On Building The Wrong Type of Transit

An interesting item from Toronto; maybe some TransLink types should read this, or even regional, provincial and federal politicians as well.

Investing massive sums of money on dubious subway “vanity projects” pretending that that any investment in public transit is good investment, is a fools game. It is time to design consumer oriented transit, transit the the transit customer wants and will use.

In simple terms, design affordable transit solutions, that the transit consumer will use.

The costs are in US dollars.

Now Toronto

Sheppard subway The 5.5-kilometre stub running east from Yonge to Don Mills serves just 48,250 trips on an average weekday (6.6 per cent of what the Yonge-University line gets), only 2,530 of which take advantage of Bessarion – it’d be the TTC’s least-used station if not for Ellesmere on the Scarborough RT line. Like every transit project in Toronto, its genesis was convoluted, but it was the darling of former North York (then Toronto) mayor Mel Lastman, who managed to keep the dream alive even as the Mike Harris government kiboshed other lines. “Without [Sheppard], we might as well go out of business,” Lastman said in 1995. When, the next year, Metro council surprised even itself by voting to spend $130 million to dig tunnels without stations or tracks, the Star ran one of those perfect Toronto transit headlines: Chaos As Council Approves A Train To Nowhere. Luckily for Metro, the province considered this a demonstration of sufficient commitment and gave them the rest of the money.

Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension The density around Downsview Park, York University and the line’s terminus in York Region didn’t, still doesn’t and may never support a subway. So why are we getting it? “A senior TTC official describes the planned Spadina subway extension into York Region as purely political, adding an expletive describing horse excrement for effect,” reported the Globe. The line was the baby of former provincial finance minister Greg Sorbara, a York alumnus whose Vaughan riding would be at the route’s edge. Originally announced with a 2015 opening at a cost of $1.5 billion, it’s now set to be finished at the end of 2017, at a cost of a billion more.

Union Pearson Express Not a subway, of course, and barely even public transit, the UP Express remains a tribute to bizarre transportation priorities. Envisioned as a private project called Blue 22 to be built and run by SNC-Lavalin, the train was announced in 2003 with an opening date of 2008. It would cost $20 for a 22-minute ride from Union Station to Pearson Airport. That didn’t happen. By 2010, the province wanted something ready for the Pan Am Games and decided that it should be a public project instead; they handed responsibility to Metrolinx, which spent $456 million on the service, including – as the Star revealed - $4.5 million to commission branding that would “lure choice riders.” It opened earlier this year, with a $27.50 fare for a 25-minute trip (cheaper if you get on or off at Bloor or Weston).

The train is officially hitting its modest ridership goals, but there’s a very long way to go before it could possibly break even on its operating costs. In the meantime, we can dream about how half a billion dollars could have built transit for underserved Torontonians rather than the premium class of business travellers who are now saved the embarrassment of taking a cab.

THE LINE ON DOWNTOWN RELIEF

The problem The Yonge subway line is crowded, especially during rush hour and especially south of Bloor. Holy crap, is it crowded. In peak periods, it’s actually running 11 per cent above its current capacity of 28,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd).

The bigger problem A number of short-term solutions are being implemented to squeeze in more capacity (including automatic train control that will allow the trains to run closer together), increasing it to 36,000 pphpd in a few years. The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension will ease pressures a bit, as will the province’s Regional Express Rail (RER) plan to run trains along GO corridors more frequently. But with expected population growth, the Yonge line will once again be flirting with disaster by 2031, and there won’t be any quick fixes left.

The false solution SmartTrack may have its merits, but it wouldn’t relieve pressure on the Yonge line to any significant extent. Metrolinx looked at the effect that an enhanced RER (essentially SmartTrack) would have and determined it’d pull away only 400 southbound riders per hour in the morning peak.

The real solution A proper relief line downtown. The city is studying a subway that would connect King or Queen (and maybe St. Andrew or Osgoode) to Broadview or Pape station on the Danforth. Metrolinx estimates such a route would suck 6,000 passengers away from the Yonge subway and another 6,100 from the Bloor-Danforth line during the morning peak. And if the relief line continued past Danforth all the way up to Sheppard and Don Mills, that’d divert 11,600 riders off Yonge.

The bigger problem, part 2 A relief line would cost $3.5 billion if it connected downtown to the Danforth or $7.8 billion if it went up to Sheppard. And there’s no money for the project, despite its officially being a top priority for the city, TTC and Metrolinx. At the moment, it stands behind both the Scarborough Subway Extension and SmartTrack in the funding line. Given how long it takes to build a subway, we have to get this shit sorted out soon.

Sources: Metrolinx, City of Toronto, TTC

Don’t miss: Train wreck: Why Toronto doesn’t get the transit it deserves

So, Who Says That No One Builds With LRT Anymore

Over the weekend, I happen to hear a federal politician wannabe claim that; “No ones builds with light rail anymore” and went on to prattle about BRT and how it could carry impossible loads of people and subways because “everyone else builds them”. Did every politician running for office sleep through their math classes? It seems so, because they constantly back very expensive transit alternatives, yet nay-say the worlds most popular urban rail mode, modern LRT.

Oh, by they way, just how many buses are needed to move 15,000 persons per hour per direction and you really need more trams to accomplish the same thing?

Read a book my friend, read a book on the subject; fact is indeed stranger than fiction when it comes to public transit in Metro Vancouver.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Light rail market set to grow by 4%

WITH an increasing number of cities constructing light rail networks in response to growing urbanisation, and ageing fleets up for renewal, the market for LRVs is expected to grow at 4% per annum over the next five years, according to the latest market study by SCI Verkehr.

The regions contributing most to this growth are North America, Asia, and Africa and the Middle East, where many cities do not have light rail systems and where the construction cost of metro networks is deemed too expensive, with the United States and China in particular experiencing high growth.

SCI Verkehr expects that around 1300km of new lines will open up to 2020 compared with 2014 and a further 1000km by 2024.

The replacement of ageing fleets rather than new line construction is expected to sustain growth in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The current market volume for new vehicles is €2.5bn per year and around €3bn for after-sales service. The European market is expected to grow by less than 2% per year, while impressive growth rates of 7-17% are expected in North America, Asia, Africa/Middle East and the CIS up to 2019.

Bombardier, Alstom and Siemens continue to lead the supply market. However, their cumulative share has fallen to 44% in 2010-14 compared with more than 60% from 2000 to 2007 as medium-sized and local companies pick up more and more orders. In particular, CRRC has secured significant market share due to orders from its domestic Chinese market, while Pesa and CAF have won notable international contracts.

To order the full report, visit www.sci.de.

Chemnitz receives electro-diesel tram-train

Chemnitz, Germany, population, 242,000 is getting new electro-deisel tramtrains for their successful regional tramtrain system.
This mans that the TramTrain network can expand along non electrified lines.

Chemnitz receives electro-diesel tram-train

21 Aug 2015

GERMANY: The first Vossloh CityLink electro-diesel tram-train for Chemnitz was presented to transport authority Verkehrsverbund Mittelsachsen on August 21. The second vehicle is currently at the Wildenrath test track.

In 2012 Vossloh won a €42·3m contract to supply eight tram-trains for the network being developed around Chemnitz. This was followed by a €23·7m order for four more earlier this year.

The tram-train is 37·2 m long and 2 650 mm wide. It has two entrance heights, with a mix of steps and ramps to suit the interior floor arrangement. Vossloh Rail Vehicles is providing the welded Duplex steel body shells, bogies and interior fittings, and Vossloh Kiepe is supplying the traction and control equipment and air-conditioning. In addition to the 600 V DC inverters, the vehicle has an MTU Powerpack with Stage IIIB-compliant 6H1800 water-cooled diesel engine rated at 390 kW. The car can reach a maximum speed of 100 km/h.

The tram-trains will operate from the existing tram network’s 600 V and 750 V DC overhead electrification, changing to diesel to reach Burgstädt, Mittweida and Hainichen along railway lines. These three routes form the first stage of a project to develop 226 route-km of light rail by 2020.

 

Pork Barrel Alert!

Well the TransLink pork barrel continues unabated and the real message this conveys is that the premier only regards TransLink as a dumping ground for Liberal lickspittles. The two appointees have absolutely “0″ knowledge about public transit and like good little puppies, will do as they are told. Something like the “Duffy Affair”.

Expect no change in TransLink’s direction; it is a vehicle from which the Premier’s Office rewards friends and insiders, with the transit customer, again being left at the station.

If anyone thought that Fassbender had the courage to change TransLink, dispel those illusions now, because at TransLink, it is business as usual.

Former Vancouver police chief, former Surrey city manager appointed to TransLink board

By Keven Drews, THE CANADIAN PRESS August 20, 2015

The B.C. government has appointed Vancouver’s former police chief Jim Chu (left) and ex-Surrey city manager Murray Dinwoodie (right) to the board of directors of TransLink.

Photograph by: PNG files, …

Vancouver’s former top cop and the past manager for British Columbia’s second-largest city have been named the newest board members of the region’s beleaguered transit authority.

Jim Chu and Murray Dinwoodie, from the City of Surrey, were appointed by the provincial government to TransLink’s board of directors on Thursday, a month and a half after voters rejected a plebiscite plan to raise $7.5 billion for transit upgrades.

TransLink chairman Barry Forbes welcomed Chu and Dinwoodie as he announced a “pause” in the search for a new chief executive officer, a position left vacant following a post-plebiscite shakeup at the authority.

“We will resume the recruitment once the new board members have had time to get up to speed,” Forbes said in a news release.

He said the board has “full confidence” in acting CEO Cathy McLay to keep TransLink focused on getting commuters to their destinations.

The plebiscite resulted in 62 per cent of voters rejecting a half-per-cent tax hike to pay for transit upgrades amid allegations that people didn’t trust TransLink’s use of public money.

Two of the authority’s top managers, Doug Kelsey and Bob Paddon, lost their jobs. At the end of July, TransLink began advertising for a new CEO, announcing applications would be accepted until Nov. 19 for the job with an annual salary of $320,000.

In July, Premier Christy Clark shuffled her cabinet to move Peter Fassbender from education to minister in charge of TransLink as well as the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

“Mr Chu and Mr. Dinwoodie have extensive experience, not only at the civic level but at the regional, provincial and national levels as well,” Fassbender said in a news release Thursday.

“I am confident their contributions will be invaluable to the board as TransLink works to secure the confidence of the region’s taxpayers, both in relation to its fiscal management and its delivery of the transportation system so important to the region.”

Chu served 36 years with the Vancouver Police Department, and eight of those were as the chief constable. He retired in May and now serves as vice-president of the Aquilini Investment Group.

Dinwoodie was employed as the City of Surrey’s general manager of planning and development from 1998 to 2006 and then served as city manager until 2014, when he retired.

The TransLink board is one of two bodies responsible for governing the transit authority.

Sapperton – Sapperton Station.

Sapperton Station (New Westminster) on the old BCE Burnaby lake Interurban Line, C. 1930′s.

A full build, Vancouver to Chilliwack TramTrain, could once again have a Sapperton Station.

Used DMU’s for RftV?

Even though our local politicians haven’t a clue about the ‘Rail for the Valley’ project, European professionals are, as evidenced by the following letter.

Dear Sir and Madam,

 

HEROS would be able to provide used DMU’s (diesel tram function without toilet but higher platform required) or DMU for regional service (with toilets and steps for entrance from low platform level).

 

I think it could be a helpful to have an “evolutional concept” for such an idea.

The investment in the infrastructure is a must, but you may start with refurbished rolling stock in reasonable condition and quality to reduce the total cost for the taxpayers at the beginning of such a project.

Our available types of rolling stock provided are in Europe still in service and could allow a significant reduction of the necessary investment at least for the first 10 years, if this would be required.

The advantage of our available rolling stock is the low axle weight and the low fuel consumption due to the lower weight in comparison to DMU’s from North America.

The rolling stock could not run on the railway line used by “class A” freight operators, but does also not require the infrastructure for operation with very heavy rolling stock (bridges, rail, etc.). I think the idea is to use an existing but not used line or a completely new line, is that assumption correct?

Our available rolling stock could be used for a bridging operation on an infrastructure tram/LRV-systems.

 

Best regards

 

Uwe Sauer

CEO

HEROS Helvetic Rolling Stock GmbH

 

 

Pfingstweidstrasse 102b, 8005 Zürich-CH

Tel. + 41 (0)44 268 69 29,

Fax. +41 (0)44 268 69 28

Email:uwe.sauer@heros-rail.com

It makes perfect sense to use used DMU stock for the initial phase of a Vancouver to Chilliwack line, especially when there is no street running.

Using used DMU’s on an hourly Vancouver to Chilliwack 60 minute service or an hourly Vancouver to Abbotsford/Huntington service, with 120 minute service to Chilliwack, would make the start-up service a bargain when compared to other transit projects in the region at, a cost less than $750 million.

 

Over to you Mr. Cow – A View From a Canadian Transit Expert

Haveacow is a Canadian public transit specialist and what he says deserves to be listened to. As he is active in the transit profession in Canada, he would like to keep his real name out of the media.

The following is his reply to a post about BRT and contains so much important  information that it deserves a post of its own!

The following diagram may help explain the capacity issue comparing bus and LRT.

Guided Bus-ways have a big issue, capacity. The reason you have a guided bus-way is that, surface vehicles like buses can sway side to side quite a bit on a roadway. One of the reasons most Bus-way lanes are a minimum of 4 metres wide is to allow for that side to side sway that occurs naturally at higher speeds when we drive. Guided Bus-ways are fixed to their “Track” or Concrete Guideway or fixed using a laser/optical system that electronically locks them into a right of way so no side to side sway occurs at all. Optical systems also have an additional issue in that they are highly weather dependent and are very costly to service. The advantage for the guided bus-ways is that, your right of way can be considerably less wide much like a rail line right of way. Unless you design a complex concrete guideway bypass at Bus-way stations or an electronic one using optical guided equipment, the buses are forever trapped behind the buses in front of them. This severely limits system capacity.

The real problem common with BRT is the operating cost of carrying the large amount of passengers, only using buses, once the passenger levels become very high. That level is different for every city and is dependent on the exact nature and characteristics of the right of way. The picture Zwei used of the Brisbane Busway is another common occurrence on successful Bus-ways, bus back ups at choke points or stations. The company MMM Consulting (nee McCormik Rankin Consulting) was the main designer and developer of both Ottawa’s Transit-way System and its child, the Brisbane Bus-way Network, the subject of the article’s main picture.

The main differences between the two are the fact that Ottawa’s Transit-way System was designed and mostly built in the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s whereas, Brisbane’s was designed and built in the 90′s, 00′s and 10′s. The other major difference is that unlike Ottawa, Brisbane was able to build a fully segregated right of way through its downtown which comprised below grade tunnels and above grade viaducts and a physically segregated surface route. Ottawa has painted bus lanes on a couplet of downtown one-way streets with signal modification which allow Transit-way (east-west traffic) almost the legal limit of signal priority over the north-south traffic at intersections. The difference between the two, using roughly the same number of vehicles about 185-200 buses/hour/direction at peak the Ottawa Transit-way can move 10500 people/hour/ direction and Brisbane about 14,000p/h/d.

Both however, have the same issue, massive back ups of buses primarily at downtown or major bus-way stations because the size and handling capacity of the actual stations has been grossly under built. The issue is that, to handle these kind of crowds and move them with 12 and 18 metre single articulated buses (23 metre long, double articulated and 30 metre long triple articulated buses are not street legal in Canada or Australia and even in the USA for that matter) you must construct monster sized, at the least full metro sized or larger bus station platforms that are or exceed 150 metres in length. The stations also have to be 4 lanes wide, 4 metres per lane, not including station platform width. Most downtown businesses would not want to be located near one of these stations for obvious reasons. One of Brisbane’s bus-way stations was enlarged to this standard, the bus back up picture Zwei used for this article is the que of buses entering that station.

The other main issue is the operational cost of having to use that many bus drivers and buses. Buses in general have far too little capacity for these high traffic BRT operations. In China and Latin America drivers cost much less as a proportion of the total operating cost of each bus 50-60% in Latin America and 30-45% in China. In the northern 2/3 North America, Western and Central Europe, Australia/New Zealand, Japan Taiwan, basically most of the so called developed world, the cost of the bus driver is 70-80% of the total cost of operating the bus. Using 185-200 buses/hour/direction to move people becomes a great financial drain on the operating bus system as a whole and makes it almost impossible to get extra buses to other non bus-way routes that need them. In Ottawa, several suburban routes that have needed many more buses to handle their high passenger levels can’t get them and haven’t been able to for more than a decade because so many buses are tied up on the Transit way, either on it or at the stations during peak hours. There are barely enough extra buses left to handle individual bus breakdowns let alone provide extra service on other routes. Buying more buses was not an answer because Ottawa’s bus fleet was already near 1100 vehicles this is a pretty big fleet for a city and area of at most, 1.2 million people. This would put the operational budget into a serious deficit. We already had the most expensive per taxpayer transit portion on our tax bills of all Ontario municipalities it really does not need to go higher. The bus options had run out of time. Ottawa’s answer was LRT. Brisbane continues to maintain their heavily used portions of busways. Ottawa is building more Transit ways but in suburban areas with much lighter passenger traffic levels.

The Transit-way was designed to be converted to rail however, the cost to convert the first part would be an eye popping $2.1 Billion. The reason was no one ever figured how much extra work there would be like, having to build parallel temporary bus rights of way so that, all those buses didn’t totally clog city streets during conversion of the Transit-way to rail and the fact that, they waited till much the original Transit-way infrastructure was in desperate need of replacement due to age. Some Transitway right of way also was only temporary and not rail friendly. These temporary rights of way lasted for over 30 years and now have to be either totally rebuilt and or abandoned at high cost. The kicker about the high operational cost of servicing bus-ways at high passenger demands was that, even with Ottawa being forced to build a 2.5 km tunnel, with 3 very large underground stations at a cost of $715 Million under downtown for the LRT line (surface operation would have simply exchanged heavy surface bus traffic and passenger crowds for heavy surface LRV traffic and passenger crowds) operationally, Ottawa was going to save a minimum of $60 million a year, switching to LRT technology.

The take away from this is that, building “Real BRT” can be a very good way of building up ridership and up to a certain point, a less costly way, compared to a lot of rail systems, to move people in a North American low density environment. The problem now even in Canada is that, politicians are building express bus systems like B Lines, Brampton’s Zum (pronounced zoom) and many comparable systems in the US and calling it BRT, which it really is not. Those politicians love doing it because this false BRT is much cheaper to build and operate than real BRT and they still get a ribbon cutting ceremony. The problem is that, the amount you spend with these systems generally is comparable to the systems effectiveness in moving passengers. VIVA, (York Region Transit) for example, started with the faux BRT or what I like to call “BRT Lite” but, had definite designs and plans to build physically separate BRT rights of way that can be converted to a high capacity LRT system in the future and has carried through on it. York Region just didn’t have the passenger count to build LRT at the beginning. But they have designed in the ability to easily convert the BRT system to LRT technology when needed. Brampton (which is part of Peel Region) just to the west of York Region has no definite plan or design to convert its Zum system to a real BRT standard now or in the future. However, the Zum System has built up Brampton’s transit ridership. I am not saying that, these “BRT Lite” systems aren’t useful but they are not real BRT and should be labeled as that because they can confuse people into not building anything in places that need improved transit but can’t afford to build or operate LRT and or support LRT with enough passengers. As a planner it is quite common to hear comments like this at public meetings,” I saw BRT in Brampton and it gets stuck in regular traffic all the time. BRT sucks!” Then you have to explain what real BRT is and is not, by then most people fall asleep or stop listening.

Then you get into a half technical half ethical problem with BRT and or any other transit operating technology for that matter. How do you study the differences between operating technology so that you are being fair as well as being accurate in the final choice of technology? The best recent example of what not to do is right here locally in Vancouver, South of the Fraser River, to be exact.

Trying to convince people in Surrey that, their LRT plan is useful, TransLink used a SkyTrain option as well as a surface BRT option to compare to LRT capability, pointing out the superiority of LRT in this case. The SkyTrain option had many problems cost and general usefulness being the main ones. The BRT example they used is actually an LRT line using buses operating on a layout and design which is not even close to what a real BRT line in a on-street environment would or should be using. Its not even close to the best Canadian practices, let alone best practices used in the rest of the world, with BRT systems in a on-street environment. Did the staff doing this know enough to do this purposely or were they ignorant of the differences of what good BRT design is or is not. Their example of LRT also displays a either a serious lack of knowledge about best surface LRT operating practices in the US and Canada. More importantly it shows to me, how committed or in this case not committed, TransLink staff really are to studying LRT technology at all. In fact, I don’t blame the people who supported SkyTrain technology for this area, like Daryl from SkyTrain for Surrey, he had a point, on the surface this study definitely made it look like that to me that the SkyTrain Light Metro was the superior technology choice. The difference as a professional is that, I know the real differences in all the technologies that were studied. I also have no belief that, I am the be all and end all of studying these things in the world and would also ask for much help in studying these technology choices from other friends and companies I am familiar with, whom are experts at it. To me a whole new study should be done using the actual best practices for all technologies not just the preferred LRT technology, you should seriously question major aspects and assumptions that were made in this particular TransLink study.

The Fiscal Realities of Subways Surface

Taxpayers in Ontario are slowly awakening up to the fiscal realities of modern subway construction, just as their European counterparts did in the 1970′s and 80′s.

Little known on this side of the pond, is that subway construction in Europe has almost bankrupted public transit en mass and by the 1990′s subways were only considered as a last resort when ridership on a transit route demanded grade separation.

This has given birth to the Light Rail Renaissance, which has seen a massive resurgence of the modern tram.

In North America the financial reality of subway construction has not been recognized, leading planners on this side of the pond planning LRT as a light metro and trying to make “streetcars” a separate transit mode.

In about two decades we will be singing the European tram tune as today’s subways will become tomorrow’s money pits. Vancouver taxpayer’s please take note.

 

Wavering public support puts cracks in political subway deal: James
[?IMG]
ALEX CONSIGLIO / TORONTO STAR Order this photo

The Scarborough RT has never been upgraded – unlike the SkyTrain system in Vancouver that uses similar technology.

By: Royson James Toronto Politics, Published on Wed Aug 05 2015
Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mayor John Tory (open John Tory’s policard) no doubt share a common unease about their stubborn, unsubstantiated faith in the proposed Scarborough subway. But the doctrine of political expediency helps them keep the faith.

Even as they mouth support for the project that is essentially a $2-billion over-build of transit infrastructure, both political leaders know the justification is non-existent.

Oh, the payback in political support is demonstrable.

Link the current east-west subway terminus at Kennedy Station to the Scarborough Town Centre, and enough Scarborough residents are ecstatic enough to vote for you. It worked for Mitzie Hunter of the provincial Liberals. As a member of a study team, she advocated an LRT for the corridor. Then, reading the political tea leaves as a Liberal candidate, Hunter became a subway convert. And won the riding.

Politicians being politicians, they can’t help themselves when their strategists point out the direct link between public policy and vote buying. But on this scheme, the link weakens with every revelation about its shaky foundations.

Further evidence that, perhaps, Torontonians want a second look comes with a Forum Research poll that shows nearly half the city wants city council to re-examine the project. Nearly one in five respondents don’t know what to think and one-third want the subway.

Some think the downtown relief line demands higher priority. Others want an LRT because it covers more neighbourhoods and costs less. Still others feel the subway runs too closely to the mayor’s SmartTrack line — a multi-billion-dollar project shoe-horned into existing plans and treated as if it’s a fait accompli.

By now, the subway proponents should be comfortably ahead in the public opinion game. The subway extension has $660 million promised in federal money. Premier Wynne sticks by her $1.48-billion contribution. The city has approved a dedicated property tax hike for some 40 years. New mayor John Tory doesn’t want to upset pro-subway councillors and potentially lose their votes on his SmartTrack scheme, so he hides behind the claim that city council has already voted — the train has left the station, he says.

So, why is such a significant cohort of residents uneasy about the project? Why is support falling, not building?

Because approval and survival of the Scarborough subway is based on deception, faulty data, poor analysis, political opportunism and hubris.

The more residents learn about the Scarborough subway, the more they are convinced that the ridership is not there; the line runs where the fewest riders are and where the development potential is restrained; the projected ridership numbers that gave cover to council’s support in 2013 have not been tested, were done hurriedly and may be fictional; more cost-effective and appropriate alternatives exist and have been offered for decades; and other transit proposals now gaining steam (see SmartTrack) will only aggravate the waste.

Worse, citizens realize their city council is not working in the city’s interest. Councillors have voted, and will continue to vote, with the mayor — so long as they feel they can get plum appointments and support for pet projects. These alliances are deaf to reason. Councillors literally put their fingers in their ears and vote — whipped into action, they are, by the mayor’s henchmen.

This condition is not unique to the current John Tory administration.

For decades the TTC urged the politicians to fix and upgrade the Scarborough RT into a modern system. The technology is the same one running well in Vancouver. It’s just that ours has never been upgraded. In 2006, TTC estimated the fix at $360 million.

Instead of acting, the transit commission and council let the RT go to ruin. Instead, Mayor David Miller proposed Transit City — a light rail system. Then Rob Ford (open Rob Ford’s policard) bellowed “subways, subways, subways.” Then, cynical politicians mined the idea that anything other than a subway in Scarborough is akin to dismissing borough residents as second-class citizens. And the pro-subway political juggernaut was born.

Truth has punched some cracks into that bedrock doctrine. But it will take something tectonic to crumble the foundations of this ruinous adventure.

In the fall, city council is to decide on the actual route of the subway. That provides an opportunity to reconsider and, maybe, change technology. It won’t happen. The entire weight of the mayor’s office is arrayed to ensure its survival. It’s not that Tory cares about the project; he doesn’t. He’s got a bigger fish to fry.

Tory needs votes to keep on track his transit pet project — SmartTrack. That idea to run trains from Markham, through downtown and out near the airport at a cost of $8-, $9-, $10-billion is entirely untested. But it is the central plank in Tory’s election campaign. It must proceed or the mayor loses credibility.

As such, Tory supports the Scarborough Subway to secure six or so crucial votes of city councillors politically invested to deliver the subway. The alliance is formidable — never mind the wasted billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

What the Bus Boys Don’t Tell About BRT

BRT – BRT is the clarion call from many politicians in the region, yet very few really have a clue what BRT is.

Real BRT or bus Rapid Transit is a bus which operates on an exclusive roadway or on a guideway. BRT costs about 70% of that of light rail to install, yet does not have many of the benefits of light rail. Buses cannot operate in multiple units, thus higher capacities require much higher operating costs.

What is being passed off as BRT in BC is nothing more than express buses, with limited HOV lane access. Though express buses reduce commute times, they don’t even come close in matching modern LRT.

Beware of those experts (?) who champion BRT as a transit solution; in reality, all they are offering is limited bus services with high operating costs.

‘Deteriorating’ Cambridgeshire guided busway may need to be ripped up

10 April 2015

Guided bus,

Guided bus,

The guided busway may need to be ripped up and re-done, a county council official has warned.

The busway, which runs between Cambridge and Huntingdon, has had 11 million passengers since it opened four years ago, but it has been plagued with defects.

A technical report six months ago said the busway, which was built by contractor BAM Nuttall, had £31 million worth of defects – in some places the track has risen four inches – which need to be addressed to tackle the “deteriorating” ride quality.

Next weekend, the section from Addenbrookes’s Hospital to Trumpington will be shut for maintenance.

Speaking to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Bob Menzies, service director for strategy and development at Cambridgeshire County Council, said they may be forced to put rubber pads under every beam of the track.

“The ride quality has deteriorated since it opened, and the joints are moving. The last thing we want to do is to have to do this work. But on the other hand we have to make sure it’s maintained and kept safe,” he said.

“It’s a real shame we have this problem, that we’re having to close it over a weekend, having to divert the buses round, and we many have to do more of this in the future.

“Our experts’ view is that eventually we’ll need to fix it all. And it’s a real shame.

“If we (the county council) have to we’ll lift every beam up and put these rubber pads back under each one of them as they should have been done properly in the first place.”

Replacing beams cost several thousand pounds at a time, so replacing 6 million joints could add up to a “very big figure”, Mr Menzies admitted.

The council has already spent £1 million on legal action against Bam Nuttall in a bid to get them to take responsibility over the repairs, Mr Menzies added.

He said: “What we believe should happen is Bam Nuttall should come back and fix it all, and get the ride quality back to where it should have been.

“They’re quite clearly defects. It quite clearly doesn’t comply with the terms of the contract. I’m absolutely clear about that, and so are our lawyers. There’s six thousand joints along the busway – that could add up to a very big figure if you have to fix every one over the course of a number of years. That’s why we’re taking legal action against Bam Nuttall.

“I’d like Bam Nuttall to come clean and accept their responsibilities. But I suspect it won’t. In effect it will take a lot longer than that, knowing the previous history.”

FACTFILE

The initial contract between Cambridgeshire County Council and BAM Nuttall was for 130 weeks of work, with the completion date on February 27, 2009.

But the busway construction was not completed until April 2011 and not open for use until August of that year as the council raised concerns about defects along the guideway.

The council instigated the review into the contract after the project ran into problems and delays, resulting in BAM Nuttall, repaying £33million of the £147m costs to settle a long-running dispute about who should pay for the overspend for the concrete route.

The report found BAM Nuttall did not think the design was as complete as it expected it to be when the contract was awarded.

Involving a consultant to review the design was not value for money and removed responsibility from the contractor’s designer, the report added.

Is Compass Card Really the first Step to Privatization?

Long predicted, TransLink’s buses will all be “one-zone” fares, leaving those who ride the SeaBus and SkyTrain, pay premium fares.

Zwei sees this as the road to privatization, where money losing, politically designed and heavily subsidized bus routes (especially the trolleybuses routes) will be operated by Translink, and the mini-metro system and SeaBus will charge premium fares for those people wishing to complete their journey’s by SeaBus and/or metro.

If the SeaBus and SkyTrain portions of the transit system are privatized, the new operators will be free to charge what they wish, with the Compass Card automatically apportioning the correct fares. Private operators could raise fares without affecting TransLink’s bus fares.

Zwei does not like coincidences and TransLink’s claim that 130,000 compass Cards have been issued begs the question, has the 130,000 Compass Cards been issued to 130,000 people who qualify for the expanding U-Pass deep discounted fare program for post secondary students.

TransLink announces all bus routes to be one-zone fares starting Oct. 5

 VANCOUVER SUN August 6, 2015

TransLink has announced that all bus routes will remain or be reduced to one-zone fares this fall, as part of the Compass card roll out.

Photograph by: Ric Ernst, PNG

METRO VANCOUVER – TransLink has announced that all bus routes will remain or be reduced to one-zone fares this fall, as part of the Compass card roll out.

Starting Oct. 5 until further notice, riders will be charged the current one-zone fare of $2.75 on buses and HandyDart regardless of how many zones they travel.

TransLink currently has three zones on buses, except Sundays, when customers pay only the one-zone fare. That fare will now be in effect at all times of day, every day, TransLink said Thursday.

TransLink also says starting this month, Compass Vending Machines will be activated in a phased manner at SkyTrain stations and SeaBus terminals. Single-use Compass tickets will be available from the machines to start, and by late October the machines will be stocked with Compass Cards.

About 130,000 TransLink customers have switched to Compass, according to the transit authority.

ticrawford@vancouversun.com