The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree – From 2010

Now, a decade later, the City of Vancouver’s Engineering Department still claims that LRT is limited to a capacity of only 7,000 to 8,000 pphpd!

Yet the very same CoV department has never mentioned that the Canada Line, with 40 metre long station platforms can, only allow 41 metre, 2 car trains, which limits capacity of the Canada Line to slightly more than half the maximum capacity of the Expo and Millennium Lines which is limited to a maximum of 15,000 pphpd!

For comparison, the longest tram now operating in the world, in Budapest is 56 metres long and has a capacity of over 350 people. Thus at a 3 minute headway or 20 trips per direction per hour (same as the current B-Line bus service, which offers a maximum capacity of around 2,000 pphpd), the CAF 56m Urbos tram has a capacity of over 7,000 pphpd; at a 2 minute headway or 30 trips per direction per hour, has a capacity of over 10,500 pphpd; and at a 90 second headway (which is common in Europe in peak hours) a maximum capacity of over 15,750. Or put another way, more capacity than the current maximum capacity of the Expo and Millennium Lines.

Mind you, the Broadway B-Line express bus offers a maximum capacity of around 2,000 pphpd, they why is the C0V and TransLink wasting billions of dollars on an expensive subway providing so much expensive unused capacity? If ridership demand doubled or tripled, a tram could easily handle the traffic at the current 3 minute headway’s offered by the B-Line bus route.

It really does make one go hmmm.

Budapest "Caterpillar" tram; 54 metres long, capacity 350 persons.

From 2010

The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree – TransLink’s Regional Transit Planning

Posted by on Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal metaphor in the United States used to describe evidence that is obtained illegally.The logic of the terminology is that if the source of the evidence (the “tree”) is tainted, then anything gained from it (the “fruit”) is as well.

TransLink’s planning officials still maintain that modern light rail has a limited capacity of about 10,000 persons per hour per direction and refuse to entertain the fact that they are wrong. All of TransLink planning, including the RAV/Canada Line, the Evergreen line, the Broadway/UBC rapid transit line, and Fraser Valley transportation have assumed LRT’s seemingly inferior capacity, despite the fact that modern LRT can carry in excess of 20,000 pphpd. TransLink and the media have portray LRT as a poorman’s SkyTrain.

Update, 2020: Transport Canada’s Operating Certificate limits the Expo and millennium Line to a maximum of 15,000 pphpd.

The assumption that light rail has only a capacity of 10,000 pphpd is wrong.

The Light Rail Transit Association [ ], which can trace its history back 63 years, which has continually campaigned for affordable and efficient public transit, defines light rail transit as:

“a steel wheel on steel rail transit mode, that can deal economically with traffic flows of between 2,000 and 20,000 passengers per hour per direction, thus effectively bridging the gap between the maximum flow that can be dealt with using buses and the minimum that justifies a metro.”

The following study from the LRTA, shows that even in 1986, it was generally understood that modern LRT could carry 20,000 pphpd.

More recently, (2006) Calgary Transit LRT Technical Data page claims that the maximum theoretical capacity of the C-Train is 30,700 pphpd!

Maximum THEORETICAL single direction capacity (pass./hr/dir) at 256 pass./car and 2 min. headway:
3-car train 23,040
4-car train 30,720

If TransLink’s basic assumption about light rail (including streetcar) is wrong, then TransLink’s entire planning history, regarding bus, LRT, and SkyTrain is wrong and is not worth the paper it is printed on. Yet TransLink, without any public scrutiny and very little political oversight, continues to plan for hugely expensive SkyTrain light-metro projects, which supposed support for, has been heavily biased by questionable studies and even more questionable tactics – all fruit from the poisonous tree!

Noted American transportation expert Gerald Fox, summed up his observations on the TransLink 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.”

Has TransLink’s regional transit planning over the past ten years nothing more than “Fruit of the poisonous tree?”, based on the fact that TransLink’s bureaucrats desire that light rail (LRT) be seen inferior to SkyTrain, on paper, to ensure further planning and building of their cherished light metro system?

Rail for the Valley would welcome TransLink’s clarification on this issue!

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