Compass Card Fiasco

Installed but not working. Until the compass Card becomes operational

the turnstiles stay idle, paying silent testament to TransLink’s incompetence.

As expected, TransLink’s new Compass Card is turning into a fiasco and now the transit agency is contemplating a single zone for buses.

Because of TransLink’s simple three zone fare system and full fare/concession fare ticket system, there was no need for a very complicated fare card system.

The mainstream media, coupled with a former well known radio host banged the drum for turnstiles because of perceived rampant fare evasion, even though fare evasion was well within industry norms.

The annual operating costs, coupled with the set costs of the new fare card/turnstile system cost more than what was lost due to fare evasion!

Enter former TransLink CEO and good pal of former Premier Gordon Campbell, Ken Dobell, who was acting as a lobbyist for Cubit Industries, flogging an outdated fare card/turnstile system and TransLink was compelled to buy.

After almost $200 hundred million or so dollars spent, the turnstiles are installed but the Compass Card is not workable and now TransLink is contemplating a one zone fare for all buses to make the compass Card work.

The kicker is, if there is only one zone for buses there is really no need for a fare card as all that is needed is a transfer to prove that a fare was paid, which is very easy for anyone checking fares to see.

Stay tuned, the sitcom called TransLink is set to continue; a boring little show, with little comedy but a lot of pathos.

Lies, Damned Lies and the Vancouver Sun

So, Calgary’s Nenshi backs Gregor Robertson’s Broadway subway plans. Well not exactly, he supports better urban transit funding and all Mr. Nenshi said was “So I imagine there is a scramble right now in Ottawa precisely to figure out how to fund Vancouver’s next Skytrain expansion.”

How the Vancouver sun can construe this as support for a Broadway subway is mind boggling!

The Vancouver Sun, a long supporter of SkyTrain, again distorts the facts to pervert the truth when it comes to regional transit in the region.

There are lies, damned lies and The Vancouver Sun!

Just to refresh everyone’s memory, the Expo and Millennium Lines (and the Evergreen Line) have 80 metre long station platforms limiting trains to about 80 metres. The Canada line has station platforms between 40 metres and 50 metres long, limiting trains to around 40 metres. Short station platforms limit the capacity of the Canada line to about 7,500 pphpd and the Skytrain lines to about 15,000 pphpd. to increase capacity, very expensive station and electrical renovations must take place. Estimated cost $2 billion to $3 billion.

Meanwhile in Calgary, stations have been renovated and platform lengths extended to 110 metres in length so they can accept four car (99 .3 metre long) coupled sets of trams.


News Flash:

Calgary can run 99 metre long trains versus Vancouver ability to only run 80 metre long trains

Calgary can operate trains up to 110 metres long, which Vancouver cannot.

Calgary’s LRT has a higher capacity than SkyTrain.

Subways do not increase capacity, they just keep surface roads clear for motorists.

SkyTrain Switch Excuse Grows Very Thin

Like the old fable; “The boy who cried wolf“, the ongoing TransLink excuse for problems on the Skytrain system is growing very thin.

Again, SkyTrain goes kaput on the tail end of the morning rush and again TransLink blames a “switch problem” as the reason.

Sorry, I just do not buy that excuse anymore and from the feedback from transit customers, nor do they.

Zwei thinks TransLink has deferred maintenance to cover financial shortfalls and like all transit systems that defer important maintenance as an economy measure, the results come back to haunt the operator big time,  just like what happened in Portland!

Vancouver commuters really don’t care for these SkyTrain disruptions

October 28, 2014.


Vancouver commuters faced another obstacle today on TransLink’s SkyTrain service which has been beset by delays and disruptions in recent months.

A switch problem caused delays on the line between Joyce Station and Metrotown this morning. TransLink posted on its website at 9:59 a.m that a service disruption of minor severity on both the Expo and Millenium Lines was due to a problem train in the Metrotown area that has since been cleared.

The disruption led to over-flowing crowds at Skytrain stations across Metro Vancouver. Angry commuters vented their frustrations on Twitter.

The SkyTrain Subsidy Revisited

The SkyTrain and Canada Line light-metro are bleeding over

$350 million from TransLink’s $1.2 billion budget!

In 1993, the GVRD (now Metro) and Transport 2021, published the study, “The Cost of Transporting People in the BC Lower Mainland” and for the first time the annual SkyTrain subsidy was mentioned. In 1991, SkyTrain was subsidized to the tune of$157.6 million, more than half of the total subsidy paid for public transit in the Lower Mainland. BC Transit then, as TransLink does today, ignores this vast sum of taxpayer’s dollars subsidizing the metro and make erroneous statements that SkyTrain pays its operating costs, etc.

The portion of the SkyTrain subsidy is thus:

Gas tax  –    $17.8 mil. out of $47.4 mil. collected

Hydro Levy  -  $4.7 mil. out of $12.6 mil. collected

Commercial Property Tax  -  $9 mil. out of $24 mil. collected

Residential Property Tax  -  $5.2 mil. out of $14 mil collected

Provincial Government  -  $120.9 mil. out of $196.8 mil. paid

Total  -  $157.6 out of $294.8 paid

With the opening of the Millennium Line, SkyTrain’s annual subsidy increased past $200 million and with the Canada Line metro, the subsidy has again increased. In 2012 TransLink paid the consortium which operates the Canada Line $145 million which is two to three times more than would have been paid to comparable light rail operations.

What is interesting to note, just two years worth of SkyTrain’s annual subsidy could fund a basic Vancouver to Chilliwack Interurban demonstration service; four years worth of SkyTrain’s annual subsidy could fund the full build Leewood/RftV interurban!

For the likes of Daryl, Rico, or the rest of the SkyTrain Lobby, who think that SkyTrain operates for free, think again. Skytrain is very expensive for the job it does and to ignore the correlation between TransLink’s financial mess and continued light-metro construction, is sheer folly.

There is a good reason why no one builds with SkyTrain and for TransLink to even contemplate building more, especially a Skytrain subway under Broadway, clearly demonstrates the organizations total disregard towards its finances.

Horse manure from Vision(less) Vancouver and the N.P.A.

Wow, such BS from Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and mayor wannabe Kirk LaPointe, saying he is going to build an affordable subway is laughable.

Robertson has no proof to back up his claim that a subway will be; “taking 50,000 cars off the road”. One should remember the empty claim that the Canada line would take 200,000 car journeys of the road a day, which it never did and today, there are more cars on the road than ever!

The NPA’s Kirk LaPointe promises of counter-flow lanes and a affordable subway are so bizarre, one wonders if he is a left over from the X-files.

The royal fool, Geoff Meggs, is also in on the act and it is all so embarrassing as neither Vision(less) Vancouver or the NPA have a clue about transit and transit mode and if either party gains control of city hall, Municipalities and cities south of the Fraser should seriously consider leaving TransLink and forming a south Fraser Transit Authority and let Vancouver bankrupt TransLink with subway mania.

Traffic flows along Broadway do not warrant a subway; in fact

they barely warrant a streetcar line!

Mayor Gregor Robertson and Kirk LaPointe trade barbs over transit plan

Mayor Gregor Robertson addressed reporters at the VCC-Clark SkyTrain station to reinforce their commitment to improving the city’s transit system.

His party’s transit system plan involves upgrading bus stops, sustaining enhanced transportation services for seniors and supporting the 10-year TransLink plan in the referendum. This will include the new B-Line services, more night buses and the early stages of the Broadway subway to Arbutus.

“That subway is the single best thing that you can do for our economy and environment, taking 50,000 cars off the road,” said Robertson.

“We will also advocate strongly in support of the referendum. We will not waiver on that one bit, because winning a transit referendum isn’t just about the Broadway subway; it’s about massive improvements to transit across the region.”

Phase one of the Broadway Corridor Rapid Transit Project would be a 5.1 km extension of the Millenium Line SkyTrain from VCC-Clark to Arbutus with a projected cost of $2 billion. The line will eventually route to UBC in the future second phase.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe announced that he would deliver an “affordable, underground Broadway subway” to UBC in addition to creating counterflow lanes on major roads and adding capacity to the 99 B-Line bus route.

Robertson responded by saying NPA’s “lack of understanding when it comes to major issues like transit” puts the city at risk. LaPointe is always “evolving” and changing his mind on the Broadway subway, and he is proposing drastic changes but is weary with the details, added Vision city councillor Geoff Meggs.

“Mr. LaPointe’s plan seems to be to make our main streets more like freeways,” Meggs said in a press release.

The lanes should not be viewed as creating a freeway within the city’s boundaries, LaPointe acknowledged at his news conference, but rather an opportunity to ease congestion during rush hours.

“Gregor Robertson has jacked up parking rates, he’s taken away car lanes and he’s shown no respect for drivers, at all,” LaPointe said. “He doesn’t get the fact that sometimes – sometimes – a car is the only option that works.”

During Vancouver’s first mayoral debate of the election season yesterday, LaPointe also called out Robertson lack of leadership suggesting that he had nothing to show for six years of commitment to the transit plan.

“I could grab your pen and do a sketch on paper and that’s as far as we have gone,” said LaPointe. “You are not doing your job as mayor,” LaPointe told Robertson. “You’ve had six years to get the job done. This was your No. 1 transit priority from day one. How’s priority number 11 going?”

In Toronto – A $3 Billion Subway Carries Fewer Customers Than A Streetcar Line!

Those who promote a Broadway subway had better beware, subways are not the magic elixir in attracting ridership.

A Toronto CBC news story giving mayoralty hopeful Doug Ford (brother of the discredited Rob Ford) an “F” for his subway plans contains an interesting item:

“The Sheppard subway is a classic example,” said Bedford. “It cost $3 billion to build and only carries 50 to 55,000 riders a day. The King streetcar alone carries over 60,000 riders a day. ‎We need to learn from this and not repeat these mistakes all over the city.”

And that is 60,000 customers a day using the now vintage four axle CLRV’s, not more modern articulated stock.

A Broadway Skytrain subway is not guaranteed to attracted more customers than an at-grade/on-street light rail/streetcar system, in fact, the inconvenience of a subway, with widely spaced stations needing an expensive shadow bus service, maybe the final financial straw that may break TransLink’s back!

All Quiet on the Transit Front?

With civic elections only weeks away, there has been a lull with transit issues and stories.

The city of Vancouver, which considers itself the centre of the universe, provides us with some mirth as the elections draw near.

The left leaning C.O.P.E. political party is proposing that all Vancouver residents should have universal transit for a $1.00 a day. No plan on how to fund this proposal or getting regional mayors approval or increasing transit services, none the less C.O.P.E. continues to bang the drum for very heavily subsidized universal transit passes for Vancouver citizens.

Vision(less) Vancouver and the N.P.A. right of centre political parties, still champion a Broadway subway and like C.O.P.E. have no plan to pay for it except having regional taxpayers foot the bill.

From Quebec, it has been revealed that Bombardier and SNC Lavalin are heavily funding a citizens group to demand politicians build a ART SkyTrain across the new Champlain Bridge. What is bizarre is that Bombardier and SNC are claiming both that ART (SkyTrain) is more cost effective and can carry more people than LRT and that ART is cost effective at carrying less people than what LRT can carry. An obvious case of having your cake and eating it too!

As Ottawa has shown, modern light rail has the edge over SkyTrain in capacity and that it is cheaper to build.

There is a persistent rumor is that corporate managers in Europe want Bombardier, in essence a German Company, to scrap its ART Skytrain program to save money and concentrate on airport people movers and light rail. What is happening in Montreal could be seen as SkyTrain’s last kick at the can, so to speak, as the Skytrain gravy train may run out of track.

There is also evidence of this in Vancouver, where the SkyTrain Lobby are desperately trying to get Skytrain on track again in the metro Vancouver area.

It will not be until after the November election, when transit issues will be sensibly debated.

Aubagne Tram – The Economy Tram

Light Rail can be built cheaply, if there is the political and bureaucratic will is there to ensure LRT is built economically.

At first glance the Aubagne tramway is very expensive, costing €166 million or CAD $235 million to build, but only for 2.7 km., which works out to an expensive $87 million/km. to build. The original length of the Aubagne tramway was to be 14 km. long, but politics, Conservative politicians greatly reduced the scope of construction.

Sound familiar, a la the Canada Line?

If one extrapolated the cost over a full 14 km. of line, including the cost of new track and overhead at CAD $15 million/km. ;CAD $109 million and the addition of eight more cars at a cost of  USD $18.3 million or CAD $20.54 million, the cost of a $14 km. line could be as low as $364.5 million or $26 million/km.; a very reasonable and affordable cost indeed!

Affordable LRT, something that TransLink in Vancouver or BC Transit in Victoria does not want the public to know.


The Citadis cars mentioned in the article are modular cars and capacity can be increased by adding more modules, which is cheaper than buying new cars.

FRANCE: The Aubagne tramway entered commercial service on September 1.

The 2·7 km (1.67 mile) line runs from Le Charrel to the main railway station with seven stops.

Aubagne is the first city to use Alstoms Citadis Compact tram.

According to the manufacturer, this is specially designed to meet the needs of medium-sized networks in cities of 50 000 to 100 000, and
secondary lines.

The 22 m (72.1 foot) long vehicles have a capacity of 146 passengers.

The Pays dAubagne et de lEtoile region ordered a fleet of eight trams, with an option for five to 10 more, for 14m (USD $18.3 million) in October

The original plan was for a 14-kilometre (8.69 mile) network but the victory of conservative elements in the March 2014 city election resulted in everything besides the starter lien being shelved. Here is the “international railway journal” story: <

Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Aubagne opens zero-fare tramway Written by Keith Barrow

AUBAGNE, a town of 46,000 inhabitants situated east of Marseille, inaugurated its first light rail line on September 1.

Like the town’s bus network, no fares are charged for travel on the tram line, making it the first free-to-use light rail system in France and one of the first in Europe.

The 2.7km (1.67 mile) line has seven stations and links the main line station in Aubagne with Charrel. Construction began in early 2013 and the project had a budget of €166m (CAD $235 million) including rolling stock.

Zwei notes: This works out to CAD $87 million/km to build, including rolling stock, engineering and service depot. A longer line would incrementally cost less.

Services operate at 10-minute intervals using a fleet of 10 Citadis Compact low-floor LRVs.

The 22m-long (72.1 foot)) three-section vehicles accommodate up to 125 passengers.

The Urban Community of Pays d’Aubagne et de l’Etoile decided in April that it would not proceed with construction of the second or third phase of the network, although the community’s president Mrs Sylvia Barthélémy announced at the opening ceremony that the municipal government will study the reopening of the 14km (8.69 mile) Valdonne railway north of Aubagne as a light rail line.

The proposed line would serve an area with a population of 60,000, linking Aubagne with Roquevaire, Auriol, La Destrouse, and La Bouilladisse.

At present there are around 18,000 car journeys a day on the road between Aubagne and La Bouilladisse, and 110,000 vehicles per day use the motorway linking the area with Marseille.

Light Rail In Victoria Before Vancouver?

Interesting news from Victoria, BC Transit is recommending LRT for Greater Victoria.

Though BC Transit doesn’t have much competence with modern LRT, the organization certainly has more experience than TransLink, with the historic LRT planning for the Broadway-Lougheed Rapid Transit project before the provincial NDP did their infamous flip-flop  to SkyTrain.

Zwei also questions the $950 million price tag for LRT, as there are many examples of economy LRT being built in Europe.

Then there is TramTrain and the E&N; has BC Transit factored in TramTrain using the E&N’s tracks? I doubt it; I doubt that BC Transit’s planners have ever heard of TramTrain.

Wouldn’t it be delightful that Victoria was the first city in North America to build a true TramTrain service, combining economy operation and track sharing, dragging  BC’s transit planning kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

B.C. Transit recommends light rail for Capital Region

Electric light-rail rapid transit is B.C. Transit’s recommended choice for the future of moving people between Victoria and the West Shore.

Construction of a fully built light-rail system would cost about $950 million, including the right-of-way, track and electrical systems, stations and vehicles.

Total cost for the life of the system, including capital and operating expenses, is estimated at $1.2 billion.

Depending on if and how the price tag can be shared between the municipalities, the province and the federal government, Greater Victoria residential property owners could be required to pay an additional $130 to $265 for the new system each year. They currently pay $92.50 for transit, though that will increase to $120.50 starting May 15.

Business owners would face a sharper increase of between $1,300 and $2,650, depending on the funding formula. They currently pay $356 annually for transit, though that is also going to jump by $28.

Transit is currently covered by fares, the province, property taxes, fuel taxes and advertising. However, the transit company is not ruling out exploring other methods to offset project costs.

Transit officials say the two other regional transit options that were considered – bus rapid transit and maintaining the status quo – would also be expensive. Bus rapid transit start-up costs are estimated at $520 million, and $250 million would be needed to maintain the current transit system.

A new bus rapid transit system would be cheaper in the short term, say transit officials, but anticipate it would be at capacity after 10 to 15 years and require replacement with light rail.

B.C. Transit’s recommendation, kept under tight wraps until Tuesday afternoon, is an important next step in bringing rapid transit to the traffic-burdened region. Last October key municipalities along the rapid-transit corridor endorsed the right-of-way route, including Victoria, Saanich, View Royal, Colwood and Langford.

There would be stations in downtown Victoria and at Uptown in Saanich. The electric train would run along a track next to the Trans-Canada Highway to the 6 Mile/Colwood interchange, along Island Highway in View Royal to Colwood, continue along Goldstream Avenue before reaching its final Station Avenue stop in Langford.

There is still a check list of things to do before B.C. Transit’s rapid transit business case is completed.

To solicit community feedback, the plan will be presented in detail during two public open houses May 4 and 5.

The light-rail transit plan is expected to go before the B.C. Transit board of directors and the Victoria Regional Transit Commission in May. If approved, the business case would be submitted in June for the province’s consideration.

- more to come

Politics of Fear – Vancouver Earmarks $400K to Dismantantle the Olympic Line!

Vision Vancouver has earmarked $400,000 in their next capital plan to dismantle the False Creek heritage railway, commonly known as the Olympic Line.

This should come as no surprise, as Vision Vancouver is afraid of the Olympic Line, because they are afraid of LRT. Vision is afraid of LRT because having an operating light rail line will expose their disingenuous demand for a Broadway Subway.

Vision Vancouver needs the Broadway subway because the political party’s developer backers have assembled lands at proposed subway stations along Broadway and they want to see massive profits on their investments by Vision Vancouver majority on council up-zoning the land to higher densities.

Vision(less) Vancouver’s politics of fear, they are afraid of LRT; they are afraid their deceptions will unravel.

Oh what tangled webs we weave, when Vision Vancouver practices to deceive.

Apologies to Mr. Burns