liberals: gold plated highway and bridge construction, designed to funnel huge
portions of taxpayer’s money into the pockets of corporate friends.
As pointed out many times before, the Expo, Millennium, and Canada mini-metro lines and the soon to be completed Evergreen Line (the Evergreen Line is the unfinished portion of the Millennium Line) were or are nothing more than vanity projects of who ever the political party was in power at the time. Rapid transit was built to cut ribbons for pre election photo-op’s; reward political friends and insiders with large construction contracts and sooth the voters angst about a lack of public transit. Ridership was assured by recycling large numbers of bus riders onto the mini-metro.
It is now clear that the Premier’s transit plebiscite was to stall transit investment in the region and with no real reforms coming to TransLink, especially with Minister Fassbender in charge. it is business as usual in BC.
Both the SkyTrain Broadway subway and the poor man’s SkyTrain being planned for in Surrey will not only be extremely expensive, they will be controversial, so much so, that they could be vote losers at election time. So it is clear that the BC Liberals have resorted to the tried and true “blacktop” politics that have won so many elections in the past.
A good example is the hugely expensive and vastly over engineered Highway 17 expansion project in South Delta, which is in the constituency currently held by the independent MLA, Viki Huntington, which the BC Liberals hope to blacktop their way to an election win in the next election.
The needlessly expensive and massive bridge, replacing the Massey Tunnel, is another sweetener for the South Delta and South Surrey voter, even though after $3.5 billion investment, it will move gridlock about 5 km further down Hwy. 99. Never fear, the MoT is going to expand Hwy. 99 to 6 or 8 lanes, which will create traffic chaos for the Oak and Knight Street Bridges.
Endemic gridlock and congestion is coming to Richmond with the current highway’s planning.
Of course the BC Liberals are not expanding Gordon Campbell’s vanity project, the Canada line, simply if they do, it will spotlight how incompetent the original construction was and underline the fact that the Canada Line is the only heavy-rail metro in the world, built as a light metro, which has less capacity than a simple streetcar costing up to one tenth to build!
The Canada Line and the Evergreen Line has showed the BC Liberals that “blacktop” politics is not only are cheaper than TransLink’s transit expansion, it gives the BC Liberal government more opportunity to give ‘spreadin around money’ to political friends and insiders. Hence now all the talk of “road pricing” and “congestion fees”, to help fill government coffers for more lolly to divvy up among friends and insiders. The anti-car crowd love that kind of talk, but so does the premier, seeing even more money to blacktop more farmland to more election wins!
Joni Mitchell’s lyrics from “Big Yellow Taxi” have never rung so true; “Don’t it always seem to go; That you don’t know what you’ve got; ‘Till it’s gone; They paved paradise; And put up a parking lot.
More and more, the Premier seems to have washed her hands of public transit, seeing that there is no political gain to be made and in fact there is a lot more political capital to be made paving paradise.
Also worth noting that modern LRV’s being delivered to Calgary, able to carry 200 passengers cost about the same as ART Mk.2 car which can carry about 110 persons, crush loaded.
Calgary Transit currently operates as a single fare zone, with a flat rate fare for all standard service including bus, BRT, and the C-Train. The cost of an adult 1 zone fare is $3.15, a monthly adult pass is $99.00. No need for an extremely expensive Compass Card and fare gate system.
Simplicity and affordability is just not in TransLink’s lexicon.
More and more, the SkyTrain ALRT/ART rapid transit system becomes the Edsel of public transit.
The Port Mann Bridge is a prime example where a government replaces a perfectly good bridge with a multi billion dollar vanity project.
Other examples were the Expo Line, the Millennium Line, the Canada Line, the Fast Ferries, and most recently the BC Place retractable roof.
With the Port Mann Bridge vanity project, would it not have been better to just twin the Port Mann spend the balance on a new road/rail bridge replacing the Patullo and the decrepit Fraser River Rail Bridges?
From Integrity BC:
Irene Kerr, president and CEO, Transportation Investment Corporation took exception to one point in our recent commentary on the reckless rush to sign the Port Mann Bridge deal, writing in a letter to The Province newspaper:
“The total budget project is and always has been $3.3 billion. That’s the only budget figure ever approved.”
That may be true for the “budget,” but it’s not true for the first, second or third estimates, unless the government was fudging the numbers to get public buy-in.
So once again, here are the original estimates, starting with the 2006/07 BC Budget (caps our emphasis):
B. C. Budget and Fiscal Plan 2006/07–2008/09, February 21, 2006:
“Among the major components of the Lower Mainland plan are improvements to roads and bridges referred to as the North Fraser Perimeter Road…estimated to cost $400 million; a new South Fraser Perimeter Road with a projected cost of $800 million; and, the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge with AN ESTIMATED COST OF $1.5 BILLION.”
Vancouver Sun, January 31, 2006: “$1.5 BILLION IS FOR THE TWINNING OF THE PORT MANN BRIDGE AND THE HIGHWAY THAT LEADS TO IT.”
“This includes construction of an additional two lanes on Highway 1 and the Port Mann Bridge twinning, which will mean a second, new bridge supported by cables. It includes bicycle lanes and an engineering plan allowing for the future inclusion of a light-transit railway line when merited by the population and traffic.”
Bidders line up to twin the Port Mann Bridge and collect the tolls, Vancouver Sun, June 26, 2007:
“The government estimates the cost of all this at $1.5 billion in 2007 dollars. Given the way construction costs are rising, THE FINAL TAB WILL PROBABLY EXCEED $2 BILLION by the scheduled completion in 2013.”
P3 Agreement Finally Reached for Port Mann Bridge, ReNew Canada Magazine, February 6, 2009:
“But the estimated cost at that time (based on information from Partnerships BC) was $1.6 billion. THE COST NOW? AROUND $2.4 BILLION.”
For Irene Kerr’s complete letter-to-the-editor:
The following are the annual tram/LRT ridership statistics courtesy of the Eurotrams group.
In contradiction to what many local politicians; bureaucrats and academics would have us believe, modern LRT and or tram can carry large numbers of transit customers and do in annual revenue service.
Let us forget the many “man-of-straw arguments” against LRT by the usual suspects, modern LRT works well ans can cater to high density traffic on a daily basis.
1. St Petersburg: tram 476 mill pass p.a., 205 route km.
2. Budapest: tram 396 mill pass p.a., 156 route km.
3. Prague: tram and light rail 333 mill pass p.a., 142 route km.
4. Bucharest: tram and light rail 322 mill pass p.a., 145 route km.
5. Vienna: tram and light rail 294 mill pass p.a., 177 route km.
6. Warsaw: tram 270 mill pass p.a., 120 route km.
7. Moscow: tram 252 mill pass p.a., 163 route km.
8. Paris: tram 233 mill pass p.a., 104 route km.
Note: Paris tram figure includes Translohr rubber-tyred guided vehicle
9. Zagreb: tram 214 mill pass p.a., 148 route km.
10. Cologne: light rail 210 mill pass p.a. 195 route km.
11. Hong Kong: tram and light rail 206 mill pass p.a. (estimated), 49 route km.
12. Zurich: tram 205 mill pass p.a., 126 route km.
13. Brno: tram 188 mill pass p.a., 139 route km.
14. Yekaterinburg: tram 180 mill pass p.a., 180 route km.
15. Melbourne: tram 177 mill pass p.a., 250 route km.
16. Berlin: tram 173 mill pass p.a., 192 route km.
17. Stuttgart: light rail 170 mill pass p.a., 192 route km.
18. Dresden: tram 145 mill pass p.a., 134 route km.
19. Istanbul: tram 140 mill pass p.a.
20. Gothenburg: tram 140 mill pass p.a., 144 route km.
21. Leipzig: tram 134 mill pass p.a., 148 route km.
22. Amsterdam: tram 130 mill pass p.a., 138 route km.
23. Brussels: tram 123 mill pass p.a., 139 route km.
24. Toronto: tram 105 mill pass p.a., 150 route km.
25. Munich: tram 105 mill pass p.a., 79 route km.