TransLink Fails Transit 101: Articulated Cars

True to form, TransLink and the mainstream media haven’t a clue about SkyTrain or SkyTrain vehicles.

A news story on CKNW radio as well as other media sources claimed erroneously that the MK.3 rail cars are articulated.

The new MK. 3 cars are not articulated, they are gangwayed, allowing communication throughout the four car train set.


Articulated cars are rail vehicles which consist of a number of cars which are semi-permanently attached to each other and share common Jacobs bogies or axles and/or have car elements without axles suspended by the neighbouring car elements. They are much longer than single passenger cars. Because of the difficulty and cost of separating each car from the next, they are operated as a single unit, often called a trainset.

Also, I doubt the new trains can increase capacity by 14% because the Expo Line is very near its maximum legal capacity of 15,000 pphpd; except if TransLink has been telling porkies about current capacity (inflating ridership numbers) then maybe a 14% increase in capacity can be obtained.

TransLink really hasn’t a clue what it is talking about, which in turn one should ask; “can we trust TransLink with planning the Broadway subway and rail transit in Surrey?”


After a flurry of email’s last night, including a lesson on articulated rail cars, CKNW removed the offending story and hats off to them for doing so.

The real story is, articulated rail cars are a transit 101 subject and TransLink failed badly.

First new MK III SkyTrain hits the track, but others running months late

By Online Journalist  Global News

Commuters riding the Expo or Millennium Line this week may catch a glimpse of the first of 56 new Mark III SkyTrain cars destined for Metro Vancouver, but they won’t be able to board just yet.

The new, longer, four-car train is running during non-peak hours as a part of Phase 2 of its testing.

It includes more room for standing passengers, wheelchairs and bikes, and is fully articulated — meaning passengers can walk the train from one end to the other.

The trains will be stopping at stations along the lines, but passengers won’t be allowed onboard — the doorways will be taped off, and transit workers will ride the trains to ensure they remain empty.

A second, new Mark III train arrived in Burnaby last month where it is undergoing Phase 1 of its testing, which involves running 80 kilometres on tracks during non-service hours.

Train two pictured on a track in Burnaby.

Train two pictured on a track in Burnaby.



TransLink says 24 more SkyTrain cars are due early next year — but officials admit they’re running behind.

At Thursday’s TransLink Board meeting, BC Rapid Transit Corporation (BCRTC) interim president and general manager said the cars are running two to three months behind schedule.

“That’s a Bombardier issue, and we’ve been working with them on that. In fact, we’re hopeful that by the time we come to train 14, we’re going to have that reduced quite a bit,” he said.

“They put a lot of quality assurance in place to make sure there’s not going to be delays along this testing and commissioning.”

Part of Bombardier’s plan to cut down on delays is 5,000 kilometres of testing on a track in Kingston, Ont., so that there are fewer surprises when the trains arrive in B.C.

Another 28 SkyTrain cars are slated for delivery by the end of next year.

Train one arrives in Burnaby on a flatbed truck.

Train one arrives in Burnaby on a flatbed truck.


BCRTC said the new trains will be inserted into regular service once they’ve completed a final, third phase of testing, which involves carrying passengers and testing for faults.

It says once four of the new trains are in full service, TransLink will begin adjusting scheduling, with new schedules rolled out in April, September and December.

When all the trains are on track by the end of next year, BCRTC says it will result in a 14 per cent increase in capacity.

The new cars cost $298 million and are part of Phase 1 of TransLink’s 10-year vision on transit and transportation. Phase 1 also included $88 million for 24 new Canada Line cars due by 2020.

Phase 2 will include another 108 new SkyTrain cars and an additional 95 cars to replace aging parts of the fleet.

Remember, Remember The 13th Of December

The next Mayor’s Council on Transit meeting is on December 13 and a very important meeting indeed.

At this meeting the Mayor’s Council on Transit will decide on the fate of Surrey’s LRT project.

The SkyTrain Lobby is worried (the number of spam emails has increased tremendously) that common sense may reign and the decision to build with LRT will stand.

Here are thirteen questions the regional mayors should answer before any decision is made.

  1. The Expo and Millennium Lines are a proprietary railway, which technical patents are owned by Bombardier Inc. and the engineering patents owned by SNC Lavalin. Are not employees of Bombardier Inc and SNC Lavalin in conflict of interest being involved in regional planning, especially rapid transit planning?
  2. The Expo and Millennium lines is an unconventional, proprietary railway now called Innovia ART. As only seven (7) of these proprietary railways have been built in almost 40 years. Why is Vancouver the only city in the world that continues to build with SkyTrain?
  3. Vancouver is the now the only city in the world planning for the proprietary Innova ART system (SkyTrain). How secure is TransLink getting replacement parts and new vehicles for the aging transit system, which no other company builds?
  4. Surrey’s new mayor and council have rejected a $1.65 fully funded LRT system, in favour of an unfunded $2.95 billion SkyTrain line to Langley. Where is the additional $1.3 billion in funding coming from?
  5. Both the IBI and ART studies done for the Toronto Transit Commission in the early 1980′s found that ICTS SkyTrain (an earlier name for Vancouver’s SkyTrain) that the proprietary metro cost up to ten times more to install for about the same capacity than LRT. Why then does Translink’s costs for LRT much higher than other city’s costs for LRT?
  6. Innovia ART (SkyTrain) capacity is limited to 15,000 pphpd as per Transport Canada’s Operating Certificate, until an extensive and expensive rehab of the Expo and Millennium lines takes place. This is said to cost around $3 billion and must be done before any increase in capacity can be achieved. Has TransLink planned for this $3 billion rehab and if so, how will be the funding be sourced?
  7. TransLink now claims that the Surrey LRT is not being planned as a “fully dedicated system”. What is and isn’t a “fully dedicated LRT system?
  8. TransLink’s planners seem to think that grade separation equals greater capacity, yet it is well known that simple at-grade light rail can handle traffic flows up to and over 20,000 pphpd. The Expo and Millennium Lines currently have a maximum capacity of only 15,000 pphpd and the Canada line with platforms have half the length of the Expo & Millennium Lines, effectively gives the Canada line slightly more than half the capacity of the ART Innovia lines. Has TransLink deliberately reduce the capacity of LRT in order to not cause embarrassing comparisons with the SkyTrain light-metro lines?
  9. Much is said about the speed of SkyTrain, but this is because SkyTrain has many fewer stations than LRT. Though SkyTrain may offer a higher commercial speed, because the much greater distances transit customers must travel to reach a SkyTrain stations, means door to door travel times tend to favour light rail. Why does TransLink persist using this unprofessional statement with their transit planning?
  10. In North America, the industry standard for building a subway, is a transit line with traffic flows that surpass 15,000 pphpd, yet traffic flows on Broadway, in the peak hour, are less than 4,000 pphpd. Why is TransLink even considering a subway under Broadway, when traffic flows are so weak?
  11. In 2015, TransLink fired their two top planners, Tamin Raad and Brian Mills, rumored because of their opposition to the Broadway subway. Who ordered the firings and why were the planners fired?
  12. The city of Ottawa sent a delegation to Vancouver to inspect SkyTrain as there was pressure by the federal government for Ottawa to build with SkyTrain. The delegation found that SkyTrain was not only much more expensive to build than light rail, SkyTrain cost more to operate and maintain, had less capacity and lacked the operational flexibility than LRT. Ottawa’s new LRT system is now nearing completion. Has the findings of the Ottawa delegation ever been conveyed to Metro mayor’s and councils or the Mayors Council on Transit?
  13. In 1993, a report from the GVRD’s Costs of Transporting People in the BC Lower Mainland, found that the subsidy in 1991,  for just the Expo Line from Waterfront Stn. to New Westminster was $157.6 million or put another way, the subsidy for SkyTrain was more than the diesel and electric buses combined! What is the current annual subsidy for the entire SkyTrain light metro system?
Thirteen questions and now waiting for thirteen straight answers.
I am not holding my breathe.
Who is in charge of the clattering SkyTrain?
The axles creak and the couplings strain,
and the pace is hot and the points are near,
and costs hath deadened the Metro Vancouver’s ear,
and the signals flash through the night in vain,
for TransLink is in charge of the clattering train.

A Stationless SkyTrain In Surrey

Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight gets it, but that is no surprise, Charlie Smith and the Georgia Straight has always been the newspaper of note when it comes to SkyTrain?

Why, you say? Because he asks real questions.

By building SkyTrain, the new mayor of Surrey wants a funnel to take commuters out of Surrey, west and this can be accomplished with the few and extremely expensive stations (great to cut ribbon in front of), any thought that SkyTrain will improve local transit will be nothing more than dust in the wind.

The same holds true for the proposed SkyTrain subway under Broadway.

Building SkyTrain, like the Canada Line in Richmond, will do nothing to mitigate congestion, or for that matter, improve local transit. It will give Surrey Councillors, MLA’s and MP’s a chance to cut ribbons at election time.

It seems the big issue was speed of the transit system and SkyTrain apparent faster speeds come at a price, fewer stations.

But again, fearmongering and deception rules in Surrey as door to door commute times would be about the same for light rail and SkyTrain, with local trips, using light rail, being faster than SkyTrain, simply because light rail has more convenient and user friendly stations.

Memo to Surrey politicians: Future generations of transit customers and taxpayers will condemn your building with SkyTrain, but for now, building a monument to arrogance and stupidity, may get you elected and/or reelected for a few election cycles, before the the ill winds of reality strike.

How many SkyTrain stations will Surrey get in return for cancelling light rail? Not many at all

by Charlie Smith on November 24th

King George Station currently is the final stop on the eastbound Expo Line.


Surrey residents are eager to have a SkyTrain extension, judging by the October 20 election result.

The winning party, the Safe Surrey Coalition, pledged to dump a fully funded light rail line connecting Guildford and Newton to Surrey Centre.

Instead, the party’s mayoral candidate, Doug McCallum, promised use this money to develop SkyTrain along the Fraser Highway to Langley.

But do Surrey residents realize that this will mean far fewer rapid-transit stations?

There were 11 planned stops along the $1.65-billion Surrey-Newton-Guildford light rail line. Four were on 104th Avenue at 152nd Street, 148th Street, 144th Street, and 140th Street.

Seven more were planned along the King George Highway between 72nd Avenue and Surrey Central Station.

The next phase was going to be light rail from King George Station to Langley. The Hatch report, which was done for TransLink, noted that this $1.64-billion light-rail line would include nine stations.

That would have given Surrey 17 additional stations, not counting King George and Surrey Central, which already serve SkyTrain passengers.

The nine along Fraser Highway would be at King George, 140th Street, 152nd Street, 160th Street, 166th Street, 68th Avenue, 64th Avenue, 192nd Street, and Langley Exchange.

TransLink has estimated that it will cost $2.9 billion to develop SkyTrain from King George Station to Langley. That’s about $175 million per kilometre.

If only $1.65 billion is spent—the current funding envelope for the suspended Surrey-Newton-Guildford light rail—the SkyTrain line would only extend about nine kilometres down the Fraser Highway.

That wouldn’t even make it to 68th Avenue, which is 12.4 kilometres down the Fraser Highway.

That means, at most, there will likely two or three SkyTrain stations in addition to King George Station if the TransLink Mayors’ Council agrees to reallocate the funding from light rail to SkyTrain. That’s because SkyTrain stations tend to be placed at greater distances from one another, in comparison to stations on light-rail routes.

Of course, this estimate of two or three new SkyTrain stations is predicated on TransLink’s financial estimate being correct—something that McCallum has disagreed with.

So there you have it: nine new rapid-transit stops with LRT from Guildford to Newton via Surrey Centre (in addition to LRT stations at King George and Surrey Centre). And possibly only two or three new rapid transit stops with the same amount of funding going to SkyTrain down the Fraser Highway.

It raises serious questions whether a truncated SkyTrain line that stops before 88th Avenue would attract anywhere near as many riders as an 11-station LRT line that brings hordes of passengers to Surrey Centre.

The TransLink Mayors’ Council hasn’t made any decision to approve SkyTrain in Surrey rather than light rail.

The mayors have merely suspended the light rail line after more than $50 million was spent, pending further study.

Has The SkyTrain Flip-Flop In Surrey Derailed?

Ah, the realities of political promises as the new Mayor of Surrey has now discovered; a very big $514 million problem.

Even the most ardent of SkyTrain supporters, except for the tin foil hat brigade, realize SkyTrain costs a lot more to build than light rail and even may concede it costs more to maintain and operate, but the new mayor faces a huge problem, what services will he cut to build his new SkyTrain, especially when the city has “sunk” $20 million already on the fully funded LRT project.

Bleak news from eastern Canada, may see monies earmarked for light rail in Surrey, be used to help fund Quebec City’s approved new transit plan and help workers in Oshawa Canada.

One wonders if the rumors of Liberal MP’s in Surrey, delivering a message to the new mayor that; “the government will not spend any more money on  Surrey’s transit project, and one had best take the money now, lest it may disappear later?”, are true?

The mayor’s Council on Transit meets on Dec. 13 and just maybe they will deliver this message to Surrey and Surrey’s new mayor; “You have a Hobson’s choice, either take the money for the fully funded LRT and build with LRT or build nothing at all.”

‘Dismayed and shaken to the core’: Surrey’s mayor reveals $514 million debt

by Adam Cooper

Posted Nov 27, 2018


Mayor McCallum says he’s ‘dismayed and shaken to the core’ by the $514 million debt the city is facing

McCallum and Council have ordered staff to present a budget to significantly cut debt on December 11th

Capital Projects will come under question, raising new uncertainty over SkyTrain expansion and a police force in Surrey

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – There’s new uncertainty over several pre-election promises from new Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum.

Early Tuesday morning, the Mayor’s Office revealed the ‘spiraling’ debt of $514 million the city is facing, which McCallum says he’s “dismayed and shaken to the core” by.

“The fact that the debt load is at $514 million is simply untenable and frankly, irresponsible,” McCallum said.

“When I was previously Mayor for nine years, I took great pride in running the city’s finances by saving first and avoiding debt. Council and I have agreed to immediately bring the city’s fiscal house in order.”

The Council will be ordering staff to prepare a budget that will “significantly cut down the debt by embracing the principle of pay as you go.”

While Mayor McCallum is allaying fears of city services and programs being impacted by any budget cuts, he’s indicated the capital projects planned in the city will need to be reviewed.

“What we will be doing as a Council is determining what makes the most fiscal sense for our ratepayers and how to responsibly proceed with capital projects,” the mayor said.

“In short, we will not mortgage the city’s future and will operate like a regular household by saving up and paying as we go.”

It puts into question several promises made by McCallum, including plans for a SkyTrain extension, free parking and a new police force.

Council staff have been told to present the new budget at the council’s Finance Committee meeting on Dec. 11, where it will be reviewed by the mayor and council.

That meeting had initially been scheduled for Monday of this week, but was cancelled at the last minute.

Dated Thinking From A Dated Mayor

Dated transit thinking comes from SkyTrain, because light-metro is a dated transit system.

There is no backbone for transit, except for a network of transit lines and only if it is designed properly, designed for the needs of its customers and not the electoral needs of politicians. One $2.95 billion SkyTrain does not a backbone make.

Oh, please excuse me, this is Metro Vancouver and Transit is planned and built to suit the needs of politicians as it gives them something to cut ribbons at election time. As for transit customers, well they can go to hell and riding TransLink’s product for them is hell.

Only seven such systems built in 40 years.

As for backbone, the Mayor of Surrey has none, he doesn’t even have the backbone to understand the science of modern public transport and wants transit, that is so, so 1970′s.

‘You do a backbone first’: Surrey’s mayor defends SkyTrain plan, talks 10-year vision

by Simon Druker and Denise Wong

Posted Nov 20, 2018

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Surrey’s mayor is once again justifying his stance on building out the SkyTrain network in that city versus an LRT alternative.

Doug McCallum took questions about the plan following Monday night’s council meeting. He says the first step is building a “backbone,” which would be done in two distinct phases.

“You do a backbone first, which is Fraser Highway from City Centre to Langley and from City Centre to Newton then to South Surrey. That’s the backbone,” he explained.

“Into that backbone, we put fast bus lanes from Cloverdale into Fraser Highway … from Guildford into Fraser Highway … from Guildford also down 104th to our City Centre. And before the second phase goes along, fast bus lanes from Newton into King George Station at our City Centre.”

McCallum says that is the 10-year plan.

NEWS 1130 spoke with commuters outside Surrey Central, one of the busiest SkyTrain stations in the system, about McCallum’s plan.

“I really like that idea,” she said. “For someone like me, who doesn’t drive, it’s easy access to take the train from here to Langley. I think it’s really convenient.”

Another commuter said cities are getting bigger and quick links between them will be necessary.

“Look at Surrey. Five years ago, we were ‘just Surrey.’ But now we’re becoming ‘The City of Surrey’ because there are towers going everywhere,” he said.

“Langley and White Rock … pretty soon, we’re going to need transportation to get down there,” he added.

According to McCallum, city staff is already doing what it can to ensure SkyTrain becomes a reality, including exploring 24-hour construction to speed up the process.

Last week, the TransLink Mayors’ Council voted to suspend the Surrey LRT project, including all spending. About $50 million has already been spend on planning for light rail. The city had also spent $20 million in pre-construction work.

However, although the LRT project is on hold, the Mayors’ Council is not yet pursuing SkyTrain. An analysis will be done on SkyTrain south of the Fraser, with a report expected next month.

 – With files from Taran Parmar and Lasia Kretzel

Did TransLink Design Surrey’s Light Rail To Fail?


Surrey’s rejection of light rail in favour of SkyTrain with hardly a whimper from TransLink and without any rebuttal to the mayor of Surrey spurious claims about LRT, makes me think TransLink purposely designed light rail to fail in Surrey.

There is an established SkyTrain Lobby within TransLink that plays very dirty when it comes to transit planning and the lack of response during the Surrey election over the cacophony of erroneous claims  is telling.

Zwei was always dubious with Surrey’s light rail planning and early on, calling it a poor man’s SkyTrain. Even strong proponents of Surrey’s LRT, were beginning to worry two years go when I was asked to write letters in support of light rail, but not to criticize the project itself.

The politically popular, SkyTrain for Surrey folks, with a well choreographed anti LRT pitch, laced with false information; fake news; cherry-picked comparisons and pure SkyTrain propaganda soon made their presence felt.

TransLink remained silent and let SkyTrain for Surrey chip away at ten years of planning with their litany of bogus claims.

Where was TransLink CEO, Kevin Desmond during this critical time??

So now ten years of planning and $70 million of taxpayer’s monies have been wasted (love the term “sunk costs”) and planning must start all over again.

Building SkyTrain to Surrey will not take a car off the road, simply because so few people living near the SkyTrain Line are actually going to Vancouver: there isn’t the ridership to support a SkyTrain. Yet, the political bamboozle continues, with nary a word from TransLink.

Where was the argument that SkyTrain operates very poorly in the snow, and snow it does between Fleetwood and Langley.

Zwei has been told, that one of the considerations for the TTC to abandon SkyTrain, was its poor operation in snow.

This poses an important question.

TransLink’s CEO’s  lack of leadership over the Surrey “flip-flop” was more than disturbing, which makes me wonder if Desmond was hired to oversee the LRT project’s failure?

His actions now are more than suspect.

So, for the next decade or so, no rapid transit for Surrey and when the guideway is built and that is still a big if, they may not be any vehicles to operate on it because Bombardier had abandoned production of the ART SkyTrain cars years earlier!


Quebec City Gets Le Tram

As light rail begins to gain influence in Canada, out in Lotus Land, stupid is as stupid does continues.

Quebec City unveiled plans Friday to build a $3-billion public transit network that will include tramways, an electric trambus and reserved bus lanes.

Meantime in Surrey, the new mayor halted plans for a $1.65 billion fully funded LRT, in favour of an unfunded $2.95 billion SkyTrain.

Quebec City looks forward to the future, while Surrey looks backwards in the past.

Surrey’s mayor had better be careful, lest cancelled federal money, that was once earmarked for Surrey, gets spent in Quebec instead.

Systra awarded Québec City tramway contract

19 Nov 2018

CANADA: The City of Québec and transport authority RTC have awarded Systra Canada a seven-year C$12·5m contract to undertake engineering design for a proposed tram line.

Norton Rose Fulbright Canada is to provide legal services under a separate five-year contract worth C$375 000.

The 23 km route would link Charlesbourg in the east to Le Gendre in the west, and would include two tunnels of 2·6 km and 0·9 km.

Grenoble’s Tram

Grenoble tramway system is one of the very successful new build light rail line in France.

Native name Tramway de Grenoble
Locale Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes, France
Transit type Tram
Number of lines 5
Number of stations 81
Daily ridership 233,700 (2015)
Began operation 1987
Operator(s) Société d’Économie Mixte des Transports Publics de l’Agglomération Grenobloise (SEMITAG)
System length 42 km (26.1 mi)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge





A Tram Ride In Karlsruhe Germany

And you thought 90 second headway's were close on SkyTrain.

So, let’s ride a tram in Karlsruhe.


Why didn’t TransLink defend light rail in Surrey?

Why was the CEO telling porkies about SkyTrain instead of setting the record straight on light rail?



A ride on Ottawa’s New Light Rail.


Let’s take a ride on Ottawa’s new light rail.

Let\’s take a ride on Ottawa\’s new light rail.