Archive for October 1st, 2009

From the Georgia Straight – TransLink’s Broadway transit gambit condemned

October 1, 2009


It seems Vancouver’s politicians are not satisfied with one hugely expensive subway, they want a almost $4 billion subway under Broadway to UBC. Indeed, as Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan points out, Vancouver’s politicians are blinkered to the real costs involved with subway construction, especially when the provincial and region taxpayers anted up for the almost $3 billion RAV/Canada Line, which is route woefully short of ridership to support the mode.

Do not Mayor Robertson and the Vision Council understand the ramifications of building expensive metro systems on routes that do not have the ridership to support them? Do they not realize if a subway doesn’t cater to 400,000 passengers a day or more then massive subsidies must be paid to support the subway?  Apparently not as Vancouver and the SkyTrain/light-metro lobby bang the drum for more expensive subways, which the rest of the region, must prostrate themselves to the wishes of Vancouver. It seems, when the premier of the province who was once a mayor of Vancouver and supported by other premiers who were once Vancouver mayors, hugely expensive subways will always be on the menu for Vancouver.

It is certainly enough evidence to support the end of TransLink as we know it and form two transit agencies: 1) For communities with SkyTrain or RAV and 2) those communities without SkyTrain or RAV. Only when the the taxpayers residing in the communities with SkyTrain and RAV light metro feel the full cost of the mode, no rational decision on transit will ever be made in the region.

By Matthew Burrows

October 1,  2009

Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan believes the possible development of rapid transit along Broadway has blinkered Vancouver politicians to the funding constraints facing a regional transit authority he calls “bankrupt”.

“I think that Vancouver very much has seized on the idea that somehow they are going to get a Broadway line out of this and that there is a campaign issue for them [Vision Vancouver],” Corrigan told the Georgia Straight by phone.

Because TransLink is in such a financial crunch, its TransLink 2010 10-Year Plan has laid out a “base plan” along with two supplementary funding options, each with a varying price tag to get out of the hole.

A third option, called “On Track to a Sustainable Region”, would piggyback on the supplementary plan titled “Maintain and Upgrade” and abandon the base plan. It is also the most expensive version. Vision Vancouver—representatives of which occupy all of Vancouver’s six spots on the Metro Vancouver board—has come out in favour of “On Track”, which would require an additional $450 million in annual funding above current levels and would dramatically expand the borrowing limit, to $6.5 billion.

“I think one of the things that happens very clearly is that unless you go to the $450 million [option], there is no discussion of expansion of any rapid transit in Vancouver,” Corrigan said.

He added that he favours a position of “no supplement”, which is the base-plan option. This would require “drastic cuts”, according to TransLink documents. (The remaining option, called “Funding Stabilization”, requires an additional $130 million a year above current levels.)

Provincial legislation requires that TransLink’s mayors’ council—consisting of the region’s 21 mayors as well as Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird—respond to the funding scenarios by October 31. TransLink spokesperson Judy Rudin told the Straight that the mayors’ council will vote October 23.

Neither Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson nor Dianne Watts, Surrey mayor and chair of the mayors’ council, responded to messages by the Straight‘s deadline.

On August 26, Metro senior regional planner Raymond Kan sent a list of recommendations to the regional planning committee. The On Track option presented “the highest level of consistency and support for the Livable Region Strategic Plan”, Kan said. The regional planning committee approved Kan’s list and sent it to the Metro Vancouver board meeting of September 25, where Robertson moved the initial motion before giving an impassioned speech pushing for more funding.

“I think it’s critical that Metro Vancouver directors remain united on the $450 million and that we don’t fold our tents now,” Robertson said at the time, having just stated: “The other [funding] levels are totally inadequate and inappropriate to be suggesting.”

Baird and Corrigan both missed the Metro vote, and Burnaby city councillor Sav Dhaliwal was the only dissenter as the motion passed. Corrigan countered later that Vancouver politicians are pushing for the $450 million because they want to “get back in the queue”.

“And they are desperate to get back in the queue, because, in essence, past councils have completely messed up any opportunity for the line to go along Broadway,” he said. “So they are really the authors of their own misfortune. I’m not blaming Gregor. He wasn’t on council. He inherits a series of decisions from [former Vancouver mayors] Philip Owen through Larry Campbell through Sam Sullivan that have militated against any expansion of the transit system down Broadway.”

The mayors’ council has “no appetite” for approving the $450-million option, Corrigan claimed, partly because TransLink commissioner Martin Crilly’s August 31 report on TransLink’s 2010 10-Year Plan states that this option has a “gap of $175 million [per year] in identified funding”.

“This means that the scenario has no status as a Supplement to be approved or rejected under the Act,” Crilly wrote.

Speaking at the September 25 Metro meeting, Surrey councillor Linda Hepner also expressed concern over the changes to TransLink governance initiated in 2007 under then–B.C. transportation minister Kevin Falcon. Hepner called it a “dog’s breakfast”, which resonated with Corrigan, who has claimed both at the Metro board and to the Straight that a private, unelected board equates to “taxation without representation”.


And Now, Something Completely Different – The Portland Zoo Train, a trip worthwhile

October 1, 2009

The Washington Park and Zoo Railway is a 30-inch (762 mm) narrow gauge recreational railroad in Portland, Oregon’s Washington Park. It provides transportation between the Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, International Rose Test Garden, and the World Forestry Center. The extended line is about 2 miles (3.2 km) long. There is also a 1-mile (1.6 km) loop within the zoo grounds.

The 35-40 minute Washington Park trip runs daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. This run goes through the woods of Washington Park and the grounds of the Oregon Zoo. (Few animals are seen from the train.) The zoo station is near the zoo entrance. The Rose Garden station is a short walk from the International Rose Test Garden.

The 10-12 minute Zoo Loop trip runs in the off season, weather and business permitting, in the fall and spring. This run goes through the Oregon Zoo grounds only.

As of 2007, Washington Park and Zoo Railway has three trains in normal operation: Zooliner, 4-4-0 #1 Oregon and Oregon Express. Two of them (Zooliner and 4-4-0 #1 Oregon) are scale replicas of real trains.


Zooliner is a scale replica of the diesel-powered train Aerotrain, which is famous for its unusual shape that was influenced by automobile design. Zooliner was built in 1958. Zooliner is powered by 165 horsepower (123 kW) diesel engine with hydraulic transmission. The brakes are pneumatic, like on the real train.


4-4-0 #1 Oregon

4-4-0 #1 Oregon is a scale replica of a classical American 4-4-0 steam locomotive of the 19th century. It was built in 1959. It is a scale copy of 4-4-0 Reno locomotive of Nevada’s Virginia & Truckee Railroad. Unlike the original, #1 Oregon uses oil as a power source, but it is still a real steam locomotive (not a diesel that is made to look like a steam locomotive).


Oregon Express

This train is the only one that is not a copy of a real train. Originally (it was built in 1959), it was a diesel locomotive that was made to look like a steam train. It received a new look after being rebuilt in 1991. Now Oregon Express looks like a small diesel locomotive.


It carries U.S. mail and is the first recreational railroad to have its own postmark, as well as the last railroad in the United States of America to continually hand cancel and process mail. The locomotive of the Zooliner has a postal mail slot on the side of the cab, and mail boxes are located at the Zoo and Washington Park stations.

What Rail for the Valley should take note of:

The Portland zoo railway runs an intensive passenger service on a single track route, which is accomplished by the simplist of signaling and strategically placed passing loops. The Zoo Railway also carries the mails and RFV should include with their presentations, the prospect of the interurban once again, carrying mail up and down the valley.