TransLink CEO No Better Than A Cheap Carny Huckster

In Metro Vancouver, local journalists remain largely ignorant of transit issues and believe, without reservation, what they are told by TransLink.

There is no investigative journalism with TransLink and its favourite, SkyTrain.

This “puff” piece is nothing more than softening up the public for both the Broadway subway and Road Pricing, which is needed to finance the subway.

Many of those 34,000 people a day claimed by TransLink using he Evergreen Line previously took the bus to Lougheed Mall and then transferred to metro. What is important is how many of those 34,000 a day are new to transit?


It is also interesting that bare minimum customer flows for a modern LRT line to be built is about 30,000 persons a day. In the real world, but not TransLink’s world, LRT costs up to a quarter to build than light-metro. Thus the $1.5 billion Evergreen Line seems grossly overbuilt, to deal with such weak passenger flows.

But the business case for SkyTrain was badly tainted.

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond acts as a cheap carny huckster, desperately trying to sell one “puff” story after another, while at the same time ignores the truth.

The Evergreen Line, grossly overbuilt for what it does translates to higher subsidies for the mini-metro system and higher subsidies mean transit elsewhere suffers.

The Evergreen Line, very expensive for what it does.The Evergreen Line – Very expensive for what it does.

Evergreen sees more than 8.6 million boardings over last year

Average weekday ridership hits 34,000, a 13% increase over the early 2017 figures.

Tri-City NewsDecember 2, 2017

More than 8.6 million boardings have occurred since the Evergreen Extension opened and TransLink officials said the line is poised for further ridership increases.

On Friday, exactly one year since the opening, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said transit use in the northeast sector has seen significant growth over the last 12 months. He cited numbers released this week showing that average weekday boardings has hit 34,000, a 13% increase from early 2017.

“It’s clear that the Evergreen Extension has been a catalyst for a boost in transit use in the Tri-Cities,” Desmond said, adding that 51% of all transit journeys in the Tri-Cities begin on Evergreen. “The growth we’ve seen since the launch of Evergreen is nothing short of astounding, and demonstrates the kind of impact that this kind of transit infrastructure investment can have.”

Desmond said he believes there is significant ridership growth still to come, noting the pace of development that has been occurring around the Evergreen stations.

According to TransLink, there is currently $3.8 billion in real estate projects in development or under construction on land next to the rapid transit corridor between Lougheed and Lafarge Lake-Douglas stations. That includes approximately 9,800 future housing units.

With that growth in development, TransLink said it will move closer to its goal of 70,000 Evergreen riders per day.

“The heightened interest for commercial and residential development around the stations is an indication there is much more demand,” said Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay, adding: “With immediate accessibility to transit providing increased affordability and a major attractant for employers.”


12 Responses to “TransLink CEO No Better Than A Cheap Carny Huckster”
  1. Dondi says:

    Not the exact point Zwei asked, but overall NE sector transit ridership is reportedly up 25% from before the Evergreen Line opened. :
    Average weekday transit ridership in the Northeast Sector in September and October of this year is more than 25 per cent higher than the same months in 2016.
    On weekends, transit ridership in the Tri-Cities is up by more than 50 per cent.
    Evergreen Stats
    34,000 – Average weekday boardings (13 per cent increase from early 2017)
    36,900 – Boardings on Saturday, July 1, 2017 (Busiest single day)
    23,000 – Boardings on typical summer Saturday
    8.6 million – Boardings Dec. 2, 2016 – Oct. 31, 2017
    51 per cent – percentage of transit journeys in Tri-Cities that begin on Evergreen.

    Is ridership by each bus route available to compare with these statements?

    Zwei replies” As there is no independent audit of TransLink’s ridership numbers, they can be taken with a grain of salt. Unlike the USA, UK, and Europe, there is no independent audit of TransLink’s claims. They know that and act accordingly. Traditionally, BC Transit and TransLink have over estimated ridership on SkyTrain by as much as 20%. The media does not care so no news story and they get away with it.

    Some years ago, a group from Hawaii, contacted the late Des Turner regarding a letter he wrote to them. To make a long story short, BC Transit, told the visiting Hawaii party that SkyTrain paid its operating costs, but neglected to tell them that SkyTrain was being heavily subsidized by the province and in no way paid its operating costs and with GVRD data proved his point. This lead to a lessened relationship with Honolulu and may have lead Honolulu not to buy ART.

  2. Haveacow says:

    I don’t really have a opinion on whether the current level of ridership on the Evergreen Extension is good or bad, it is frankly too soon to judge. Talk to me about it in a year and a half. However, there is a troubling trend. Zwei is well aware that I have questioned this project’s real need or to be honest, a lack of need in this case compared to other much more critical needed transit extensions or improved up keep on existing ones to ser

  3. Haveacow says:

    Sorry my phone freaked and it submitted too early before I could finish my statement. TransLink has a disturbing problem or growing trend. Currently the Evergreen Extension has to double it’s ridership by 2021 just to meet its planned passenger ridership TransLink wanted for this project. That hoped for level of passenger flow only equals the average passenger flow of the rest of the system. This means the extension must double it’s ridership just to be average. I would be very nervous if I was a TransLink manager right now. It also shows the limits of passenger growth when, a transit agency continually promotes the horizontal growth of a Light Metro or full-scale Metro/Subway network. The high capital costs associated with the operating technology force very hard expansion choices on any operating agency.

    Zwei replies: It seems the Evergreen Line can only operate 2-car trains, which greatly limits capacity and by reports crammed conditions in the peak hour. TransLink’s operating diagram for the Millennium/Evergreen Line looks like a fine balance of trains and power available. Of course the public are completely unaware of this. Also the “full “Y” junction at Lougheed mall was never built as promised because the SkyBridge was so designed not to have a junction from the North East, as originally promised, which would have permitted through Coquitlam to Surrey Trains. As it stands, transit customers from Coquitlam must transfer at least twice before getting across the the river. An earlier opponent to the Millennium Line, recently phoned me that every promise made by BC Transit/TransLink about servcie has been broken and transit in the region, despite the Evergreen Line is chaotic and user-unfriendly, just like South Surrey and South Delta.

  4. r says:

    Canada line also 2 car limit as stations are limited in size.
    Transit a real estate development proxy?

  5. John says:

    Evergreen normally runs 2-car trains. It is very capable of running longer trains. Every platform is the same 80m as every other Expo/Millennium line station.

    During testing before the system opened they ran lots of 6 car Mark I trains, 4 car Mark II trains, and 4 car Mark III trains.

    Last month when Telus was installing the cell radios in the tunnel, and translink had to single track that part of the line, they reduced frequency and ran 4 car Mark II trains, and 4 car Mark III trains.

  6. John says:

    Also translink owns the parking lots around Coquitlam central. Both lots, on the east and west sides of Rona. They have officially announced that they have no development plans for the next 10 years, but after that they are planning for the high density transit oriented development. One of the proposals discussed had towers over 50 stories. Very believable considering Rona is about to redevelop into 3 towers, and there is a 48 story tower just north on Pinetree. Once the Coquitam Centre mall redevelopment plans are announced, I’m sure the area is going to become an ever larger sea of towers. Currently there are about 20 towers in the area, with another 16 sitting at city hall in permit applications.

    Translink is going to make bucket loads of cash when that parking lot is re-developed.

  7. TH says:

    The M Line is currently running 2 car trains, not because the line can’t handle longer trains, but because Translink doesn’t own enough rolling stock to go around. The platforms on the Evergreen Extension are built to the same specs as the rest of the system and the system was tested with 6-car Mark 1 trains. Once the next order from Bombardier arrives (scheduled to begin delivery in late 2018 I believe), trains on the M Line will get longer to ease the sardine-like fashion passengers during rush hour are currently experiencing.

  8. zweisystem says:

    Actually, the ALRT/ART SkyTrain lines have an electrical problem, they don’t have the juice to run all the trains they got. The new trains are going to replace the MK.1 stock as they go into shop for major refurbishment.

  9. zweisystem says:

    Exactly, as reduced frequency means fewer trains. There is an electrical supply issue that TransLink is trying to keep the lid on.

  10. Haveacow says:

    The problem of the of the system’s electrical current limit which, limits the systems peak hour capacity to 15,000 passengers/hour/direction or less, is a secondary issue to the one they now have about scale (geographic in this case), slowing down passenger growth in the out limits of the Skytrain network. Look at the travel times on the outer limits of the Skytrain network (anywhere on the Evergreen Extension) from the destination areas like like downtown, Broadway and UBC. Even when its on the current Skytrain network and not requiring a transfer to a bus or Trolley Bus, its a long trip! This is assuming the rider hasn’t transfered from a bus already.

    Zwei replies: Tell that to TransLink who are actively planning SkyTrain to Langley.

  11. John says:

    Not sure your electrical problem is accurate. When they were testing the evergreen line for a few nights, very late at night, they put what seemed like every train on the system running back to back. All long trains, barely stopping at a station and as the train pulled out, the next train was pulling in

    I thought this was some sort of load test. As they would never run a system like that in real life. Normal people need time to get on and off the train.

    Zwei replies: Electrical issues limit capacity to 15,000 pphpd. At night fewer trains are run, meaning more trains can be run on the Evergreen line.

  12. Dondi says:

    Zwei wrote:

    “Many of those 34,000 people a day claimed by TransLink using he Evergreen Line previously took the bus to Lougheed Mall and then transferred to metro. What is important is how many of those 34,000 a day are new to transit?”

    Good question.

    The 2016 ridership numbers for the 97B Line bus (that was replaced by the Evergreen Line) are available at

    Average 97 B Line Mon-Fri boardings in 2016 were 10,550 per day.

    The 190 bus to Vancouver (also replaced by the Evergreen Line) reportedly had only 300 Mon-Fri boarding per day.


    Zwei, which other bus routes should be considered?

    Zwei replies: All bus routes in the Tri cities.

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