“SkyTrain is terribly complicated and not really well designed“, Bob Abrams, a former official and then in 1983 a consultant to the Urban Mass Transportation Administration in the USA.
“Vancouver is adopting a noncommercial approach……I hope they have lots of money.”, Norman Thompson; CBE, FCA, ACMA, English transit consultant and builder of the worlds busiest subway.
“SkyTrain is enormously expensive thing for what it will do.” Edgar Horwood (deceased) a former professor of civil engineering and urban planning at the University of Washington.
SkyTrain is powered by Linear Induction Motors (like MAGLEV) and therefore unable to operate on none but it’s own rights-of-ways and is considered an unconventional railway or gadgetbahnen. Being a gadgetbahnen, it is fraught with very expensive problems, for the LIM’s must be exactly 1 cm above the reaction rail and constant maintenance must be preformed lowering the reaction rail. The reaction rail must be constantly adjusted to maintain the critical 1 cm air-gap because of the constant vehicle tire and rail ware. Being so close to the ground, the LIM’s are also vulnerable to dirt, moisture and certainly in the winter, snow.
It is because of the LIM”s ( the wrong type of LIM according to Professor Laithwaite who was the father of the modern LIM) that SkyTrain is maintenance intensive and being maintenance intensive means higher operating costs.
The SkyTrain lobby is ever eager to post ‘man of straw’ arguments based on emotion and not truth, to hide the failing of the proprietary metro. SkyTrain is faster; has more capacity; is safer, etc. is the clarion call for those in favour of the light metro, yet not one claim is true. The mainstream media, with a few exceptions, treat SkyTrain as a ‘mom and apple pie’ issue and claim all ‘rapid transit’ is good, no matter the cost. But, here lies SkyTrain’s Achilles heel – cost. The gadgetbahnen cost a lot more to build and operate than its competition, yet for the extra cost doesn’t have anything to show for it. The fact is, despite all the hype and hoopla, SkyTrain is just another very expensive metro, operating on a route that doesn’t have the ridership to sustain it and requiring very large subsidies to maintain it. Those who campaign for a SkyTrain subway to UBC live in a fantasy world, sadly for the BC taxpayer, the provincial government makes their fantasies come true!
TransLink, afraid to admit that they have wasted 30 years of planning for SkyTrain blunders on, like the French Bourbons of old, “remembering nothing and learning nothing.”
We are cursed with the SkyTrain gadgetbahnen, a very expensive, yesterdays transit system built to satisfy yesterday’s transit planning and with that curse is included the SkyTrain lobby, latter day Luddites, afraid to let go of the past and grasp the future.