The Mayors Council’s Tunnel Vision

It is hard to believe, that group of hapless politicians have just signed a death warrant for transit in the region.

The Mayors Council on Transit just gave the OK to build a SkyTrain subway to UBC, which means the rest of the region can kiss goodbye to any sort of credible transit planning for the foreseeable future.

Subways are expensive to build but they are also very expensive to operate and in Canada, the standard for building a subway is a transit route with customer flows in excess of 15,000 pphpd.

Broadway currently has peak hour customer flows of around 4,000 pphpd.

This means a $7 billion dollar SkyTrain subway, will be not just heavily subsidized, it will be massively subsidized which means higher fares and much higher taxes. The poor and the middle income residents of metro Vancouver will have to flee the region due to a huge tax burden.

More people will  be moving up the valley, which in turn will put a massive stress on transportation infrastructure in the Fraser Valley.

The mayors that voted for this will go down in history as the most ignorant band of fools yet.

From the TTC, we learn that the operating costs for a subway to Arbutus are in the neighborhood of $40 million annually, and probably $50 million annually if it goes to UBC. But these cost escalate in time as the subway ages.

After all the hype and hoopla of the Expo line, BC Transit became very worried with the huge subsidies being paid.
The politicians lead the people to believe that it was paying for itself, then paying its operating costs but in 1992 the GVRD and BC Transit release “the Coast of Transporting People……” and showed that the annual subsidy for SkyTrain, just to operate to New Westminster was $157 million and change; more than the trolley and diesel buses combined.
But let us factor in the inflation rate of 157.63 million in 1982 is now $371.52 in 2019 dollars and that is for a largely elevated system.
With Broadway, the vast majority of users will be $1 a day U-Pass holders which means the subway will not generate revenue.
The total subsidy for just a Broadway subway to UBC could be higher than $300 annually!
Forget the pleasant homilies about transit and SkyTrain, the Broadway subway may not only bankrupt TransLink, it may never see a revenue customer! In Charleroi, France, politicians, against the advise of experts, built a regional metro, the costs were so high that there was no money to pay for operation and it remains today almost completed, but never used and has lain rotting with age for over twenty years!
The mayor’s council’s decision has just demonstrated to the world how stupid they are.

The Charleroi Metro, built but no budget to operate it, it remains largely built, yet never used.

TransLink’s Mayors’ Council chooses SkyTrain for UBC expansion

by Estefania Duran, Marcella Bernardo and Ash Kelly

Posted Feb 15, 2019

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s one giant leap forward for SkyTrain to UBC: TransLink’s Mayors’ Council voted to move forward with SkyTrain as the chosen technology to get rapid transit to the university.

The earliest construction would start is 2025 and only if the project receives funding under Phase Three of the mayors’ ten-year transportation plan. The project is expected to have a price tag of more than $3-billion.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart is calling this great news for students, workers, educators and businesses across the region.

Regional Mayors just voted yes to move forward with #SkyTrain to UBC! This is great news that will help keep students, workers, educators and businesses moving right across the region. #vanpoli

— Kennedy Stewart (@kennedystewart) February 15, 2019

TransLink Planner Geoff Cross says the next phase includes a lot of public consultation.

“Project planning still to be done is really around station locations, horizontal alignment, vertical alignment, connections, costing to be able for you to understand where this fits, what the business case looks like for future funding decisions,” he adds.

That process is expected to last up to 18 months with a full business plan developed by 2020.

Cross says other factors needing to be considered include the best construction method.

“The next phase would include quite a bit of public and stakeholder consultation, working with the City of Vancouver, syncing up with some of their land use and corridor planning, understanding what the technical and functional requirements for tunnelling, etc. could be.”

Concerns have also been raised about which company will be chosen to build the new SkyTrain considering recent problems being faced by one of the bidders SNC Lavalin.

Protecting renters long new route

Although Vancouver councillor Jean Swanson says she’s in favour of better transit, she says it shouldn’t be at the expense of low-income renters.

She says there are thousands of apartment units along the new SkyTrain route that should be protected.

“I’m not against having better transit, but I am afraid there’s 30,000 purposed built apartment units, they desperately need to be protected from being demolished and replaced with higher density condos,” she says.

Swanson hopes the city can re-zone the areas to be rental-only to protect renters.

TransLink CEO, Kevin Desmond Must Resign!

The sheer incompetence of TransLink was on show yesterday with a SkyTrain melt down.

The Canada Line is former Liberal brainchild Premier, Gordon Campbell’s, attempt to have a P3 transit project. Well the result is a capacity constipated transit line that is not compatible with the rest of the SkyTrain system, with the operating consortium headed by Canada’s current favourite Company, SNC Lavalin.

Transport Canada must investigate this incident as customers were held hostage for three hours by Translink’s utter incompetence.

Kevin Desmond must resign or be fired!

SkyTrain passengers on a Canada Line train stuck for 3 hours in Richmond


By National news anchor  CKNW

It was a tense and very cold evening for SkyTrain passengers stranded on a Canada Line train for three hours Monday night.

The train became stuck between the Aberdeen and Lansdowne stations at about 8:20 p.m, halting all service between Bridgeport and YVR stations.

TransLink thinks heavy ice on the power rail may be the culprit but it needs to verify that.

Technicians initially tried to recover the train by rocking it back and forth. When that failed, they sent a rescue train to bail out the folks stuck onboard.

Passenger Masooda Shahi tells Global News reporter John Copsey what happened next:

“There was a rescue train, after maybe an hour, right behind us. That was the time the train was moving back and forth, like maybe 10 metres, and that also got stuck.”

Technicians managed to recover the stuck rescue train and tried coupling it with the first train, but there wasn’t enough power to haul both.

Finally, after nearly three hours, customers got out of their train and walked across the guide way to one on the opposite track.

Translink says customers were not evacuated to the opposite guide way right away, as it was not safe to lead them along the elevated guide way in the hazardous weather conditions.

“We extend a sincere apology to these customers,” Translink spokesperson Jill Drews says in an email.


SkyTrain Again Craps Out In The Snow And The Mayor’s Want To Build More?

SkyTrain is noted internationally that it doesn’t operate in the snow.

Poorly designed and poorly maintained, means the so called backbone of our transit system, turns spineless, leaving thousands of people to fend for themselves.

Toronto’s Scarborough line fails in the snow.

Detroit’s SkyTrain service stalls in snow.

JFK’s Airtrain balks in the snow.

And in Vancouver, a mere 4 cm of snow causes SkyTrain to crap out!

And the idiots at TransLink and the Mayor’s Council want to build more of it?

To again quote my late father, who was told by the Captain of his frigate, over a snafu from Halifax; “When you have idiot’s running the show, do not be surprised at the results.”

B.C. Storm: Snowfall hits Metro Vancouver, prompts road and transit delays

Snowfall hit the Metro Vancouver region quickly and swiftly on Sunday afternoon, with up to 10 centimetres expected.

It took a few months but it seems winter finally decided to visit the west coast.

Snowfall hit the Metro Vancouver region quickly and swiftly on Sunday afternoon, with up to 10 centimetres expected. The southeastern region of the Sunshine Coast, Greater Victoria, Southern Gulf Islands and Eastern and Inland Vancouver Island were also told to expect similar amounts of snowfall into Sunday evening.

“The heaviest snow for East Vancouver Island is expected on the Malahat Highway while the heaviest snow for Inland Vancouver Island is expected in the Lake Cowichan area where 10 to 15 centimetres of snow will fall through Monday morning,” read the snowfall warning issued by Environment Canada.

In Metro Vancouver, road warnings from local police agencies were plentiful, with snow blanketing all major routes and bridges connecting the region.

TransLink’s Expo Line has been negatively impacted from Lougheed to Columbia station. Customers traveling in either direction must now switch trains at Columbia station. A bus bridge put in place has been cancelled.

Update: At 6 pm, TransLink announced that Expo Line service has been impacted from Lougheed to Columbia station.

Any customers traveling in either direction will be required to switch trains at Columbia station. The bus bridge has been cancelled due to poor road conditions.


In Europe, cities with LRT or trams have plows to keep the track and roads clear of snow.

New TramTrains for Manchester?

As interest in TramTrain grows abroad, we are left with Translink’s SkyTrain only planning.

The lack of flexibility of SkyTrain will soon hamstring our urban rail system under the weight of massive subsidies and debt serving costs.

TramTrain, first designed to make transit more user friendly, by eliminating transfers, now seems to be the affordable and user-friendly transit system than can affordably connect communities with major urban centres.

Three tram-train trials in Manchester investment plan

07 Jan 2019

UK: Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham introduced the city region’s revised long-term spatial strategy on January 7, which includes a transport investment vision running to 2040.

The transport vision sets out how Greater Manchester’s wider economic objectives can be met through targeted infrastructure investment. It includes a Draft Delivery Plan running to 2025, which is intended to pave the way for the longer-term objectives to be realised. These include a target for no more than 50% of journeys to be completed by private car.

Public transport investment is targeted primarily at enhancing capacity and undertaking asset renewals on the 97 km Metrolink light rail network, developing more bus rapid transit routes, and working with Network Rail and franchisees to improve suburban rail services. Other key objectives include integrating the planned High Speed 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail projects at a local level, and assessing the case for opening more tram stops and rail stations on existing lines where local development is planned.

The plan supports development of tram-train technology, which is now being trialled for the first time in the UK in Sheffield. Transport for Greater Manchester says it intends to prepare business cases for three ‘pathfinder’ routes, linking the existing light rail terminus at Altrincham with Hale; Bury and Rochdale; and Manchester Airport and Wilmslow. It is likely that the Bury – Rochdale route would partly share the alignment of the heritage East Lancashire Railway. These ‘pathfinder’ projects would be used to test the viability of tram-trains ahead of a wider roll-out to several local rail corridors, including Manchester – Wigan via Atherton, Manchester – Warrington Central and Manchester – Glossop.

Several light rail extensions are also to be evaluated for implementation in 2025-40. These include a possible cross-city tram tunnel linking Cornbrook with an expanded Piccadilly station, relieving pressure on the two existing surface tramways through central Manchester. Other proposals include a branch from the Bury line to serve Middleton, an eastern extension of the Ashton line to Stalybridge, and a light rail or tram-train link between Stockport and Manchester Airport.

A number of other investments are also proposed, which would be funded through developer contributions. These include a Metrolink extension from the Trafford Centre, terminus of a route now under construction, to Port Salford, and a tram stop at Sandhills north of Manchester city centre where the Bury and Oldham lines diverge.

B.S. Line Rethink?

The B.S. line, an apt name for the proposed Broadway SkyTrain subway.

What is more remarkable is that Postmedia allowed this to be printed.

Could it be that the SkyTrain Lobby in Postmedia is beginning to weaken?

Here is the real reason why the Broadway subway should not be built.

The Canadian and North American standard for customer flows on a transit route to justify a subway is over 15,000 pphpd.

In Europe, customer flows that would justify a subway is over 20,000 pphpd because light rail is able to cater to such traffic flows much cheaper than a subway.

Current customer flows, based on the  the 99 B-Line’s scheduled peak hour servcie of 3 minute headway, combined with the twp trolley bus lines that use Broadway, under 4,000 pphpd. Not enough to even justify light rail, just a basic streetcar!

B.S. Line indeed!


Elizabeth Murphy: Region needs to reconsider Broadway subway to UBC

Elizabeth Murphy
Updated: February 3, 2019

The Broadway subway line to UBC, with the appropriate acronym the “BS-Line,” has been accepted by Vancouver council, based on a consultant’s report some question as being more of a political document than a technical report. Within a week of release and with no public consultation, only two councillors voted against it, Colleen Hardwick and Jean Swanson.

The recent Vancouver civic election showed the public’s desire for a change in direction. An upcoming citywide planning process is intended to deliver that change, including to reconsider the Transportation 2040 plan. But now that the subway to UBC has been accepted by council — and the policies of the ousted Vision Vancouver government remain in place — that will predetermine the land use across the city and make the citywide planning process nothing more than implementation of a predetermined outcome of tower luxury condos like at Oakridge and along the Cambie corridor.

Last-minute council amendments for collaborative consultation after the fact is meaningless when funding partners such as the University of B.C., Jericho Lands and other developers are expected to contribute based on density bonuses to pay for the subway rather than public amenities. It’s not what most people had in mind.

Using what author Naomi Klein has described as disaster capitalism, Mayor Kennedy Stewart backed by Vision-appointed city staff, framed the need to pre-empt the planning process by insisting that there is only a small window of opportunity to get federal funding in an election year.

However, the federal government is nowhere near ready to approve where the infrastructure money will go across Canada. Vancouver is already getting a large amount of federal funding currently allocated for transit while they are lining up against other cities that have none. More funding is not likely to be a priority to a government wanting to spread it around in an election year.

Now the region is being pressured into approving the technology of subway/SkyTrain to UBC. Many regional mayors have raised concerns about equity, given that Vancouver already has a lot of transit infrastructure and about $3 billion of new transit funding recently allocated, while many municipalities have little to none.

Although adding rapid transit to UBC is important, there are many reasons why the subway is a terrible idea and other options should be considered.

Patrick Condon, founding chairman of the UBC Urban Design Program, has confirmed his opposition to subway/SkyTrain. He says it isn’t green (lighter infrastructure is more green and can be delivered faster), it is the costliest option (depriving the rest of the city and region), and it widens the wealth divide with the related luxury condos and out-of-scale development based on economics.

The growth and ridership numbers are designed for a predetermined outcome that favours SkyTrain. In fact, the current bus system to UBC has been underserved for over a decade in efforts to justify a subway. This could be rectified immediately on multiple routes with little cost if there was the will to do so.

The city’s underlying assumptions on population and unit growth need to be reconsidered since targets are much high than justified by population projections. Staff recently confirmed the numbers at council in response to questions from Hardwick. Head planner Gil Kelley previously confirmed that existing zoned capacity already is significantly beyond what is required to meet projected growth.

So the question is, do we really need to provide for so much more of the market supply? The city even confirms that we have been building too much of the wrong type of supply.

However, council meeting rules have been changed, seemingly on the fly, including muzzling the public by calling it out of order if concerns are raised over assumptions and recommendations of staff and consultants.

To put broader growth issues in context, it is important to understand how Vancouver and UBC have developed over time.

Vancouver is inherently a transit oriented streetcar city that was designed before the common use of the automobile. Its arterial grid of short blocks has everywhere within a 10-minute walk of transit on an arterial. The streetcars were updated to trolley buses.

UBC was designed as a small campus at the end of a peninsula in the forest, also served by streetcar. It was never intended to be a city centre. However, rather than building student and staff housing onsite, UBC has been developing its forested lands for market luxury condos to subsidize operations. It is increasingly becoming a development corporation rather than an educational institution.

Metro Vancouver tried to rein in that unsustainable growth, but developers influenced the province to take direct control so the growth could continue unopposed. Now, UBC has taxation without municipal representation and no regional oversight.

Instead, UBC expects the regional transportation system to heavily subsidize a $7-billion subway to serve their condo growth and the students who are not housed onsite that commute from across the region. This is the most unsustainable and undemocratic model in B.C.

Transit is no longer about transporting people and is mainly about delivering market condo development.

For a fraction of the money proposed for this subway to UBC, that would take 10 to 15 years to implement, the city and region could be much better served quicker. Within a couple of years, the Broadway corridor could be served by surface rail all the way to UBC. Also, immediately, upgraded peak-hour electric bus service, including express to UBC, should be added to multiple routes.

There is immediate urgency for the climate and affordability crisis to act now in the broader interests of the city and region that the subway proposal does not achieve.

It is important to note that the claimed environmental advantage of public transit is the ability to increase transportation mode-share toward modes having lower GhG emissions. But the consultant’s report concludes that “given the large number of trips occurring regionally, it is expected that the alternatives would show little improvement to the regional mode share,” and also that LRT would provide the greatest benefit to improving the transit mode share for Vancouver. The mode-share shifts are shown to be little different for the three rapid-transit alternatives, and that SkyTrain provides only a 0.2-per-cent improvement for the region over the existing B-Line bus and only a 0.3-per-cent improvement in Vancouver.

We need to look at the bigger picture and ensure that public funds are spent wisely. The Broadway subway would undermine planning for a sustainable future at too high a price.

Elizabeth Murphy is a private-sector project manager and was formerly a property development officer for the City of Vancouver and for B.C. Housing.



A Grim Reminder For The Expo Line

A grim reminder indeed!

Thanks to the Ford’s in 2010, the SRT remains in place instead of the planned LRT conversion that was supposed to up and running either late last year or this year. It would not only cover the exiting line, but the 1980 plan extension to Melven Town Centre. Then got to thank Mayor Tory for pushing a subway that will not be ready until 2030, if then at an extra $2 Billion and counting. The SRT will not last until the subway opens.

Let us not forget, the aging Expo Line is in dire need of a complete rehab, costing around $3 billion, or the core system may go the way of the SRT, making the $1.65 billion Fleetwood extension and the $3.5 billion Broadway subway a hugely expensive floundering beached whales, as the core transit system collapses due to age and lack of attention.

Scenes like this will become commonplace as the Expo Line ages

By Francine KopunCity Hall Bureau
Ben SpurrTransportation Reporter
Fri., Feb. 1, 2019

Kamran Karim arrived at Kennedy station and waited 30 minutes for the RT to arrive before realizing it was out of service — again.

“There is no sign. There is no notice,” he said, pointing to a gate barring access to the the stairs leading up to Scarborough’s elevated rail transit system, which was working on and off in the days after the snowstorm that bore down on the city Monday.

Kamran Karim was among thousands of TTC riders whose commutes were disrupted after the snowstorm knocked the Scarborough RT out of service.
Kamran Karim was among thousands of TTC riders whose commutes were disrupted after the snowstorm knocked the Scarborough RT out of service.  (Richard Lautens / Toronto Star)

The record snowfall and the polar ice freeze that followed wreaked havoc on portions of Toronto’s transportation system, but in particular the aging and vulnerable elevated train service in Scarborough — dubbed the RT, the SRT, or more recently, Line 3 — that is supposed to connect residents of the suburb to the rest of the city to the southwest.

It was a grim reminder of what residents of Scarborough are in for as they wait for construction to begin on the Scarborough subway extension, a project that successive city, provincial, and federal governments have supported for years but whose ultimate design and completion date are uncertain.

Meanwhile the SRT is nearing the end of its useful life, raising the prospect that riders will be left taking the bus if a replacement isn’t built soon.

Residents of Scarborough are among the city’s super-commuters — spending an hour to two hours or more getting downtown to work or study — connecting by bus from their homes to the RT train service that brings them to Kennedy subway station, the eastern terminus of the Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) subway. From there it’s a long ride west on the subway and then south into the heart of Toronto.

About 35,000 people use the SRT’s six stations on a typical weekday.

Among them is Jackie Abrokwa, 25, who said it takes her about two and a half hours to get to Humber College’s lakeshore campus from her home in east Scarborough. The shuttle buses meant to replace the RT in recent days were much slower, and added another 30 to 45 minutes to her commute, she said.

“As someone who has been taking the TTC for a very long time, I am kind of over it,” said Abrokwa.

“In this weather it makes the whole thing really difficult,” said Joy Moro, who commutes from Scarborough to downtown Toronto for her tech job each day. “But if you don’t get to work, you don’t get paid, so you have to do what you have to do.”

The latest issues for the SRT started Monday, when the city was walloped with more than 20 centimetres of snow. The transit line went down at about 4 p.m., and though the TTC was able to get it up and running again for a few hours Wednesday, it was soon forced to shut it down again.

Regular service resumed Friday morning, but a mechanical problem forced one of the line’s six trains out of commission and the TTC had to supplement service with buses.

Although the SRT opened in 1985 and is nearing the end of its service life, TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the problems in recent days were “not a product of age, rather extreme weather conditions.”

He said the issue was high winds blowing loose packed snow onto the SRT’s traction rail, which powers the train. Snow on the line causes the vehicles to lose power.

“As quickly as we’re clearing it, another section gets covered,” Green said.

While the line was shut down the agency deployed between 15 and 20 shuttle buses as a replacement to SRT service.

Green couldn’t say if the service outage was the longest SRT users have been forced to endure, but said about seven years ago there was also a winter shutdown that lasted several days.

Councillor Jennifer McKelvie, who represents the ward of Scarborough—Rouge Park and also sits on the TTC board, said transit users from her part of the city are “tired of being left out in the cold.”

McKelvie, who is serving her first term at city hall, said the solution is building the Scarborough subway extension and Eglinton East LRT as soon as possible. She blamed previous terms of council for not getting a replacement for the SRT built quickly enough.

“For years we’ve been debating, revisiting, voting, revoting on Scarborough transit. It’s time that we get on with building the transit that Scarborough deserves,” she said.

Although council has voted several times about the specifics of the Scarborough subway extension, the subway option has been the official plan for six years, since Rob Ford was mayor.

Council approved a three-stop Scarborough subway extension in 2013, opting for that project over a cheaper seven-stop light rail line that at the time would have been fully funded by the provincial government.

The three-stop subway was initially projected to cost about $3 billion, but as costs ballooned council voted in 2016 to scale back the plan to a single stop at the Scarborough Town Centre, and to supplement the subway extension with a 17-stop Eglinton East LRT, which would run from Kennedy to U of T Scarborough.

Calgary’s C – Train Expands

News from Calgary.

The Green line has now secured funding to commence building the $4.6 billion, 28 station, 46 km line, which includes a short subway under downtown Calgary, which will have three stations of which one is already built.

By comparison, the proposed 6 km. Broadway subway to Arbutus will cost $3.5 billion.

I wonder which set of taxpayers are getting the better deal!



Alberta pledges $1.53B for ‘most ambitious’ Green Line LRT in Calgary

Mayor Naheed Nenshi insists ‘this project’s getting built’ whether or not government changes in election

Rachel Ward · CBC News · Posted: Jan 30, 2019

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has pledged $1.53 billion toward Calgary’s Green Line LRT project, which she calls ”the most ambitious LRT project in Calgary’s history.”

The Green Line would be a massive public transit line that would stretch 46 kilometres across 28 stations from 16th Avenue North to Seton in the city’s southeast.

“This is really a big day for Calgary,” Notley said Wednesday in downtown Calgary.

She presented the funding with Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Finance Minister Joe Ceci at 10th Avenue and Macleod Trail S.E., where work is being done to prepare for Green Line construction.

The Green Line is being built in stages. This first segment, expected to begin in 2020, was previously promised

The federal government previously committed $1.53 billion to this first stage, which runs from 16th Avenue North to 126th Avenue S.E. Work is expected to begin in early 2020.

On Wednesday, the province signed an agreement with the City of Calgary that secures both promised investments, Notley said.

The first segment is scheduled to open in 2026, and is expected to cost $4.65 billion for capital construction, according to the city’s website.

Environment, community, jobs

The funding comes through Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan, she said. Revenue from the carbon levy is being used through that plan to fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This project will improve transit services, which will in turn put more people on trains instead of cars, Notley said.

“The Green Line is the biggest transit project in the history of Calgary. It will transform the way Calgarians move around the city. It will generate enormous social and economic benefits for generations to come,” Notley said.

“It’s good for the economy, it’s good for the community, it’s great for the environment and it is great for everyone in Calgary.”

She also estimated the construction would generate thousands of jobs and spark private development along the line.

Nenshi said the Green Line, when complete, will double Calgary’s current light-rail network and move more than 60,000 people daily.

“Now that this agreement is signed, it means we can move forward,” the mayor said.

“We can push forward on getting this project out to market, we can push forward on creating 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in Calgary — something that’s absolutely critical in terms of economic stimulus.”

In a tweet after the funding announcement, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney expressed his support for the project and suggested it would go ahead under a conservative government.

In the past, he has questioned the source of funding for the Climate Leadership projects.

“I reject the premise that the carbon tax is funding those projects,” Kenney recently told CBC.

“That is just a political accounting gimmick. There is one general revenue fund for the Province of Alberta that all revenues go into, including carbon tax revenues.”

He promised to cut the tax if elected in this year’s provincial election. Notley, in turn, said that if the carbon levy were cancelled, the Green Line would be cancelled.

According to the province’s fixed-date election legislation, the next election must be held sometime between March 1 and May 31, 2019.

At the Green Line announcement, Notley said contract language can be tightened to secure funding, should there be a change in government.

However, she said that if Kenney were elected and wanted to change the funding, he could by passing legislation.

“If they cancel the Climate Leadership Plan … the many, many programs that are funded out of it will disappear,” Notley said, before gesturing to the nearby transit construction.

“And what we will end up with is a hole in this part of Calgary as a testament to that kind of ‘forward-thinking.’”

‘Train has left the station’

Nenshi noted preparatory construction had already begun and the procurement process would get underway immediately.

“This project’s getting built. There are holes in the ground, there will be more holes in the ground,” Nenshi told reporters.

“So of course the legislature could do anything. They could dissolve the City of Calgary tomorrow if they really wanted to.… But in reality, this train has left the station.”

Am I the Last Voice against SkyTrain to UBC?

Professor Patrick Condon vents about the Broadway SkyTrain subway.

The question is; “Who is listening?”


Am I the Last Voice against SkyTrain to UBC?

It will drive unaffordable condos in Vancouver. Which drives me nuts.


By Patrick Condon |

Patrick Condon is the James Taylor chair in Landscape and Livable Environments at the University of British Columbia’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the founding chair of the UBC Urban Design program.

must apologize to the poor soul who casually mentioned to me Vancouver city council may soon endorse running the proposed Broadway SkyTrain all the way to the UBC campus. The person could not know this is my trigger. They didn’t expect me to sputter and yell. They probably now think I’m nuts.


Maybe I am. Friends seem alarmed because — as we are discussing almost any civic issue, from housing to climate-change to transit — I am never more than 10 minutes away from blurting: “That’s why the Broadway subway is such a terrible idea!”

I understand their worries on my behalf. After all, we hear the opposite from many civic leaders, including UBC President Santa Ono, who published in Business in Vancouver his thoughts under the headline: “Extending SkyTrain to UBC Would Encourage Economic Growth and Prosperity throughout the Region.”

To prove my sanity, or perhaps regain it, I will do my best to explain why building this subway to UBC, far from being an economic boon, will trigger bad consequences for the city, the region, and even for UBC itself.

For the rest of the story, please click here.

The McElhanney Study is a political document masquerading as a technical one

“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.”

Gerald Fox, 2008

Malcolm Johnston, 2019

Please deliver to Mayor and Council.

My name is Malcolm Johnston and I have been involved in Metro Vancouver transit issues since 1986 and I again involving myself with the proposed Broadway subway, which is being supported by a foundation of deceit and deception which sadly, seems the common story today in BC.

I find it odd that what we call SkyTrain, has been rejected around the world as being hugely expensive to build than light rail and also has been found to cost more to operate and maintain.

Bombardier Inc. the sole vehicle supplier of the proprietary railway has now folded the Innovia Metro (Mk. 2 & 3 vehicles) line into the existing Movia Metro Line of vehicles. Bombardier likes it so much that ART SkyTrain isn’t even identified as a separate product anymore. It been buried into the larger, better selling Movia line. This means every bit of technology on the SkyTrain is now a design option and not connected permanently to the product. As far as Bombardier is concerned, the SkyTrain has now become indistinguishable from its other Metro and Light Metro products!

I am disturbed that Translink’s old SkyTrain ruse is still so effective, but without any investigative reporting by the mainstream media and so many politicians who want to jump on the subway band wagon the decision to build a subway really does not surprise me.

According to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), the North American standard for building a subway is a transit route or portion of a transit route that has customer flows in excess of 15,000 persons per hour per direction.

Simple and straight forward.

Calculating the maximum traffic flow on Broadway, using TransLink’s timetabled bus schedule, found the maximum capacity TransLink offered on Broadway was under 4,000 pphpd. Thus customer flows would be about the same.

In no way is there the customer flows on Broadway to justify a subway.

Yes, one can build a subway, but one must be prepared to pay high subsidies to keep the subway operating.

But, TransLink will already be paying extra high subsidies for the subway because the route is heavily used by U-Pass holders, which means, TransLink’s most expensive transit route will be unable to generate much revenue.

This means the Broadway subway must find additional revenue sources.

The TTC estimates that a new 6.5 km subway will add over $40 million in additional operating costs, thus it is safe to assume that the Broadway subway, just to Arbutus will increase TransLink’s operating subsidy by at least $40 million a year.

Combine the operating subsidies needed for the subway, plus the operating costs, the cost to the taxpayer will be in excess of $100 million annually!

This is no surprise as the annual operating subsidy for the original Expo line to New Westminster was estimated by the GVRD at $157 million annually!


From the Cost of Transporting people ….. GVRD 1992.

Has anyone ever thought about the long term financing for the subway?

The following is from a 2012 email from Wolfgang Keller, a German Transportation Engineer, should give pause to reflect that subways do have an expensive down size.

Over here in Germany where they had this tunnel-building mania from the 60s to the early 90s, at least they’ve stopped now. Simply because the municipalities ran into the fact that while building those tunnels is cheap (for them, not for the taxpayer), since 90% of the cost is financed with state and federal subsidies, they cannot finance maintenance of the fully grade-separated lines at all, so the expensive infrastructure they have built since the early 60′s is slowly rotting into a state of near-inoperability.

Has anyone looked at the long term finances of this subway?

TransLink planning veterans Tamim Raad and Brian Mills were fired because they asked those same questions and didn’t like the answer. They did not support the subway and were fired.

Now, let’s continue with TransLink’s pro SkyTrain biases.

American Transportation Engineer, Gerald Fox, was asked in 2008, by a Victoria group wanting streetcars in Victoria to look at the business case for the Evergreen Line.

His comments on the Evergreen Line’s business case was telling telling.


“The Evergreen Line Report made me curious as to how TransLink could justify continuing to expand SkyTrain, when the rest of the world is building LRT. So I went back and read the alleged Business Case (BC) report in a little more detail. I found several instances where the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain. If the underlying assumptions are inaccurate, the conclusions may be so too.

Fox concluded:

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 analyzed honestly, and the taxpayers interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US.

The report by McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd is badly flawed from the start, just as the Evergreen Line’s business case was. The consultants apparently have no background light rail or light metro and make many fundamental errors.

From the very beginning the study is biased against light rail and treats light rail as TransLink did in Surrey, planning LRT as a poor man’s SkyTrain.

I have found the Summary of Rapid Transit Technology Alternative Evaluation had too many instances where the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain. Thus, if the underlying assumptions are inaccurate, the conclusions will be too.”

The study gives LRT a practical capacity of 6,120 persons, at the same time ignoring the fact that modern LRT has a practical capacity in excess of 20,000 pphpd, well known since the 1980′s

An extreme example is Karlsruhe Germany. The huge success of its regional tramtrain system, saw the main tram (streetcar) route through the city seeing a peak hour service of 40 second headway’s with coupled sets of trams and tramtrains giving a hourly capacity of in excess of 35,000 pphpd!


The “gelbe Wand” or yellow wall (referring to the yellow trams) on Kaiserstrasse in Karlsruhe, Germany.


Karlsruhe is now building a subway for that portion of route!

Before Toronto built its first subway, the Bloor-Danforth route saw coupled sets of PCC cars operating in peak hours, offering an hourly capacity of 12,000 pphpd!


In the late 1940′s and early 1950′s, the Bloor Danforth  streetcar line in Toronto saw
coupled sets of PCC cars operating in peak hours obtaining a capacity of 12,000 pphpd!


To say that a modern LRT line has less capacity than  an old streetcar line’s capacity, seventy years ago is more than a farce, it is deliberately dishonest!

Another questionable statistic is reliability as there has been no study offered to back up the claims that SkyTrain is unreliable.

Most if not all LRT lines operate to a strict schedule, no so for SkyTrain as there is no strict schedule at all, only a train every few minutes.

Any claim that is based on the reliability figures given should be immediately discounted.

The numbers given for light rail in the study are not just unreliable, they are deliberately skewed to favour SkyTrain. Thus the study is based on dishonest statistics and is useless as a planning document.

It is another glaring example of TransLink using their cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding.

Just as a reminder only seven of the proprietary SkyTrain systems have been built since the late 1970′s; only three are seriously used for urban transit; two are mired in court cases and investigations; one will soon be torn down as it is fast becoming “life expired”.

Not one SkyTrain built has ever been allowed to compete directly against light rail and this study by McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd. Is to ensure LRT does not compete against SkyTrain for transit on Broadway or in Metro Vancouver.

Thus the McElhanney Study is a political document masquerading as a technical document.


The following excerpt is from the December 1983 edition of Modern Tramway’s article The direction of TTC Planning in the 1980′s.



Clearly, the elderly Toronto trams were able to move more people in 1983, than what McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd.would have us believe what a modern articulated tram can move in 2019.
I think someone should demand their money back!

Money, Money, Money – The Mayor’s Council on Transit Courts Another FastFerry Scandal!

The Mayor of Vancouver and the Mayor of Surrey discuss the Broadway Subway. What could go wrong?

It takes a lot of money to operate a transit system and subways tend to be a financial black hole and are avoided unless ridership on a transit line demands.

Just the SkyTrain subway to Arbutus will cost TransLink an additional $40 million in operating costs, but there is worse to come. Subways needs a lot of intensive maintenance or servcie deteriorates over time.

TransLink is well known for doing the bare minimum of maintenance needed to keep the mini-metro in operation.

The following is from Wolfgang Keller who now works as a safety engineer in Germany and before the SkyTrain Lobby sneer at this, in Europe, safety is taken much more seriously than TransLink would ever do!

Especially since full grade separation requires loads of technical
equipment, especially in the stations; escalators, elevators, lighting,
ventilation, etc. which all require maintenance and thus, staff.
Besides the fact that for a typical european grade-separated mass
transit system, the energy consumption of elevators, lifts, lighting
etc. is already higher than the energy consumption of the rolling
stock. Not to mention cost for cleaning of all those vast surfaces in
the access tunnels, pedestrian levels, station platforms, etc. and so
on. Another topic that has also been misjudged by many operators is the
requirement to clean the tunnels themselves regularly, because
accumulated dust and garbage of all kinds can easily catch fire and
then fill up the tunnels with smoke and toxic gases, interrupting
operation. Some operators have purchased “vacuum cleaner” trains to
solve this issue.

Line B at Rennes will cost 10**9 EUR for 12.7km. For a line that can
only operate 52m*2m (length*width) trainsets. That’s not more capacity
than any of the modern streetcar lines in France, at a much higher cost.

I must add, that the Canada line can operate only 41 metre long train-sets, thus has less capacity than Rennes!

Over here in Germany where they had this tunnel-building mania from the
60s to the early 90s, at least they’ve stopped now. Simply because the
municipalities ran into the fact that while building those tunnels is
cheap (for them, not for the taxpayer), since 90% of the cost is
financed with state and federal subsidies, they cannot finance
maintenance of the fully grade-separated lines at all, so the
expensive infrastructure they have built since the early 60′s is slowly
rotting into a state of near-inoperability.

No one is asking about the long term operating costs associated with subways.  No one is countering Translink’s CEO, Kevin Desmond’s completely dishonest claims about LRT.

This gross dishonesty is badly affecting any hope of getting Valley Rail in operation!

How will the $40 to $50 million in additional operating fees affect Translink’s finances?

Kevin Desmond and the mayors Council on Transit is leading the taxpayer on a one way ride that will end in fiasco, making the FastFerry scandal in the 1990′s, child’s play.


By Ben SpurrTransportation Reporter

Fri., Jan. 18, 2019

A new TTC report is sounding the alarm about what the agency says is billions of dollars worth of unfunded work required to keep Toronto’s transit system functional over the next 15 years, a finding that could raise the stakes for the provincial government’s contentious plan to take ownership of the subway system.

The TTC capital plan was released Friday along with the agency’s proposed 2019 operating budget, which recommended a 10-cent fare increase. Both documents were reported by the Star Thursday before they were made public.

The capital plan says the agency will require $33.5 billion of capital investment over the next decade and a half in order keep the system in a state of good repair and meet expected ridership growth. A staggering $23.7 billion of those costs, which don’t include the expense of building new transit lines, is currently unfunded, according to the TTC.

Projects it says are required include increasing capacity on subway lines, replacing the bus fleet, building a new bus garage, buying up to 100 new streetcars, and replacing streetcar track and power systems.

“Without the investments outlined in this plan, service reliability and crowding will worsen,” warns the report, which is signed by TTC CEO Rick Leary.

“This is the fate now faced by some other major transit systems in North America that allowed their assets to badly deteriorate. Our customers, our city, our province and our nation can’t afford to let that happen.”

TTC board member Councillor Shelley Carroll said the new capital plan marks the first time in memory the city has had a clear accounting of the transit system’s infrastructure needs. She said it should be a wake-up call for government to “start having a real conversation about the system” and find ways to fund the existing network instead of focusing on building new lines.

Of the $33.5 billion in costs the report identifies, about $22 billion worth is related to subways and stations. That includes $8 billion for Line 1 and Line 2 capacity improvements, $650 million for a new automatic train control signalling system, $1 billion to expand Bloor-Yonge station, and $1.26 billion for platform edge doors.

A little more than $16 billion of the subway investments are unfunded.

The subway costs in the report are far greater than the $160 million a year the Ontario Progressive Conservatives have pledged to spend on the network if they execute their plan to upload ownership of the lines and stations to the province.

Carroll said she’s concerned that if Queen’s Park follows through on that plan, the province will deem much of the capital work unnecessary.

“Oh it’s necessary all right, and we need to be honest about it and make sure that this system can keep running,” she said.

When asked Friday if the province would commit to funding the capital backlog if it takes over the subway, Ontario Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek replied with a statement that said only: “The government is working with its special adviser Michael Lindsay on the details of the upload, including the financing.”

On the operating side, the TTC budget requests the city increase the subsidy it provides the transit agency and its Wheel Trans service this year to $763 million, a 3-per-cent increase over 2018 that would buck a city directive for all departments to freeze their net budgets.

Among the major drivers behind the increase is $14.4 million in additional costs for the new two-hour transfer policy, and $8.5 million for capacity improvements. There’s also $18.5 million associated with the Presto fare card system.

The agency is predicting 526.3 million riders this year. That’s up from 521.4 million in 2018, but a decrease from the 533.2 million in 2017.

The budget proposes raising $25.8 million in additional revenue by instituting a 10-cent fare increase that would apply across the board to adult, senior, and student rides. An adult fare using a token or Presto fare card would rise to $3.10, while an adult monthly pass would cost $151.15, up from $146.25. The fare hike would go into effect April 1.

Shelagh Pizey-Allen, director of advocacy group TTCriders, condemned the proposed increase, noting Toronto users already pay for a disproportionately large portion of the city’s transit budget compared to those in other comparable cities.

“The TTC is still deeply unaffordable for many people in our city. We already pay more than our fair share,” she said.

In a statement Friday, TTC Chair Jaye Robinson, who told the Star earlier this month she wouldn’t support a fare hike, stressed the need to “balance the cost of capital and service improvements with affordability,” but didn’t say if she would back the increase now that it’s been recommended by transit staff.

“What I can say is that I will be listening very closely at next week’s meeting to transit users, to TTC staff and to board members,” she said.

Don Peat, a spokesperson for Mayor John Tory, said the mayor wouldn’t pre-empt the TTC board’s decision on the fare increase. But he asserted Tory’s administration has “made additional and record-setting investments” in the transit agency, including in popular initiatives such as the two-hour transfer.

The TTC board will consider its 2019 budget at a meeting Thursday.

By the numbers

  • $3.10 — cost of adult tokens and Presto fares after proposed 10-cent increase
  • $2.15 — cost of student and senior tickets and Presto fares after proposed 10-cent increase
  • 4 — number of years in which fares will have gone up since John Tory took office in 2014, if the 2019 increase is approved
  • $1.47 billion — annual capital work subways and stations will require over 15 years, according to TTC
  • $160 million — annual amount Ontario PCs pledged to spend on capital work if the province takes over the subway system

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr