Eric Chris Writes a Letter to the Times.

Eric Chris is a chemical engineer and with his analytical background he can see through TransLink’s transit verbal diarrhea and understand the real problems facing TransLink.
The same was true with the late Des Turner, who was also a chemical engineer (who worked for Shell Oil) and upon retirement, went back to university and studied urban planning, doing his master’s Thesis on Urban Transportation.
Des Turner also saw through BC Transit’s verbal diarrhea about SkyTrain and predicted that the transportation authority would face dire financial problems in the the early 21st century, relying on the SkyTrain proprietary light metro system for urban ‘rail’ transportation. Sadly, Des Turner’s predictions have come true and now it is Eric Chris’s turn to predict dire consequences with TransLink’s voodoo transportation planning.
In over 33 years, nothing has changed and verbal diarrhea is still regarded as good public transport policy and the question is, can the public see through the manure that pretends to be good public transportation policy in the region?
Dear Times Editor,
Transit in Metro Vancouver, Canada recently  won the gold award from APTA (American Public Transportation Association) for environmental sustainability in North America.  Unfortunately, we’ve reached the point where not having transit is more environmentally sustainable than having transit.   Too bad APTA doesn’t give out awards to drivers for sustainable commuting.
http://www.translink.ca/en/About-Us/Media/2011/September/TransLink-Wins-Gold-For-Its-Sustainability-Performance.aspx
Attached are calculations showing that not having transit in Metro Vancouver would most certainly not increase road congestion and would most definitely not result in increased air pollution or carbon emissions.  These calculations have been verified by third party professional engineers.
They have been received by the engineering association in the province of British Columbia, Canada (APEGBC) and are not in dispute.   If driving is more sustainable than transit in Metro Vancouver, driving also has to be more sustainable than transit in other cities which did not win the award for sustainability in North America.
Transit Paradox
Transit moving people who don’t drive and who really depend upon transit to go about their daily lives in their immediate community provides a valuable public service, and I truly do support it.  Transit intended to lure drivers onto transit to increase ridership without any regard for its social and environmental effects does society a disservice and is counter productive.
Fast transit such as the Westcoast Express, the 99 B-Line (rapid bus) and the Expo SkyTrain line intended to put drivers onto transit in Metro Vancouver makes road congestion and air pollution worse.  Research shows that creating more road space increases driving.  This same research shows that putting drivers onto transit does the same thing.
In other words, transit frees up road space to attract new drivers or makes existing drivers, drive more (U of T, 2009).  This paradox has foiled attempts by politicians hoping to use transit to reduce road congestion.  Fast transit only increases transit costs and income taxes.
http://www.economics.utoronto.ca/public/workingPapers/tecipa-370.pdf
Marchetti Effect
Fast transit allows people to live farther from their work, school or destination.  It subsidizes the cost of living of people moving to the suburbs to raise a family in a spacious home – for them to ride transit long distances from their home.  It also results in urban sprawl creating more demand for roads, water mains…. power lines.
Ambitious individuals seeking personal gain are using transit as the catalyst for the development bonanza arising from the urban sprawl along major transit-trunk lines concentrating transit users along a few major transit corridors but taxpayers end up paying increased personal taxes for the new billion dollar transit lines, in particular, to make it happen.  It is interesting to note that the fast transit catering to the urban sprawl is not decreasing the requirement for roads and is in effect the impetus for new roads to the many distant developments having garages for the vast majority of people who will not use transit.
This in fact leads to increased driving as drivers making up the majority of residents in the new developments have to travel farther from the distant developments to the city center or elsewhere.  Urban sprawl induced through the increase in travel speed is explained by the Marchetti effect:
“Marchetti showed that Berlin’s expanse grew according to a simple rule of thumb: the distance reachable by current technologies in thirty minutes or less. As travel speeds increased, so too did the distance traversable and the size of the city.”
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121018-hidden-rules-of-human-progress/4
http://www.cesaremarchetti.org/archive/electronic/basic_instincts.pdf
All in all, transit to make developers money or to subsidize the cost of living of individuals isn’t the goal of transit.  Perhaps a story on how transit no longer reduces road congestion, improves air quality or reduces carbon emissions might be enlightening to your readers and politicians funding transit under the mistaken notion that it benefits society to put drivers onto transit.
Fast transit expands the city.  When transit users with cars aren’t taking transit, they are driving greater distances and more often.  TransLink formed in 1999 in Metro Vancouver is a botched attempt to solve road congestion with transit.  Fast transit by TransLink has worsened road congestion and air pollution.
After only five years of fast transit by TransLink, trips by drivers exploded to 62% from 57%, an increase of 150,000 drivers.  TransLink operating transit in Metro Vancouver and in a desperate panic offered late night transit until 3:30 am to UBC, for example, and handed out cheap bus passes (presently $30 monthly cost for unlimited travel by university students compared with $170 monthly cost for unlimited travel by other transit users) to university students to offset the increase in trips by drivers.
This reduced the percentage of trips by drivers to what it was before fast transit but did not take the cars off the roads.  In Metro Vancouver, demand for transit is saturated and more fast transit such as sky train or rapid bus transit isn’t going to change the percentage of trips by drivers to any extent.
http://habilisblog.com/cycling-and-transit-use-see-big-gains-in-metro-vancouver/
http://www.metrovancouver.org/about/statistics/Pages/KeyFacts.aspx
Regards,
Eric Chris, PE

Comments

4 Responses to “Eric Chris Writes a Letter to the Times.”
  1. Richard says:

    You do realize that this is an argument against all transit, including the rail for the valley that you are pushing for. It is obviously nonsense too. Cities around the world that have great transit systems have much less driving.

    Zweisystem replies: If you have read Eric’s letter, you would have noticed the term ‘fast transit’, such as a limited stop express rapid transit system.
    Have you lived in Europe Richard? I think not, because auto use is on the rise. Our idyllic dreams of Europeans riding bicycles around town is, well a dream. If you want people to go from cars to transit, you must design a transit system to cater to the wants of the potential transit customer. In Vancouver, we have designed transit to cater to property developers and alike and the result is, as what Eric writes about.

    Richard, you have forgot LRT 101, it is cheaper to operate trams on a transit route, than buses, when ridership exceeds about 2,000 persons, per hour, per direction. Understand that, and you understand why SkyTrain has proven to be obsolete before it ever was offered for sale.

  2. Richard says:

    You mean fast limited stop transit like train-tram?

    Anyway, if you look at cities around the world that have high transit and low car usage, they are all cities with large metro systems, faster regional rail and local service using buses and or trams. Pretty clear that the letter is total anti transit nonsense. I’m surprised that you agree with it.

    Zweisystem replies: What cities are you talking about? North Korea. Sadly, you invent as you go along. Just a hint, car usage in central London is now higher that it was before the congestion charges, despite having one of the best metro systems in the world.

  3. “In other words, transit frees up road space to attract new drivers or makes existing drivers, drive more (U of T, 2009). This paradox has foiled attempts by politicians hoping to use transit to reduce road congestion. Fast transit only increases transit costs and income taxes.”

    Yeah…. All I get from this is that Mr. Chris is keen on ranting about transit because he hasn’t experienced it and what it’s caused in Vancouver. I guess he doesn’t go downtown too often, where dedicated bike lanes now eat into road space because downtown car traffic has actually reduced to 1960s levels (and continues to reduce).

    I’d like to see his face when the downtown viaducts go ker-plunk.

    Zweisystem replies: Daryl you are/were just a high school student, Mr. Chris is a chemical engineer. Mr. Chris believes in an analytical approach to transit. What Vancouver is not telling anyone is that people are avoiding the downtown core like the plague, why? Vancouver is not car friendly and the option is for many is not to go. Even the fireworks crowds were lower.

    Wait until the rainy season, the bike lanes will be empty.

  4. Kenji Tanaka says:

    This is very true…. With the implementation of the Canada Line, you would think that downtown would be less congested but as anyone that has tried to drive through downtown has noticed, this is not the case because skytrain has done nothing to reduce traffic congestion.