Oh Please. Once Again The Vancouver Sun Again Shills For SkyTrain

Really! The Vancouver sun continues to unashamedly shill for the SkyTrain mini-metro system.

I know this is tiresome, in fact downright boring, but the folks at the Sun should know better than take TransLink Press Releases as fact.

The old arguments, the apples to oranges comparisons, is none other than editorial BS, from a newspaper that doesn’t research the news.

I wonder how much TransLink will spend in advertising to get the Sun’s Editorial Board to tell SkyTrain “pork pies”.

Questions for the Sun’s Editorial board:

“Why after being on the market for over 35 years, not one SkyTrain system has been allowed to compete directly against LRT, why?”

“Why have only seven SkyTrain systems have been built, during a period of unprecedented investment in public transit?”

“What are the owners of SkyTrain afraid of?”

Editorial: SkyTrain excels but still strives for improvement

Vancouver rail beats competition

Vancouver Sun July 30, 2014

SkyTrain passengers have lately been understandably outraged by a succession of delays and disruptions to their rapid transit service.

However, it is important to put such mishaps into context.

Vehicles crash, airplanes go down. Systems malfunction. There is a reason why the term ai???human errorai??? is used so frequently.

It is in the nature of things to go wrong occasionally, for all manner of reasons. It is simply unrealistic to expect systems to be efficient at all times.

Since being launched into service in 1985, SkyTrain has experienced two derailments, one in 1986 due to an axle coming off, impeding the trainai??i??s movement on the track; and another in 2010, when two axles came off an empty car after an object struck the switch. There have been no collisions and no injures.

Zwei replies: Actually, Skytrain has derailed a few more times, including in a snow storm where the SkyTrain was derailed after hitting a snow bank. Why does the sun make it sound like LRT constantly comes off the track?

Most Metro Vancouverites are grateful to have at their disposal above-grade rapid transit that can travel without intersection delays. For many years they made do with alternative travel options while watching Torontonians enjoy a rapid transit service that was launched in 1954.

Zwei replies: Excuse me, Toronto has a subway, streetcars (LRT) and a Skytrain. Both the streetcar and metro systems are being refurbished and extended, while the SkyTrain is being torn down.

The 29-km Expo Line marked the start of rapid transit in the Lower Mainland, after which the 42-km Millennium Line was added, in 2002, and the 15-km Canada Line, in 2009.

Zwei replies: The 42 km Millennium Line actually uses 22 km of the Expo Line so in reality the Millennium Line is 20 km. long.

The lines have helped shape development in the region, contributing to environmental sustainability by enabling urban densification.

Zwei replies: Er no, development was created by city councils up-zoning properties adjacent to the Skytrain line giving windfall profits to mainly friends of council. SkyTrain is the least sustainable transit mode as it is too expensive to extend and requires a lot more maintenance than compared to LRT.

The service has coaxed people out of their cars with the lure of speed and convenience.

Zwei replies: Again the sun invents facts. There is no evidence of a modal shift from car to SkyTrain, in fact mode share by auto in the metro region has stayed at 57% since 1994! 80% of Skytrain’s passengers first take the bus and buses are notorious for not attracting the motorist from the car.

Ridership per capita is unusually high in Vancouver, trailing only ridership in New York and Toronto. In the Lower Mainland, 157 trips per capita are made annually. In Portland the comparable number is 50 per capita. In Denver, itai??i??s just 33 per capita.

Zwei replies: Vancouver has always had good public transit ridership. Unfortunately, comparisons made in Vancouver must be adjusted to take into account the 110,000 deep discounted U-passes forcibly issued to post secondary students. Also, American cities are notoriously poor in attracting customers to transit and modern LRT has been a proven tool to reverse the trend.

TransLink touts a reliability rate of nearly 95 per cent, as measured by train operations no more than two minutes early or two minutes late.

Such reliability is a point of pride, out-paced in Canada only by Torontoai??i??s subway service with its 96.6-per-cent reliability within three-minute markers.

On North Americaai??i??s west coast, Seattleai??i??s light rail system offers 93.6-per-cent reliability within three minutes either way. Portlandai??i??s light rail line claims 82-per-cent reliability, within a window of one minute early and five minutes late.

Vancouverai??i??s SkyTrain also runs more frequently than most of its counterparts, with a train every three minutes on both the Expo and Canada Lines; every six minutes on the Millennium Line.

Zwei replies: This is really an “Apples to Oranges” comparison as SkyTrain does not have a regular timetabled service , while Toronto, Seattle and Portland do. It is easy to make claims by comparing a non timetabled service with one. Studies have shown that automatic transit systems actually are less reliable than non automatic systems. SkyTrain runs more frequently because its trains have smaller capacities than LRT trains., they must run at higher frequency’s to maintain capacity.

Portlandai??i??s service arrives at intervals from 7-15 minutes long.

Zwei replies: Not necessarily true. Where one, two or three services share the one route, headway’s can be as low as two minutes on that particular section of route.

Computer glitches, switching problems, those who jump on to tracks, or a clumsy electrician ai??i?? who took the blame for the infuriating five-hour disruption on the Expo and Millenium Lines July 21 ai??i?? are all things can cause delays to operations on any line.

The trick is ensuring mishaps are kept to a minimum, and protocols exist to avoid situations where passengers pry open doors and dangerously walk on elevated track near electrified lines.

TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis announced this week a two-month independent review ai??i?? at considerable expense ai??i?? that will seek lessons to be learned from the unfortunate episode.

Irate transit users should take some comfort from TransLinkai??i??s clear determination to do better.

Zwei replies: What the Vancouver Sun did not mention is that SkyTrain’s management were nowhere to be seen during the debacle; so bad was the lack of communication, thousands of transit customers abandoned Skytrain like rats fleeing a sinking ship.

Ai?? Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


3 Responses to “Oh Please. Once Again The Vancouver Sun Again Shills For SkyTrain”
  1. Haveacow says:

    One minor correction, the TTC subway doesn’t run on a schedule just minimum frequency allowances depending on the time of day. The streetcars yes but the subway doesn’t. It is quite common to do this in subways, for example most but not all lines of the London and Paris systems also do this. Less busy lines do have schedules though.

    Zwei replies: Thank you for the info. The London Underground does operate to a timetable. I have a copy of a 1970’s timetable which shows the Victoria Line operating 30 trains an hour peak service.

  2. zweisystem says:


    You really want to know what real transit experts think about SkyTrain and TransLink?

    Well this came to me from Australia from the “Trams Down Under” blog, from a post written by a German transit expert (TransLink should hire him @ $1,200 a day!) who has advised me from time to time, especially on subways.

    Just, so there is no confusion, Vancouver is considered a transit joke, run by…..well, by people who should be in jail.

    Wolfgang’s comments in bold italic.

    The SkyTrain meltdown as seen from abroad!


    >Dozens of passengers broke open the doors of SkyTrain cars last
    > Monday after a five-hour shutdown of the system on the Expo and
    > Millennium lines. Just five days earlier, more people fled onto the
    > tracks after a computer glitch shut down the same system for three
    > hours.

    You mean the passengers remained trapped for *three* resp. *five* hours
    and the operating staff was incapable of sending an evacuation crew out
    to get them out of there?

    So that the passengers had to finally evacuate themselves?

    Through tunnels where other trains could maybe even start running
    again at any moment?

    Whoever is in charge of that system must be jailed. And pay those poor
    hostages his entire personal fortune as compensation.

    This is not negligence, but outright crime.

    And I happen to be a safety engineer (technical product safety, not
    work safety, but still), so I do have a faint clue what I am talking

    > Jarvis assured the public Tuesday the SkyTrain system is safe,

    That lifeform obviously doesn’t have the faintest clue of the semantics
    of the word “safe” in the context of complex automated technical
    systems and relevant emergency procedures.

    Jail that liar.

    > despite concerns by Metro Vancouver mayors that TransLink did not
    > have a proper evacuation plan in place and had not taken measures to
    > ensure it was prepared for an emergency.

    How can such a system even go into operation?

    Obviously the criminal responsibility of the supervision authority is
    also concerned.

    > But while Jarvis maintained that the SkyTrain system “operated at it
    > was designed to” in both situations, the transportation authority is
    > taking the issue seriously, with an independent review and immediate
    > measures such as separating the public address system from the main
    > communications strategy. He noted the “self-evacuation” by passengers
    > and crowds at the stations had contributed to public safety concerns.

    I can tell you that I would have opened those doors or broken a window
    at the very latest after *one* hour, not after *three* or *five*.

    And then I would have tried to get hold of the individual who was
    responsible for such an obscene mess and would have done something very unpleasant to that lifeform.

    > But Drew maintained the board had an obligation to do an independent
    > assessment of the programs and procedures to ensure they were
    > working. “Whatever board that has the governing role has an
    > obligation to do due diligence and not take on blind faith that
    > everything is OK,” he said after the meeting. “I think I saw an
    > expression of contrition and recognition that perhaps the board
    > hasn’t done an adequate job.”

    Those unspeakable expletives just sat on their f*cking fat a**es and
    cashed in obscene amounts of money literally for nothing.

    As usual for so-called “managers”.

    > “We have to do a better job,” she said.

    How about *starting* to do it AT ALL.

    Instead of just producing bulkloads of cheaptalk.

    Just for a change, you know.

    > “What makes the SkyTrain system effective is we don’t have drivers,”
    > Jarvis said.


    It has been proven times and times again and again that driverless
    systems don’t require one agent less than systems with drivers.

    Besides the obscene cost to make the infrastructure grade-free.


  3. eric chris says:

    Free transit day, huge success! And guess who was there taking pictures? The Vancouver Sun!

    “Roland Wong, a 59-year-old retired ICBC records clerk from Vancouver, started his day hopping on Canada Line… Then Wong will return on the SeaBus for another Canada Line trip to Richmond…. maybe the (River Rock) casino,” he said.”

    “We experienced heavy volume on most routes,” confirmed TransLink spokeswoman Angela Salehi. “We do request people to allow a little extra time to get to and from their destination during holiday schedules.”


    Wow, thank you for the story, Vancouver Sun! Any mention of the reason for the free rides? Nope.

    From my vantage point in Vancouver, the buses were just as empty as they usually are and there were just as many cars on the roads as there usually are, probably more. I guess, pictures of empty buses on the 99 and 14 routes traveling to UBC isn’t what TransLink wants discussed, especially the diesel buses running on the No. 14 “trolleybus route” since July.

    In my opinion:

    TransLink didn’t give free rides on a “work day” because all the empty buses might embarrass TransLink. After about the 15% of the population that uses transit takes transit, transit is essentially inelastic and insensitive to what TransLink charges.