Gregeor Telling Porkies – Again!

Vancouver wants a subway and its mayor will say anything to get the province to pay for one under Broadway.

There is an old Hungarian saying; “When the gypsies knock at the door, rush out and protect the chickens.” Updated, the saying should say, “When Gregor preaches a SkyTrain subway under Broadway, say no and keep your taxes and transit affordable.”

Vancouver mayor renews push for Broadway transit line

Read more:

Vision Vancouver has started its re-election campaign by releasing a video with a heavy emphasis on its hoped $3-billion subway line for the Broadway corridor to the University of B.C.

The YouTube video shows Mayor Gregor Robertson extolling Vision’s successes, which includes “cutting congestion with the new Broadway subway line” and providing more affordable housing.

Robertson said Tuesday he doesn’t believe the video makes it sound like the subway line is a done deal, noting it indicated Vision is simply advocating for the project.

“We’ve got to champion this. Eventually this will happen; I want it to happen soon,” he said, following a keynote address to the Urban Land Institute of B.C. “I’m going to keep battling hard for this.”

Robertson said the Broadway subway is crucial to the city’s future because it would address increasing congestion and bus pass-ups along the route.

He pointed to a city analysis that suggests the new subway would see 250,000 trips on its first day ai??i?? more than a new Massey Tunnel Bridge or the Port Mann Bridge ai??i?? and take 50,000 car trips off the road.

Here is a reality check for Mayor Gregor and the so called CoV experts, the total bus trips made by transit customers along Broadway amount to 31, 570 trips a day. Really, where does the City of Vancouver come up with 146,000 a day? Inhaling too much pixie-dust maybe?

Then there is this nonsense that subways will increase revenue and transit savings, which is a farce. The fact is, subways are hugely expensive to operate and maintain. Further, subways are very poor in attracting ridership; Robertson and the Vision Vancouver gang think the regional taxpayer, who will be taxed to the max to fund this extravagance, are rubes.

The city had predicted in 2012 that 146,000 people a day would be shuttled in a subway along the new route.

The new analysis, based on TransLink’s Broadway Corridor study and trip diary data released last year, also suggests new revenue from the subway and transit savings ai??i?? by increasing transit ridership and reducing the need for B-Line buses ai??i?? would total upwards of $200 million over 10 years.

The subway is among a list of TransLink priorities, which also includes a light-rail line in Surrey and a replacement for the aging Pattullo Bridge. Metro Vancouver mayors are in the midst of developing a 10-year plan and proposed funding options, such as using a vehicle levy or other forms of road pricing such as tolls on every bridge or tunnel, which will go to a public referendum.

Just as a reminder, Metro Vancouver, after spending over $9 billion on three mini-metro lines, also has much higher ‘cost per revenue passenger’ than Edmonton and Calgary, which operate with light rail. A Broadway subway would dramatically increase the costs per revenue passenger.


15 Responses to “Gregeor Telling Porkies – Again!”
  1. Bob Patrick says:

    I’m not sure what is worse. The subway plan for Scarborough in Toronto or this one. LRT best for both!

  2. zweisystem says:

    What is worse, it seems that the CoV and TransLink are making it up as they go along!

    I was told on Monday night by a CoV planner that that the Canada line was the best new rapid transit system of the decade! He also went on to say; “no one really builds with LRT anymore” and “subways are really cheaper to operate than a streetcar”. This only confirms my suspicion that the bureaucracy is for people, especially university grads, who are so incompetent that they cannot get a job in the real world!

  3. Haveacow says:

    All of this issue was historically part of a good well thought out policy that Metro Toronto adopted to create smaller downtowns and job clusters at the end of the Subway lines to end the massive one way flow heading downtown in the morning and out of downtown in the afternoon. The Sub-Centres Policy This way, expensive subway construction for new lines heading downtown could at the least be put on hold while passenger growth evened out making far more efficient use of the existing subway lines. The Scarborough extension of the Bloor Danforth Subway at the least corrects another historic mistake. That mistake being the creation of the Scarborough RT ,instead of the planned LRT line using the then new CLRV’s. Unfortunately what would have been a historic LRT line was never going to happen because it was going to fail the funding vote in the old Metro Toronto Council. The province needing a technological prototype and demonstration line for UTDC’s (a provincial crown corporation) new LIM powered automatic Light Metro system. The issue became that any separate rapid transit line to Scarborough Centre other than the subway just adds travel time and the forcing of the RT technology on the TTC greatly increased the planned maintenance costs. The LRT line was also going to be built so that eventual conversion to subway technology was possible, this all ended with Scarborough RT. There is however, finally enough passenger flow to warrant a subway by TTC standards around 12,000 p/h/d at peak.

    Even though the conversion of the RT to LRT in the Transit City Plan was good idea but it didn’t solve a problem that the public was not generally told about. 5-7 years after the planned Transit City LRT line through Scarborough Centre to Sheppard Ave opened, it would have to be closed down to begin the rehabbing or the raised concrete R.O.W. (which would be around 40 years old then) used by the LRT, formally used by the Scarborough RT line. That cost was never included in the construction cost of the Transit City LRT line. People forget that at the time around 1980, the Bloor Danforth Subway was to continue east towards Port Union not north east to Scarborough Town Centre. The current plan for an LRT line east on Eglinton Ave. to Kingston Rd, then north east to Morningside Rd. and then north to Malvern, hence the name, the Scarborough-Malvern LRT Line corrects that mistake as well. When you add the cost of the rehabilitation of the raised concrete right of way and the conversion to LRT from RT technology a brand new Subway line was not such a big cost difference after all. This fact has not been let out very often to the public.

  4. David Gibson says:

    Interesting article. I am curious to know where the figure of $9 billion came from, please.

    Zwei replies:

    The figure came from the UBC Sauder School of Business. If you take the direct cost of the three metro lines then add in the BC Government subsidy, including debt servicing, compounded since 1985, it comes to $9 billion. In the USA, the cost of new transit lines do include debt servcing and why they seen so expensive when compared to Metro Vancouver.

  5. Richard says:


    Very interesting. I’ve been following the debate in TO and have not heard this mentioned by anyone.

    If this is mentioned in a report online, can you please post a link?


  6. zweisystem says:

    You raise an interesting point, in that our present Expo Line guideway is nearing 40 years old and I wonder what will be the cost of rehabilitation of the existing guideway?

  7. Haveacow says:


    There is no link because its not public information. It pays to have conections sometimes. The Liberal government in Ontario I think was hoping that the with the cash already in the City’s/TTC’s hand and a new tax to pay for the city’s portion of the project, the problem disappears. As I have said before, in this case a subway is a better option than LRT. The new subway r.o.w. also solves the problem of thousands of Toronto commuters forced on to buses while RT line was to be converted to LRT for 5 years. The TTC can barely afford its present 1900 bus fleet and its thousands upon thousands of bus drivers. Having to have 50-80+ buses and their associated drivers shuttling passengers between Scarborough Centre and Kennedy stations for 5 years would definitely force a increase to the bus fleet and its operating budget.

    The surface LRT lines were the best choice for Finch, Sheppard and Eglinton Avenues because it completely replaced the bus routes along those streets and reduced the bus fleet size and the number of drivers needed while not forcing the TTC to build a hugely expensive light metro or subway rights of way, especially since none of the street LRT r.o.w.’s had the minimum numbers the TTC requires for those heavier technologies.

  8. Haveacow says:


    It is hinted at in the original Eglinton-Scarborough LRT environmental assessment when they mention further life cycle maintenance costs for the right of way not being included in the planned costs (sound familiar to you, read the expected costs of the Expo Line Upgrade Report). Always get worried when they say things like that in reports, its always code for saying we have other big bills coming.

    One other thing. The surface LRT lines in Toronto do have big costs but it will provide Metrolinks, the people who will own the lines (The TTC is just operating them), with the capability and capacity to add further lines without having to build additional maintainance and storage sights for each new LRT line they add to the network.

  9. Haveacow says:

    During our tour to Vancouver and the Control Centre for the Skytrain we asked about the cost of rehabbing the Expo Line skytrain r.o.w. and they really didn’t have a firm cost estimate at that time. The estimate they gave us was $750,000,000-1.8 Billion they didn’t know for sure. By the way that is a Life Cycle cost not included in the Expo Line Upgrade Report.

  10. zweisystem says:

    Sources at TransLink and yes there are those at TransLink who greatly favour planning for LRT and retiring the SkyTrain transit model, have told Zwei that a full rebuild of the Expo and millennium Lines to accommodate rakes of 2 car trains of MK 3 stock (3 cars per train), including extending the station platforms to 110 metres could cost in excess of $2 billion! This of course is not included in the Broadway subway estimates.

    I was told that planners do not even think a $1 billion LRT line is feasible with current ridership and a subway may indeed sink TransLink completely, financially. The whole Broadway subway is politically driven by major backers of Vision Vancouver to let loose a land rush for development along Broadway.

    The other problem is that rail wear is of great concern and the Expo Line is being rerailed for a second time in its 29 year history.

  11. Actually, the numbers that you quote describe the amount of weekday transit trips across the UBC/UEL screenline only. These do not account for trips made on the rest of the Broadway corridor, including the busy West Broadway and Central Broadway districts. You’re taking this out of context and misleading the public.

    Zwei replies: funny when TransLink’s figures support SkyTrain, nary a question asked; but when TransLink’s figures show figures against a SkyTrain subway you cream wrong; not true; lies. Funny thing Daryl is that those short haul journeys you mention, would be faster and cheaper with LRT/tram.

    Daryl, ever notice no one builds with SkyTrain anymore? Only 7 system built since the late 1970″s – sorry old chum, no one buys with SkyTrain anymore because modern LRT is just better, get over it!

  12. Rico says:

    Actually Daryl’s point was rather simple and easy to understand. I would have put it blunter that you were deliberately misleading the public. Either that or you fell into the trap about thinking the Broadway line is a UBC line.

    Zwei replies: No trap Rico and if you new anything about transit you would b honest enough to admit that there isn’t the ridership to demand a subway. But you are not honest and are a mere SkyTrain troll, like Daryl, spreading misleading information like a farmer sows a field. Be honest and admit no one builds Skytrain any more and there isn’t the ridership on Broadway that would demand a subway.

  13. Haveacow says:


    Lets see what you are using to prove your point shall we. The line diagram on your website that you are using is for the year 2041! In fact in terms of the westbound am peak volume numbers drop below 10,000 pphpd any place west of Main St. There is only a high of say 6200 at Cambie and the passenger volumes continue to drop the further west you go. Till you get numbers easily handled by a cheap LRT or a real BRT system, not a cheap BRT lite system that is currently used. These are numbers for 27 years in the future. The current numbers for passenger volumes don’t even break 5000 pphpd. I ran Translink’s numbers, the ones they gave me and currently the real cause of most of the crowding on buses in this corridor like the 99 during the late pm peak and into the evening anyway, are caused by Translink pulling too many buses out of service post pm peak on the corridor for the large number of students coming out of UBC. Yes Zwei’s numbers are using the UBC screen line and the busiest parts of the corridor are around Cambie to Main St but they are not that high.

    Most cities like Toronto or Montreal only consider using expensive below grade or above grade infrastructure when passenger volumes exceed 10-12000 pphpd. Toronto’s Eglinton LRT being an acception because the 11km tunneled portion includes sections of road that far too narrow for a surface right of way or an above ground right of way. The Sheppard Subway is finally nearing 10,000 (8200) but that was just a mistake to begin with and I grew up close to Sheppard Ave. and even I have to admit that.

    The Expo line upgrade program costs 1 billion + and the actual work on the raised right of way between the skytrain stations isn’t even included in the upgrade program because it is a life cycle cost. That is desperately needed because of the advancing age of the entire Expo line above ground right of way is starting to show early signs of advanced concrete fatigue. (I have mentioned this story before and will not repeat it again) Remember concrete breaks down at a geometric rate, what looks minor and easy to fix now can very quickly grow out of control. The early estimate was $750 million + for those repairs and they have to be done. The point I am making here is at a minimum almost 2 Billion will have to be spent to keep the Expo Line from falling down and able to handle passenger volumes of 25700 pphpd. Something that both the Ottawa and Seattle (just found out yesterday) LRT lines will be able to do by just adding more LRV’s (both systems can be automated at a later date easily).

    Daryl never base any expensive 2 billion + line extension for a technology that, given the current state of rail car builders like Bombardier, I don’t see them keeping the Skytrain technology around because the sales are just too low. I see them keeping the City low 650 operating system around but many of the other key components of that are associated with the Skytrain like, LIM Motors (less powerful,slower acceleration, larger, harder and more expensive to maintain than existing electric rotary motors) steerable trucks (that are smaller than standard streetcar trucks but can’t turn tighter radius turns than those larger cheaper sreetcar trucks) and phlanges (train wheels) that can’t be used on standard rail phlange lathes when wheel profile alterations are needed. If you don’t believe me contact the TTC or Bombardier

    Last point, its true skytrain can be operated at even greater frequency than the current 108 seconds but it needs Transport Canada’s permission to do so. You just can’t start running at headways lower than you are currently doing because you feel like it. Transport Canada has to assess that you safely can operate at a lower headway and you have the budget and maintenance ability to do this for a long period of time. I know the people personally at Transport Canada who put Translink through the ringer to get 108 seconds on their operating certificate. If they want to go lower you are looking at a minimum of 1 year of study and tests to make sure its safe both in operations and budget. This is important because (please correct me if I am wrong) didn’t Translink cut operating times for the Skytrain in off peak (evening and late evening) to 7 minute head ways. That by the way gives less service during the same time periods as the Toronto Subway and Montreal Metro systems which are around 5 minutes on weekday evenings. This is odd for a driverless system which is supposed to be cheaper to operate than driver based systems. Transport Canada (thanks Bob) also noted that 20-25% of your operation budget in their information given to them by Translink, and I confirmed in their yearly fincial statements on line that, goes to payments on existing debt that the system already has. That was a noted concern by Transport Canada. Something to think about guys have a nice day, going to CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) for an appointment with my son Campbell and probably a follow up tomorrow.

  14. eric chris says:

    @Actually, Daryl, you are ignorant. The UBC screen line is from Commercial Drive to UBC for the entire route distance of the 99 Bee.

    People board and alight the 99 buses along the route and peak ridership is either at the Canada Line or UBC, likely UBC as the ridership builds up along the route. When the 99s arrive at UBC, they are about 78% full during the busiest time of the day in this article.

    Nobody is passed up on the 99 Bee route, just delayed occasionally during peak hours due to TransLink offering almost free transit to UBC students. Students are clamouring to save a few minutes to UBC because they are young and in a hurry to get to UBC where they just kill the extra five minutes saved. TransLink curtails buses on other parallel routes to encourage riders to take the 99 Bee.

    Right now, transit to UBC is almost empty as UBC is closed over the summer. TransLink couldn’t give a crap about the wasted money and has union bus drivers to employ for the next four months – so buses run anyhow. Peak demand on the 99 Bee is 1,610 pph calculated thus:

    Route capacity

    Route capacity refers to the number of people transported on the buses traveling on the bus route while the buses are in motion. For example, the capacity of the 99 B-Line route at 9:45 am on a weekday (December 2013) is calculated as follows:


    tF99 = service frequency of the 99 B-Line at 9:45 am, 2.9 minute = 0.04833 hour

    X99 = seating and standing capacity of each 99 B-Line bus, 100 people

    C99 = capacity of 99 B-Line route in one direction, people per hour (pph)


    C99 = X99 / tF99 = 2,069 pph

    Related to the route capacity, transit demand refers to the number of people who are actually on the buses on the route. On the 99 B-Line route, for instance, the transit demand is 1,610 pph at 9:45 am (UBC 2012). Transit demand does not pertain to the cumulative number of people who board or alight the buses over the entire distance of the route while the buses are motionless.

  15. eric chris says:

    @Daryl and friend reek (rico),

    Trams are amazing – they’re just cool. You don’t know bo.

    It does not matter how many bus routes operate on Broadway or what the ridership is on all the bus routes on Broadway. Only the 99 Bee route would be replaced by ST.

    If the EGL to Coquitlam sets the precedent, ST along Broadway would increase diesel bus service hours by 7% or about 300,000 service hours annually at a cost of about $32 million to shuttle riders to ST along Broadway. On the other hand, if a tram were operated on Broadway, it would replace the No 9, 14 and 99 routes having about 250,000 annual service hours – saving about $29 million annually.

    So, just looking at bus service hours, ST up Broadway increases operating and maintenance costs by about $60 million annually for buses or $600 million over 10 years. Moreover, trams use more efficient electrical motors than ST and use less power than ST.

    Somehow the COV staff have calculated savings of $200 million over 10 years with ST, coined brain train by the COV, if TransLink replaces the 99 Bee with ST ! Trams do have drivers. However, the ST line along Broadway would require about 140 support staff. I don’t see the tram line requiring more staff than ST even with the drivers required for tram.

    No wonder ST (brain train) is cheap to operate according to the “engineers” running transportation at the COV. Ask them to explain how ST putting buses on the roads is less expensive to operate the trams taking buses off the roads. OK?

Leave A Comment