The Perils Of A Proprietary Railway

ALRT/ART is what we call a proprietary railway and because Bombardier Inc. hold the technical patents for ART, they are the sole supplier of ART cars, as they can always undercut the competition, who must design a Linear Induction Motor powered car from scratch. Designing a specialty transit vehicle from scratch is a very expensive proposition and may add about $30 million to the cost of companies who bid for ART cars for Vancouver’s ALRT/ART proprietary light metro.

This, of course, gives Bombardier Inc. a great advantage and why the company loves to sell unconventional  proprietary railways because they have the operators in a”gotcha”situation, being the sole supplier.

It seems complacency is the order of the day at Bombardier Inc., where major trouble with Toronto’s tram procurement program and now Waterloo’s Bombardier built trams are being returned to sender, with the knowledge that the feds will always bail them out.

It is nice to be considered a favoured company by both the governments of Quebec and Canada with billions of dollars in loans, grants, subsidies, and deferments given, but when a producing a simple tram that works seems beyond their ken, it is really time to call it a day.

Funny that Ottawa’s French designed Alstom trams seem to be working fine, yet Bombardier’s trams seem to be duds.

Meanwhile, in Metro Vancouver, we are stuck with Bombardier Inc. and their aged product and that is something TransLink and the regional mayors remain ignorant of. If Bombardier Inc. goes bust, there is no other supplier for ART SkyTrain cars, which will greatly increase costs for an already overpriced proprietary transit system.

Another LRT setback? Region’s first train to be sent back to Bombardier

 

CTV Kitchener
Published Saturday, September 2, 2017 7:37PM EDT

Construction for the LRT is nearly complete but Waterloo Region doesn’t have a train to test out the system.

Only one Bombardier train, ordered back in August 2013, has been delivered.

And it doesn’t work.

Officials say the vehicle was sent to test the region’s storage facility and they knew it wasn’t operational.

The train may now be sent back to Bombardier says regional councilor Tom Galloway.

“They’ll have to either send it back to Kingston to bring it up to working standard or bring the staff down here.”

Bombardier says all the trains should be delivered by the end of the year, but some still worry that this latest setback may mean Ion’s launch will have to be pushed back.

“We always have to be a little cautions about schedules coming from Bombardier because, of course, they are behind,” says Galloway.

Bombardier said in a statement: “Manufacturing and assembly of the vehicles in Bombardier’s Kingston [facility] is going very well, with high speed testing on our test track progressing accordingly. The question of the delivery schedule is under discussion between our team and the Region’s, and so we cannot comment further on this issue for the time being. We assure you that we will keep everyone informed as soon as we have developments.”

Officials say if they get a working train by the fall they can begin testing immediately.

Comments

14 Responses to “The Perils Of A Proprietary Railway”
  1. Nate says:

    Don’t both CRRC and Kawasaki make LIM based trains?

    Zwei replies: They do, but their trains are not compatible with our trains. LIM’s are used on monorails and rubber tyred systems as well. Companies who sell propriety transit systems, well understand the “gotcha” factor with those very same transit systems.

    The fact is, the only transit mode where LIM’s are necessary are MAGLEVs.

  2. zweisystem says:

    Zwei talked to Siemens rep. about LIM powered trains and he said that “the cost to develop cars suitable for LIM operation is (was) about $30m to $40m. One just just add LIM trucks (bogies) to a standard coach. The first problem, LIM’s are very weight conscious and cars that are too heavy will consume power at a large rate, making them uneconomical.

  3. Haveacow says:

    Linear Induction Motor technology has been around for a while now (40+ years), unfortunately it has 2 primary issues with regards to standard electric motors. First, they don’t do well in overly harsh climates especially and quite ironically being a Canadian developed technology, in anything to do with cold weather and snow (massive drop in available power vs its electrical current use unless ice is removed and electric lines heated). Secondly, what was once world beating technology has hit the point where its operating efficiency can no longer be improved. Existing affordable commercially available technology limits improving the motor’s power efficiency, unless a major re-investment in research around its technology and engineering is done by companies like Bombardier. Something they are not willing to do because of the cost of the research versus the market potential of the product. Unfortunately for LIM, the just as reliable and much cheaper to build and operate conventional electric 5 and 7 pole “Can” motors is severely limiting LIM motor development in the transit drive technology field.

    There are several Japanese companies that make LIM technology. However, the Japanese government had to force these companies to make their LIM systems compatible country wide. There are still very few rapid transit lines in Japan that actually use the LIM technology (no more than 6-7 lines in all of Japan) because of the extra cost and added operational complexity of using it, especially when most of your existing rapid transit lines use standard electric motors. None of the Japanese systems are compatible with the Bombardier’s (UTDC of Ontario originally) Skytrain LIM technology used in Vancouver. This was done purposely so that you have to choose a single builder and supplier.

    Actually, CRRC makes a Chinese version of the originally, Hitachi based LIM technology under license. However, the Hitachi based system and its Chinese counterpart are not compatible with each other. Japanese producers didn’t want to have massive Chinese competition caused by China’s unfortunate tendency to acquire technology by out right illegally copying or building a product under license then, break their legal agreement and then turn around and sell the Chinese product under a different name as its own idea. China’s new Trackless Train, a guided bus really, uses a copies of French, German and Dutch optical and electromagnetic bus guidance technology, repackaged as their “Trackless Train”.

    Like Zwei said, anyone of these other companies could build a Vancouver like LIM system but, they would have to pay for the use of Bombardier’s patents or purchase them outright thus, more than likely, making any other company’s train more expensive than a Bombardier product. Yes, Bombardier does this, as does every other rail car manufacturer on the planet because of the truly massive development costs of these rail vehicles and their motor drive technology as well as the financial threat from competitors or competitors who will not respect intellectual property protection laws.

    Japan had very lax laws regarding the protection of intellectual property throughout the 1960′s up to the late 1980′s, until people started to steal their new ideas! Then the Japanese laws became some of the strongest in the world regarding the protection of intellectual and technological property rights. China will eventually follow suite as well. It’s one thing to improve on someone else’s idea, its entirely another thing to have your “new” ideas stolen from you.

  4. Dondi says:

    LIMs.

    They may not have been the best choice but they are not some FATAL FLAW that requires ripping out Skytrain and starting fresh. They will continue to power most of Vancouver rail transit for the forseeable future.

    So let’s discuss things that can be done to improve transit in Vancouver, not rehash old stories like the boyfriend who can’t let go of being dumped by a long-ago girlfriend.

    Mr Cow, I defer to your professional expertise on the broad range of factors that affect the LIM-traction motor comparison, and how these may have changed from 4 decades ago when whatever perceived advantages influenced the developers of the Skytrain technology to chose LIMs. But the fact that others are still developing and installing LIMs confirms that the general case against them is not settled forever.

    And pardon me, but I think some of your comments muddy the waters.

    In a previous reply to one of your comments I quoted a friend who has been a Skytrain technician who hands-on maintains these trains. I am sorry I can’t quote him by name, just as you can’t quote your Skytrain manager source by name.

    I don’t know when your manager gave you his information, but contrary to your suggestion that having to lift the trains to change out the LIMS is a major maintenance expense my friend reported that this is only done very rarely now.

    The early problem of ice and snow that you refer to above has largely been overcome (at least Vancouver ice and snow; Ottawa’s might be different!), by using a ‘sweeper unit’ in front of the trains. The LIM windings no longer short out due to ice-induced damage, and thus don’t require changing.

    My friend has ground the wheels to maintain the necessary tolerances between the LIM and the power rail for many years. I think he knows what he is talking about when he says when he says it is not a big deal to maintain these tolerances.

    Meanwhile, the LIMS have one obvious advantage over traction motors – no moving parts. Original Skytrain LIMs are still in service millions of kilometers and 30 years later. Are there any traction motors working for over 30 years without the cost of replacement/refurbishment?

    I will spare Mr Zwei from having to repeat his 100% predictable comment: Yes,

    ONLY 7 OF THESE SYSTEMS HAVE BEEN SOLD.

    Zwei replies: Dondi, you still don’t get it.

    The future is very bleak for transit in Metro Vancouver because our entire regional transit policy is not for moving people, rather it is for density. This is wrong.

    The powers that be do not care for flexibility because they want a metro, because a metro drives up property values along its route and this translates into higher density.

    The big problem is that for all the extra density, the region is barely getting the increased ridership and this translates into more cars and more congestion.

    (As an aside, this is why the MoT want a ten lane crossing of the Fraser River because they know that the Canada Line’s performance isn’t stellar and the cost to extend across the South Arm would be about $5 billion and that is not going to happen)

    The big TransLink projects, the Broadway subway and Surrey’s ‘poor man’s SkyTrain or light rail, will not take cars off the road and are built primarily to increase density (and increase the profits of political friends) and not provide an affordable transit alternative.

    This is why TransLink is so desperate for mobility pricing because we cannot afford to keep building with SkyTrain and or light metro and needs massive funding to do so. Examples:
    1) Broadway subway $3 to $4 billion.
    2) Langley SkyTrain, up to $8 billion including Expo and Millennium Line rehab.
    3) Evergreen line extension to Maple Ridge, $2 to $3 billion
    4) Extending the Canada line South of the Fraser, $4 to $5 billion including line rehab.
    5) Extending Broadway subway to UBC, $2 to $3 billion

    So here is our problem with transit, following the light metro model and if we keep building with SkyTrain (light-metro) we will never, never get a network that will offer a viable alternative to the car.

    This means more highways and bridges and a quick political death for politicians who support mobility pricing.

  5. zweisystem says:

    Also Dondi, TransLink has reduced maintenance on the mini-metro cars because, which causes more failures and passenger inconvenience.

    AND

    TransLink is replacing the track on the Expo Line for a second time because it is cheaper to do than adjusting the reaction rail to account for wheel and rail wear, to maintain that critical 1 cm gap.

    The thing is positively a money pit.

  6. Haveacow says:

    Dondi, here are some of the big disadvantages with using LIM motors. First they do have moving parts. All of the units that Bombardier design do have small internal rotors to form the current which actually forces induction of current in a opposite set of electromagnets. These electromagnets provide a constant long term and consistent flow of current (one of the advantages of them) but produce a massive amount of heat. The cooling fans and small air handling pumps are one of the things that continually fail (more often than Bombardier likes to admit) and require nearly monthly replacement.

    One of the long term problem of using electromagnets is that complex control systems have to be maintained in the car, in the communication system which provides data about the motor to the on board control systems and the central computer system, forces a series of complex programming logic in the all the computer operating systems involved for many of the motor sub systems.

    A former Bombardier technician I used to communicate with told me that, this system has probably one of the most complex sets of operating and programming algorithms anywhere in the world. The construction of the propulsion and control units are both highly complex as well as expensive to maintain. This next point I will defer to my friend’s judgement because I don’t fully understand the relationship between errant attractive solid bar magnetic force and wheel stress. Even though this system uses electromagnets (not the solid magnets in standard electric motors) it still produces a large amount of errant magnetic attractive force like solid magnets do (something that the electromagnets were supposed to eliminate). The extra force and stress on the running gear this causes, requires over sized bearings and structural supports compared to the relative small size of the flanges (wheels) used on the vehicles. This increases the complexity and cost of maintenance. The small under sized flanges (not standard railway design) require asymmetric track grinding to extend their shorter life spans and cut down on its excessive noise. These flanges do proportionally more damage to the track and the turnouts as well because of this stress. These highly stressed smaller flanges (wheels) themselves have proven expensive and problematic over the years but adding the stress of needing over sized support mechanisms severely shortens the life of the trucks (bogies) and flange sets.

    These LIM motors have another big disadvantage they are really big compared to standard motors and by their size relatively heavy. This lowers the efficiency of the system by forcing big current consumption. The high current consumption limits the numbers of trains that can be operated at any one time on the network. This happens because the Voltage is always constant, since the motors increase resistance (in this case actual physical resistance as well as electrical), the current level must drop. If the current level drops too low, all the trains start to slow down and may eventually even stop operating, if electrical and or physical resistance increases too much.

    The large size and relatively lower propulsion force of LIM compared to standard electric motors means Skytrain cars have to be smaller and lighter. Smaller and lighter trains suffer from greater traction issues when passenger loading is very light, thus more power is needed to just maintain optimum force on the rail.

    Further more, the small size of vehicles means you have to run more frequent trains to increase capacity. Running more trains instead of making trains longer is a big operational no no! More trains adds complexity to rail operations. Yes, the Sklytrain is automated exactly because of this but constantly having to run more trains makes it more expensive and stresses your maintenance regimes. Longer trains are always cheaper in the long run compared to running at higher frequency.

    Lastly, LIM’s require a 4th rail (induction rail) on the line. This simple fact by itself adds complexity to operations and extra costs for maintenance. Each operating electric power block or section of rail, requires twice the number of power connections than any other electric powered railway. Each turnout (switch) has to incorporate it into the moving or diverging section of the turnout (adds big maintenance time costs). Double crossovers (the single most expensive piece of track anywhere to build and maintain) become even more expensive because the 4th rail must be incorporated. This adds a level of complexity for example Ottawa’s LRT will never have to worry about. Certain sections of the Confederation LRT line will be automated upon opening next year, just like your Skytrain. Usually, when traffic is heavy during peak periods but our LRT will never need a 4th rail and it will do the same thing as your system does without that cost. The former head of Skytrain maintenance boasted that he could cut Skytrain’s operating cost by no less than 30% by eliminating the LIM motors and the induction rail and switching to standard electric motors.

    I didn’t realize it until now but there is one word that keeps popping up! Complexity! In the railway world complexity adds costs through uncertainty and extra time spent fixing things you didn’t plan on. Its my professional opinion that over all the Skytrain has attracted big ridership but at a tremendous hidden cost. Mostly due to the propulsion system and the basic assumption behind the Skytrain that, greater frequency beats heavier bulkier infrastructure. Can LIM motors do amazing things yes, but it has become just a very complex way of doing the same thing as cheap electric rotary motors do. Everything around them requires special care more not less costs and they can only get the parts from one single supplier.

  7. zweisystem says:

    Just a note, the vast majority of SkyTrain’s ridership comes from bus customers forced to transfer onto the mini-metro. There is no actual proof that SkyTrain has achieved a noticeable modal shift from car to transit.

    This might not sound like a big deal but a American transportation professional stressed that in a conversation over a decade ago and later backed up by C.U.T.A.

    To paraphrase what he said; “SkyTrain seems to have attracted just over 10% in overall new ridership, which is the same as new built light rail lines but has not demonstrated any ability to attract the motorist from the car in numbers that would warrant the cost.”

  8. Dondi says:

    Mr Zwei,

    I think you draw an artificial distinction between moving people and shaping urban form (your “density”).

    You seem to be a supporter of the ‘free’ market policy towards transit. They argue that transit should serve people where they are now. They think of this as ‘consumer sovereignty’. If people live in the suburbs then provide roads and bridges for most but throw in a few transit lines so the low-wage workers get to work on time.

    Those of us who don’t live in this imaginary ‘free’ market world know that current demand patterns are the result of policies that have systematically subsidized auto and petroleum and real estate interests.

    We would be far better off with a more compact and integrated urban form than generally exists in North America – think of Phoenix or Houston as extreme examples, and European cities as intermediate examples between us and where we need to go.

    Density is one metric here, but it is better to think of compactness and complete communities, i.e., ways of living that reduce the length and frequency of needed trips. This would not only provide better quality of life but is an objective necessity given the imperative to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

    So Translink and Metro Vancouver are totally right to try to use transportation infastructure and especially transit to try to shape our urban form in better directions.

    The problem has not been the particular choice of transit technology (Skytrain), it is the totally innadequate ambition but especially resources to provide alternatives to the sprawl induced by cars and suburban real estate developments.

    Railing against Skytrain just lets the real culprits off the hook – those funneling the big money into more highways and bridges and servicing suburban real estate. No transit technology could have competed against this stacked deck. That is why modal choice towards transit has barely improve, if at all, everywhere in Canada, whether they built LRT or not.

    All transportation infastructure benefits some people and some owners over others, including transit.

    LRT is generally no different than Skytrain in this regard, especially if they provide the similar traffic volumes you insist are both possible and likely. So the positive ‘subsidy’ provided to real estate and other interests and the negative consequences on existing residents are key issues, but the real issue is not Skytrain vs. LRT (or buses), it is public transit in general vs. auto-oriented development in general.

    The particular transit technology chosen is not neutral, but it is also not the major determinant of who benefits and who is hurt. This is mainly decided by other policy choices or non-choices, like the zoning changes allowed or whether or not public housing is built where transit is made available.

    Thus, while commuter rail is generally good, it can also have the negative effect of promoting urban sprawl beyond the current commutershed, as new suburban developments can ‘leapfrog’ beyond the current urban fringe when this service becomes available. The main beneficiaries are suburban real estate interests. We still need commuter rail, but we need to ensure that its net benefits on urban quality of life are positive rather than negative. The same applies to LRT or Skytrain.

    As you know, the strategy adopted by the GVRD-Metro Vancouver – but which has been systematically sabotaged by the pro-car, pro-suburban real estate forces – was to promote development along transit arterials (notably Skytrain lines) connecting the main urban centres in the Lower Mainland (‘hub to hub’ transit).

    Given the powers that be, I think it was hopelessly naive to think this strategy would succeed. Tinkering around the edges of the ‘free’ market is just not enough. Capitalists will always find ways to tweak every public policy in directions that benefit them.

    But what would your ‘move people’ approach have done? I think it would have simply reinforced and further promoted the auto-oriented process of urban sprawl even more rapidly and completely than has actually occurred.

    Transit planning in Europe is highly integrated with land use planning (guiding ‘urban form’). Contrary to your occasional suggestions, your approach seems more “American’ (pro-free enterprise) and less European (‘socialist’) than the ‘middle ground’ position ‘practiced’ by Translink et al.

    Zwei replies: You haven’t a clue what you are talking about. I can only surmise that you are a troll and nothing more. I offer 21st century European transit philosophy and you fob it off as American.

    But what makes you laughable is that you try to make LRT and light metro “essentially the same”. Sorry they are not and both modes were conceived for different reasons. What we call LRT today, was German S-Bahn, spiced with North American Interurban, evolving as a cheaper alternative for buses on heavily used routes. Light-metro, was conceived to bridge the gap from what buses could carry (trams for ICTS/ALRT in Ontario) and that of a heavy-rail metro.

    LRT, made light-metro obsolete decades ago and it is simple as that.

    I have posted numerous cost comparisons with LRT and LRT, but you remain blind, not so other transit agencies who have studied ICTS, ALRT, ALM, and ART to death and they all came to the same conclusion, LRT was cheaper to build, maintain and operate, than our SkyTrain. Only seven SkyTrain ICTS, ALRT, ART systems have been built in almost 40 years and every one of them were never allowed to compete against LRT and everyone of them were built via a private deal, with no bidding allowed.

    Today, SkyTrain is obsolete and costly and in fact it is an operating museum piece, like the Wuppertal Schwebbebahnn.

    What you have done is deify SkyTrain and that is a big, big mistake. It is a transit system and by today’s standards a dated and obsolete transit system.

  9. Dondi says:

    Mr Cow,

    Thank you for your useful, concrete discussion of various aspects of LIMs.

    Not that I know much about this, but it is new to me that there are small rotors in the LIMS (they are not mentioned in this article on LIMS by a Bombardier engineer: http://www.maglev.ir/eng/documents/papers/conferences/maglev2002/topic7/IMT_CP_M2002_T7_S2_1.pdf )..

    But am I right that these rotors are not part of the propulsion system. that is, the ‘motor’? And similarly the fans are like the radiator fans of an internal combustion engine – necessary but not the “motor” itself? I was using ‘motor’ in this simple sense.

    Are you saying these small rotors and fans are a major maintenance cost, relative to the alternative of replacing traction motors more often than 30 years of service by LIMS?

    Skytrain and Bombardier have claimed the overal Skytrain maintenance and operating costs are lower than the alternatives. I too am skeptical, but I neither Mr Zwei or you have presented any concrete evidence against this claim , that is, ‘apples to apples’ comparison with other systems, e.g., Calgary or Ottawa. Vancouver transit continue to function at similar levels and costing similar amounts as in other metros – it is not some great outlier that exposes Skytrain as a disaster.

    You say that short, frequent trains are a “no-no”. But please explain why is this necessarily the case, if the signal/control system can handle it, which Skytrain has demonstrated it can do, and no drivers eliminates labour costs as a big issue? The same number of cars travels the same distance but riders wait less time on the platforms for the next train. What major issue am I missing? I can accept that simpler is generally at least a little cheaper, but is this really such a big deal?

    And I still wonder why the boast of an anonymous maintenance manager that he could save 30% in maintenance costs by switching to traction motions is relevant. It is not going to happen, and this boast is silent about all the other aspects of the Skytrain technology that are part of the mix. So why even mention it?

  10. zweisystem says:

    Dondi, your real culprits are SkyTrain, because of its huge costs, makes new highways cheaper by comparison.

    SkyTrain was never about public transit, it was about political prestige, sound bytes and photo-ops at election time.

    The transit/density game being played out is nothing more than bureaucratic invention to justify the hugely expensive SkyTrain light-metro.

    We have the density in Metro Vancouver for light rail today and scores of routes; we have the density in the Fraser Valley to Hope for TramTrain. Except in Vancouver’s West End, where there is no SkyTrain or subway, we do not have the density for SkyTrain, thus the Cities of Vancouver, Burnaby, New West and the Tri-ciites have rezoned affordable housing to unaffordable high density housing to pretend that SkyTrain is good. Demovictions, tent cities, and homeless people living in camper, cars or just in the bush is endemic in Metro Vancouver, yet we continue building extravagant transit to suit the needs of politicians, bureaucrats, planners and engineers who are afraid to say; “We got it all wrong”. In metro Vancouver, transit is built tomove money, not people.

  11. Haveacow says:

    The rotors create the current flow that induces a parallel current and thus a magnetic field in the electromagnets, that’s what makes the train move. The fields attract or repulse each other, across the induction rail, causing motion.

    They, the fans and rotors are a big maintenance cost because you to take the train out of service, have a crew separate the trucks (bogies) from the body (lift the body into the air), then roll out the trucks to a clear spot on the maintenance track to work on it. Bring in a crane and lift out sections of the propulsion system just to access the god dammed parts. Its time consuming and takes a crew of 2 or 3 to do this. It has to be done just to check which “dumb” part has actually failed. I don’t mean the part is stupid but not attached to a computer controlled sensor system which, could be remotely monitored by the computer and tell which exact part is broken.

    LRT takes one guy, a air hammer, a multi-meter and a pump truck. The motors on LRV’s are mounted on the side of the truck frame near the ground, can be accessed and removed in 20 seconds with a air hammer or a strong guy with the right wrench (4 bolts and detach 2 clips). You don’t need to separate the body and the truck at all. There is a dual wire lead from the motors, that attaches to your multi meter, attach them, test for current, inductance and resistance, if any are in the red zone its replaced. If it is yellow zone range note the parts numbers and test in the maintenance log and mark watch. If it is in the green zone, put the leads back in there little mount and move on to the next motor. If it needs replacement then bring in the manual pump lined up with the printed marker lines on the frame, then one pull and the whole engine assembly, including the flange rotors come out on 2 spring mounted extended support beams (like the pull out loading ramp on the back of U-Haul truck). You make sure the pump truck is lined up and bring it in towards the assembly, and its forks of the pump truck, line up and go into 2 handy holes in the assembly. Pump the truck upwards, you will feel the pump truck take the weight of the engine assembly. Pull out the pump truck and assembly, done. get the new motor mounted on the pump truck and replace said motor.

    This is why VIA Rail brings the morning Toronto and Montreal trains out of Ottawa station as one unit until they separate them at Fallowfield Station (one stop west of Ottawa Union Station). Both trains then head off in different directions, the Toronto train westbound and the Montreal or the Quebec City-Ottawa Express starts its eastbound run, both trains picking passengers up at Fallowfield. Moving one bigger consist with multiple motors is more efficient until they have to be separated. This is why the CNR and CPR have 2 km long freight trains with a middle pusher engine, its cheaper then having to have a second single engine, make another space in the track schedule, produce a separate freight roster, making sure which insurance regime the train is under and staffed and equipped accordingly.

  12. Dondi says:

    Mr Zwei,

    Mea culpa, I should not project positions on you (suggesting your transit philosophy is more “American” than “European”) for the same reason that I object when you paint me as a lobbyist for Skytrain. I should have stuck more to what you actually say.

    But the thing is, you regularly express ideas about transit that I consider to be anti-’European’.

    Correct me where I am wrong on this, but:

    ‘Europeans’ do not reduce transit philosophy to the choice of particular transit technologies. You seem fixated on slagging the Skytrain and rapid bus options to promote a (highly idealized) notion of LRT.

    We get it, LRT is excellent. But there is more than transit technology to consider.

    For example, you seem blind to the ‘European’ default of very closely linking transit and land use planning to shape urban form. Or, when you touch on these issues, you seem to oppose that orientation.

    I say this because you slag Translink without ever acknowledging that this kind of regional-scale transit agency whose mandate includes some land-use planning is European-like.

    And, instead of the European default of using transit as a tool to shape land use and urban form you insist that only a high ridership today can justify new infastructure. (Of course, ‘default’ here is a little idealized; neoliberal deregulation has gone pretty far in some places).

    We all know that real estate interests salivate over the higher land values created around new transit lines. But you go further by claiming this is the main if not only motivation for transit planning in Vancouver. Am I wrong that you oppose the GVRD-Metro Vancouver policy (official policy; real life is something else) of using transit to focus growth along transit arterials that connect the urban centres and within those centres?

    Or is it just that you can’t let go of the decision made last century to select Skytrain to promote this end rather than LRT?

    As an example of the opposite logic to how I understand your’s, see this article about lessons from Berlin’s transit system for Toronto at http://dailyhive.com/toronto/ttc-learn-berlin-transit-system : “Transit should dictate urban development, not the other way around”. The article ends with an example where “…build it and they will come.”

    This supply-driven logic for transit is the opposite of the “American” free-market criteria that transit infastructure should be demand-driven, that is, justified by current ridership. This latter approach will never overcome the existing structural bias for cars and against transit but it is what I get from you.

    You will find all the points about transit philosophy above in this basic comparison of American, Canadian and West European transit philosophies that I came across: http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/sr/sr257.pdf .It is not quite up to date but it makes the 21st century, just barely, and it is from a very “American” perspective.

    Zwei replies: Actually you really do not have a clue what you are talking about.

    In Europe, transit is built to move people, the effectively and efficiently the better.

    Just before the light rail Renaissance (in France), several proprietary light-metro systems were designed and built including monorail, and pre-metro tram systems.

    The problem was modern low-floor trams, operating on reserved rights-of-ways made most of these proprietary light-metro systems obsolete.

    Your ignorance of light rail and light rail history is telling, yet so typical of those in Metro Vancouver, where transit was used as a tool to up-zone residential properties to high rise condos! That is our definition of land-use. The problem was and is, building transit as useful alternative to the car was all but ignored.

    The result is a crap transit system and an ignorant TransLink planning more and more of the same damn thing in hopes that it will work this time.

    Everyone is a transit expert in metro Vancouver; Engineers , planners and even those with PHD’s think themselves great transit planners, but with no background or any knowledge on the subject we keep blundering ahead, building ourselves into a financial grave.

    Vancouver has made itself an international laughingstock with transit and those working for TransLink, seen as rubes, beeing conned by the latest “cure all” gimmick.

    We have forgotten how to plan transit and charlatans hod sway.

    Read a book on the subject, you might actually learn something.

  13. Dondi says:

    Zwei, as I see it, your response only confirms my points.

    Everything is about a particular technology.

    Zero acknowledgement that transit is about more than just moving people where they are now.

    “Laughingstock” evidence, please.

    Your recommendation of a particular book to read?

    Zwei replies: Dondi, you have deified SkyTrain, it is your great god and like all religious zealots, you cannot see but your own self delusions.

    So, why would anyone one purchase and build with SkyTrain, when it it costs more to build, maintain and operate than light rail? Only a fool or rube would.

    Seattle has essentially a light metro, I don’t agree with what they done but by using light rail vehicles they do have the ability to operate on a lesser R-o-W if need be.

    The concept of light-metro is obsolete, made obsolete by light rail. Only suckers or rubes build with SkyTrain, get over it.

    The only reason we keep building with SkyTrain is that politicians are afraid to admit they are wrong, and/or they have been paid off as with transit “Pay to Play has been around for a long, long time.

  14. zweisystem says:

    This has become repetitive and nonsensical and this will be the last post on the subject.

    SkyTrain is obsolete and for the true believers, this is unacceptable. SkyTrain has become a religion in Vancouver and like all religions, it is not based on science or fact, rather hearsay and myth.

    Now if there was 6 or 7 ALRT/ART SkyTrains in operation in the USA, operating as our SkyTrain does, I would have a very weak position and we would have a lot of additional operating information to base the ongoing debates on, but there isn’t and I will give the last word to Gerald Fox;

    “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 analysed honestly, and the taxpayers’ interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US.”