A Novices Guide To Transit – Updated

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

The following is a guide plus definitions about “rail” transit.

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. & SNC Lavalin.

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. Some pundits have coined the term BRT a Build Rail Transit.

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.

Broadway Subway: A proposed $3 billion to $4 billion 7 km. SkyTrain subway to Arbutus Street.

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 ALRT/ART SkyTrain 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.

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.

Demoviction: Where those who live in affordable housing are evicted because the housing is demolished to build high density housing, usually too expensive for those evicted to rent.

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 was built in 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 LRT operates on 10% grades; the maximum grade for a tramway is located in Lisbon, where the streetcars operate, unassisted, on 13.8% grades.

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.

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-W’s for the exclusive use of the streetcar/tram. Number of LRT/tramways in operation around the world is now almost 600; light railways (many use LRV’s) – 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 metro was originally conceived to bridge the gap from what old streetcars could carry and that 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.

Mayor’s Council On Transit: A group of metro Vancouver’s mayors who are not transit experts, who think they are. The results of their endeavors proves the adage; “The blind leading the blind.”

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.

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.

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.

T.O.D. or Transit Oriented Development: A local political doctrine which sees massive development along rapid transit routes. T.O.D. favours land developers and land speculators at the expense of affordable housing. T.O.D. works like this, over priced rapid transit is built on a line and land speculators rush in and assemble land along the route, especially a proposed station sites. The land is promptly sold to land developers who tear down affordable housing and build high density condos in there place. The high rents compel those evicted from affordable housing (see demoviction) seek accommodation in areas not well serve by transit. In the end, the new condos are sold to overseas buyers. T.O.. is favoured by planners, especially planners from S.F.U.

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.

Vision Vancouver: The current political party running Vancouver, better known as “Visionless Vancouver”. Want subways for Vancouver, as long everyone else pays for it.

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