A Useful Idiot

In political jargon a useful idiot is a person perceived as propagandist for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who is used cynically by the leaders of the cause.

Former premier Mike Harcourt continues to regale anyone who will listen, that subways are the only transit solution for Vancouver. Who is he speaking for?

Vision Vancouver?

Bombardier Inc./SNC Lavalin, who own the patents for the proprietary SkyTrain system?

John Horgan?

BC Liberals?

He is not speaking to real engineers, who would give him the real costs of subway construction.

Harcourt and his former NDP friends, really never understood the costs associated with light-metro and with subways they remain utterly clueless about subways.

Cost for a subway to UBC, about $5 billion to $6 billion, but hey, what else does the failed city of Vancouver going to do to pretend it’s world class?

As there is no money budgeted for subway construction, the chances are slim to none that a Broadway subway will be built anytime soon.


Mike Harcourt’s train of thought: Build a subway to UBC

Published on: March 14, 2017
Former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt at Clean Energy B.C.'s Generate 2016 conference, where he delivered a speech on Nov. 7, 2016 declaring the $9-billion Site C dam project an 'economic, environmental and aboriginal disaster' that should be mothballed. (Photo credit: Derrick Penner, PNG) [PNG Merlin Archive]

Former Vancouver mayor Mike Harcourt will speak on Thursday at a public lecture on where the city is going. PNG


Harcourt and Robertson, Two Mayors on Vancouver Past, Present and Future

Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. |Ai??SFU Vancouver Campus, Fletcher Challenge Theatre

Tickets:Ai??Free admission

Imagine the Millennium Line running all the way to the University of B.C., alongside a limited-stop express subway connecting Coquitlamai??i??s United Boulevard to the planned new development at Vancouverai??i??s Jericho Lands.

Former B.C. premier and Vancouver mayor Mike Harcourt says transit authorities are thinking too small with the current plan to extend the Millennium Line underground to Arbutus Street.

ai???Itai??i??s crazy to end it there,ai??? Harcourt said. ai???You should take it to Jericho and out to UBC.ai???

Harcourt, honoured last month with the Freedom of the City, is to join current Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson on Thursday evening for a public lecture on where the city is going.

Weai??i??ve really done some things badly (in Metro Vancouver), like having a referendum on transit

Wherever that is, the city needs more trains to get there, Harcourt said. The Broadway subway, ai???should be like the Sixth Avenue line in New York ai??i?? two trains, four sets of tracks.ai???

Even under current zoning, the Broadway corridor from Main to Burrard could be built up to accommodate 100,000 new workers and 50,000 residents, Harcourt said. As well, the 36-hectare Jericho lands are poised for development after the federal government struck a deal turning the bulk of the land over to three First Nations. And UBC is always growing.

Harcourtai??i??s express-train idea envisions stops at Burnabyai??i??s Willingdon, and along Broadway at Commercial and Cambie to connect with existing trains. He has pitched it to TransLink, the province and First Nations, with no one biting just yet.

ai???Not right now, but Iai??i??m a persistent guy.ai???

The 74-year-old Harcourt was mayor before and during Expo 86, served a term as premier in the 1990s, and has since advised cities on sustainability.

ai???Weai??i??ve really done some things badly (in Metro Vancouver), like having a referendum on transit,ai??? he said, noting that the original Expo Line took just three years from proposal to completion.

ai???The minute they built the Canada Line, it was over capacity and the stations were too small,ai??? he said. ai???Weai??i??ve had to expand and keep expanding the Expo Line since it was built. You say, well, maybe we can learn from that. Weai??i??re going to have another two million people in the next 40 years or so, to add to the two and a half million people already here.ai???

More trains south, north and east would be needed to meet that growth, he said.

Harcourt first got into politics when he was a lawyer in the 1960s, and he was approached by community leaders to join the fight against a freeway that would have carved up east Vancouver. Next year, work is scheduled to start demolishing the last vestiges of that failed freeway plan ai??i?? the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.

He will be talking with Robertson on Thursday about his ideas on other subjects ranging from high-tech industry to post-secondary education, housing and child care.

But transportation has always loomed large for Harcourt. He credits that early battle against freeways with aiding the later emergence of Vancouverai??i??s downtown as a place where people could both live and work, unlike most North American cities.

ai???We danced to a different drummer on urban renewal and freeways.ai???

The Cambie Street Bridge was built under Harcourtai??i??s tenure as mayor, so he is not entirely against bridges.

But asked about the worst-case future for the region, he cited ai???this really stupid idea of the bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel.

ai???If it gets built, all it does is shift the congestion from the tunnel to Richmond and the Oak Street Bridge. And then some blockhead is going to say, ai???Oh well, we can fix that. Letai??i??s just build an eight-lane bridge and freeway down Oak Street.ai??i??ai???



4 Responses to “A Useful Idiot”
  1. PATRICK M. CONDON says:

    No Provincial party has committed to phase two funding. None.

  2. eric chris says:

    Yes, it’s a cesspool of corruption at TransLink where the planners, directors and CEO stay employed on the gravy train as long as they keep extending s-train and keep sole sourcing contracts to certain firms making money from s-train. Telling lies is what they do. They’re untrustworthy and unethical. Crap rises to the top at TransLink, and the higher you go, the smellier it gets.

    After the provincial election, the “floaties” (directors, CEO and planners) at TransLink will be indicted for fraud. It’s not possible for s-train to “one day” carry 26,000 pphpd as they claim. It deifies fundamental physics which the floaties at TransLink don’t appear to comprehend.

    It takes longer for s-train to travel between stations (87 seconds on average for the Expo Line) than the 80 seconds used by TransLink’s top level “planners” for the headway (dwell, recovery and travel times required to achieve 26,000 pphpd with s-train). Planners at TransLink have demonstrated that they don’t understand what they are doing or that they have purposely mislead everyone about s-train “one day” moving 26,000 pphpd.

    Physics sets the time that it takes for the s-train to travel between stations on the Expo Line (EL) which is 36.4 km long and has 24 stations. I’m not a fan of transit jargon (headway) and am going to use frequency of service rather than headway.


    Schmoes at TransLink claim that each new Mark III s-train having an operating speed of 80 kph will carry 580 passengers on the EL. Probably not, but let’s say that the Mark III can cram 580 skinny passengers. Then, the s-train has to be able to achieve a frequency of service of 80 seconds to move 26,000 pphpd (580 skinny passengers / 80 seconds = 7.25 passengers per second per direction = 26,000 pphpd) claimed by the “high level” engineers doing the planning for TransLink. Light candles and pray for them; the physics proves them wrong. Fancy switchgear won’t do them any good.


    For the 24 stations on the EL, each s-train has 23 connections between stations, and the average distance between stations on the EL is 1,583 metres (36.4 km / 23 connections = 1,583 metres between stations). Rail transit typically accelerates or decelerates at 3 mph per second (5 kph per second) so that people aren’t flung around like rag dolls as the train departs from the transit station or brakes to stop at the transit station.


    Consequently, it takes 16 seconds to accelerate s-train on the EL from 0 kph to 80 kph (5 kph per second * 16 seconds = 80 kph) and 16 seconds to decelerate it from 80 kph to 0 kph. Distance traveled during acceleration or deceleration is the average speed (40 kph) during acceleration or deceleration times the duration of the acceleration or deceleration. During acceleration or deceleration, the s-train travels 178 metres (40 kph * 16 seconds = 178 metres). Note: unit conversions such as from kph to metres per second aren’t shown.

    This leaves the s-train to travel 1,227 metres at 80 kph which is the operating speed for s-train (1,583 metres – 178 metres – 178 metres = 1,227 metres). Time for the s-train to travel at the 80 kph operating speed is 55 seconds (1,227 metres / 80 kph = 55 seconds). Therefore, the average time required for s-train to travel between stations on the EL is 87 seconds (16 seconds + 16 seconds + 55 seconds = 87 seconds). Gulp.

    Whoa, whoa and whoa!!! What just happened to the claim by the “planners” at TransLink that s-train can “one day” move 26,000 pphpd?

    It defies physics, and the time to travel between stations on the EL is greater than the necessary headway (80 seconds) to move 26,000 pphpd. Dwell and recovery times haven’t been added to the headway, yet. Let’s add them to see what the actual sustainable and unsustainable passenger capacities of s-train might be.

    Hold onto your knickers or shorts, they’re real shockers which will form the basis for the indictment of TransLink’s directors and CEO who’ve defrauded the federal government with lies for years about the s-train being able to “one day” move 26,000 pphpd in the distant future (when they have all retired on fat provincial government pensions, presumably, and can’t be held accountable if things don’t go as “planned”). How convenient.

    For the centralized and small stations (40 metre to 80 metre long) used for the “hub to hub” s-train transit, logistics makes it hard for seniors with mobility issues or mothers with baby carriages, for instance, to be able to access s-train if s-train operates at a frequency of service which is tighter than about two minutes. Frail seniors with a cane or struggling mothers with a baby carriage typically require time to navigate hub to hub s-train stations. That’s just the way life is. Public transit which can’t accommodate mothers and seniors isn’t serving the community paying for public transit intended for everyone. It’s not fit for purpose.

    Creep infested and crime riddled s-train stations are a stressful experience at the best of times. Forget harried 10 second dwell times for s-train. It’s going to lead to screaming mothers who’ve lost their babies in the rush-rush and go-go mayhem to board or alight s-train.


    Adding the dwell time of 40 seconds for “hub to hub” s-train service yields 127 seconds (87 seconds + 40 seconds = 127 seconds) as the “unsustainable” frequency of service for the EL and about 16,400 pphpd as the “unsustainable” or “pie in the sky” passenger capacity (580 passengers / 127 seconds = 16,400 pphpd) for the EL. In order for the passenger capacity to be assured and sustainable, however, it must include a reasonable safety margin or recovery time. With 25 seconds added as the recovery time, the sustainable passenger capacity which can be achieved by s-train on the EL is only about 13,700 pphpd (580 passengers / 152 seconds = 13,700 pphpd).

    In other words, s-train’s sustainable capacity of 13,700 pphpd “one day” in the distant future is about what the present capacity of s-train is. The directors, planners and CEO at TransLink are stringing us along with lies about more capacity, later, and the true capacity of s-train is less than the capacity of light rail priority transit (LRT in a dedicated right of way) in the table provided in the following link:


    Good bye dishonest “planners” at TransLink. Good bye crooked “directors and CEO” of TransLink. Good bye schmucks implicated in the s-train hoax by TransLink. Soon, TransLink will be no more. You read it here first.

    Scottish bagpipes, Bon Scott and Aussie trams running in the six lane roadway mimicking Broadway in Vancouver in the background; this video’s got it all to portend the end of TransLink. Adios maniacs at “TransLink” …


  3. Dondi says:


    Expo’s current capacity is already the maximum allowed by “physics”?

    Regardless of [expensive] upgrades, e.g. longer platforms and trains?

    And where do you account for the number of trains on the line? For example, that one train is accelerating out of a station the one ahead of it is already approaching the station ahead, as long as they don’t get closer than whatever the minimum distance/time is, say 75 seconds?

    As far as I know, Mr Zwei does not work for Translink, and he agreed 27500 pphpd (2x your “physics” limit) is possible.

    Zwei replies: Yes the Expo line can carry 27,000 + persons per hour if we spend $3 billion+ to upgrade the line. As stated previously, it is illegal for the Expo Line to operate at a greater capacity than 15,000 pphpd. Minimum headway allowed by the M0T is 107 seconds.

    Only a finite number of trains can operate on the line or they slow down due to an electrical shortage. Bunching of trains happens when dwell times increase , which happens for many and various reasons. One of the early problems with SkyTrain was bunching of trains where heavily loaded trains had long dwell times and almost empty trains did not. Over time, this cause bunching.

  4. Haveacow says:

    I think Professor Condon said it best. Right now the Expo line is stuck with a max theoretical capacity of 15000 passengers/hour/direction. Its actual numbers are between 13100-13700 at most peak periods on the busiest parts of the line (2015 Translink figures). My own research says at about 14,000 p/h/d, 92% of the people who can, stay away and make other choices for their transportation dollars. Any serious attempt right now to go beyond that will overly tax the system’s electrical capacity and endanger their operating certificate with Transport Canada. The stations just don’t have anymore capacity without spending a lot of money. One of my favorite quotes from the movie, “The Right Stuff”, is as follows, “No bucks, no Buck Rodgers!” Nothing happens without more capital funding and no one officially seems interested right now.

Leave A Comment