The Greer Report – 20 Years On

This item is a reprint from 2009.

After rereading the Greer Report, I see TransLink making the same unsubstantiated claims about SkyTrain.

Another decade has passed and TransLink is still the autocratic organization, as it was twenty years ago!

Who is not afraid to “Bell the Cat?”

The Greer Report – Review of Rapid Transit Project Claims. We didn’t need an American consultant to tell us TransLink is ‘off the rails’.

First posted by on Thursday, September 17, 2009


Over twenty years ago the Greer Report, done by Greer Consulting Services, issued a scathing report on the Broadway/Lougheed Rapid Transit Projects, later to be know as the SkyTrain Millennium Line. The report found:

  • cost comparisons appear to have been contrived to favour SkyTrain over LRT
  • no ridership (demand) analysis was reported to justify the high capacity system
  • air quality and transportation benefits are unsubstantiated
  • accelerated construction advantages of SkyTrain were clearly unrealistic
  • risks associated with the SkyTrain car manufacture have not been assessed.

Fast forward to today, has anything changed?

Nada, nope, not a chance!

How can TransLink be trusted with any honest transit planning, especially when they want hundreds of millions more in taxpayers money to pay for ‘pie-in-the-sky’ light-metro planning based on contrived planning and phony studies? The RAV/Canada line is just a symptom of a major problem: TransLink refuses to plan for affordable light-rail and instead invents statistics to suit their in-house light-metro planning. The 100,000 passengers a day, quoted by RAV officials and Liberal politicians, needed so the RAV/Canada line will operate subsidy free is ‘stuff-and-nonsense’ as TransLink has absolutely no mechanism in place to apportion fares between SkyTrain, RAV/Canada line, Seabus, and the regular buses. TransLink doesn’t know what percentage of fares are full fares, concession fares, and the deeply discounted U-Pass, nor do they have a formula for allocating fares between bus, Seabus and metro.

Clearly TransLink hasn’t a clue about apportioned fares or even how the RAV/Canada line will determine what percentage will be paid to the metro and buses. What may happen is that TransLink will count all ridership on RAV as full adult cash fares and ‘fiddle away’ monies that rightfully should go to the bus system’s coffers.

What is known for certain is that the 100,000 a day claim made by TransLink, Kevin Falcon and Gordon Campbell is completely bogus!

(2018 update: The Canada Line is said to have 110,000 boarding’s a day, which equates to about 50,000 actual people using the system. There is also an agreement with West Coast Mountain Bus that all South Fraser buses must terminate at Brighouse Station, thus effectively forcing a transfer on all South Fraser customers. The stations only have 40m long platforms and can only operate two car trains, effectively limiting capacity to a little more than half of the ART/ALRT Innovia Lines. Translink pays the SNC Lavalin lead consortium over $100 million annually to operate the line.)

Certainly nothing has changed much at TransLink as American transit expert, Gerald Fox, stated in a Feb.2008 letter regarding the Evergreen line:

“I found several instances where the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain. If the underlying assumptions are inaccurate, the conclusions may be so too.” And adding: ” 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. In the US, all new transit projects that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of transit peers, selected and monitored by the federal government, to ensure that projects are analyzed honestly, and the taxpayers’ interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US.”

Metro politicians take note, TransLink is about to take you and your taxpayers on a wild ride, “around, around, TransLink goes; where it will stop nobody knows!”

For the full Greer Report


4 Responses to “The Greer Report – 20 Years On”
  1. Rocky says:

    TransLink doesn’t know what percentage of fares are full fares, concession fares, and the deeply discounted U-Pass, nor do they have a formula for allocating fares between bus, Seabus and metro.

    Translink knows a lot more data now that it using compass cards.

    Translink know how many cards issued.

    It knows where you tap the card.

    It knows what form of transit you use.

    These cards collect a lot of data from users.

    Translink has at least 3 forms of compass card:

    1. Adult
    2. Children
    3. Students (University and college.)

    Zwei replies: If you have tracked what I said about ridership calculation, you would find I have been calling for the release of the daily “unique” use of the compass card to determine ridership. TransLink has not and one wonders why?

  2. Haveacow says:

    Oh I can tell you why Zwei, it’s no secret, although it is easier with digital fare cards to get the correct information you want. It is still very expensive, time consuming and most importantly, TransLink has no control over how the data is used once it is out in the public.

    In most industries, information control is very important. That’s why private companies only tell you what they want you to know. Given our overly litigious society, it’s no surprise that even public entities (including public transportation agencies), want not only a great degree of information management and control ability but also control about how that data is used, more than likely, how it can be used against them. Public or not, they need to protect themselves. Especially for legal reasons, regardless of what the public feels is their right to know!

    A website like this one runs on information and data, it’s the fuel that runs the web. However, since it is also a form of commodity and has a real market value, free public access to it must also be controlled so it doesn’t get spent against you. As a consultant the information I hold as well as my experience, is also my paycheck! The more valuable of which can’t be given away for free.

  3. Rocky says:

    Maybe you should make a freedom of information request to Translink.

  4. zweisystem says:

    Zwei replies: Actually I did, or should I say contributed to a sizable amount of money to a group, to get ridership data on the Canada Line. What was received was heavily redacted, with no figures given. The excuse: It was proprietary information on part of the P-3 and that releasing the data may hurt further sales.

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