The Fraser Valley Heritage Railway

The Fraser Valley Heritage Railway is again in operation, which begs the question; “Who says that passenger rail cannot operate on the former interurban route?”

The interurban operates on weekends and please go for a ride and support them.

Is Factbender Going To Announce SkyTrain To Langley On Canada Day?

“You are going to get SkyTrain whether you like it or not”, has been the popular refrain

from notable BC politicians including Bill Bennett, Bill Van der Zalm, Grace McCarthy, Glen Clark, Joy McPhail,

Gordon Campbell, Kevin Falcon and now, Factbender and Premier photo-Op!

Only seven built in 40 years!


Is the Minister responsible for SkyTrain, Mr. Factbender playing the role of a latter day Bill Van der Zalm, being the “points-man” to support the government decision to extend SkyTrain to Langley?

Reliable sources have indicated that this announcement will be made on or near Canada Day.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone just did not have the jam to do it, but the bombastic Factbender does, because he merely a “Trump” clone spewing out stuff and nonsense, pretending it is fact, to support the construction of the now obsolete proprietary SkyTrain light metro to Langley.

This 16 km line is going to be very expensive, a minimum of $2.5 billion, yet it will provide little or no transit relief as for many commuters, the train will not go where they want to.

Obviously the BC Liberals do not give a damn about regional transit planning and view it as a plum “vanity” project good only for photo-ops at election time.

A Langley extension is going to put a great strain on the capacity constipated Expo line, unless another $2.5 billion to $3 billion is spent upgrading the Expo Line with larger stations and new electrical supply, not to mention new cars. This means that the Langley SkyTrain will cost in excess of $5 billion!

Added to this, a small fleet of buses will be needed to feed the light-metro customers and as recent history has shown with the buses feeding the Canada Line from South Delta and South Surrey, that those in the outer burbs will get  poor bus service and taking the car will be the only choice.

One wonders how much Bombardier Inc. and SNC Lavalin (who hold the patents to the proprietary railway) donated to the BC Liberal party to make this happen?

With only seven ICTS/ALRT/ALM/ART systems sold in forty years, one would need a lot of ‘spreadin around cash’ to make it happen.

Building SkyTrain means the Liberal’s goal of blacktopping the lower mainland and neutering the Agricultural land Reserve is in full swing.

The last word goes to Gerald Fox, American Transit expert, who roasted TransLink’s business case for the Evergreen Line.

It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding. In the US, all new transit projects that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of transit peers, selected and monitored by the federal government, to ensure that projects are analysed honestly, and the taxpayers’ interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US.

TransLink’s PR Stunt & Factbender Follies

TransLink is going to review fares. Great, I thought, they are listening to the public, who hold the ossified bureaucracy in high odor, but it was too good to be true as the minister in charge of Transit, Mr. Factbender is rehashing an old idea, create a density tax for new high rise development.

But Mr. Factbender, has this not failed in the past, as higher taxes on new construction, only increases the cost for the poor punters wanting to buy a condo or rent a shop?

Maybe, Factbender and his band of merry Liberals have tossed aside any thought of affordable housing and commercial space and let the well heeled offshore buyers buy the new condo’s and shops and to hell with the locals as they are too poor to matter.

Remember, those well heeled offshore buyers do not take transit.

This begs the question: ” Is the announcement of a fare review by TransLink, nothing more than a PR stunts to hide a tax grab?”


TransLink launches first review of fare system in 30 years, asks for your input

by NEWS 1130 Staff

Posted May 24, 2016

(Photo credit: Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – TransLink is asking for your input on its fare system.

The survey is part of a four-phase review of the transit fare policy, which will take up to two years to complete.

This is the first comprehensive look at the structure of TransLink’s fare system in over 30 years. The three-zone policy was originally brought in back in 1984.

The transit authority says the fare review will include technical analysis and feedback will be used to develop different fare system options.

Final recommendations will be shared at the end of the two-year process.

TransLink was recently forced to drop fare zones on buses because of issues with the new Compass Card system, but zones are still applied on SkyTrain.

Click here to take the online survey, which will be open until June 30.


Then on another news site, Factbender lays an egg.

A density tax will further increase the cost of a new building, meaning higher rents for tenants, which will drive more people out of the metro Vancouver area. Brilliant Mr. Factbender.

How about a much more simple solution; build transit within our financial means, which means, building $35 million/km LRT on Broadway instead of $300 million/km SkyTrain subway or better yet, a modified RftV DMU service from Langley to Vancouver, costing under $500 million, instead of a $2.5 billion poor man’s SkyTrain masquerading as LRT.



                    TransLink minister floats solution on transportation funding issue

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver’s News. Vancouver’s Talk
May 24, 2016

BC’s Minister Responsible for TransLink says the solution to the region’s transit and transportation funding problem is to raise revenue on density created by transit corridors.

Peter Fassbender also says property-lift revenue has the potential to do more than simply cover the region’s 17 per cent share.

“Things like property lift and density around transit corridors are issues that we do need to talk about and see what contributions they can make. It is our view that density can not only help with providing funding for transportation but also affordability because the issue is supply not demand.”

And Fassbender says the funding mechanism would not require a referendum.

“No. That one I think is we sit down, and there is still a fair amount of work to be done, so it is not simplistic. We would work out how that would be collected by the communities, and how it is contributed not only in terms of building things, but then to the long-term operating as well.”

He says he will meet with the mayors soon to iron out the wrinkles.

Fassbender says the formula is key so developers can be profitable, cities get what they need, and the region’s share is covered off.

Roses in full bloom along Tokyo’s only tram line

How about roses blooming along the Arbutus corridor complete with trams?
Roses are in full bloom along the only streetcar line in TOKYO, Japan’s capital city, according to “the-japan-news dot com” site:alt alt

Roses in full bloom along streetcar line

May 22, 2016

The Yomiuri Shimbun

 Roses in full bloom at Machiya Station on the Toei Streetcar Arakawa Line in Arakawa Ward, Tokyo, on May 12

Roses along the Toei Streetcar (Toden) Arakawa Line in Tokyo are at their best now, delighting passengers.

The Arakawa Ward government has been cultivating about four kilometers of roses along the streetcar line since 1985. Large roses in red, pink, yellow and other colors are in full bloom around Machiya Station along the Arakawa line, their sweet fragrance drifting through the area.

“They’re really beautiful. I never get tired of looking at them,” Toshiko Matsuo, 89, said as she approached the flowers. She lives in the neighborhood and takes a walk every day.

According to the ward government’s roads and parks section, the best time to see the roses this year is up through late this month.

Honolulu is Learning the Vancouver Lesson – Build Light-Metro At Your Financial Peril

Updated May 22, 2016 – Added CAD currency conversions.

Bombardier and SNC Lavalin spent years grooming Honolulu City politicians to build with light-metro.

For their efforts, Bombardier and SNC got pipped at the post by Ansaldo with their proprietary light-metro and and the now chagrined burghers of Honolulu are now finding out that proprietary light-metro systems are indeed very expensive and tend to be an eyesore.

With the cost of the Honolulu light metro escalating, the idea of conventional surface LRT may get a fresh look to complete the system, KHON-TV reports. The three-part pdf links total 70 pages The 20-mile (32 km) elevated light metro now could cost USD $8 billion (CAD $ 10.5 billion) or $250 million/km. (CAD $378 billion). So it is natural where light-metro goes, much cheaper LRT must soon follow.

Zwei told them so in the 90′s in a series of letters that were printed in local Honolulu papers, but very few heeded my warnings, but when it comes to vanity transit projects, common sense always takes a back seat.

On our side of the pond, the massive costs of the Honolulu light-metro project must put to rest any thought of SkyTrain being built in Surrey and in fact, i will go one step further and transit planners who advocates ALRT/ART for Surrey should be charged with professional misconduct.

An earlier cost comparison with American cities with transit. One should temper Portland’s higher costs

is due in part that it has 60 miles (96.5 km) of route compared to Seattle’s 17.3 miles (27.8 km) of route.

Honolulu will have 20 miles (32 km) of route if completely built. All costs in US dollars.

Could light rail help train reach Ala Moana and beyond?

gina-mangieri-8x10 By Published:

With the cost of Honolulu’s rail project doubling, transit officials are scrambling to figure out how much more of it they can afford to build, where it will have to stop short, and what to do from there.

Already-studied alternatives could be a solution.

Honolulu’s rail system is slated to hit at least $8 billion, according to the Federal Transit Administration. Experts say other options that move nearly as fast and for billions less could be tied seamlessly into what’s already built, and make it not only to Ala Moana but also to Manoa, Waikiki and West Kapolei.

Years ago, as the city closed in on launching the rail project, people on the job recall the atmosphere as officials pushed for heavy rail.

“They, the Honolulu client, were going to ram the thing through the process and ram it through downtown,” said Douglas Tilden, who served as the project’s chief architect at the time for rail consultant InfraConsult. “It was wrong. It was going to be so very, very expensive and going to have such tremendous environmental and visual impact.”

But the city wanted support from the community. An extensive study paid for by Kamehameha Schools and supported by Hawaii’s professional organization for architects – AIA Honolulu — advised the city to go with light rail that was mostly at-grade and went up above where it had to.

“We had a nationally recognized transportation expert — a lover of trains — develop that study,” said local architect Peter Vincent. “Rail is great. We need a fixed guideway to help the traffic congestion, but it should have been light rail from the get-go.”

That study said light rail would be nearly $2 billion cheaper than a heavy-rail, all-elevated train. It also would have been just 12 minutes slower end-to-end. That means light rail was $150,000,000 cheaper per minute, and that’s was before the cost of the overhead rail system doubled in the years since.

“It was a very valid study and it was just dismissed by the authorities as being not workable,” Vincent recalled.

For the rest of the story…………….

Why the car is winning the commuter war – Simple, it is called SkyTrain

The modern tram brings fast, reliable and user-friendly public transport to

densely populated European Cities, like Amsterdam. The ability of the transit customer

of having his/hers transit on the pavement and easily accessible, makes

modern light-rail the first choice of transit planners around the world.

Sadly, not so in Metro Vancouver.

A bit of a “Puff”  article in BC Business.

Frances Bula, a big supporter of light-metro and her “puff stories” on the Canada Line earned a rather unfriendly moniker by those living on Cambie St.

But the “chickens have come home to roost” so to speak and now with over $10 billion invested in SkyTrain and the Canada line, the car is winning the commuter war!

The problem is so simple, that it is far too complicated for the likes of Bula and many other media mavens who opine on transit in the mainstream media to understand.

If you want people to use transit, it must be user friendly; it must be an attractive alternative to the car.

As Bula and Translink have not figured this out, speaks volumes why TransLink is held in such high odor by locals.

Except for residents of the principality of Vancouver—a little piece of Amsterdam dropped into our local equivalent of Los Angeles—the majority of people in the region are wedded to their wheels.

The preceding quote from Bula shows her Vancouver centric thinking, where people living in Vancouver remain blind to the fact of massive car use in the city.

Vancouver cannot even come close to be compared with Amsterdam and by doing so showcases the many biases contained in the article.

Amsterdam, like most European cities offer a customer friendly trams (as well as metro and a comprehensive metro and regional rail services), which Vancouver shuns, in favour of grossly expensive subways and mini-metros which have been proven very poor in attracting the motorist from the car.

Bula further muddies the water with her love affair with SkyTrain and the Canada line and nowhere does she mentions that the proprietary ALRT/ART system is hugely expensive to maintain and operate and the Canada line has greatly limited capacity due to have only 40 metre long station platforms, giving the illusion of being popular by offering short crowded trains.

Light-metro is so expensive to build that it can only offer a limited network that must be reached by bus, both inefficient and time consuming for the potential transit customer.

Yes, as Zwei had predicted many years ago, the car is winning the commuter war and there is a solution, it is called light rail (tram in Europe), a user friendly transit mode that has the proven ability to attract the motorist from the car, but the likes of Bula, Vision(less) Vancouver and TransLink are too blind, too dated in their thinking, and too egotistic to discuss honestly.

Unless there is a complete reversal in transit planning in the region, the car will win.


Why the car is winning the commuter war—and what can be done to stop it

Frances Bula | May 19, 2016


Why the car is still king

Image by: Paul Joseph

DOUBLE COMMUTE | The Chmeliks were dedicated transit users until they moved from Vancouver to more affordable Surrey. Now they have two cars


Billions have been spent on new transit lines, better bike lanes and more walkable communities…and yet we refuse to give up our wheels. And nowhere is that more true than in the suburbs of the Lower Mainland.

Clayton Chmelik and his wife were poster children for the car-shunning millennial generation for most of their 20s. They lived in south Vancouver’s Marpole neighbourhood and both took buses almost everywhere—first to university, then to their practicums and jobs. They didn’t own a car and didn’t feel deprived.

Now 33, Chmelik, a health manager at a Richmond company, has two cars in his family. He commutes 40 minutes a day each way in his Mazda 3 from his townhouse in Surrey, while his wife has her own car, a Mazda 5, that she’ll be using to commute to her counselling job when her maternity leave for their second child ends later this year. He estimates it costs them at least $700 a month to run both vehicles, not counting the $10,000 apiece the cars cost to buy. He knows it’s a lot. “If I had a choice, I wouldn’t do it.”

But he feels like he doesn’t have a choice. First, TransLink eliminated the B-line bus along Granville when the Canada Line opened and transformed his 10-minute commute to Richmond into a 40-minute, two-transfer one. Then, when he and his wife decided to buy a home, a modest townhouse in South Surrey was all they could afford. That new location made transit even more unrealistic.


For the rest of the story…..

TramTrain – TransLink Fears Success

A candid conversation with a former TransLink planner all most a year ago (I gather from an email he is happily motoring along in his motor home in New Mexico), may shed some light on TransLink’s current planning and fiscal ills. The problem seems to be TransLink’s planners and bureaucrats are afraid of success.


The fear is that LRT, if built (and especially the Valley TramTrain) would attract more new customers (people new to transit) than their current multi billion dollar transit projects. Despite the hype and hoopla from TransLink, ridership increases roughly matches population growth.

This is why Surrey’s planned for LRT is designed to be an expensive failure and why TransLink shuns TramTrain.

As the retired planner told me; “There is great fear by senior TransLink staff that a Vancouver to Chilliwack TramTrain would attract more non U-Pass new customers to transit than their new transit lines.”

The important phrase is non U-Pass holding customers because every new U-Pass customer is a post secondary students forced to purchase U-Pass plus now  massive black market in the Metro Vancouver region selling unused U-Passes, more and more people are riding on cheap, but probably not take transit if it were not for the deep discounted U-Pass. With over 130,000 U-Passes issued for 2015/16, permitting multiple boardings a day has greatly skewed TransLink ridership numbers and revenue.

So great was this fear in the past, that senior bureaucrats “sent to Coventry” then TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast because he was warming up to the idea of a Valley TramTrain service.

This, in part, caused him to leave TransLink.

This bodes ill for future transit planning in the region and gives credence for the call to dismantle TransLink and start anew.

Photo Tour of Waterloo Region ION Light Rail Construction

From our friend Haveacow.

Here is the link to an article in the Raise The Hammer (“The Hammer” is Hamilton, Ontario) website about their tour of the ION LRT Construction Site.
The pictures are telling. The development has already started and the line isn’t even finished yet. The start date is Fall 2017, I don’t have a more precise date yet. The work on the ION LRT started in spring of 2014! 19.4 km of LRT and 17.6 km of lite BRT (which opened in April of 2015) built in less time than your Evergreen Line for only $818 Million.

Photo Tour of Waterloo Region ION Light Rail Construction

London Underground says ‘too much sunshine’ to blame for Tube delays

From the “You just got to be kidding department”. Evidently too much of the wrong kind of sun can delay trains!

This reminds me of the monotone recording at Victoria Station, in London in 1980; “The 4:15 Victoria to Bournemouth will be delayed by permanently persistent points problems in Purley.”

London Underground says ‘too much sunshine’ to blame for Tube delays

‘There’s lots of things we can control but, unfortunately, the Sun isn’t one of them’

London Underground has said “excess sunlight” is causing delays for the Tube network.

Bright sunshine beaming onto CCTV monitors, which are used to give a clear view of the platform before pulling away, is blocking drivers’ line of sight, according to staff.

Passengers at South Harrow station were surprised to hear ”the wrong type of sun” was causing their slow journey last Friday - an announcement which London Underground said was “not ideal”.

The issue of bright sunshine, although rare, is reportedly a problem when the sun rises in the morning in early spring or winter.

“There’s lots of things we can control but unfortunately the sun isn’t one of them,” a spokesperson for London Underground said.

“The ‘wrong sort of sunlight’ isn’t how we’d usually say it as we want to keep passengers calm and reassure them.

“But basically it’s when the sun is in certain parts of the sky at certain stations, and it shines onto the CCTV monitoring screen in their cab so they can’t see the screen and who’s on the platform.”

Fro the rest of the story….

Is gridlock the real Expo 86 legacy for Metro Vancouver?

Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight is the one reporter who has studied the transit issue and knows the issues.

Despite the hype and hoopla, especially from provincial politicians (both Liberal, Socred & NDP) the SkyTrain Lobby, the many issues surrounding SkyTrain have been glossed over by the mainstream media. This is still evident today with the many “puff” stories appearing in the Vancouver Sun.

As SkyTrain, as well as most light-metros are user unfriendly and force customers to make unwanted transfers, taking the car is preferable.

Unable to serve ‘local’ areas with affordable transit, ICTS/ALRT/ART has morphed into a regional railway in Metro Vancouver, with TransLink’s planning, a role it is totally unsuited for. To expensive to build to lightly populated areas, means the density myth comes into play. The density myth is simply one needs to greatly increase density along a transit route to make it viable, yet modern LRT puts a lie to the density myth and the many myths surrounding SkyTrain.

Instead of reporting mainly invented events thirty years ago, the mainstream media should do well to deal with the many ills that surround public transit today.

If Charlie Smith can do it, so can the likes of Kelly Sinoski and the other scribes who work for the Sun and province.

Is gridlock the real Expo 86 legacy for Metro Vancouver?

by Charlie Smith on May 2nd
  • null
 The Expo Line, including its rolling stock, cost $1.23 billion, leaving the region saddled with debt for decades. Stephen Hui

Today, social media is full of fond memories of Expo 86, which opened on this day 30 years ago.

There’s no doubt that Vancouver’s only World’s Fair was a great success, drawing huge crowds to the north shore of False Creek from May to mid-October in 1986.

The theme was transportation and communication. This influenced the provincial government to launch the first SkyTrain passenger service four months before Expo 86 began.

SkyTrain was popular with riders, but it was also phenomenally expensive. And it gobbled up precious funds that could have gone into more efficient methods for moving people.

It might surprise today’s taxpayers to learn that the Bill Bennett government bought the system without going to tender.

The seller was an Ontario crown corporation, Urban Transportation Development Corporation. The display of this driverless system at the World’s Fair was designed to spur sales of this Canadian technology around the world.

That helped bring the federal government onboard to support the fair.

In the end, those sales of SkyTrain systems never really materialized—at least not with the original Mark I cars. This left the Lower Mainland with a colossally expensive rapid-transit project covering a relatively small footprint.

Better transit service couldn’t be delivered to other areas for years to come—not by bus nor by street-level light rail—because there wasn’t enough money.

A Crown corporation secretariat 1992-93 annual report showed that over the previous nine-year period, B.C. Transit’s bus service hours only increased by 3.5 percent. (B.C. Transit was the precursor to TransLink in the Lower Mainland.)

In 1991, the Toronto Transit Commission was generating 69 percent of its operating expenses through the farebox, compared to just 49 percent for B.C. Transit. With a smaller portion of revenue coming through the farebox, it meant larger subsidies just to maintain status quo transit service.

It’s worth noting that the TTC rejected buying SkyTrain. That’s because it didn’t carry anywhere near enough passengers to justify the price.

The cost of the Expo Line from Waterfront Station to King George Station was $1.23 billion, including rolling stock, but not including debt-servicing costs. More than a decade after the line opened, the debt still stood at $1 billion, according to B.C. Transit figures supplied to the Straight at the time.

The annual debt-service costs for 1997-98 were $143.3 million for SkyTrain-related expenditures. It was Vancouver’s version of the Montreal Olympics.

Metro Vancouver became the guinea pig

The first UTDC line using the Mark I cars opened in Scarborough in March 1985. The following year, passenger service began in Greater Vancouver on what became known as SkyTrain. The Lower Mainland was the high-profile guinea pig.

Not long after, the Montreal-based engineering giant Lavalin bought UTDC, but Lavalin’s debt burden became so large that it went bankrupt.

Ownership reverted back to the Ontario government, which sold UTDC to Montreal-based transportation giant Bombardier. After Bombardier developed larger Mark II cars, it sold SkyTrain-style systems to JFK Airport, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, and Seoul.

But that was a small amount of business compared to the number of other rapid-transit systems sold around the world by Bombardier, Germany’s Siemens, and France’s Alstom.

Had Bill Bennett’s Social Credit government opted for holding a tender before purchasing a rapid-transit system, the eventual winning bid might have been significantly less expensive and carried more passengers.

This could have enabled rapid-transit to be extended sooner to other parts of the Lower Mainland. And that would have reduced gridlock and enhanced overall livability. Consider it a missed opportunity.

Instead, the region was stuck with a brutally costly driverless intermediate-capacity system in which new cars had to be bought from a single vendor, pushing up the price. And subsequent extensions, such as the Millennium Line and the Evergreen Line, had to be compatible with the original purchase.

That’s the real legacy of Expo 86.

Of course, SkyTrain was never about moving people. The real purpose was to spur real-estate development—and in this regard, it has succeeded magnificently.