From the Delta Optimist: Commute now 20 minutes longer thanks to the train



More evidence that all is not well in “Lotus Land“. Despite some ‘good news’ stories provided by TransLink’s spin doctors this weekend on local radio stations, the new, almost $3 billion RAV/Canada Line light metro system has increased journey times for South of the Fraser commuters, especially if they have to make two or more transfers. What is also interesting is that any savings in journey times for bus riders from South Delta/Surrey, is not the Canada line, but the newly installed HOV lane on the highway 99 from Number 5 Road interchange to St.Edwards Drive, near the Oak Street Bridge, which now buses can avoid about 2 km. of congestion.

The question must be asked: “Why the need for an almost $3 billion metro system, when what was needed to decrease journey bus journey times was a $50 million HOV lane?

Which again begs the question: “Why didn’t TransLink invest in HOV lanes on Hwy 99 in the first place?” Seems to be a lot cheaper solution than a very expensive metro system.

No wonder TransLink is verging on bankruptcy as it seems we have idiots running the show.

Published: Saturday, September 26, 2009


Re: Sky didn’t fall as riders make switch to Canada Line, Community Comment, Sept. 19

I disagree with Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison’s conclusions about the train’s usefulness. Furthermore, her “Chicken Little” characterization was off the mark because nobody predicted the world would end.

The travelling public did predict that commuting times would be negatively impacted (I thought it would add 10 minutes to my ride) despite TransLink’s predictions that travel from Ladner to UBC would be quicker.

After trying every reasonable combination of bus-to-train-to-bus connection I could find over the last two weeks, I have found that both predictions were wrong.

My prediction of a 10-minute increase was out by a factor of two — my commute time has actually increased by 20 minutes each way when riding the train.

So, by that measure, I think that predictions of worse transit service from South Delta have been proven correct. No, the world hasn’t ended, but the train has not lived up to its intended purpose of improving the public transit experience.

Judging by conversations with other bus passengers, I am not alone.

Minimizing commuting time on public transit is all about minimizing transfer time; fast vehicles alone are not enough. Rides such as Bridgeport to 41st Avenue are simply too short to compensate for the longer transfer times built into the new system.

It’s easy to squander all the benefit of a high-speed train run with a lengthy transfer. It’s a shame that TransLink was not upfront about this reality during its planning and open houses.

Remember the Fast Cat ferries? Same effect is at play with the train.

The comment about the new bus lane south of the Oak Street Bridge is a red herring because its only linkage with the train is political expediency. It could have been built long before the train was conceived. If TransLink was serious about eliminating bottlenecks for buses, it could build a southbound “fast bus lane” on Highway 99 at Westminster Highway.

There is no doubt the train has degraded the commuting from Ladner to UBC. Perhaps other routes have been improved, but it’s hard to judge the overall balance. TransLink has never provided an unbiased assessment of who benefits and who pays, but it’s my suspicion that overall commuting from South Delta has also been degraded.

In conclusion, I will use the 601-480, just as I did before the train was built. I’ve tried the train in all sorts of route combinations, but nothing works well.

But I guess the train will move lots of well-heeled Olympic fans, and that was the main reason for its construction, wasn’t it?


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5 Responses to “From the Delta Optimist: Commute now 20 minutes longer thanks to the train”

  1. David Says:

    We have to expect that those with complaints will make them heard while those with improved circumstances will be unlikely to speak out. Even so it’s becoming quite clear that the predictions of poorer service have come true.

    In addition to the widely predicted transfer issues for South Delta/Surrey residents we’ve learned that some areas of Richmond are now more difficult to access and, outside the station areas, Sea Island has become virtually car-only. The infrequent community shuttle is no substitute for the plethora of buses that once served the island.

  2. Chris Says:

    As a reader of the blog I must say I don’t understand all the hostility towards Translink.
    It seems to me the real transit villains are in Victoria, not on Kingsway in Burnaby. Did RAV not show who makes the real decisions like alignment, technology, etc in this city? Victoria decides what will be built, how it will be built, and Translink has to make it all work and find sources of revenue to operate it. I’m fairly sure if Tranlink was given real autonomy from provincial political interference the transit picture we would have in Vancouver now would be much different.

    Just a general observation.

    Zweisystem replies: Yet TransLink officials followed every diktat from Victoria like little puppy dogs. No one resigned, no one questions irresponsible designs by politicians. What’s more, TransLink has abetted light-metro planning since its creation over a decade ago. I’m sorry, but when a bureaucracy so distorts the truth, for it’s own ends, one mush question the entire organization. To date TransLink has not shown one iota of modern public transport philosophy, rather it still beats the drum for very dated light-metro planning. The business case for the Evergreen Line is case in point – – as Gerald Fox said: ” I found several instances where the analysis had made assumptions that were inaccurate, or had been manipulated to make the case for SkyTrain. If the underlying assumptions are inaccurate, the conclusions may be so too.”

    I’m sorry, TransLink is as guilty as Victoria politicians for our current transit woes.

    The purpose of theirs blog is to give an alternative view of our local transit scene, based on what is happening around the world, sprinkled with transit and railway history and modern public transit technology. Only with the proper tools and knowledge of the public transit scene, can we make informed decisions for the return of the interurban or modern public transit in the region.

  3. voony Says:

    the letter to editor conclude to “In conclusion, I will use the 601-480, just as I did before the train was built”.

    Well, clearly, his commuting pattern is hence not affected by the train.
    we are here a commuter more frustrated to see that the train doesn’t work at is advantage, that a commute lengthened by the introduction of the train…

    may be Translink doesn’t do a job good enough to explain to commuter that their option don’t necessarily lie with the Canada line

    at the end, I believe the commute is still improved for this commuter, because the frequency of both bus 601 and 480 have significantly improved, thanks to a shorter route for the former, and bus availability (of 98B) for the latter… (as well the transfer between 601 and 480 on same platform with bus shelters make the life easier)

    Zweisystem replies: Wrong again Voony, the basic 30 minute off-peak schedule remains the same for the 601, except for 15 minute headways during peak hours. The schedule is far too complicated with altering departure times to be effective. The 602 (peak hours only) has had one extra bus an hour added and even fewer services for the 603/4 routes , in fact despite the hype and hoopla of TransLink service has not increased dramatically during peak hours and not at all off-peak. What the letter demonstrates that TransLink is not catering to customer needs, rather its own needs; NOT A VERY GOOD WAY TO ATTRACT CUSTOMERS TO TRANSIT.

  4. David Says:

    We all know why service wasn’t significantly increased in South Delta. TransLink can’t afford to run any more buses while paying the Canada Line operating costs and interest on the construction debt. Besides zweisystem, aren’t you the one who said that most South Delta buses run half empty and that a rational transit operator would cut service? Surely adding more buses in the area is throwing good money after bad.

    Zweisystem replies: the peak hour services, 602/3/4 are full. The meandering 601 tends to be reasonably patronized during the day. It is the 620 that is empty except at weekends, the 609 and the community shuttles C-84, C-86, C-87, C-88, C-89 run almost empty all day! Despite the hype, the increase in service is negligible and will do nothing in attracting ridership to the system.

  5. Chris Says:

    “The purpose of theirs blog is to give an alternative view of our local transit scene, based on what is happening around the world …..”

    Fair enough but I guess what I don’t understand is how making highly generalized and malicious allegations like calling the people “running the show” idiots helps to achieve your objectives. Who exactly are you referring to in this statement, why are they idiots and have you given them an opportunity to respond to your allegation?

    “I’m sorry, … ” – what for?

    As I understand it, both the Expo, Millenium and Evergreen lines were originally planned as some form of at-grade light rail until the province stepped and decided their short-term political agendas were more important than the well-being of their constituency.

    My guess is there are many at Translink who support your views but do not want to speak out for fear of losing their jobs. There is probably a huge amount of pressure from Victoria to make SkyTrain look good, everything else look bad, and dissenters aren’t treated favorably come promotion time.

    Translink is in the unenviable position of being stuck between the public who, in general, are screaming for improved public transit and Victoria who views transit investment as an opportunity to score some political goals not achieve positive, long-term sustainable outcomes.

    By the way, I don’t work for Translink and I agree with most of what you write on this blog. But I often don’t agree with your language or the way you argue your point, especially when responding to comments. Indeed, even your response the previous commenter seemed to have undertones of suggesting they are somehow inferior or less intelligent than you. “Wrong again” when just “wrong” or “not true” would probably have sufficed.

    Zweisystem replies: Ever since the first SkyTrain system was built, there has been a long running effort, almost 30 years, by the SkyTrain lobby to denigrate light rail and all who support this view. I have been called worse by SkyTrain supporters and it slides off. TransLink, despite the hype and hoopla has not been a success, in fact TransLink has set the course for transit chaos in the near future. I find when the TransLink bureaucracy bends the truth so much that it becomes fiction, all respect for the organization is lost. I wish the SkyTrain lobby, which is deeply entrenched in TransLink showed some candor and honesty, but they don’t and hide behind contrived statistics, or invented truths and actually told the truth such as “We want the Evergreen Line to be SkyTrain because we want to run through service on the Millennium Line.”

    I’m sorry to be blunt, but TransLink needs 2 x 4 across the head to register with them. The time to be nice to TransLink is long gone.

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