From June 20, 2013 – Road pricing

A repost from June 20, 2012. The song remains the same!

Force TransLink to efficiently and affordably operate the transit system – No.

Force the taxpayer to ante up more money through road pricing (another name for a tax) – Yes.

The following 1983 quote is from Norman Thompson; CBE, FCA, ACMA, English transit consultant and builder of the (then) world’s busiest subway on the decision to build with SkyTrain: “Vancouver is adopting a non-commercial approach………..I hope they have lots of money“, sums up TransLink’s financial ills, the problem is our mini-metro system.

What TransLink hasn’t done is reveal the true cost of the SkyTrain and Canada Line, instead have the SkyTrain lobby and their surrogates continually misinform the public through the media about the mode, its operations, and its failure to provide an alternative to the car. So successful has been the SkyTrain propaganda campaign, that it even fooled BC.”s Auditor General’s Department!

TransLink’s bureaucracy thrives off of big ticket mini-metro planning and construction and by planning for more Skytrain, means more bureaucrats must be hired and friends of the government (including the notorious SNC Lavalin) will join the SkyTrain gravy-train, all on the taxpayer’s dime or dime per kilometre is TransLink has it way.

There is an ever growing evidence that TransLink has not been honest with transit ridership figures and SkyTrain and transit ridership in general is less that advertised. Evidence of this has surfaced with the on going fare evasion debate, as fare evasion is at industry norms, while revenue collection indicated mass fare evasion. Revenue collection may also reveal that transit ridership is much lower than advertised and there is no mass fare evasion and no need for expensive turnstiles at stations, which was a reward for more friends of the government and had little to do with fare evasion.

Zwei leaves the reader with this; “Who builds with SkyTrain today?” No one, as evidenced with the Canada Line.

From the Surrey news Leader.

Road pricing logic may extend to transit too


Passengers line up to board a Canada Line train at Bridgeport in Richmond.

By Jeff Nagel – Surrey North Delta Leader
Published: June 19, 2013

TransLink is doubling down on the concept of road pricing, arguing it should apply not just to cars to control congestion at the busiest times but also to transit riders to make more efficient use of buses and SkyTrain as well.

A revision of TransLink’s long-range regional transportation strategy is going to public consultation over the next two months and it reinforces the idea of using time-of-use pricing tools to make the most of investments.

The Transportation 2045 plan will argue the number of vehicle trips travelled in the region must climb no higher if Metro Vancouver is to remain a livable region and not end up mired in gridlock.

Capping car travel will be hard.

The overall number of trips taken is projected to climb 50 per cent over the next three decades as a million more Metro Vancouverites arrive, all criss-crossing the region to get to 500,000 more jobs.

So planners say the proportion of trips by transit, cycling and walking must rise at a much faster rate from 27 per cent now to 50 per cent, while the share of trips by car falls.

Building more rapid transit lines is part of the strategy ai??i??Ai??TransLink estimates up to $23 billion is needed to expand the system over 30 years. The first $5 billion would merely maintain what already exists.

But another plank in the document says TransLink should “price roads and transit for fairness, efficiency and revenue.”

TransLink strategic planning vice-president Bob Paddon said road pricing has been in long-range plans for 20 years, but it’s now becoming critical to implement.

Area mayors also want to explore road pricing, where drivers might pay more to drive on major routes depending on the time of day or severity of congestion.

TransLink’s draft document says pricing can cut congestion at peak times while offering users a choice.

“Those who choose to forego a trip, bundle some trips together, travel at a less busy time, use a less busy route or travel by another mode will be rewarded with savings in time and money,” it says.

Paddon said TransLink’s new Compass card system could make it possible to emulate Washington D.C., where subway riders pay based on both the distance travelled and by the time of day.

“The farther you go, the more you pay,” Paddon said. “And if you want to go at the peak of rush hour you pay more.”

He said airlines also make passengers pay more for the last seats as a plane fills up, while offering discounts to sell seats on underused routes or at less popular times.

Drivers will respond to price signals, he suggests, pointing to the success of the #555 bus over the new Port Mann Bridge. Its initial ridership has doubled ai??i??Ai??it now averages 73 per cent full ai??i??Ai??as 1,600 passengers a day ride over the bridge without paying the new toll.

TransLink also wants cities to step up.

Better land use can gradually put more people and their destinations closer to transit routes. With more people able to ride transit, planners reckon, average trip distances can be reduced by one third.

Once the 2045 strategy is approved, TransLink is to develop a 15-year plan of new transportation investments this fall.

The plan is expected to include billions of dollars to build rapid transit lines in Surrey to Guildford, Langley and White Rock, as well as the Broadway line west to UBC.

Once it’s in place, TransLink, mayors and the province will have to draw up a proposal for how to fund the upgrades that would be put to a referendum in the fall of 2014.

The referendum was an election promise of Premier Christy Clark, who also said during the campaign that she opposes making drivers pay to use existing roads or bridges.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said TransLink’s intent to raise up to $23 billion, presumably funded in part through road pricing, is “far too ambitious” even for an aspirational plan.

“There is a point where reality has to set in for all of us,” Corrigan said. “We go out to the public with an unrealistic plan, that raises expectations as to what could be accomplished, when in fact none of that is a reasonable possibility in the near future.”

Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew said TransLink’s time frame for decisions should be reversed ai??i??Ai??the region should first decide how much more residents can afford to pay and then decide the projects that will be built, not the other way around.

He said the other big bills coming to Metro taxpayers, such as for new sewage treatment plants, must also be weighed.

Licence plate cameras in Stockholm detect and bill drivers as they enter or leave the central city. Overhead signs show the amount currently being charged. Rates range from zero to 20 krona ($3.20) depending on the time of day.

Stockholm’s congestion fee offers lessons for Metro

Stockholm is being held up as one example where road pricing is working to control traffic and steer more drivers to public transit.

Mayors Council chair Richard Walton recently visited the Swedish city and said it offers plenty of lessons for planning towards something similar in Metro Vancouver.

Stockholm’s congestion tax charges motorists higher amounts to enter or leave the city core at peak periods, and less or nothing to travel off-peak.

The maximum they pay is the equivalent of $10 a day.

The system was introduced in 2007 and rush-hour traffic volumes promptly fell 20 to 25 per cent, while transit use rose 13 per cent on trains and 18 per cent on express buses.

The congestion tax was put to a vote of residents, but not until one year after it was already in operation.

Walton said politicians concluded it had no chance of passing until drivers saw how it worked and felt the benefits of freer flowing roads.

They agreed they’d simply scrap the $500-million investment in cameras and detectors if it failed.

The referendum was only binding in central Stockholm, where it passed by 53 per cent. All outer suburbs voted against it by margins of up to 70 per cent.

Walton said a congestion charge system wouldn’t work in Metro Vancouver because of our different geography and travel patterns, but road pricing variants will be examined.

Walton remains a strong supporter of the concept based on the Swedish experience, but is leery about winning over voters in a promised referendum.

“This is a tough, tough sell,” he said.

Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay said road pricing could relieve traffic jams in the northeast sector.

“If we can shift people’s transportation mode as a result of a tolling policy like that, you can stretch your road infrastructure another 50 per cent,” Clay said.

“Maybe instead of worrying about building more roads we should be figuring out how to more effectively use them.”


4 Responses to “From June 20, 2013 – Road pricing”
  1. eric chris says:

    My last time on transit:
    I’ve been on transit maybe 10 times in the last 10 years and that’s far more than most of my zillionaire neighbours in Point Grey. On my last trip on transit in Vancouver, a co-worker dropped me off by car on Broadway and Granville Street at 5 pm after work on a weekday. I live by UBC and waited at the No. 9 trolleybus stop while two express 99 Bees (with plenty of empty seats) passed me (99 Bees only make 13 stops and mine wasn’t one of the stops). By happenchance I boarded the No. 9 trolleybus (with a handful of people on board at rush hour) with the 99 Bee right behind the No. 9 trolleybus. All the way down Broadway, the 99 Bee never passed the No. 9 trolleybus until the No. 9 trolleybus travel was curtailed at Alma Street where I was told by the bus driver to get off at Alma Street. I told the bus driver to keep going, the No. 9 goes to UBC, I said.

    He said: only a few No. 9 trolleybuses go to UBC and most are turned around before they reach UBC. He suggested that I take the 99 Bee stopping at Alma Street! I won’t tell you what I thought of his suggestion and waited for the No. 14 trolleybus stopping near my residence to complete my trip. That was my last time on transit. Incidentally, the No 14 trolleybus is diverted from East Vancouver at a great cost to provide local transit along side the 99 Bee in order to build up ridership on the 99 Bee diesel buses and in order to make transit inconvenient if you won’t or can’t use the 99 Bee.

    How necessary is it for TransLink to be operating express transit on Broadway which has traffic lights almost every block? How much time can express service possibly save over 13 km in congested traffic on Broadway? How is it that the roads with the most road congestion in Vancouver (Broadway… Cambie) are along BRT and ST routes where too many transit buses are cutting off drivers?

    No reason to wait for the inefficacy of ST to become apparent in 30 years:
    By TransLink’s illogic, more transit (BRT and ST) will pull people out of their cars. There is no need for us to wait 30 years and squander another $7.5 billion to determine this. If you have a very good arm, you can stand on the Pattullo Bridge and hit the ST line (in operation along side the Pattullo Bridge) with a rock. I’m not encouraging anyone with a good arm to do so:

    Well, if ST and BRT are the answer to road congestion here, as TransLink claims, TransLink merely has to increase its existing ST service along side the Pattullo Bridge to lure drivers out of their cars! Also, along Cambie Street which has bumper to bumper car traffic in parallel to the SNC Lavalin run heavy rail line, TransLink just has to increase the heavy rail line service to reduce road congestion there, too! Easy!

    Let’s do it now to see! Actually, no need, and we all know that it won’t make any more difference to road congestion than the strike in ~2001 made any difference to road congestion.

    Rather than pay everyone at TransLink for the next 30 years until they retire, we can fire everyone at TransLink now to save ourselves millions of dollars. In truth, ST and BRT have no hope of removing existing cars from the roads and will only remove a small fraction of the cars from the roads in the future. Taxpayers are being strung along by the baboons at TransLink. They want to spend billions of dollars for ST and BRT to keep collecting their big salaries. I don’t think so.

  2. eric chris says:

    I just fired off the following email requesting an investigation into the fraudulent claim by Bob Paddon of TransLink in this article and will keep you all apprised of the outcome:

    Dear Mayors’ Council et al:
    I am requesting an investigation into TransLink’s 99 B-Line (BRT) route causing harm, stress and annoyance to residents exposed to frequent and rumbling diesel bus service until 2:30 am on the No 9 trolleybus route. TransLink is harassing residents with the 99 B-Line service which is not necessary and which does not reduce vehicle use any more than regular transit service.

    This weekend TransLink suspended trolleybus service on the No 14 route in operation along side the BRT route and has inundated Point Grey with screaming diesel buses traveling to UBC which is “closed”. At times in Point Grey there are more howling diesel buses carrying nobody than there are cars carrying somebody. Who do the petty employees at TransLink think they are? TransLink has three choices for transit in Point Grey:

    Electric trolleybuses
    Pure electric buses

    It is up to all of you to enforce these choices for TransLink. TransLink has been playing you for too long with its lame excuse that it has to operate diesel buses to offer express BRT saving time and taking cars off the roads. There is no way that express buses save any time over regular trolleybuses at 2:30 am or take any cars off the roads at 2:30 am. Correct? Take care of it.

    I am also requesting an investigation into the false claim reported by Bob Paddon of TransLink. He claims that the new 555 BRT route is 73% full in Surrey. This is a fraudulent claim.

    Things do not compute Bob Paddon:
    Does Bob Paddon drive to work at TransLink (if you call what he does work) or take transit? If he works for the transit company and drives, isn’t he merely a hypocrite and mercenary who is in it for the money? How much does he care about transit use? Not much it seems.

    If Bob Paddon of TransLink took transit once in a while, he might know something about transit. He claims that the new 555 BRT route is 73% full (carrying 1,600 people daily). This does not compute. Every time that I see a bus in operation in Surrey, it has almost nobody on board.

    According to the TransLink transit schedule for the 555 route, the 555 buses operate for about 17.5 hours daily on weekdays. That is, about 91 people per hour (pph) take the 555 buses for the 1,600 people moved over 17.5 hours of operation (1,600 people / 17.5 hr = 91 pph). Moreover, according to the TransLink schedule, the 555 BRT operates at a frequency ranging from ~9 minutes to ~30 minutes. In other words, the carrying capacity of the 555 buses which each carry about 76 people ranges from 507 pph (76 people / 0.15 hr = 507 pph) to 152 pph (76 people / 0.5 hr = 152 pph).

    According to my calculations based on TransLink data, each 555 bus is from 18% full (91 pph / 507 pph) to 60% full (91 pph / 152 pph = 60%). That is, buses on the 555 route are about 39% full on average (average of 18% + 60%).

    This is not 73% full for the buses on the 555 BRT route, as Bob Paddon purports. How much more is TransLink mistaken about transit? Isn’t TransLink offering BRT and ST at too high a frequency? Isn’t TransLink wasting money with BRT and ST? I look forward to the findings of your investigation.

    Eric Chris, Vancouver

  3. eric chris says:

    Just so this does not fall through the cracks, still no word from the Mayors’ Council about the investigation into the false ridership stated by TransLink and the harassment of residents from the diesel buses (99 B-Line express or whatever other euphemism used by TransLink) which have flooded the “hydro-electric” No. 9 trolleybus route paid for by taxpayers for TransLink to operate trolleybuses.

    Here is the link set up to contact the Mayors’ Council for you to voice your opinion about “road pricing” and transit here. The mayors surely want to know:

    And who are the mayors; what are their responsibilities and what the heck is the purpose of TransLink? This link provides the answers:

    According to TransLink:

    “TransLink is committed to the reduction of impacts from vehicle emissions through its ability to influence the use of vehicles in the region.”

    How does the operation of carbon polluting diesel buses on the No. 9 trolleybus route meet this commitment? Hard to say, and TransLink better get the diesel buses running mostly empty off the No. 9 trolleybus route soon.

  4. eric chris says:

    Since the Mayors’ Council won’t respond, things are moving into litigation and I’ll keep you all informed on the progress. Here is the email sent to the law firm today:

    Harassment and bullying by TransLink and City of Vancouver
    From the list of lawyers, you seem to be the right one to possibly represent me and others in Point Grey: to sue TransLink and the City of Vancouver for $2 million as compensation for the harassment and bullying which they have willfully and wrongly inflicted on residents in Point Grey. None of this money is for the residents in Point Grey and is intended to pay for your legal fees. TransLink has lawyers (hopefully not from your firm) and all the money that it needs to bankrupt anyone who tries to sue TransLink. So, if you are going to represent us, you have to feel that you can win and make the money from the award after you win the case.

    For residents in Point Grey, the purpose of the lawsuit is to wake up the government employees at the City of Vancouver and TransLink and to make them aware that they aren’t above the law and that they can’t hide behind the politicians who are protecting them, any longer. I’m not sure where you stand when it comes to transit. I personally don’t have any real objections to transit provided that transit meets the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Act and isn’t a menace to society, in general.

    Let me back up a bit, I’m a chemical engineer with master’s degree. Since about 2009, residents have politely and not so politely requested that TransLink show some respect for the lives of residents living on the No. 9 trolleybus route where TransLink has all but replaced the trolleybuses with express and hyper-frequent diesel bus service (99 B-Line). This service doesn’t serve the community in Point Grey and is mainly used to transport students to UBC. Fine.

    Unfortunately, neither the City of Vancouver nor TransLink did its due diligence. No effort was made to mitigate noise and emission impacts when the City of Vancouver and TransLink acted together to essentially replace zero emission and quiet trolleybuses on the No. 9 trolleybus route with GHG emitting diesel buses which don’t meet Canadian emission standards (PM2.5) and WHO noise guidelines (55 dB).

    Harassment and bullying
    Residents can smell the diesel exhaust in their homes and on the street. Noise levels from the diesel buses make it impossible to speak to someone without being drowned out by diesel bus noise. Vibrations from the diesel buses rattle windows and the pneumatic mechanism releasing air on the buses as the buses brake to stop makes residents cringe, hundreds of times daily. Still, none of these offensive forms of harassment bothers any of the deadbeat government employees at TransLink and the City of Vancouver – they go to work, collect their paychecks and go home – no accountability and no worries when they fail their duty of care to know the rules and apply the rules (noise and emissions).

    Then, when residents in Point Grey have the “audacity” to make TransLink and the City of Vancouver government employees aware of the noise and emission infractions from transit, what do they do? They respond with more late night and frequent diesel bus service until 2:30 am even though the buses are virtually empty in the evenings. This bullying by petty City of Vancouver and TransLink employees who feel that can do whatever they want with impunity was the last straw.

    In any case, I don’t want to ramble on about the matter unless you are interested in going after TransLink and the City of Vancouver for $2 million in damages. No mercy for the dirt bags at TransLink and City of Vancouver.

    Eric Chris, PE