From the Georgia Straight – Michael Ignatieff puts a Liberal shine on the Canada Line



If there is any doubt that there was political chicanery involved with the Canada Line, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has put that to rest. SkyTrain, which if one cared to take a look back in history, was carefully planned to have a major extension opening coincide with a Social Credit election window every three and a half years. Glenn Clark was not to be out done and opened the West Coast Express, known at the time as the ‘Re-election Express’ and the SkyTrain vehicle fabrication plant that would supply SkyTrain cars to Asia, prior to NDP election windows.

Everyone is jumping on the Canada Line bandwagon, but if there isn’t a significant modal shift from car to metro of about 30% or more, the project will be a failure. As it stands, the RAV/Canada line is an overbuilt metro, serving a small population base, that will never be extended in our lifetimes and will suck money away from the rest of the transit system. Despite the hype and hoopla in the mainstream media, which wouldn’t know a PCC from a U-2, the Canada Lines success will not be carrying 100,000 passengers a day, with most taking a bus first, but attracting the motorist from the car. The near $3 billion RAV/Canada Line has sucked huge sums of money from other just as important transit projects into a bloated politically prestigious subway that will do little in providing an attractive alternative to the car. If this is any indication of  Michael Ignatieff’s way he will run the Liberal party and the government if elected, he will no different from past Liberal Prime Ministers and their questionable ethics and squander money on expensive, yet needless Liberal political monuments.

Michael Ignatieff puts a Liberal shine on the Canada Line

By Charlie Smith

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is trying to have his party take credit for construction of the $2-billion Canada Line.

In a YouTube video, Ignatieff suggests that the project was former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin‘s vision.

Ignatieff also praises former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell, now a Liberal senator, who relentlessly promoted the project. It probably wouldn’t have been approved by the TransLink board if Campbell and his then-COPE colleagues didn’t replace then-councillor Fred Bass on the board with councillor Raymond Louie.

Ignatieff obviously doesn’t know a great deal about the history of the Livable Region Strategic Plan, which was created while he was living abroad. Metro Vancouver regional planners wanted conventional light-rail to form a T connecting Coquitlam, New Westminster, and Vancouver.

It was a good plan and it was affordable. But senior levels of government intruded and insisted on a far more expensive SkyTrain-style Millennium Line and Canada Line. That has contributed to sharp increases in transit fares and property taxes, as well as the regional transportation authority’s grave financial woes.

Don’t expect Ignatieff or any other Liberal to fess up to this during the next federal election campaign.

Full article including U-Tube and comments:


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6 Responses to “From the Georgia Straight – Michael Ignatieff puts a Liberal shine on the Canada Line”

  1. mezzanine Says:

    How did you come to the threshold of 30% modal shift due to rail?

    The only good numbers I could find are from stats can, which do not break down bus versus rail.

    Interestingly, Vancouver went from 14.3% in 1996, to 11.5% in 2001 (a drop likely due to the transit strike) to 16.5% in 2006.

    Toronto only got 22.2%. Even montreal, with its extensive metro system got 21.4%.

    Contrast that to Calgary with 15.6% or portland with 13.3%.

    Interestingly, seattle without its light rail system got 17%….

    Zweisystem replies: Statcan’s numbers are for only journeys to work not total trips. In the USA, the average modal shift has been about 30% from car to tram and in France, there is no thought of investment in new tramway’s unless the case for a 30% or more modal shift can be proven.

  2. David Says:

    Transit share to/from work/school will always be higher than the overall mode share because people no longer shop in their own neighbourhoods and, in most places, can’t even if they wanted to. We are living in the era of the big box store, one that makes minivans and SUVs the only practical way to buy anything.

    I live in a central location in Vancouver and take transit to work every day, but there isn’t a grocery store of any kind within 1km of my home and there isn’t one with a full product line within 2km. Feeding a family also means buying more than can comfortably carried on the bus. So we’re always going to need a car if we want to eat.

    When it comes to the numbers zweisystem isn’t suggesting that a transit project needs to get 30% mode share in a corridor. A 30% shift means that transit improves by 30% from whatever share it had before and a corresponding drop is seen in driving mode share.

    For example let’s say driving is 79%, transit 15% and everything else is 6%.

    If a new transit project increases the transit share to 19.5%, but driving only drops to 77%, then it didn’t meet the goal because it didn’t move enough people out of cars and only achieved its 30% increase by luring people from walking and cycling.

    If driving drops to to 75.5% then the mode shift goal is met.

    Zweisystem replies: It is modal share on a transit route, (I hate the term corridor) not on total transit. In Europe, most new tram projects replace bus routes, thus the tram had better get at least 30% more ridership than what the bus carried before.

    Same is true here, one metro line can’t readily change the total transit modal share, but does the metro gather more ridership than the buses it replaced? The question with RAV is of course, will it attract 30% more ridership than the bus routes it replaced? But RAV isn’t LRT, RAV is metro, so it must attract much more ridership (3 to 4 times) more ridership to justify its costs. the 100,000 figure mentioned by TransLink for RAV to break even is mere spin because we must also address the question of apportioned and discounted (U-Pass) fares. How TransLink will calculate the 100,000 to 200,000 car trips taken off the road by RAV is anyones guess.

  3. David Says:

    Doing the calculation for Canada Line is going to be really difficult because it’s not replacing a bus route, it’s re-drawing the transit map. The only easy numbers to figure out will be those of the express buses that now stop at Bridgeport. If their numbers change then you can bet there’s been a shift to/from cars. For everything else it’ll be much harder.

    I know one of the most common complaints about the old 98 plus 4xx service was that Vancouver-bound passengers filled up the PM buses making it difficult for Richmond commuters to get home. Were those people really heading to the Granville corridor or were they simply taking the fastest bus out of downtown? Surely some will be better served by the train, but what about those whose destination really is near Granville? Are they going to be satisfied by the slow progress of the #10 trolley? For those near King Ed, 41st, 49th or Marine will taking the train and transferring really be any better? Surely there will be some mode share loss near Granville.

    Of course there will also be mode share gain along Cambie, but will it equal or exceed the loss along Granville? Which area has the higher density of potential transit users? Although Cambie is farther east, the average number of secondary suites in the area may actually be lower than Granville. After all, Granville is closer to UBC and has always enjoyed better bus service than Cambie.

    Ultimately Richmond will decide the mode share question and with virtually no park and ride facilities it’s up to the local Richmond bus service to get people out of their cars. At first glance things seem positive. People do seem to be filling the trains at the very first station, but as zweisystem is quick to remind us, filling the current trains for a few hours each day is a mere drop in the bucket compared with the number of passengers needed to justify tunneling.

  4. mezzanine Says:

    @ David – I see your point, but that definition of mode shift is very narrow, and hard to define. Does transit start and end with a rail-based mode? What time frame are you willing to see a mode shift? Are you planning for land-use changes? If so, then the changes may take years, but are long-lasting.

    Remember, Seattle – without light rail – in the above US census link was able to beat vancouver, calgary and portland wrt transit mode among commuters.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the 2011 canadian census…

    Zweisystem replies: The problem with census data in Vancouver is the vast number of people not reported and this skews numbers completely. Example, I know many cases of illegal tenants (in one case 5 unreported people living in a 1 family house besides the 3 legal occupants) in illegal suits that are not counted, and all of these people use public transit, it skews the numbers for transit use favourably. The politics of illegal suits in some municipalities is glossed over, thus the true number of residents is a mere guesstimate. In Vancouver this works well for bureaucrats wanting high transit ridership numbers in relation to population reported.

    I have been told by several people now that census data in major Canadian cities is next to useless because the high numbers of unreported residents.

  5. David Says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my definition of mode shift. It’s the fraction of people along a path who choose to switch from one mode of transportation to another. Most importantly are those who get out of private vehicles and onto transit, bicycles or their own two feet.

    I agree with zweisystem on the nature of illegal suites. My part of the city is full of them and every new home is built with walls and doors in place so it can hold 1, 2, or 3 separate groups. I also agree that most of the suite dwellers use transit, but you wouldn’t know that from the house behind me. I know the elderly man in the basement doesn’t drive and the main floor can’t be more than 850 square feet, yet most nights there are 8 cars parked there.

    Zweisystem replies: The issue of unreported residents is very serious if one wants honest statistics. There is a good case that Vancouver has 50% more transit customers than reported average for the population. If this is the case it makes very positive numbers for transit!

  6. Taxpayer Says:

    Time to brush up on your grade six math. For the case you mentioned, if the 5 unreported people living take transit, transit usage would be underreported not over reported as you suggested. For example, if 1 of the 3 “legal” reported occupants, the transit mode share would be 1/3 or 33%. If all of the “illegal tenants” took transit, the mode share for the house would be 6/8 or 75% for the dwelling. Don’t forget that the transit usage comes from the census questionnaires as well so if the population is underreported, the transit usage would be underreported as well.

    Zweisystem replies: The problem is that the census figures in Vancouver are unreliable, so much so that they are almost a complete waste of time. The problem is what can be believed or not believed. The problem of illegal residents, is an over demand of a transit system, which service is based on census statistics!

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