Archive for November 26th, 2009

From the Surrey Leader – Exposing The SkyTrain Urban Myth

November 26, 2009

The following letter to the Surrey Leader certainly shreds the SkyTrain Urban Myth that it is faster and has more capacity than light rail. What the SkyTrain lobby and mainstream media forget, that both modes are railways (SkyTrain is an unconventional railway) and adhere to the same operating principals. SkyTrain’s reputation has been created by BC Transit and TransLink, yet outside the lower mainland, SkyTrain continues to be rejected by transit planners and only can be sold in private deals that are largely funded by the Canadian government! There are only seven SkyTrain type systems in operation, despite being on the market for over 30 years.

There is no evidence that the SkyTrain light metro or any light metro for that matter is faster or has a greater capacity than LRT and is the prime reason why light rail made light metro obsolete almost two decades ago.

Light rail capacity rivals SkyTrain

Published: November 24,

The article “TransLink’s Prendergast offers parting advice” contains an error, which is commonly made by those who know little about modern LRT, which must be rectified.

The comment: “At-grade light rail typically can’t carry as many people or run as fast as grade-separated SkyTrain,” is absolutely false.

The maximum capacity of a modern LRT line is over 20,000 persons per hour per direction and even some European streetcar or tram systems do manage 20,000 persons per hour in peak hours on portions of their lines.

SkyTrain, limited by automatic (driverless) train control can only manage under 15,000 persons per hour and needs a billion dollars or more in upgrades just to match what modern LRT can achieve today.

As for speed, SkyTrain’s higher commercial speeds can be, in part, accounted for fewer stations per route kilometre than comparable LRT systems.

The maximum speed for SkyTrain is about 80 km/h, yet in Portland, their MAX LRT line travels at 90 km/h on portions of their line.

MAX’s commercial speed is lower than SkyTrain because it has about twice as many stations per route kilometre than SkyTrain and the light rail travels as a streetcar through downtown Portland, with no track reservation or signal priority at intersections.

St. Louis’ LRT system in fact has a higher commercial speed than our SkyTrain light metro.

One would wish the media stop listening to the many SkyTrain urban myths and start dealing with established facts about modern light rail.

There is a good reason only seven SkyTrain type systems have been sold in the past 30 years.