And Just What is Rapid Transit – Has TransLink Already Decided To Build A SkyTrain Subway To UBC?


Bay Area Rapid Transit

Over and over again from media reporters and commentators, politicians and/or academics, we hear the term ‘rapid transit’, but are offered no definition to what rapid transit is. Is rapid transit a metro, rapid bus, light rail, or commuter rail? This begs the question: “Just what is rapid transit?”

 Wikipedia defines rapid transit as:

 “A rapid transit, metro, subway, underground, or elevated railway system is an electric passenger railway in an urban area with high capacity and frequency, and which is grade separated from other traffic. Rapid transit systems are typically either in underground tunnels or elevated above street level. Outside urban centres, rapid transit lines sometimes run grade separated at ground level. Some systems use different types in different areas.”

What this definition shows is that rapid transit is a metro type rail system like the proprietary SkyTrain light metro and the RAV/Canada Line heavy-rail metro systems. Thus rapid transit is definitely a metro and not LRT or light rail transit!

This is extremely important, because TransLink is just but one of many planning agencies in the region that uses the term rapid transit when it plans for a ‘rail‘ transit system, when the decision has been already made to build a metro system, prior to any sham public consultation. A good example of charade public consultation is TransLink UBC Line Rapid Transit Study Stakeholder Workshop, on 18 January in Vancouver, where TransLink has already made the decision to build with metro on Broadway, just by announcing the term ‘rapid transit’

The TransLink ‘dog and pony show’ for SkyTrain and metro continues!

Light Rail in Madrid - Why is TransLink so afraid of LRT?



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21 Responses to “And Just What is Rapid Transit – Has TransLink Already Decided To Build A SkyTrain Subway To UBC?”

  1. Ian Says:

    I think it is funny that rail for the valley has posted a picture of the Madrid LRT, followed by the caption “why is trans link so afraid of LRT?”

    In reality, they are not, the fact is that any decent transit system has layers, consisting of commuter rail, metro/ALRT rail and light rail/tram. Metro-Vancouver has not reached the point where it can focus on LRT feeder lines yet because we still have an incomplete commuter and Metro/ALRT system. With the Evergreen Line and Broadway extension completed as skytrain, then we will be able to focus on LRT rail systems (to be used as feeder/secondary lines.

    Going back to the Madrid example why am I not surprised that this blog failed to mention that the base of Madrid’s rail system is a 282.58KM long grade separated (92% underground) metro system with 234 stations, and several expansions in the works. While the LRT cited above is only a 28km long feeder system.

    The fact is Madrid is at the stage where they can now work on both layers of their system. The same can be seen for almost any major city above 2 million in the developed world (outside of the US). The people on this forum really need to travel to Europe and Asia to see how true rail works. They almost all have grade separated backbone systems! Even the C-train in Calgary runs along its own rail corridor (akin to a CP or CN ROW) for the majority of its length. This is very different compared to what would become of the Broadway Corridor. The new West LRT line in Calgary is estimated now to cost $700 million, far more than the example LRT figures given on this website. It also should be noted that many of the street crossings that the C line makes are grade separated, with underpasses and overpasses. Also, part of the system through downtown Calgary is now planned to be transferred underground when needed to maintain reliable service! Talk about building something twice, that costs a lot more than building something right the first time!

    It should also be noted that North America’s busiest LRT line, the Monterrey Metro, is fully grade separated, akin to skytrain, and Boston’s Green Line is a mix of subway, grade separated, ROW and street grade sections. Therefore for much of its length it is akin to skytrain. Not to mention it is part of a much larger system that uses all forms of rail transit, including commuter rail, metro & LRT. This is similar with Toronto’s system where all of the major destinations are serviced by subway and commuter rail, while trams are used for local service (akin to buses).

    Also, most systems being expanded in the world are grade separated, just look at all the systems being built in Asia, Europe, Australia, and even Africa! And for the cities that are also now building large LRT systems, the vast majority of them already have expansive existing grade separated Metro systems. Skytrain is just one technology of many grade separated systems that all act as Metro systems. The reason why skytrain may not be present in many cities (Although it is in Bangkok, Thailand, 1 line in Beijing, a possible candidate for Honolulu’s new metro system, and several other airport connectors) is because most cities had built their first subway lines before skytrain technology existed, and for continuity reasons have decided to expand their systems relative to the technology they already have (which is another reason why skytrain to UBC only makes more sense, since it would simply be the extension of an existing line, therefore be able to share current rolling stock with our existing system and there would be no need for a useless transfer (for someone traveling to or from the Broadway corridor/UBC from North Burnaby and the tri-cities).

    Many US cities, such as Phoenix and Seattle, have been building LRT as their backbone (even the the Seattle LRT has extensive sections of grade separation, despite this, it has already had numerous traffic accidents), but such American cities have never been good examples to follow for mass transit. Even the Portland LRT (which also has expansive sections of CN/CR ROW) has only a daily ridership of 107, 600, using 4 lines and 84.7 km (compared to skytrain’s 364 000 daily riders, with 3 lines and 68.7km of rail). Simply put, Vancouver skytrain achieves 3 times the ridership with 1 less line and 16 less km of track.

    And one thing should be noted, almost all metro/LRT systems use bus routes for feeders, since it only makes sense to use buses for shorter trips and such train systems for longer trips. Akin to how one would drive their car to a park and ride along the WCE and take the train for the main portion of their trip, and akin to to how metros deed into HSR hubs in Europe and Asia. This is just the nature of good layered transit in the world. Smaller feeds into larger.

    If there are any nations we should be following for transit, it is such nations as Japan and the UK, where grade separated rail and heavy rail acts as the back bone to mass transit. While LRTs act as feeder routes, akin to buses.

    I 100% support rail to the valley, but i support it in the fashion of a WCE commuter rail service (though, I would like to see such a service run 7 days a week, both directions, and throughout the day at a reduced frequency during non rush hours).

    But it is obvious that skytrain is the right choice for Broadway. Also because Broadway itself is a narrow street, and since it is also the main vehicle artery in the area, and the main pedestrian artery in the area, the road would become overwhelmingly congested, especially around stations. Also, the block sizes of the Broadway area would greatly reduce LRT train lengths, reducing capacity, and train frequency would also be reduced (compared to skytrain) due to the fact the trains would be sharing the road with vehicles, bikes and pedestrians, and all these forms would also have to be given their own priority time at intersections.

    Also, accidents would likely cause delays for the system. Not just accidents directly involving the trains, but also other accidents (car on car, car on pedestrian, etc…) along the long would also cause delays.

    Also, has rail for the valley factored in the costs of rolling stock, operation, and the construction of an OMC along the line. Also, where would this OMC be constructed? Properly values along the Broadway corridor are very expansive and this would add a large chunk to the LRT budget.

    This should all be food for thought.

    And remember, while Madrid may have 28km of LRT, it also has 282.58 km of Metro (92% subway).



    Zweisystem replies: “But it is obvious that SkyTrain is the right choice for Broadway.” I ask why? Will the Broadway route carry over 20,000 pphpd? For that is the criteria that supported a subway decision. What you fail to understand is that the Madrid Metro was started in 1919 and continues today. Like Paris, the regional conurbation is very heavily populated, with a regional population of over 7 million people. Put another way, the regional population of Madrid is equal to the provinces of BC and Alberta and thus has the population to support a larger metropolitan railway.

    The Madrid LRT is 21st century transportation and Spanish transit planners are looking for cheaper alternatives to very expensive metro construction and the soon to be expanded Madrid LRT fits in well with regional transportation planning.

    Your post is full of inaccuracies and wrong assumptions that it becomes rather redundant. In Europe, the push is to stop building grade separated transit systems, in favour of on-street/at-grade LRT and in Asian where cities have masses of population then metro is the only choice for transit planners.

    Accident on LRT systems happen, but LRT is one of the safest transit modes in the world and how conveniently you omit that SkyTrain’s annual death rate is mush higher than comparable light rail systems.

    As stated before, building LRT on Broadway would be far easier than many would think, because it would be just reinstating the streetcar, a 21st century streetcar in the form of light rail. The engineering has all been done, it is just under a few cm. of asphalt.

    What Rail for the Valley should be concerned about is that the cost of a SkyTrain subway (about $3 billion to $4 billion) would suck away precious transit monies from regional transit projects to fund another politically prestigious subway project in Vancouver.

    Did you know that subways are very poor in attracting new ridership, especially the motorist from the car?

  2. Brian Bundridge Says:

    I don’t believe it is a matter of TransLink being afraid than having a system already in place and is effective with transfers. By adding ALRT to the line, that creates a longer transfer than if one were to stay on SkyTrain or the Canada Line.

    As much as I support LRT, I would rather continue to see TransLink build and expand SkyTrain with the current technology, even if it is more expensive to build, than start building a new technology.

    With the upcoming Streetcar demonstration projectm it may sway leaders to make the change to a streetcar or LRT type of system. My guess however that SkyTrain will continue to be the system of choice for a long time which, IMO, is fine by me.

    Zweisystem replies: The sad fact is, SkyTrain light metro technology is somewhat dated, sadly you chaps in Seattle copied TransLink’s dated transportation philosophy in building light metro, even though you operate LRV on it. Expanding SkyTrain will bankrupt TransLink, something that ex-CEO Tom Prenderghast found out much to his chagrin and left ‘Dodge City fast’.

    Why Build SkyTrain at $100 million/km. when you can build light rail for $$25 million/km. What you have in Seattle is a hybrid light metro/rail with the worst of both systems and little of the benefits.

  3. kusec Says:

    LRT might cost $25 million/km in Surrey and beyond, where there are expansive rights-of-way available along arterial streets, power lines, and rail lines. All of these relatively inexpensive rights-of-way are suitable routes for LRT in the valley, and yes, let’s build them. But on Broadway, with so many storefronts, utilities, land values, and various modes of traffic?

    Is it even possible to rebuild the Broadway street infrastructure for $25 million/km, even without laying down tracks and stations for an LRT line? How can you do both for $25 million/km and still afford an OMC and rolling stock? We have no existing rolling stock or OMC to fall back on, unlike many of the LRT examples that are tossed around.

    Unless we were to close a nearby route like 10th Ave. and segregate it completely for light rail, or to route the trains through the alleyways or something, I just don’t see how it is possible to perform such road+rail construction on Broadway for this price.

    I would be interested in RailOfTheValley’s opinion as to what kinds of corridors can be rebuilt for LRT for $25 million/km. Surely some corridors would cost more, some less, and West Broadway would cost far more than a quiet stretch of Fraser Highway. On what rationale does RailOfTheValley think that we can build LRT effectively on Broadway at the price quoted?

    Zweisystem replies: The basic cost of rail installation and overhead is about $5 million/km. to $6 million/km. With Broadway, the engineering was done earlier with the old streetcars and we have the existing poles and span-wires for the overhead. Now costs rise with 1) Engineering and 2) Land acquisition. This is why on-street is preferable to ‘Greenfields’ construction.

    Actually, installation of LRT along Broadway would be quite cheap compared to other light rail installations like Seattle, where long and very expensive viaducts and subways have been built.

    The cost along Broadway in Vancouver or the King George in Surrey would be about the same and beware, Vancouver City Engineers have become very adept in downloading city infrastructure costs on a Broadway LRT.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Madrid light rail is actually built as Medium Capacity System model and have subway section of several kilometers! Its cost won’t be cheap. It is not pure at-grade light rail.

    I would describe Madrid light rail as light metro, similar class as skytrain. It may cost less than skytrain technology but not significantly. Many examples of the recently completely or proposed light rail in Asia or Europe are really either hybrid system or completely grade-separated. It is 2010, what ever kind of rail would cost upwards of near million per km or more, unless you build the most bare basic tram.

    Zweisystem replies: Me thinks you are mixed up. Madrid’s light rail system is indeed LRT and operates Citadis LRV’s. Though some of the route is in tunnel, the system is true light rail as it operates on reserved rights-of-ways (as opposed to grade separated) as all LRT systems do. Some notes on Madrid’s metro system: Routes 1 to 5 and route “R” are narrow gauge and routes are wide gauge.

    The 3 LRT lines are referred to as a light-metro (Metro Ligero) but in reality are a tramway and not anyway near related to the automatic SkyTrain light-metro.

    Just a reminder, if a transit system is fully grade separated, either in tunnel or viaduct (which the Madrid LRT is definitely not) it is in fact a metro.

  5. zweisystem Says:

    Zwei would like to add something here about the cost of LRT on Broadway or on-street anywhere else for that matter. To date there has never been any honest planning for LRT in the region, nor has there been any competitive bidding for a light rail project. Estimated costs for LRT in the METRO region are from TransLink and earlier BC Transit, who grossly inflated priced for light rail simply because they did not want to build with it. If LRT were to be built on Broadway, TransLink would not be able to honestly estimate the cost of LRT construction, as they have no experience, Zwei has talked to transit experts in the UK and Europe about LRT on Broadway and depending on the amount of street rebuilding needed, cost for a Broadway LRT would be $15 million/km. to $25 million/km. – more if a fully lawned reserved rights-of-ways were to be emplaced.

    No one in the region will ever asked this simple question: “How cheaply can we build light rail on Broadway”, simply because the politicians would not like the answer.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Anonymous continues…
    There’s indeed more new examples of using LRVs in completely grade separated ROW route. The gap between the so-called “advanced light rail” and light metro is not that important, if they are supposed to serve similar ridership target. Macau, a China gamble city, is proposed building LRT for years but will go ahead with an elevated plan (what vehicles they use is unclear at this moment).

    I am not sure why Madrid light rail included tunnel section, there must be some reason for it (commute time comes to my mind). What if Broadway corridor use LRVs but also tunnel 2-3 kilometers like Madrid does? I know the author here is critical for RAV not cutting commute time for some customers. It may be an embrassment if light rail (without any tunnel section) turns out to take longer than current B-Line setup.

    Zweisystem replies: I think you are really on the wrong track. There is no such thing as “advanced light rail”, as a transit mode, except maybe used as a marketing name. You can operate light rail vehicles on any type of transit system, but it is not the vehicle, rather its the rights-of-way that determines mode today.

    Just operating streetcars (no signal priority) on Broadway would mean about a 10% faster travel time than bus. Light rail, operating on reserved rights-of-ways, could have travel times as fast as a metro with only the number of stations per route km. that would determine commercial speed. No embarrassment here, except for the subway lobby.

    In the 21st century it is the ease of use and the overall ambiance of transit that attracts customers and again I state, “subways have a very poor record in attracting new transit customers.”

  7. Ian Says:

    I would highly debate that subways are unattractive to attracting new riders, And if you hate subways so much, then lets go with elevated skytrain along Broadway.

    The only reason I take skytrain, and along with almost everyone I know, is because it is fast and frequent. There is a huge reason why the most used LRT systems in North America are primarily grade separated. What street grade LRT is good for, is local service involving trips under a few KM, not cross regional! That is where metro/ALRT/heavy rail comes into use, such as skytrain to UBC.

    If they do not attract new riders than how come many people I know want to see more Park and Rides at skytrain stations so they can finally take the train to work and downtown? Face it, on a day in and day out practice speed and frequency is important.

    I also noticed you failed to mention that skytrain’s fatality rate is due to suicides. there has never been a fatality due to a train accident. Street grade LRT systems have to deal with suicides and accident fatalities! Again, you also forgot how to mitigate car accidents that do not involve the trains themsleves, but block the rails.

    Also, please tell me your solution about the short blocks along Broadway, this limits train lengths (for trains can not block intersections at a station) therefore reducing capacity.

    Again, I support LRT to the Valley, for i think LRT can work in the Valley because there is lots of land to build at grade rails for cheep that do not run along roadways (again, this would make it more akin to a heavy rail) at the prices you are listing. But LRT down Broadway, no thanks, if LRT is built there, and it means I have to do an extra transfer from skytrain to LRT (that would likely have a much less frequent schedule) to travel only slightly faster than the current B-line, I think I will stick with driving my car there. At least then I can circumnavigate accidents and listen to my stereo system.

    Many European cities are now concentrating on LRT systems because they have fully built metro systems! And in fact, are still expanding on their metro systems in many cities. Layers, LAYERS!

    And the price for urban LRT with the speed and capacity of skytrain will be a similar price as skytrain itself.

    As I said before, Calgary’s next LRT expansion is going to coast 700 million for 8km. hmmmmm, that seems a little more than 25 mil per km. (and this does not include the construction of an OMC)

    And as for ridership, here are some new examples of new, primarily street grade LRTs in NA.

    Houston – 12km, daily ridership of 39,500. And, from Jan 1 2004 to April 15, 2006 (only a year and a quarter) there were 129 accidents!

    Seattle – 27.8 km (with a price tag similar to the Canada Line I believe) has a daily ridership of 16, 200! Tacoma’s small separate section, only 3,900 a day!

    Phoenix – 32km at a cost of 1.4 billion, 33,554. Also, it costs 184 million a year to operate this single line.

    Seems like LRT does not attract a load of ridership everywhere it goes! And trust me, many of these LRT lines are fed bus riders, just like any other system in the world, for that only makes sense.

    Again, I could go on.

    But I must say, I am one who supports skytrain to UBC and rail to the valley, but shame on you for trying to divide the pro transit groups with your personal hatred of skytrain and metro.


    Zweisystem replies: The subject of subways have been studied far more than you realize and it was the phenomenon in Europe in the 60’s & 70’s, where surface tramway’s were abandoned and subways built in their stead, ridership on public transit dropped.

    Excuse me, it is not a personal hatred of SkyTrain or metro, but rather a quest for affordable transit. Subways are very expensive and if subways do not carry about 400,000 passengers a day or more, they will be heavily subsidized, meaning higher taxes and levies.

    Did you know that SkyTrain has less potential capacity than light rail? No, well I bet you do not know a whole lot. I tire of this SkyTrain for Vancouver and LRT for the rest mentality that has surfaced. The fact is, to be successful, public transit must be affordable, easy to use, and available, yet despite an over $8 billion investment in SkyTrain and metro, there is absolutely no evidence of a modal shift from car to transit; TransLink is near financial collapse and regional TransLink taxes are set to increase dramatically. This to provide a service that only 12% to 13% of the regional population use. I’m sorry but your arguments are not based on fact, but make believe.

    I also remind you that US practice is to quote the total cost of a transit project over a financial lifetime (40 to 50 year bonds), while in Vancouver we use direct costs and the taxpayer does not know what the total cost of our SkyTrain and RAV metro network.

    Your quote: “Many European cities are now concentrating on LRT systems because they have fully built metro systems!” is pure rubbish, let’s check the LRTA website and see what metros and LRT lines there are:

    Hungry: 1 metro and 5 LRT/tramways.
    Germany: 4 metros and 66 LRT/tramlines
    France: 7 metros and 27 LRT/tramways
    Belgium: 1 metro and 7 LRT/tramways
    Netherlands: 2 metros and 6 LRT/tramways
    Italy: 7 metros and 7 LRT/tramways
    Spain 7 metro and 19 LRT/Tramways
    Sweden 1 metro and 7 LRT/tramways
    Poland: 1 metro and 15 LRT/tramways

    As you can see, LRT/tramway systems vastly out number metros.

    Quote: “there has never been a fatality due to a train accident”, is quite wrong as there have been several deaths on SkyTrain that were not suicides. And what is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander, the majority of deaths on LRT systems are suicides as well!

  8. Ian Says:

    I should also not that Vancouver is a geographically constrained location (Mountains to the North, Ocean to the West and the border/ALR land to the south (and east for ALR land)

    Our Metro population is expected to reach 3 million in around 10 years, and the Broadway corridor is expected to grow (it is already one of the main commercial centers of our region) and UBC is one of our largest employees/destinations. Not to mention it would make a much more convenient transfer from the M line to the C line at Olympic village station.

    So yes, we should build skytrain for Broadway, that is building infrastructure that will meet our demands for many decades (and skytrain with 80m platforms, no 40m platforms). It is very concievable that in the near future the Broadway skytrain could have 20 000ppdph.

    LRT would be a temporary band aid solution. (look at Calgary where they are now planning on burying part of their section downtown, that is building something twice, which is far more expensive than building it right once.


    Zweisystem replies: You forget one important item, businesses are moving out of Vancouver and into cheaper regions ill served by transit. High ridership on SkyTrain is an illusion of a mass transfer 80% of bus passengers onto the metro. This and heavily subsidized ticketing (U-Pass) has skewed real ridership numbers and revenue for TransLink. Have you not noticed, TransLink is in severe financial stress and can barely keep the present operating schedule. As I said before but the SkyTrain lobby remains deaf, you can build all the metro you want, but if it does not carry sufficient passenger loads to justify construction, be prepared to pay higher taxes to subsidies it. Has taxes rise, businesses move away to take advantage of lower rents and taxes, generally to areas ill served by transit.

    Supporting SkyTrain, is just supporting new highway construction.

  9. Vangirl Says:

    I too believe that LRT would be a great system on secondary corridors (41st Ave/Hastings/suburban routes) but I have to agree that an extension of the Millenium line is the best bet for Broadway. Here are my reasons:
    -continuity with the existing system
    -dedicated right of way that the subway provides – not subject to traffic restrictions and much faster. Let’s face it — speed is the only thing that will get people out of their cars — witness the success of the Canada Line. I have two friends who are now taking it instead of driving in to Van. I live in the Main St corridor and park my car around KIng Ed and take it regularly downtown. Would never do that with a bus or a streetcar. LRT would just be a glorified B Line. A lot of money for the same old thing.
    -we have to plan for the future and not just today. If we imagine that 90000 people are taking the B line down Broadway today, imagine how many more would be taking it today if it were fast and a dedicated ROW (I certainly would). Imagine how many more will be taking it in the future (especially if they are going to be densifying the Broadway corridor — which seems like a smart plan). I believe Broadway is the busiest or 2nd busiest corridor in the City — doesn’t that scream fast, dedicated transport?
    -LRT will increase congestion on the Broadway corridor
    -As far as price, it’s never going to be cheaper than it is today! The original Expo line and the subsequent skytrain lines are easily the best things transporation-wise that have happened in the Lower Mainland.

    Zweisystem replies: I am just astounded how people treat LRT as an inferior transit mode or a poor man’s SkyTrain, while it is a superior transit mode that has made SkyTrain obsolete. Funny, that very NO SkyTrain metro system has ever been allowed to compete against light rail.

    The Expo Line, from Waterfront Station to New Westminster cost more than the projected LRT plan for LRT from Vancouver to Lougheed Mall, Whalley and Richmond Centre. All SkyTrain has done is to give us a rather expensive, mini-metro system that costs just too much to extend.

    Your other arguments, I’m afraid are without foundation and tend to be the hysterical rantings of the SkyTrain Lobby, which I have dealt with elsewhere.

  10. Ian Says:

    Where do you get your facts? And I am sorry, the prices i quoted for Amercian systems were their construction costs, nothing to do with operational costs. And believe it or not, but the vast majority of LRT systems are also heavily subsidized for their operation.

    Translink is also in serious stress because of the severe limitations put on it for generating money.

    There is obviously no use arguing with you.

    Also i loved how neglected to mention any of my facts and figures that display the dismally low ridership for new LRTs in the US. Also, you failed to acknowledge how many of the LRTs with high ridership have many grade separated aspects, and are more akin to skytrain than the tram you are wishing for.


    Zweisystem replies: True ridership on SkyTrain would be about 80% fewer if TransLink did not forcibly cascade all those bus riders onto the metro, well to be fair 40% less. Your ignorance of transit is telling and I hate to say, that much of what you say is invented. Yes, that’s right your facts and figures are contrived and misleading. So answer these questions: If SkyTrain is so good, so affordable, why has it failed to find a market in over 30 years? Why will the owners of SkyTrain not let it compete against LRT nor offer it for sale unless the Federal government underwrites funding? Why has SkyTrain changed its marketing name four times (ICTS, ALRT, ALM, ART)? Why won’t TransLink divulge the total cost of SkyTrain and RAV, as per practice in the USA and only state direct costs only?

  11. Vangirl Says:

    I’m not part of any lobby; I’m a Vancouverite interested in transportation issues in my city and the surrounding metropolitan area. I don’t think LRT is an inferior system, but I think it is a secondary one as it will only replace an existing bus population, not convert a significant number of drivers to it (surely that is happening in Richmond with the Canada Line… probably on the current Millenium line when you consider the dense developments that have sprung up now in Burnaby alongside it). The only way you will get people out of their cars is to provide something that will get them from A to B faster than a SOV. LRT down Broadway will not do that. It will simply make what is one of the busiest corridors in the city even more sluggish and congested.

    Zweisystem replies: Density doesn’t guarantee ridership, nor is LRT slow. In fact LRT has proven to attract the motorist from the car and subways have proven not to.

  12. David Says:

    SkyTrain has had 23 years to prove itself capable of getting people out of their cars and it has failed miserably.

    The number of transit passengers has risen roughly at the same rate as the population has grown, but the number of cars on our roads has grown even faster. Things are getting worse not better.

    Isn’t it time we stop the insanity, stop repeating the same expensive mistake over and over again and try something else?

    At just 1/4 the cost (or less) the time is right to try LRT. Even if it does no better than SkyTrain we’ll still have gotten 4 times as much for our money.

  13. East Vancouverite Says:

    We’re going in circles.

    Zweisystem will you share with us your vision of LRT for the Broadway to UBC corridor?

    Zweisystem replies:

  14. zweisystem Says:

    A note:

    It seems that the SkyTrain lobby are desperately trying to promote a SkyTrain metro to UBC. As indicated, Zweisystem thinks it is a dated proposal which will further increase TransLink debt and greatly increase regional taxes.

    Already many businesses are leaving downtown Vancouver to cheaper digs, the long established Page & Wilson is but a good example. This means very expensive metros feeding downtown Vancouver, will loose patronage as transit customers will change their commutes.

    The UBC SkyTrain subway scheme may be the final straw in the bankruptcy of TransLink as regional municipal governments will tire of prestige projects in Vancouver and crumbs in their areas.

    This could lead to a specter of a half completed subway along Broadway as TransLink fractures and funding ceases. It will not be the first time a subway has bankrupted a transportation agency.

    As it stands, LRT can easily handle todays ridership as well as future ridership on the Broadway route and can be built quite cheaply, if need be. But LRT can be built very expensively by those who want to download massive street improvement projects on LRT construction.

    Broadway can easily accommodate LRT, if designed properly. Certainly Vancouver’s planners in the 80’s thought so, until the TransLink light-metro planners got a hold of their plans!

    One can build SkyTrain, but the SkyTrain lobby must be prepared for the consequences of metro construction and read up on the “Law of Unintended Consequences”.

    Zweisytem will not let this blog become a ‘Trolls delight’ but will continue its role in promoting A Vancouver to Chilliwack LRT and to that end, educate the readers of modern LRT and urban transit in general, something that has been lacking in the region for over three decades.

  15. mezzanine Says:

    @David “SkyTrain has had 23 years to prove itself capable of getting people out of their cars and it has failed miserably.

    Isn’t it time we stop the insanity, stop repeating the same expensive mistake over and over again and try something else? ”

    Every year the city of portland does a survey that includes transit mode for commuting. From 1997 to 2009, there have been 4 LRT lines built or expanded and a downtown streetcar built. Effect on mode shift? Surprisingly little.

    “To sum up, these numbers are not saying that Portland is failing. There’s a credible argument that Portland transport thinking has been taking a long view and these numbers are a short view. It’s also fair to say that Portland’s transit mobility, measured in the narrow sense of how much of the city you can get to how fast, hasn’t really changed much in this period, and isn’t likely to change much from any of the rail investments planned in the next decade.

    Is that success? It depends, as always, on what you value. ”

  16. Anonymous Says:

    “At just 1/4 the cost (or less) the time is right to try LRT. Even if it does no better than SkyTrain we’ll still have gotten 4 times as much for our money.”

    That sounds like a good idea to me. It sounds like it would make transit available to a much larger number of the people paying for it. Vangirl and Ian are probably happy to have the rest of the Translink tax base paying for their SkyTrain service though.

    I mean it’s hard to argue with them. If the Valley had Vancouver paying for most of their transit, and receiving little themselves, I bet the Valley would want to hold onto that way of doing things too!

  17. Rod Smelser Says:


    … (which is another reason why skytrain to UBC only makes more sense, since it would simply be the extension of an existing line, therefore be able to share current rolling stock with our existing system and there would be no need for a useless transfer (for someone traveling to or from the Broadway corridor/UBC from North Burnaby and the tri-cities).

    OKay, … so why is the RAV line a rival technology with no interoperability?

  18. Mezzanine Says:

    Hi Rod.

    WRT to your above question, if the expo line interlined with the Canada Line, then the downtown segment would run down either Richards or Cambie due the constraints of right-of-way and turn radius of the line.
    For COV, this would be too far away from the Granville st. transit mall and too far from the CBD and preferred a granville alignment.

    Since interlining was not an option with granville alignment, the canada line became operationally independent from the expo line and using skytrain was no longer critical. (page 61)

    Zweisystem replies: Using two incompatible metro’s for ones ‘rapid transit’ is both planning and operating stupidity. The real reason SkyTrain was dropped for the Canada Line was, as cost for the metro spiraled out of control, by using a conventional metro, InTransit BC saved $40 million to $50 million of the cost of the reaction rail needed for the LIMs.

  19. David Says:

    If there was more capacity at Edmonds it would have been possible to join the Canada Line to the Expo line, but TransLink has said that if the Evergreen line is built using SkyTrain that an additional maintenance yard would be needed.

    Interlining would have had many benefits including higher ridership from a no-transfer journey, elimination of the frequent train bottlenecks at Waterfront and elimination of the need for a second underground station at Waterfront. Passengers bound for Richmond or YVR would simply use the opposite side of the platform to passengers heading for Burnaby/New West/Surrey.

    Mezzanine has already pointed out a major problem with interlining, that the trains would require a large turning circle akin to the one between the Shaw tower and Burrard Station. Such a circle would require a long tunnel below sea level in order to get under the Gastown street system and thus cost more than the straight line down Granville that was built.

    Of course this blog never supported light metro to YVR. Multiple lines from Richmond/YVR to Vancouver and Burnaby could have been built instead and served a lot more people. I have a lot of ideas of what should have been. Some day I’ll submit them to show people what we could have built had Bill Bennett not started us off on the wrong path and had Glen Clark, Joy McPhail, and Gordon Campbell done the right thing and put a stop to the nonsense. I think even Richard and mezzanine will be impressed by how many neighbourhoods and regional destinations could have light rail service today had it not been for those politicians and their short sighted supporters.

    Zweisystem replies: Please do David and I’ll post it to the blog.

    As for the Expo Line and Millennium Line joining to continue to downtown Vancouver, I recollect that Trans Link claimed that the automatic metro could not handle the extra traffic! somehow 1 minute headways could not be achieved, yet the claim is still being made today that SkyTrain can. Somewhere in my dusty and musty archive is a study which gives the excuses.

  20. Rod Smelser Says:

    The trains do not turn at the ends of the track they just switch tracks, so I don’t see what the turning radius has to do with it.

    Even if regular sharing of rolling stock were not thought to be desirable, periodic sharing as part of the maintenance schedule or for special events affecting one line more than the other might still be a consideration.

    I wonder if it’s better from a future purchase price POV to have two types of rolling stock or just one. How does the purchaser acquire any leverage in terms of competitive bidding? If the RAV line can take rolling stock from more than one supplier, something I don’t think the Expo/Millenium line can, perhaps that is a real advantage to moving away from Skytrain.

  21. David Says:

    Both Zwei and Rod seem to have misunderstood interlining the Canada Line with the Expo/Millennium trains.

    Mezz’s suggestion was that the entire system would be one continuous line and use one set of trains. Instead of being an end point Waterfront would simply be another station on the way from Surrey to Richmond or VCC-Clark to YVR.

    Expo and Millennium trains arriving at Waterfront wouldn’t turn around. They’d head east into a tunnel under Gastown and make a big right hand turn to head south to Yaletown and then on to Cambie just like the Canada Line does now.

    As I stated, such a design does have some merits and would only have required proper double track at both Richmond and YVR ends to accommodate the high frequency of Expo and Millennium trains.

    To answer Rod’s question, Canada Line can take any standard gauge EMU train set with the same carriage width and electrical pick-ups as the Rotem cars. The next order could come from any manufacturer in any country that builds such vehicles. It’s an advantage over SkyTrain in the long run, but that’s really not saying much. The only thing I can think of worse than SkyTrain for value is that crazy monorail project that Seattle voters rejected.

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