Where’s The Density? Oh, I Guess Density Is Not An Issue With TramTrain.

Ever wanted to see what the Rail for the Valley/Leewood tramtram ride would be like, well the following video from U-Tube gives the feel of what a Vancouver to Chilliwack servcie would be like. The following is a cab-eye view of a German regional railway, not unlike the former BC Electric line from Vancouver to Chilliwack.


Not a great issue for a regional rail line in Germany, then why should it be in the Fraser Valley.

Click the following for a regional rail ride in the German countryside.

FA?hrerstandsmitfahrt auf der Odenwaldbahn


11 Responses to “Where’s The Density? Oh, I Guess Density Is Not An Issue With TramTrain.”
  1. Otak_ar says:

    “Not a great issue for a regional rail line in Germany, then why should it be in the Fraser Valley”.

    Maybe what you don`t realize is that this regional line is a part of a HUGE rail system operated nationwide by state owned DB (Deutche Bahn), which is currently profitable, also thanks to its cargo division. Even if this line is not profitable by itself, DB together with the local governments (Bundeslands) can subsidize the operation on lines like this.

    I think for the Vancouver – Chilliwack line, the density is critical. Along with offering frequent runs and speed that can compete with cars.

    BTW, it would be really nice to see here some modern sub-urban units (like the Stadler shown on the picture) as well as that nice concrete rail track.

  2. zweisystem says:

    It may surprise you to know that the density in the Fraser Valley is slightly higher than the density of the region served by Karlsruhe’s famous TramTrains. In fact, the same density in the Karlsruhe region, supports three stand alone tram networks, a rather large TramTrain network, and a regional passenger rail network.

    The density issue is much overplayed in Metro Vancouver and is merely a ruse to get city politicians to upzone properties around the SkyTrain/Canada line mini-metro network to accommodate highrise apartment/condo development, in turn creating massive windfall profits for developers. The density issue is a non issue, pursued by the ignorant, with LRT/tram, there is no density issue.

  3. rico says:

    Density is such a tricky word because what is important is how that density interacts with transit. Past Langley the interurban route does not interact well with where the density is. Sometimes ‘low’ density can be good for transit use when that density is concentrated in ‘ a string of pearls’ along a transit corridor. You could consider Cloverdale and Langley as examples of this, unfortunately past Langley the route does not efficiently link the pearls of density. In all of the Eurpean situations I am familiar with (mainly Swiss examples) the rail is on the most efficient route and highways end up on lesser alignments (because the railway was first) I would be willing to bet this is the case in Germany as well. The interurban route is definitely not a direct link compared to the road network.

  4. Stewarts Lane says:

    Your call Rico my short sighted enemy, why should a transit route have to be compared with the road network?
    Don’t answer Rico, cos in Canada & particularly BC your average citizen is too lazy to do anything but squeeze his over weight arse into an automobile?
    I must study the relevant life expectancy stats for BC, Canada, North America, the US & Europe.

  5. rico says:

    Stewart, I would like to think you support transit. If you support transit you want your transit to be sucessful. One of the most important components of sucessful transit is total trip time. If your density (people and destinations) is poorly related to your route (route is inefficient) total trip time will be long. You can get away with that if the alternatives are not very efficient as well, but if you have a nice efficient road system you better have an effecient route for transit. If you build transit on that poor route anyway you will get poor ridership and with poor ridership poor cost recovery…………it would be pretty easy to kill any future chances at LRT with a poor choice of a first route. Any of the three Surrey routes proposed by Diane Watts would have a desent chance of success while past Langley I doubt the Interurban route would…..even though it would be cheaper. Did that answer your question? Or is the shorter answer people are not idiots they won’t take a 4hr transit trip very often if it takes 2hrs by car.

  6. Stewarts Lane says:

    Obviously young Rico, it goes without saying that I support transit, successful transit in the Fraser Valley, Vancouver, BC, Canada, the US, Europe.
    I like many in the Valley & the Province will not support the type of transit stratagem dictated by the Translink aparatiks, the very same strategy which has resulted in the massive expenditure on the Canada Line
    The issue for you Rico is that you cannot handle criticism of all that you believe in. Translink has continually based the economic viability of Skytrain & the Canada Line on the density vision. How else Rico could Translink have justified the budget unless adjacent land was sold to developers to build high density condos.
    Really Rico you’ll have to do better; the transit routes, the Interurban & the three Surrey routes are economically viable are practical routes and will demonstrate high cost recovery. Where do you get the 4 hour figure from Rico, another Translink lie? The Leewood report scheduled a journey time of 90 minutes. Are you one of the paid Translink advocates?

  7. Rico says:

    Stewart of course I am a paid sky train lobbyist, I was torn between being a paid skytrain lobbyist and a paid Tram-train lobbyist and the dollar amounts were the same, but the skytrain lobby position is paid every week instead of once a year……boy a lot of skytrains costs must be for lobbyists reading RfV there must be thousands of skytrain lobbyists, not just in BC but in Portland or Toronto probably even in Zurich (anyone who does not agree with Zei). Just think of the costs….

    For the record I like LRT (when well done), I also happen to like RRT (also when well done). I like good transit that contributes to transit in the region. I support paying more if we get more too, to me one of the most important metrics is the cost per rider/trip. I think shorter total trip times and higher frequencies are important. I don’t mind transfers between high frequency operations, I do mind transfers if the services are not high frequency.

    I also am more supportive of LRT on the 3 Surrey routes that Diane Watts is pushing than RRT because I think the right of ways are generally good for LRT and conflicts with other traffic not so bad, therefore the quality of the transit should not be significantly different between RRT and LRT on those routes. On the other hand I am convinced that a Broadway route would be far superior as RRT because of the amount of road conflicts that will affect transit quality.

    I also have very significant doubts about the Interurban route past Langley. The route is just not competative for very many destinations (how many transit trips do you think Chilliwack/Abbotsford to Langley/Cloverdale/Newton there are? Pretty much any other combination of trips will be extremely non time competative (those too, just not as much). The 4 hour number was just a number to prove a point, but it would also reflect an approximate door to door round trip travel time Chilliwack area to Scott road area (using LeeWoods numbers and no one is going to Scott road, they will be transfering to the skytrain and going onwards to another destination so those trips will be longer). Would not be much longer than 2hrs round trip by car to get to a whole bunch of destinations. I doubt most people will choose to spend an extra 2hrs in Transit per day just because.

    PS I think I take criticism quite well, it is a good way to learn about the world and grow as a person. I just prefer that if people have a different opinion than me they support their claims with facts instead of statements like every transit expert knows…….(especially if most of the transit experts I read about on other sites don’t usually say the same things Zei says and they usually have good references to back up their points….to date Zei has had a very bad record of giving references and links to sources……oh yah, still have not seen my previous comments that never got posted (with links showing almost no increase in transit mode share in Portland since 1996 (data from City of Portland and Tri Met) vs links showing increases in transit mode share in Vancouver (data from Stats Can)). I do loose respect with people who even when presented with evidence they were wrong can not acknowledge they were wrong. It is one thing to say Portland did not experience a significant mode shift despite their transit investment because it has lots of Freeways or is less dense etc. It is another to call me a Skytrain lobbyist and not post my links…..without acknowledging that yes Vancouver has a significant transit mode shift for its transit investment (for what ever reason…) while Portland has not (for what ever reason…..). Instead last I heard Zei was sticking to his guns…….

    Zwei replies: What modal shift? TransLink has never published an independent audited number of modal shift. All TransLink claims is percentage increases, which in the past, have been done with extremely dodgey numbers.

    Of course 30% of Portland’s population did not change from car to transit, but 30% of commuters living about 500 metres from MAX did. TransLink stopped checking ridership on actual transit routes some time ago, because the trends were embarrassing.

    Portland saw about a 30% modal shift on the first light rail line opened and similar modal shifts on each new line – that’s why they keep building the damn thing. Vancouver’s Skytrain is built for base political reasons, to provide a taxpayer funded subsidy for land development. Skytrain is built to move money, not people.

  8. Rico says:

    Zei, do you even bother reading links people give you supporting their positions?

    If 30% of Portlands population living within 500m of MAZ changed their mode that means the rest of Portland saw a significant decline in transit mode share, it would be interesting to know why that happened (if it happened, care to post a source as I could not find one)….because according to the annual reports from the city of Portland transit mode share has been escentially flat since 1996 in Portland (that means if it went up around MAX routes it went down elsewhere….not so good if you happen to be ‘elsewhere’).

    As for Vancouver if you wish you can just look at my previous link or Google transit mode share Vancouver and several links pop up, as far as I can tell all of the mode share data is based on the long form census from Statistics Canada (where people answer questions like what is your primary means of getting to work….car..transit…bike….etc.) and has NOTHING to due with TRANSLINK. You will note that there is significant transit mode shift both in Vancouver and in Metro Vancouver (I can’t remember which link I posted).

    To recap I have good sources with an incentive to make Portand transit look good showing no significant transit mode shift in Portland since 1996…..It is possible that there was a shift near MAX and a drop away from MAX but I have not seen any sources that show this….and if it is true raises some ugly equity questions about transit in Portland (would you like to see an increase in Transit on the Expo line only to see a drop in transit in Newton?). I also have good independant sources (Stats Can) showing a significant transit mode shift in Vancouver during the same time. Why are you still arguing? The causes of these changes or lack of changes (parking?Freeways?Transit Oriented Development?America vs Canada?) could be up for debate but I don’t think the general statements are (feel free to link to a source showing something different).

    In the interest of full disclosure about our previous Canada Line discussion. I was wrong about the ridership of Templeton Station. Sea Island is the lowest ridership station followed by a virtual tie between Olympic Village Station and Templeton. If I remember correctly Templeton still only accounted for less than 4% of boardings and Sea Island less than 2%.

  9. Otak_ar says:

    @ zweisystem: As for the density issue, I believe Rico only better expressed what I had in my mind. I totally subscribe to his view in the first comment (‘the string of pearls’).

    @ Steward: I don`t think that Rico`s statements have anything to do with “TransLink`s way of doing stuff”. I believe he has a very valid points supported by a common sense.

    You want to have enough people to ride the LRT to pay for the costs (the more, the better). In order to attract them, you must offer 1) decent TOTAL TRAVEL TIMES from point A to B, 2) FREQUENT service, 3) decent COST, otherwise they will rather “squeeze their overweight arse” into a car and get to the destination on their own.
    To compete with the highway network, you either make the rail route as straight and short as possible, or you make as little stops as possible.

    The Karlsruhe model`s main factor for success is:
    “Riders’ main requirements are a quick trip from A to B, without transfer, with a low and easy to understand cost.”

    To be honest, instead of the Inter-urban tram that stops at every other corner, I would much rather see a modern sub-urban units (not the West Coast joke) running from Vancouver to Chilliwack, which would stop less frequently, but would get you fast from one city hub to another, where you can jump on the local transit.

  10. zweisystem says:

    Rico, you haven’t a clue what you are talking about, but then your arguments are based on ignorance.

  11. zweisystem says:

    Your TransLink arguments don’t hold water. If SkyTrain and the SkyTrain transit philosophy is so good, why hasn’t anyone copied Vancouver? Why is SkyTrain an orphaned transit system?

    As for Karlsruhe, transit planners improved service by designing no-transfer services, in Vancouver we increase the number of transfers customers take, a recipe for transit disaster.