Good old Zwei has been blogging on local transit issues for the past 10 years, I can say that both recently announced “rail” transit projects are both hugely expensive, will not ease congestion and will fail to achieve their objective, except giving the excuse for land development adjacent to the routes.

As advised by real transportation professionals, there are North America and Europe, there are many serious problems affecting our local transit.

First of all, what we call SkyTrain is really three different railways.

  1. The Expo Line is the original proprietary ICTS/ALRT system marketed by the former Ontario Crown corporation UTDC.
  2. The Millennium and Evergreen Lines are a completely re-engineered ICTS/ALRT proprietary railway, now called ART which patents are owned by Bombardier (technical) and SNC Lavalin (Engineering). Though ART and ICTS/ALRT can operate on each other’s rights-of-way, the cars cannot be operated in a single train. The E&ME Lines maximum capacity is 15,000 as per Transport Canada’s operating certificate.
  3. The Canada Line which is a conventional heavy rail metro, built as a light metro, but because of cost constraints, was built with very small stations with 40 metre long station platforms, allowing only 2 car trains, which constricts capacity to a maximum of 9,000 pphpd and internationally, is considered a “White Elephant”.

The Canada Line needs a minimum of $1.5 billion spent to increase capacity beyond 9,000 pphpd.
The E&M/E or Innovia Lines need about $3 billion spent to both renovate the aging Expo Line. Over $1 billion is being spent from the $7.3 billion budget for infrastructure upgrades, but a further $2 billion must be spent to increase capacity beyond 15,000 pphpd.

This $3 billion must be spent on the Innovia lines before any extension to Langley (cost around $3 billion).

To date only seven LIM powered Innovia SkyTrain systems have been built in the past 40 years, with only 3 seriously used for regional transit and not one new system has been built in the past decade.

By comparison over 200 new build LRT systems have been built, and many of the 350 existing or heritage tram/streetcar lines have been upgraded to LRT standard.

The North American standard for a subway is a transit route having customer flows in excess of 15,000 pphpd and in Europe, because of the success of light rail over 20,000 pphpd.

Customer flows along Broadway are less than 4,000 pphpd, much less than would demand of a subway (the same is true of the Canada Line and its annual operating costs of around $110 million is more than twice the amount than comparable LRT systems).

Please note: TransLink schedule for peak hour service on the 99B Express bus is 20 trips per hour, giving a maximum capacity of 2,200 pphpd.

The problem is that we are grossly over building transit to suit political needs and not transit customer needs.

We are going to spend over $6 billion on about 20 km of rail transit and this is pure madness.

As a reminder light rail is not rapid transit and in fact rapid transit is used to describe heavy rail metro and want we call SkyTrain is a light-metro, which was made obsolete by LRT in the 1980′s!

What is not being calculated are the huge operating costs of the Broadway subway, which will be around $40 million annually and this on a route most used by those holding the $1 a day U-pass, which means more subsidies to a very heavily subsidized rail service.

Again, no one builds with Innovia SkyTrain anymore as it is deemed dated 1960′s tech, akin to the Edsel.

What needs to be done is put an end to the mayor’s 10 year plan and get an outside agency of transportation professional, specifically from Europe, to plan and install the proper transit meeting transit customer needs.

In 10 years time we will be over $7 billion poorer with no real improvement to regional transit.

Congestion will be endemic, forcing the government to impose road pricing on the region, to pay for more “madness”.

People living south of the Fraser ‘punished’ for decades, argues local blogger about transit

by NEWS 1130 Staff

Posted May 2, 2018

LOWER MAINLANDA (NEWS 1130)Ai?? A local blogger and former journalist says its time for people in Surrey to be the focus of transit improvements.

UBC has offered to pay for a portion of the SkyTrain line extension from its intended terminus at Arbutus to the Point Grey campus.

TransLink says the Broadway SkyTrain and Surrey LRT projects will move ahead simultaneously. It notes the Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT is slated to be completed in 2024, a year before the Millennium Line Broadway Extension.

The next phase of transit improvements across Metro Vancouver, totaling $7.3 billion, makes way for 108 new SkyTrain cars, and 95 replacement cars.

Still, Frank Bucholtz, a former local journalist, writes that people living south of the Fraser have been punished for decades.

There is lot of parts of the region that need better service but Surrey has grown dramatically in almost 30 years since the SkyTrain last stopped here and nothing has been added since that time despite a tremendous amount of talk, he tells NEWS 1130.

That talk mostly comes from politicians who, as Bucholtz argues, can do little more than slightly improve bus service.

For the rest of the story……..


7 Responses to “Madness”
  1. tensorflow says:

    ….did you actually read Frank Bucholtz’s post?
    He supports extending Expo Line along the Fraser Highway corridor, which is something you would totally disagree with:

    “… It does call for a second transit line in Surrey, along Fraser Highway. The city wants that line to be a street-level LRT system. Most residents feel it should be a SkyTrain line, mainly because of improved travel times and no interaction with street traffic….”
    “…Meanwhile, a rapid transit line down Fraser Highway which would provide the kind of transit service Condon and other planners envisioned in 1998 remains a talking point. Little has been done to actually advance its construction…”

    Zwei replies: As the title suggests, Madness.

  2. Haveacow says:

    Well they are going to build the Broadway extension, the argument is now over. I will say one last time, this whole project could be delayed by just reorganizing how buses are brought to the area and a better subdivision off bus routes based on where the passengers are actually going. Would it have been a complete solution forever? No, but a hugely expensive rapid transit line moving far too few passengers could be delayed until the passenger counts increased to the point massive operating subsidies weren’t needed.

    Before everyone jumps on me by saying they looked at bus alternatives, understand this. I work in this field, I have read their reports. Translink never looked at real bus alternatives because they don’t know them and or, they don’t want to admit that there are cheaper alternatives because they don’t truly appreciate and understand them. I’m not saying that they are incompetent or negligent. If you are not exposed to these ideas or don’t understand how they are implemented you can’t use them. Translink only looked at a narrow band of rapid transit alternatives. BRT, and a very low capacity one, I might add! A poorly thought out surface LRT example. Again, with catastrophically low passenger capacities! The final choice being the, Light Metro Skytrain System, you all know very well.

    Notice, Translink never even thought that the LRT could use tunnels, not to mention they also forgot that BRT can as well. So those choices weren’t even seriously considered and measured against the Skytrain which was in a tunnel. You can’t compare 2 surface rapid transit options to a Skytrain running in a tunnel then say with a straight face, the Skytrain is better because it is a faster more efficient option! Which is exactly what they did! “No kidding, a train running in a tunnel is faster than BRT and LRT running on the surface. Wow, call the press, do I have a scoop for you guys!” I don’t mean to be overly sarcastic but this kind of comparison left me seriously wondering, does Translink’s staff seriously think the people of BC’s Lower Mainland are that dumb!

    What was funny was the operating frequency of the studied BRT and LRT options was lower than the frequency studied for the Skytrain extension. This shows an almost child like approach to math. Should anyone be surprised that they found Skytrain moved more passengers than the other studied rapid transit options? Considering that both the BRT and LRT options started with lesser frequencies.

    The operating frequencies chosen for the other alternatives also showed a complete lack of knowledge about how both LRT and BRT are actually operated in other cities. I am reminded of the beginning of a song from a certain TV program aimed at toddlers, “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong…”

    So there you go, have fun with your extension to Arbutus. I am looking forward to the opening of Ottawa’s Confederation Line November 30, 2018 (fingers crossed). This past Friday the City and RTG (Rideau Transit Group) held a ceremony for the installation of the “Last Track Clip” completing all track work for Stage 1 of the LRT System from Blair Station to Tunney’s Pasture Station. Cheers everybody!

  3. Haveacow says:

    Here is a great article about the limits of cost benefit analysis for a rapid transit line.

  4. Haveacow says:

    Check out the difference in width between a BRT right of way and an LRT right of way. This is currently the end of the line of Stage 1 at Tunney’s Pasture Station.

  5. eric chris says:

    Haveacow, as you said in the past, the prudent plan is to convert the entire public transit system in Metro Vancouver to LRT-tram service (to run in mixed traffic or separate from traffic as conditions allow). This avoids the billions of dollars in additional expenditures for light-metro which must be separated from traffic and is obsolete.

    However, all the “planners” at TransLink would have to admit that they wasted our money on light-metro which can only practically move 12,000 pphpd. Light-metro here was sold on the untruth that it can one day, which is always another day in the distant future, move more than 30,000 pphpd, and if the “planners” at TransLink confessed to the impossibility of it would face the guillotine.

    Would you admit that light-metro is the biggest scam ever in BC if you had zero accountability and could hide it to keep the party going at TransLink? No way.

    The lame excuse of planners at TransLink to perpetuate the crime of light-metro is that it is “better” to spend more money to move fewer people slower with light-metro service compared to LRT-tram service to preserve the continuity of light-metro. Okay, this clever logic suggests that if you have an eight-track deck in your old car, you’re better off to pay extra for custom eight track recordings for crappy sound and spend a fortune to maintain your crappy car.

    TransLink’s consultation for options to solve the “crowding” on the 80 buses running 90% empty on Broadway was a sham to steer to the predominantly clueless and gullible dweebs (all 12 of them) to favour the subway to Arbutus Street. This is for TransLink to raise taxes and pay for the light-metro system which is BC’s biggest financial black hole ($5 billion and growing).

    Public transit use has plummeted here. Twenty years ago, 57% of the trips in Metro Vancouver were by drivers. Now, the percentage of drivers has mushroomed by 10% to 20%. TransLink didn’t reveal this in 2014 when it was supposed to update us on its “performance” and doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to tell us of the huge increase in the number of drivers in 2018.

    Shake that booty for the tram line to UBC. Uh uh. “I stand up me for the things that I believe …”

  6. eric chris says:

    Eventually crazy-expensive light-metro moving few people in dinky LIM trains will have to be abandoned. Revenue passenger use on light-metro here is falling precipitously and more people on public transit are switching to e-bike cycling and e-vehicle sharing which directly compete for transit users and don’t compete for drivers who need cars to carry tools, kids and stuff.

    Light-metro and TransLink have no future. People who’ve had it with the creeps on “light-metro” lacking adequate security are dumping it in droves.

    “”As the victim walked away from this incident, the suspect threw a cup of coffee on her back … shoved her to the ground … She was taken to hospital for … neck and back injuries and bruising … it is fortunate she did not … fall onto the tracks …”

    Cigarette packages have graphic warnings about smoking being harmful to your health. Compass tickets might include graphic warnings about how riding light-metro might result in your head being split open by one of the rapists or murderers on driverless “light-metro” where the transit police, nowhere to be found in the following video and offering no protection, show up with the body bag to collect you after the assault”.

  7. Haveacow says:

    Keep in mind most American cities average about 10% of total ground traffic carried by transit. Here in Canada it’s about 20-25%. Even in Canada, that amount drops significantly if there is no rapid transit or the city and area have less than 500,000.Ideally most planners would love a 40, 30, 30 split here in Canada. That’s 40% cars, 30% transit and 30% walking and biking. Unfortunately, I don’t see those gagety. Electric bikes ever taking off unless they come way down in price.

    Frankly regardless of Skytrain’s shortcomings and it has many, I don’t see any rapid transit system that moves as many people as the Skytrain does as anywhere close to failure. My big problem is a system which rigs the final outcome of studies (and quite obviously) to get a specific technological solution even when there are other solutions that aren’t even looked at. LRT is not the perfect solution in all situations, neither is BRT (especially when it’s not real BRT) or Light Metro’s or Full scale Metro’s. What we do know is that spending the vast majority of the transportation budget on roads and car driving, just doesn’t work and needs to end. You just can’t let that many people drive all at once and have cities made for people. Driverless cars will make the situation far worse, not better.

    Zwei replies: I have never said SkyTrain was a failure; it works, but it works at a higher cost than a comparable light rail line. And here is where SkyTrain has failed; it has failed to secure a market or even a market share in the urban transportation business. Only seven sold in 40 years is not a marketing success and the marketing of SkyTrain can be deemed a failure.

    Also keep in mind that over 80% of SkyTrain’s ridership is composed of forced transfers from bus to metro. I have been told that this is nowhere near a good ratio and a 40% bus transfer ration is the norm, as 60% of ridership coming from local customers.

    I have also maintained that LRT is not a panacea, but it is a proven transportation mode, with a proven record of success, something that the owners of he proprietary SkyTrain would die for.

    I welcome a fair and open procurement process for transit and to date, metro Vancouver has had none of it and all rapid transit built has been from political dictak from the premier’s office.

    Those who want SkyTrain do not want an open and honest procurement process, not now, not ever.