A Novice’s Guide To Transit – Reposted and Updated

……….. or cutting through the BS about light rail, SkyTrain and BRT.

The following is a guide plus definitions.

ALM: Automatic Light metro, the fourth marketing name given for the SkyTrain family of light-metros, when Lavalin briefly owned SkyTrain before going bankrupt.

ALRT (1): Advanced Light Rail Transit, the second marketing name for SkyTrain.

ALRT (2): Advanced Light Rapid Transit, the third marketing name for SkyTrain, when Advanced Light Rail Transit failed to find a market.

ART: Advanced Rapid Transit, the fifth marketing name for SkyTrain, used by its current owners, Bombardier Inc.

Automatic (Driverless) Operation: A signaling system that permits train operation without drivers. Contrary to popular myth, automatic operation does not reduce operating costs because there are no drivers, because attendants must be hired instead to permit safe operation. Automatic signaling was designed to reduce signaling staff, not operation staff.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT): Generally means Express Buses, a true BRT needs a very expensive and land consuming busway or highway or be guided.

Bored tunnel: A tunnel boring machine also known as a “mole”, is a machine used to excavate tunnels with a circular cross section through a variety of soil and rock strata. They can bore through anything from hard rock to sand.

Busway: A route needed for BRT. Busways can be conventional HOV lanes or exclusive roads for buses. Busways can be equipped with raised curbs or rails for bus guidance.

Canada Line: Vancouver’s third metro line which is a grade separated EMU operation and is not compatible with the rest of the SkyTrain light metro system in operation.

Capacity: A function of headway multiplied by vehicle capacity, which in turn is dependent on station station platform length measured in persons per hour per direction.

Community Rail: a government strategy supported by the rail industry. It engages local people in the development and promotion of local and rural routes, services and stations. Community Rail routes remain connected to the national rail network, and train operating companies run the trains and stations.

Consultation: To sell a transit decision to the public after the decision has been made.

C-Train: The Calgary light rail system.

Cut and cover: A method of building a tunnel by making a cutting, which is then lined and covered over. (Civil Engineering) designating a method of constructing a tunnel by excavating a cutting to the required depth and then backfilling the excavation over the tunnel roof

DMU: Diesel Multiple Unit – A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple-unit train powered by on-board diesel engines. A DMU requires no separate locomotive, as the engines are incorporated into one or more of the carriages. Diesel-powered single-unit railcars are also generally classed as DMUs.

EMU: Electrical Multiple Unit – An electric multiple unit or EMU is a multiple-unit train consisting of self-propelled carriages using electricity as the motive power. An EMU requires no separate locomotive, as electric traction motors are incorporated within one or a number of the carriages.

Evergreen Line: The 11.4 km newly finished portion of the old Broadway/Lougheed Rapid Transit Project. When the NDP forced the SkyTrain Millennium Line onto TransLink, there was not the money left order to complete the line to the Tri-Cities. Now completed.

Expo Line: The first SkyTrain line built, completed in late 1985. The Expo Line was built in three sections. The Waterfront to New Westminster section (cost a much as LRT from Vancouver to Whalley, Lougheed Mall and Richmond Centre), the Skybridge, section across the Fraser river to Scott road Station, and the final section to Whalley in Surrey.

Grade: The vertical rise of a railway track, normally given in a percentage (1% grade = a 1 metre rise in 100 metres). Industry standard grade for LRT is 8%; Sheffield’s( LRTA) operates on 10% grades; the maximum grade for a tramway is located in Lisbon, where the streetcars operate, unassisted, on 13.8% grades.

Flip-flop: Make an abrupt reversal of policy. common with transit planning in MetroVancouver.

Goebbels Gambit: The fine art of repeating a lie often enough that it is perceived as the truth.

Guided Bus: A BRT that is physically guided by either a raised curb or a central rail. Some guided buses are considered monorails.

Headway: The time interval between trains on a transit route.

Hybrid: A transit system that is designed operated as a LRT/light metro mix. Generally very expensive as it uses the most expensive features of both modes.

Innovia: The sixth name SkyTrain was marketed by (no buyers).

ICTS: Intermediate Capacity Transit system, the first name SkyTrain was marketed by.

Interurban: An early streetcar which operated at speed on its own R-o-W connecting urban centres.

Light Rail Transit (LRT): A steel wheel on steel rail transit system that can operate economically on transit routes with traffic flows between 2,000 pphpd to over 20,000 pphpd, thus bridging the gap on what buses can carry and that which needs a metro. A streetcar is considered LRT when it operates on reserved rights-of-ways or R-o-Wa’s for the exclusive use of the streetcar/tram. Number of LRT/tramways in operation around the world over 500; light railways (many use LRV’s) and over 120; heritage lines  over 60.

Light Metro: A transit mode, generally a proprietary transit system, that has the capacity of LRT, at the cost of a heavy-rail metro.

Light Rail Vehicle (LRV): A vehicle that operates on a LRT or streetcar line. Also called a streetcar, tram, TramTrain or interurban.

Lysenkoism: used metaphorically to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.

Mass Transit: A generic term for heavy-rail metro. See rapid transit.

MAX: The Portland Tri-Met LRT system.

Metro: An urban/suburban railway that operates on a segregated R-o-W, either in a subway or on a viaduct, due to long trains (5 cars+) and close headways. There are 174 heavy/light metros in operation around the world.

Millennium Line: The second SkyTrain Line built, using the new Bombardier ART cars.

Monorail: A transit mode that operates on one rail. There are two general types of monorail: 1) hanging monorail and 2) straddle beam monorail (not a true monorail). Some proprietary BRT systems are also classed as monorail.

Movia Automatic Light Metro: The seventh and last name that SkyTrain has been Marketed under, with Linear Induction Motors a customer add on.

Priority Signaling: A signaling system that gives priority to transit vehicles at intersections.

Proprietary Transit System: A transit system who rights are exclusively owned by one company. Transit operations who operate proprietary transit systems must deal with only one supplier.

Rapid Transit: A generic term for metro. See mass transit. Rapid Transit is not Light Rail Transit

Reserved Rights of Way: An exclusive R-o-W for use of transit vehicles, can be as simple as a HOV lane (with rails for LRT) or as elaborate a a lawned boulevard or a linear park complete with shrubs.

SkyTrain: An unconventional proprietary light-metro, powered by Linear Induction motors, marketed by Bombardier Inc. Currently there are 7 SkyTrain type transit systems in operation around the world. ICTS  2; ALRT (1 & 2)  1; ART 4.

Streetcar: A steel wheel, on steel rail electric (also can be diesel powered) vehicle that operates in mixed traffic, with little or no priority at intersections. Also known as a tram in Europe. Streetcars become LRT when operating on reserved R-o-W’s.

Subway: An underground portion of a rapid transit line. Subways may either be bored or cut and cover or a combination of both construction methods.

TTC: The Toronto Transit Commission.

Tram: European term for streetcar, as the Europeans do not use the term LRT.

TramTrain: A streetcar that can operate on the mainline railways, operating as a passenger train.

TransLink Speak: The lexicon used by TransLink to mask problems. Example: medial emergency on SkyTrain means a suicide.

Viaduct: A viaduct is a bridge composed of several small spans.

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