The Vancouver Province Shills For The Canada Line

40 metre to 50 metre station platforms limit the Canada line train to

just two cars, severely limiting capacity.

I see TransLink is calling in its markers from the mainstream media and a staff writer (infomercial maybe) has penned a puff piece for the Canada Line.

No mention is made of the tens of thousands of students who use the deep discounted U-pass daily on the mini-metro or the number of actual people (not boardings) who use the Canada Line daily.

Questions like; “how many bus customers are forced to transfer onto the the Canada Line?” or “How many U-Pass students use the Canada Line more than twice a day?”, are avoided.

Also avoided is the discussion of real cost of the Canada Line, which is now pegged at around $2.5 billion or that the Canada line was the only cut-and-cover subway project in North America, Europe and Asia, not to pay compensation to local businesses for disruption during construction.

Not a word how the bus service from South Delta has now reverted back to pre a Canada Line schedule as the new ridership never came and a multimillion dollar ‘Park & Ride lot in South Surrey remains empty because the anticipated increase in transit use did not materialize after it opened.

What is most telling is that in North America, successful transit systems tend to be copied by other cities as transit planners and politicians like to build on success, yet no one in North America or Europe has copied the Canada line and instead it remains an international joke as it is the only heavy-rail metro in the world that has been built as a light-metro and has less capacity than a simple streetcar.

No, you don’t see the mainstream media printing that at all, rather all the public get is a heart warming fairy tale about TransLink and the Canada Line.

Sadly, the Canada Line is a white elephant, limited in capacity and too expensive to expand. No one copies incompetence, except maybe TransLink.

Canada Line turns five years old with all the signs of a success story

By Staff Reporter, The Province August 17, 2014

he Canada Line is celebrating a major milestone.The Richmond-YVR-Vancouver rapid transit line, which opened to great fanfare on Aug. 17, 2009, turned five years old on Sunday.

The well-used line, completed three months ahead of schedule, has drastically changed Richmondai??i??s downtown core and Vancouverai??i??s Cambie Corridor.

The Canada Line has transformed Richmond, with its four stations along car-choked No. 3 Road, into a more walkable city.

It has transported millions of passengers to and from Vancouver International Airport to city centres, and has helped enable the construction of a new designer outlet complex by the airport authority near the Canada Lineai??i??s Templeton Station.

The $2-billion line has also spurred growth along Cambie Street: Construction for the massive Marine Gateway project ai??i?? which will include condos, office towers, restaurants, and a movie theatre complex ai??i?? is currently under way, while further north, future shops, offices, and mixed-used developments are slated to replace blocks of boarded-up single-family homes.

Despite naysayers who doubted TransLinkai??i??s original ridership projections, the Canada Line has been wildly successful.

The 16-station line was expected to hit an average of 100,000 passengers per day by 2013, but surpassed that mark in 2010. By 2011, it cleared 116,000 passengers, reaching 124,000 by 2012.

The figures are a boon to TransLink, which had guaranteed to subsidize ridership shortfalls if the line, built as a public-private partnership, drew fewer than 100,000 riders per day.

Construction of the Canada Line wasnai??i??t without controversy.

The projectai??i??s cheaper yet disruptive ai???cut and coverai??? method crippled many businesses along Cambie.

One retailer, Susan Heyes, who operated a maternity clothes store in Vancouver, sued the consortium that built the Canada Line and was awarded $600,000 in damages. The judgment was overturned by an appeal court.


9 Responses to “The Vancouver Province Shills For The Canada Line”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Sorry, the Cut and Cover part isn’t accurate. Legally in Ontario at least, you can’t sue for damages during cut and cover construction projects or other civic improvements. Otherwise the Toronto subway system would not really exist from the compensation required for the various extensions on Yonge Street, University Avenue and Bloor Street alone.

    What you do have to under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act is make sure that property owners severely affected by construction must have their property either purchased outright (under the Land Expropriation Act of Ontario) or have every technical and construction method to be used explained to them (in writing) and get their approval for each construction stage. Every technical method to ensure that businesses remain open and accessible to customers no matter how expensive must be considered. In extreme and very rare circumstances local property taxes can be lowered or discounted to individual property owners under the Ontario Land Tax Assessment Act. The property owner however, can’t sue in any way for lost business. There have been successful attempts (also very rare) by suing for lack of access to property when conditions under the Environmental Assessment Act were not followed to the letter.

    This is also one of the reasons costs can go up for Ontario Transit projects (and many other jurisdictions as well). The blanket legal protection afforded to European transit companies by many county’s legal transportation acts and the European Commission rules as well (again except in extraordinary circumstances) is one of the reasons they can keep construction costs down. This is due to the fact that everyone knows what can be done and to whom before the project begins. Compared to Europe, North America is a virtual wild west of opportunities to sue transit projects. Any attempt to limit this legal activity like they do in Europe, gets most people screaming about government infringing on the natural democratic right to sue! Don’t believe me, just try to pass some legislation that clarifies what you can or cannot sue for during a transit agency’s capital construction projects and see what happens!

  2. zweisystem says:

    It seems Canada stands alone with a lack of compensation for people affected by cut-and-cover subway construction. In the USA, the UK, Europe and even Asia have compensation schemes for land owners and businesses adversely affected by transit construction.

  3. Haveacow says:

    Actually Europe gives very little money, its usually in the form of property tax relief and the US generally gives even less, it just becomes more well known when Americans give out cash at the court stage. When everyone understands what is expected for a given project (like most projects in Europe) there is usually very little money handed out other than direct purchases of land parcels itself. To be fair not every system is perfect and many court cases for transit construction issues have happened in Europe (especially Germany and France) which have resulted in big payouts, but they are they exception not the rule. The problem is in most of North America, including Ontario, you have the actual cost of the project then you have to budget for the legal and planning cost related overruns and because you can never really be 100% sure what these costs are going to be, the associated project costs go up. Although, anyone with a little sense and experience can look at the local political/planning climate first, before a project begins the planning process, then make a fairly good legal cost estimate. The point is especially here in North America, we, the public, pay a lot of attention to our written down legal democratic rights (as we should). The basic issue is that, building large transportation projects or large physical projects of any kind in this legal environment means that, we have to navigate a process (usually very convoluted) that slows down and by its nature increases costs of these projects.

    It is interesting that you mention Asia because, I have a weekly conversation with a gentleman who has done and continues to do planning in Asian countries and other than Japan and Korea (Australia and New Zealand not included) it is remarkably easy to build large infrastructure projects like this compared to Europe and North America. There is very little democratic protection to citizens who have their property purchased by government bodies. Even less protection when it comes to how much has to be paid to them, unless your wealthy. Don’t even talk about environmental protection in most Asian countries, it can literally put you in jail. Does any one know how many people or homes were displaced by the construction of the Skytrain Line Kuala Lampur? It was a large number, almost 1000 people and hundreds of buildings (regardless what the local authorities claim). Most were poor people living in poorly maintained buildings so, the public generally considered this to be a positive project. Getting rid of blighted buildings and the poor people who had to live in them was good thing, right? Where were these people relocated too and what was the quality of the new homes they were given? Malaysia doesn’t really keep track of things like that. I’m not saying the government was heartless and purposely mistreated these people. They very well could have been relocated to housing that was indeed better, the problem is you will never really know because the government there doesn’t have to tell you anything.

  4. Daniel says:

    Zwei, you forgot to mention that it’s only rich Chinese guys that taka Canada Line to the Casino, or maybe you have changed your view on this? By the way I am happy I was forced out of the crowded 99 B-line into Canada Line. I remember the days coming back from the airport, taking a bus from the terminal to the exchage area, standing in the rain for the 99 B line to arrive almost full, with no space for you, let alone your luggage. Yes my friend, Canada Line is a success story if you’re a fair observer. It’s fast, clean and safe and has changed the way people of the region commute for better.

    Zwei replies: Yes the Canada Line is a success, a successful scam! With ridiculously small platforms that can only accommodate 2 car trains, the Canada line is not carrying the ridership TransLink would have us think. TransLink does not furnish the number of bus riders forced to transfer to the metro, nor does it give any numbers for U-Pass users on the line. Bus service to South Delta has been reduced, due to lack of custom, to pre Canada Line days and a multi million dollar park and ride in south surrey remains empty as the projected users did not materialize for the Canada Line.The promised 200,000 car trips taken off the roads did not happen, in fact car use has remained the same. The Canada Line is the only heavy-rail metro, built as a light metro and has less capacity than a streetcar. No one has copied the Canada line, nor is anyone is interested in TransLink’s myopic planning. The taxpayer has paid $2.5 million for a pig in a poke; a classic white elephant which contributes to the region being an international joke.

  5. eric chris says:

    @ Haveacow,
    Sure, any major infrastructure project is going to be a nuisance to somebody. As long long there is consideration for anyone being inconvenienced, most everyone will accept a little temporary inconvenience for transit infrastructure.

    History lesson
    In truth, the main issue over the Canada Line is that the award of the contract to SNC Lavalin which paid bribes was rigged for SNC Lavalin to win. SNC Lavalin put in a false and low bid ($400 million too low) to outbid other bids proposing LRT on Cambie Street. SNC Lavalin won the bid to “bore” Cambie Street and then changed its bid to “open cut” – wreaking havoc on the lives of many people for three years. This was allowed by the City of Vancouver which could have stopped it if its engineers did their job and weren’t toadies, playing along with TransLink to advance their careers.

    During the construction of the Canada Line subway, people’s rights were trampled. It helped Mayor Robertson get elected after he called it a “travesty of justice”. TransLink was sued and lost but TransLink merely appealed and found a judge to overturn the award to Susan Heyes. Moonbeam has since switched sides and is calling the Canada Line a grand success. He is promoting the past success of the Canada Line fiasco in order to aid his bid for another similar subway to UBC.

    Moony is really a traitor who will do whatever it takes to stay in power, now. He is being paid off by developers who have already invested heavily on Broadway. They are looking to increase housing density and want taxpayers to pay for the subway for the developers to have a marketing angle to start marketing Broadway condos with lots of “parking spaces for cars” in China. Somehow, busing transit users from Richmond, Surrey… Burnaby to the subway on Broadway in Vancouver and adding 359 parking spaces, for example, in this condo development on Broadway is going to reduce road congestion on Broadway, whatever:

    Getting back to this post on the Canada Line, small businesses along Cambie Street were decimated. Many were poor immigrants who were helpless (sound familiar) and deserved it for not moving their businesses. They were accused of being NIMBYS! (by the petty COV engineers who were in charge).. These “engineers” who were culpable for the Canada Line disaster have since been promoted for allowing TransLink to open cut and are now in charge of the planned UBC subway!

    Scum pretending to be engineers at the COV employed McCarthyism and alleged that the small business owners on Cambie Street were practising nimbyism (to discredit their plight). In effect, the scum imitating engineers at the COV ruined the lives of many family run businesses on Cambie Street to get promoted – it was politically expedient for the COV engineers to support the subway and they were too weak to oppose TransLink.

    In Vancouver, TransLink isn’t concerned with the social and environmental impacts of its operations. Rightfully, the COV (City of Vancouver) transportation engineers are the ones who are supposed to be protecting the public. Unfortunately, they are corrupt and all the good engineers left the COV, long ago. In my humble opinion: TransLink is run by thugs profiting from transit and the City of Vancouver engineers are the scum of the engineering profession.

    Zwei replies: The real winners from the Cambie Street fiasco were the mainstream media, where TransLink invested well over $5 million in three years proclaiming the joys of shopping on Cambie St. The long term effects of this media investment is that the MSM have remained a strong supporter of the Canada Line and censor much negative news.

  6. Haveacow says:

    Hey Eric,

    I don’t pretend to totally understand the Environmental Assessment Process in BC. I was aware that the Canada Line was a “cock up” from the word go but, as you have shown they (the project engineers and designers) seem to have switched construction methods half way through the process. Had they done that in Ontario they would have definitely been open to being sued because they went against their own construction process outlined in the docuement that, actually alows the whole copnstruction process to begin in the first place. In the Ontario EA process you have to Identify what construction methods are going to be used to build the project and if you decide once the project had started that for some reason a mistake or a error was made and the contractors want to do a major change of building method the whole process has to stop and be reworked. Its only in the case of absolute emergency that this is not followed.

    I agree SNC Lavlin is a dirty buisness and has always been. I have family history as to why I know this. My Dad who worked for a company that built Heavy Water Plants for nuclear reactors, CE Lumis, was fixing the truly fantastic mess that SNC Lavlin’s engineering services and several other European corporations had made of the Osairak Reactor in Iraq in 1980/81. The Iran/Iraq war had broken out and Irainian F4’s had made made a few low grade runs at the construction site. There had been very little damage done but there was enough worry that they might get lucky on the next attack so, SNC Lavlin had constructed bomb shelters for the workers. My dad was not an engineer but trained engineers and others managers how to manage truly massive construction sites and the huge number of employees on a site like this. Back in Canada my mom was pretty worried when she heard the news that, Israel not Iran attacked the site and pretty sucessfully leveled the place. My dad was OK but, he came back with the story that he was nearly arrested by the Iraqi army!

    When the air raid sirens went off, my dad and all the workers from his company took off for the shelters. When they arrived at the construction site’s shelters the remaining SNC Lavlin workers and executives wouldn’t let them in because my dad’s company “CE Lumis” was taking over and the site and the contract. This was a SNC Lavlin shelter only and that, “they would never get the keys for it”, even after they (SNC Lavlin employees) had all left the country. “Go build your own”, they were told. My dad, a child of WW2 (15 when the war ended) had plenty of experience crouching and hiding from pretend Nazi bombers during blackouts in Toronto, knew enough that, they had to get to some armoured space fast. So he and several dozen CE Lumis employees found 2 of those really big steel dump trucks that are used at big sites, not the little wimpy ones you see at most commercial construction sites but 2 really enormous machines and drove them away from the site as fast as possible, until they heard expolsions. They then either hid under or inside the covered armored dump box of both vehicles. Well the Israeli air force was a lot better than the Iranian one, because the site was hammered hard. My dad’s ears were ringing for a week. The site was trashed but they had all made it out alive.

    Now my dad had a bad temper and for the most part he kept it under tight control but, he lost it after this. The CE Lumis employees all drove back to the site, after collecting themselves of course, and headed for the SNC Lavlin employees. My dad personally smashed one senior SNC Lavlin VP in the head with a piece of steal causing a pretty nasty head wound and broke the jaw of another SNC Lavlin Engineern with a piece of pipe. Iraqi soldiers had to break up the fight between the 2 groups. My dad had a temper but a AK-47 pointed at you has a pretty good temper of its own. What saved my dad and his collegues was that the idiots at SNC Lavlin had left the Iraqi soldiers outside during the attack as well and they were plenty pissed off. According to the soldiers the injuries suffered by SNC Lavlin’s and a few CE Lumis’s employees were related to the attack and not a fight. So you can see, I have a pretty good idea just how corrupt and how bad behaved SNC Lavlin and their employees can be!

    Zwei replies: We do not know the real story about the Canada Line because the provincial government refuses to release info under the freedom of information because of the ‘private’ consortium operating the mini, mini-metro. In the early 2000’s, Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight told me the budget for the Canada Line was no more than $1.3 billion for the 19km line. I protested no way with over half the line being in a bored tunnel. At the time I estimated the cost would be no less than $2.5 billion.

    As the Canada Line was being built, rumours had the cost soaring past $2 billion, with the end cost approaching $3 billion the decision was made to redo the contract to reduce the scope of the project by:

    1) Switching to cut-and-cover construction along Cambie St.
    2) Reduce the size of stations.
    3) Not pay any form of compensation to Cambie St. merchants even though they were promised that no cut-and-cover construction would be used.
    4) Single track stubs at YVR and Richmond.
    5) Reduce the number of stations.
    6) Import foreign workers for the subway construction.
    7) Change the P-3 contract to relieve the operating consortium of any risk with the operation.

    The Susan Heyes Lawsuit uncovered information that the real cost of the Canada Line was over $2.7 billion, but today the cost is put anywhere between $2.2 to $2.5 billion.

  7. Alex says:

    I am sorry, as much as I agree in general that Light rail is a great solution, and that SkyTrain system sucks and is extremely poor…. Canada Line is a HUGE SUCCESS, no matter how you look at it! They actually should have made the platforms much bigger to accommodate more people and that’s the ONLY issue with Canada Line, it’s the best translink has ever done, and a completely different experience vs. SkyTrain.

    Your biased arguments actually make you less dependable as an honest source of information, there’s way too much hyperbole around here… Light Rail CANNOT be the answer for all situations, roads, traffic, cities, etc… it’s not a panacea and if you agree with that, then you’d be more credible. Just my 2 cents…

    Zwei replies: The Canada Line should be renamed the flim-flam line because much of it it is pure flim-flam. What the Canada Line is, in reality is a heavy rail railway, either operating on a elevated structure or in a subway. Because the costs of the Canada Line were soaring out of control, the scope of the project was greatly reduced. With only 40m to 5om long station platforms, the Canada Line can only accommodate 2 car trains, this severely limits capacity. Contrary to the TransLink speak, the two car trains have a practical capacity of only 210 people per train.

    At this point I was somewhat educated by an American transit expert that in the USA they use a calculation of practical capacity which includes people sitting, people standing, people exiting and people entering, which works out to about 5 persons per metre length of car.

    During peak period, TransLink is forcing more bus riders onto the Canada line than its maximum capacity, therefore the overcrowding gives the appearance of being successful.

    What has happened is that a growing population in Richmond uses the Canada line and the 110,000 U-Passes giving cheap transit to post educational students, also gives the appearance of the metro being successful.

    The reality is, cheap tickets have forced full-fare customers off the Canada Line, so much so that TransLink now runs a UBC express bus from Bridgeport to UBC, because it is cheaper to take cheap fare customers to UBC, leaving room for a dwindling number of full fare customers.

    TransLink claims high ridership on the Canada Line, but from personal observation, off peak ridership is not strong and I doubt the the metro is carrying the number of passengers that TransLink claims. further to that, bus service from South Delta to Bridgeport has reverted to a pre Canada line schedule as the anticipated increase in ridership did not materialize and a $2 million park and ride lot in South Surrey remains empty as, again, anticipated ridership did not materialize. The Canada Line did not take the promised 200,000 car journeys off the road each day, not has it attracted the car driver to transit.

    As a chap from Siemens told me, “The Canada Line is a one off, far too expensive to build and operate, it like SkyTrain, makes Vancouver a curiosity for transit planners elsewhere, who look at Vancouver as a primer on how not to do transit. In the transit world, if someone copies your system is deemed a success and if no one copies you, you better start figuring out why. No one copies Vancouver, nor have done so for over 30 years.”

  8. Haveacow says:

    I am curious, what do you think is the main cause of the difference in the two prices you quoted besides, not wanting to admit that they screwed up and blew the budget/project completely?

    Zwei replies; To be truthful, I think the Gordon Campbell government used the price for a larger (Steveston to downtown Vancouver) LRT line and transposed it for SkyTrain. Then when the Campbell government wanted a P-3, they quickly found out about the realities of a proprietary transit system, no one wanted to play, they ran a sham bidding process, with a wink, wink, build us an automated metro and we will pay the difference.

    The judge overseeing the Heyes lawsuit, called the bidding process a “charade”.

    When construction started, it was soon found out that TransLink’s (read BC government) estimates were the “stuff of fairy tales and pixie dust” and until we can get all the documents from the P-3 FOI (read never) from the government, the taxpayer will not know the real cost.

  9. eric chris says:

    @ Haveacow, interesting story, thanks for sharing. It looks like Alex (Rico?) disagrees.

    Money and effort sunk into TransLink spending billions of dollars on expensive subways with nothing to show in return isn’t much different from the losing billions of dollars and effort on costly and futile wars such as the American war in Vietnam or Iraq.

    No one listened to Kellen during the war in Vietnam and no one is listening now about the inefficacy of transit by TransLink. Listening is a gift which few people seem to have when it comes to transit by TransLink in Metro Vancouver. It’s business as usual for TransLink: more party time, more beak wetting, more bee lines and more s-train lines, but you know what? TransLink isn’t doing what it says, and transit by TransLink hasn’t reduced road congestion and air pollution, one bit. We’d be at the same place today if TransLink had never existed.

    “Transit incongruity”
    Ian Jarvis and fellow bunglers at TransLink figure that they’ve hatched the perfect scam around billion dollar contracts to a crooked engineering firm (SNC Lavalin) paying bribes to win contracts for elevated transit lines and subways. Well, funding to TransLink is predicated upon the expensive elevated train lines and subways reducing road congestion and air pollution more than if the money weren’t being spent on the expensive elevated train lines and subways.

    Transit by TransLink doesn’t and can’t ever reduce road congestion. There is an incongruity in the notion that freeing up road space by putting drivers onto transit reduces road congestion. When extra road space appears it is used by other latent drivers who are just itching to drive and seize the opportunity to drive on roads freed up by drivers taking transit. So, in the end you just have expensive elevated transit lines and subways along with no change in road congestion or even more road congestion due to money diverted from bridges and road improvements to elevated transit lines and subways, here. Transit by TransLink has only increased transit costs and income taxes:

    It is just the case now of overpaid swindlers at TransLink trying to protect their jobs with lies and crap in the newspapers to hide the truth that TransLink is a sham. That’s the reality.

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