Metro Madness

In one of the silliest items written in Canada about public transit, The Globe and Mail’s (Mop & Pail) Jeffery Simpson has inked a article about how the taxpayer in the lower mainland should vote YES to build subways because Asia builds them.
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Why then are subways built?
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The answer is simple, subways are built on transit routes when ridership on the route demands long trains and large stations with long platforms that would make surface operation impractical.
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What then are the traffic flows that would demand subway construction?
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There is no firm answer but in the 21st century a transit line with traffic flows in excess of 15,000 pphpd would only then be considered for a subway.
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Does Vancouver have a transit line with traffic flows in excess of 15,000 pphpd?
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The only transit line that has traffic flows in excess of 15,000 pphpd is the combined Millennium and Expo Line operation sharing the grade separated route from Columbia Station to Waterfront. The Expo Line is at capacity and until stations are enlarged with longer platforms to accommodate longer trains, the capacity of the Expo Line will not increase.
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I would suggest that Mr. Simpson actually read a book on the subject or interview real transit experts before writing such clap-trap. The Vancouver region has had enough of the subway lobby’s nonsense, for building and operating subways on routes without sufficient ridership means that the subways must be heavily subsidized and in the Metro Vancouver region that means transit customers south of the Fraser will suffer for vanity subway projects that are demanded by the City of Vancouver.
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Oh by the way Mr. Simpson, the Canada line operates in a subway in Vancouver, but with pygmy stations with 40 metre platforms, that can only accommodate two car trains, the Canada Line is limited to a capacity of about 7,500 pphpd! In fact, the Canada Line has less capacity than a modern streetcar!

Seoul, South Korea – op-ed: Asia builds subways; lesson for Canada ??

VANCOUVER, Toronto and Montreal still haven’t  settled their subway dreams but an op-ed commentary in The Globe and Mail says Asia, instead of voting on subways, actually builds them:

<http://tinyurl.com/ljlh6tt>
Asia doesn’t vote for subways, it builds them

JEFFREY SIMPSON\SEOUL — The Globe and Mail

Published Saturday, May. 02 2015

Citizens of British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, unite! You have nothing to lose but your gridlock! Hemmed between the ocean and the mountains, the Lower Mainland is choking now. The traffic contributes to Greater Vancouverites being Canada’s least happy people, according to a recent survey by Statistics Canada.

Imagine what the region will be like in two decades if voters reject the small sales tax increase proposed in a plebiscite to bring new public transit improvements to the region.

We live in a changed country now where doing things collectively is out-of-favour, replaced by a mixture of contempt for government and “I’m all right, Jack.” So the plebiscite might lose, and transit will fall further behind.

In Greater Toronto, Montreal and a few other Canadian cities, urban transit has to catch up to local needs and international realities. Canadians are now largely an urban people, but we have not adequately financed public transit. The result: urban areas that do not function as they should, and not as they need to against world competition.

We stop, we go. Governments do this project, then wait, then do another some years later. There is little systematic, ongoing, year-over-year capital investment.

In the recent federal budget, for example, the Conservatives pledged $750-million (USD $616.7 million) spread over two years beginning in 2017-2018, with $1-billion-a-year (USD $822.3 milliion) thereafter. This sounds like an eye-popping number, until you think about it, which the Conservatives obviously hope people will not.

A billion-a-year divided among, say, the country’s top six or seven cities – and they will all be hungering and lobbying for their share of the pittance – might build another station or two in this city or that. But compared to the need, and to what competing nations are doing, it’s close to a joke.

The Lower Mainland, even more than the rest of Canada, competes with Asia, especially North Asia. There, subway lines are ubiquitous and cheap, as are urban surface rail lines.

In Seoul, for example, with a population a little more than twice Greater Toronto’s, there are nine subway lines. Nine. The GTA will launch on June 6 an airport link to Pearson; in Seoul, there have been for a long time subway links to the two international airports, Gimpo and Incheon. The same goes for Tokyo: direct train links from the two international airports, Narita and Haneda.

Beijing and Shanghai have magnetic levitation trains whisking people from airports at speeds of up to 420 kilometres an hour (260.9 MPH). Toronto, in other words, is playing catch up. Vancouver, happily, has the Canada Line from the airport to downtown. Montreal has nothing.

The cost in Toronto from Pearson to downtown will be $27.50 (USD $22.62). The cost in Seoul from Gimpo, the airport closest to downtown is $6 (USD $4.93), and from Incheon, further away, $17 (USD $13.98). The cost of subway tickets in central Seoul and Tokyo: $1.20-$2.40 (USD $0.99 to $1.97) for systems that offer far more timely, modern and efficient service than anything in Toronto, or Montreal for that matter.

The key in North Asia is the assumption that urban transit is a public good that must be given priority in funding and planning. These countries don’t engage in the fits and starts of Canadian cities; they plan to improve every year. It happens in authoritarian China, but also in democratic Japan and South Korea.

To wit: there are four extensions under way of existing subways in Seoul. Here, they don’t do it like Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne: Making grandiose promises to improve transit in a surge; or the kind of financially fake promise of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, with numbers that sound more muscular than they will be in fact.

You might reply: Yes, but these North Asian cities are gigantic. And indeed they are. Tokyo’s population is about 34 million, Seoul’s about 10 million. But Nagoya, Japan, with a population about the size of Vancouver, has 93 kilometres (57.7 miles) of subway; Nagasaki (population 1.3 million) has five subway lines; Osaka (population 2.6 million) has eight lines across 130 km (80.7 miles). The large cities all have buses everywhere and, in some cases, commuter rail.

Governments here don’t put matters to a plebiscite. They do what governments are supposed to do: they decide. The Chinese don’t care much about Not in My Backyard. Democratic countries have to pay more attention to public opinion. Judging by the public transit in North Asia, people understand that without large and efficient systems, their cities will be less manageable and competitive.

We can only hope the people of Greater Vancouver get the message from North Asia.

Comments

One Response to “Metro Madness”
  1. eric chris says:

    If Simpson likes subways so much, he can move to Hong Kong where he can be happy. I really do question the merits of subway corridors requiring “feeder buses” clogging up the roads.

    We’d be much better off with a comprehensive east-west and north-south tram or LRT grid serving the entire region and ridding Metro Vancouver of all the “feeder” buses here, for much less cost than the few s-train and subway lines that exist in Metro Vancouver at present. This is what Patrick Condon of UBC has pointed out in the past.

    http://www.sxd.sala.ubc.ca/8_research/sxd_FRB06_tram.pdf

    “Transit demand”
    Transit demand (y) is dependent upon the housings density (x). Housing density is the independent variable, and transit demand is the dependent variable. Mathematically, y = c(x); where, c is some constant depending upon factors such as parking restrictions forcing some drivers to take transit. It is the City of Vancouver which determines the housing density and in turn the demand for transit.

    Unfortunately, the number of drivers (z) is four times y. That is, z = 4(y). Whenever the housing density (x) is increased, the number of drivers (z) increases much more than the number of transit users (y). Therefore, when housing density is increased on transit corridors, transit can’t possibly reduce the number of cars on the roads. Increased transit service to accommodate increased housing density always leads to increased road congestion. For TransLink and the loons who TransLink has bribed to suggest otherwise is tantamount to fraud.

    Incidentally, there is a disconnect in Vancouver with the City of Vancouver deciding the housing density and TransLink deciding the level of transit service. To correct this requires ridding Vancouver of TransLink for new and competent transportation staff at the City of Vancouver to select the right amount of transit for the planned housing density controlled by the City of Vancouver.

    “TransLink finances”
    Right now, TransLink receives about twice as much in tax subsidies to move about one-half as many passengers as transit in Toronto, TTC. TransLink doesn’t require more funding. TransLink needs to start charging post graduate students users more to use transit which they are abusing and using at practically no cost.

    TransLink can charge the 130,000 post graduate students $170 monthly (full fare) for their three-zone passes rather than the $35 monthly charged. Over the eight month school term, this generates TransLink up to $140 million in revenue.

    Moreover, eliminating the useless bureaucracy at TransLink saves about another $120 million annually in overhead. There you go, the funding crunch for transit solved. How hard was that?

    Where is Rambo when you need him? Adios, TransLink dirt bags:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgozRTq8M_U

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