A Letter to the Editor

This letter says it all.

Writer says SkyTrain is obsolete. Ai??Ai??Photograph By file


Re: Qualtrough on board with Delta’s call for light rail, March 29

It always amuses me when politicians talk about transit when they know absolutely nothing on the subject. Both Delta MP Carla Qualtrough and Mayor Lois Jackson know almost nothing about transit, except for the politically acceptable catch phrases.

Here is a quick primer: Light rail is a steel wheel on steel rail transit system that has the ability to operate in mixed traffic (streetcar) if need be.

Rapid transit, the Canada Line and the Expo/Millennium lines are not light rail at all, rather they are part of the “heavy” rail family called lightmetro. Both of Metro Vancouver’s lightmetro lines are driverless, thus unable to operate in mixed traffic.

LRT made light metro obsolete in the late 1980s because it is cheaper to build, maintain and operate and has the added benefit of higher capacity.

The Canada Line is really a heavy-rail metro, built as a light metro, and because costs were escalating, the scope of the project was greatly reduced. The Canada Line was built on the cheap and as a result, its truncated stations have platforms only 40 metres long, half the length of the SkyTrain stations.

This means the Canada Line has about half the capacity of the SkyTrain lines and why the Canada Line seems full.

The cost today to increase the capacity of the Canada Line is about $1.5 billion and must be done before any expansion takes place.

The proposed bridge replacing the perfectly good George Massey Tunnel is not being designed for rapid transit at all, for if it were, it must be able to accommodate 300-ton trains and unless tracks are laid, when constructed, rapid transit will never cross the bridge.

Qualtrough and Jackson are the epitome of the problem with regional transit: they know little or nothing about it and instead of admitting to this, they oversee the spending of billions of taxpayers’ dollars on grossly overpriced vanity projects.

D. Malcolm Johnston


3 Responses to “A Letter to the Editor”
  1. !? says:

    “The proposed bridge replacing the perfectly good George Massey Tunnel is not being designed for rapid transit at all, for if it were, it must be able to accommodate 300-ton trains and unless tracks are laid, when constructed, rapid transit will never cross the bridge.”

    The new Port Mann Bridge was ‘future proofed’ to allow for the addition of LRT when needed: Will that ever happen?

    Zwei replies: There is no evidence that the Port Mann Bridge was ever designed to carry LRT despite what the government said. In fact they loosely use the term “Rapid Transit” which in the governments lexicon, means BRT. The problem with rail, is that bridge mast be very rigid as well hold multiple trains of at least 300 tons! There are examples of ‘cable stayed’ bridges carrying trains, but they were designed to do so from the onset.

    As far as I know, there has never been a retrofitting of LRT onto a major bridge and the only bridge that I know of locally that can handle light rail, is the Granville St. Bridge which was designed to carry streetcars.

  2. eric chris says:

    Seattle is trying to retrofit the floating bridge on I-90 for LRT. Good luck. Going across the bridge is spooky as it is. Hanging live and dead loads on an already iffy bridge for LRT doesn’t seem clever to me.


    In Vancouver, engineers at TransLink have hatched an idiotic plan to replace the guide ways on the Expo Line. They aren’t going to shut down sections of the Expo Line (1.6 km at a time) and get it over with in one year to cut costs and get it done safely; they are going to work on it at night over 10 years while they keep the line in service (screw the complaints about noise and risks to the public; it is the TransLink way of doing things). Okay, if I were the engineer in charge, I would have stormed into the CEO’s office and given him a swat across the head, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and booted his ass out the door for putting me and my workers at risk. I’d have told the mush head at TransLink to screw off. I guess that’s why ethical engineers don’t work for stupid organization like TransLink.

    The right thing to do is to decommission the death trap guide ways before the concrete supporting the guide ways buckles. Oh well, automatons faking it as engineers at TransLink will try to milk out planning and dog effing for another 10 years for them to “plan” until someone is killed. I see the replacement program ending with manslaughter charges against the idiots at TransLink before all is said and done. I’ve never worked on a refinery turn around while the refinery has been kept in operation. It is foolish and puts the workers at added risk.


    Anyhow, excellent letter to the editor, too bad editors in Metro Vancouver aren’t slamming TransLink. I guess; all the advertising money spent in the newspapers is clouding the objectivity of the editors in Metro Vancouver unlike in Toronto where the editors tell it like it is:



  3. Haveacow says:

    Eric doing it 240 ft. sections is doable. However, they are just going down to the slab underneath the track not the support structure underneath that. The track is bolted to a fixation slab that sits on top of right of way structure they are still not doing anything about that. A new fixation slab is great for the track structure but it does nothing for the concrete pylons and base support structure itself. Providing funds to upgrade the track and fixation slab is fine and desperately needed but what is also desperately needed is more money for the actual above grade viaduct structures themselves, 18-20 km’s of it, on the Expo Line alone. On top of that, more electrically isolated power connections from the 3rd rail to more electrical transformers and upgrades to the already existing transformers.

    The number of these electrical connections need to be increased so that more trains can actually be powered at the same time. This creates more electrically isolated track sections independently supplied with current. This requires more transformer capacity as well as an increase in the monitoring capability of the system. There are software packages that can reduce the increase in number of needed electrical sections such as the “virtual electrical connection systems” but they require not only more electrical control panels on the system but more advanced ones as well. More than the 2 or 3 they currently have.

    They are doing 1/3 of the job that is actually needed. There is still nowhere near enough money being spent on the above grade superstructure overhauls. That is going to take a tax increase at some level of government to pay for. Hence my long held opinion that, you guys are really not directing enough taxes yet to keep your transit system running. The amount of taxes you pay are still substantially lower (about 2/3 what we do) for our large city rapid transit services in Ontario and Quebec. Considerably less than most large European and Asian cities.

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