TransLink Vindictive & Incompetent? You Decide

Almost same thing happened to my wife who forgot her Compass Card at work only it cost her a big fine.

Hell of a way to keep your customer base. User friendly, TransLink is most definitely not.

The student had a valid U-Pass, TransLink get over it; there are over 130,000 issued this year.

It is instances like this, that make the people hate TransLink and why the taxpayer voted “NO” at last years plebiscite.

Zwei’s solution, fire everyone concerned who let this thing go to court.

TransLink petitioning student fare evasion decision

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver’s News.
Posted: June 24, 2016

TransLink has filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court to quash a judges decision that ruled in favour of a student who was ticketed for fare evasion after she accidentally produced the wrong bus pass in November 2013.

Inna Danylyuk was ticketed by a TransLink officer for fare evasion because she produced another student’s U-Pass while on a bus in Burnaby.

Danylyuk disputed the ticket, on the ground she mistakenly switched her pass with her partner’s.

As part of her submission, she provided proof of her own pass that was valid at the time of the infraction.

In March of 2014 the matter went to arbitration.

It escalated to a review, and assigned to a judge for an oral hearing.

This past March Judge Zahid MakhDoom sided with the student.

The judge chastised TranLink for engaging in quote, “administrative haddockry,” noting it would have been better to demonstrate, “…diligence in its fiduciary duties to the people of the province and save a student likely in debt from incurring more debt,” and wasting Danylyuk’s time with appeals.

Danylyuk was given two fines, each for $173 dollars.

The Costly White Elephant In The Room

While Vancouver mayor Pines for a SkyTrain subway under Broadway and Trudeau the Younger smiles at the cameras with promises of transit manna from heaven, no one is addressing the real subway issue: costs!

It is now estimated that the Millennium Line subway extension to Arbutus will now cost $3 billion or slightly higher, if construction started today.

It’s not.

There is no real timetable for construction and with more deserving transit investments needed elsewhere, the Broadway subway is more and more becoming an anachronism; dated by the Vancouver only philosophy that the only reason to build rapid transit is to greatly densify the transit corridor.

Political friends and insiders need to be paid off and academics need to save face until their retirements are only part of the problems with regional transit planning, but more and more, a Broadway SkyTrain subway is just becoming unaffordable.

The Scarborough subway, which is replacing Toronto’s only SkyTrain line, is a good example of what happens when politicians hijack transit planning to suit their own political agendas.


$1 billion funding gap for Scarborough transit a question of ‘priorities’

Chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat says city council now needs to make the tough decisions on an “optimized” plan.

By Jennifer PagliaroCity Hall reporter
Tues., June 21, 2016

The city’s chief planner says the question over how to build transit in Scarborough is one of “priorities” — a dilemma now facing council.

A report released Tuesday on a future transit network for the city recommends moving ahead with plans for both a one-stop subway extension and an LRT along Eglinton Ave., despite updated cost estimates showing the subway alone would eat up nearly all of the available funding.

“The question is one of competing priorities, and that really is a decision for city council to make,” Jennifer Keesmaat told reporters Tuesday night.

“The work that you see before you today is based on a recognition that there are critical decisions, and important decisions, that need to be made around funding, in order to continue to advance the livability of the city.”

Keesmaat had earlier proposed an “optimized” transit plan for Scarborough, one that reduced the number of proposed subway stops from three to one, ending the extension at the Scarborough Town Centre. She said the estimated savings could fund an LRT line along Eglinton Ave. with up to 17 new stops.

The LRT was seen as a political compromise on a subway plan which has been described by critics as a political football being used by Scarborough councillors and Mayor John Tory to win votes.

With only $3.56 billion currently committed to the Scarborough projects from three levels of government, critics question whether a single subway stop costing $2.9 billion can be justified.

For the rest of the story…….

The German Transportation Fiasco

If one thinks German transit and transportation is a panacea, think again, as the countries transit infrastructure is beset with costly maintenance issues, the major one being under-funding.

We see the same on this side of the pond, with aging transit infrastructure in need of major maintenance, especially in Vancouver.

From the Guardian….

Why German trains don’t run on time any more

For all the old cliches about Teutonic efficiency, much of Germany’s transport infrastructure is in a terrible state of disrepair, and many major works have been badly botched. A chronic lack of investment is to blame.

As the fireworks flew and the brass band played at the recent opening of the 57km-long Gotthard Tunnel under the Swiss Alps, Angela Merkel, who was on the first train to pass through it, could not resist the remark: “This is something we Germans still need to work on a little”.

The project was not only completed on time and within budget, she noted with admiration, but it will shave the best part of an hour off the regular journey time between Zurich and Lugano.

A joke heard quite regularly these days is: “If you want to see German efficiency, go to Switzerland.” While it has German engineers squirming, most can only nod in agreement. It is certainly hard to imagine such a prestige project happening in Germany these days. Most of the country’s recent high-profile construction schemes have become great national embarrassments, beset by massive delays and huge cost overruns. A new Berlin airport, originally scheduled to open in 2010, is still years from being realized and billions over budget, while the Elbphilharmonie – a concert hall in Hamburg’s harbour city – is seven years behind schedule and €550m (£430m) over cost. Stuttgart’s underground railway station is in a similarly shambolic state. That’s not to mention the collapse of Cologne’s city archives a few years ago, thanks to the botched construction of a new underground line.

So what happened to the famed German traits of efficiency, accuracy and punctuality? The number 174,630,000 was used to rub further salt into the wound this week. That’s the number of minutes German passenger and goods trains have been losing every day over the past year, with train delays said to have risen by almost a third since 2009. The reason is an extensive wave of very overdue repairs and modernization taking place across the 33,000km (20,500 mile) rail network, from replacing ageing tracks and 19th-century signalling stations to repairing crumbling bridges and platforms, some of which are so old they are said to be close to collapse.

Now for the rest of the story…………….



Error Code 404 – Sums Up Regional Planning to a “T”.

Well, is this a sign of things to come error code 404?

The three amigos got together on ART car 404 for a photo op and one can read into it as one wishes.

Evergreen Line Woes – How Much Over Budget?

The Honolulu light-metro is $1.4 billion over budget.

Toronto’s Scarborough subway is already $900 million over budget.

Then it should not come as a surprise that the Evergreen Line is over budget.

The question is, by how much?

Evergreen Line delay costs lead to mediation, B.C. government hiding info on costs, changes and challenges

SNC-Lavalin and the provincial government are in mediation over cost overruns at…

By Bob Mackin

SNC-Lavalin and the provincial government are in mediation over cost overruns at the Evergreen Line rapid transit project, Business in Vancouver has learned.

SNC-Lavalin’s infrastructure and construction division took a nearly $27 million hit in 2015’s second quarter, and it laid part of the blame on “challenging soil conditions.” Tunnel boring was stalled for five months last year, delaying plans to complete the $1.43 billion Millennium Line extension from summer 2016 to fall 2016. Last November, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said it would open in early 2017.

“SNC-Lavalin does not comment on ongoing mediation or litigation,” said Louis-Antoine Paquin, the company’s media relations manager, who referred BIV to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Amanda Farrell, the government’s project manager, did not respond for comment, but an emailed statement from the Ministry claimed the project is on budget and said EGRT Construction, the SNC-led consortium, is responsible for any costs associated with schedule delays.

“As with any ongoing contract of this size and complexity, we remain in discussions with the contractor during the project in order to ensure the taxpayers’ interests are represented and the project follows the contract,” according to the statement, which was sent by spokeswoman Trish Rorison.

The B.C. government hired the troubled Montreal engineering and construction firm in 2012 on an $889 million fixed-price contract after SNC-Lavalin accepted the risk of geotechnical conditions in the tunnel. The project geotechnical report in 2011 by Golder Associates said there were variable soil conditions, clays, minerals, boulders and groundwater on the route.

For the rest of the story………

Transit Funding and The Mayor’s Ten Year Plan

There is little need for an introduction as Professor Patrick Condon succinctly lays it on the table.

Transit Funding and the Future of Urban Design

“Skytrain in Vancouver” by Micheal Chu is licensed by CCBY

The connection between public transit and urban sustainability is significant; public transportation has been shown to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions, positively enhance urban densification, and drive economic growth in communities.

In light of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Christy Clark’s multimillion dollar transit funding announcement, we sat down with Patrick Condon, Chair, Urban Design, and Professor of Landscape Architecture to get his perspective out what this development means for the future of urban design and public transit in Vancouver.

Q. What is the significance of this announcement?

This announcement presents nothing new, it only certifies what was previously announced: The Federal government is willing to pay 50 percent of the cost of new transit projects, up from the traditional 33 percent. Unfortunately the funding levels are far far below what is needed to build out the 7.5 billion dollar Mayor’s Council transit plan. At only 250 million per year combined total from local, provincial, and federal resources it would take 30 years to finish this “ten year plan”.

Q. How will these investments affect Vancouver’s urban design?

The Mayor’s Council ten year plan will affect regional urban design in a number of ways. The most hopeful part of the plan, and the easiest to achieve, are the rapid bus improvements proposed for new “frequent transit corridors” in all parts of the region. These new “B-line” type services could catalyze new medium density development on many major corridors, especially if provided in dedicated lanes. Such systems have dramatically improved the number of transit users and urban quality of life in many cities, including Curitiba Brazil and Bogota Columbia. On the other hand, more expensive subway systems are only logical if accompanied by very high density development within a ten minute walk of transit stations. This model of development is now manifest at Metrotown and Brentwood town centres. High rise construction brings with it a number of social, economic and sustainability costs which I have enumerated in the past, including susceptibility to earthquake damage, high per square foot construction costs, heavy use of GHG emitting concrete, and the disappearance of small scale local commercial activity.

Q. Is this sufficient to address Vancouver’s transit issues?

WIth the funding formula and amounts we now know, we can calculate that it will take 30 years to build the Mayor’s Council’s ten year plan. By that time the region will likely be home to 3.5 to 4 million people. Most of this number will be located in currently suburban locations. The ten year plan is thus already out of date and will not serve our future region well. It would be wise to start over and generate a new, more affordable plan – a plan more in keeping with what we now know are the likely financial resources and the growth trends expected over the next three to four decades.

Q. What will the legacy of this investment be?

The political culture of our region is deeply committed to the plan as proposed and unlikely to re-evaluate it to reflect this new financial and temporal reality. My hope is that the much cheaper parts of the proposal, the rapid bus network, will be the first to be built, and that this system will be a sustainable armature for future regional transit oriented development.


Patrick Condon has over 25 years of experience in sustainable urban design: first as a professional city planner and then as a teacher and researcher. He has distilled his 20+ years of experience designing sustainable communities in his recent book “Seven Rules for Sustainable Cities, Design Strategies for a Post Carbon World” (2010 Island Press). He is now the Chair of the Masters of Urban Design Program at UBC.

Trudeau’s Big Announcement: Big Winners – Bombardier and Bureaucrats

Ah, such a photo-op for our new PM; oh, such an announcement, but really, this just a rehash of old news releases tarted up for a photo-op so PM Trudeau can claim that BC has not been left out of the Liberals game plan of shoveling money off a back of a truck. The stumbling block of course is that regional mayors must ante up to pay for this lemon and that will be a hard sell.

The public spoke loud and clear last spring about the Mayor’s plan, but regional politicians remained deaf to the taxpayer’s wishes.  They will have a very hard time to convince the regional taxpayer to ante more money in what is fundamentally a very bad transit plan.

The big winner it seems is Bombardier Inc. who are the only makers of the proprietary ART cars and Bombardier Inc. also produce the bi-level commuter cars for the West Coast Express.

More cars for the Canada Line is rather silly as the small stations preclude operating longer trains and it seems nothing more than a sop to SNC Lavalin who heads the Canada Line’s mock P-3 operating consortium.

Trudeau did not mention that when a new Seabus is delivered, one of the two older ones will be taken out of service.

The $157 million for pre planning the daft Broadway subway and badly planned Surrey LRT, is a delight for our inept gang of planning bureaucrats who will make sure the money will be spent promoting their incompetence.

Sorry, Trudeau the Younger seems you belong to the “lets throw more money at it” club, in the vain hope that just by throwing money at transit, things are bound to improve, especially at election time.

As for the transit customer, that train has long past, as money spent on transit is to win elections.

Prime Minister Trudeau announces $934 million transportation investment for B.C.

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW

Posted: June 16, 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls it “very good news B.C. has been waiting for.”

Speaking in Burnaby, he says his government has completed negotiations on an agreement with the province to provide federal funding to support public transit.

“So today, I am very happy to announce that our government will be investing four hundred and sixty million dollars in public transit in British Columbia, including three hundred and seventy million for public transit right here in Metro Vancouver.”

With contributions from the province and the cities, it will be a total of $934 million to be invested in public transit across the province.

This will cover, among other things, additional SkyTrain and West Coast Express cars, a third Seabus, and planning and pre-construction of the rapid transit line to UBC and the South of the Fraser light rail system.

$3.4 billion was previously pledged nation-wide for transportation.

Transportation tweet

China’s ‘Silkworm’ Tram Unveiled

Our not so friendly SkyTrain Lobby would have us believe that light-metro is being built in quantity in China.

Not so fast, as China’s huge city populations would demand large metro operations, not capacity constipated light-metro like our SkyTrain.

At the other end of the public transit scale, China is also building tramways or light rail and the new Silkworm tram has been unveiled.

Tram line ‘Silkworm’ unveiled

By Ruby Zhang | June 15, 2016

THE new train that will be used on the T1 and T2 tram lines in suburban Songjiang District was unveiled at a local railway fair yesterday. The lines will be put into operation next year.

The new train, which is the first of its kind to be used in the city, has no step between the carriages and the platform, which will make it easier for passengers with disabilities or those carrying heavy luggage to get on and off.

The five-carriage train, which is 33 meters long and 2.65 meters wide, has been one of the highlights of the exhibition Rail + Metro China 2016 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center.

Because of its streamlined design, the yellow train has been dubbed “Silkworm.”

The train was entirely designed and manufactured in China, according to the manufacturer, Shanghai ALSTOM Transport Company.

“The localization will greatly lower the cost of the trams’ maintenance in future,” said the company.


Much Ado About Nothing

Photo-op’s are a politician’s best friend, so now we have all three levels of government glad handing for the camera’s on the transit issue.

The key sentence is; “…….that would allow the three levels of government to at least get started on parts of the mayor’s ten year plan.

So no discussion of the $3 billion Broadway SkyTrain to nowhere or Surrey’s $2.5 billion poor man’s SkyTrain in the guise of light rail.

Yeah, sad to say, I have heard it all before, but its nice to have one’s picture taken.

Trudeau coming to Vancouver for major transit announcement

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver’s News. Vancouver’s Talk

Posted: June 15, 2016

The Federal and Provincial governments along with Metro Vancouver mayors have come to some sort of deal to move forward on part of the 10 year transit and transportation plan.

Sources tell CKNW that an announcement is imminent that would allow the three levels of government to at least get started on parts of the mayor’s ten year plan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in town tomorrow and will be appearing alongside provincial and regional officials for the announcement.

However, while the plan can apparently get started,  how to pay the region’s full 17 per cent share is still a question needing answering.

Sources say any deal on funding the region’s full 17% is still very much a work in progress.

The federal government has put $370 million on the table for phase one of the plan while the province has kicked in $246 million over three years.

A deal to cover the region’s share is required to unlock the full funding.

TransLink Spies On Media Reports

One can now tell how dysfunctional TransLink is when it blames the messenger and not itself; in fact TransLink is scared of the messenger.

Again, instead of spending time and energy in providing a good transit service, TransLink spies on media reports and organizations who disagree with this ossified bureaucracy.

It must be getting very lonely in their expensive new “ivory towers”.

TransLink keeps close watch over media reports

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver’s News. Vancouver’s Talk

Posted: June 15, 2016

It’s clear TransLink keeps a fairly close eye on what the media reports about the organization.

Documents obtained through Freedom of Information show following a TransLink media availability back in January about the new Compass Card, there was a backdown back at transit headquarters with an “analysis of coverage.”

That included which media outlet was at the availability, what they reported and even the ‘tone” of the stories.

Most times reporters were rated as “factual, with a neutral tone.”

There was also a breakdown of what media had the most comprehensive coverage.

According to the FOI documents, TransLink felt radio missed the mark on key messages.