TransLink advisory:

In anticipation of bad weather Millennium Line is operating with 4 car trains so increased capacity but reduced frequency.

Memo to TransLink:

2 car trains, operating at 2 minute headway’s (30 trips per hour), capacity equals 6,000 pphpd.

4 car trains operating at 4 minute headway’s (15 trips per hour), capacity equals 6,000 pphpd.

Capacity is a function of headway.



9 Responses to “Oxymoron”
  1. Haveacow says:

    My little adjustment to the story of 1984, Translink style!

    Your chocolate allotment will increase to 4 grams once a day from 2 grams twice a day. All praise Big Brother!

  2. Rico says:

    Haveacow, still looking for a link or screenshot of the CUTA data you talked about. Your numbers closely match the numbers in the 2017 performance review and I can’t find any pphpd numbers more recent than 2017 on the CUTA site (although I can’t access the numbers as a non-member) so I assume you are referencing 2017 numbers instead of 2018 numbers…but I would like to know for sure because I wonder why the numbers would be different and if they are different I would want to know why.

  3. Haveacow says:

    Rico this is proprietary data, I can’t do that. I will get sued! Or at least my company will. CUTA is pretty clear about that when you pay for the data connection.

  4. Haveacow says:

    Rico, the point you are not getting is that whether the daily average is 14,200 or 14,800 p/h/d is irrelevant. Once you are above the 90% level of the theoretical capacity limit of 15,000 p/h/d, which is about 13,500 you start losing “choice” transit riders in very large numbers. At this point nearly all the passengers you gain at this level are “captive” transit riders. You have trains that are spilling over filled with people but the traffic level growth rate goes even higher because “choice” riders are back using another modal choice like personal single occupant cars, trucks, walking or biking, mostly cars and trucks unfortunately.

    The slightly larger 4 sectioned gangwayed Mk. 3 Skytrains will only increase the capacity by 7-10%. That’s a theoretical capacity of 16,050 to 16500 p/h/d and that’s only if every train is a Mk. 3! That means if you reach 14,445 to 15,000 p/h/d again you start losing large numbers of “choice” transit riders again.

    Rico, the 5 car trains aren’t the answer either. Translink will probably go to 5 car Skytrains as quickly as they can because it’s a cheaper option than doing the massive infrastructure upgrades and improvements that are necessary however, the electrical system still needs upgrades and repairs. These larger trains will have to use more current (because they are bigger and heavier) which means their electrical resistance will be larger. Since the voltage of the system is still the same and Translink haven’t increased the number of isolated electrical sections (which adds more train capacity but is expensive and time consuming), something has to give. Trying to move more of the larger 5 car trains will hit the point that, the amount of current the electrical system supplies can’t stay high enough in the face of higher electrical resistance. Electrical resistance also increases in cables and power connections that are old and need replacement. So as the system ages the actual capacity of the entire electrical system falls.

    Translink is going to continue to flirt around the edges instead of doing all the upgrades needed because they don’t have the money. The problem is that they chose a rail system that produces lighter less robust infrastructure in exchange for higher operating frequencies. The problem is that the infrastructure is now at its limit and increasing the frequency is expensive, time consuming and disruptive. Almost 190 years of experience (The Manchester to Liverpool Railway opened in 1832) operating railways has told us that, always make the infrastructure much heavier than you need, its more expensive to upgrade that than add more trains. What is needed is a cheaper new type of rail technology like LRT or Tram-Train.

    In our Stage 2 LRT expansion program here in Ottawa which is under construction as we speak, we are getting 44 km of LRT service for $4.6 Billion, how much Skytrain service is your $4.43 Billion buying you? Our Stage 1 LRT Line has had teething issues and still does but it’s moving around 200,000 passengers a day. Due to the fact we made infrastructure capacity easier to add in the design, we can continue to increase our passenger numbers for years without major infrastructure spending.

  5. Rico says:

    Haveacow I will take that as confirmation you were looking at the 2017 numbers and reply to you if the daily average pphpd is over 15,000 which it surely was in 2019 (without most of the MKIIIs in service yet) perhaps you should not be calling 15,000 the theoretical capacity. Especially since in the last infrastructure announcement for the new trains ect. they said it would raise capacity by 4-5,000pphpd….and that is without getting complicated like extending stations. So it seems to me theoretical capacity would be 19-20,000 pphpd with just new trains and associated upgrades (funded). If you wanted to improve the train flow at Waterfront and Columbia you could reliably increase frequency as well or extend platforms…the base ‘theoretical’ capacity is obviously at least 19,000, the real question is do theoretical platform extensions or switch improvements count towards ‘theoretical’ capacity?

    On a separate note do you know how actual pphpd numbers on the Confederation Line are doing now most of the teething issues are over?

    Zwei replies: Rico, do you work for TransLink? Or the regional transportation authority, because if you don’t, to comment on things you do not know about is a bit rich.

    How many real transit and transportation experts have you talked with? do you understand signalling? Do you comprehend how a transit system operates?

    I am no expert, but over the years I have become to understand the nuances of transit and I can tell you it is not the pablum TransLink, the CoV or the mayor council feeds us.

    Think not, I have been at this for over 35 years and not one expert who resides outside the Vancouver “bubble” has a good word about SkyTrain. I know you will not believe this, but SkyTrain has been one of the most studied transit systems around the world, yet they can’t sell any.

  6. Rico says:

    Zwei, I do not work for or have any dealings with Translink. Like you I am just someone who is interested in transit (for about the same length of time too). Unlike you I try and look at all the available info about things. Your constant dismissing of anything that disagrees with the narrative you want to hear and a acceptance of anything you want to hear…no matter how far fetched makes it hard for people to accept the valid points you have to make. This includes things like this discussion I am having with Haveacow. It is pretty clear that during 2020 the Expo line will be carrying more than 15,000 pphpd on morning peaks every weekday and that it is something reported in the performance review (ie the 2018 numbers were 14,800 for a daily average so weekdays were probably at or above 15,000 already in 2018). It is also easy for people to look up Expo line upgrades and see it is funded and expected to increase capacity by an extra 5,000 pphpd…so claiming silly things like the theoretical capacity of the Expo line is 15,000 (when it is already carrying more than that most days) just makes people tune you out because you are almost always wrong. Focus on things that are true and it will be easier to make your point. For instance there is no doubt Translink missed a good chance to future proof the system when they did not extend the platforms all of the stations they upgraded. This will make future capacity increases past 20,000 pphpd more expensive and complicated than it needs to be. The other side is equally important, claiming it is feasible to put a surface system on Broadway with 30,000 pphpd does not win anyone to your cause because it is clearly absurd. Or that we can build a great LRT system for 30 million/km. Stick with realistic examples and you will win more people to your point of view.
    For the record I hear lots of good things about Vancouver transit from experts ‘outside the Vancouver bubble,’ not so easy to find examples that publicly want to say bad things about it. Haveacow does, and Gerald Fox did…but I wonder if he still would, if you used the same methodology today on the same systems he looked at back when Skytrain was 2 years old Skytrain would demolish all of them. It is hard to overlook that.

    Zwei replies: other than being polite (you do not call one’s transit system crap to your hosts) but really, who has built with SkyTrain? Only seven built in 40 years, makes the Edsel look good.

  7. fredinno says:

    “Think not, I have been at this for over 35 years and not one expert who resides outside the Vancouver “bubble” has a good word about SkyTrain.”


    “Since 1991 I’ve been a consulting transit planner, helping to design transit networks and policies for a huge range of communities. My goal here is to start conversations about how transit works, and how we can use it to create better cities and towns.”

    Say what again?

    Zwei replies: Human Transit Who? Sorry, forgotten and buried.

  8. fredinno says:

    also: https://humantransit.org/2010/02/driverless-rapid-transit-why-it-matters.html

    Zwei replies: The human transit guy is anti LRT, much of his claims are, to be polite, bunk. He tried to spin his nonsense in Europe and was literally laughed off the stage.

  9. Haveacow says:

    Actually, after really talking with Jarrett Walker, he does do similar work as I do but his notoriety has made him quite rich and in constant demand, were I am not. Anyway, Jarrett Walker isn’t so much anti-rail, as he is a motility purist. He likes many Canadian and a few American based rail systems because they actually are designed to move the greatest amount of people between logical end points. This emphasis on moving people for him (mobility) is the key. One big problem many LRT systems have in the US is that, they serve a zone or multiple areas more than, move the greatest number of possible passengers between logical end points.

    However everyone, you have to remember that, the majority of Jarrett’s businesses is to maximize mobility. Doing this with buses and BRT systems is politically easier to accomplish in the North American transit market. So he goes to buses first time., every time. He downplays the political and operational inefficiencies with this philosophy. His purist “mobility first” approach is admirable but leads to big operational issues, especially if you downplay the more political aspects of what actually goes on in transportation planning.

    Ironically, Zwei’s longtime opinion that, a large number of residents in south Delta abandoned the public transit system because of losing their direct or “single seat to destination” all day bus lines to downtown, instead of forced transferring buses at the Canada Line, would have been the reason that, the Canada Line would look and operate very differently than it does today, if Jarrett Walker had been in charge of the project.

    Jarrett prefers the greater mobility of direct straight line routes towards your destinaton over massive numbers of forced transfers at a high capacity rail transit line application. The mobility first model of straight line, direct to destination single seat approach he follows, usually but not always, makes him favor buses and BRT over rail.

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