Metro Mayors Bite The Bullet

Metro Mayors, with visions of federal cash dancingAi?? in their heads approved a draft transit plan part of their so called ten year plan.

Like all other transit ten year or twenty year plans that have come and gone, this one was drafted, probably on orders of the premier who is afraid of any negative transit spillage in the coming election year.

One has to remember, TransLink is run by the Premier’s Office.

A new SeaBus sounds good, but they are going to mothball one of the originals?

New SkyTrain cars sounds good, but again they are to replace the venerable MK.1′s, which now have seen thirty plus years of service?

A 10% increase of bus service sounds good, but how much will be squandered on non productive routes which operate as a social service to make local politicians sound good?

There is no mention of hiring new bus drivers, though and buses do not yet drive themselves.

Again, “Road Pricing” is raising its ugly head and unfortunately, most politicians seem to be illiterate on the subject because they see it solely as a revenue generator to fund over priced vanity projects to suit political agendas and not sound transit planning and execution.

It seems the regional mayors just do not come close in understanding transit and how a successful transit system works, instead throw more and more money at it, ever hoping for different results.

The problem the mayors have not even come close in dealing with is TranLink itself. The public hate TransLink and demonstrated that a year ago with a resounding NO vote in the 2015 plebiscite.

Until there are real reforms at TransLink and a new direction, the regional mayors will find themselves at the wrong end of a ballot come election time.

The present approved draft is a caretakers draft of what is needed to keep TransLink functional and to get federal cash flowing West and nothing more.

TransLink is claiming higher ridership, but could it be a flood of U-Pass post secondary students

commuting to university because they cannot afford local rents?

“This poses the question: Is TransLink losing money through the U-Pass program, even though ridership is claimed to be increasing?”


Metro Mayors approve transit improvement draft

by Martin MacMahon

Posted Sep 16, 2016

NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) ai??i?? Metro Vancouver mayors have approved a draft plan outlining what transit improvements could be coming to our region.

The plan calls for increased bus, SeaBus and SkyTrain service.

Assuming the final plan is approved in November, bus service will see a 10 per cent increase beginning next year. The SkyTrain lines will get an extra 50 cars and another SeaBus will be added.

ai???We would be able to put out additional SkyTrain service, additional SeaBus service, probably as soon as January. The Canada line will probably lag a little bit as we work with the Canada line operator,ai??? says TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond.

As far as funding goes, youai??i??ll see fares go up by three per cent, each year for three years, and a property tax increase that averages $3 a year.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation says mayors have to make adjustments

Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation believes mayors need to do something if property taxes do rise.

ai???City mayors should commit to reducing their own property tax increases in their own cities by the same amount. That way the taxpayers arenai??i??t out any money. Cities can reprioritize their spending. Itai??i??s a good way to protect

Road pricing could be in the works, too, in about three years.

ai???Road pricing must be voted on by the public before it can go forward, because it would be a new form of taxation and frankly a very bad form for most people. We already have a form of road pricing, and itai??i??s called gas taxes,ai??? says Bateman.


6 Responses to “Metro Mayors Bite The Bullet”
  1. eric chris says:

    Fantastic looking graph showing the boarded passengers (ridership) and service hours, nice, thanks. Ridership has plateaued since 2012. It is purported by TransLink to be back up in 2015 to what it was in 2012. Based on the latest data reported by TransLink, ridership sits at about 360,000 boarded passengers annually, at present:

    “Ridership by TransLink”

    Public transit use here has stalled while vehicle use has exploded. Rising vehicle use in Vancouver corresponds to the proliferation of car sharing. Large numbers of former public transit users have ditched b-lines and s-trains operated by TransLink. I personally know many of them. TransLink’s future looks bleak, and the advent of autonomous cars promises to further decimate public transit use.

    TransLink depends upon drivers to finance its bureaucracy. Pig dogs at TransLink dream of eventually taxing drivers using the roads and bridges. As Jordan Bateman in the post points out, TransLink already does this indirectly with the gas tax whose increase is political suicide so TransLink is trying to replace the gas tax with higher and direct road-bridge taxes, costing more to administer than the gas tax by the way; good luck with that pig-dogs at TransLink.

    Obviously, TransLink has a conflict of interest in taking cars off the roads. More drivers on the roads are key to the perks and salaries at TransLink. TransLink isn’t in the business of curbing road congestion. More b-lines and s-trains guarantee more road congestion which is what TransLink wants and dreams. More drivers on the roads is what TransLink strives to achieve and is its main and hidden goal.

    It is no surprise, therefore, that Kevin Desmond who’s the new CEO of TransLink is fixated on increasing transit ridership and keeping drivers driving. He’s focused on ridership.

    “Ridership is a big deal for me, said Desmond… If we’re focused on ridership, then that means we’re focused.”

    Great speech, Desmond; you’re worth every penny of your $365K annually salary. On the typical working day, approximately 13% of the 2.4 million people in Metro Vancouver use public transit (300,000 people). On the typical holiday or Sunday, about 75,000 people use public transit. Rather than report the number of people who use public transit, TransLink reports ridership.

    Ridership or boarded passengers in transit jargon is actually the number of times that people hop onto and transfer between buses and trains. Ridership does not represent bodies on public transit at any instant in time. Ridership is fake people.

    Ridership is the only parameter which TransLink can manipulate to trick people into thinking that its expensive public transit service (b-line and s-train) is better than inexpensive tram or trolleybus service, which makes everyone at TransLink redundant. TransLink is fixated on ridership which is nothing more than a red herring and the team line for the pig-dogs at TransLink to rally around and chant their fool heads off about in unison at their team meetings. Ridership, ridership… ridership!

    In Metro Vancouver, TransLink has created a handful of major trunk lines (express subway and viaduct corridors) for express trains and frequent bus routes (express b-line corridors) to pack passengers along these few corridors and make buses and trains overcrowded on these very few corridors. At the same time, the approximately 150 bus routes providing these corridors with passengers have few passengers on board and are woefully under-crowded. Ironically, these express corridors cost more people more time to reach than they save on them – but they do increase ridership!

    If you want evidence of this, stand on Granville Street in Vancouver (perpendicular to Broadway) and you’ll be treated to the ridiculous spectacle of transit users being delayed to board practically empty articulated trolleybuses transporting them to the occasionally packed 99 B-Lines on Broadway. All along Broadway, buses crossing Broadway with hardly anyone on board delay and transport transit users to the 99 B-Line route to create the illusion that TransLink is firing on all cylinders!

    When the subway on Cambie Street went into service, ridership jumped. Transit use did not. When the Millennium Line extension (EGL) goes into service, ridership will jump. Transit use will not. When the 99 B-Line service went into service, ridership went up because UBC took all the parking away from students. Truth is; regular trolleybus service to UBC avoids the 15 minute delay getting to the 99 B-Line and speeds up travel for most students going to UBC.

    This is getting too long. I’ll submit part two later… “Bodies on transit”.

  2. Dondi says:

    Mr. Chris, please refrain from using crude insulting names (“pig-dog”) that add nothing to your argument and only lower the level of discourse below what most people of good faith wish to engage in.

  3. eric chris says:

    Yes, it is official, lunatics have taken over the insane asylum at TransLink. Pig-dogs at TransLink claim seven new s-trains, holding from 20 to 50 more bodies each will increase s-train system capacity by 12%.

    Let’s check the math by the pig-dogs at TransLink. Right now 106 s-strains traveling in opposite directions at the 53 s-train stations can carry no more than 46,600 bodies based on the Cambie Street’s 16 puny stations limiting each train to 300 bodies and the short Expo, Millennium and Evergreen stations limiting each train to 500 bodies (dead or alive in the case of fentanyl overdosed s-train users).

    Replacing seven s-trains (each holding 500 bodies) with seven new s-trains (each holding 550 bodies) adds no more than 350 bodies (dead or alive) onto the s-train system. This is only an increase of 0.75% (350/46,600 = 0.75%). Can the pig-dog trolls commenting here explain how TransLink increases s-train system capacity by 12% with the seven new s-trains?

    You know what is really, really, really startling however? S-train recycling bodies from feeder buses and double counting bodies can at most remove a paltry 46,600 drivers from the roads; there are 1.6 million drivers on the roads in Metro Vancouver. During rush hour, there are about 500,000 drivers on the roads, and without s-train, road congestion might go up by less 10% if the feeder buses for s-train on the roads keep running. Without s-train, many s-train users would have to car-pool and any added road congestion would be negligible. In truth, s-train does nothing to curb road congestion because as Turner of U of T has proven, any road space created by s-train attracts new drivers. Pig-dogs at TransLink have spent $10 billion on s-train doing nothing to curb road congestion.

    “Pig-dogs at TransLink and their $515 million annual subsidy to put students on s-train”

    About 90% of TransLink’s stupendous $2 billion annual budget after the latest property taxes and federal charity goes to keep the public transit rolling in Metro Vancouver for the 13% of the 2.4 million people who use public transit. Monthly, TransLink’s astronomical operating budget for public transit is $150 million which is slightly more than the monthly operating budget for Toronto’s public transit moving twice as many people as TransLink moves in Vancouver. Still TransLink can’t make ends meet and is scheming to impose road tolls and bridge tolls. No. It isn’t happening.

    Do the math, it costs TransLink about $500 monthly to put someone onto public transit in Metro Vancouver. Average TransLink cost to put someone on public transit = 90% * $2 billion operating budget per year / 13% * 2.4 million people / 12 months per year = ~ $500 monthly cost to put someone on public transit. In comparison, it costs about $250 monthly to put someone on public transit in Metro Toronto.

    Students paying less than $40 monthly to travel to UBC from anywhere in Metro Vancouver on public transit receive an unbelievable 92% discount, ($500 – $40) / $500 = 92%. These 140,000 students over eight months are being subsidized $515 million annually (8 * $500 * 140,000 – 8* $40 * 140,000 = $515 million). Gulp.

    Sound crazy? Yes, it’s crazy, and it’s time for the pig-dogs at TransLink to be wiped off the face of the earth. Here’s the solution to the funding shortfall at TransLink: have the students pay full fare for public transit or cut public transit service to let these students drive to reduce road congestion, carbon emissions and air pollution. Road congestion, carbon emissions and air pollution all drop without all the stinking 99 B-lines clogging up the roads as was evident during the last public transit strike. By the way, if you want to ride a 99 B-Line and have the entire bus to yourself, hop on board over the next three weeks while UBC is closed.

    Truth is, TransLink in cahoots with developers has expropriated student parking at UBC to build condos on former parking spaces for students at UBC and is making UBC students ride 99 B-Lines to the s-train to double the commuting time of students who once car pooled. Discounted transit passes to compensate students for the loss of their parking at UBC costs the taxpayers of British Columbia $515 million annually. TransLink’s trick is to add buses to the roads to recycle buses to feed the s-train debacle. Right now, TransLink is “tweaking” and adding bus routes to recycle bus users to make sure that the new Evergreen Line has passengers. Buses run late at night when there is no road congestion to alleviate, too!

    “New bus routes have been added for Burke Mountain in Coquitlam and the Dominion Triangle in Port Coquitlam. Some buses will have an earlier terminus, while others will change names — community shuttles in particular — and operate more frequently and with larger buses. Late night service on one route will be extended, and a number of bus routes will be adjusted to meet up with Evergreen SkyTrain stations.”

    Forcing students onto s-train is how TransLink puts bodies on s-train. Adios pig-dogs at TransLink in 2017. Things are in the works for 2017. You know that scene in “We Were Soldiers”, the one where there’s the call to fix bayonets, pig-dogs …

  4. Dondi says:

    Mr. Chris, I renew my appeal to you.

    Please don’t rely so strenuously on dehumanizing terms when referring to people.

    And perhaps you do not intend it, but your record of posts leaves me with the impression that you actually look forward to a physical disaster on the Skytrain system, and to bodily harm being inflicted on Translink personnel.

    Mr. Zwei, please apply moral influence to promote a reasonable tone for postings to the Rail for the Valley blog.

    Mr Chris, your calculations about the new cars seem less credible than Translink’s.

    Translink’s press release ( reported that “Scheduled to start arriving in 2018 and entering into service by early 2019, the 28 new cars will increase TransLink’s SkyTrain and Canada Line fleet to 314 cars.”

    An increase of 28 cars to a fleet of 314 cars is a 9.8% increase. Bump it a bit because the new cars carry a few more passengers. Then recognize that the news story referred to PEAK capacity (you left this out), and how inserting more trains so they run more often in response to peak demand at one choke point of the system can move more people everywhere and/or in less time.

    I don’t know if it adds up to 12% but your 0.75% seems underestimated by orders of magnitude. Perhaps you know more than Translink about how many cars they have (you referred to the new cars as replacements rather than additions). If so, please expose the Translink lie on this issue.

    Meanwhile, your calculation of the $500. cost to Translink of each UPass is over-estimated by orders of magnitude, as outlined in the Dec. 15 comment on another story:

    Zwei replies: The new cars are going to replace many of the MK.1′s which have now seen over 30 years of service and probably there will be a slight decrease in allover capacity on the system. TransLink will refurbish some, of course, but TransLink’s news release screams Liberal election agenda. As Mr. Cow has stated before, TransLink can’t cater to larger capacities because of an aged and restricted power supply.

  5. eric chris says:

    @ Dondi, are you being paid at TransLink to make spurious comments here? It is pretty clear that the seven four-car “trains” each increase transit capacity by 20 to 50 people and my 0.75% increase was being generous. Your math is wrong retard.

    TransLink has 53 stations and TransLink can only run 106 trains (two car to six car trains in each direction of travel) because the trains will smash into each other if TransLink tries to run more than 106 trains. If TransLink buys 106 new Mark III trains to add 50 people to all trains and all trains currently carry 420 passengers, then the carrying capacity of the “s-train system” will increase by 12%. TransLink needs to purchase 424 Mark III cars to make this happen. TransLink has purchased just 28 Mark III cars for seven trains.

    I’ll stand by my calculation. Show me yours.

    Is TransLink referring to the Evergreen Line when it says s-train system? Ridership, people, trains, cars; it’s all so confusing and loosy-goosy when TransLink is presenting data.

    I don’t consider the $93 million spent to maybe add 350 people (more like 140 people) to the public transit system a wise “investment” of our money. TransLink could have purchased two to four articulated buses to carry 200 to 400 people for about $2 million to $4 million and pissed away about $90 million to send our money to Bombardier selling TransLink useless Mark III crap which no other public transit organization in Canada will touch.

    My math seems pretty spot-on. There are between 100,000 revenue passengers on weekends to 400,000 revenue passengers on weekdays (300,000 revenue passengers on average all month) and TransLink spends $150 million monthly on public transit. Multiply 300,000 revenue passengers by $500 monthly for each of them to ride public transit and you end up with $150 million in revenue to balance the $150 million monthly operating expenses by TransLink. But wait, U-pass students only pay $40 monthly. Where’s my error, Dondi? Please enlighten us Dondi. Help Dondi, TransLink expert !!

    How about you show us the math to show where I’m off by an “orders” of magnitude in my $500 monthly cost for TransLink to put someone on public transit? What is it Dondi, $50, $5? Show us the math, Dondi !!

    Let me guess; you’re going to send us to another link because you’re a moron Dondi. Right? When s-train derails, all trains derail, with any luck you’ll be swept up in the investigation with the other pig-dogs at TransLink. We can only hope.

  6. Haveacow says:

    Beyond the power supply issue that will forever haunt Translink until they are ready to drop somewhere between $500-$800 Million on really upgrading the electrical system’s actual carrying capacity, increasing by somewhere to around 50-60% the number of power blocks or better yet, doubling the number of existing power blocks. Translink has to rethink the basis behind the Skytrain way of doing things.

    To make it simple, the basis behind the concept of the Light Metro Systems or Intermediate Capacity Rail based Rapid Transit technology is the basic notion that by decreasing the frequency or increasing the tempo of rail operations you can use smaller vehicles and stations thus, saving money when building infrastructure but still have higher capacity because of the higher levels of service. This basic operating assumption is at the heart of all Skytrain’s troubles. One of the reasons LRT technology has been so easily surpassing the Skytrain’s technology is because it doesn’t make assumptions about the operating system an environment needed to have the it working. It just tries to adapt it to fit as many varieties of operating environments and operating technologies as possible. Automation was added to the Light Metro System to increase the financial savings needed to offset the high cost of high tempo railway operations. The linear Induction Motors used by the Skytrain were chosen because of the lack of moving parts thus its believed, easier maintenance compared to the standard electric motors especially the motors of the time when the system was being designed and tested (70s-to mid 80′s).

    Although initially the Induction motors saved some money compared to electrical motors on rail systems of the time. Much newer, smaller, more durable, cheaper and more powerful standard “Can Motors” generally used now in transit based electric rail operations are significantly easier to work with than Induction based systems. Induction motors still have some advantages when it comes to rail operations that have a greater distance between stops on very high capacity lines but they are very poor accelerators. When station stops are less than 2km’s apart there is a great deal of time lag compared to standard flywheel based electrical can motors. The flywheels can dump extra power into the motor at start up, to help more quickly overcome inertia. These motors last just as long and sometimes, much longer than Induction based motor components. The positioning of the motors on the side of the bogie or truck eliminates the needs for axels but space can be provided if bigger grades require the need to further arrest “Flange Slip” or Wheel Slip. The side mounted motors allow for the “U” shaped bogie or truck frame needed for 100% Low Floor Vehicles. Maintenance is very cheap because a single person with simple commercially available equipment and hand pump forklift dolly can in about 5 minutes test every electrical motor on a standard LRV and replace all of them if needed in 30 minutes with out assistance.

    The Skytrains have a monitoring system which identifies Induction units with failing components. Unfortunately testing of the individual components is difficult unless the whole vehicle is brought in to the maintenance track, where a crew of 2 or 3 is needed to bring in any Skytrain Vehicle detach, separate and lift the frame of the vehicle from the bogie or truck, then test each external component of the induction drive. Then, if replacement of the main drive unit is needed and it usually is, a specially adapted automobile hoist is brought in to lift the drive unit or other non performing part out from the centre of the truck or bogie. A replacement is then lowered slowly back into the frame and reattached. This whole procedure can take over an hour for each unit being replaced with a crew of 2 or about 40 minutes with a crew of 3.

    The high tempo of Skytrain operation means time is always short and great emphasis is placed on having to maximize maintenance efficiency thus the costs for these activities become very high. Preventive Maintenance has to be done more often because of the need to constantly have a greater percentage of your train fleet in operation means that, mileage targets get hit faster than with other types of systems like LRT and general maintenance checks have to occur by law much more often. This stresses maintenance staff a lot, when they have to admit that there masters and managers that there aren’t enough trains operating due to the fact that, there is backlog of trains waiting to complete there 1000km or so mileage PM check, which is mandated in your operational certificate for these types of rail vehicles by Transport Canada. I now for a fact that has happened on your system a few times in the past.

    The Induction motors also require a piece of track infrastructure a 4th rail, or induction rail, that has to be kept debris and ice free for the system to operate. Improperly mounted induction propulsion units caused by damaged frames or improper placement during maintenance increases the distance the unit must be from the induction rail. This distance must be constant or the train won’t move. This extra piece of track is responsible for almost 35% of the track maintenance budget at Translink. The Induction Motor used to be standard part of the Bombardier Innovia Automated Light Metro transportation System (Skytrain’s official marketing name at Bombardier) but is now an option. The latest Innovia System instillation designed for Saudi Arabia doesn’t even use the induction motor but standard electrical ones and a different body type designed by a local Saudi contractors, allow the platform mounting and frame are Bombardier designs.. You wouldn’t even recognize it as a Bombardier product.

    Although a 3rd rail does have advantages in high tempo operations, it has very high operational and maintenance costs associated with them compared to overhead wire power collection methods. The use of 3rd rail forever means that, even if the technology greatly changes and future designs of Skytrains allow for low platform boarding and or low floor vehicles, you will never be able to run it on a street level right of way because of the 3rd rail power collection method, thus always having higher build and design costs compared to low platform and low floor operating technology equipment.

    The Automation technology used, Bombardier’s CityFlow 650 System (also not being used in Saudi Arabian operation by the way) means that under Transport Canada rules, a street running right of way is illegal and thus a physically segregated and most likely a grade separated right of way must always be used. Yes, here in Ottawa we will have a certain level of automation on our physically segregated rights of way for our LRT as well. However, this is because the right of way was already physically segregated when it was a Bus Transitway, it was designed that way also to be convertible to rail technology in the future. However because our LRV’s will have drivers we can operate and are planning to operate on the median of streets like Carling Ave. for the Stage 3 program deployment in 10-15 years. All the appropriate useable Transitways by this time, will be used for LRT and the remaining Transitways will still operate buses.

    Lastly, the capacity of Light metro is highly effected by many of its component technologies and thus has to operate trapped by the limits of its operating agenda. Where as LRT has no pre decided operation type and thus can be made adaptable for many operation options. The Skytrain was billed as something that was cheaper than a subway and able to move more passengers than LRT. However, the limits put on it by its pre packed operation type means that it hasn’t been that adaptable over time or as it turn out quite ironically, not that scalable either, which was one of its original claims. Edmonton now operate 5 car LRT consists that are almost 125 metres long. Calgary’s LRT is now operating 4 car consists up to 111 metres long. Ottawa’s LRT will start at 2 car consists that are 98 metres long and can be easily expanded by adding a 5th section to both cars in the consist and increase the length to 120 metres. All these system were able to add capacity without altering the schedule and hiring an extra driver and forcing up its operating tempo, helping keep a lid on costs. Vancouver’s system has no choice but to greatly increase its frequency because the concept behind your Skytrain limits physical expansion as an option by having to operate in very expensive rights of way, unless a truly massive amount of money is spent to scale it up.

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