TransLink, Act 5

Alas, poor TransLink, I knew it Ken.

As the Vancouver Sun article alludes to the fact that, we paid a lot of money for vanity rapid transit projects and that my friends is why TransLink is in the financial glue it finds itself in today.

Zwei has known this for a long time and only now, those former champions of SkyTrain, rapid transit and subways are recognizing this?

Alas TransLink, your time has come and gone.

Evolution of a transit authority

High hopes at founding in 1999 have turned into a riddle of costs, ridership and political tensionsAi??

By Kelly Sinoski AND Rob Shaw, Vancouver SunFebruary 14, 2014

Former Vancouver councillor George Puil was so confident TransLink was the best system for Metro Vancouver 15 years ago that even after knee surgery, he hobbled around on crutches to every mayor and council to sell the idea.

The plan, under then-NDP premier Glen Clark, was simple: the unelected BC Transit board would be replaced with local politicians who had both the power to raise taxes for transportation and the accountability to face voters if those taxes werenai??i??t wanted.

The 12-member board was responsible for everything from buses and trains to roads and bridges. It got its funding from the fare box and other taxes, and also had a sustainable funding source: a $75 vehicle levy approved by the province, with revenue to go to TransLink.

ai???I went to every municipality to get them to agree and they did,ai??? said Puil, a former TransLink chairman who met with transportation officials across North America to develop the model. ai???I thought we had it

But TransLink was troubled from the start. The NDP government reneged on the controversial vehicle levy in 2001, leaving the system cash-starved from the beginning, and municipalities have battled successive governments that opted to build their own costly pet mega-projects like the Canada Line or Millennium Line over cheaper transit like light rail.

This left municipalities with only a handful of unpolitically unpopular ways to generate funds for transit: by raising fares, property taxes and gas taxes.

The problems persisted long after the NDP was voted out in 2001 and the B.C. Liberals took over. Successive governments have continued to reject the vehicle levy, and the Liberals are ordering a public referendum before any new funding sources can go ahead.

The Liberals, claiming the TransLink board was dysfunctional, restructured it in 2007 and instituted an unelected board. TransLink is now on the cusp of another overhaul this spring.

ai???Iai??i??m disappointed,ai??? Puil said.

Clark, premier from 1996 to 1999, acknowledges the transportation authority didnai??i??t quite work out the way he imagined.

The idea was to bring more accountability to TransLink by giving the elected members of the Greater Vancouver Regional District Ai??ai??i?? now Metro Vancouver ai??i?? the ability to appoint mayors and councillors to the TransLink board.

But this proved troublesome. Transportation decisions ai??i?? such as how much money would be spent on transit and roads ai??i?? Ai??had to first pass the hodgepodge of politicians on the TransLink board, but could then be overruled by a second vote by the GVRD, which had veto power on tax and fee increases. Although the NDP set aside three seats on the board for provincial appointees, the Liberals never placed anyone on the TransLink be the first to admit it was flawed in one sense,ai??? Clark told The Vancouver Sun in a recent interview. ai???It still retained the fundamental problem, which was only indirect accountability for their

Money was at the heart of the problem.

Provincial politicians argue that when TransLink was created, the province exempted the regional government from having to pay 40 per cent of local hospital projects on the understanding they would use the property taxes to fund transit projects. But from the start, mayors have been reluctant to raise property taxes for fear of a backlash from tax-weary voters.

ai???I again underestimated the territoriality, the turf protecting, that went on,ai??? Clark said. ai???They donai??i??t want to raise the money for big projects. They could theoretically do it, but itai??i??s very hard for them to raise that kind of capital. So it ends up them kind of running the bus system.

ai???And the big-picture stuff, everybody has competing demands. The province has, historically, including when I was there, including when Gordon Campbell was there, including when Bill Bennett was there, simply intervened, paid the money, set the priority and turned it over to

That repeated intervention from Victoria is a sore spot among local mayors who feel they get overruled whenever the province wants to push a project.

Tensions came to a head in 2004, a pivotal year for the transportation authority, which was pursuing big-city dreams of light rail cars zinging between Vancouver and Richmond and Burnaby and Coquitlam.

Still reeling from the former NDPai??i??s decision to build the $1.2-billion Millennium SkyTrain, which was losing $27 million per year, municipal politicians faced intense pressure from the Liberals to build the Canada Line ai??i?? rather than light rail to Coquitlam ai??i?? ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

They voted twice to kill it, but it went through anyway.

Former Liberal transportation minister Kevin Falcon, who publicly chastised the mayors for trying to vote the Canada Line down, defended his decision, saying the Canada Line has been incredibly successful since opening day.

ai???At the end of the day the public really gets tired of the infighting and the parochialism and finger-pointing and they really want to see results,ai??? Falcon said. ai???Iai??i??m happy to let people criticize myself or government during that process, but I like to be able to look back and say, ai???You know what, we got those things launched and we got them built, whether it was the Canada Line or Evergreen ai???

Ken Dobell, TransLinkai??i??s first CEO from 1998 to 2001, said if the province is putting in more than one-third of the money for a project, as it often does, then itai??i??s only fair that Victoria get a say in how the project is built, he said. He added that transit-related property tax levels in Metro are lower compared with Toronto or Montreal.A frustrated Falcon overhauled TransLink in 2007, taking substantial control away from local politicians and giving it to an unelected board of experts, who met in secret to come up with plans and priorities.

The mayorsai??i?? main role was downgraded to approve those plans and the additional taxes to pay for them. For instance, while TransLink is already allotted three per cent of Metroai??i??s property taxes for transit, the mayors would have to approve any further hikes to pay for transit infrastructure.

And from the start, they were loathe to boost property taxes any further.

ai???It seemed to me we needed to have a structure that would give the public more confidence that decisions would be made for the right reasons,ai??? Falcon said. ai???Itai??i??s not a perfect model for sure, and itai??i??s entirely appropriate the province now take a look at it and tweak it to see if they can improve upon

The third version of TransLink, unveiled this month by current transportation minister, Todd Stone, flips Falconai??i??s version on its head. Nobody really knows yet what itai??i??s going to mean for the region, but it suggests a compromise, with mayors gaining more control over TransLinkai??i??s policies and priorities, and the board handling the budget and operations.North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton, chairman of the mayorsai??i?? council on regional transportation, is optimistic. Mayors now only have three tasks in their mandate: to appoint the commissioner and the TransLink board ai??i?? candidates are appointed by the province ai??i?? and approve large capital budgets.

ai???If thereai??i??s no money you canai??i??t approve a large capital budget,ai??? he said. ai???There hasnai??i??t been a financial model thatai??i??s worked. For them to turn around and say we didnai??i??t have a vision or continued to work to get one left us all

Former Liberal transportation minister Blair Lekstrom argues both the mayors and Victoria have to take responsibility, but in the end, it all comes back to property taxes.

ai???At some point, and this is where I differed from many members on the mayors council, property taxes have to be part of that solution,ai??? said Lekstrom. ai???They were adamant theyai??i??d paid enough. But you canai??i??t reach out to the people of Tumbler Ridge or wherever to say contribute to Metro Vancouver

Metro Vancouver mayors agree that any funding sources should be local. They have pitched pleas to use the vehicle levy, regional carbon tax or tolls on local bridges ai??i?? rather than property taxes ai??i?? to raise cash for transit.

TransLink has seen unprecedented growth over the past decade, laying the groundwork in 2005 for more buses, SkyTrain cars and projects like the Canada Line, Coast Meridian Overpass, Central Valley Green Bicycle route and the Golden Ears Bridge.

Expenditures rose from $630.9 million in 2001 to $1.4 billion in 2012, according to TransLink figures, which have been converted to 2013 dollars. But that growth came in fits and starts, bolstered in part by increases in property and gas taxes to ensure projects ai??i?? once started ai??i?? were built.

TransLink, which had started to see its cash flow shrink in 2009, was dipping into its reserves three years later to pay for several system expansions. These included not only the long-awaited Evergreen Line, linking Burnaby and Coquitlam, but politically motivated projects such as a rapid bus lane along the new Port Mann Bridge and a Compass and fare gate system, after municipal politicians refused to raise property taxes any further.

TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis acknowledges the transportation authority has its work cut out, especially with another million people coming to Metro Vancouver by 2040. Last year, bus routes were already being shifted across the region, with service hours cut in areas like Port Coquitlam and added to busier routes along Vancouverai??i??s Broadway where thousands of people are passed up each day.

And itai??i??s not just transit TransLink has to worry about: it is also responsible for several bridges, including the Pattullo and Knight Street, HandyDart and 2,400 kilometres of roads.

ai???We have adequate funding to cover the services that are there today,ai??? said Jarvis, who has been with TransLink since its inception, previously as chief financial officer. ai???The challenge is what is the appropriate level of investment we need to bite off next and whatai??i??s a fair and equitable way to pay for that?ai???Local mayors have repeatedly called for a road pricing strategy to pay for transit. This could include the vehicle levy, tolls on every bridge or a fee per distance travelled.

Puil, who championed the first vehicle levy, is still pushing the move as a better alternative to raising fares.

ai???You have to have some form of road tax,ai??? he said. ai???I think the municipalities have to be strong enough and they have to step in and say ai???this is our business. You canai??i??t make decisions for ai???

But Clark, now a high-level executive in Jim Pattisonai??i??s business empire, maintains it would be a tough sell, noting voters need to see a direct connection between the tax and service, and a vehicle levy needs at least some level of popularity to survive.

The province should have known a vehicle levy would be unpopular, Dobell said. But by never allowing TransLink to implement the measure, it took away one of their main revenue sources.

North Vancouverai??i??s Walton, who met with Stone Friday, said it appears the mayors and province are finally making headway. Itai??i??s the first time in five years they have been at the table together, he said, a period that has seen public feuding with Victoria suggesting the mayors arenai??i??t doing anything to resolve the funding issues.

ai???Those kinds of comments are personally vindictive and donai??i??t do anything to encourage people to work together,ai??? Walton said.

Puil argues mayors have to be involved in the system, noting in the early days there was unanimity around the board. ai???We never wanted SkyTrain,ai??? he said. ai???The main problem is the lack of money, and the capital projects they take on are huge. The capital expenditure for SkyTrain is far in excess of what it would have been for light

Ken Cameron, a former planning manager with Metro Vancouver, agreed things seemed to be on track before the Canada Line kerfuffle.

Since then, he said, provincial politicians blindsided by the ai???dream of having their own trainai??? seem to have forgotten the original intention of TransLink: to move goods and people more efficiently.

Both Millennium Line and Canada Line were heavily motivated by politics, he said, noting neither has seen the high-density that was expected to be coupled with transit routes. Although Canada Line has drawn the ridership, highrise development is only now going in along Cambie ai??i?? four years after the trains started rolling to the airport.

It may be different for the new Evergreen Line, which took so long that Coquitlam and Port Moody had developed high density town centres around it, but it depends on whether people are willing to get out of their cars and take it in 2016.

ai???If I had my way I wouldnai??i??t build another inch of rapid transit in this region until we have a better idea of where weai??i??re growing,ai??? Cameron said. ai???What we should be doing is the least costly solution to achieve the outcome that we want. What we seem to be losing track of is that we should be trying to move people and goods efficiently in the region and yet we have these vanity projects that are costing a lot of


57 Responses to “TransLink, Act 5”
  1. Haveacow says:

    This is were you guys insert your idea to Cameron about LRT and TRAM-TRAINS, get hold of him he is looking for something, make your pitch, be positive try not to be too negative about SKYTRAINS but, get in there now! You have had this drop in from political heaven take the chance, seize the day! Give them something to hold up as an example, whatever you contacts you have with these writers or the paper use them, get contact with Cameron about your ideas do it now. Weekends are generally slow for news follow up stories are born this way.

  2. eric chris says:

    I’ll put out an article in a couple of weeks (rather than this week as planned) to show how the capacity of transit to and from UBC and Commercial Drive can be increased by over 70% by simply re-configuring the buses into two counter-current loops. Re-configuring the buses also speeds up transit for many users and reduces the pass-ups by the express buses.

    This is what Cameron is likely alluding to when he recommends “achieving the least costly solution to achieve the outcome that we want”. We seem to be on the same page. I’ll send Richard Walton and Cameron a copy of the article after it appears in RFTV.

    TransLink is analogous to a mutual fund promising 20% to 30% annual returns and delivering 0% annual returns (no reduction in the percentage of trips by drivers) for 15 consecutive years yet charging 7.5% of the fund balance ($1.5 billion operating budget for TransLink) in commission (overhead for TransLink) to manage the fund. Unless TransLink can show that transit reduces vehicle use, taxpayers are unnecessarily paying hefty commissions for the very expensive bureaucracy at TransLink.

    Almost everyone blindly assumes that more spending is necessary to keep TransLink financially solvent. Really the answer lies in the reduction of operating expenses. This can be achieved by using capital funding from the provincial and federal governments to replace two to three buses with a single tram to cut operating costs by about one-third.

    Ultimately, the efficacy of transit by TransLink is purely predicated upon the reduction of road congestion. TransLink is a big nothing if transit by TransLink does not reduce road congestion, and there are also no reductions in carbon emissions and no improvements in air quality if transit by TransLink (sky train) does not reduce road congestion.

  3. Haveacow says:

    Your Idea is good but you need a pro tram-train article in the Vancouver Sun by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. You need to keep the pressure up. A solidly pro Skytrain paper like the Sun suddenly has a chinck in its armor and you need to exploit it before the public forgets about the article questioning Translink’s choice of mode. The memory of the uninterested general public has a shelf life of about 4 – 6 days after that its too late, you have lost your press momentum. Just a suggestion from someone who learned the hard way.

  4. Rico says:

    Hi Eric,
    Looking forward to your article. I will just make a few observations that seem common to these types of analysis (and you may already be aware of them). Ridership to UBC is only about 1\3 of the Broadway corridor. Diverting UBC students to a more southerly route (16th, 41st, Marine) needs to remember where they are coming from. From the North there will have to be significant time savings to get students to go PAST Broadway to an alternate route. From the South it would only divert students from Richmond/Delta and a few from South Vancouver (many of who I expect to be using non Broadway buses now).
    I know the theory but you should know apart from Toronto and possibly the other legacy systems. I am not aware on any other North American system where operating costs for streetcars actually are less than similar bus routes. We will have to see about Washington, their route seems like a good high volume route that may have lower operating costs once it opens. If you are thinking LRT, make sure your capital budget reflects high quality right of way.
    Vehicle congestion is not the correct metric to consider (it does not even count tranisit users). The correct metric is commute time. Portland like Vancouver has been ranked as one of the most congested cities with one of worst ‘increases in congestion’ but it has one of the lowest US commute times and commute times dropped (as did Vancouvers). Which is better, a 15minute commute in bumper to bumper or a 2hr commute on clear Freeway?

  5. Haveacow says:

    Rico did you just say what I thought you did? Ridership to UBC is only 1/3 of the total Broadway corridor? When we toured Translink’s operations we were told by the planning staff and I used a route analysis program that said something similar that, the daily transit trips (linked trips) not boardings (unliked trips) , along this corridor were approximately 62,500 – 75,100. I personally think 1/3 is too low but I will bow out to local knowledge. If this is accurate than UBC only garnered about 20,000 – 25,000 transit trips a day from the Broadway corridor. Unless you can divert a huge number of passengers a day from the other corridors feeding UBC you have just killed outright any Skytrain extension with that statement. Anything less than 40,000 can be easily handled by buses. Especially, if operating and capital funding is under as much pressure as I have been led to believe in Greater Vancouver. One other question I have never been able to get a straight answer on, at peak, how many buses an hour per direction are there on the corridor ( Broadway) ?

  6. zweisystem says:

    There would not be overcrowding on Broadway if TransLink stopped their habit of cancelling B-Line buses on the route. Nothing like 2 or three bus cancellations to create overcrowding, especially if the mews cameras are around.

    From the number of services on Broadway, from their bus schedule, I put the peak hour traffic flow at under 5,000 pphpd.

    I think what TransLink really wants to do is extend the Millennium Line to Arbutus (the 1999 plan) via a subway and then B-Line buses to UBC. Hugely expensive to save maybe 5 or 6 minutes travel time from the existing B-Line service from Broadway station.

  7. Rico says:

    2030 am peak forecast west of Arbutus is only about 5,000pphpd. Central Broadway (Main to Arbutus) will be about 13,000. I would say based on previous Translink forecasts it would probably be slightly low for Central Broadway and about right for UBC unless the Musqueam develop the golf course. Because UBC is the end of the line lots of people think Broadway is about UBC…it is not. High quality transit is a must for Broadway up to Arbutus. After Arbutus there are lots of options that will work. Personally I would just extend Skytrain to Arbutus and leave the Bline between Arbutus and UBC…but I would not complain about higher quality transit either.

    Zweisystem replies: The problem is a SkyTrain subway to Arbutus will not bring much benefits, yet greatly increase the cost of transit on that route, as the B-Line buses and the trolleybuses will continue to operate. This huge expense for a subway and all the other associated costs will mean transit shortfalls elsewhere. TransLink and the CoV Engineering Dept. have put a lot of credibility at stake for the Broadway subway, but I think they will have to wait a long time as Surrey now wants its fair share of “vanity” transit projects and in the next decade Surrey’s population will exceed Vancouver’s.

  8. eric chris says:

    @ rico,
    Maybe the buses on Broadway are slightly more crowded upstream of UBC. Do you have any data showing how ridership varies by time of day and distance along Broadway? I’ve been looking for it and TransLink does not publish it. Can you get it for me from your contacts at TransLink, Brian Mills if you know him? TransLink refuses to respond to my requests.

    Are you possibly referring to the number of times that people board or alight buses (comprised of transfers and turnover)? Transfers and turnover are about three times the number of people who use transit. On average, the commuting distance in Metro Vancouver is 7 km and the average route distance is about 15 km. Statistically, the turnover (excluding transfers) is about two times (15 km / 7 km ~ 2) the number of people who are on the bus at the end of the route.

    When it comes to transit demand on Broadway, as you ride the buses west in the morning, the buses become more and more crowded until you reach UBC (conversely, heading east to Commercial Drive in the afternoon, the buses become more and more crowded until you reach the sky train station at Commercial Drive). This is typical for all bus routes.

    During the busiest time of day at 9:45 am, the 99 B-Lines are 78% full when they reach UBC. On Broadway, about 73% of the bus capacity comes from the 99 B-Line service. If only one-third of the people on the 99 B-Lines at 9:45 am reach UBC, rico, then people are riding on the roof of buses and they are hanging off the bumpers – being dragged down the road. I’ve never seen this. Is this what you are saying?

    As far as peak transit demand on Broadway, it is pretty close to the number of people arriving at UBC at 9:45 am. This is about 2,070 people per hour (pph) based on the No. 9, No. 14 and No. 99 routes reported by UBC data in 2012, see Table 3.4:

    Transit capacity corresponding to the maximum transit demand on the No. 9, No. 14, No. 16 and No. 99 routes along Broadway is about 3,500 pph and it is impossible for TransLink to be carrying more than 3,500 pph based on the buses in service. Trams can easily carry two to three times this if the buses on Broadway are replaced with trams. I do have a questions for you:

    In the second term at UBC, transit demand drops after the riff raff have dropped out. Right now in the second term at UBC, the 99 B-Lines are operating every 3.6 minutes but were operating every 2.9 minutes in the first term of UBC. If TransLink really wants to reduce crowding on Broadway, it can run the 99 B-Line every 2.9 minutes as it does in the first term at UBC. TransLink appears to be carefully modulating the headway of the 99 B-Line on Broadway just enough to keep the 99 B-Lines crowded. Is this what TransLink is doing, rico?

    A power line came down and blocked the 99 B-Line route tonight. It has been just fantastic to not have to listen to those stinking 99 B-Lines tonight. It was possible to watch the Walking Dead in peace. The express buses aren’t any faster than the trolleybuses on Sundays. Can’t TransLink run trolleybuses on weekends, rico? What do your friends at TransLink think?

    Wouldn’t it be great for Daryl of the “Walking Dead” to crossbow the brain dead at TransLink? Zombie hunter Daryl wipes out the zombies at TransLink with multiple kill shots; it will have huge ratings:

  9. Rico says:

    Surrey needs rapid transit too. But I would priorize existing large ridership that improves the network over extentions at the end for city shaping (and note coming from North Delta the Broadway line will actually be more useful to my travel needs because it links the Canada Line with the Expo line…If you actually used transit I would expect it would be more useful to you coming from Ladner as well….actually it is probably more useful for everyone but Eastern Surrey/Langley and the valley). That said I believe that you are correct based on politics, Surrey will go first regardless of cost/benefits.

    Zwei replies: What a horrific waste of money building a subway to give a fraction of existing bus customers a new ride. A subway under Broadway would deter ridership somewhat, as it has done in Europe, while increasing the cost of transit on Broadway.

    From what I can see, Surrey’s LRT is a TransLink botch, so don’t blame the mode, rather the idiots planning for it, who insist building light rail to a 1960′s standard.

    The difference between LRT and SkyTrain comes down to operating costs and as light rail replaces bus services, operating costs go down as much as a half, while SkyTrain needs buses because of widely spaced stations so there is no mitigation of operating costs on the route, rather operating cost go up, then add in the fact that SkyTrain costs about 60% more to operate than LRT and a Broadway subway will again throw TransLink into a financial crisis, just as the subways in Germany have to their operating authorities.

  10. Rico says:


    Numbers are from the Broadway Corridor study, I don’t have the link handy but it is easy to find.

  11. Rico says:


    I was in San Francisco recently, and it is impressive to see the number of services on some corridors. On Market there is bus and Streetcar/lrt over Muni subway/lrt over BART. In fact all the LRT routes I used also had bus routes. I believe this is quite common for rapid transit of all types….it is what makes it ‘rapid’. Can’t say I have ever seen numbers on subways causing declining ridership in Europe, obviously you only need to look at any of Vancouvers lines to see that it does not apply here though. Out of interest, could you provide a source for that? Also note pass ups on Broadway are frequent enough to deter ridership and Broadway would also be a link between Canada Line and Expo line. Read the Broadway Corridor study, look at ridership and cost benefits. Look at the cost per rider and the cost per new rider, compare to other projects, it looks pretty damn good even though the cost/km is horrendous.

    Zweisystem replies: But their transit system is in a complete finical crisis and they just cannot afford to maintain the subways. What little money they have is to keep BART and the cable cars operating.

    What happened in Europe is when a new subway was opened, it replaced 2 or 3 tram lines, yet the subways never obtained the ridership that the 2 or 3 tram lines once had, thus ridership dropped and why subways are only built if absolutely necessary and why there has been a light rail Renaissance in europe, as modern trams increased capacity on old tram routes by a factor of 5.

    Also note, those cities with subways also have horrendous fiscal problems, due to the high costs of subways and their maintenance.

  12. Rico says:

    Obviously my limited European sampling does not give me an answer, but neither does your response. Could you link or cite a document showing this as my general experience is European cities with the highest transit usage tend to have subways (or/as well as S-Bahn type services, trams, intercity rail, bus……..)… by subway I mean grade separated even if it is a conventional LRT vehicle.

    Zwei replies: Talk to any European transit specialist and they will tell you the same thing. subways are hugely costly and in most cases not needed unless one has the mass of ridership that demands long 8 car trains, needing grade separation. Even in Karlsruhe there is debate over the subway replacing the surface tramways which was carrying over 35,000 pphpd in the rush hours.

  13. eric chris says:

    When you are talking about pass-ups on Broadway, do you mean all the transit users waiting for the regular service on the No. 9 and No. 14 trolleybus routes and passed by the express 99 B-Line buses? Out my window, I see many people being passed-up on the No. 9 and No. 14 trolleybus routes.

    Pass-ups on the 99 B-Line route can be fixed right away by increasing the frequency of service to every 1.8 minutes from 3.6 minutes during peak hours (for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon). This doubles the capacity of transit. TransLink just needs to run 21 more buses. Can’t TransLink do that? It can but the overcrowding is purely contrived by TransLink.

    There are no real pass-ups on Broadway. There are delays caused by TransLink operating both express and regular service all day and night. There is a difference. I’ve never heard of anyone complaining about being stranded on Broadway for more than 10 minutes. No other city that I’ve lived in has offered transit service every 10 minutes. None.

  14. Tony Gee says:

    @ Rico
    I’m impressed that you have eventually admited, what many others have known for years, that UBC ridership, only amounts to a 1/3 of the total Broadway corridor loadings? – not before time.
    `What happened in Europe is when a new subway was opened, it replaced 2 or 3 tram lines, yet the subways never obtained the ridership that the 2 or 3 tram lines once had’
    Which country, city & line are you refering to?
    `Surrey’s LRT is a TransLink botch, so don’t blame the mode, rather the idiots planning for it, who insist building light rail to a 1960′s standard.
    How do you justify this statement?

  15. Haveacow says:

    Another question, is there any major trip generator on Broadway west of city hall but east of Arbutus, or is it just medium to medium-high density mixed commercial and residential development?

    Zwei replies: Except for UBC, no major traffic generator.

  16. Rico says:

    Ahhh Tony,

    I am not sure if you are really talking to me or Zei? Did you notice that once again Zei failed to provide any sort of evidence to the statements (which may even be true for some lines if they were poorly implemented…but I would expect those statements to be well documented if they were more universally true). Zei, help me learn and provide me with some sources…

    Zwei replies: Evidence? have you ever talked to a German transit specialist? No? well that explains it.

  17. Rico says:

    Hi Zei,

    Thanks for answering for me, actually I have talked to several German transit specialists. Declining subway ridership never came up. Feel free to offer a source.


    There are multiple major traffic generators on or very near the Broadway Corridor (including VGH at Oak). Collectively the Broadway corridor is the second largest destination in Metro Vancouver after downtown.

    Zwei replies: Funny that the German chaps I talked too have all pointed to the fact that subways are very expensive and in the end did more to deter ridership than increase it. Funny that, subways are hardly built in Germany anymore, except if ridership on a transit route demands, a la Karlsruhe.

    Fact is, German transit planners are very conscious of what the paying customer wants and subways are definitely not on the top of the list. The Karlsruhe TramTrain was created to suit customer demand of not wanting to transfer and stats from the first TramTrain operation certainly showed that transit customers loved the no transfer service.

    Despite the hype and hoopla, hospitals are not great traffic generators as few sick people take transit to hospital and those 12 hr shifts deter employees from transit as well and I don’t see many doctors taking transit either.

  18. Rico says:

    For Haveacow,

    As a comparison for you think significantly more use than Eglington. Eglington is forecast to have peaks of 6,000pphpd (original forecast for 2030) to 12,000pphpd ( 2030 revised forecast assuming full grade seperation). Broadway will have 13,000pphpd. Central Broadway has more than 5million square feet of office, millions of square feet of retail and dense population. Lets not foget institutional generators like Vancouvers largest Hospital, City Hall…Oh I guess we should consider the importance of linking all the rapid transit together….Should we go into access to tourist stuff?

    Zei you talk to more unnamed ‘experts’ who don’t seem to publish anything than anyone I know. Zurich should obviously close its S-bahn tunnels so they can get higher transit usage….

  19. Rico says:


    I was curious and did some looking, apparently VGH plus BC Cancer is 10,000 jobs, I would expect that to be a pretty good traffic generator. According to the 2011 census Central Broadway has 17% of the Regional Center jobs in Metro Vancouver (for comparison downtown is 41%, Surrey Center has 4% and Langley 5%).

    I also looked into the German U bahns, no ‘new’ cities with systems for a while, but existing systems keep getting expanded and new lines built (like Nurinburg in 2008).

  20. eric chris says:


    VGH is a major transit generator? I happen to know many nurses and OTs working at VGH. They work odd hours and all drive. VGH has a huge car park. When you are taking your 90 year old granny to the hospital, you don’t make her take the bus.

    Anyhow, I’m not seeing the numbers that you are quoting in the Broadway Corridor study and might be looking at the wrong one as there have been hundreds over the years. TransLink does nothing but studies. Please provide the link to the right “Broadway Corridor study” showing how ridership varies by time of day and distance along Broadway – as you have it at your fingertips. Thanks in advance.

    To clarify my last post: “route capacity” refers to the number of people transported on the buses traveling on the bus route “while the buses are in motion”. Route capacity is not, as is often stated for dramatic effect, the sum of the number of people who have boarded or alighted the buses over the entire distance of the route while the buses were motionless (stopped). For example, the capacity of the 99 B-Line route at 9:45 am (busiest time of day) on a weekday (December 2013) is calculated as follows:


    t = service frequency of the 99 B-Line at 9:45 am, 2.9 minute = 0.0483 hour

    X = seating and standing capacity of each 99 B-Line bus, 100 people

    C = capacity of 99 B-Line route, people per hour (pph)


    C = X / t = 2,069 pph

    This is not huge transit traffic on Broadway. While transit ridership appears high on Broadway having both express and regular service, the “apparent ridership” which isn’t real in terms of bodies on the buses results from the added transfers between the regular and express buses (people counted twice) and exaggerates the number of actual people on the buses (transit demand).

    If you run all buses in series, without express buses operating in parallel to the trolleybuses, the actual transit demand on Broadway based on the 2012 UBC data and the transit demand on the No. 16 route is about 2,300 pph (peak). Did you get that? Peak demand on Broadway is about 2,300 pph.

    This is the transit demand to move people (bodies on the moving buses) on Broadway. For transit on Broadway, you require a tram, sky train or horse and buggy to move about 120% of this to ensure good transit service without too much overcrowding: 1.2 * 2,300 pph = 2,760 pph (all buses in series).

    No sweat, this is not a big transit demand, now, or in 40 years if the population along Broadway doubles. Transit demand on Broadway will be 5,520 pph in 40 years if the population doubles and well within the ability of trams to do the job. Does anyone at TransLink or the City of Vancouver know what he or she is doing?

    Tell me, rico, what is the transit demand on Broadway in your opinion? Is it the number of people who board and alight the buses when they are stopped over the 13.4 km distance from Commercial Drive to UBC as the COV “engineers” contend?

  21. Rico says:


    Demand is modelled in the appendix of the most recent Translink Broadway Corridor study….not the CoV study and make sure it is not the summary version.

    As to what I think, I think Translink consistently under estimates demand and Zei consistently says there is no way they will achieve that ridership….here is my take, there is a slim chance he may be right about the Evergreen line. For Broadway Translink numbers are slightly low unless the Musqueam redevelop the golf course or the Jerico lands are redeveloped or the development that CoV forecasts happens then it will be underestimated….again….

  22. Tony Gee says:

    @ Rico
    It is surely very clear that my questions were directed at you & nobody else
    Now will you afford me the common courtesy of providing the answers I have requested?
    I’m really not interested in your obfuscation, if you don’t know then say so.

  23. zweisystem says:

    Rico, building subways in Germany is a political thing, just like here and the more right wing a political party is, the more they lean to build subways.

    The reason is simple enough to understand and it well applies here. Subway construction is a good way to reward friends and supporters of party with bloated construction contracts. It is sort of reverse money laundering.

    Munich is a good example, when the right wing parties rule the mayor’s office, subways are planned and built and when left leaning parties rule the mayor’s office, new tramways are planned and built. More truthfully, more tramways are saved from abandonment.

    There is absolutely no justification for a Broadway subway, unless politicians want to reward political friends with bloated contracts and bureaucrats expand their bureaucratic prestige with larger offices and more employees.

    The real reason for subways have always been the same, when ridership demands long trains, to cater to high passenger flows, which necessitate a grade separated R-o-W.

    The most recent bit of stupidity coming from Vancouver city hall is that subways have a much greater capacity than elevated transit. I see Mr. Cow and Cardinal Fang rolling in the aisles at that one.

  24. eric chris says:


    I just told you that I can’t find the link and you keep being evasive. Provide the link, SVP,or quit making inane comments on this site.

    If you give a group of monkeys a computer, they will arrive at some result. What did the group of monkeys at TransLink arrive at for the transit demand on Broadway? What is the maximum transit demand on Broadway according to TransLink in terms of pph?

    There is no theoretical relationship between the number of times that people board buses and the actual transit demand. It is unique for each route and must be obtained empirically. Even the COV engineers don’t know what the transit demand is on Broadway.

    How can the COV “engineers” say that only sky train can handle the transit demand which they have never made public?

  25. Rico says:

    Tony Gee,

    Perhaps you could rephrase your questions? All the quotes in your question to me are from Zei (Zei’s comments are in bold or italic).

  26. Rico says:


    Yes building infrastructure is political around the world. Can you direct me to something that shows something like German cities with subways have lower transit usage or perhaps lower fare recovery values than those without?

  27. Haveacow says:

    Many thanks to those whom answered my questions. Using the 2012 ridership for the bus routes that were provided to be by Translink then converting their boardings numbers into actually trips, as well as using the basic Logit Toronto B model for the calculation of flows and the CUTA Model for the calculation of various bits of info used in figuring out transit capacities, various job distributions and weightings, I came up with the following numbers about the Broadway Corridor.

    Keeping in mind that, numbers from any mathematical model must be verified with on sight observations and the formula ranges adjusted and recalculated over a period of years to be considered fully true. Also that, I don’t live in Vancouver so, observations and recalculations to match observed views has to be done by Translink, they have the staff and time, plus no one was paying me to do this for them so the week it took to crunch these numbers is my time lost (however anyone wishing to throw a donation my way should know that it will be gladly accepted by me and the bank that holds my mortgage).

    The Broadway Corridor averages 56652-64153 trips per week day. The maximum daily trips number given with all of the variable inputs favoring transit was 75710 trips per day. Using the mean trips per day range, 27.8% of all trips in the corridor come from passengers transferring from surface routes. 65.2% of all trips are generated from transfers from either the Canada or Expo Rapid Transit Lines and roughly 7% comes from within the corridor.

    Most likely because of the University, the PM peak period has a 2-10% greater travel flow than the AM flow. This is usually reversed for most North American cities. Remember that this is just for this corridor not the whole Vancouver Area so the normal transit trip distribution could still be true.

    The distribution of trip origins and destinations is very muddled in this corridor due to the distribution of large trip generators like City Hall, Rapid Transit Lines, VCC, UBC, Vancouver General Hospital Campus (including the cancer centre), the density and distribution of commercial properties and the residential properties. Again I would like to thank Doug from Translink for his data sets in this regard.

    Overall as was observed by Rico, a range of 28-42% of trip origins and destinations were west of Arbutus with a median value around 34.3% mainly due to the university campus. The information provided by Translink also showed that, the seat/standing room turnover rate peaks east of Arbutus, then sharply declines the closer you get to UBC. This means that the majority of pass ups by buses should peak the closer you get to UBC because fewer people are giving up their seat or standing room on the buses.

    The data from Translink also showed an interesting thing about the functional capacity of the bus routes. I have argued before that anyone can with enough info, calculate the maximum capacity of a transit vehicle. What’s really needed is how close does the service get to its capacity before the majority of passengers refuse to get on, look for other transport alternatives or delay their trip in some way to avoid peak travel times. I have been working on a model with primarily one other person that, given some standard imputs will predict this activity. What is shocking to me that income had very little effect on this as well as age. We seem to like are consistent travel patterns and are very reluctant to change them once we find something we are comfortable with. What is interesting about this corridor is that, on average once transit vehicle occupancy gets to about 75-83% of stated capacity, people traveling in this corridor start to find other choices. For an area like Vancouver that relative to other cities has an average range of 82-88% of capacity tolerance, which is high, this is very low level of crowding. It maybe due to the large amount of bags and packs that university students tend to have to carry on a daily basis but, that is a only a guess.

    The amount of service in the peak periods varies in this corridor from 15 to 22 transit vehicles per hour per direction due mainly to the Trolley Bus network running buses on part of the corridor then going in other directions at various points. Due to that last fact the maximum passengers per hour per direction flow has a wide variance. As mentioned before the flows are slightly higher in the PM peak period (which is unusual) but still close. When transfers from other surface routes are considered the median range across the corridor varies from 1935-3705 trips per direction per hour. The maximum peaks were 4539 trips/hour/direction in the PM peak from Arbutus to Granville and 4705 between Main and Fraser during the PM peak hour. At no point did the flow exceed 5000 trips/hour/directions, on a standard work day. I thank all the people who helped me in this endeavour, there were many.

    Oh yes, the flow diagrams showed that bunching of vehicles is quite common in this corridor which can give the impression of a greater number of vehicles in service than is actually true. Plus the nature of trolley buses being tied to their lines and having only a limited ability to by pass other vehicles contributes to the bunching. However, I have seen them move around smaller vehicles in heavy traffic in Vancouver as well as Edmonton and Toronto (when they had them). It all depends on operator confidence and pole length used.

  28. eric chris says:

    Very good work. I’ll bookmarks this for future reference.

    In your modeling, the maximum number of possible trips of ~76,000 per day (extreme) on Broadway suggests no more than 38,000 people taking transit on Broadway (two trips per person per day) over the 21.5 hour transit day, and this is a far cry from 100,000 people on transit daily on Broadway, dreamt up by the City of Vancouver. The “average hourly number of people” traveling in both directions on Broadway is 1,767 people (38,000 people / 21.5 hours = 1,767 people / hour).

    Statistically, the peak number of commuters is 2.75 times the average number of commuters in Metro Vancouver. So, you’re right, the number of people on Broadway isn’t expected to be greater than about 5,000 pph in both directions or about 2,500 pph in one direction (extreme upper end).

    This almost perfectly agrees with the number of people arriving at UBC at 9:45 am, and there isn’t much hourly variability in ridership on the buses along Broadway, see Table 3.4 for the Broadway hourly arrivals for the buses at UBC in the following link. That is, as expected, people board and alight the buses along Broadway and the number of people on the buses is roughly no more than 2,500 pph in one direction all along Broadway from Commercial Drive to UBC.

    Thanks for the insight.

  29. Haveacow says:

    A few more points about perceived crowding on the Broadway Corridor, after the peak hours in the afternoon, 3-6 pm, many of the bus routes coming out of UBC lower the amount of service by up to 40%. Yet the number of boardings in the 6-9pm time period only decline by 10-15% from the afternoon peak period, this would seem to be a good cause for much crowding at the university based transit routes. There are similar numbers for many of the routes into and out of UBC in the period after the am peak period. One route the #9, dropped the amount of service post morning peak by 55% per hour compared to service during the highest point of the am peak hour yet, passenger boardings per hour dropped only 17%. Instead of asking for a subway how about just increased bus service, this seems to me like a situation of induced crowding at the expense of transit riders to protect somebody’s budget maybe?

  30. Haveacow says:

    One must also be very careful when using peak period passenger trips per hour per direction as as a measure of transit crowding or a lack of it. Rico mentioned that the Eglinton Ave. Corridor east and west in Toronto , had a peak value of 6000 pphpd. Well Eglinton Ave. West is about 5400 pphpd and Eglinton Ave East is really about 4600 pphpd during the peak hour. But, what is important in Toronto is not necessarily the peak hour numbers for the LRT routes but the non peak crowding. Sheppard and Finch Ave. Corridors also peak at around 4500 and 3900 pphpd during the rush hours but unlike Eglinton will see only a little bit of tunneling (Sheppard) and none for Finch Ave. and will be traditional in street LRT R. O. W. ‘s. It is the high non peak passenger trips that are the real push behind them being LRT lines not the peak hour numbers. Eglinton East and West average 3-4000 pphpd all day and well into the late evenings. Sheppard and Finch Ave are similar. The weekend peaks are also similarly high and the all day weekend numbers don’t drop much for these corridors compared to the week day numbers. So the 3 car Eglinton trains and the 2 car Sheppard and Finch ave trains are mostly about eliminating the hundreds of buses each corridor has not just during the peak but the high non peak travel as well. The savings of running at most 60 trains on all 3 corridors compared to the 150-200 buses per hour is the real reason for the LRT LINES and not necessarily the peak passenger trips.

    One also must be careful about using future demand numbers as a reason for rail rapid transit. What my modelling showed was that the peak hour numbers are manageable by brt or lrt lines and that a below grade light subway/metro is currently overkill. What needs to be addressed IMHO is the non peak crowding which can be handled by either more standard bus services or a conversion to a real BRT/LRT system on this corridor. Remember, these big numbers for passenger flows that are being in my opinion, carelessly bandied about by people who want a subway are boardings not trips. When you convert them into actual passenger trips the numbers become up to 40% smaller. I have seen people on this website and others claim that Broadway will garner up to 200,000 passenger trips a day by 2030, this is a ridiculous claim considering that, right now the entire system only gets 723,547 passenger trips a day (1,176,500 boardings a day). If Broadway currently accounts for less than 10% of the systems daily total then they are predicting a huge increase for the entire system by 2030. Now it is a busy corridor there is no denying it, but certainly not really ready for a very expensive below grade light subway/metro line. Even the Evergreen Line is only predicted to have 55194 boardings a day (17,000,000 a year) by 2021, that’s about 35,000 passenger trips a day. Considering the financial pressure both capital and operating expenses, that Translink is currently under, a 2-3 billion dollar line on a corridor that even when everything favors transit at most gets 75,000 passenger trips a day, but averages 56-64,000 a day is at best, not advisable at the moment.Perhaps a lower cost system like LRT or a real BRT line (not the current BRT lite system) is what is really needed in this corridor.

  31. Haveacow says:

    Studying transit routes for the area I broke them into 4 distinct corridors.
    1. 4th ave./Chancellor/ N.W. Marine Drive. (10200-17,000 trips a day or 1810-2475 trips per hour per direction in the peak hour)
    2. Broadway / 10th ave. (56,652-64153 trips a day or 1935-3705 trips per hour per direction in the peak hour)
    3. 16th ave -King Edward (6450-16516 trips a day or 755-1956 trips per hour per direction in the peak hour)
    4. 41st. ave./ 49th ave./S.W. Marine Drive. (10107-35212 trips per day or 1252-3118 trips per hour per direction in the peak hour)

    The totals were expressed in ranges based on the many inputs used by the model.

    The most southern corridor is also planned by Translink to eventually include an express B Line type service similar to the 99B.

  32. Rico says:


    Thanks for your work. Note for Eglington I was quoting forecast volumes in 2030. Also note that Broadway is one of the most 2 way and all day corridors in Vancouver (which has better 2 way all day service than most other North American Cities). 200,000 boardings for Broadway is not only highly likely it is almost certainly unrealistically low based on the other skytrain corridors to date (in fact I think the high end estimate was 346,000 boardings per day in 2041 in the modelling). The easiest and most recent comparison would be the Canada line that had less than 40,000 daily bus boardings (from memory) and not that many destinations and a strong peak direction flow and timing (although that is rapidly changing). It is clear that the clamour, ‘it will never reach projections,’ resulted in some stupid decisions. The P3 price for extra service is very high in relation to the actual cost, if politicians had more faith in the numbers (100,000 by 2013) they would have negotiated a better deal for extra service. As of early 2011 the Canada line daily average was 110,000 boarding per day and average weekday ridership of 132,000 per day in 2013. The Broadway Corridor is not like the Canada Line, it is way, way more transit appropriate. If it opens with less than 150,000 boardings per day in the first week I will be hugely surprised. Also note I think Translink has done something strange for the Evergreen Line. I think the numbers you quote are for Coquitlam to VCC-Clarke segment (I think), but note there is also the Columbia to VCC-Clarke segment. I actually thought the 2030 forecast for the Evergreen line was 70,000 boarding but I am too lazy to check.

    From Zei in 2009 ,’The projected ridership for the Canada line is pure ‘pixie dust’, as it assumes that almost three times more people from Richmond, South Delta & Surrey will use transit to Vancouver than presently do and is not based on scientific assessment, rather it is a political guesstimate.

    Yet when the 98-B Line bus was instituted in Richmond, ridership dropped from what the old 403, 402, and 401 bus routes with direct services to Vancouver, carried. Again the SkyTrain lobby ignores the singular fact that forced transfers deters ridership.’

    Oops, guess he was wrong…..again…..

    Zwei replies: When the 98 B-Line started operation the TOTAL ridership from the combined 403-402-401 service dropped.

    It is interesting to note that TransLink stopped doing ridership estimates on all transit lines dropped and now it seems this was done to masquerade any ridership problems on the Canada line.

    From casual observation, no way the Canada Line is accommodating 136,000 boardings a day and like Broadway TransLink plays the visual game by forcing crowded trains on the system. Until TransLink comes clean with U-Pass ridership (they haven’t a clue) and multi use of the U-pass (including those pesky Langara students who take the Canada Line to Oakridge for a coffee and back several times a day), we will not have an honest accounting of ridership.

    TransLink dearly wants to portray the Canada line as a success to support the SkyTrain Subway for Broadway. Yet something doesn’t add up; massive use of U-pass using Chinese students from Richmond (I have been told that as much as 50% of the Canada Lines ridership use U-Pass) and TransLink cutting back bus service from South Delta to post Expo 86 service.

  33. Haveacow says:

    Eric when converting trips to passengers the you have to allow that on average 10% of trips are one way. I know dividing by 2 is easy but not commonly used by planners and traffic engineers. What fascinated me in the modelling of the various corridors was the high degree of independence when looking at the ridership. No matter how I weighted trip generators on the Broadway corridor or applied different transit modes to Broadway itself (full scale subways included) the 2 corridors closest to the Broadway corridor never lost more than 20-25% of their ridership. Meaning a great deal of the ridership on corridors number 1 & 3 have a high degree of local passengers that may not really directly benefit at all from any rapid transit modes in the Broadway corridor. Many thanks for the positive comments.

  34. eric chris says:


    Absolutely brilliant analysis. I’m amazed that with a little effort you were able to provide transit demand (people on moving buses) on Broadway and compare it to much greater transit demand in Toronto while the “engineers” at the City of Vancouver could not do so when they were investigated last year by their association for making misleading statements as to the ridership on Broadway. In the end, their association let them off the hook for lack of “evidence” that they are conspiring to misrepresent the ridership on Broadway.

    That is, the engineers pointed their fingers at TransLink and claimed that TransLink gave them the 100,000 people daily ridership on Broadway. They claimed that they’re just just dumb monkeys and were being deceived by TransLink. Well, ok, that really makes them look awfully competent, now, doesn’t it?

    COV “engineers” (I hate using that term for them) still haven’t been able to tell anyone what the transit demand (pph) is on Broadway. They’re sure that it is a big number, though.

    As far as ridership on the No. 9 trolleybus goes, it is low due to TransLink fragmenting the No. 9 trolleybus route into two routes during off peak hours. TransLink stops the No. 9 trolleybus at Alma Street and the No. 9 trolleybus handles east Broadway after 6:30 pm while the No. 14 trolleybus is brought from East Vancouver to handle west Broadway! Smart eh?

    Even during peak hours, people just let the No. 9 trolleybus pass to catch the express 99 B-Line, as you’d expect, and transit capacity is wasted on the No. 9 trolleybus route. Moreover, the No. 9 trolleybus does not operate to UBC in the summer or on weekends. Only the 99 B-Line does (as well as the No. 14 trolleybus from East Vancouver) and the 99 B-Line has built up a ridership base over the years, mainly because it is easy to use and because casual transit users are confused as to when the No. 9 trolleybus operates.

    TransLink could just end the 99 B-Line and run the No. 9 trolleybus after 6:30 pm and on weekends as the 99 B-Line “diesel bus” belching out 5,000,000 kg of CO2 annually is not electric (powered by non-CO2 producing hydroelectricity) and is not the correctly specified bus for Broadway which is trolleybus route. TransLink and the COV “engineers” have no comment.

    Redistribution of transit users to routes having excess capacity can easily resolve the disastrous transit service on Broadway. This is what my post on two transit loops traveling from UBC to Commercial Drive along West 4th Avenue and Broadway will show early next month.

  35. Rico says:


    ‘It is interesting to note that TransLink stopped doing ridership estimates on all transit lines dropped and now it seems this was done to masquerade any ridership problems on the Canada line.’

    There is an analysis of each bus line available on line that many people have frequently commented on. Google is your friend.

    Also note with regards to Canada line boardings, they are from automatic counters (ie the numbers are accurate).

    Zwei replies: 1) A analysis of each bus line does not give ridership data. 2) The Canada Line had automatic counters installed when built, but are they still in use? Who checks for accuracy? Now with the compass Card, we should get very accurate ridership data (tap in – tap out)

  36. Rico says:


    I am curious about how you converted daily boarding to pphpd? The Broadway pphpd numbers seem to have a very different relationship to total boardings than the other corridors.

  37. Haveacow says:


    There are several methods of converting boardings to passenger trips. You are correct that, there is a somewhat strange relationship between them. The place you start is determining how translink got their numbers. Then you determine what they were really showing with the mathematical model they seem to be using. The point is to try and stay as true to their model as possible. I am not trying to prove or disprove a point of view but clear a picture that is somewhat ambiguous because of the final form of the data chosen. The truth is using boardings as a final unit of measure can be misleading. For example the TTC in Toronto had 840,000,000 + boardings in 2012 but only 514,000,000 + passenger trips. When you put numbers out to the public size matters, there is no denying it, the bigger the better. But what they actually mean is important as well. Telling me that 800 million times someone stepped into a transit vehicle in a year is next to useless unless no one is transfering. Telling me that in 2012, there were 514 million one way trips is more useful. The method is mathematical approach between the use of a grid system of routes and the number of transfer opportunities and a gravity model. On average the degree of decline between boardings and passenger trips can be between 30-45%. However the route network geometry and individual route frequences can adversly effect the final outcome.

  38. Haveacow says:

    I got 2 very impatient young lads with me so I will be brief. I am not saying that a below grade Skytrain should never be built in this corridor but, for now with only peak demand numbers on average of 2000-3700 passenger trips per hour per direction and peaks of up to 4700 you have to be seriously expecting big growth in the future to have taxpayers shell out a considerable sum of cash for a rail transit brand, Bombardier’s Innovia 300 Automated Light Metro system. Even with the bunching of buses, which causes brief time periods in which the number of buses per hour actually increases over the scheduled max number of buses per hour in a certain area of the corridor, usually at the expense of another period of sub maximum service, at the highest point this corridor had 37 vehicles an hour instead of the corridor wide scheduled max number of 22 per hour. With this many buses even if they were all articulated and at crush capacity you are never going to get the numbers you really need for a very expensive below grade transit system. Keep in mind that, Ottawa with its transitway network at peak manages only 10500 pphpd and that requires 180-200 buses per hour per direction (over one third of its bus fleet is either articulated or double decker). On top of that Gatineau’s bus service the STO, dumps 4800-5200 pphpd during the peak on Wellington – Rideau Street at 110-120 buses per hour per direction (most of their fleet is made of 40 foot or 12.5 metre non articulated buses). The lines of buses on our streets here is legendary, even on the Transitway proper to handle the sheer number of vehicles requires 2 lanes in each direction and bus station platforms that are almost the length of Montreal or Toronto subway platforms, and the buses still back up. Hurdman Station is a excellent example of this.

    Here is another thing to keep in mind about your Skytrian. This system is now only sold as a single transport system not as a railcar maker selling new rolling stock to existing systems. The features like their Cityflow 650 Automated Operating System, LIM propulsion systems and steerable trucks are now only ordered options, they are not wedded to the product anymore. Its bad enough that Bombardier has tucked away Skytrian on their website with their people mover systems and monorail products not in the catalog of rolling stock for sale. Remember Bombardier is a railcar manufacturer, this alone would have me woried about the product’s future. The other worry is the sales numbers that Bombardier needs to keep product lines open. Unless everyone whoever bought this technology suddenly decides on mass to replace all of their respective fleets simultaneously, I have a nagging feeling that Vancouver may suddenly get a letter at some future date telling them that, we regret that past a certain date we can no longer service your product (Windows XP users have recently experienced this).

    Zwei replies: There is a dichotomy with North American and European transit planning, where Europeans avoid subways at all costs and in North America, there is “lets build subways everywhere” state of mind.

    An European source said this can be explained by the sheer corruption of transit planning in North America, where politicians use massive mega projects as a vehicle to both further their political agenda and reward political friends with juicy contracts and the transit customer be damned. I am not at all blaming transit planners as they have to do what politicians want or no job.

    Unless designed specifically to do so, subways do not give faster journeys, nor offer higher capacities than surface transit. 80 metre SkyTrain subway station platforms will still only handle short trains, the same as 80m platforms in elevated stations.

    In Vancouver, there is a belief that a SkyTrain subway under Broadway will handle traffic loads well into the future, except with 80m platforms, it will not.

    As for SkyTrain going out of production, it is something that TransLink ignores, to the taxpayer’s peril.

  39. Rico says:


    Actually what I was asking is why the relationship between your trips to pphpd for the Broadway corridor is so different to the other corridors.

    ‘Studying transit routes for the area I broke them into 4 distinct corridors.
    1. 4th ave./Chancellor/ N.W. Marine Drive. (10200-17,000 trips a day or 1810-2475 trips per hour per direction in the peak hour)
    2. Broadway / 10th ave. (56,652-64153 trips a day or 1935-3705 trips per hour per direction in the peak hour)
    3. 16th ave -King Edward (6450-16516 trips a day or 755-1956 trips per hour per direction in the peak hour)
    4. 41st. ave./ 49th ave./S.W. Marine Drive. (10107-35212 trips per day or 1252-3118 trips per hour per direction in the peak hour)’

  40. Rico says:


    What is your take on the different Toronto options going forward? Are you in favour of Eglington? Or maybe not the current Eglington option but the Transit City option?

    I am asking because I have been comparing the Metrolink Analysis.

    With the Broadway analysis.

    Both done by Steer Davies Gleave (who also did the previous Translink ridership analysis).

    Reading the analysis it seems like a no brainer which the better project is: Broadway. Both start with a similar number of trips (~66,000 current trips for Eglington or an original T.C. forecast of 5,400pphpd in 2031 vs Haveacows 64,000 trips on Broadway and Haveacows current 4700pphpd for Broadway). Capital cost for Eglington 5 billion. For Broadway, 3 billion. 2031 peak for Eglington just over 12,000: 2041 peak for Broadway just under 13,000. Like many projects Eglington (even lots of worthy ones) has a negative BCR (benefits to cost ratio), all Broadway options except best bus are positive. Eglington option 1 (current option) is the only Eglinton with a positive M.A.E at 1.01:1 (Multiple Account Evaluation). The only thing going for it over Broadway is operating cost savings (because of savings from the SR and I think greater reduction of buses). Eglington option 1 saves 41 million per year operating costs while the Broadway RRT option only saves 8million per year (I could not find the number right now and my memory was saying 20million….or was it 8 so I am going with 8 to be safe). Based on the capital cost, cost per rider and per new rider will be way less on Broadway.

    This brings to bear the important question, what is a good project? How much should we pay to increase transit usage/decrease car usage? Is Ottawa’s LRT a good project (obviously). Is Broadway? Eglington? Finch? Tram train to Chiliwack (I just put that in for you Zei). If you support Eglington but think Broadway is a poor choice please explain why (I will just assume you read the analysis to me it seems the only reasonable choices are RRT or combo 1…although RRT to Arbutus with BRT to UBC was not studied).

  41. zweisystem says:

    What makes a good transit project, you ask?

    Does it attract ridership; does it take cars off the road?; Does it give health benefits, while reducing gridlock and associated pollution. Is it user friendly? Is it affordable? Does it satisfy a transit demand or demands? Does it mitigate operating costs? These are just but some of the questions that need to be satisfied before a transit line is built.

    The Canada Line is deemed successful by every Liberal hack in the media, but is it? The Canada Line’s ridership is made up mostly of former bus passengers and students using U-passes,; it bankrupted scores of businesses along Broadway, yet there is no noticeable reduction in car use. Mini-metro needs a vast armada of buses to satisfy passenger demands, thus it becomes an operational drag on the operating authority. After 9 PM, anyone traveling from Vancouver to the suburbs has extremely limited transit options as there are few buses operating and here is the main failing of mini-metro, the associated operation costs of the buses needed to fulfill passenger demands.

    The most important factor is success of the transit system; who has copied Vancouver?

    The answer is simple: No one. Despite all the hype and hoopla by the SkyTrain Lobby, no one in North America and Europe has copied Vancouver; the only Skytrain line seriously used outside of Vancouver and Toronto, is Kuala Lumpor and that one was a mistake as politicians wanted a monorail and they thought ART was a monorail and indeed the very next transit line was a monorail. In true political fashion the ART and the existing elevated metro are extended equally, yet bot are incompatible in operation.

    So Vancouver’s SkyTrain ALRT/ART, in operation since 1986, and the heavy rail mini-metro Canada Line have not been copied elsewhere and I think that is a damning indictment on our transit planning and mode choice and why there is so much fear in the SkyTrain/light-metro/subway camp in BC, with modern LRT. if LRT attracted more new ridership at a cheaper cost than SkyTrain and if the imagined gridlock and traffic chaos did not materialize with at-grade/on-street LRT, there would be a lot of very pointed questions asked.

  42. eric chris says:

    As usual you can’t see the difference between transit demand and capacity. Transit capacity of the sky train along Broadway is 13,000 pph (one direction). It has no bearing on the usage on Broadway and the present transit demand is less than 2,500 pph on Broadway (peak) on a weekday. On a Saturday it is about 1,500 pph (peak) and on a Sunday it is about 600 pph (peak). TransLink can force the transit demand to match the capacity by merely transferring riders to the trunk line.

    If TransLink builds a major trunk line (sky train or subway) on Broadway, it still requires buses “along Broadway” to match 80% of its capacity (10,400 pph in bus capacity) to get people to the subway or sky train stations located miles apart in distance. This is stupid.

    It does not reduce road congestion or carbon emissions – you are going to have buses clogging Broadway and a mess. TransLink will transfer riders from all over Metro Vancouver to the “trunk line” to fill it.

    At the same time, TransLink can’t shut down all the buses which operate in parallel to the trunk line and you are going to have empty buses most of the time on routes which are parallel to the “fast sky train line” – as you do now with the fast 99 B-Line route. Transferring to the fast transit will make transit slow for 75% of the transit users. TransLink is a sham.

    We’re paying for swindlers who are building sky train lines under the pretense that sky train provides an environmental or a social edge. It does not.

    Sky train also does nothing to reduce road congestion. TransLink is full of crap.

    Regardless how much transit we have: 57% to 62% of the population can’t use transit. When the population grows by 1,000,000 in 30 years – you are going to have 600,000 more cars on the roads – mostly in Delta and Surrey and we’ll be just fine. Spending billions of dollars on sky train for “fast transit” will not lure these drivers out of their cars. No way. It hasn’t for the last 30 years and won’t in the next 30 years.

    I’m fine with paying for transit (LRT or tram) which isn’t paying the salaries at TransLink for a bunch of do nothings to have a good time. They are merely making fools of taxpayers who are being bamboozled with the false allure of transit solving road congestion.

    I and many people can’t possibly use transit, however. In fact, the requirement for my job is a valid driver’s license. It isn’t a sky train transit pass.

    I live in Vancouver at UBC and if I have to work south of the Fraser River, in the near term on an assignment, I’ll rent a satellite apartment rather than commute daily. If TransLink has the audacity to attempt to tax me or other people like me (who have to drive) to build sky train lines for “maggots” and “developers” to make billions of dollars from over priced sky train lines, it will face a backlash and court battle where it will be put on trial to prove that transit does reduce road congestion and carbon emissions. TransLink will lose.

    I suggest that you buy a cool e-bike to get around most of the time and use transit as a last resort when the weather is bad. Riding sky train is for losers who you don’t want to become. You are just young and misguided. I truly believe that you will grow to despise sky train one day when you are saddled with a mortgage and riding it for a dead end job with no future.

    Am I too brutally honest for you, rico? Is your ego too big to admit that transit at the end of the day is a welfare program? It has its niche riders but will never remove cars from the roads.

    Here’s a good alternative form of transportation which emits 90% fewer GHG emissions than sky train. You pay for it and don’t have to pester taxpayers for your transportation. Vancouver has mild weather, what’s stopping you from cycling on an e-bike and taking control of your life, rico?

  43. Haveacow says:

    Before transit city Eglinton Ave. was supposed to be a full subway, transit city changed that. None of the report options are now going to happen because the subway is going to be extended to Sheppard Ave. The Rt will be closed down and most likely torn down and a system that was forced on Toronto by the province who owned UTDC and wanted a customer for its product ends as well as a unneeded extra 5-8 travel minutes. Growing up in Scarborough I can tell you we wanted a subway but there were never enough riders in the 70′s & 80′s. The LRT line that was supposed to go in for the run to the future downtown Scarborough was designed to be upgraded to a full subway. This was killed when the province forced the RT on Toronto and the TTC. The new extension of the Bloor Danforth Subway will also eliminate a serious problem of having to service Scarborough Centre with a whole whack of buses running 24-7 for 5 years during construction. Something the TTC did not want to do but, would have been needed. Now the RT will run until the subway is ready and then end its service forever once it is open. Keep in mind many of the numbers that Metrolinks uses has been called into question. They never included for example, the extra cost the TTC is going to have to pay a decade after the LRT that replaced the Scarborough RT opens on all the above ground right of ways from the current Midland station to Mc Cowan station which will be in serious need of upgrades because of age. They just thought they would take out one set of tracks put in another and upgrade the stations. When the TTC added in those costs a new subway right of way was not so expensive anymore in comparison. It would not look good that less than a decade after it opens the TTC would be forced to close a section of their new LRT LINE to work on upgrading the 2.5 km of 40+ year old concrete structures. The line opened a year and a half before your Expo Line.

    By the way sections of your Expo Line are already starting to flake concrete. We discovered it when we were visiting and getting a tour last year. Near Broadway and Metrotown stations if your curious. Its no surprise that these stations are receiving upgrades first. As for Broadway my answer is that you need to first better use your bus operations resources first. Actually increasing service post PM rush hour to match evening clases at UBC is a good start. I have never been happy with the analysis of the Broadway right of way because it never really gave I think, a proper look at upgrading other parallel rights of way to Broadway first. Then look at upgrading the B Line service on Broadway, cue jumping lanes, increasing electrical systems capacity too included new higher capacity trolley bus systems. Do anything you can to do lower cost bus upgrades and passenger carrying ability. Then and only then a serious study on surface BRT and LRT and only where it makes sense. Given all the other commercial areas being developed in your city I just don’t believe Broadway will grow as much as you think in the next decade and a half.

    As for the tunnel section of the Eglinton Ave LRT. I assume you are asking why a tunnel there and not on Broadway? The tunnel section which runs from Keele St. to Laird Dr./Leslie St. area in the east, has many sections that are less than the standard 66 foot road way allowance width from original Upper Canada surveys. Many areas of the tunnel section never had streetcars and were strictly residential, way into the late 40′s and early 50′s. Not all sections of Eglinton were widened beyond 3 lanes. This uneven treatment still haunts the YONGE-EGLINTON area high density cluster today. Frankly as long as 3-4 million commuters and shoppers from outside Toronto in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area (population 8,700,000+ and growing no less than 200,000+ a year) continue to work and shop in the city,with almost 90% arriving in nothing but single occupant cars, the city has no choice but to improve rapid transit anyway it can. There will be surface sections of LRT on Eglinton, the vast majority will come in the western extension or phase 2. The 19km first phase has only 11 km in tunnels. Everything from Leslie St east to Kennedy will be surface as originally proposed.

    As for what is a good project? I can only tell you it depends on the corridor itself. Many people in York Region wanted LRT instead of middle of the road segregated BRT on Hwy #7 and Yonge St.but, I agreed for now BRT is better because the ridership just doesn’t warrant it but, make it easily convertible to LRT for the future. That is generally what is happening with their VIVA system. One of the issues of RRT is if you get it wrong, you are stuck with it. Just ask people in Cleveland about the Red Line Subway opened in 1955 a year after the original Yonge Subway in Toronto. It never got the ridership that really justified its building. Even today Cleveland’s Health Line BRT route mimic’s the more preferred route of the original Red Line Subway. Miami’s Metro Line will never be expanded because it was agreed by most in that city to be in the wrong place as well as too far north. Atlanta can’t get politicians to build more subway extensions even though its desperately needed because they don’t want to pay the cost and the locals will not agree on new taxes because there are other lower cost options available. Even after several referendums for new financing they can’t agree locally (sound familiar!). Given all the financial realities and issues of Broadway do you really want to build a light metro on a alignment that, even if I am wrong and you can get double what I say you can its still too small in my opinion especially considering the shaky future your chosen technology has.

  44. Rico says:


    Believe it or not increasing mode share/reducing auto reliance is difficult. That said Vancouver has been one of the most successful in North America. Feel free to point to other North American or Australasian cities that have done better.

    Zwei replies: This of course comes from local stats and I am afraid our stats are not worth the paper they are printed on. In many cases, bureaucrats, with a political nudge have fudged the numbers, as there is no independent audit of numbers, they are next to useless. of course the most obvious example is ridership on Broadway, where ridership numbers have been so contrived so to make the case for a subway.

  45. Rico says:


    No, I was asking is Eglington worth doing as proposed? If you think it is and you don’t support rapid transit on Broadway you should not be making important spending decisions (or you should reconsider your biases). Baring major errors in modelling (which I don’t expect, Translink has a history of under estimating ridership just like Zei has a history of yelling it will never meet ridership projections and Broadway is by far the best transit corridor of the recent Skytrain expansions) all of the financials for a Broadway project (all options except best bus) are better than the Eglington project. The small size of the right of way on some of Eglington does not make it a good project. It may mean that a tunnel is the most appropriate choice but it does not make it a good project. A positive Benefit to Cost Ratio, a high M.A.E. (Multiple Account Evaluation) increased ridership and transit mode share, decreased CO2, relatively low cost per rider or new rider, lower operating costs those make a good transit project. While you should not just build the project with the best cost benefit ratio you certainly should look hard at it and have good reasons why you would go with something different first (care to offer some reasons?). Your post did not seem to imply that you actually bothered to read the Broadway analysis? I assume you have read the Eglington study as well, was that mistaken? Did I read correctly are you actually advocating for a Sheppard Subway, I assume I read into that incorrectly that you would want a full subway on that route. I know enough about Toronto to say that will be an albatross for quite some time.

  46. Rico says:


    13,000 is both the projected capacity using the assumptions (the analysis notes this can be easily expanded) and the projected peak (actually 12,600)pphpd. Please bother reading the material before name calling. You will note Haveacow noted the current peak on Broadway is 4700pphpd and any Broadway rapid transit would grab significant ridership from his 4th ave, 16th ave and southern corridors as well.

    ‘I suggest that you buy a cool e-bike to get around most of the time and use transit as a last resort when the weather is bad. Riding sky train is for losers who you don’t want to become. You are just young and misguided. I truly believe that you will grow to despise sky train one day when you are saddled with a mortgage and riding it for a dead end job with no future.

    Am I too brutally honest for you, rico? Is your ego too big to admit that transit at the end of the day is a welfare program? It has its niche riders but will never remove cars from the roads.’

    Wow, really….maybe if you actually took transit you would find it works pretty good, especially for someone in the WestEnd like you. Try it you might like it…..and surprise most of the people are normal too….See my post to Zei, feel free to tell me which N. American or Australasian city has increased transit mode share or decreased the rate of car growth more than Vancouver. For the record I have been employed in a professional job for a long time (so unfortunately can’t be called young anymore), have a mortgage, I even have a car (pick up actually). That does not mean that I don’t take transit. Try it, I know you can. It is not as scary as you think.

    Zwei replies: Rico, Zwei is 58 and I find the transit system user unfriendly accented with poor information and poor management. But I tell you what the real killer is: Skytrain and the Canada Line and forced transfers as it makes transit journeys all the more arduous and painful. What might be just fine for the student/U-Pass set, transit is not for the over 50 crowd with health issues.

    As for your question about mode share in Australia, most major Aussie cities enjoy large commuter rail services and Melbourne has the largest tram system in the southern hemisphere. As most have been in operation for a very long time, they would be not applicable for the mode share debate. In the USA, except for a few cities, there is not the light rail network to affect mode share. Portland’s first LRT line did take about 33,000 cars off the road because it was built instead of a new highway and it was this success that has driven the city to build more. Most US cities have massive freeway systems and poor public transit systems and planners are trying to rectify that, despite the anti-transit crowd. Most major cities are building with LRT or at least planning for light rail and sadly more than a few have become political footballs.

    But one thing is for certain, no one is copying Vancouver and no one is building with SkyTrain or a heavy-rail metro dumbed down to SkyTrain standards and that singular fact is what the international set think of Vancouver’s transit planning.

    As I said to a media type the other day, on this very subject, do not for an instance mistake politeness for acceptance.

  47. eric chris says:

    To UBC you have about 75% excess transit capacity and 13 routes traveling to UBC. Many routes to UBC are specialty routes and you can only travel from east to west to UBC (Pacific Ocean prevents travel in the other directions). You’re absolutely right, TransLink can run articulated trolleybuses and cut down on the number of routes to UBC to improve the utilization of the buses which run too empty most of the time.

    This does force more transfers. Still it makes no difference when the riders are captive riders using the U-Pass and only paying less than 10% of the cost of transit. If you lose some of them, good riddance. However you won’t lose many if any U-Pass transit users because UBC took away their free parking to force them onto transit in 2003.

    In truth, the only reason for the express 99 B-Line service is to cut down on the number of expensive articulated trolleybuses if “regular service” is used. With express articulated diesel buses you cut the travel time and reduce the number of buses required by about one-quarter.

    TransLink doesn’t give a crap about the time saved for transit users with express service and is operating diesel buses on a trolleybus route. It isn’t authorized to do this but the COV has unethical transportation staff who are supporting sky train and TransLink to advance their careers, and they aren’t going to challenge TransLink.

    Really, the only reason for the phenomenal ridership on the 99 B-Line route is the marginal ridership on the other 12 transit routes to UBC. Even the overcrowding on the 99 B-Line is contrived and TransLink makes sure that the headway on the 99 B-Line route is just enough so that people are passed up temporarily but no one is ever stranded for more than a few minutes. It’s all a big show to extend sky train to UBC and to protect jobs at TransLink. Sadly.

  48. Haveacow says:

    Oh yes,
    The numbers Metrolinks uses are often very different from what the TTC often has. Metrolinks is a provincial agency and often acts as the core planning agency for many of the smaller transit properties in the area as well as its central duty as a coordinator of transit and transportation planning. The fact is if Metrolinks wants the line it will most likely get built. However, the TTC has been around as a agency doing its own central planning since 1921 and IMHO does it better than Metrolinks because the TTC has a very good idea of what it really needs, especially long term. What usually causes issue with both Metrolinks and the TTC is the difference in the scale and type of services that both want to provide. Often the TTC plans a subway line for example with stations 800 -1200 meters apart. This provides fast enough service for commuters but also allows a short enough distance that most people can use it for local transit as well thus, they don’t need to offer a parallel bus or streetcar service. Metrolinks reacts negatively because, they deal with transit outside of the city and they feel longer distance commuters will be needlessly slowed on their trip to work so, they will only fund a stop every 2 km apart. This forces the TTC to scream to the province about the provincial agency not respecting their budget realities especially long term ones. The result is a extended battle over the scale and intensity of service. The subway to York University and beyond to the City of Vaughn ‘s new downtown is another example. The TTC wanted to end the line at Steels Ave. West (the City of Toronto ‘s northern border) but everyone else wanted to go to the Vaughn Corporate Center (downtown Vaughn is a very important sub subcentre in York Region, north of the City of Toronto). To be fair, it already has several million Sqft. of commercial and several thousands of condo units under construction and much more ready to start this coming year, I drove through it and considering it was just a field a few years ago its impressive. Just to keep in mind this development dwarfs anything you have in Vancouver in size and scope. Even with all this development and a already big commuter market for this line extension, the TTC will have to turn back at Steels Ave. every second subway train because of a lack of ridership north of Steels Ave when this line starts operating in 2016. The point is Metrolinks is not always seen as a becon of light and transit knowledge because of things like this. There are however still many things positive about them and they forced everyone in the Toronto area to get talking and get their respective transit plans ready, get them in order and hopefully, done, funded and built. Hence the real reason things are so stormy in city of Toronto Council (regardless of Rob Ford), there is finally a chance some long term plans can get done in a timely fashion and everyone is jockeying for their pet projects as well as everyone else trying to stop it and do something else. The days of build a line then plan the next and begin lobbying for money for it is finally ending in the Toronto area.

  49. Haveacow says:

    Last thing, whether you believe it or not this fight over the scale of rapid transit service is fundamentally what is at the core of your debate here on this website and in your city. The technology choices just reflect a different scale of service, planning, delivery, intensity of service and actual distances that, everyone believes is most appropriate given your state of governance and budget realities. In this regard, LRT is a better long term bet for rail based rapid transit IMHO given the corridor in question. It is not perfect nor is it appropriate in every situation but if you are going to build with rail LRT covers more of the ground needed. There are other transit options other than rail and these need a more serious looks as well.

    The last thing I will give is a warning as I see it to people who want one mode (Skytrain) at all costs. We tried that here in Ottawa, for years nothing but Transitways (Busways and BRT), an entire industry was built around it. Careers and entire bureaucracies were created to support and live off it. Civic pride got attached to it, “we only do Transitways here son” , I was quietly told(threatened) at a public meeting that eventually led to the OTRAIN DMU LRT service. Well even now there are holdouts against anything but BRT however, our budget and operating realities finally forced us to change. This ingrained acceptance can be dangerous don’t accept Skytrain just because they offer it and that’s what you guys always do. Whatever you do don’t attach your area’s civic pride to a mode of transit that’s even worse. Be proud of your city/ area yes, whether its light metro, LRT or push cart just do it well. During our tour last year of Translink I got that disturbing feeling that, anytime someone in our tour group asked anything that might put your choice of operating transit technology into a questionable light (politely of course we were guests afterall), we were very expertly, talked away and handled from our question ‘s topic.

    I know some of you don’t react well when Zwei at every opportunity points out that, very few cities and operations use with this technology but, as a concerned outsider you really need to ask that same question to Translink and your politicians. Toronto is dumping the Scarborough RT, Detriot’s People Mover has been on life support well, since almost its opening. The Air Train to JFK Airport ( another technology sister to Skytrain ) is not liked by the locals and they want a full subway connection to both Kennedy and Laguardia (still not sure of the spelling there) Airports. His point often over stated but, relevant. I don’t believe the people at Translink are evil or are plotting some massive plan to screw the people of Greater Vancouver out of their tax money for some nefarious purpose, nor do I believe they are Idiots ( be careful these are possibly actionable statements especially, if you hold a professional licences of some type. The TTC in Toronto is notorious for doing this to over critical Bloggers ) Still, do not let the rot of complacency set in in your politicians, transit planners and providers, ask why or why not. See you later, got to go, a little boy needs changing and for some reasons is throwing toys at me.

  50. eric chris says:


    SNCL and SDG project a capacity of 12,600 pph with sky train on Broadway? Yes, I totally understand, do you?

    SNCL and SDG are just doing a hypothetical analysis assuming that if you build a sky train line on Broadway and increase the housing density from 100 people per square block to 200 people per square block, for instance, everyone from this increase is going to use sky train. How realistic is that rico?

    First of all, road congestion can only increase regardless of how many people ride transit if the housing or business density is increased by two times along Broadway because the road capacity is not being increased by a commensurate amount. The only way that you are going to reduce road congestion is to keep the housing density constant and then add a tram line, sky train line or horse and buggy to attract drivers.

    You won’t do so if all you are doing is increasing housing density to concentrate transit users on Broadway in order to make a case for sky train. This just creates low income slums and huge crime rates – as you can see already all along existing sky train lines.

    Second, transit is not steady state on Broadway, that is, dQ/dX is not constant over a given time interval, where dQ is the change in the number of people at some time of day on the buses on Broadway and dX is the incremental distance traveled on the buses at some time of day on Broadway. For example, if the 99 B-Line leaves Commercial Drive with 80 people on board and 20 people alight while another 20 people board at the Canada Line stop after 1 km of travel, then dQ/dX = 0.

    At the next stop, if 10 people alight and 20 people board after 1 km of travel, dQ/dX = 10. There is no reason for SNCL and SDG to make any “ass”umptions to project ridership. If the 99 B-Line arrives at UBC with no more than 90 people on board, you have the “peak” transit demand and can do the same for all the buses to come up with the: peak transit demand along Broadway. This isn’t difficult to do.

    If you have the time, you can ride the 99 B-Line for 10 trips at 9:45 am (busiest travel time) for random days of the week and then average the result. Statistically it will be a big enough sample size. Then you can merely increase the ridership on the 99 B-Line route for the transit frequency by 27% to arrive at the “peak transit demand for Broadway”, as the 99 B-Line carries 73% of the passengers on Broadway. Can’t TransLink do this without the help of SNCL and SDG making “ass-umptions” of the projected ridership on Broadway with sky train, rico?

    If the population density is planned to increase by two times, you don’t need to make “ass-umptions”, you know that with a high degree of certainty that the transit use might double with the sky train line and the 12,600 pph number is stupid and the “ass-umptions by SNCL and SDG have no basis. The actual projected ridership for the sky train line is about 5,000 pph in one direction, right, rico?

    Can’t TransLink staff ride the buses and collect data? I never saw any data in the garbage in the study from SNCL and SDG, provided by you in the link, and did speed read it as it was nothing but arts grad level gibberish with no substance.

    I’m getting really tired of your insinuations. Jerk.

    Fine, I’ll try one more time, since you are so dense – the “ass”-umptions by TransLink mean nothing. Anyone can make “ass”-umptions. As Haveacow mentioned, the 4,700 pph is for both directions (maximum once in a blue moon if the stars are aligned). It implies that the number of people riding on the buses on Broadway never exceed about 2,500 pph to UBC, or from UBC, in one direction.

    Finally, when I work in downtown Vancouver, I cycle in 32 minutes, shower and change in 10 minutes. It is good exercise. I’m not lazy and I don’t mind the work out, even in the rain and snow.

    If I took transit, the time would be no different from cycling and I’d have to put up with individuals like you on the bus. I’d rather not. There is only one final comment for me to make to you but I won’t bother and keep it to myself. I’m done responding to you on this topic.

  51. zweisystem says:

    As a US transit specialist said to me some time ago, why SkyTrain? “Why the proprietary mini-metro system? If the region wants light-metro, just build LRT as a light metro, then you have your light-metro, yet retain the ability to operate on a lesser R-o-W in the future“. But, this of course would bring common sense to the debate and leave Bombardier’s Skytrain out in the cold.

    The real problem of course is that we have made LRT taboo, dated, inferior and to have one operating as a light-metro would of course show the planning lie for what it is.

  52. Rico says:


    Wow it is tough getting an answer from you. Eglington as is good or not. Full subway on Sheppard good or not.

    If you support either of these projects and think Broadway should stick with Best Bus you have double standards.

    Zwei replies: Rico, you are beginning to be insulting. I think Mr. Cow has given you some very good answers which you wish to remain deaf to. A TransLink boy all the way.

  53. Rico says:


    My parents are in their 70s and use Skytrain a lot of the time when they go downtown. What is your excuse again?

    So your take on Vancouver mode share is OK they may have made the most improvement of comparable cities…..but don’t it does not count because the other cities weren’t really trying hard enough to improve their mode share?

    Zwei replies: have you tried walking down 2 flights of concrete stairs to catch a bus knowing if you miss it you have to wait 30 minutes. Have you half to stand in a metro car along with the other oldie’s when some U-Pass types sit down? Well taking the car is just easier.

  54. Rico says:


    You know that the pd in pphpd is per direction right?
    You also know the forecast were by steerdaviesgleave not SNC right? You know the population forecast was from the regional model, not the CoV numbers (so if everything the CoV is forecasting ridership would be way higher) right? You also realize improved transit results in more new transit trips than just population growth right?
    Glad you bike to work when you are working downtown, sounds like you could use the exercise to work out some frustration.

    Zwei replies: So what do you do for work Rico? Eric is a professional engineer and Mr. cow is a professional as well and understand how passenger modeling works. You on the other hand are an unknown quantity who disparages every answer, even though you know them to be correct. some call that being a troll.

  55. Haveacow says:

    I answered that Rico, Eglinton good LRT, yes, because it works for the CORRIDOR ITS On! All the things you looked at in the Metrolink report are now null and void because of recent political arrangements. Anything on Sheppard other than surface LRT is a waist, because of physical and existing operating conditions on the corridor. Broadway is good for LRT or BRT not a below grade light metro system. As I said far more study is really needed for Broadway including a better look at parallel corridors and yes more improved bus service and technology. Translink is wrong in my opinion. The conditions you think are so similar on paper are not the same in actual operating conditions, anything that says that the corridors are the same just because numbers are similar is misleading. RRT should not be built on this corridor, Broadway’s physical and existing operating conditions as well as its low passenger numbers in my opinion do not warrant it, not yet, give it more time a decade or two, hopefully the Skytrain technology is still around. The corridor and its existing conditions just make a big difference when applied with the numbers. Anyone who has bought clothing, especially for children can tell you, not all size 5′s are the same once you put it on the kid.

  56. Haveacow says:

    Rico you have to put the LRT below grade because many sections of Eglinton Ave. between Laid Dr. and Keele St. have right of ways that are too narrow for surface LRT operations and to maintain 2 lanes of traffic. Just to make it crystal clear for you. When I was in Planning School I had to do a corridor analysis for my 3rd year Transportation Planning class. We drew from a hat many possible corridors. You guessed it, I got Eglinton Ave. East and West. This is a street I got to know very well. There are sections 10 lanes wide and other segments well, Metro Toronto may have painted enough lines on the road for 4 lanes but, as my partner and I used to joke, they were mainly theoretical. I hope this clears things up for you.

  57. zweisystem says:

    I would like to thank you Mr. cow for your answers.

    Haveacow has contributed far more to the RftV blog than I would care to admit and I think he should be respected for his endeavors. I also must add Eric Chris as well has contributed a lot as well.

    What Rico has done is to demonstrate the SkyTrain Lobby’s zealotry on this issue. Even though the very same people claim that Zwei is a zealot, the SkyTrain Lobby must take first prize.

    Again Rico, no one builds with SkyTrain; no one copies Vancouver’s transit and the reason for this, you will not admit to. It is time to get over it.

    I am closing comments for this post.