Everyone Is An Expert

Why is it, when someone is elected to office, they become instant transit experts?

Why is it, when it comes to transit, common sense is tossed from the window?

It seems Liberal MLA, Jane Thornthwaite, wants a SkyTrain subway to the North Shore.

First question that she should be asking is: Would it be the Canada line or the Expo Line ALRT/ART mini-metro as they are incompatible in operation. MLA Thornthwaite must remember that it was her political party,  lead by then former Premier Gordon Campbell, abetted by then former Transportation Minister, Kevin Falcon, who oversaw the building of a non conforming mini metro Canada Line.

A 10 km. SkyTrain subway from Waterfront Station, via the First Narrows route (Stanley Park) and ending around Lonsdale would cost over $4 billion.

On a positive note, a subway to the North Shore would make lots more sense than a $2.5 billion SkyTrain extension to Langley.

Then there is the question of ridership. Is there the ridership to support a subway?

No, not even close and it is absurd in the extreme to even think about building SkyTrain to Squamish and Whistler.

SFU types have a bad habit calling themselves transit experts, but the university does not offer degrees in “Urban Transport”.  Most academics who call themselves “transit experts” have little or no expertise in transit at all, but are very savvy with media relations.

Rail for the Valley has another, far cheaper solution., a light diesel multiple unit service (and later TramTrain, when Transport Canada approves the mode) connecting the North Shore with downtown Vancouver. Two trains an hour each way could probably offer adequate capacity for transit customers.

Such a service could be installed quite cheaply, for around $200 million, not breaking the TransLink budget.

Now we come to the big problem, our so called experts planning for transit are not experts at all, rather career bureaucrats, academics and politicians, planning for expensive gadgetbahanns like SkyTrain or the SFU gondola to further their careers.

The only transit expertise in Metro Vancouver is the art of manipulating facts to merit more and more hugely expensive and obsolete SkyTrain light metro construction.

 

North Vancouver MLA calls for North Shore SkyTrain

Brent Richter / North Shore NewsOctober 17, 2017 04:10 PM
skytrain

A hypothetical SkyTrain map produced by MLA Jane Thornthwaite shows the North Shore with a commuter rail link across the Second Narrows and transit stops from Cates Park to Dundarave. image supplied

If you’re patiently waiting for the SkyTrain to arrive on the North Shore, you could be in for a long wait.

Mayor Darrell Mussatto began raising this issue publicly this spring, calling for a feasibility study. And North Vancouver-Seymour Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite broached the topic in the legislature twice in the last session.

But TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond has responded saying the transit authority is too focused on expanding the existing system to be getting serious about new megaprojects.

“I think the recent conversations, particularly about SkyTrain coming to the North Shore are just indicative of the thirst people have to improve the transportation infrastructure and the transit system,” he said during a recent visit to North Vancouver. “We need to start advancing the current 10-year plan, moving forward with that with the support of the new provincial government to help make that happen. Then we have to move on and think about what the next plan is and the next plan after that,” he said.

If a fixed rail bridge or tunnel to Vancouver is a high priority for residents, they should make that known in the upcoming review TransLink is doing of its 30-year regional transportation strategy, Desmond said.

But Thornthwaite isn’t waiting 30 years. She’s already drawn up a proposal including hypothetical transit map featuring a SkyTrain connection over the Second Narrows with stops across the North Shore, from Cates Park to Dundarave. And she’s started consulting with local MPs and the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

“I desperately want to have the idea of a SkyTrain to the North Shore on the map of the mayors’ council,” she said. “I’m talking about a bold vision here. I think we all have to start having these conversations.”

Thornthwaite said she was inspired to lobby for a North Shore rail link because constituents in North Vancouver-Seymour have very little coming to them in terms of transit improvements.

“If we want to have any hope of encouraging and incentivizing our people to get out of their cars and take transit, we’ve got to start improving the system,” she said. “I would certainly like TransLink to consider the option of SkyTrain to the North Shore within their 10-year (transportation) plan. Right now, there’s nothing in my riding from the (mayors’) 10-year plan and there’s hardly anything for the North Shore.”

Funding is in place currently for a new SeaBus, which will allow 10-minute service during rush hour, a 30 per cent increase in regular bus service and new B-Line buses for the North Shore.

Thornthwaite said she hasn’t done any back-of-the-envelope calculations on what such a plan would cost although she conceded it would be in the billions.

“But the only way we can get an assessment going and the interest from the decision-makers like TransLink and the mayors’ council is to start talking about it. That’s what I’m trying to do. Everybody I’ve talked to thinks it’s a good idea.”

Such a rail line could even be connected to Squamish and Whistler over the longer term, Thornthwaite added.

Gordon Price, fellow with SFU’s Centre for Dialogue and former head of the university’s city program, said it’s refreshing to see the discussion of a fabled “third crossing” return but centred around mass transit for a change.

“It’s certainly doable and it could certainly be doable faster than what dreamers might think at this point. That’s a political and financial commitment,” he said.

But before North Vancouver and West Vancouver can pursue a rail link with any seriousness, they have to be able to answer some existential questions about the kind of communities they aspire to be. To justify a SkyTrain, our urban planning would have to become much more centred around transit over the long term than it currently is.

“If you’re going to be looking at something like SkyTrain rapid transit, and you should, it’s a long-term solution. We’re talking over 100 years. And it means a fundamental change in the scale, and for some parts of your community, a fundamental change in character. You’re building transit-oriented, concentrated communities with both work and play and all the rest of it,” he said. “Because otherwise, why build rapid transit?”

Park Royal would have to look more like Burnaby’s Brentwood neighbourhood, Price used as an example.

“North Van and West Vancouver would have to commit themselves to having a different kind of long-term vision for themselves, and I’m not sure that the population is yet ready for that,” he said.

But, Price noted, if the hope is that a North Shore SkyTrain would be the silver bullet to solving the bridge congestion problem, there are much cheaper and faster options within reach, namely mobility pricing. The technology to track usage of the roads and transit system in real time exists in most anyone’s smartphone, meaning it would not be difficult to charge tolls based on usage. That would be the most effective incentive for getting people and cars off the road, and speeding up the daily commutes, Price said.

“That’s going to be so much easier to do in the world we’re moving into. We’re not quite there yet but it’s happening,” he said.  “The politics of that? Brutal. But it could be done.”

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