TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond Jumps Ship.

No surprise here, as I stated before, 2021, will make 2020 look child’s play.

Desmond was hired because of his ability to massage the truth to build the Broadway subway. He seemed ignorant of transit mode and that the Expo and Millennium lines operated with a proprietary light metro system.

I think this is evidence that there are some major upcoming financial problems with TransLink.

Problem Number 1: The major SkyTrain light-metro projects; the Broadway subway and the Fleetwood extension.
There could be major price adjustments to both projects, meaning TransLink must source more tax money from regional taxpayers. Horgan’s daft promise to extend the the Expo Line to Langley also may prove unfundable, because the Expo line needs $2 to $3 billion in rehab before that can happen and there is no funding in sight.
This could mean the political career ending, cut and cover subway construction on Broadway, will come into play.
Problem Number 2: The collapse of ridership.
The Covid collapse of ridership has lead to a disastrous revenue shortfall and may lead to questions for the need for such expensive projects in the first place.
Problem Number 3: The collapse of revenue.
The NDP have spent almost a billion dollars so far to shore up regional transit since Covid 19 and the realities of a diminished ridership may force big changes to the transit system.  All of TransLink’s revenue generators are failing to provide the expected income and higher taxes is the only option.  A Covid-19 cash strapped taxpayer revolt may result, turning  a “mom and apple pie” issue into nasty political issue.  Remember it was taxes that chased Gordon Campbell from the Premier’s chair.
Problem Number 4: The end of MALM production.
Alstom may have telegraphed their plan to phase out the production of the proprietary Movia Automatic Light Metro System (now owned by Alstom, with their purchase of the Bombardier rail division). The cost for MALM vehicles used on the Expo and Millennium Lines may increase of 20% to 25%.  In normal times, this would have been glossed over but post Covid-19, financial disaster.
Desmond was hired to oversee the BS subway and that job has been done and he has probably looked long term and decided to bail and go back to the USA and enjoy his pension before the financial ‘horse-pucky’ hits the fan in 2021.

The rats leaving a sinking TransLink, with their pensions.

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond stepping down after 5 years

Kevin Desmond going home to the United States

CBC News · Posted: Oct 20, 2020

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond is stepping down after nearly five years in his role, the transit authority announced Tuesday.

Desmond is leaving the organization in February to seek “new career challenges” back home in the United States, according to a statement.

“Without a doubt, we are sorry to see him step away from the CEO role, but Kevin is leaving behind an organization that is stronger and more responsive to our customers and our communities and better prepared than ever for the future,” the statement read.

Desmond signed on as authority CEO in 2016, previously having worked at King County Metro Transit and Pierce Transit in Washington state for more than a decade. Desmond, who is an American citizen, also worked as the operations manager for New York City transit before moving west.

“It’s been a joy and pleasure to be leading TransLink through this period, but I also have my family to be thinking about as I think, you know, my family lives across the border in the Seattle region, as does my wife,” Desmond said.

“It’s time to go home and reconnect with my family and think about what I want to do in the next phase of my life.”

Desmond’s time with TransLink saw more than $9 billion worth of approved transit expansion projects, as well as the implementation of “tap-to-pay” and touchless fare gates, quicker SeaBus service and double-decker buses.

His role became more challenging over the past year. TransLink narrowly avoided an all-out suspension of the region’s bus system after transit workers threatened to walk over working conditions last November. This year, the authority expected to lose almost a half-billion dollars, in revenue as ridership plummeted due to the pandemic.

Desmond said he was happy that the transit authority had secured provincial and federal funding to work through the pandemic.

“I’ll be departing TransLink knowing that we’re stable, knowing that we have a good approach going forward to start rebuilding that ridership,” he said.

On a more personal level, politicians, workers’ advocates and the public have criticized the CEO’s salary for years and questioned his resistance to taking heavy pay cuts. Desmond was hired at an annual salary of $365,000 in 2016, but a 2019 review of TransLink’s executive compensation boosted the high end of his salary range to $517,444.

TransLink said Tuesday a new CEO has not yet been selected. The incoming executive will be tasked with rebuilding the authority’s finances.

Could Increasing Capacity of the Canada Line Cost $4 Billion or More?

The following should give one pause to think.

Toronto’s Yonge-Bloor Interchange Station Expansion To Cost $1.5 billion

From Drum, via the LRPPro

Report going to TTC Oct 22 is how the current Yonge-Bloor interchange station can be expanded to deal with overcrowding.
This idea been around for a number of years and been placed on the back burner due to the cost of $1.5 Billion. Other options have been looked to the point Yonge line is splice in 2 with north going as it does and a new southbound being built on Yonge with another station for the Bloor station and extension of Bloor current platform.
There been talk that the current Bay Store above the current station could be torn down for a new tower and a good time to do it with the redevelopment of the subway station.
2 major problem for the area and station that it sits over a river and swamp land and on an angle due to the unused Y interchange for the University Line that was kill 6 months after the Bloor/University Line open in the 60′s
If the Tower next to the Bay Tower was torn down as well, then it would allow TTC to totally rebuilt both line station better as redevelop the land above it with taller towers and better access to the stations. There been talked that 2nd tower could be torn down as with a taller tower in it place.
Bloor Street Station at rush hour
The Canada Line will soon have to be almost completely rebuilt to handle passenger flows above 9,000 pphpd. Short, 40 metre to 50 metre long station platforms, which can only accommodate 41 metre long two car trains, must be lengthened to 80 metres long or more.
This will be costly, especially for the subway stations.
Even at third the cost of the Bloor station project, expanding capacity on the Canada line will be very, very expensive. Eight subway stations to be rebuilt and expanded could cost upwards of $4 billion and that is not including the eight aerial stations.
This makes the previous RFTV post “Should We Convert The Canada Line to Light Rail?” not just viable, but imperative.

The Booster Class Just Chuckles and Leads The Taxpayer To Financial Slaughter.


One just has to shake ones head about this High Speed Rail article in the Daily Hive, but what is even more laughable is the comments by many people, who know little or nothing about HST.

Build it now“, says one comment; “please make this happen“, says another, yet no feasibility study or local costs are mentioned in the article.

Others blame “eco zealots” or who ever is the current blame worthy group they dislike for not building HST

Reality just is not in the cards for what is called the “Booster Class”; people who support any project with the perception of its being modern or futuristic, regardless of the cost.

The Booster Class rarely asks important questions such as cost, usability, or long term viability, but insist on the project being built with future taxpayers being on the hook to pay for it.

The same is true of the SkyTrain light metro system.

SkyTrain  is glitzy, futuristic (because it is driverless) and gives a public view as “doing something for transit”. It also looks nice for political photo-ops.

The Booster Class does not care about cost, rather the look, which is not unlike our local lady who drives her kids to school in a huge $60K Hummer, where a $14K Fiat 500 would do the very same job at a fraction of the cost.

The Booster Class does not care about cost as it is the look they like and with no thought for future costs, happily glad hand SkyTrain expansion until bankruptcy happens.

A current Surrey Councillor stated on last nights news, that “the Langley SkyTrain extension must happen, to solve out transportation problems in our city.

Really?, Really, really?

What the councilor is not saying is that building SkyTrain to Langley will cost $3.12 billion of which only $1.6 billion is funded, with operating costs, adding another $32.4 million to TransLink’s annual operating costs, with huge rehab costs in about 30 to 40 years time.

The realities of SkyTrain expansion are ignored and the Booster Class, just chuckles and leads the taxpayer to financial slaughter.

The Booster Class never consider long term costs of a project.


The NDP – Stupid Is, As Stupid Does


Trust the NDP, to get embroiled in extending SkyTrain. Again, the NDP proven they haven’t a clue about regional transit or transit mode and if proceeded, there will be severe financial consequences for the taxpayer and the transit user.

Premier Horgan has made a very, very expensive mistake.

Again, for the general benefit of everyone, SkyTrain is the name of our light-metro system. The SkyTrain light-metro system consists of two very different railways; the Canada line which is a conventional railway and the Expo and Millennium Lines, which are an unconventional proprietary railway, now owned by Alstom of France.

The name of the proprietary railway, after five previous name changes is Movia Automatic Light Metro and a total of seven systems have been built.

Light metro, being part of the metro family, becomes exceedingly more expensive to operate in the suburbs. MALM was never designed to be a regional railway and will end up costing much more than other transit modes.

The estimated full cost of the the Extension to Langley is $3.12 million.

          Fleetwood                      Clayton                          Langley

From TransLink




The estimated added operating cost for this line is $32.4 million.

From TransLink


Added to the estimated $40 million in annual operating costs for the Broadway subway, means that operating costs for these two projects will soar to over $72 million annually.

But there is more, much more.

The Expo line is desperately in need of a major rehab which must include a complete overhaul and an increase in its electrical supply; a new automatic train control system; a rebuilding of all the stations on the Expo and Millennium Lines to extend the station platforms beyond the current 80 metres, to allow for longer trains to increase capacity; and much new track work, including replacing all the switches to allow for faster operation.

The cost for this could be has high as $3 billion!

This means TransLink must source an additional $4.5 billion to Extend the Expo Line to Langley.

What fools paradise do the NDP belong?

There are many other expensive issues to contend with, including the new owner, Alstom, may discontinue the manufacturer of the Mark 2/3 cars, which would mean the costs for the already expensive and small cars may increase by about 20%.

Sourcing spare parts for the proprietary light metro are  becoming problematic.

Oh yes, the damn thing doesn’t operate in the snow, and it snows a lot between Surrey and Langley.

Who is going to use it?

Not many because there is little demand for a direct line to Vancouver from Langley. Less than 1,000 pphpd in the peak hour.

When the NDP flip-flopped from planned LRT to SkyTrain on the Broadway – Loughheed Rapid Transit Project, it set back transit expansion in the region by over 20 years. The renamed Millennium Line, using the then called ART system (the fourth renaming of the proprietary system) which was so expensive to build, had to to be built in two parts, with the second section being the Evergreen Line. Sadly this will set back useful transit for the Fraser Valley for generations.

For Added insult, $4.5 billion could buy a Vancouver to Chilliwack TramTrain service; a completely rebuilt E&N and with money left over to build a BCIT to UBC Tram.

This project is neither green or user-friendly, nor cost effective. What it shows is that the NDP have a grave ignorance of transit and regional transit ills.


BC NDP pledges SkyTrain extension to Langley, Liberals promise small business tax cut

by Mike Hall

Posted Oct 8, 2020

File – SkyTrain. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The BC NDP is pledging to complete the Surrey-Langley Skytrain expansion as part of $9 billion more in infrastructure funding, while the Liberals countered on Thursday by promising to eliminate the small business tax and offering help to the hospitality and tourism sector, both hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

NDP Leader John Horgan said his party’s plan sets out $3.1 billion to complete the Surrey-Langley Skytrain project. Of that, $1.6 billion was previously committed by all partners for the first stage to Fleetwood.

The NDP, if re-elected in the Oct. 24 provincial election, promises another $1.5 billion for the portion to Langley, with help from the federal government.

The remaining portion of the $9 billion would go to building roads, according to the NDP. The party’s overall $32 billion infrastructure plan would create 18,000 jobs.

“We want to make this a provincial project,” Horgan said of the SkyTrain expansion. “So that takes the pressure off municipalities. It takes pressure off TransLink. We’re going to fund it. The municipalities will have to find their share. I’ll work with the federal government, as I’ve been doing for the past number of years, to make sure that we get our fair share of the dollars we send to Ottawa coming back here to build the communities that we want to live in.”

Horgan added SkyTrain to Langley is overdue.

“It connects this community to the rest of the Lower Mainland,” he said.

“Twenty-three billion dollars, plus $9 billion is a lot of money for construction jobs. But we get something out of that — we get an opportunity to train the next generation of skilled workers. British Columbia has been built by working people. We need to make sure that training is there for their kids and their grandkids.”

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson focused on small business and tourism on Thursday, but also said his party previously supported the SkyTrain expansion project.

“The Liberal government is the one that invented the project in the first place,” he said. “Rapid Transit to Langley has been on the books for about 10 years, and the issue has been the financing with the municipalities. So we’re glad to hear that John Horgan is prepared to commit to what the BC Liberals have always supported. And the question now is, is he prepared to pay for the municipal share or not? And if John Horgan doesn’t have the answer to that, this is just another repetition of BC Liberal infrastructure planning.”

Trams Having Limited Capacity On Broadway? – SURELY NOT!

A repost from May 2019.
With the the City of  Vancouver and TransLink continued telling big porkies about LRT, the following is enlightening!
Leipzig Tram

The ongoing planning charade currently being played out by the cities of Vancouver & Surrey, and TransLink with the proposed Broadway SkyTrain subway, is being fueled by professional misconduct, by all professionals and most politicians involved.

A notable exception is Vancouver City Councillor Colleen Hardwick.

Today, the message being relayed around the world is that the city of Vancouver lacks any modicum of professionalism, which is both a dark message for companies wanting to locate here, but also it sends a welcoming call to money launders, flim-flam artists and alike.

The following is a 2014 email from a real transit engineer from Germany on the subject of tram headway’s and capacity (Capacity is a function of headway). He is answering questions that were put to me by several local politicians claiming that LRT cannot obtain the same headway’s as SkyTrain.
I relayed the email to said politicos and bureaucrats. As of yet, I have not heard a reply!
A coupled set of trams in Leipzig.

 Question)  It is not possible to operate 36 trains per hour as traffic signals
  will hold them back.

Answer) That’s the whole point of traffic light pre-emption. Which does not
*increase* the green phase for streetcars, but *shift* it in time. So
automobile traffic does not wait longer, it’s just different drivers who
wait, statistically.

If there’s no significant automobile traffic parallel to the
streetcar/light rail tracks (as typically the case in those “transit
malls”), you can even dynamically reduce the green phase for the trains
to the strict minimum required to clear the crossing (less than ten
seconds, even for a four-car set), which will actually *increase* the
green phase for crossing automobile traffic.

Right here next door, Leipzig is easily running 40 trains per hour on
sections shared by several routes. And the infrastructure is not
nearly at capacity, neither concerning trainset length (platform
length would allow 60m instead of 42m), nor concerning frequency. Other
operators do as well or even better. Karlsruhe’s 80 trains per hour are
running through a pedestrian street. Calgary’s transit mall precisely
seems to suffer from a lack of traffic light pre-emption, judging form
the videos.

Another example, from Czechia, the streetcar at Prague. The section
from Karlovo Namesti east to I.P.Pavolova carries the routes

4: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
6: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
10: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
16: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
22: 4 min 15 trains/h

That’s 45 trains per hour.

The tracks from Karlovo Namesti to the north carry the routes

3: 4 min 15 trains/h
6: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
14: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
18: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
22: 4 min 15 trains/h
24: 8 min 7.5 trains/h

That’s 60 trains per hour.

The tracks from Karlovo Namesti to the south carry the routes

3: 4 min 15 trains/h
4: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
10: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
14: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
16: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
18: 8 min 7.5 trains/h
24: 8 min 7.5 trains/h

That’s 45 trains per hour as well.

All figures given are for the morning peak. There are various other
networks in Europe that have similarly dense operation on sections
shared by several routes. 40 trains/h is not uncommon.

 Question)  In a subway, 31 trains are possible per hour with 14,640 passengers.

Answwer) Boston’s green line is running 40 trains per hour, 90 second frequency. On
sight in the tunnel, without ATC. Four branches, six minutes frequency
each. They are running four-car trainsets for events so the platforms
would be long enough.

HST Madness!

When boys and girls play trains, especially high speed trains (HST) it is best they read a book on the subject before they embarrass themselves.

Obviously, the “academics and urban planners, who believe such an infrastructure investment” have not read a book on the subject and are completely ignorant of the massive construction needed for HST! No wonder they remain nameless!

Could this be a sop to obtain government funding to plan for the impossible?

Nice if you can con the government for cash!

Could it be nothing more than a simple scam, like a pyramid scheme?

A pyramid transit scheme, been there done that with the Broadway subway!

No knowledgeable academic, bureaucrat or professional would ever endorse such a scheme before asking themselves the following questions:

  1. The cost for such a scheme. High speed trains require straight track with both very wide horizontal curvature and very long vertical curvature which would require tens of billions of dollars in tunneling and viaducts. You are looking at $200 million to $600 million/km. to build, extending the SkyTrain light-metro network, the cost for HST would easily be more.
  2. Is there the ridership demand for this? Will there be full trains traveling every 15 minutes, seven days a week, 352 days a year?
  3. Where is the funding coming from?
HST Madness!
Let us remember, the taxpayer is spending $4.6 billion to extend the Millennium and Expo Lines 12.8 km.
How much will it cost to build, greenfields construction, a 250 km plus, HST route, which demands  complete grade separation, built on viaduct or tunnel?
I suspect a fake group trying to take the steam out of much more practical rail schemes for the Fraser Valley, such as Rail for the Valley’s proposal or the South Fraser Community Rail  folks.
It is common knowledge that TransLink does not like any affordable rail link for the Fraser Valley.
I suspect this article, especially from the Hive which is TransLink’s mouthpiece, is more than a ruse to try to discredit affordable and more practical planning for rail transit in the region and Fraser Valley.
Sadly, with our gullible lot of politicians at the helm, they may succeed.

Over 200 km of viaduct or tunnels will be needed for a Chilliwack to Whistler HST route. What will the cost be?

60-minute train: High-speed rail proposal linking Whistler, Vancouver, and Fraser Valley

Kenneth Chan

Oct 5 2020

Imagine performing an end-to-end trip between Whistler and Chilliwack, and the destinations in between, within an hour on a regional high-speed rail line reaching up to 300 km/hr.

That is the connectivity vision for Mountain Valley Express (MVX) by a new local advocacy group comprised of academics and urban planners, who believe such an infrastructure investment — linking the Sea to Sky Corridor, Metro Vancouver, and the Fraser Valley — will provide a lasting economic engine and a “leaner, greener restart” for BC after COVID-19.

For the rest of the story, please click here


The Same Sad Old Story

Again, one just has to shake ones head.

Our politicians, abetted by TransLink do the same thing over and over again, ever expecting different results.

The very sad thing is, our politicians and news media do not have a clue what light rail is as evidenced by the banner photo, which is of a diesel multiple Unit, used on the Duetsche Bundesbahn or German railways and not light rail at all.

Baffling’ light rail not considered needed, says Delta MLA

Sandor Gyarmati / Delta Optimist
light rail delta

MLA Ian Paton says it’s short-sighted not to start looking at future light rail as part of a Massey Tunnel replacement.
Photograph By Pixabay

It makes zero sense the growing south of Fraser region has no prospect for light rapid transit.

Delta South Liberal MLA Ian Paton had to say following the New Democrat government’s announcement last week that a $1.7 billion contract has been awarded for the Broadway subway project in Vancouver.

That contract is to design, construct and partially finance the project. Construction will begin in fall 2020, with the line in service in 2025.

The 5.7-kilometre extension of the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark Station to Broadway and Arbutus in Vancouver has a total budget of $2.83 billion.

Meanwhile, the transportation minister contends there’s no foreseeable need for light rail south of the Fraser, an area not well served by transit, complained Paton.

“It has always been understood that a new crossing – bridge or tunnel – would include future capacity for light rail. With the forethought of extension into the Fraser Valley region, rail expansion was a central component of the previous B.C. Liberal bridge plan. It is baffling to me that Claire Trevena has insinuated that light rail will not be necessary for this crossing. For a government that claims to care about reducing GHG emissions and getting people out of their cars, this is extremely short-sighted,” said Paton.

“We are now paying more money for a smaller crossing that will be at capacity by the time it is built, which at this rate will be 2030 or beyond. We need to be bold in our approach to B.C.’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and I believe the shovel-ready George Massey Bridge replacement, with capacity for future light rail, is the project needed now to help re-invigorate our economy,” he said.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena’s in a CBC radio interview earlier this year was asked about the possibility of adding light rail with George Massey Tunnel replacement, answering there’s no foreseeable need.

Following her comment, Delta Mayor George Harvie said he was shocked.

“Insofar as no need for light rail, I’m shocked. I’m working with my fellow mayors. We’re looking at what the next 20-to-30 years is going to require, and light rail is needed south of the Fraser. With all the people that we have coming, most of them are going to be residing and relocating to south of the Fraser where the properties are a little less expensive. But again, I’m shocked. I just drove the tunnel, as you know, and it’s a tough drive….we need to get people out of their cars and if we’re not thinking in the future, we’re going to have problems here,” he said.

Talking about the progress of the tunnel replacement, Trevena was asked why consideration wasn’t being given to accommodate a rapid transit line.

“The bus route that comes from White Rock/South Surrey is a hugely, hugely popular bus route and TransLink is very clearly very pleased the way this works. But there really isn’t the need, and will not be the need. Transit planners have looked at this. There will not be the need for a light rail system, or anything like that, for the foreseeable future. I mean, they’re doing long-term planning. What they do see is frequent buses. They see that capacity. The opportunity is there and we can have the capacity for it. So, let’s get people into the buses, get people moving that way, because that is the way that sustainably we can move forward,” she explained.

Noting he has had a good working relationship with the minister, Harvie said he’s spoken with his fellow mayors, and the region’s transportation staff re aware of the need, while his staff have been looking at the future closure of the Vancouver Landfill and how it can be turned into a future transit hub.

Harvie added, “One of the reasons we’re in a mess is because politicians 20, 30 years ago were not brave enough to make a decision with regards to getting moving on these major projects.”

The Delta Chamber of Commerce expressed support for Harvie’s idea, saying it encourages TranLink’s Mayors’ Council and the province to continue exploring the concept.

Should We Convert The Canada Line to Light Rail?

Updated for 2020

 With Covid-19, this becomes more important than ever.

Right now we have a Hobson’s choice for regional rail transit, extend the Millennium and Expo Lines and continue using the proprietary Movia Automatic Light Metro or nothing.

This must change and change soon, or the hugely expensive SkyTrain light metro system will become largely irrelevant; a museum piece dedicated to political corruption, professional ennui and public hubris.

The public just cannot afford throwing billions more at rapid transit for so little return.

First posted by on Thursday, October 11, 2012

Subways & metros are very expensive to build and operate.

The proposed new tunnel that is planned to replace the George Massey Tunnel is on the back burner. Premier John Horgan cancelled the Liberal vanity project and a more reasonable solution has been made.

Replacing the tunnel with a larger a larger tunnel will only send the gridlock to the next choke point, Steveston Highway and ultimately the Oak Street & Knight Street bridges. This will cause massive congestion if traffic through the tunnel when highway traffic is expanded.

What is needed is a a rail transit solution that works and can be readily and affordably extended to meet the needs of the ever growing population South of the Fraser River.

The proprietary SkyTrain light metro system and the light metro philosophy of operation has done very little in attracting the motorist from the car. The light-metro’s high ridership can be attributed mostly to recycling of bus customers who are forced to transfer from bus to metro to complete ones journey to Vancouver/Burnaby.

SkyTrain has done little to ease congestion in the METRO Vancouver area.

The proprietary SkyTrain light-metro system is just too expensive to build and it just cannot be extended affordably into the outer suburbs to attract new customers. The extremely high costs of rapid transit has made rubber on asphalt solutions cheaper than improving regional transportation, as evidenced by the many highway expansion projects underway in the Metro Vancouver region. As new highways are built, auto use increases, with the only barrier against increased auto use being road capacity.

Extremely myopic regional planning, shows Metro Vancouver’s complete ineptitude when it comes to regional transportation as transit planning is based on 70 year old concepts, when fanciful monorails, metros and subways were all the rage.

What was “de rigor” in 1960 is not just passe in 2020, it is obsolete.

Sadly, this short sighted and extremely dated planning, will only lead to more gridlock and traffic chaos.

The Canada Line is a heavy-rail metro, operating ROTEM’s electrical multiple Units (EMU’s), but built as a light metro, with very limited capacity. The Canada Line’s automatic operation, complete with small stations and 40 to 50 metre long platforms gives  roughly slightly more than half the capacity of the Expo and Millennium Lines, which stations have 80 metre long platforms. The capacity constrained Canada Line has hamstrung  future attempts capacity to meet tomorrow’s transit demands.

To both increase capacity on the Canada Line and to increase its reach into Richmond in an effort to attract more ridership,would cost  a minimum of $2  billion.

$2 billion would buy you about 80 km. (at about $25 mil/km.) of modern LRT!

That $2 billion would be put to better use by:

  1. Converting the Canada Line hybrid heavy/light metro to light rail.
  2. Increasing North/South capacity by using the Arbutus Corridor.
  3. With the money saved by much cheaper LRT construction, extend the the new Canada Line LRT across the Fraser river into Delta and South Surrey.

This is not whimsical musings, rather it very well may be a transit solution that TransLink or a future operating authority may seriously consider.

The Canada line is in a conventional railway and most modern light rail vehicles would easily operate within the Rotem EMU’s Kinematic Envelope.

(Kinematic Envelope: the space that a rail vehicle could potentially occupy as it moves laterally and vertically on its suspension.)

The expensive and complicated automatic signalling system should be replaced with much simpler and more robust signalling system, doing away with the higher operating costs of automatic signalling.

Retain third rail power pick on the elevated and underground portions of the line by equipping, as done before on other transit lines, the trams with retractable shoes to collect power from the third rail and using standard pantographs on non-guideway portions of the line. Simply, the first station the tram stops at on the guideway portion of the line the driver drops the pan and deploys the power collection shoes. Several tram varieties on the market today have dual pantograph/shoe for power pick up on APS ground level contact-less power supply.

By converting the Canada Line to LRT would make the cost of extending the Canada Line, first to Steveston and Ironwood Mall an affordable option. It would also be much cheaper to build with LRT for a new crossing of the Fraser River to serve both Ladner and South Delta; then onwards to South Surrey.

The cost to extend the Canada line to Steveston and Ironwood Mall (about 11 .3 km.), should cost no more than $400 million and the CN rail line bisecting Richmond is reported up for sale for $65 million, probably much cheaper if it was used for transit. It is conceivable that for the cost of the Canada Line extending to Steveston and the Ironwood Mall, we could build LRT to both Steveston and the Ironwood Mall, then through a tunnel under the Fraser River to Ladner and  the Tsawwassen ferry terminal!

To increase capacity of the capacity limited trunk line to downtown Vancouver, the Canada Line can branch onto the existing and seldom used former interurban route, owned by the CPR to New Westminster, To access downtown Vancouver, using the Arbutus corridor and Granville Street bridge, which was designed for trams. This could be done quite cheaply for under $20 million/km.

It is time for TransLink to start planning for light rail for the region. SkyTrain, with construction costs exceeding $200 million/km. just cannot be built economically into the burbs, but modern LRT, with construction costs as low as $6 million/km. (TramTrain) can. Regional politicians must be made to understand that building with SkyTrain and/or light-metro has been a mistake and that we must plan future transit on the light rail model. The regional politicians who make up METRO Vancouver should tell TransLink either change their transit planning direction and for a start, seriously look at converting the Canada Line to LRT and extend it through Richmond, with plans to build it across the Fraser River to Delta and beyond.

Flying a Trial Balloon

Trial balloon: A tentative measure taken or statement made to see how a new policy will be received.

As the Daily Hive seems to be the official organ of TransLink, it comes as no surprise that a trial balloon is floated regarding an elevated SkyTrain to UBC.

The first problem is that Vancouver City Council, horrified at the ugly elevated guideway in New Westminster, Burnaby and East Vancouver, passed a by-law banning an elevated guideways within the city.

An elevated light-metro guideway would be political suicide for MP’s and MLA’s in the riding’s it passed, it would also be political suicide for any Vancouver Councillor or mayor supporting this option.

What is of interest is the reposting of this almost year old story and I would surmise, it was done to take the spotlight off of the current subway controversy.

Other than a bureaucratic make work project for under employed Translink planners, an elevated SkyTrain trundling to and fro to UBC is a non stater.



SkyTrain, a nice fit over Broadway?

UBC SkyTrain route options examined along 8th Avenue and East Mall

Kenneth Chan

Jan 24 2019

UBC SkyTrain route options examined along 8th Avenue and East Mall

It’s a near certainty that if SkyTrain were to be extended all the way to the University of British Columbia, the section between Arbutus Street and Alma Street will be tunnelled under West Broadway.

There will be subway stations at Macdonald Street and Alma Street to serve the immediate areas and provide bus connections.

But west of Alma Street within Point Grey, the University Endowment Lands (UEL), and UBC, the route is far from certain and obvious at this early stage of planning.

According to the findings of the new detailed technical analysis released by TransLink earlier this week, rapid transit west of Arbutus Street to UBC needs to be SkyTrain to ensure the system is built with future-proof capacity. The final decision on rail technology lies with the Mayors’ Council.

However, if SkyTrain is chosen, the report reveals there are several route and built form options SkyTrain could take from Alma Street to the ultimate terminus at UBC’s Point Grey campus.

“The SkyTrain extension would be the one technology that would provide sufficient long-term capacity to meet the needs,” said Geoff Cross, the Vice-President of Planning and Policy for TransLink, during today’s Mayors’ Council meeting.

The main questions are now: “How much of it is elevated versus tunneled and what key land uses do you need to hit? Where are the stations located? What would the exact corridor be?”

For the Rest of the story, please click.

Oh Where, Oh Where Has Our Customers Gone………………..

TransLink must soon face a very unpleasant truth, Metro Vancouver’s transit system is crap; it is strictly a commuters transit system, with, except for the core of City of Vancouver, there is little off-peak usage.

The transit system is designed to feed the light-metro system and because of this, TransLink, as BC Transit before. has been overstating ridership for decades.

Metro Vancouver’s transit system is user unfriendly, with nothing about the system that attracts ridership.

Then add the Covid-19 fact that people’s work habits are changing, with many working from home or commuting by car to satellite offices, not in the downtown.

People, for health reasons are still commuting by car and for the elderly, they are just avoiding transit altogether.

This is not going to change any time soon, but the politicians, who have drunk their own bathwater for so long, haven’t a clue to the realities of metro Vancouver’s public transit system.

The old finical model for the SkyTrain light-metro network was deferring costs for the next generation to pay, the problem now, the next generation doesn’t want to commute, nor take transit. Trying to shove a square peg into a round hole, best describes current transit planning and the next generation, burdened with the aftermath of Covid-19, will have little sympathy for those who demanded a hugely expensive, inflexible and now obsolete transit system.

By the way, notice how TransLink’s CEO uses percentage and not the real numbers?

My guess is, real numbers would illustrate how devastating ridership has fallen, so much so, to give politicians pause, to rethink $4.6 billion to extend the Expo and Millennium Lines a mere 12.8 km.

User-unfriendly, very expensive to operate and maintain and inflexible in operation will be the final epitaph of Vancouver’s light metro system.

Metro Vancouver transit ridership hasn’t recovered from COVID-19: TransLink CEO

by Paul James

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Close to half of bus riders have not returned to transit as TransLink resumed full services this past summer after limiting them in the early days of COVID-19.

Even fewer riders got back onboard the West Coast Express and TransLink is expecting revenue losses of $2 billion to $4.5 billion over the next 10 years, CEO Kevin Desmond said during a quarterly board meeting on Monday.

Overall, ridership is still down compared to pre-COVID levels, he added.

“These are probably a lot of people that can very easily work from home and continue to work from home,” Desmond said.

On buses — the most used transit service — ridership is down 43 per cent compared to before the pandemic.

“It has responded somewhat more quickly than the other ones, all the way down to West Coast Express, which has had the weakest ridership return,” Desmond said of buses.

Only 17 per cent of riders returned to the West Coast Express, while that for SkyTrain is about a third of what it was before.The Expo and Millenium lines are at 38 per cent ridership compared to that before COVID-19. The Canada Line is at 31 per cent ridership.

Seabus ridership is down 27 per cent, while that for HandyDart is down 35 per cent.

Ridership varies by region 

According to TransLink, ridership varies by region to region, with fewer people in centralized areas — such as Vancouver — returning to transit, compared to the suburbs.

Ridership overall is down 39 per cent in the Vancouver-UBC area. That in Burnaby and New Westminster is down 37 per cent.

Ridership is down 42 per cent in the southwest area, 51 in the southeast, 37 in the northeast, and 55 in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

TransLink sought financial assistance from governments in April as revenue losses totalled about $75 million a month after introducing several measures to curb transmission of the virus, including read-door boarding and waiving fares.

Mayors look to increase ridership

TransLink initially planned to lay off about 1,500 employees, reduce senior executive salaries, and suspension of transit services, including buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express to cope with the revenue losses.

The federal government then provided about $540 million in direct aid to public transit in B.C.

TransLink then announced in August that masks or face-coverings are mandatory onboard transit vehicles.

With more people opting-out of taking transit and getting back into cars amid the pandemic, Metro Vancouver mayors are poised to consider how to increase ridership and decrease traffic.

A report set to be tabled at the Oct. 1 meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation points out some of the challenges TransLink is facing due to the pandemic.