The Desperate Hours – Basket Weaving Grade For TransLink

The only agency that can come close is assessing public transit systems in Canada is the Canadian urban Transit Association and they do a reasonable job at it.

The preceding graph is from C.U.T.A. and shows that the cost per revenue passenger in Metro Vancouver is about one third higher than Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto.

This makes a lot of people unhappy, especially folks who like the status quo.

The author of the study is a younger Langley civic politician, not a transit expert, unlike the Rail for the Valley group, who engage real transit experts to advise on policy.

A self promoting  transit study to further ones political career should be taken with a grain of salt.

One tires of snap shot, headline grabbing transit report cards, which are meaningless, as we have serious transit issues to resolve. TransLink and regional transit planning is in trouble; the public have lost faith in TransLink and ridership is slowly eroding. Big problems indeed!

TransLink has continually hid costs, (it should not take a F.O.I to get the real cost TransLink pays to the SNC Lavalin lead consortium operating the Canada Line)  from the public and a thirty year hiatus from scrutiny by the mainstream media has exacerbated the situation tremendously.

This report card on transit is like getting an “A” in basket weaving and no more and will only hinder transit development in the region in the future.

An interesting note: With the Compass Card, TransLink should know almost immediately the daily ridership on the SkyTrain and bus system, yet they have been very quiet about it indeed. I wonder why?

Could it be that they greatly overstated ridership in the past?

TransLink ranks second in national report card of Canadian transit system

by John Ackermann

Posted Jul 18, 2016 10:13 am PDT

(Photo credit: Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

TransLink receives “A” rating, second only to Greater Montreal’s “A+++”

METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – TransLink is getting high marks in a national report card of Canadian regional transit systems.

Metro Vancouver received an “A” rating, second only to Greater Montreal’s “A+++” while Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa trailed with “B” grades.

Study author and Langley City Councillor Nathan Pachal says there are areas where TransLink comes out on top.

“It actually out-performs the Greater Montreal region when it comes to revenue kilometres per service hour. That’s how far and how fast transit service travels. In other areas that it out-performs other agencies… was the passenger trips per service hour [and] passenger trips per capita.”

Pachal says more investment may help Metro Vancouver take the top spot next year.

“We saw a huge increase in the beginning part of this century, when there was that massive investment, as we kind of reached up to the Olympics. That saw the huge increase in these performance metrics. It’s going to take things like that [to improve].”

The 1945 FRA Standards – Are they Obsolete?

The FRA standards for rail cars in the USA also sets the standards for railcars in Canada and a change in crash worthiness of new cars is big news as it would make the realization of TramTrain much easier.

Is it not time to build ‘rail’ transit vehicles for the 21st century and not for the pre-jet age?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

When Will the Feds Stop Outlawing Railcars Used By the Rest of the World?


The removal of 115 railcars from service in Philadelphia last week was the latest example of the troubles American commuter rail agencies face when purchasing rolling stock. Thanks to cracks in a critical component of the railcars, riders are looking at severe service reductions for at least the entire summer. While U.S. DOT floated a regulatory change that could prevent similar failures, it’s been tied up in the federal bureaucracy for three years.

Philadelphia's defective railcars highlight some of the problems with U.S. passenger rail regulations. Photo: SEPTAPhiladelphia’s defective railcars highlight some of the problems with U.S. train safety regulations. Photo: SEPTA

SEPTA purchased the flawed railcars three years ago. The exact cause of the defect has yet to be determined, but it’s clear that procuring rolling stock is riskier and more complex than it needs to be, due to Federal Railroad Administration safety regulations.

An FRA rule dating back to 1945 requires trains to withstand 800,000 pounds of force, according to a report by David Edmondson for the Competitive Enterprise Institute [PDF]. This makes American trains much heavier than European and Asian models, as well as more expensive to build and operate. Passenger railcars in the U.S. have been likened to “a high-velocity bank vault,” as former Amtrak CEO David Gunn put it.

Because of these unusual standards, American rail agencies can’t just acquire the same trains used in Europe or Asia. Instead, railcars here must be custom-designed for America’s relatively small market, which drives up cost and risk. Philadelphia’s Silverliner V cars — the ones with the defect — were 10,000 pounds heavier than originally planned. The manufacturer, an American subsidiary of the South Korea-based Hyundai, had never designed stainless steel railcars to FRA standards.


For all the added expense, America’s brand of rail safety carries its own hazards. “A heavier train takes longer to decelerate, which makes crashes more likely to occur,” writes Edmondson. Rather than building bank vaults on rails, European and Asian rail systems focus on preventing collisions in the first place, using technology like positive train control.

In 2013, after years of pressure from rail advocates, U.S. DOT finally issued a notice that it was considering a rule change to allow lighter, more efficient trains on American tracks. But the policy has advanced at a snail’s pace. Later that year, the FRA’s Robert Lauby said he expected the change to take effect in 2015, but it is still tied up in the federal rulemaking process.

An FRA spokesperson told Streetsblog the draft rule, which has yet to be published publicly, was just sent to the Office of Management and Budget this April. OMB can adjust the draft rule before it is presented for public comment, adjusted again by U.S. DOT, and enacted.

There is no noticeable resistance to reform within the rail industry. The FRA’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from the American Public Transportation Association, Amtrak, NHTSA, and other industry groups, unanimously recommended the rule change, according to a source in Congress familiar with the rulemaking process.

The only thing holding back progress, it seems, is the leisurely pace of bureaucracy at the White House and U.S. DOT.

First Cádiz tram-train arrives – While the Fraser Valley waits for a train that never comes!

As Fraser Valley mayors twiddle their thumbs and do nothing but invent excuse after excuse for not wanting a passenger rail service in the Fraser Valley, new TramTrain operations continue to expand elsewhere.

Our regional mayors are lost in a time capsule, wanting what will not work and ignoring what will.

The transit customer, as usual is left at the station, waiting for a train that will never come.


First Cádiz tram-train arrives

12 Jul 2016

SPAIN: The Andalucía regional government announced on July 7 that the first of seven vehicles being supplied by CAF for the Cádiz tram-train project had arrived at the new rolling stock maintenance facility in Chiclana de la Frontera.

Following delivery by road from the CAF Santana plant in Linares, the three-section LRV is now being reassembled with a view to commencing dynamic testing between Chiclana and San Fernando in September. Technical assistance for the trials is being provided by 2 IT and the operator of the Tenerife light rail network.

Each 1 668 mm gauge LRV is 38 m long and 2∙6 m wide. A further two vehicles are due to be delivered from Linares during July, followed by the two vehicles currently undergoing acceptance trials on the national network between Irún and Vitoria.

As well as using the 14 km of new tram route between Chiclana and San Fernando, tram-train operations will involve running over 10 km of ADIF infrastructure to reach Cádiz. Revenue operations are expected start during the second quarter of 2017, serving a total of 21 stops and a population of 234 000.


Now do you beleive Zwei!

Zwei has stated over and over again, one modern tram and tram driver is as efficient as six to eight buses and six to eight bus drivers and for every tram or bus operated one needs a minimum of four people to drive, maintain and manage them. As wages account for 70% or more of operating costs; over a period of a twenty-five year business cycle, the savings in operational costs are huge!

Why do you think the bus union does not like light rail?

Modern LRT is just not a transportation tool, it is an economic tool to keep operating costs in check, something to think about when just the Expo Line costs about 60% more to operate than comparably sized LRT operations.


OC Transpo to cut 500-600 positions after LRT starts in 2018

Transit boss John Manconi met with three unions to ask for ideas to minimize layoffs

By Joanne Chianello

CBC News Posted: Jul 11, 2016 6:14 PM ET Last Updated: Jul 11, 2016 7:08 PM ET

Ottawa’s Confederation light rail line is set to open in 2018. (City of Ottawa)

OC Transpo’s largest union is “very disappointed” after the transit service revealed it is looking to cut between 500 and 600 positions once LRT comes online in 2018.

“I’ve been blindsided, absolutely, by the numbers,” said Clint Crabtree, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279.

“I didn’t have anything in mind or have any ideas of the numbers — not at this point — but when I was presented the numbers, I was very disappointed.”

Transit boss John Manconi wrote in a memo to council that he met with three union leaders, including Crabtree, on Monday to discuss the cuts and ask for ideas to minimize layoffs.

‘I’ve been blindsided, absolutely, by the numbers.’ - Clint Crabtree, ATU Local 279

The city estimates that light-rail will take 170 to 180 buses off the road.

One light-rail train carries the equivalent riders as eight articulated buses. (Zwei replies: Put another way, 1 tram driver is as efficient as at least 8 bus drivers!)

That means fewer operators, maintenance and support staff will be needed.

As well, fewer fare inspectors will be required as fare gates will be installed at the LRT stations.

Manconi’s email said the city will look to retirements and attrition as ways to keep down the number of layoffs.

And some folks hired in dealing with detours in Phase 1 of the $2-billion (USD $1.52 billion) Confederation Line project could be re-employed in handling detours for Phase 2.

Crabtree said retirement is currently 60 to 80 people annually.

Also, Manconi points out that the city will need to hire additional workers for the light-rail system: 70 operators, 15 controllers and 10 support staff.

“The Confederation Line creates approximately 100 new positions, which reduces the overall reduction, and management is committed to making all the position available to our current employees by investing in training, facilities, equipment, etc. to create the opportunities for you to be successful in qualifying for these exciting new opportunities,” according to Manconi’s memo.

His email also states that all drivers hired since 2015 have been told that fewer operators will be needed by 2018.

Crabtree said he is “exploring all options” in the wake of the news but did not offer specifics.

“We’ll do everything to protect our members,” he said, adding that he will be meeting with OC Transpo management again in August.

For Whom The Toll Tolls

Not surprised at all about this as a similar issue arose in children sports.

Last year my child’s sports team saw a dramatic drop in players, from what was about 50 to less than 15. The team manager, upon inquiries, soon found the answer.

Because of the new toll on the Port Mann Bridge, was costing families upwards of $1,500 a year, many kids had to forgo joining a sports team because there was not the money to pay fees etc.!

It seems those advocating more and more taxes, seem to be either in politics or academia, all handsomely rewarded by the taxpayer, did not even think of the consequences of their actions on poor families, especially children.

Zwei is not against “Road pricing” per se, but, there must be an affordable public transportation alternative for those driving.

The region does not, nor even planning for one and all road pricing and/or road or bridge tolls will do is further burden the poor with more and more taxes.

Amid talk of road tolls, federal memo says poorer commuters rely heavily on cars

by The Canadian Press

Posted Jul 6, 2016

OTTAWA – An internal federal analysis says lower income Canadians are highly dependent on cars to get to work — a finding that surfaces as Ottawa considers infrastructure investment models that could put more toll booths on the country’s roads.

The February briefing note was prepared weeks before the Trudeau government signaled its intention to engage institutional investors, such as pension funds, to help raise money for public infrastructure projects.

Senior pension plan officials have said they are looking to invest in infrastructure projects with reliable, predictable returns that could include user fees — like road tolls.

The Finance Department memo says user fees ensure that those who benefit most from infrastructure are the ones who pay for it.

But a case study contained in the secret briefing package warns that when it comes to road tolls, a significant proportion of lower-income Canadians could be forced to dig into their wallets.

The document says 77 per cent of taxpayers in the bottom fifth of all income earners commute to work in private vehicles.

Pyrénées Line Reopens – How About The Same Quality of Servcie to Chilliwack?

Interesting news from France.

The cost to reopen this 25 km line, which was derelict for thirty-six years, was €102 million or CAD $146.5 million or put another way the cost to do the same with the former Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban line, which is still functioning for S.R.R. of B.C. freight traffic would be about $750 million. A bargain compare to other ‘rail’ transit projects being planned.

The same is true on the E&N railway on Vancouver Island or other lightly used rail lines in Metro Vancouver. Passenger service is affordable on existing railways if politicians really cared about regional transportation issues and not rely on multi billion dollar vanity projects announced around election time.

Pyrénées line reopens

05 Jul 2016

FRANCE: Celebrations were held on July 1 to mark the reopening of the 24·7 km line between Oloron-Sainte-Marie and Bedous in the foothills of the Pyrénées, where passenger services had resumed on June 26.

Taking part in the inauguration were SNCF President Guillaume Pepy, the President of infrastructure manager SNCF Réseau Patrick Jeantet, the President of Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine Alain Rousset, plus the President of Aragon Javier Lamban.

The revival after 36 years of closure is intended to improve access to the Vallée d’Aspe and resorts in the Pyrénées national park, easing pressure on inadequate roads. It also forms part of the long-planned revival of the former international link from Pau through the Somport tunnel to Canfranc in Spain, from where a Renfe DMU still runs twice daily to Zaragoza. Reopening to Canfranc is now scheduled for 2020, and a rolling motorway route has been proposed to link Bordeaux with Zaragoza.

Work to reopen the Bedous line began in 2014, with the €102m cost financed by the Aquitaine region (now Aquitaine-Poitou-Charente). The project involved upgrading 31 bridges and seven tunnels, laying new track suitable for 80 km/h running and providing extensive protection against falling rocks. There are three new stations at Bidos on the outskirts of Oloron, Lurbe-Saint-Christau and Bedous, served by six daily trains to and from Pau with a journey time of 67 min for the 60 km. Upgrading between Oloron and Pau had been completed in 2010 following de-electrification.Pyrénées line reopens

Metro Vancouver Rejectes Massey Tunnel Replacement Bridge

Bakken oil and thermal coal unit trains from the American mid west

are the big driver for the Massey Tunnel replacement.

As expected.

The real reason for the bridge is, of course nothing to do with the safety issues with the tunnel, rather Fraser Surrey Docks want to bring Panama Max. tankers and colliers to load extremely volatile Bakken oil and dirty thermal coal from the American mid west, from their facilities in Surrey.

The reason: Bakken oil and Wyoming Coal is coming to BC is that the Ports of Vancouver Washington and Tacoma. soon will not allow to ship such commodities.

What the proposed ten lane bridge will not do is alleviate traffic congestion on Hwy 99.

Delta mayor, Lois Jackson, is showing her age and lack of comprehension by attaching herself to this massive project and using it as her vanity project swan song in her waning career.

All this massive bridge will do is create massive gridlock on the Hwy 99 in Richmond, starting at Steveston Hwy as the present roads are at or near gridlock at peak hours and adding more traffic will create traffic chaos.

What this provincial bridge project does show, is that the $2.4 billion BC Liberal showcase p-3 rapid transit project, the Canada Line is a White Elephant and not even being considered to extend into South Delta.

So, to make this easy for the likes of Delta mayor to understand, the only reason that this bridge is being built, is that Fraser Surrey Docks, big donators to the BC Liberal party, wants the taxpayer to subsidize building a new $3.5+ billion bridge so the taxpayer can again pay for the removal the perfectly good George Massey tunnel and dredge the South Arm channel deeper to allow massive tankers and colliers (too big for the Panama Canal) up the Fraser to load cargo that Americans will not allow to be loaded in their country.

The proposed bridge has nothing to do whatsoever in relieving gridlock; it will just move it about 2 km North.

The cost to move gridlock 2 km.?  Over $1.75 billion/km. or put another way, enough build three Leewod/RftV TramTrains lines from Chilliwack to Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver opposes 10-lane Massey Bridge

Rendering of 10-lane Massey Bridge. - Transportation Ministry

Rendering of 10-lane Massey Bridge.

— image credit: Transportation Ministry

Metro Vancouver’s regional board says it can’t support the province’s $3.5-billion plan to replace the Massey Tunnel, at least not the proposed 10-lane bridge.

Regional district politicians have released an assessment critical of the project, arguing the proposed bridge will have a dramatic impact on regional growth, steer more people into cars instead of public transit, and ultimately increase not decrease congestion.

Metro utilities committee chair Darrell Mussatto said the regional government estimates it will be forced to spend $20 million to $340 million replacing or modifying water and other utility lines under the river because of the project, and the bill for Metro could rise to as much as $1 billion if the port authority seeks to dredge the Fraser River for increased shipping and underwater utilities must be dug deeper.

“We definitely disagree with a 10-lane bridge,” Metro board chair Greg Moore, adding something between four and 10 lanes might be more acceptable. “We know from experience around the world you can’t build your way out of congestion.”

Moore said regional planners are concerned such a huge expansion of the bridge and Highway 99 will increase pressure to develop farmland and undermine Metro’s regional growth strategy of containing urban development.

The region also cites concerns with ecological disruption to the Fraser estuary, air quality impacts if all 10 lanes end up clogged with idling traffic and impacts on Deas Island Regional Park.

Mussatto said the new Port Mann Bridge has sped workers further along Highway 1 but they slam into major congestion at the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge to the North Shore.

He predicts the Oak Street Bridge will also end up a “very big pinch point” after the Massey bridge is built, and possibly the Knight Street Bridge as well.

For the full story……………..

Letters from Rail for the Valley folk

Two letters from people who support, Rail for the Valley and improving transit South of the Fraser

Users and taxpayers lose with regional transit plan

Delta Optimist

June 29, 2016


The recent $740 million photo-op with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his protégé for the next federal election, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, and B.C.’s premier, was nothing more than flim-flam to get regional taxpayers to ante up their portion for the very poorly thought out and grossly expensive 10-year plan that will benefit developers more than transit customers.

The two centerpieces of this plan, the Broadway SkyTrain subway and the Surrey LRT, are poorly thought out, expensive, won’t reduce congestion and will force more people to drive.

We have already invested $10 billion of the taxpayer money on rapid transit and mode share by car in the Metro Vancouver region has remained static at 57 per cent for a quarter of a century.

The real winners of the $740 million investment in regional transit:

1. Bombardier Inc., which will get $345 million for new West Coast Express cars and proprietary ART cars (SkyTrain).

2. TransLink’s bureaucrats, who will get $157 million so they can continue to “play trains” with the $3 billion Broadway subway and the $2.5 billion for Surrey’s poor man’s SkyTrain.

3. Land developers, who will get relaxed zoning at proposed rapid transit stations.

The big losers:

1. The transit customer, who will suffer more incompetent planning and not one new bus for south of the Fraser River was included.

2. The taxpayer, who has to pay for this questionable transit planning, for two grossly expensive transit projects that will do little or nothing to ease congestion.

I had hoped Trudeau would usher in a new era of fiscal prudence, but he has just telegraphed the federal Liberals are open for business, especially for Bombardier Inc., as they were a decade ago.

The Liberals have learned nothing and forgotten nothing, leaving the taxpayer vulnerable to their political excesses.

D. Malcolm Johnston

Hon Mayor Gaetz,
In response to your June 20 email to Myrtle Macdonald, I would like to point out that I have read the report issued by the FVRD on the first year of the FVX, which was glowing, except for one caveat. They pointed out that scheduling is an issue, due of course to the fact that those buses are required to use the terrible freeway section from just past Langley to Chilliwack.  The very fact that the ridership is 4x greater than expected points to the fact that the population and needs of Chilliwack residents are changing.  People are moving by the hundreds from points west because it’s still affordable to live here and it is beautiful.  But they still have connections to the west in the form of jobs, family and friends and their pleasure living here will quickly sour when they realize they are spending 3 or more hours on the road every day.
I have been supportive of the Rail for the Valley organization for many years but have become quite passionate about it since the summer of 2014 when my daughter Tracy, and son in law Randy moved back here from Edmonton.  They bought a beautiful townhouse on Promontory and they love it.  However, Tracy works for Canada Revenue Services and her only two options were Surrey or Vancouver.  She picked Surrey of course, but only after trying to get a job here that pays as well, and now is one of those spending a good portion of her waking hours on that freeway.  She would love to take public transit, but the FVX does not work for her so she has no other option but to drive.
The rail line that could make life so much easier for folks like her already exists! Despite the fact that the West Coast Express is very successful from a ridership perspective, CP charges an exorbitant fee for the use of their tracks.  The rail line on this side is owned by us and it’s mandate is passengers.  There would be no rental fee. I simply cannot understand why every Mayor and Council from Chilliwack to Surrey is not supportive of or fighting for the return to use of this line.  Perhaps you could explain why to me.
 Thank you.
Barb Lock

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…….