How green is my rapid transit?


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By popular demand, another posting on ‘green’ or grassed light rail rights-of-ways.

Nicely manicured lawned R-O-W in Japan

Nicely manicured lawned R-O-W in Japan

Grassed light rail lines bring a ‘cooling’ green park-like atmosphere to city tram lines.

German lawned Stadtbahn (City railway) line

German lawned Stadtbahn (City railway) line

Lawned rights-of-ways are also used on heavier (fast) light-rail lines on suburban routes.

Lawned R-O-W on a central city tram route.

Lawned R-O-W on a central city tram route.

Even in dense city centres, a lawned tram line is ascetically appealing.

LRT - Green transit!

LRT - Green transit!

The appealing nature of lawned R-O-W, certainly ‘fits in’ everywhere and certainly far more pleasant than miles of ugly concrete viaducts and a lot cheaper than a subway.

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No contest, which picture shows the nicer rights-of-way?

Lawned light rail lines, LRT for the 21st century!


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8 Responses to “How green is my rapid transit?”

  1. Richard Says:

    The grass is better than gravel or concrete. A bit boring thought. The real problem is that the space it can’t be used for anything else. Here, on the Expo, Millennium and Canada Lines, the space beneath is put to good use as greenways for cyclists and pedestrians.

    On #3 Road and the Lougheed, it is hard to imagine there would have been space for bike lanes if surface LRT would have been chosen.

    Overhead viaducts are very useful for weather protection for people cycling and walking underneath the guideway. In fact, in Copenhagen, they are building a bicycle highway underneath the guideway of one of their new elevated rapid transit lines and they are making a big deal of the fact that the bikeway is covered.

    For the UBC Line, it would make sense to have the rapid transit underground and reserve the surface space for wider sidewalks, separated bike lanes and patios for cafes.

    Zweisystem replies: Your observations show how totally unrealistic you are. You treat subway construction as a nothing. Somebody has to pay and pay lots for subways. Vancouver has had the Metro region subsidizing SkyTrain and RAV metro and because planning was coordinated by Vancouver City Engineers and TransLink chaired by a Vancouver politician who wanted subways, with the result that urban transit planning has been totally unrealistic. It is pure folly and I’m afraid the RAV/Canada line will send us a very expensive lesson about building subways and metros on routes that do not have the ridership to sustain them.

    Subways have proven not to attract ridership, yet modern LRT or tram has proven over and over again that is has been successful in creating the all important modal shift from car to train. Sadly, the SkyTrain lobby suffer from ‘tunnel vision’ and live in a dreamworld of SkyTrain and metro. Why then has SkyTrain been rejected by transit planners around the world and is now sold as a sort of ‘gimmick’ gadgetbahnen? As stated in a previous post, if a subway is built under Broadway, watch for the Metro Region and TransLink splitting from those who have SkyTrain and those who do not. Then watch for $1000.00+ transit property assessments on the cities that have SkyTrain.

  2. Richard Says:

    Get your facts straight. TransLink was chaired by a Surrey politician, Mayor McCallum when the RAV process started and a Richmond politician, Mayor Brodie. When RAV was approved, the Minister of Transportation was Kevin Falcon, who is a Surrey MLA

    So Delta, Langley, North Shore, White Rock and Maple Ridge will separate from Metro Vancouver. Yeah right. Langley and Maple Ridge just got a new bridge which will require subsidies for years before tolls cover the expenses so they won’t be going anywhere. So it is down to Delta and the North Shore. That won’t make much of a difference. Enough fear mongering.

    For North America, LRT has only a fraction of the ridership that Metros have. You are confusing high percentage increases in ridership due to LRT with actually numbers of riders. I suspect the main reason why the percentage increases are large for LRT in North America is simply because the number of people using transit before LRT was so small.

    SkyTrain is attracting 30% more total passenger kilometres with 1.5 lines than Calgary’s system is with 3 lines and Calgary is the most successful LRT system in North America.

    SkyTrain has had recent systems in Asia while the company that has built the mini metro in Copenhagen is building 4 or 5 new systems in Europe.

    Zweisystem replies: Richard you are tiresome in your replies and even more tiresome how you misrepresent the truth, so typical of the SkyTrain lobby. You never answer the question I keep asking: “If SkyTrain is so successful, why have transit planners around the the world rejected it?”

    Planning for RAV started under Puil’s regime, when he rejected light rail. The premier, Gordon Campbell (former Vancouver mayor), Ken Dobell (former Vancouver city top bureaucrat) were the main architects of RAV; they were also supported by former premier and Vancouver mayor Mike Harcourt.

    You can’t compare New York’s long established subway system, which serves a population of 8.4 million (population of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, & Manitoba!) with a cities with new LRT systems, like Dallas, Portland, or even Calgary. What American planners have found is that with LRT, there is a definite modal shift from car to transit, in order of 20% to 40%. Let’s see when RAV opens, how much of a modal shift is there or, as I predict, a modal shift away from transit, to the car!

    Calgary’s LRT system is about as long as the Expo Line, carries many more passengers and is about 40% less to operate, those are the statistics that transit planners use.

    As for metro systems, Copenhagen’s new metro, which costs were so massive that they are now planning for LRT and in Asia, where cities with vast populations, justify the expense of a metro system. It is interesting to note that in Bangkok, their conventional metro system (called SkyTrain) has been poor in attracting new ridership, as the fares on the P-3 system are high and for many, taking pedicabs is more cost effective.

  3. Richard Says:

    Whenever someone brings up facts that are inconsistent with your beliefs, you always respond with, “If SkyTrain is so successful, why have transit planners around the the world rejected it?”. SkyTrain is obviously successful here. You always dismiss the inconvenient truth with the same old tired statement. I guess you are using the repeat it all the time method you derided in your recent post. Whatever the reasons why others don’t use SkyTrain does not change the fact that SkyTrain successful here. More successful than almost all North American LRT systems.

    The evidence from around North America strongly suggests that LRT is not as good at attracting high numbers of passengers. You keep mistaking large percentage increases for large numbers of passengers. What the large percentage increases in American cities likely reflect is the poor quality of transit service and low levels of transit use on the corridor before the LRT was introduced. Remember that these cities have transit mode shares much below that of Vancouver so it is not hard to generate high percentage increases.

    Anyway, if RAV proves successful, will you give it up?

    Zweisystem replies: Absolute rubbish, if LRT is not good in attracting ridership, why do transit planners continue building with the mode and the American and European public vote to build more?

    Is SkyTrain successful, or has BC Transit/TransLink been successful with their SkyTrain propaganda campaign? Ridership figures are guesstimates at best and TransLink has never offered any numbers for a modal shift. With 80% of SkyTrain’s ridership first taking a bus to the metro, telegraphs the message that bus riders are being forced onto the metro for the sheer purpose of inflating ridership numbers. How many of SkyTrain’s customers ride on discounted tickets and passes? Funny thing is that SkyTrain has been in operation for 25 years and no one has copied us, despite one of the largest ongoing advertising campaign for a proprietary light-metro system. That’s what you call real success?

    RAV, being a metro, needs ridership in the range of 300,000 to 400,000 passengers a day to be successful; 100,000 a day would be embarrassing on other metro systems, but not in Vancouver, where it seems low ridership is a hallmark of successful operation!

    Sadly, the SkyTrain lobby are latter day Luddites, spending hours on end trying to mindlessly reinvent the wheel.

    Again I ask the question, which you refuse to answer: “If SkyTrain is so successful, as you, claim, why has it been rejected by transit planners around the world?”
    Why are you afraid to answer?

  4. David Says:

    BC politicians measure their transit initiatives by the amount of money spent. Look we’re spending $14 billion on transit, we must be great.

    That’s utterly ridiculous. That’s like saying if I spend $4 million dollars to open a Wendy’s restaurant in Vancouver that only serves 200 people per day I’m more successful than someone who spent just $1 million on a Burger King in Calgary that serves 260 people per day.

    TransLink repeatedly voted against RAV until it became clear that saying “no” just meant having to come back next month and vote again. There was intense pressure applied to TransLink to support a project that cannot possibly live up to the hype.

    I predict that replacing the George Massey Tunnel with a bridge is suddenly going to rise to the top of the priority list. We’ll be told it’s for safety reasons, but in fact it will be demand for more vehicle lanes from right wing voters in south Delta, south Surrey and White Rock who refuse to take the bus and transfer to RAV.

    Zweisystem replies: An old transit adage states; “One can lose upwards of 70% of potential ridership per transfer.” It is not right-wing voters in South Delta and South Surrey not taking transit, rather potential transit customers being offered an inferior product. Why should I buy a product (transit) if I think I’m being offered second rate goods.

  5. David Says:

    The people who would never consider taking transit are the ones with the money and influence within the Liberal Party (and Social Credit before that). If they are inconvenienced by former transit riders who switch to driving then they’ll be the ones who get heard in Victoria. In order to make it look like they aren’t catering to SOVs (which of course they would be) the new bridge will have to be even wider and more expensive so HOV lanes can be added to the design instead of replacing general purpose lanes.

    There’s a restaurant I like at one of the marinas on Deas Slough. The last time I was there enjoying the view I was thinking that in the not too distant future the whole place would be in the shadow of an 8 lane cable stayed bridge. My wife told me we wouldn’t live that long, but unless something significant happens to change attitudes I expect to be driving over that bridge before I retire.

    Zweisystem replies: A 30 minute diesel light rail service from Whiterock & South Surrey to Vancouver could offer a hourly capacity of 1,500 pphpd (three car trains) and cost very little, except for a new Fraser River Rail Bridge, to implement and operate, compared to RAV. But our planners and politicians can’t see 3 minutes into the future and always plan for the past.

  6. jay Says:

    Your comment that a “30 minute diesel light rail service from White Rock & South Surrey to Vancouver” is a bit of a fantasy, even with a new Fraser River Rail Bridge. At what speed were you estimating this ‘service’? What capacity are your cars? 1500 pphpd?

    At what cost?

    Currently the buses leaving the WR/S.Surrey Park and Ride are full during the morning rush period, wouldn’t adding buses be a more cost effective and competitive service than a LRT system? And since Little Lord Falconroy, before leaving his Transportation Ministry throne, extended the HOV lane heading north along Hwy 99, would this reduce trip times for buses?

    (I find it interesting that for years bus transit passengers travelling along the 99 had to endure the bottlenecks of the tunnel and Oak St bridge but as soon as the RAV or Canada Line folks decided to dump south of the Fraser transit passengers onto the $2.4 billion line, Falconroy decided to improve the highway infrastructure to facilitate better bus service-but only to transfer them from a $80 an hour bus transit service to a very expensive train system. )

    For the capital investment of the Canada Line we could have had B-Line type services along all the regional arterial roads as well as community bus shuttle systems to bring passengers to the arterial routes as well as pay for a Fraser Valley tram from Surrey to at least Langley City.

    Has anyone given any thought to the real costs of the $1.4 billion Evergreen Line?

    Wouldn’t running another line into the already goofy Millenium/Expo Line combination reduce the number of trains from Surrey. Adding the Millenium Line to the Expo incurred at least an additional $125 million due to upgrades. Wouldn’t the addition of the Evergreen Line to this combination cause passenger congestion and delays unless the capacity to the already full Expo Line is increased?

    In order to double the capacity of the Expo Line how much money will be required?

    The stations will have to be lengthened to handle six car trains, additional storage track, upgrades to the control system, vehicle storage depot, and maintenance facilities at a cost of $2 billion. Another $1
    billion is needed for acquisition of a fleet of new rail cars to make up the
    six car trains for the increased traffic.

    How will TransLink finance the $3 billion Evpo Line upgrade project?

    Are we being hoodwinked again? Hook Line and Sinker!

    Delays and overcrowding appears to the desired outcome only to ‘force’ Translink to do something…voila…expanding the Expo Line capacity…

    The $122 vehicle levy being proposed in the future will hardly pay for the cost the Evergreen Line let alone even more extravagant rail spending by the Bombardier/SNC Lavalin controlled Translink.

  7. David Says:

    DLRT isn’t extravagant rail spending. It’s economical and very passenger friendly. People who otherwise never ride the bus will take a train to/from work.

    Even though rail vehicles cost much more than buses they last longer. Even though maintenance costs for a rail fleet can be similar to those for a bus fleet, labour costs go way down because fewer vehicles require fewer operators and support staff.

    A highway coach only seats 45 and accommodates few standees. Zwei’s proposed DLRT train holds 750.

    The rest of jay’s points speak for themselves. The obsession with SkyTrain makes no economic sense.

    Zweisystem replies: To clarify, a 3 car Diesel LRT train can hold 750 customers.

  8. zweisystem Says:

    Jay, to clarify, a 30 minute service means two trains an hour, not a 30 minute trip time.

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