Commuters haven’t left their cars at home…yet (Surprise, Surprise!)


When one constructs a transit system so user-unfriendly that the vast majority of the public avoid it at all costs, can there be any surprise that the public will continue to avoid public transit, even during the Olympics with its many road closures?

Early advertisements that there will be two hour waits at SkyTrain stations certainly has gone along way to make people planning to take transit to reconsider. Even one hour waits at SkyTrain/Canada Line stations are unacceptable and certainly points to how inept TransLink is. All the well paid spin doctors in the world can’t smooth-talk there way out of a looming transportation debacle.

The drop in vehicle trips (13%) can be attributed to the many businesses closing shop for the two week event.  Zwei knows of many businesses in Vancouver that have suspended operations or reduced operating hours for the Olympic period because customers will not take transit, which will reduce commuting traffic. But this comes at a huge cost in lost wages, etc.

The real problem of course is the transit system was designed to suit political ambitions and not what the transit customer wanted or needed. For the majority of residents in the METRO area, the transit system is dysfunctional and to be avoided at all costs. It is a transit system of the poor, the elderly and students, with a few peak hour commuters thrown in. There has not been a desirable modal shift from car to transit, despite a now over $8 billion invested in three metro lines, yet we keep building with light metro, forever hoping that the next metro will solve our endemic transportation woes in the region.

The extremely weak plea to “walk, cycle, transit into downtown“, is laughable and one tires of this Vancouver cliché!

Zweisystem has one word for VANOC’s Olympic transportation plan: Pathetic.

Commuters haven’t left their cars at home…yet

Drop in vehicle trips only reduced by 13 per cent

Dave White/Tamara Slobogean Feb 03, 2010 06

NEWS Radio 1130

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – They can close all the roads they want, and limit cars in Olympic lanes… but will it really work?  Way more commuters still have to park their rides during the Games to meet the goals of the Olympic Transportation Plan.

It all hinges on the habits of local drivers and in the last few months we’ve all heard a lot of this, “We do need more people to leave their vehicles at home, to know before they go, and to travel smart… Walk, cycle, transit into downtown.”

The plan has always been to reduce car and truck traffic in key areas by 30 per cent.  With 9 days to go, the city’s Olympic transportation director Dale Bracewell says we’ve cut traffic by just 13 per cent.  

Tomorrow we start dealing with Olympic lanes. Things stand to get serious Friday with the closure of the Georgia Viaduct, the city warns if you’re still driving then, expect real backups especially around the Granville and Cambie Street bridges.

The TravelSmart Challenge was created as a trial to reduce city traffic by five per cent each week leading up to the Games.–commuters-haven-t-left-their-cars-at-home-yet


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17 Responses to “Commuters haven’t left their cars at home…yet (Surprise, Surprise!)”

  1. mezzanine Says:

    At this same time, Canada Line ridership is approaching 120, 000 riders per day, levels that we were supposed to reach in 2025, 15 years from now.

    These counts are verified by the city of vancouver.

    “To track the progress of the challenge in reducing vehicle traffic on an incremental basis, the City of Vancouver is conducting data monitoring on behalf of the Olympic and Paralympic Transportation Team (OPTT) each Friday and reporting on the vehicle traffic reduction results publicly the following week.

    Last Friday, a record number of commuters took public transit to get into downtown Vancouver. There were 120,000 trips on the Canada Line ― the largest number of trips to date since the new rapid transit line opened last August, and 10,000 more trips than recorded on Friday, January 15.

    While the overall number of drivers coming into the downtown was only one per cent below normal levels, there were fewer vehicle trips made in peak periods.”

    Zweisystem replies: If you believe that 120, 000 riders per day are using the Canada Line, I have shares in the Lions Gate Bridge for you to buy. Since when does the city of Vancouver count metro ridership? Counting boardings is a long tedious affair and TransLink has a long history of ‘fudging’ figures. What I see is a massive propaganda campaign to make ‘Campbell’s toy train look like a success.

    Until the BC Auditor General puts his seal on SkyTrain/RAV ridership, the figures will continue to be stuff and nonsense.

  2. mezzanine Says:

    my guess is that COV is compiling data from all modes during the olympics. WRT canada line, they probably aren’t using staff to count manually, but receiving information from the automated passenger counters in all c-line stations.

    The APCs are infrared counters made by Dilax. They have other counters in transit systems in London, Barcelona and Vienna.

    Zweisystem replies: The question is”has any one done a boarding count to see if the Dilax counters are accurate?”

  3. Richard Says:

    Your inconsistencies on Canada Line ridership counting are getting rather tiresome. You know that laser counters are being used yet you continue to imply that the methods that are being used on the SkyTrain lines, which you had concerns about, are being used on the Canada Line. To remind you, here is your post on the matter.

    You further state that the counts can be off by as much as 15% when when there are a lot of people travelling past the counters. However, you don’t state whether it is plus or minus 15%. If this is the case, then ridership could actually be 15% higher than is stated.

    Even if it is 15% less, this is still over 100,000 passengers per day, far greater than the 50,000 to 70,000 you were predicting before the line opened.

    Zweisystem replies: Sources have told Zwei that the Dilax counters are none too accurate and there is a tendency to over-count ridership. One would think that an attempt would be made to prove accuracy. For TransLink, higher ridership numbers are welcome so I guess no attempt will be made to gauge accuracy. I wouldn’t place any wager that Canada Line ridership is as TransLink states.

    As for being tiresome, I am just asking questions that the mainstream media should be asking. Personally I find the SkyTrain lobby tiresome.

  4. squeezied Says:

    Do yourself a favour and get your ass out of the valley and take the canada line during rush hour. That’s what I did today. And if you truly believe that trains so packed that I even had nothing to grab hold of and people were not able to get on is an underused failure then you are beyond help. What’s the point of arguing about the accuracy of numbers? Go there and see how well used it is.

    Your problem is that you choose to listen to the facts that support you and dismiss those that work against you. Typical cheerypicking.

    Zweisystem replies: The Canada Line with 4 minute peak headways, 6 minute day headways, and 10 minute evening headways (as advertised by TransLink) combined services from Casino Junction to Waterfront Station, combined with diminutive 2 car trains, will create crowded conditions giving the illusion of high ridership. The sad fact is, to increase capacity of the Canada line, it will cost $1 billion to $2 billion dollars more. Maybe TransLink should reinstate the 602, 603, 604, & 351 direct services to downtown Vancouver.

    As for cherrypicking, the SkyTrain lobby are very good at finding worst case scenarios on over 400 other LRT/tram systems around the world to further their case, supporting SkyTrain. As very few transit authorities buy SkyTrain or are considering light-metro, it is easy for the SkyTrain lobby to cherrypick operational aberrations in other cities with light rail.

  5. mezzanine Says:

    C-line update – 122,000 daily ridership on January 29.

    “Last Friday, the overall number of drivers travelling in the downtown was four per cent below normal levels (compared to one per cent on January 22 and four per cent on January 15).

    A high number of commuters took public transit or sustainable modes of transportation. There were 122,000 trips on the Canada Line”

    Zweisystem replies: The same questions remains unanswered. How does TransLink count ridership and are the ridership figures given by TransLink been independently audited? TransLink can claim all they want and it is certainly in their interest to claim higher ridership, is anyone auditing how they calculate it?

    It seems TransLink doesn’t want to answer.

    This why in Europe and the USA, transit operators receiving government subsidy have their ridership figures independently audited to prevent fudging of the figures.

  6. voony Says:

    Each Canada line car set carry as much as if not more people that the Paris T3 LRT, one of the longest if not the longest in passenger service around the world…and 4mn headway is kind of a minimum threshold for LRT (lower headway can be possibly achieved but at the expense of the speed)

    to double the capacity of Canada line require to add ~12 more train, and that without compromising the speed.

    I pretty much doubt of a $ 1billion price tag for it…

    and beyond it, there is still room for increased capacity without major civil engineering:
    -add a 10meter “dummy car”

    – further reduce the headway without compromising on speed

    Then only you can consider to increase platform length. But you have time before it.

    Zweisystem replies: Voony, you are wrong on so many points it is no wonder you support SkyTrain. What would be the cost to design and build a ‘dummy car’ for the Canada Line? We would be the only market for it – $10 million per car or more!

    A Canada Line car has an industry standard capacity of 163 persons (all seats occupied and standees @ 4 persons per metre/sq). Since TransLink fudges the figures by increasing capacity by using ‘crush’ capacity @ standees @ 6 persons per metre/sq.

    The speed of a transit line is dependent on the signaling available. Most LRT systems can travel at speed @ 90 second headways, if it is signaled for it. To increase capacity, major engineering must be done, just like the $1 billion earmarked for the Expo Line to increase capacity!

    What of course makes your arguments rather silly, for about $1 billion Iinstead of the $2.5 billion for the Canada Line metro) we could have had a LRT line from Vancouver to Stevenson, YVR, and Ironwood Mall, with a potential hourly capacity of over 20,000 pphpd, without custom made ‘dummy’ cars, and $1 billion or more retrofits!

    No wonder no one buys with SkyTrain or light-metro!

  7. David Says:

    Canada Line is a success in terms of how many people it appears to be carrying and the crowded conditions those people must endure. Much of that crowding is unfortunately being imposed by TransLink who refuse to pay ProTransBC to operate more than 16 trains per hour.

    It’s a failure because the same number of people could be carried by a system costing just $600 million to build. Compare that with the official $2.054 billion price tag for Canada Line or the more realistic $2.5 billion cost.

    There are many other reasons to criticize the choice of route and technology used by Canada Line.

    – It doesn’t effectively serve the 130,000 people in Richmond, most of whom have to take a bus to get to the line.
    – It doesn’t serve the commercial and medium density housing in Cambie Village
    – It doesn’t serve the high density towers and the city’s largest high school at 57th Ave.
    – It would cost too much to extend the line farther south or create a second Richmond branch
    – the station platforms are too short to accommodate longer trains

    LRT is not always the answer but light metro is never the answer because it costs almost as much as heavy metro while struggling to match the capacity of LRT.

    Zweisystem replies: Just a note, Zwei has never supported TransLink’s LRT plans for the Evergreen Line as I felt it was far too expensive for the ridership it was supposed to cater too; doubly so for SkyTrain. What Zwei recommended was a DMU (now DLRT) service from Maple Ridge, via Coquitlam, New Westminster/Burnaby to Vancouver. LRT is not a panacea but a proven mode that reduced auto traffic and congestion.

  8. voony Says:

    I think the “standees @ 6 persons per metre/sq.” is a European figure, and I was comparing with an European tram capacity, so eventually what you say gives a good view of the condition in which a LRT achieves an high ridership.

    “Most LRT systems can travel at speed @ 90 second headways”:

    Curious to know them: may you point at specific example?

    Zweisystem replies: Actually Voony standees @ 6 persons m/sq. is an industrial standard for “crush” loading for transit vehicles and is used sometimes to fudge ridership numbers. TransLink once played the same game with the SkyTrain Mk.2 cars.

    If you had read what I said before, the headways at speed is dependent on the quality of signaling provided. Most European tramways operate by ‘line of sight’ with local signaling only, yet they can obtain 30 second headways, though not at 90 kph. As for 90 second headways on LRT lines, if there is a need for 90 second headways, it will be signaled for it. I find it fascinating that today, in the METRO region transit buses speed along highways 99 & 17 daily, at 3 to 5 second headways (in traffic) at 90 kph strictly by line of sight, yet LRT traveling at speed at 60 second or less is considered impossible.

    It is also important to note that the more intensive the signaling, the higher cost of maintenance and transit routes are signaled for what is most economic in revenue operation. It is no coincidence that just the SkyTrain Expo Line has 60% higher operating costs than Calgary’s LRT, even though the C-Train has drivers, the maintenance of the automatic train control on SkyTrain is extremely expensive.

    In the end Voony I must point out that LRT has made light-metro obsolete and your arguments have all been dealt with years ago – get over it, light-metro lost.

  9. mezzanine Says:

    Last Friday – 135000 daily ridership for the canada line. The olympic tram line also posted 15000 daily rides.

    “On February 5, there were 135,000 trips on the Canada Line – a new high for ridership numbers since the rapid transit line opened last August. There were also 21,000 trips on the SeaBus. On the same day, 3,200 cyclists rode into downtown Vancouver across the Burrard, Cambie and Granville bridges, compared to 2,900 on January 29.

    On Saturday, February 6, there was also record ridership on The Olympic Line – Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar with over 15,000 trips. ”

    Zweisystem replies: One can claim any ridership figure they want on the Canada Line because nobody audits ridership numbers. The same phenomenon happened with the Expo Line after Expo 86. This why it is very important for government to audit ridership figures, to make sure that are accurate.

  10. David Says:

    Maybe tomorrow I’ll claim Canada Line carried 150,000 people 😉

    Sorry mezzanine, it’s propaganda and you’re eating it up like it was real.

    Oh and Zweisystem, I wouldn’t believe a BC Government “audit” of their pet project any more than I believe TransLink. Every major political party in this province has supported light metro in this region. There isn’t a person alive who currently or previously occupied a seat in the Legislature who will admit building light metro was a mistake.

    Zweisystem replies: After Expo 86 and every year until 1992, BC Transit claimed a 10% increase in ridership. The 1992 Ahad report put a stop to this nonsense when he found that ridership actually dropped from 1990 to 1992!

  11. mezzanine Says:

    @ David, I’m thinking of that Yogi Berra quote: “The Canada line is so crowded, nobody goes there.” 😉

    The Canada Line certainly looks busier than ususal (completely my observations/anecdotal), especially if you tried to get on at WF, VCC or Broadway stations.

    My guess? This friday 140,000 if the weather is bad, 150,000 if it clears…

    Zweisystem replies: Let us not forget that the San Diego LRT system carried 650,000 passengers during the three day SuperBowl event when it was last held in the city, with over 300,000 passengers carried on the day of the event.

    If the Canada Line is carrying so many people, why then doesn’t TransLink reinstate the Express (direct service to downtown Vancouver) 300 and 600 series of buses from south Delta/Surrey? No, I wonder why? Maybe that the Canada line is not carrying as many passengers as TransLink claims.

    As an aside, Zweisystem was looking at some old files and it seems that TransLink was claiming in 1998 that a Mk.1 SkyTrain car could carry as much as 110 persons! Not bad for a car that the TTC rated having a capacity of 60 persons. I would wager TransLink is using the same math.

  12. David Says:

    I have no doubt the line is busier than usual and that’s to be expected with a major event in town. I just don’t trust the actual figures because they come from a source that not only has a vested interest in inflating them and a history of doing so, but is overseen by a government with an even bigger interest in inflated passenger counts.

    I think you’re right that more people will attend the special Olympic events if the weather improves.

    When there is no special event in town the opposite thing happens: transit ridership goes up when it rains. In fact that’s what caused me to stop taking the bus to work. There aren’t many things worse than an overcrowded bus on a rainy day. It makes being a SkyTrain sardine feel like a vacation.

  13. mezzanine Says:

    ^ Do you have a link wrt San Diego?

    City of San Diego docs say that for the 2003 superbowl, ridership for the event day was 23,000 for their rail system. (page 2)

    Zweisystem replies: Please do not insult me with such nonsense! The 650,000 in three days number was widely reported in the transit press, including T&UT. The San Diego trolly system carried far more passengers per day in 2003 than the 23,000 you state. What this tells me is that the SkyTrain lobby will go to great lengths to deceive the public, but please do not try this on this blog. You are a propagandist of the worst order and everyone should take you claims with a grain of salt! I’ll be blunt, you are not telling the truth.

  14. zweisystem Says:

    The previous post was highly disingenuous about ridership on the San Diego Trolley, during the 2003 Superbowl. The following is from

    “They sure do, even in car-centric San Diego. Over 110,000 riders use th Trolley system daily. On special event days, such as Chargers or Padres games, ridership spikes as high as 225,000 per day.”

    The following, “San Diego Trolley, From Super Bowl Rookie to Super Bowl Veteran by TOM DOOGAN San Diego Trolley Inc., is well worth a read, where,

    “…….during San Diego’s 1998
    Super Bowl Week when more than 500,000 fans used the Trolley to go to the various events and
    the game. And that was one of the factors that contributed to San Diego being selected to host
    the game in 2003.”

    “Utilizing all data available in conjunction with the standard ridership formula, the
    following Trolley ridership information was provided for the 4-day period beginning Thursday,
    January 23 through Sunday, January 26 (Super Bowl Day).
    • Thursday, January 23, 2003…………………105,841
    • Friday, January 24, 2003…………..…………224,322
    • Saturday, January 25, 2003………………….342,615 (highest day on record)
    • Sunday, January 26, 2003……………………128,652

  15. mezzanine Says:

    ^ thanks for the link to the Doogan paper.

    Still, there is a discrepency in the paper- you and I are both right, ridership to Quualcomm stadium maxed out at 23,000. (page 19)

    ” Pre-game to stadium…..………………………….….23,000 (trolley)
    • Post-game from stadium.. ……………………….…18,000 (trolley) ”

    I suspect that the 500K plus ridership is for the entire network, with the green and blue line serving the stadium, and not the orange line.

    To make a proper comparison to Vancouver, you would have to look at the network ridership for the olympics (ie, the E and M lines, plus the C-line.).

    Zweisystem replies: A bit of logic here – on a tram system that carries about 100,000 to 110,000 a day, yet during the 2003 Superbowl, of the over 340,000 passengers that used the Trolley the day of the event, only 18,000 to 19,000 went to the stadium, is just stretching credibility.

  16. Joe G Says:

    Actually, Mezzanine – you were dead wrong and you should admit it. You claimed that “ridership for the event day was 23,000 for their rail system.” That’s completely false and it makes LRT look bad. And if readers want to look for themselves, they have to leaf through fine print in a 22 page document.

    It gives credence to the view that you are a propagandist of the worst order.

    I am glad Zweisystem called you out as loudly as he did on this.

  17. mezzanine Says:

    @Joe G, …and I wouldn’t want you to believe me.

    I’m a pseudonym on the Internet. I do want ppl to do the research, verify and decide for him/herself.

    Looking back on my link, this is the actual quote I alluded to:

    “During Super Bowl XXXVII the trolley carried approximately 23,000 fans to the game. Based on attendance figures this represents 33.4% of the gate.”

    If this was construed as total ridership for all 3 lines of the trolley system, then for that I admit my mistake.

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