Portland’s Streetcar, Connecting The Entire Community

This speaks for itself.

I must remind the unconvinced that going from 4,000 users a day to 15,000 users a day (in TransLink’s convoluted lexicon, this equates to over 30,000 boarding’s a day), which is a big deal in the U.S.A.

So here is a thought, instead of a $3 billion subway to Arbutus, with limited capacity, how about a $1 billion LRT/streetcar connecting UBC to BCIT and to Vancouver as far as Stanley Park?



6 Responses to “Portland’s Streetcar, Connecting The Entire Community”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Just for clarification, considering norms for the Portland area and the Portland Streetcar in particular this is what I came up with. If TriMet’s claims of 15,000 passenger trips a day are correct. That means, given standard Portland and American norms I have looked up. The Portland Streetcar is responsible for 18300-21600 passenger boardings a day. Now the Portland Streetcar system is a slow system because it shares the road with car traffic for most of its route. Its surface high capacity and widely spaced stops does make it very useful in way that the Skytrain will never be! The Skytrain has a high percentage of its users transfer from other buses and or rail rapid transit lines. That’s OK it’s supposed to do that. There is no doubt it would be faster than the Portland Streetcar which operates in mixed traffic and has to stop every 400-600 metres. better than a bus but not a true rapid transit line. However, if you operate a LRT system as a rapid transit service with similar stop spacing and physical line segregation it would be just as fast and still most likely, cheaper to build than a Skytrain system, for many reasons.

    The advantage for LRT, besides basic capital cost is that, the LRT line can operate as a local route as well as a rapid transit route inside a far greater number of operating line conditions. Due to the fact that, the Skytrain station stops are spaced no fewer than a kilometer apart and doesn’t stay in any one specific corridor but jumps from different ones in different areas of the city makes it lousy for local trips. The sometime slower surface LRT routes that stay for long distances in a single corridors with stops that are much closer together than Skytrain can be used as a local route for non peak trips. Building local ridership rather than regional commuter ridership. Although stops closer together do slow a surface LRT down, a greater variety of trips can utilize the service, especially at non peak times. Thus a parallel bus service is not required which saves a lot of money for the operator. The neat thing about a surface LRT system is that, if you need it to be faster for say trips during the peak periods used by longer distance commuters you can break up the service into local and more limited express types of service relatively easily and for the most part in terms of capital costs, inexpensively. The much higher capital cost of the Skytrain system and its smaller number of right of way types, makes that type of service not impossible but very unlikely, unless a very large number of passengers say it is a priority.

    You may find my fascination with non peak travel pointless or misplaced. However, the majority of new jobs including the high paying ones, are not Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 anymore. The TTC in Toronto built up its ridership outside the traditional peak periods for this reason. The plan worked incredibly well. Yearly passenger numbers increased to levels never experienced before. They also built up service for lines outside of peak hours where they realized there was latent demand for non work transit trips. For example, the southern portions of the Yonge Subway and the small portion of the Yonge line in downtown North York made this easy and it attracted new non peak riders who were just shopping or going somewhere close, just down the road because it was fast. This type of ridership plan was aided by the areas the Yonge St. subway line those stations are between 600-800 metres apart. So you could get on at your station stop, travel just 1 or 2 stops down the line , get off and easily walk to your destination, saving much more time than if you had waited for a bus and or walked. This is why the TTC has a design edict for all new subway lines that state, stations should be no more than 800-1000 metres apart wherever possible, much to the consternation of many non city of Toronto commuters and Metrolinx who would prefer a station every 1-2 kilometres apart. Rapid Transit Lines that have stations closer together, within outer limits of the average walking distances get much higher non peak use. This means they do a better jobat removing cars from the road. Its quite a delicate ballet sometimes but it does work. This is an advantage that surface LRT or streetcars will always have over systems like the Skytrain thus insuring their survival in the long term.

  2. Rico says:

    Good to see using the new bridge has had a positive impact on ridership. The average weekday boardings in 2014 was 21,000 so I would assume that is a pretty good improvement to go from 21,000 boardings to 15,000 daily riders. For comparison the 99 B line has a ridership of about 54,000 for about the same length (I assume this is boardings, but the link to the bus performance review is down so can’t confirm).

  3. eric chris says:

    Standing out in the stats for the tram in Portland is the uniform distribution of transit usage for adults aged 18 year old and older (~15% across all age ranges). More incredible is the number of tram trips originating from home (38%). This is what transit is intended to do, get drivers who start their trips from home off the roads at peak hours.

    In Metro Vancouver, the distribution of transit usage is heavily skewed to students traveling on cheap $38 monthly transit passes (about 50% of the transit users) used to prop up ridership on the s-train and subway system moving people who take transit due to financial or other limitations. Individuals who are in lower socioeconomic spectrum of society are the ones who are creating the demand for transit by TransLink.

    Most people in Metro Vancouver do not use transit and never will. Sure, fans going to the Canucks games, for instance, crowd the s-train. Great, mass transit is intended for this. They’d be crowding the tram just as readily.

    Middle class and affluent drivers stay the heck off the transit system by TransLink. Unlike Portland having tram stops in front of homes of commuters owning cars for drivers to make the occasional trip to downtown for a concert or game by tram: in Vancouver, any normal person with a car drives rather than wait 15 minutes for the diesel bus to transfer to some crime riddled subway, b-line or s-train hub crawling with druggies jabbing heroin needles in their veins.

    Of course, nobody at TransLink is willing acknowledge this sad fact. Everyone wanting more subway, b-line and s-train transit, including the slimy Minister of TransLink (Peter Fassbender) and subway “pitchman”, Gregor Robertson, ignore the socio economic realities of the loser transit by TransLink and have ulterior motives to fund TransLink. Both these bozos feel that the federal government “should” fund 90% of the municipal transit in Vancouver. Uh, I have news for these two morons, this is not the role of the federal government which is here to fund national defence, health-care and higher education of national importance to better the lives of all Canadians.

    Grossly expensive concrete infrastructure for dumb subways and s-train lines moving fewer people than inexpensive streetcars in Vancouver is not of national significance to Canadians. I don’t see how some farmer in rural Alberta or BC benefits from the subway “pitched” by Gregor “botox man” Robertson in Vancouver.




    Transit by TransLink is geared towards the 320,000 transit dependent people taking transit. These (stuck on transit people) only use transit for 240 days of the 365 days in the year. For all 365 days of the year, loser transit in Metro Vancouver is basically empty, 75% of the time, too.

    “Agreeable tram service for the 2.4 million people in Metro Vancouver”

    Loser subway, b-line and s-train transit by TransLink focus on transportation for the sub-segment of the population having no alternative but to use transit. This segment of the population (320,000 people using transit on average) is simply in no position to drive without transit. They are going to carpool, walk or cycle without transit. Subway, b-line and s-train by TransLink has no hope of ever attracting enough drivers to curb road congestion. None. It hasn’t since 1999 and won’t in the future, regardless of the money spent on it.

    On the other hand, tram service targeting the entire 2.4 million people in Metro Vancouver has the very real possibility of actually cutting road congestion while lowering transit costs in the process. Cutting out the 15 minutes for the diesel bus delay (to transfer to some crime riddled subway, b-line or s-train hub crawling with druggies jabbing heroin needles in their veins) also makes the tram commute much faster and more agreeable than the present loser cruiser s-train or subway ride by TransLink.

    I’d take the tram occasionally rather than drive. I will never take s-train and the same goes for hundreds of thousands of drivers who once rode on s-train and spent thousands of dollars on a car to get off the loser s-train by TransLink.

    What if we had tram service in Metro Vancouver, how many times each month would everyone in Metro Vancouver have to take transit to match the transit use now? They’d only have to take transit two to three times every month and they’d be leaving cars at home to do it:

    P1 = average number of people taking loser transit by TransLink = 320,000 people
    X1 = transit use by people taking loser transit by TransLink = 240 days per year
    P2 = people living in Metro Vancouver = 2.4 million people
    X2 = transit use in Metro Vancouver to match transit use by people taking transit now

    X2 = (P1 * X1) / P2 = 32 days per year = 2.7 days per month

    Right now, almost nobody is leaving the car at home to take transit. Transit users moved by TransLink are what’s called transit dependent. TransLink isn’t reducing road congestion by putting transit dependent people on transit: transit is creating carbon emissions and clogging up the roads.

    Transit by TransLink is an abomination. Only getting rid of slimy Minister of TransLink (Peter Fassbender) and subway pitchman Gregor Robertson is going to correct this. Goons scheming for more taxes to fund TransLink have to go.

    In Metro Vancouver, TransLink is going to be brought down by the pending s-train debacle in Hawaii after the Americans learn how low the operating costs of s-train aren’t when the indirect costs of the “feeder” diesel buses for s-train are added to the operating costs of the s-train hoax. After the Americans realize how the goons at TransLink cooked up statistics with “system boardings” to create ridership out of no ridership and lied about the true cost of the “automated” s-train scam, the goons at TransLink will have some explaining to do about the “low” cost of s-train here.

    Goons at TransLink exaggerated ridership with “system boardings” reported as passengers to APTA. They’ve lied about s-train service having more moving capacity and potential than LRT or tram service. In fact, it is the other way around and the practical service frequency of two minutes and relatively short length of the elevated viaduct stations limit the moving capacity of s-train to one-half the moving capacity of LRT or tram service. I challenge anyone to counter this claim.

    March 2016

  4. Haveacow says:

    Like I said before, the APTA uses boardings as well because the COST of getting true ridership numbers without extensive passenger route surveying or by measuring passengers on each vehicle by passenger counting sensor systems, which are used extensively in Ontario to back up route surveys. These systems are Combined with the individual location data of each vehicle tracked by GPS. Just remember, the next time you here some politician going on about “cutting the fat” or “stopping the gravy train” at city hall, the cuts in budgets that these slogans usually inspire cut funding for things like systems to count ridership on transit or the actual people who would be administering it!

    The most efficient means of getting true passenger counts is the adoption of digital farecards which can be tracked throughout the system, involving almost no humans at all. Which is why the whole industry is really hot on these as well as with the desire to eventually 100% switch away from cash fares.

    Unfortunately, this policy change in virtually every transit agency continent wide hits the second or third biggest group on transit very hard (depends on the city whom is 2nd or 3rd), seniors. Most don’t truly understand why farecards are better than cash or paper monthly passes, because they are not familiar with them and find that, having to do an extra step of loading the card with money or down loading a monthly pass on the card confusing. As for seniors adopting smart phones and downloading passes or fares directly to their phones via some type of app, well I’ll probably be in my 80′s before I see that happening.

  5. eric chris says:

    @Haveacow, thanks for clearing up the ambiguity in what “ridership” (system boardings) reported by APTA really means. I find this comical, and it is not representative of true ridership in terms of people using transit.

    Hub to hub transit service by TransLink relies on many more transfers than conventional LRT or tram service. So, of course, the magic of “huge” ridership by TransLink is contrived. Like I mentioned in the past, TransLink forces riders to alight from trolleybuses just shy of UBC and to board the “flagship” 99 bee-line (garbage). This is how TransLink has created the transit miracle of big “ridership” numbers in Vancouver.

    I’d also like to note how students with their $38 monthly transit passes use them as cheap parking passes to park outside the two kilometre no-parking zone around UBC. After parking their cars, they walk to the park and ride bus stops to reach campus. All the “statistics” about the success of the 99 bee-line cutting driving are crap, too.

    If TransLink operated trolleybuses every three minutes on all routes to UBC, there would be no “crowding” on the 99 bee-lines and no need for the planned subway to UBC. I’d really like to see TransLink do this before spending billions of dollars to reduce the “crowding” on the 99 bee-lines with the subway planned to get to UBC in 2040 – you know to save taxpayers money.

    But hey, SNC Lavalin wants to build the tunnel for the subway to UBC, Bomb-ardier wants to sell its useless s-trains for the subway and Lafarge wants to pour concrete for the subway tunnel. Then there are all the developers itching to have their property values sky-rocket along the subway corridor, let’s not forget them. This will surely make Vancouver more affordable by making housing more expensive.

    Transit in Vancouver is a sordid affair and is being used by white collar crooks to fleece taxpayers. The subway to UBC has nothing to do with transit. We could start building the tram line to UBC tomorrow but it won’t cost anything and won’t make the crooks using transit to get rich any money.

  6. Haveacow says:

    When it comes to building anything these days, specifically rapid transit in any form, the costs of construction are rising at a rate which is double sometimes triple inflation. An acquaintance of mine who works for the Ottawa LRT Office told me this little ditty. About 3-4 weeks ago a key piece of construction equipment broke down, it was one of the mining dump trunk’s that are low to the ground so they can be useful in tunnels and mines (for the life of me I can’t think of the proper name for the dump truck right now). It couldn’t be fixed no matter what parts were swapped out and changed. The chief mechanic on site was out of ideas and the expert from the company that made the truck was also stumped. The Rideau Transit Group had to lease an emergency replacement fast. The cost of leasing a replacement was now 60-70% higher than it was when they first started the project in October of 2013. The vehicles are not in short supply, they are just simply more expensive now to purchase and therefore to lease than they were 2-3 years ago. They suspected a shakedown was going on and called the cops and had the province do an emergency investigation. Infrastructure Ontario reported back that the price they were quoted was actually a really good deal, compared to what other jurisdictions were now paying for the same equipment. The Provincial Police also agreed. So they sucked up the cost and the new vehicle arrived last week and has been performing just fine. The point, the costs of construction is rising faster than inflation. In fact the cost of anything that adds value to capital projects and or equipment that is capital intensive, is going up in cost dramatically.

Leave A Comment