Sorry Mr. Doyle, You Are Wrong!

Sorry to say, BC’s soon to be departing Auditor General, John Doyle has got it wrong about SkyTrain and LRT capacity, but then in BC, what is true elsewhere tends not to true here.

“John Doyle’s latest audit concludes SkyTrain and not light rail was the best option because of its greater capacity at similar cost….” is simply not true. In fact the opposite is true, modern LRT light rail has proven to have the same or more capacity than Skytrain at a far cheaper cost and that is one of the reasons why LRT made SkyTrain obsolete some two decades ago! I wonder if Mr. Doyle has noticed that no one builds with SkyTrain anymore and the SkyTrain system is considered an “Edsel” transit system. Only 7 Skytrain type systems have been built in over 30 years, with two being mere demonstration lines and three airport or theme park people movers certainly points to the fact that SkyTrain has failed to be an affordable transit system.

TransLink likes to pretend that SkyTrain will attract more ridership than LRT but has never produced a study to substantiate this.

One wonders where Mr. Doyles sources came from or did he use TransLink’s own figures for the audit?

One hopes Mr. Doyle will have another look at his sources that claim that “SkyTrain has a greater capacity at a similar cost”, because it is simply not true!

I would like to remind everyone that just two years ago, the City of Karlsruhe began relocating its main tram line on KaiserstraAYeAi?? in a subway because; “of the phenomenal success of its regional tramtrain network, which was seeing peak hour headways of 45 seconds.

About 70% of trams and traimtrain operate in coupled sets in peak hours, thus peak hour capacity on the KaiserstraAYe tram (streetcar) line was over 40,000 persons per hour per direction, which is 10,000 pphpd more than the maximum theoretical calculation for SkyTrain if it ran 8 car trains of MK.1 stock, which it can not do because the stations can only accommodate 6 car trains of MK.1 stock.

I’m sorry Mr. Doyle, you got it wrong.

SkyTrain right call for Evergreen Line: audit

Jeff Nagel – The Tri-City News
Published: March 28, 2013

The provincial government was right to choose SkyTrain technology to build the Evergreen Line to Coquitlam, but it did so with incomplete information, according to B.C.’s Auditor General.

John Doyle’s latest audit concludes SkyTrain and not light rail was the best option because of its greater capacity at similar cost, its easy integration with the existing rapid transit system and because it’s well understood by transit users.

But he also found the 2008 and 2010 business cases for the 11-kilometre line left out information needed to understand the cost, benefits and risks of comparing SkyTrain, light rail and bus rapid transit options.

“They also did not explain that the SkyTrain ridership forecasts were based on assumptions that placed them at the upper end of the estimated range,” Doyle said.

“Omitting this information meant government did not have the opportunity to understand these risks and endorse actions for protecting and enhancing the benefits of the Evergreen Line over its useful life.”

While the $1.4-billion Evergreen Line is already under construction, the findings may influence the debate underway in Surrey and Vancouver over whether rapid transit extensions in those cities should be done with grade-separated SkyTrain or street-level light rail.

If the province takes the same approach with future lines, Doyle’s audit said, it runs the risk of making different decisions than if it understands all costs, benefits and risks.

Among the concerns raised by Doyle, is that information presented to the Treasury Board didn’t meet the government’s own Capital Asset Management Framework guidelines, and ridership projections were at the top end, and assumed “extensive” investments in other parts of the transit system.

The higher range ridership forecasts for use of SkyTrain in part assumed Broadway and Surrey SkyTrain extensions would be built by 2021, very frequent bus service to Evergreen Line stations and that owning and running a car will be much more expensive in the coming years.

The report noted TransLink does not yet have committed funding for broader transit expansion.

Nor, it said, has the provincial government yet decided to increase the cost of car use ai??i??Ai??the province assumed the cost of driving would jump 70 per cent between 2021 and 2031 to 23.5 cents per kilometre, spurring more motorists to take transit.

Despite the information gaps, Doyle said he was “satisfied” the cost estimates for using light rail were in line with comparable North American light rail systems ai??i?? addressing a key complaint of SkyTrain critics who believe light rail estimates are routinely inflated here due to pro-SkyTrain bias.

The audit also noted the Evergreen Line will carry many more riders to the big SkyTrain pinch points at Broadway-Commercial and Main Street stations.

“Not effectively addressing these capacity issues means Evergreen ridership is likely to suffer as downtown commuters face more crowded and less reliable journeys.”

Parking capacity is also a risk not adequately considered in the business plans, although a decision was later made to add 500 stalls for Evergreen Line users.

Doyle backed the use of a short-term P3 partnership to build the new line but not operate it, as happened with the Canada Line. Instead TransLink will maintain and run the northeast sector line.

Meanwhile, the province has accepted the results of the audit, and will take steps to carry out the recommendations.

“The Evergreen Line has been studied and reviewed extensively for years by multiple levels of government and transit experts,” Transportation Minister Mary Polak said in a statement.

“We are confident that the Evergreen Line can achieve ridership projections as we have seen with the popularity of the Millennium Line and Canada Line where ridership has met or exceeded projections.”

ai??i?? with files from Diane Strandberg




2 Responses to “Sorry Mr. Doyle, You Are Wrong!”
  1. Fix Transit, Gloria! says:

    From the report:

    “Because of inadequate documentation and record-keeping by agencies, we could not be assured about the scope and rigour of their reviews of the 2008 and 2010 business cases. While the decisions about the preferred project scope were recorded in various documents from MOTI, the Evergreen Project Board and Treasury Board, the information underpinning these decisions was not. Missing were:

    ŠŠ- issues raised with the business case analysis and how these were resolved;

    -ŠŠ purpose and outcomes of meetings held to review the business cases; and

    ŠŠ- some of the specialist review documentation (for example, the consultant who
    reviewed the 2008 business case was not required to provide a written report).”

    Interesting that the 2006 business case recommended light rail, but the 2008 and 2010 business cases recommended Skytrain.

    Zweisystem replies: Malcolm Johnston has just sent Zwei a copy of a letter sent to John Doyle, BC’s Auditor General and it will be posted this weekend. Johnston poses a question: “If LRT has a slightly higher capacity than SkyTrain and LRT can be built on a much cheaper rights-of-ways, how then can SkyTrain provide more capacity at a similar cost?” The answer is “it can’t” and is why only 7 SkyTrain type systems have been sold in the past 33 years.

  2. Bjorn says:

    I don’t mean to be mean, but when did this website go from an intelligent grassroots organization, pulling for interurban rail to the Fraser Valley, to the ravings of a skytrain-hating fanatic? I used to have a lot of respect for the calm and calculated discussions that zweisystem provoked, but now it just seems like obsession over LRT to UBC, which, as a former student there, wouldn’t work for me. I realise it is hard to wait a lifetime for transit improvement 0 and we shouldn’t have to. But a metro to UBC makes sense, and so too does suburban rail/LRT to the FV. What we need to shift our focus to is the allocation of a higher percentage of public funds to public transit.

    Zweisystem replies: A subway to UBC just not makes economic sense as the traffic flows are too weak to sustain the operating costs, thus with higher subsidies for a Vancouver centric metro system, means little or no money for improved transit South of the Fraser. There is only one taxpayer. The problem with LRT is that the vast majority of people are ignorant of what LRT is or what it can achieve. With SkyTrain, we are spending up to ten times more (up to twenty times more with a subway) than we should for ‘rail’ transit, which translates into a very expensive and small urban rail system.