Has SkyTrain become British Columbia’s Greatest Bamboozle?


One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

Carl Sagan

Is SkyTrain a colossal bamboozle? Does the SkyTrain lobby and TransLink still continue to bamboozle the mainstream media and politicians, with false claims and/or questionable statistics supporting building more SkyTrain? 

Why do transit authorities, civic, provincial and even federal politicians continue to support, plan for, and fund a transit mode that costs up to ten times more to construct, almost double to operate than the light rail alternative. Why do the powers that be continue to plan and build with a transit mode that has failed to achieve the all important modal shift from car to transit?

The mainstream media has long been bamboozled and continues to be bamboozled by the  SkyTrain lobby and its friends;  twisting and perverting stories to always make the mode look good, especially when the mode is deemed an obsolete by many knowledgeable transit planners around the world.

Part of the great SkyTrain bamboozle is the ‘density’ bamboozle.

For years politicians, planners, and assorted pundits have claimed there isn’t enough density for ‘rapid transit’ when light rail is mentioned for a transit route, but never state what density is needed for successful ‘rapid transit’. If “there is not enough density for rapid transit”  then there needs to be a published density criteria for transit modes such as bus, light rail and SkyTrain and/or light-metro, yet there is none.  Why then was the Arbutus Corridor, which had a higher published density than the Cambie Corridor, deemed to have not enough ‘density‘ for light rail, yet there was the ‘density‘ on Cambie St. to support a much more expensive light-metro subway?

Point of logic: If one can build light-rail for one half to one quarter the cost of SkyTrain, then does one need on half to one quarter the density to support LRT than SkyTrain?

Is the ‘density‘ question just a bamboozle, by the transit charlatans to support building more SkyTrain?

SkyTrain’s supposed higher speed is another bamboozle, oft used by the SkyTrain lobby, while at the same time, failing to mention that the supposed higher speed comes from sacrificing stations, as most LRT lines have twice a s many stations per route km. than SkyTrain. If this is so, then if we design a LRT line with just as many stations as SkyTrain, then LRT will be as fast, if not faster than SkyTrain.

Yet another bamboozle, is the old saw that SkyTrain is cheaper to operate because it has no drivers, yet the SkyTrain lobby fails to mention that automatic transit systems actually have more employees than comparable LRT systems. Funny how politicians, media types and pundits never actually use hard numbers to compare the actual number of people working for SkyTrain, rather state: “it’s a driverless system, no drivers and much cheaper to operate”, as well the SkyTrain lobby always uses the bamboozle that “with no drivers, SkyTrain can’t be shut down by a strike!” What the pundits politely forget is that if the SkyTrain operators go on strike, the metro effectively shuts down.

With the present provincial government and their transit planning, the art of the bamboozle is fully evident and the mainstream media, being asleep at the switch for over thirty years, have been captured by the SkyTrain bamboozle. Sadly, those who should be doing reporting and investigation have unwittingly been a major player in the Great SkyTrain Bamboozle.


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2 Responses to “Has SkyTrain become British Columbia’s Greatest Bamboozle?”

  1. David Says:

    Into this light bounds an interesting story. This morning News 1130 was reporting that the 99 B-Line has been “upgraded” with the addition of two new stops. The item that really caught my ear was the claim that the new stops would reduce travel times for a number of passengers.

    It’s about time the mainstream media realized that adding stops to serve more passengers has a net benefit. Some passengers will see travel times increase by a minute, but that’s a small price to pay for gaining two highly requested stops.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I was recently at the Burnaby Village Museum, and got to wander through the old electric interurban car they’ve restored. It was more comfortable then skytrain 😛 Off topic I suppose, but it would be nice to see the interurban return in a modern way. I won’t be holding my breath though, as long as Gordon Campbell is still in charge.

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