TransLink’s BRT – What Is The Real Story?

BRT – A View From a Canadian Transit Expert – A Repost from 2015

Brisbane BRT bus jam.

Today’s post is a re post from 2015  and 2023, is an an interesting piece offered by Mr. Haveacow, a transit specialist from Ottawa who has good knowledge of Canadian public transit. He wishes to be anonymous because of Canada’s arcane attitude for those who dare to deal in facts and he wishes not to be blacklisted, which is common practice in Canada.

TransLink is telling all who will listen about the virtues of BRT (mainly it is cheaper than light rail), yet many issues arise from Bus Rapid Transit.

True, BRT is only a little cheaper to install than light rail but does have higher operating costs; as well, BRT does not have the advantages of scalability, that a modern tram has, such as operating two or three car sets.

The big, big problem I see with TransLink’s BRT is that it is designed to feed SkyTrain, which again, maybe not such a good idea because the the 1980’s SkyTrain proprietary light metro system is ill equipped to deal with businesses and commuter flows relocating from very expensive Vancouver to cheaper areas in the Fraser Valley.

Public transit is an “apple pie and motherhood issue”, with many people failing to understand that by throwing money at Transit projects, sometimes does not improve transit service, but instead does the opposite.


Guided Bus-ways have a big issue, capacity. The reason you have a guided bus-way is that, surface vehicles like buses can sway side to side quite a bit on a roadway. One of the reasons most Bus-way lanes are a minimum of 4 metres wide is to allow for that side to side sway that occurs naturally at higher speeds when we drive. Guided Bus-ways are fixed to their ‘track’ or Concrete Guideway or fixed using a laser/optical system that electronically locks them into a right of way so no side to side sway occurs at all. Optical systems also have an additional issue in that they are highly weather dependent and are very costly to service. The advantage for the guided bus-ways is that, your right of way can be considerably less wide much like a rail line right of way. Unless you design a complex concrete guideway bypass at Bus-way stations or an electronic one using optical guided equipment, the buses are forever trapped behind the buses in front of them. This severely limits system capacity.

The real problem common with BRT is the operating cost of carrying the large amount of passengers, only using buses, once the passenger levels become very high. That level is different for every city and is dependent on the exact nature and characteristics of the right of way.

The picture Zwei used of the Brisbane Busway is another common occurrence on successful Bus-ways, bus back ups at choke points or stations.

The company MMM Consulting (nee McCormik Rankin Consulting) was the main designer and developer of both Ottawa’s Transit-way System and its child, the Brisbane Bus-way Network, the subject of the article’s main picture.

The main differences between the two are the fact that Ottawa’s Transit-way System was designed and mostly built in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s whereas, Brisbane’s was designed and built in the 90’s, and 20o0’s. The other major difference is that unlike Ottawa, Brisbane was able to build a fully segregated right of way through its downtown which comprised below grade tunnels and above grade viaducts and a physically segregated surface route. Ottawa has painted bus lanes on a couplet of downtown one-way streets with signal modification which allow Transit-way (east-west traffic) almost the legal limit of signal priority over the north-south traffic at intersections.

The difference between the two, using roughly the same number of vehicles about 185-200 buses/hour/direction at peak the Ottawa Transit-way can move 10500 people/hour/ direction and Brisbane about 14,000p/h/d.

Both however, have the same issue, massive back ups of buses primarily at downtown or major bus-way stations because the size and handling capacity of the actual stations has been grossly under built. The issue is that, to handle these kind of crowds and move them with 12 and 18 metre single articulated buses (23 metre long, double articulated and 30 metre long triple articulated buses are not street legal in Canada or Australia and even in the USA for that matter) you must construct monster sized, at the least full metro sized or larger bus station platforms that are or exceed 150 metres in length. The stations also have to be 4 lanes wide, 4 metres per lane, not including station platform width. Most downtown businesses would not want to be located near one of these stations for obvious reasons. One of Brisbane’s bus-way stations was enlarged to this standard, the bus back up picture Zwei used for this article is the que of buses entering that station.

The other main issue is the operational cost of having to use that many bus drivers and buses. Buses in general have far too little capacity for these high traffic BRT operations.

In China and Latin America drivers cost much less as a proportion of the total operating cost of each bus 50-60% in Latin America and 30-45% in China. In the northern 2/3 North America, Western and Central Europe, Australia/New Zealand, Japan Taiwan, basically most of the so called developed world, the cost of the bus driver is 70-80% of the total cost of operating the bus.

Using 185-200 buses/hour/direction to move people becomes a great financial drain on the operating bus system as a whole and makes it almost impossible to get extra buses to other non bus-way routes that need them. In Ottawa, several suburban routes that have needed many more buses to handle their high passenger levels can’t get them and haven’t been able to for more than a decade because so many buses are tied up on the Transit way, either on it or at the stations during peak hours. There are barely enough extra buses left to handle individual bus breakdowns let alone provide extra service on other routes. Buying more buses was not an answer because Ottawa’s bus fleet was already near 1100 vehicles this is a pretty big fleet for a city and area of at most, 1.2 million people. This would put the operational budget into a serious deficit. We already had the most expensive per taxpayer transit portion on our tax bills of all Ontario municipalities it really does not need to go higher. The bus options had run out of time. Ottawa’s answer was LRT. Brisbane continues to maintain their heavily used portions of busways. Ottawa is building more Transit ways but in suburban areas with much lighter passenger traffic levels.

The Transit-way was designed to be converted to rail however, the cost to convert the first part would be an eye popping $2.1 Billion. The reason was no one ever figured how much extra work there would be like, having to build parallel temporary bus rights of way so that, all those buses didn’t totally clog city streets during conversion of the Transit-way to rail and the fact that, they waited till much the original Transit-way infrastructure was in desperate need of replacement due to age. Some Transitway right of way also was only temporary and not rail friendly. These temporary rights of way lasted for over 30 years and now have to be either totally rebuilt and or abandoned at high cost. The kicker about the high operational cost of servicing bus-ways at high passenger demands was that, even with Ottawa being forced to build a 2.5 km tunnel, with 3 very large underground stations at a cost of $715 Million under downtown for the LRT line (surface operation would have simply exchanged heavy surface bus traffic and passenger crowds for heavy surface LRV traffic and passenger crowds) operationally, Ottawa was going to save a minimum of $60 million a year, switching to LRT technology.

The take away from this is that, building “Real BRT” can be a very good way of building up ridership and up to a certain point, a less costly way, compared to a lot of rail systems, to move people in a North American low density environment.

The problem now even in Canada is that, politicians are building express bus systems like B Lines, Brampton’s Zum (pronounced zoom) and many comparable systems in the US and calling it BRT, which it really is not. Those politicians love doing it because this false BRT is much cheaper to build and operate than real BRT and they still get a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The problem is that, the amount you spend with these systems generally is comparable to the systems effectiveness in moving passengers. VIVA, (York Region Transit) for example, started with the faux BRT or what I like to call “BRT” but, had definite designs and plans to build physically separate BRT rights of way that can be converted to a high capacity LRT system in the future and has carried through on it. York Region just didn’t have the passenger count to build LRT at the beginning. But they have designed in the ability to easily convert the BRT system to LRT technology when needed. Brampton (which is part of Peel Region) just to the west of York Region has no definite plan or design to convert its Zum system to a real BRT standard now or in the future. However, the Zum System has built up Brampton’s transit ridership. I am not saying that, these “BRT” systems aren’t useful but they are not real BRT and should be labeled as that because they can confuse people into not building anything in places that need improved transit but cana’t afford to build or operate LRT and or support LRT with enough passengers. As a planner it is quite common to hear comments like this at public meetings, “I saw BRT in Brampton and it gets stuck in regular traffic all the time. BRT sucks!” Then you have to explain what real BRT is and is not, by then most people fall asleep or stop listening.

Then you get into a half technical half ethical problem with BRT and or any other transit operating technology for that matter. How do you study the differences between operating technology so that you are being fair as well as being accurate in the final choice of technology? The best recent example of what not to do is right here locally in Vancouver, South of the Fraser River, to be exact.

Trying to convince people in Surrey that, their LRT plan is useful, TransLink used a SkyTrain option as well as a surface BRT option to compare to LRT capability, pointing out the superiority of LRT in this case. The SkyTrain option had many problems cost and general usefulness being the main ones. The BRT example they used is actually an LRT line using buses operating on a layout and design which is not even close to what a real BRT line in a on-street environment would or should be using. Its not even close to the best Canadian practices, let alone best practices used in the rest of the world, with BRT systems in a on-street environment. Did the staff doing this know enough to do this purposely or were they ignorant of the differences of what good BRT design is or is not.

Their example of LRT also displays a a serious lack of knowledge about best surface LRT operating practices in the US and Canada.

More importantly it shows to me, how committed or in this case not committed, TransLink staff really are to studying LRT technology at all. In fact, I don’t blame the people who supported SkyTrain technology for this area, like Daryl from SkyTrain for Surrey, he had a point, on the surface this study definitely made it look like that to me that the SkyTrain Light Metro was the superior technology choice. The difference as a professional is that, I know the real differences in all the technologies that were studied. I also have no belief that, I am the be all and end all of studying these things in the world and would also ask for much help in studying these technology choices from other friends and companies I am familiar with, whom are experts at it. To me a whole new study should be done using the actual best practices for all technologies not just the preferred LRT technology, you should seriously question major aspects and assumptions that were made in this particular TransLink study.

The 50 year costs of bus, BRT and LRT from Ontario's MetroLinx Study comparing 50 year costs of various transit modes.

The 50 year costs of bus, BRT and LRT from Ontario’s MetroLinx Study comparing 50 year costs of various transit modes.


15 Responses to “TransLink’s BRT – What Is The Real Story?”
  1. Major Hoople says:

    BRT or O-Bahn has not proven as successful as one would think on our side of the pond. to compete against the tram, buses must be guided, yet when all was done, O-Bahn proved unspectacular in operation., as customers just related O-Bahn as just a bus, with a less bumpy ride.

    The O-Bahn in Adelaide has also underwhelmed and like your SkyTrain, politicians will not admit that the service is not as successful as one would hope.

    In Essen, the O-Bahn system is being slowly phased out as it was not as popular as one would hope. What should have been a successful application of BRT has ended in disappointment.

    In your part of the world, except for Ottawa, Los Angeles and a few other cities, BRT is really an Express Bus service as politicians like the cheapness of the transit, yet they can boast of it as rapid transit.

    The lesson to be learned is that id BRT is to be successful, it must be guided and/or operate on a strictly dedicated right of way, if not, the public will consider it just as a bus.

  2. legoman0320 says:

    Translink higher order bus service.

    B- Line Service 1996
    Extended green lights
    Skip stop
    Peak hour Bus lane
    Articulated bus

    Rapid bus service 2020
    Q Jump
    Partial Bus lines
    Bus Bump outs
    All door boarding
    New Articulated buses

    BRT Full/Real 2028
    Simi enclosed stop
    Offboard payment
    All door boarding
    Priority In intersections
    Separate right away or Bus Lanes along the holder route.
    Biarticulated buses or Articulated buses

    Zwei replies: Regurgitating TransLink’s bumf again shows that you haven’t a clue. By the way bi articulated buses need a fully segregated R-o-W to operate in Canada.

  3. Haveacow says:

    Unless there is a physically segregated right of way for the buses, basically an actual Busway or Transitway its not really BRT, just BRT Lite.

    The physically segregated right of way is the primary driver for a BRT network’s capacity.
    Also, if more than 1/4 of the right of way is painted bus lanes its not true BRT. Painted bus lanes aren’t as useful unless, there is very light traffic on the existing road. Its very difficult, dammed near impossible actually, to get enough police presence to make sure private vehicles stay out of the painted bus lanes, especially at peak periods..

    Anything else other than a physically segregated busway, means the operation is considered BRT Lite, under the BRT Standards section of the Institute of Transport Development Policy’s BRT physical description. This is the international group that promotes BRT throughout the world. Their standards are the primary judge of what is or isn’t BRT. Many of the design characteristics @Legoman 0320 have very little effect on the operational capability of a BRT line, its really the right of way and its degree of traffic free operations that determines if the line will be successful.

    The battle between BRT and BRT Lite and the perverse love many politicians have of anything but real BRT, mainly over cost issues is the frustrating reality most planners face, when promoting a new rapid transit system to the public.

    That being said, unfortunately, some of their other standards would virtually wipe out any chance politically of BRT being built in the first world or especially, the North American context, due to operational complexity, labor costs and excessive capital cost.

  4. legoman0320 says:

    Translink has a legal complication to the province and the lower mainland on Helping region grow population and economic development. Translink it’s committed to BRT and sticking to their guns on SkyTrain for increasing capacity long-term.

    Only 2 rapid services that won’t be upgraded to the BRT standards are 99-B And Ambleside to Downtown Vancouver over the Lion Gate Bridge. Minimize the amount of bunching that occurs on rapid bus and b-line services.
    BRT Programming is supposed to be an intimidatory step to SkyTrain. Until Funding is available or ridership is more than the capacity. Like 99-B.

    Mr zwei
    Major point is, the BRT right away was all right the Problem was the downtown streets couldn’t handle the bus capacity off of the Busway. And then the bus operational cost was greater than rapid transit option in operations cost. New LRT Automatic Train control tight frequencies, for the LRV until hits its ultimate capacity. Vancouver is not going to extreme level bus services on bus lane.

    LRT Only looked at it as a short-term Transit solution, it will look fantastic and adequate for the capacity. Or No growth along the corridor. Rail corridor can be will maintain past a 100 years. If Plan for new technology or upgrades and expansions like SkyTrain or You will have a problem like Toronto line 1 at capacity and needing a relief Line.

    LRT mainly exclusively in low to medium density from most of the route.
    O train in Ottawa Ultimate capacity 21,500 pphpd People per 6 square meter. Only a practical capacity 15,000 People per 4 square meter. Once you go over that number, you start losing choice riders.

    Zwei replies: I would not put great stock in TransLink’s news releases. TransLink is a creature of the provincial government and in the end they do as the provincial government tells them to do. Everything else is window dressing.

    I do not know who is advising you but the comment, “LRT Only looked at it as a short-term Transit solution”, as it is just outrageous. Funny no one else uses SkyTrain and over 500 cities use LRT in one form or another. Logic, logic please.

  5. Haveacow says:

    Ottaw O train Confederation Line has a maximum capacity of 26,000 p/ h/d. The current system has a current max. frequency of 15 trains per hour at peak. It can operate much higher than The system was designed to have multiple future proof capacity upgrades that were cheap to install.

    1. Surface station platforms that are easily and cheaply expandable in length from 90 m to 120 m. Tunnel stations are already 120 m long.

    2. The Alstom Citadis LRV’s are modular and can easily be upgraded by adding a 5th section on each 4 section LRV, increasing the length for each car from 48 m to 59 m. The work can be done in Ottawa’s existing Belfast Yard. That means each 2 car train which is currently 96 m long goes to 118 m long. Currently we run 2 car trains during the week and single car trains on weekends, excluding major festival weekends like February’s Winterlude. Each 2 car train can hold 600 passengers (300 per car). With the addition of the 5th section each car hold 75 more passengers or 750 passengers total on each 2 car train.

    3. Ottawa’s electric LRV’s are powered at 1500 V, instead of the standard 750 V, this allows each isolated electrical track section to run 75% more trains. The trains also use a flywheel design which generates electric current while the LRV’s are in motion, returning the equivalent of 15%-20% of the voltage back through the OTC, back into each of the online electrical transformers.

    4. Each electrically isolated track section is represented by a separate electrical transformer. Each transformer has an upgrade port that allows for a virtual transformer upgrade, essentially increasing the efficiency of the main transformer in its ability to manage resources thus an upgrade of 35% in electrical capacity, without having to change a single cable or alter any track configurations.

    This is a big deal because Skytrain’s electrical system is currently maxed out and its efficiency is dropping with age (its almost 40 years old and wasn’t designed to last longer than that) and will require an enormous upgrade to handle more than 17500 p/h/d, the new signaling system can handle (the 17500 number assumes all trains are the new 83m long Mk.5 Skytrains 5 section trains) . This electical upgrade requires all cabling (and contectors) to be replaced, budgeted at $750 million for just the Expo Line. Most of the power management hardware needs to be upgraded (no official estimates yet but my experience with Bombardier tells me anywhere from $300 -$500 million. More powerful or just more new transformers are needed. This means in many places a complete rewiring of the system as well as new spots on the physical track to be done. This is an 11 month long job if you just shutdown the whole line ,longer if you plan to keep running and only close down sections of it. The electrical upgrade requires a huge track replacement of all main line and yard turnouts (track switches) this upgrade will allow a higher Skytrain speed, during mainline operations as well

  6. zweisystem says:

    Thank you for this information. Our media does not do positive news reports of light rail operations elsewhere.

    We still have bureaucrats advising politicians about “well the light rail doesn’t work in Ottawa”, and more.

    My last Email (the SkyTrain Christmas Carol, which were two versions) certainly cause a lot of eyes to roll. According to TransLink in conversation with a local councillor, the LRT Trillium Line has proven disappointing in operation and that Ottawa was now planning for Skytrain.

    I told him the Trillium Line was actually a diesel powered regional railway line using Stadeler DMU’s like what RFTV is proposing for the Marpole to Chilliwack project. “Check Wikipedia” I told him and due to its success will be expanded.

    This demonstrates the veracity of TransLink!

  7. Haveacow says:

    The interesting thing about my 4 points about Ottawa’s Confederation Line is that the technology isn’t that special. Other than Ottawa’s odd voltage choice, regenerative wheelsets, virtual transformer technology and modular Light Rail Vehicles that allow relatively, easy-to-do physical upgrades aren’t new or really that unique. Many LRV manufacturers offer similar capabilities and there are many more neat features Ottawa could have chosen but didn’t. Stations platforms that are easily expandable are just an example of a good future-proofing design element. Hardly Earth shattering information. It sounds really great because the former Bombardier MOVIA, technology that the Skytrain uses, doesn’t and in many cases, can’t offer these technology features or upgrades, due to technical reasons.

    Back to the original point of the article and a comment that @Legoman0320 made. Yes, BRT is temporary step before upgrading to Skytrain. Many or nearly all of the planned BRT rights of way that Translink proposed, I guarantee you, are going to be temporarily around for 40 years or so, before any of them get converted to Skytrain. Temporary yes, but a short term situation, KEEP DREAMING IN TECHNICOLOR MAN!

    Although many cities have installed busways with the idea that it can later be converted to rail, Ottawa was the first city to convert any of its successful bus Transitway lines to rail rapid transit lines. Even though it was first designed to do that, way back in the mid 1970’s planning process of the original Transitway concept (it wasn’t refered to as BRT back then but as a private bus-only road).

    Actually doing it, was harder than originally believed. Unless you hardwire a realistic, rock-solid conversion plan and budget into every Busway you build, that in less than X number of years, you 100% for sure, plan to convert it to rail technology, it will still be lot more difficult than you believe. Especially if those Busways are very successful. I can give you many reasons why this is.

  8. legoman0320 says:

    Major point is, the BRT right away was all right the problem was the downtown streets couldn’t handle the bus capacity off of the Busway. And then the bus operational cost was greater than rapid transit option in operations cost. New LRT Automatic Train control tight frequencies, for the LRV until hits its ultimate capacity. Vancouver is not going to extreme level bus services on bus lane.

    Skytrain projects

    1. Ongoing rail replacement program.
    Completed sections Waterfront to Nanlimo station and New West to Scott road station.

    2. SkyTrain noise Medication
    Study has been completed RFP Friction Modifier. A mix of rail dampers, noise barriers, An acoustic rail grinding application And Retiring the MK 1

    3. Preventative maintenance program Slowly ramping up.

    4. Brentwood tower center station is giving upgrades. But Burrard station priced dispute with contractors.

    5. The ongoing replacement and maintenance of elevating devices.
    Escalators and elevators of the SkyTrain and West Coast Express.

    6. Infrastructure upgrade projects.
    A. MK 5 Prepared stations. Moving of staff Gates on Platform and Walkways across the driveway. Completed stations Waterfront, 22nd street, Edmonton, Royal Oak and GATEWAY station.

    B. Operational control center
    New Automated Train systems max 80 Second frequency and Headways of every 30 seconds. Additional computers for the extensions and new Line.

    C. Communication system
    With replacements or upgrades to data transmission lines. Replacing the fiber optic. Replacing the Radio System.

    D. Propulsion power upgrades
    Phase one is completed.
    Phase 2 is underway.
    BC hydro will be Installing a new transformer at Port moody station.
    Upgrading or/and replacing Transformers 3 Vancouver, 2 Burnaby, 1 Surrey, 1 Coquitlam and 1 Port moody Estimated cost CAN $600,000 – $800,000 Surprisingly, not in the Millions. And no interference to operations.

    Replaced original transformers, added new ones and replace the fiber Line between 2009 – 2012

    7. OMC 4 Already have broken grad. And The flyover to connect the Main line to the yard is underweight in February 25.

    Mr haveacow

    26,000 pphpd People per 6 square Meter.
    By your own matrix. That’s an unrealistic capacity number. And we don’t want to treat people like numbers. Right?

    1. Forward thinking

    2. Only problem with Citadis LRV door can modified easily.

    3. Ontario power can cheaply, install and replace transformers. Increase in frequency means more train attendant/driver of Semi-automatic train control.

    4. More segmented electrical circuiting common with new Rapid Transit Projects.

    SkyTrains of electrical circuit same amount of electric separation on the right away. But Third, and 4 rail power capacity for the new trains and more frequent service.

    Translink signaling upgrade numbers in 2019 before the new order of MK 5. Translink calculates these numbers by the lowest denominator of SkyTrain mark series.
    This means the MK 1 68 x 6 for Train set with 6 cars 408 people capacity X frequency 108 sec or 37 trains per hour = 15,096 pphpd people per 1.8 square meter.

    New Signal improvements
    MK 1 68 x 6 = Train Capacity 408 x Frequency 80 sec = 43 Trains per hour = 17,544 pphpd. People per 1.8 Square meter

    Capacity of the new MK 5
    Mk 5 Train capacity 668 x Frequency 80 sec = 43 Trains per hour = 28,724 pphpd People per 2 square meter, if exclusively run the MK 5 Expo line. Contacted Thales talk got numbers, Told me they got their numbers from Translink. New SelTrac up running in 2026 just in time for the extension of M line. Transport Canada and Thales + BCRTC set operating parameters meaning BCRTC in control how many people per direction per hour SkyTrain system on operating certificate.

    Mr zwei

    If the P3 contractor actually maintains track and vehicles to manufacturer specifications, they wouldn’t look so bad in the press.

    Trilliun line is quite unique in the Canadian comb’s text. Because it’s the only one of its operation in Canada. Single tracking with passing lips and Avoiding freight train service at night.

    BCRTC Figures and capacity are not comparable to the manufacturers People per 6 square meter vs People per 1.8 or 2 square meter. Comparative numbers MK 5 1,207 x 43 Trains per hour = 51,901 pphpd People per 6 square Meter. And SkyTrain can still expand their platforms to a 130 Meters. With a train Length 135 Meters 1080 Capacity x 43 Trains per hour = 46,440 pphpd People per 2 square meter or max capacity 1,931 x 43 Trains per hour = 83,033 pphpd People per 6 square meter. Can be the highest capacity metro in the world if it wants to be!!!

  9. zweisystem says:

    I find it fascinating how Translink’s trolls go to distort facts.

    Your last paragraph is laughable, fact is the Expo Line was so designed to accept 8 car trains, thus the platforms could be extended by another 20 metres to 100 m etres, other than that major structural alternations must be made. maximum capacity was to be 30,000 pphpd, with 8 car trains with 60 second headway’s, your statement; (SkyTrain)Can be the highest capacity metro in the world if it wants to be!!!” is just plain ignorant. You forget to cater to traffic flows of in excess of 20,000 pphpd would mean major and expensive station reconstruction to every stations on the Expo and millennium Lines.

    Tell you something about stations. London’s Victoria line is considered the first automatic metro in the world and was signaled for 90 second headway’s, problem was, passenger could not leave the station fast enough so in the peak hours, service was delayed due to passenger back-ups. Today max capacity is advertised at 3 minute headway’s because the cost to reconfigure the stations to handle the traffic flows at 60 second headway’s was exorbitant.

    The last cost to reconfigure the Canada line stations to handle 15,000 pphpd (4 car trains) is put at $100 mil. to $200 mil. per station! And that was a pre covid estimate.

    To say you are full of it is an understatement.

  10. Major Hoople says:

    It is with constant amusement that we read your blog, with the outlandish statement made by those who wish more SkyTrain to be built. Any thought that your pygmy SkyTrain system can be the highest capacity metro in the world is, for a better word, delusional.

    Could it be America’s Mr. Trump is actually Legoman?

    From our experience, far too much emphasis is placed on capacity and not nearly enough on service. It is service that will attract your much coveted ridership, not capacity.

    On our side of the pond, we have great experience with subways, but subways come at a cost and that is service. Your Mr. Zwei understands this, because we keep telling it is service that will grow ridership; not subways, not capacity.

    Driverless operation is another sacred cow of transit operation in your part of the world, but driverless operation comes at a great cost and that is service. Driverless operation is expensive as the signalling apparatus needs constant maintenance and unless the driverless transit route has sufficient ridership to offset the cost, the monies needed comes from the rest of the transit system, which none of your transit routes have at this point in time.

    I will give you a hint, currently in at least six cities in our part of the world are experimenting with autonomous trams, in operation, in revenue service.

    We are not getting rid of our drivers but they will be on hand to deal with issues and fare protection.

    The autonomous tram will both bring faster service on-street and on dedicated routes and this improves service and revenue.

    Service or as Mr. Zwei states user-friendliness, not driverless operation or capacity will improve ridership, a lesson you do not seem to understand.

  11. Haveacow says:

    Oh Legoman0320 where do I start.

    Transport Canada, specifically the Railway Safety Directorate, that is what they use to be called anyway (pre 2016 cuts), the people you have to get the permission of for your rapid transit railway to change its 108 second frequency limit. They will only allow frequencies below 100 seconds when they could be shown your people can safely operate over an extended period below 108 seconds. There was great doubt simply because there is too little operating headway between trains at peak and people move tool slow entering and existing trains, especially at peak. You virtually guarantee trains having to slow way down to maintain there safety margin between trains.

    Translink was even told by Transport Canada the last time they got there frequency put to 108 seconds that anything lower would require greater amounts of spending on maintenance of the right of way and track work bases. Translink admitted they simply couldn’t afford what Transport Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Transportation wanted them to spend. Not so soon after you got your 108 second frequency, Translink had to cut service at night back to pay for operating at 108 seconds at peak during the day.

    You realise that when I mean a transformer, I’m not talking about some puny little BC Hydro residential or commercial power transformer and rectifier set up, right. I’M talking about a full railway TPSS (Traction Power Substation), they range between $5 million and $12 million each. They are lifted into place in a single piece, by a heavy multiple wheeled construction crane. They are about as long as a semi-trailer and about 1.5 times as wide. However sizes do vary by manufacturer. The new ones for Ottawa’s Stage 2 LRT are about $7 million each. The ones for the Skytrain are hidden at stations behind locked doors.

    The hydro people have nothing to do with these, although in Ontario, Hydro One and Ottawa Hydro generally do the final inspection, its the people who run your trains, the B.C. Rapid Transit Corporation (I can’t remember the full name) that deal with this has very little to do with your BC Hydro people.

  12. legoman0320 says:

    Mr Zwei

    SkyTrains Flight Plan 1985

    “It’s a system that can carry 10,000 people every hour in four-car trains running at 2 minute intervals. And, as we move into the future, SkyTrain has the potential to transport 30,000 people hourly in six-car trains, running as often as 60 seconds apart!
    But most of all, SkyTrain is people, People committed to making your trip safe, comfortable and hassle-free.”

    ‘84 People per SkyTrain car’
    That’s easier said than done. Carrying out the renovation work is “like changing the tires on a car going 100 kilometres an hour.” Since the trains run at a 90-second interval, “We can’t close the system for long. So we have skilfully worked with the operator to renew and refresh the key elements of the signalling by using a “cut-over strategy” of getting a new system ready to go, then in the middle of the night shuttling it into place, throwing a switch to reconnect the computers so in the morning it’s all set. And passengers don’t even realise it’s been changed.”
    Dave Beckley, Vice President, Customer Service for Thales.

    Signaling upgrade has been completed for the SkyTrain.
    2019 MK 1 20,664(MK1 Capacity 1985) or 17,550 Translink Capacity pphpd people per 3 square meter(P3[]M) frequency at 90 sec
    Reference table Capacity. A mix of different rolling stock in capacities hard to get a actual Daily capacity.
    MK 2 19,968 P3[]M or 23,400 P6[]M
    MK 3 20,748 P3[]M or 36,660 P6[]M
    New MK 5 26,208 P3[]M or 47,073 P6[]M
    Once the retirement of the MK1 and mk 2 move to the M line eventually then retired after 2030. Means EXPO line can exclusively MK5 and M line A mix of MK 3 and 5.

    Zwei replies: The 30,000 pphpd was based on 8 car trains of Mk.1 stock and what you post is just fantasy. With the now the 5 car sets, you are stuck with 17,500 pphpd and if you want to double it and run stets of two trains of 5 car stock, you must rebuild the stations with 180metre long platforms. You must add more and bigger elevators and you have to add a lot more escalators, entrances and exist. Basically you have to rebuild every station and those in the Dunsmuir Tunnel, you are looking at at least $200 million per station.

    So, where is the funding? what taxes you want to increase? Do you want $10 to $15 one way tickets?

    By the way, MK.2 and Mk. 3 cars are essentially the same, with the MK.3 having fewer seats, which means fewer people will want to take transit.

    By the way, 4 car trains operating a 120 second headway’s (30 trips per hour or a train every 2 minutes) would be able to handle around 9,000 pphpd and if everything is operating smoothly. One of the problems you do not deal with is station egress, how many passengers can clear the platforms every 2 minutes?

  13. Haveacow says:

    The point of the article being BRT, I find it interesting that no one is addressing the elephant in the room. I still think the Langley Extension is in doubt because of capital cost. This is why Translink is talking about BRT in the first place. There won’t be enough money to build both the Langley extension and the Millennium Line extension to U.B.C. That’s the problem with the entire Skytrain concept it’s far too expensive for what it can actually do.

    Zwei replies: Too right.

    Earlier this week I talked to a retired planner who still does the odd job and from what he has said and the lack of any honest reporting by the mainstream media, the average person does not have a clue about the current transit situation.

    I turned down the opportunity to make an address to transit forum next week because I would have shredded the the main points that were being pushed.

    This points to the basic question, before you can have more SkyTrain or BRT or free transit or battery buses, show me the money!

    Because any politician who increases taxes this pre election year stands a good chance of being defeated.

  14. I'mjustsay'n says:

    All bus routes should get some of the BRT treatment. Buses should all get priority at traffic lights via some sort of transponder system based on 5G or the coming 6G (EOT). Stop signs on bus routes should be replaced with flashing red/flashing green traffic lights that go solid for the priority of buses. Public transit needs to be more competitive with private transit as far as speed is concerned to increase efficiency and build ridership.

  15. legoman0320 says:

    SkyTrain 2/3 max frequency 60 sec
    Door 20-40 sec

    Annual cost One hourof service.
    1986 $26,268,000 / 308,500 Hour = $ 84.82 per Hour
    1997 $35,830,501 / 581,238 Hour = $ 61.64 per Hour
    2019 $129,699,200 /1,322,000 Hour = $ 104.73 per Hour

    Inflation to 2019
    1896=$ 173.20 Hour
    1997=$ 93.01 Hour
    2019=$ 104.73 Hour

    With the increase in frequency and service hours from the first full year of operation. Change 428.52%

    Annual cost of 1 km in service.
    1986 $26,268,000 / 12,884,900 km = $2.0309 1 km
    1997 $35,830,501 / 23,412,318 km = $1.5304 1 km
    2019 138,453,893 / 50,274,000 km = $2.7539 1 km
    Change 390.17 % from the first full year of operation to now 2019.

    Inflation to 2019
    1896=$ 4.15 km
    1997=$ 3.12 km
    2019=$ 2.7539 km

    More trains in service and Extensions It cost per kilometer at $2.7539 lowest yet.

    I don’t know if these are good numbers compared to LRT operations? SkyTrain 15,000 pphpd people per 4 square meter = LRT 15,000 pphpd people per 4 square meter

    Total Project Budget

    Expo Line Traction Power Equipment Replacement
    Design and install alternating current and direct current for 19 substations on the Expo Line substation traction power equipment. CAD$ 30,738,000

    Expo Line Surrey Power Rail Replacement
    Replacement of 8.6 km of power rail on the Expo Line from the east of Scott Road station to King George which has reached the end of service life CAD$19,718,000

    Running Rail Replacement 2023
    Replace running rail that has reached the end of service life. CAD$28,462,000

    SkyTrain Station Power Capacity – Phase Two
    To maintain a state of good repair and meet the growing demand for electricity at the Stadium and Renfrew SkyTrain
    stations. The project includes the design, procurement and installation of a new transformer, high voltage cabling, UPS and associated equipment. CAD$7,140,000

    Zwei replies: You do not really get it do you. This system has been one of the most studies rapid transit systems in the world and yet, for all your bumf, no one wants the damn thing.

    You are using Translink’s numbers, which have little or no veracity as they tend to pull numbers out of their hat. What you do not include is the subsidies TransLink gets from the various levels of government, as well refurbishment costs are also hidden in other budgets.

    the comment that SkyTrain’s extensions are said to be cheaper is pure laughable, but as a troll, which you are, trying desperately to convince others to think SkyTrain is better than sliced bread. The system has been on the market for 45 years, only seven such systems built, only 6 remain in operation and no sales for 19 years speaks volumes.

    The problem with the SkyTrain lobby is simple, “bullshit baffles brains”.

    P.S. There could be some very unsettling news about the SLS coming soon and if what I know does, it could be the end of any thought of extending skytrain anywhere.

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