Transportation Planning – A North American view

An interesting extract from a commentary comparing currentAi??North AmericanAi??practice with European

`In Vancouver, over a decade ago at the grand opening of the heritage streetcar project, a chap from Bombardier singled me out. What he said after a few niceties, astounded me. To paraphrase, he claimed that:
Vancouver’s SkyTrain greatly retarded sales of Bombardier built LRT in North America. “It was a two edged sword”, he claimed, because;
1) Bombardier Inc. dared not seem to make LRT a better bargain compared with Vancouver’s SkyTrain mini-metro and because of this
2) It was very difficult for Bombardier to counter claims about other manufacturers light rail products, lest they make unfavorable comparisons with SkyTrain.
Example: If SkyTrain mini metro is so good, why are you flogging light rail’

Enter the door to KinkiSharyo, who are designing cars with the U.S. market in mind and it is in their interests to keep streetcars and LRT separate.

All European trams can operate both as LRT or a streetcar,
but KinkiSharyo certainly doesn’t want to invest more money to provide a comparable (modular) product; it is in their financial interest to keep up the current charade. What KinkiSharyo is providing is dated cars, to
suit dated transit planning and the sad part is that the taxpayer is paying far more for what is largely a stale-dated product.

The real problem, of course, is that universities are not training transportation planners in the fine art of modern light rail and the current crop of “rubber on asphalt” lot in charge of transit planning, are using resources that are 20 to 30 years old or more. Imagine planning for a new airline, based on DC-8’s and DC -10’s, when everyone
else is using Boeing 777’s and Boeing 787’s or the Airbus equivalents.*

In an age when a transit authority can pick and choose the LRV it wants by choosing which modules to use to make a custom car design to suit its needs, many people on this side of the pond are incapable of carrying out this determination.


One Response to “Transportation Planning – A North American view”
  1. Evil Eye says:

    With the “Eye’s” experience, the observation is correct.

    To date I have had Vancouver City Engineers or Engineering staff tell me that:

    “LRT can’t operate on the Arbutus Corridor because it is the wrong track gage.”
    “LRT doesn’t have the capacity of a SkyTrain.”
    “No one builds with LRT anymore.”
    “LRT is an unproven transit mode.”
    “LRT is to big to operate on Broadway.”
    “European methods do not work in north America.”
    “The death rate with LRT is 10 times more than with SkyTrain.”
    “Broadway is too narrow for LRT.”
    “Everyone is building subways, no one builds surface transit anymore.”
    “LRT can’t climb 7% grades.”
    “LRT stations must be level.”
    “LRT is slow.”
    “Transit customers in Vancouver love to transfer, it gives them a chance to breathe fresh air.”
    “SkyTrain is cheaper to build than LRT, flaggers cost money.”
    “SkyTrain is cheaper to operate than LRT because it has no employees.”

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