Is TransLink Getting Desperate?

TransLink is not noted for honesty and candor and the ponderous bureaucracy seems very worried these days. The senior bureaucrats at TransLink’s ivory towers in Sapperton, seem to be somewhat desperate.

On Facebook there is deluge of advertisements almost pleading for people to return to transit and woe to anyone who states the obvious that TransLink’s product is not user friendly and taking the car is so much easier. Recent criminal events happening on the light metro also has people thinking twice about taking transit.

The Daily Hive, TransLink’s “Pravda”, now is desperately trying to convince readers that LRT is only supported by older people, with younger people, evidently much smarter, support SkyTrain.

Zwei’s take is that older people actually pay the onerous taxes to build and operate SkyTrain, while younger people ride on the cheap with their dollar a day U-Passes.

This smacks of desperation on the part of TransLink, who now must source a minimum of $800 million to complete the Expo Line extension to Langley.

With gas now hovering at CAD $1.70 per litre, those living in Surrey and Delta are  waiting for the boarder to open to access far cheaper gas, currently about CAD $1.10 a litre in Bellingham and Point Roberts!

This has made TransLink executives, with their six figure salaries, generous car allowances and more,  very nervous.

But there is another issue, the environmentally sensitive Serpentine Valley, between Surrey and Langley.

As LRT was originally going to cross the Serpentine Valley into Langley, there was no need of extensive engineering. With the Expo Line being a light metro and being elevated across this peaty valley and cost estimate has been made for this. This means that the current estimated cost of $4.95 billion may exceed this amount by 10% to 20% because of the special engineering needed to carry an elevated guideway across the boggy valley.

This has TransLink very worried.

As well, the growing need for a major rehab of the Expo and Millennium Lines, especially the almost 40 year old Expo line is desperately needed. The Burrard station rebuilding and the expansion joint replacement on the Sky Bridge are just a minor prelude of expenses to come.

The $2 billion to $3 billion rehab of the “MALM” Lines is much needed, but TransLink has nor sourced any budget for this, indeed, most regional and provincial politicians remain woefully ignorant of this near future cost.

Then there are the MALM cars themselves, as Alstom now owns the production Line for the proprietary cars and it seems they are none to happy with this Bombardier product and would like to see the end of it. In now looks like Bombardier was the sole bidder for the last TransLink order but TransLink, ever fearful of the truth, refuses to provide a list of bidders, for fear of revealing the truth that MALM is indeed a proprietary transit system, and a decade of deliberate misinformation may have serious legal consequences.

With huge tax increases needed to keep the SkyTrain light metro operating and with the taxpayer in no mood for new taxes has created a huge problems for regional politicians facing civic elections next fall.

So, it is of no surprise that TransLink has turned to their propaganda machine, the Daily Hive, to regurgitate fake news and alternative facts to any and all who will listen.

It was this very sort of propaganda campaign that got president Trump elected.


4 Responses to “Is TransLink Getting Desperate?”
  1. Haveacow says:

    How Haveacow Remembers Righteous Dudes and Stuff with the Surrey to Langley Skytrain Extension.

    1. Remember back in early 2018 and an LRT line from Surrey to Langley was going to cost $1.9 Billion (phase 2 of the Surrey LRT Plan) and everyone lost their mind because it was far too expensive? Then everybody said, “that’s too harsh dude”.

    2. I remember a certain Surrey mayoral candidate who said he could build a Skytrain Line over the same distance using the $1.63 Billion being spent on the first phase of Surrey’s LRT Plan and he said, “it will be joyous!”

    3. Remember when even Translink said, “Umm no way dude, more like $2.9 Billion”?

    4. Remember when a lot people in Surrey said.” I no the experts say your wrong and you have no clue what your talking about but I’ll vote for you anyway”, and then they did?

    5. I remember after the BC civic election in early 2019 when Translink said, “told you so, $2.9 Billion and since you only got like, $1.63 in funding you are only going 7 km not 16 km, so you are going to have to chill”.

    6. Remember in early 2020 when Translink turned around and said, “sorry its $3.13 Billion not $2.9 Billion and you still only have like, $1.63 Billion, so definitely ya, 7km of Skytrain only, ok dudes.?”

    7 (a). Remember 2 weeks ago when PM Trudeau was like, “here’s $1.3 Billion for the SLS (Surrey to Langley Skytrain Extension), cool”?

    7(b). Remember the same day when reporters for both the Vancouver Sun and the Daily Hive asked both Translink and BC Ministry of Transportation experts, “Wow so how much is this extension going to cost?” The answer first was, “look don’t be too harsh” and then it was like,” please don’t use my name but its going to be like, $3.95 Billion”.

    8. Remember when the press turned around said, “wait, what? So we only like have $2.93 Billion, umm we don’t have enough money to build the line, bummer!”.

    9. Then everybody else said, “don’t worry, chill, the province and Translink will pony up the rest and will all be like, righteous!”

    10. Unfortunately, no one heard the response of the province and or Translink when they said, “wait what, dude?”

    Zwei replies: Bravo!

  2. Haveacow says:

    The sad fact is that two basic streetcar rights of way in Toronto that mostly operate in mixed traffic will move more passengers in 2019 than the SLS Extension (Surrey to Langley Skytrain Extension) will at some future date and won’t cost $3.95 Billion to build.

    In 2035 Translink believes the SLS Extension will move 62,000 passengers a day.

    In 2019 the Queen Street Streetcar ROW (Right of Way) in Toronto averaged 63,200 passengers a day, (Routes 501 & 503) The first part of the Queen Street Streetcar ROW has existed since December 1861, it was electrified in 1893.

    *National Geographic, in its book Journeys of a Lifetime, included the 501 Queen streetcar route as one of the Top 10 Trolley Rides in the world.

    In 2050 Translink believes that the SLS Extension will transport 72,100 passengers a day.

    In 2019 the King Street Streetcar ROW in Toronto averaged 84,300 passengers a day, (Routes 504 A & 504 B)
    The first section of the King Street Streetcar ROW has existed since September 1861, it was electrified in 3 phases, 1891,1892,1893.

    Zwei replies: Historically, TransLink has exaggerated ridership predictions by at least 25%.

    “The problem with TransLink is that you can never believe what it says; TransLink never produces a report based on the same set of assumptions.”

    Former West Vancouver Clr. Victor Durman, Chair of the GVRD (now METRO) Finance Committee.

  3. Bill Burgess says:

    Toronto streetcars are a not a good reference point for Skytrain to Langley (STL). How many people would be attracted to a streetcar operating in mixed traffic over this route?

    Capital cost is important, but please give at least *some* consideration to travel time!

    If the capital cost of the Waterloo’s LRT extension (ION2) is $1,360 mil and the STL will cost $3,950 million, that is $32,771/daily passenger for ION2 and $63,709/daily passenger for STL, based on daily riderships of 41,500 and 62,000. When spread over 15 years and ignoring both the growth in ridership over time and the cost of borrowing, the capital costs are $2,185/daily passenger/year for ION2 and $4,247/daily passenger/year for STL.

    But then there is travel time: For ION2, 44 minutes to go 18 km, and for STL, 22 minutes to go 16 km. If passenger time is valued at $15/hr and passengers ride the whole route each day, that is $10.89/daily passenger for ION2 and $5.50/daily passenger for STL. The yearly totals would be $3,977 for ION2 and $2,008 for STL.

    Imagine each passenger bears the capital costs spread over 15 years plus the yearly value of their time on these transit routes. For ION 2 passengers that would be $2,185 for the capital cost/year plus $3,977/year for passenger time for a total of $6,161/daily passenger/year. STL passengers would bear $4,247/year in capital costs plus $2,008/year for passenger time, for a total of $6,255/daily passenger/year.

    When travel time is combined with capital cost spread over 15 years, ION2 vs. STL is a wash – $6,161/year/daily passenger for ION2 vs. $6,255/year/daily passenger for STL.

    No doubt these numbers and comparison method are flawed and/or innadequate.

    But less so than when travel time is completely ignored.

    Adjust the above for ION2′s slightly longer route. Lower the value of passenger time. Reduce the amortization period. Add interest costs. Deflate Translink’s ridership numbers.

    The results will still be far off the silly margins against Skytrain that are claimed by this blog. The latter just get in the way of serious discussion.

    Zwei replies: So many false assumptions, the major one is that a streetcar does not attract ridership.

    Those who support SkyTrain live in an information vacuum because evidence points that SkyTrain is not the way to go. TransLink have been in a partnership with Bombardier/SNC Lavalin to sell ART abroad and by doing so, made our SkyTrain light metro system one of the most studied new build transit system in the world and guess what, no one wants the damned thing.

    Those who support light metro make a great deal about travel time, but you only measure the time taken by mode and not the full package of door to door.

    Yes, SkyTrain is faster than a tram (not so with LRT), but with stations 1 km or more apart, more time is taken to access the station. This is never calculated.

    Those who support SkyTrain carefully manipulate stats to benefit SkyTrain, but this does not fool real experts and sadly, the MALM system, or what ever Alstom will call it now, is on the dead branch of transit evolution and how it got there is historical fact and no matter what alternative facts are used, no one wants the damned thing.

  4. Haveacow says:

    Unfortunately guys, COST IS EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW! It is the ever escalating capital cost of both the Surrey to Langley Expo Line Skytrain Extension and the Broadway UBC Millennium Line Skytrain Extension which is why one might be shelved in favor of the other. Remember, as of today, Vancouver doesn’t have enough money for even the full extension of the Skytrain to Langley. For only $710 million more than the $3.95 Billion, 16 km SLS extension, Ottawa is getting 44 km of LRT service (Stage 2 LRT), nearly 3 times as much and 4.5 km of that, is in shallow tunnel.

    You are paying or could be paying $3.95 Billion for an extension that will move fewer people a day, 29 years from now, than the King Street Streetcar Right of way did in 2019. The streetcar ROW on King St.had its performance improved to almost LRT standards over a 3.1 km distance by forcing cars and trucks to turn right or left every 3 blocks and not outright banning them. This was done for $1.2 million , by adding K-Rails (Concrete highway dividers) and platforms for flower planters. Is it perfect, no, not by a long shot. Were there issues, yes, but it was doable and relatively inexpensive.

    You guys don’t even have a semi-accurate cost estimate right now for the full cost of the Broadway Skytrain extension to UBC. The only one you have, even Translink admitted it is completely out of date ( $3.1 Billion – $3.8 Billion) and needs to be redone. This estimate is only a year and a half old! I knew it was too low, instantly, but when I said so I got attacked and ridiculed, on this website.

    With the current out of date estimates, both stage 1 & 2 of the Broadway Skytrain extension will cost $5.9 – $6.63 Billion for 12 km (roughly 11.1 km of tunnel).

    Toronto’s getting 19 km (11 km in tunnel) of LRT (Crosstown LRT) with longer trains and stations for $5.5 Billion.

    Toronto’s latest subway extension may be $5.5 Billion for 8 km (Bloor-Danforth Extension to McCowan and Sheppard Ave East) but at a minimum will move twice the number of passengers as the Skytrain.

    Montreal’s Blue Line Metro extension is also more expensive (22% more) than the Broadway Skytrain extension but it also can move almost twice what the Skytrain can.

    At some point, somebody has got to ask Translink, why is the Skytrain so expensive compared to everything else being done in Canada? Why do we have an expensive rail based rapid transit system that goes out of its way to protect car lanes on roads and encourages Urban Sprawl? What are we really getting for all this money?

Leave A Comment