The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree – TransLink’s Regional Transit Planning

Fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal metaphor in the United States used to describe evidence that is obtained illegally.The logic of the terminology is that if the source of the evidence (the “tree”) is tainted, then anything gained from it (the “fruit”) is as well.

TransLink’s planning officials still maintain that modern light Rail has a limited capacity of about 10,000 persons per hour per direction and refuse to entertain the fact that they are wrong. All of TransLink planning, including the RAV/Canada Line, theAi??Ai??Evergreen line, the Broadway/UBC rapid transit line, and Fraser Valley transportation have assumed LRT’s seemingly inferior capacity and despite the fact that modern LRT can carry in excess of 20,000 pphpd, have portrayed LRT as a poorman’s SkyTrain.

The assumption that light rail has only a capacity of 10,000 pphpd is wrong.

The Light Rail Transit Association [ ], which can trace its history back 63 years, which has continually campaigned for affordable and efficient public transit, defines light rail transit as:

“a steel wheel on steel rail transit mode, that can deal economically with traffic flows of between 2,000 and 20,000 passengers per hour per direction, thus effectively bridging the gap between the maximum flow that can be dealt with using buses and the minimum that justifies a metro.”

The following study from the LRTA, shows that even in 1986, it was generally understood that modern LRT could carry 20,000 pphpd.

More recently, (2006) Calgary Transit LRT Technical Data page claims that the maximum theoretical capacity of the C-Train is 30,700 pphpd!

Maximum THEORETICAL single direction capacity (pass./hr/dir) at 256 pass./car and 2 min. headway:
3-car train 23,040
4-car train 30,720

IfAi??Ai??TransLink’s basic assumption about light rail (including streetcar)Ai??Ai??is wrong, then TransLink’s entire planning history, regarding bus, LRT, and SkyTrain is wrong and is not worth the paper it is printed on. Yet TransLink, without any public scrutiny and very little political oversight, continues to plan for hugely expensive SkyTrain light-metro projects, which supposedAi??Ai??support for, has been heavily biased byAi??Ai??questionable studies andAi??Ai??even more questionable tactics – all fruit from the poisonous tree!

Noted American transportation expert Gerald Fox, summed up his observations on the TransLink business case for the Evergreen line;

“Ai??Ai??It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding.”

Has TransLink’s regional transit planning over the past ten years nothing more than “Fruit of the poisonous tree?”, based on the fact that TransLink’s bureaucrats desired that light rail (LRT) be seenAi??Ai??inferior to SkyTrain, on paper, to ensure further planning and building of their cherished light metro system?

Rail for the Valley would welcome TransLink’s clarification on this issue!


6 Responses to “The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree – TransLink’s Regional Transit Planning”
  1. David says:

    There is widespread belief that driver salaries make it too expensive to operate high frequency rail transit, but driver salaries account for a mere 18% of operating costs for the Calgary C-Train. They could be running twice as many trains and drivers would still be only make a small dent in the budget.

    There is also widespread belief that capital cost savings cannot be used to fund operations. This ignores the fact that the BC Government requires the local transit operator to pony up roughly 33% of all capital costs for major projects.

    There is also widespread belief that automated systems are needed for overnight operation when, in fact, the reverse is true. Calgary parks its last train at 1:50am and starts up service again at 3:27am. Vancouver’s SkyTrain is shut down for much longer periods every night.

    From where I’m sitting there is never any benefit to automation unless you’re dealing with Asian densities.

  2. lii says:

    Dead wrong again Zwei. LRT actually has a capacity of 70,000 pphpd. Just make the trains 1000ft long with 7 second headways and platform widths wider than 10 lanes of traffic… hey, let’s put that on Broadway! Magic!

    We all know LTRs don’t typically reach the capacity you like to wish. Shame on you for conveniently cherry-picking favorable LRT facts.

    Zweisystem replies: A good example of the SkyTrain lobby’s debating efforts, Now, if they had actually read a book on the subject………………….

  3. Bibi Khatoon says:

    How much retainer do TransLink & the Campbell administration pay you & your ilk to troll the blogosphere with your misinformation lii?

  4. zweisystem says:

    I swear to god, I printed on effort by a troll, but I had to delete 5 others……Interesting. I guess the PAB felt lucky yesterday.

  5. bulleid 35028 says:

    Best SkyTrain vid I’ve seen, sort of sums it up, LOL

  6. Bibi Khatoon says:

    I’ve got a better one (h)

    Zweisystem replies: Yes, you have found the lost planning primer for TransLink’s transit planners. They will rejoice!