Expo & Millennium Line Ridership – 150,000 Per Weekday

It is interesting, the on going debate about the SkyTrain light metro’s ridership, especially when TransLink’s spin doctors tell the truth.

This comment by a TransLink spokesperson caught me by surprise and it has been repeated in both the mainstream and electronic media.

Just has to be true!

TransLink characterized this job action as unreasonable and unacceptable noting 150,000 people use the SkyTrain each weekday.

Interesting isn’t it that TransLink claims ever higher ridership but lets slip only 150,000 actual people use both light metro lines!

Also interesting to note that if one averages 75,000 per light metro line it is about the same as European tram lines carry per route in major cities, but I digress.



SkyTrain union fires back at TransLink for ‘inaccurate’ and ‘incendiary’ comments

by Lisa Steacy

Posted Dec 8, 2019

(Source: facebook.com/Translink)

If no deal is reached by 5 a.m. Tuesday, the Expo and Millennium lines will be shut down until 5 a.m. Friday

TransLink characterized this job action as unreasonable and unacceptable

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The union representing SkyTrain workers who are poised to take strike action by shutting down service says it’s insulted by the words used by TransLink to describe developments in the ongoing labour dispute.

Saturday, CUPE 7000 announced if no deal is reached by 5 a.m. Tuesday, the Expo and Millennium lines will be shut down until 5 a.m. Friday. Soon after, TransLink characterized this job action as unreasonable and unacceptable noting 150,000 people use the SkyTrain each weekday.

In a statement Sunday, the union says those comments have set bargaining back.

“In my own statements to date, I have maintained a tone of respect throughout. So it is unfortunate that TransLink has chosen to go down this road. Such comments about our members do nothing to further bargaining and, on the contrary, have slowed down the process for both parties,” says CUPE 7000 President Tony Rebelo. “Our focus remains getting an agreement as the number one priority. We remain committed to negotiating for a new contract at the bargaining table and reaching a deal with no disruption of service.”

The statement says the union will remain at the table but will not be making any more statements to the media.

In response, TransLink says it is monitoring the negotiations and intends to provide updates on the bargaining process when they become available.


21 Responses to “Expo & Millennium Line Ridership – 150,000 Per Weekday”
  1. Rico says:

    Are you trolling yourself? Everyone knows the reported ridership for Translink is boardings…just like every other North American transit system and all of the European research/agencies I looked up. For instance Zurich helpfully reports passengers (boardings) incase anyone is confused. I did not look up Asian systems, maybe Haveacow could let us know if any places typically report ridership in forms other than boardings. I had thought it was done in Europe but although I saw several agencies reporting ‘passengers’ looking at the fine print they were all reporting boardings.

    Zwei replies: last night , on the news, the CEO himself said 150,000 people actually use SkyTrain. Despite all your bullshit, all of TransLink’s bullshit, a simple fact has emerged, 150,000 people use the Expo and Millennium Lines.

  2. fredinno says:

    He didn’t ‘let slip’ anything. 150,000 per weekday is about the people you get if you divide their official numbers to the # of weekdays.

    Light Metro is a conceptually elevated tram. The Millennium Line is actually reducing the total numbers because of it’s below-average performance, but even if we take your 75,000 per weekday number (which you fail to give a source for), that seems to not be a major issue- comparing denser European Cities to comparatively sized American ones will inevitably result in lower ridership. You should be comparing tramways in the USA or Canada to tramways in the USA or Canada.

  3. Rico says:

    I am confused, 150,000 people using the Expo and Millenium lines is pretty much what is expected based on the number of boardings and the number of boardings per journey. If you add the Canada line that means approximately 10% of the people in Translinks service area use Skytrain each day…which is impressive but still in line with the trip diary/Stats Can numbers.

  4. fredinno says:

    For the previous comment, I meant “conceptually an elevated LRT”. My bad.

  5. zweisystem says:

    “Light Metro is a conceptually elevated tram”, but carries with it the baggage of high costs, and user unfriendliness and why it has become obsolete.

  6. Haveacow says:

    No most Canadian transit agencies used linked trips. It’s more accurate when you have multi-line and or multi-modal rapid transit. When you see figures for individual lines or a single mode (especially in rapid transit systems if there are fewer than 3 lines), it’s usually boardings.

    Politicians like using boardings data because it gives you very big numbers. The TTC ridership for 2018 was 539.45 million linked trips but that equates to 957.6 million boardings, if you were trying to convince people to give you more money, what number would you use? Then there’s the debate over daily numbers that add even more complexity to the ridership debate. I’m not getting into that here, I could write for days on that one.

    Boardings are used by large organizations like the APTA because the data and statistical expertise needed to accurately gather and predict linked trips is very expensive and time consuming for small or extremely understaffed large city transit agencies. The other issue for linked trips is how you define it.

    For example, if you transfer twice in a origin to destination linked trip but on your second transfer you stop off at the dry cleaners and you are in line for over twenty minutes, does all this still count as one linked trip or 2. Does that 20 minute wait at the dry cleaners count as a destination? It all depends on how you define it. The single largest advantage of using boardings is transfers become irrelevant however, it greatly inflates the numbers.

    Unfortunately these inflated numbers are used to hide other important issues that are not being dealt with. Translink is known for doing this nationally because they are so sensitive to criticism from the highway and car lobby. You have issues with your Light Metro system that Translink refuses to deal with, like runaway operating and capital costs. You have to be able to harshly critique transit operators and transit operations or else the road lobby wins. Going after Translink for their increasingly problematic choice of rail rapid transit operating technology (The Skytrain technology). Criticising Skytrain for its obvious shortcomings, isn’t being anti-transit.

    For example, $4.43 Billion buys only 12.7 km of Light Metro but $4.6 Billion buys 44 km of new LRT plus 8 km of totally refurbished LRT in Ottawa. In Montreal $6.3 Billion buys 67 km of REM Light Metro. Not all of this is due to Vancouver’s high land cost. In Toronto, $5.3 Billion buys 19.2 km of LRT 10.8 km of it is in a tunnel. High ridership numbers (boardings) about 436 Million in 2018 is being used by Translink to distract from other issues.

  7. fredinno says:

    And trams are improved buses, which carry the baggage of higher costs than BRT without any net speed improvements (street-level trams are limited by the speed limit and traffic congestion). Which is why they have become obsolete.

  8. fredinno says:

    Trams are widely used in Europe as much as Light Metro is widely used in Asia.

  9. zweisystem says:

    So sunshine, why is modern light rail the most popular transit mode around the world?

  10. zweisystem says:

    Light metro is used in a few cities in Asia because 1) political officials are easily bribed; 2) In the case of Bangkok and manila and several other Asian cities, the transit must be elevated due to monsoons; 3) countries like china and Taiwan invest in experimental transit systems which become orphaned light metros; 4) lots more but you are not listening.

  11. zweisystem says:

    It is astounding to me that even Kevin Desmond used the 150,000 actual customers that use the E&M Lines daily. Traditionally, this happens, these moments in clarity, if some bad news is coming.

  12. Haveacow says:

    @Fredinno the reason Ottawa is switching away from our Transitway Network (the largest BRT Network in North America) to LRT is because BRT is far more expensive to operate at moderate passenger levels than our new LRT system. 36 years of operating BRT in Ottawa tell us, operating costs exceed LRT operating costs, especially in the first world, when bus service exceeds 85-90 buses (40 ft or 12 metre long models) /hour.or about 3500-4000 passengers/hour/direction in a physically segregated Transitway (Busway), around 3000-3200 passengers /hour /direction when you use painted Bus lanes, due to the lack of physical segregation. Real BRT Busways also require more physical width than rail systems, due to bus widths and mirror-strike avoidance.

    Articulated buses help but their 60 foot (18 metre) length cause longer backups, require physically larger stops, are more expensive to purchase and service, rip the hell out of asphalt roads especially in the stopping or docking lanes, make non segregated painted bus lanes harder to use and can’t handle steep, slippery, wet or snowy roads very well.

    Bi-Articulated buses (20-30 metres long) are not road legal in North America but are being tested on some American Busways. They are brutally expensive (especially the spare parts) usually double the cost of an standard articulated bus but only about 50% to 60 % more passenger capacity, have all the issues of standard articulated buses and still have to be replaced every 10-12 years in our climate. Only 1 North American bus manufacturing company even has a design for one (Quebec’s Nova Bus) but has yet to even build a single prototype .

    Brisbane Australia’s BRT system (designed by the same people who design and built Ottawa’s Transitway) is switching to Bi-Articulated buses but is still experiencing design and development issues around station platform redesign and implementation. They still have operational cost issues that have to be addressed because of the sheer number of busses there current network uses. They peak around 212-240 buses/hour/direction. For reference sake, Ottawa’s current Transitway handles 175-185 buses/hour/direction at the new Tunneys Pasture LRT/BRT Bus Loop. The old downtown lanes on Albert and Slater Streets were handling 185-200 buses/hour/direction before LRT started operating.

  13. Fredinno says:

    Fredino, after consulting several people it is now obvious you are a troll. You have been sent to spam.

    I get it, you love SkyTrain and hate LRT and all those who support LRT, so read the BUZZ or Daryl’s blog (FOX News types) and live in the 1970’s. BUT LET ME SUGGEST ONE THING, STUDY TRANSIT FROM OUTSIDE THE TRANSLINK/METRO VANCOUVER BUBBLE AND YOU MAY LEARN A FEW THINGS.

  14. Rico says:

    So Haveacow Expo/Millenium line Ops and Maintenance costs are $1.56 per boarded passenger (like other systems does not include major capital works such as the station upgrades). Which system would you compare with re: ‘runaway operating costs’?

  15. Haveacow says:

    Considerably higher actually, especially if you consider the ever increasing number of emergency spot repairs to the concrete guide way. Higher than expected costs for maintenance on your Mark 2 Skytrains. Don’t believe me, get your freedom of information request form ready as well as the processing fee!

    Oh yes, the extra money to order the higher than maintenance contract specfied, LIM propulsion units for all the trains. Repair of the above expected number of failed cable connection nodes, discovered after the recent inspection. Ongoing repairs done to correct the substandard work to fix the upgrades done on the main electrical system pannel for the Evergreen extension. Every new rail line or extension has it’s share of teething problems. The huge jump in the cost of replacing older Bombardier only maintenance equipment, with newer equipment and or spare parts for the existing maintenance equipment.

  16. Rico says:

    You know they actually publish the numbers (the $1.56 is 2018 numbers) without a need for Freedom of Info requests. But if you feel a need knock yourself out. What I was looking for was what systems in North America have lower operating and maintenance costs than $1.56 per boarded passenger.

  17. Haveacow says:

    @Rico The point was that there are many Skytrain costs that they don’t attribute to Skytrain or transit operations but actually are. This is unfortunately a relatively common budgetary trick among transit agencies in Canada and the USA.

    For many years in Ottawa, the Transitway’s station maintenance and cleaning, transitway right of way snow removal, salting/sanding, and resurfacing costs were not included in the Transit budget but the Region of Ottawa-Carleton’s road budget. They considered the Transitway a regional road for budgetary reasons. Thus making the Transitway much cheaper to operate when compared to any other form of Rapid Transit.

    Zwei replies: The same is true of the light-metro’s attendants, they are not included in the light metro’s operating costs, but are in another department for commercial reasons to make the light metro operation seem much cheaper than it is. About a decade ago, TransLink let slip that the cost to operate the Expo Line was about 40% higher than Calgary’s LRT, with both having about the same length.

  18. Bill Burgess says:

    Mr. Zwei’s claim that Skytrain attendants are not included under its operating costs is…not credible.

    There is zero indication of this in their KPMG-audited Financial Statements. And I can see a couple of hints that they are included:

    “Operating Cost Recovery. The share of total costs from continuing operations (excluding interest, amortization and roads and bridges) that are paid for by the revenue from transit related revenues.” (see https://www.translink.ca/-/media/Documents/about_translink/corporate_overview/corporate_reports/annual_reports/2018/tl_annual_report_2018_glossary.pdf?la=en&hash=E1D61BE514774D2BF4800F05CE7520A3B3FF02C8 : )

    “Operating cost per capacity kilometre *6. 6 Includes operating costs of Bus, Rail and Transit Police (excludes Corporate and Access Transit costs)” (see p. 7 of https://www.translink.ca/-/media/Documents/about_translink/corporate_overview/corporate_reports/quarterly_reports/2018/Year_End_2018_Finance_and_Performance_Report_15-3-2018.pdf?la=en&hash=A91F0FEBD24C455D5E7C8142BB5122B7CA7B5D6F

    But if I am just being a naive little bunny to go by audited statements, please point to the contrary evidence.

    Mr Havacow, it would be helpful to actually quote the lower operating and maintenance costs for other systems.

    Zwei replies: I was told two decades ago by Translink, that as SkyTrain was “driverless”, attendants were not essential for SkyTrain operation their costs were budgeted elsewhere. Remember, TransLink was in partnership with Bombardier to market ART abroad and had to do everything to reduce costs on paper. Didn’t work.

    Believe what you want sunshine, but there are very good reasons that ALRT/ART or the same under other different names has failed to find a market and only 7 such systems built and of the 7, two are in litigation against Bombardier, one is being closed down due to age and one will be converted to regular railway operation when the ART system is life expired.

  19. Rico says:

    Zwei, If I was you with your axe to grind with Translink I would spend some time looking at the budget details instead of just randomly saying things. Looking at the budget it appears to me even a portion of the Translink police are part of that number as departments are apportioned costs of shared services as a proportion of services used….and station attendants definitely are. But it really does not seem to make sense to include police in the costs so I could be wrong about the police. As for Calgary I fully expect cost per km of system to be less than Vancouver based solely on Vancouver running more service on those kms. What the difference is and if the cost is less per boarding are different questions. I am pretty sure Calgary Transit publishes their numbers to so you could look it up and let me know. I don’t have time right now but will look later if you don’t. Come on prove your skills with Google.
    Haveacow, I am sure Zwei will pay any Freedom of Info requests you may want to do. I would suggest it would be easier to look at the approximately 130 capital projects in the budget and tell us which ones should really be ‘maintenance’. For comparison Toronto includes rail replacement and overhead power modernization as capital costs. LIM rail replacement and rail replacement are capital costs in Vancouver as well. If it is not in the capital budget I would assume it is in the Ops/maintenance budgets let me know which items are out of place in the capital budget.

    Zwei replies: To be blunt, I do not believe bugger all what Translink’s books say, they are cooked and TransLink is under dire financial pressure. Translink is an out of control monster that its motto is tax and spend, tax and spend.

  20. Haveacow says:

    Guys I work as a consultant, if you want me to stand in line for something or worse, do it online and get a freedom of information request filled out and processed, your also paying for a minimum of 3 hours, at my office work rate, which starts at $75/Hour, including all fees and transportation cost if I have to go to Service Ontario/Canada to get information from a B.C. based transit agency. Plus the extra fee for working with most likely, heavily redacted print out documents. I don’t do office work during the holidays as a rule unless, I am behind schedule (that’s a schedule of work based on a signed contract). All contracts will be okayed by my lawyer and you will be paying her fee as well. Oh yes, there is a data fee as well if I have to use C.U.T.A. (Canadian Urban Transit Association) based data, access for which I have to pay a yearly fee.

  21. zweisystem says:

    Thank you.

    I am now cutting off replies for this post as the “trolls” are getting out of hand.

    For those who want to continue building with SkyTrain, good luck and be prepared to pay huge tax increases to pay for it. But you fail to answer this very important question:

    Why after being on the market for now over 40 years, only seven systems have been sold and the name of the proprietary railway has been changed six times?

    Only seven of these railways exist; they are not compatible with any other railway except their own family of seven orphaned systems?