Is The SkyTrain Lobby, Really The Auto Lobby In Disguise?

I have always wondered about the true intentions of the stout supporters of the SkyTrain light metro system and TransLink. Despite overwhelming evidence that the proprietary Movia Automatic Light Metro (MALM) system is dated and extremely expensive to operate, they champion the museum piece with invented issues like delaying cars at intersections or even worse, causing congestion. For the SkyTrain Lobby, grade separated is the only way to go and damn the costs.

The reserved or dedicated rights-of-way enables the modern tram to give a service comparable to the much more expensive light metro, operating on viaducts or in subways. The lawned reservations makes already "green" transit much more "green".

The SkyTrain lobby never has been concerned with costs and for many, the option is just tax the taxpayer more!

We can build up to ten times more light rail (TTC, ART Study) for the same cost of building with MALM light-metro, yet this has fallen on deaf ears at all levels of government.

Something to think about; the 50 year costs for elevated light metro are about three times (subways are a staggering five times more!) more than light rail, thus building with light-metro, future generations will be burdened by extra high costs, siphoning money away from expanding the system.

The SkyTrain Lobby remain mute about costs, both short term and long term.

Despite the shrill claims that SkyTrain is the ultimate transit system, history has been less kind. Only seven such systems built since the 1970′s and only three seriously used for “public transport”.

  1. Toronto’s ICTS is soon to abandon their system when it becomes life expired.
  2. JFK’s ART Airtrain will revert to a heavy rail metro when it becomes life expired.
  3. Detroit is nothing more than a demonstration line on life support.
  4. Kuala Lumpur ART system has embroiled Bombardier and SNC Lavalin in a national corruption case and no more will be built.
  5. The Korean ART system which services a theme park is in legal action against Bombardier and no new lines to be built.
  6. China built one ART line to obtain technology and have not built more.
With such a lackluster past, one wonders who the SkyTrain Lobby really supports; the transit customer or the roads and auto lobbies?
My guess is the latter, because the evidence points that way.


6 Responses to “Is The SkyTrain Lobby, Really The Auto Lobby In Disguise?”
  1. Rico says:

    Want to compare the change in amount of road in Vancouver versus any other North American city? I can pretty much guarantee the amount of road in Vancouver has increased less than any city with LRT and the amount of land devoted to parking has almost certainly decreased more than any North American city with LRT as well, so the evidence would suggest if supporters of Skytrain are part of a road lobby they are very very very bad at it.

    Zwei replies: Pure drivel as usual.

  2. Bill Burgess says:

    They were not specifically looking at the effect of transit, but when the Neptis Foundation in Toronto compared Toronto and Vancouver in a study they published in 2015 they concluded with these points that don’t jive with the idea that the road lobby should be big fans of Skytrain or vice versa.

    Meanwhile it was Mr. Zwei who on this blog recently advocated another bridge over the Fraser River and associated highways!

    “1. The GTHA is losing population in some established urban
    areas while growing mostly through greenfield development;
    Metro Vancouver is intensifying….

    2. Growth in the GTHA is going to areas without transit;
    Metro Vancouver is achieving transit-oriented development….”


    Zwei replies: Typical auto Lobby drivel, I’m afraid, putting words into my mouth, using dubious links. You never answer the question; “If SkyTrain is so good, why after 40 years being on the market, only seven have been sold and only 3 seriously used for urban transit.”

    If SkyTrain is so good, why has not anyone copied Vancouver.

    Never answer the questions, always man of straw arguments. You have been exposed – Auto Lobby.

  3. Rico says:

    Instead of calling it pure drivel maybe suggest a city you think may have expanded its road system less or reduced the area of land devoted to parking less?

    Zwei replies: So, in Vancouver, where can roads be expanded? Roads on water? Pure drivel – auto lobby! And lack of parking, well look at merchants fleeing Vancouver.

  4. Bill Burgess says:

    Mr Zwei, my apologies for mis-interpreting your statement:

    “What is needed: A new bridge/tunnel crossing of the South Arm, near the vicinity 80th Ave in North Delta and a second bridge/tunnel crossing, of the North Arm, adjacent to the CN rail bridge, from Richmond to South Burnaby. This entails new highway construction, which the regional politicians are afraid to contemplate.” ( )

    Zwei replies: if you are going to build a new larger crossing to Richmond, you have to build a second bridge to Vancouver/Burnaby. All I am restating is the MOT plan for 2 new crossings from the 90′s.

    You have to move people and with light metro, it is impossible to provide the network to attract the motorist from the car!

    $600 million/km over 50 years is one hell of a lot of money.

  5. Rico says:

    So Vancouver is geographically constrained. This clearly is a good thing when considering limits on road expansion….but it has not stopped other cities with geographical constraints from expanding their road networks….and if Skytrain was not so effective at moving people and getting them out of their cars the pressures to expand transportation options would likely have resulted in more road lanes being added in Vancouver than have been.

    Pretty sure any business loss in Vancouver would be in relation to property taxes…if there has been a loss. I definitely see empty storefronts….but I have always seen them. I always see closing restaurants…but then new ones open. Just the other day I read there has been a significant net inrease in the number of restaurants in Vancouver since 2012 (Daily Hive I think)

    What is the bizarre 600/km comment about? Is that the cost of a freeway km in downtown Vancouver?

  6. Gordon says:

    Vancouver should have built two highways. One from downtown to Highway 1 and another from downtown to Highway 99. The nimbys don’t like that. Vancouver is not geographically constrained Rico. If there is water in the way, build a bridge. If there is a mountain in way, build a tunnel through it. Have you been to Iceland? They have many tunnels on their highways.

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