TransLink And The Mayor’s Council Beg for More Money


An open  letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Premier of BC, Federal and Provincial Ministers of Transportation, Metro Vancouver members of Parliament and the British Columbia Legislature.

In the past few weeks TransLink and the mayor’s Council on Transit has been mounting a advertising blitz on Facebook and other social media pleading for more taxpayer’s money to pay for their ill conceived and dated transit planning.

This blitz included the the one question “push poll”; “Do you support SkyTrain to Langley”, which was misrepresented as a resounding support for SkyTrain and reported, ad nauseam, in the mainstream media.

The problem is, TransLink does not have an income problem, they have a spending problem. TransLink is spending up to ten times more building with an extremely expensive and obsolete light-metro network. This light-metro network is know as SkyTrain.

SkyTrain is not a transit mode in itself, but the name of Metro Vancouver’s regional transit system. The SkyTrain network operate two railways, a conventional railway operated as the Canada Line and an unconventional proprietary railway operated on the Millennium and Expo lines.

Contrary to popular belief, the above picture is Bombardier’s SkyTrain system, a proprietary
rubber tired  airport people mover with no relation to the ART Movia metro used on
Translink’s SkyTrain system. Many elevated railways around the world are called SkyTrain.
The unconventional, proprietary railway is now called ART Movia Metro, which patents are owned by Bombardier inc. and SNC Lavalin.

ART Movia metro has been renamed many times, from the original Intermediate Capacity Transit System , to Advanced Light Rail Transit, to Advanced Light Metro, to Advanced Rapid Transit, to Innovia, and now Bombardier Inc. has folded the Innovia metro series into the Movia Metro product.

ART Movia metro is considered a unconventional proprietary railway because it is powered by Linear Induction Motors (LIM’s) and is not able to operate with any other rail system except for its own family of light metros. The Canada line trains cannot operate on the Expo or Millennium lines and visa versa.No other company offers an “off the shelf” product that will operate on the Expo and Millennium lines. This means Bombardier the sole supplier of cars and spare parts.

Only seven of the ART Movia Metro systems has been sold in the past forty years and there has been no sales in the past decade. So poor is the ART Movia Metro (considered the Edsel of transit systems) that the next change will be the abandonment of production altogether.  The reason for this is very easy to understand: ART Movia Metro costs more to build; more to operate; more to maintain; and it lacks the flexibility in operation that is so needed in the 21st Century. As well, the ART Movia metro lacks capacity!

Continued building with the now obsolete ART Movia metro means that TransLink, according to the Toronto Transit Commission’s 1983 IBI and ART Studies, is spending up to ten times more to provide rail transit than they should!

Current planning for “SkyTrain” expansion in Metro Vancouver is costing the taxpayer almost $5 billion, yet for that money, the region is getting a short 5.7 km subway and a extension down Fraser Highway to Fleetwood in Surrey.

TransLink has not been honest with their planning as there is not the ridership on Broadway to justify an almost $3 billion subway, nor is their the ridership to justify SkyTrain expansion in Surrey! Both projects will greatly increase operating costs (the subway alone will add, based on TTC’s  estimates for a similar sized subway, $40 million annually) and the Surrey extension will trigger a $3 billion rehab of the Expo line to increase capacity beyond its Transport Canada Operating Certificate limit of 15,000 pphpd!

This chart from 2012 shows that the combined daily customer flows on Broadway fall way
short of the minimum Canadian and North American standard of 15,000 pphpd needed to
justify subway construction. Total customer flows to UBC all fall way short of the minimum
of 15,000 pphpd needed to justify a subway.

Added to this is that subways are very poor in attracting motorists from their cars and the Surrey extension does not offer any real incentive to attract the motorist from the car. Both extensions are considered very user unfriendly.

Both projects are being built for both politcal prestige and land speculation and development and not to provide a user friendly transit alternate to reduce congestion and pollution.

Vancouver wants subway to pretend it is a “world class city” because there is a belief that cities with subways are “world class” what ever that means. Vancouver’s decrepit downtown east side is also considered “world class”.

Vancouver and Surrey also want to use SkyTrain as a driver for land speculation and development, razing current affordable housing to build towers and high rise condos mainly for the overseas buyer. This mass densification, driven by SkyTrain, is also part of the “Vancouver Model” of criminal money laundering, which has made Vancouver and metro Vancouver “world class” example of being a hub of criminal money laundering operations!

Vancouver’s light metro system has been studied for almost 40 years and those who study Vancouver, build with light rail instead.  Those cities that have built prestigious light metro systems now have regrets doing so. The USD $8.3 billion (CAD $11 billion) Hawaii light metro is a good example.

TransLink and the Mayor’s Council on Transit have willfully ignored the many warning signals about the high costs of light metro.

In 1992, the GVRD compared the annual $157.63 million subsidy for the Expo line operation from Waterfront Station to New Westminster and found it was more than the combined bus and trolleybus operation!
From the GVRD’s 1993 study. SkyTrain is subsidized at $157.63 million
($256.13 million in 2019 money) annually. How much is the SkyTrain system
subsidized today?

In the 1990′s, Former West Vancouver Clr. Victor Durman, Chair of the GVRD (now METRO) Finance Committee, stated:The problem with TransLink is that you can never believe what it says; TransLink never produces a report based on the same set of assumptions.

In 2008, American Transportation Engineer, Gerald Fox, stated, after he reviewed the Business case for the Evergreen Line: “It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding. In the US, all new transit projects that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of transit peers, selected and monitored by the federal government, to ensure that projects are analyzed honestly, and the taxpayers interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US.

In 2015 TransLink fired their two top planners, Tamin Raad and Brian Mills because they stated the obvious, that there was not the ridership on Broadway to justify a subway.

Again in 2015, regional voters rejected funding, by 62% funding, for TransLink. The plebiscite was a vote of non confidence of TransLink and the Mayor’s Council on Transit.

In 2019 TransLink admitted that Broadway was not the busiest transit route in Canada and the USA, rather it was Translink’s busiest bus route.

The mayor’s council on Transit has also ignored the legal turmoil that Bombardier and SNC Lavalin have embroiled themselves with. Legal ills with the ART Movia metro System in Malaysia and the former prime minister and the on going legal action Bombardier faces with the ART Movia Metro system in Korea, where it seems, only one car trains can be operated.

Who is in charge of the clattering SkyTrain?
The axles creak and the couplings strain,
and costs are too high, as fiasco nears,
and sloth hath deadened Translink’s ear,
and the warnings flash through the night in vain,
for the Mayor’s Council is in charge of the clattering SkyTrain.

Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley desperately needs a coherent and affordable transportation plan. Continued building with an obsolete yet very expensive light metro system, designed to deal with 1970′s inner city transit ills and not as a regional railway, will be a costly failure.

No one copies Metro Vancouver’s transit planning nor the exclusive use of light-metro!

There are better and cheaper options available, but TransLink and the Mayor’s Council ignore them, at the taxpayer’s peril. Provincial and federal politicians should be wary that support of TransLink and it’s current transit planning as its insatiable demand for more and more tax monies, is like an alcoholic’s craving for more liquor, may bring one’s politcal career to a grinding halt.

The above chart, comparing Ottawa’s new light rail vehicles with Vancouver’s
ART Movia Metro cars, comparing one modern tram is equal in capacity to
four MK.1 cars or 3 MK.2 cars. This clearly shows car cost and maintenance
advantages of modern LRT and the dated ART Movia Light metro.
The prophetic words of Norman Thompson; CBE, FCA, ACMA, English transit consultant and builder of the world’s busiest subway in the early 1980′s are coming true: “Vancouver is adopting a non commercial approach…….I hope they have lots of money“.

No more money should be allocated to TransLink and the point should be made with vigor; “Plan transit within your present budget“.
This could be the fate of TransLink’s and the Mayor’s council transit planning,
a Charleroi fiasco,where the metro was built, but lacked the funds to operate it and it sits
slowly rotting a way, a testament of poor planning and politcal ennui.


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