Posts Tagged ‘Broadway Rapid Transit’

The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree – TransLink’s Regional Transit Planning

October 13, 2010

Fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal metaphor in the United States used to describe evidence that is obtained illegally. The logic of the terminology is that if the source of the evidence (the “tree”) is tainted, then anything gained from it (the “fruit”) is as well.

TransLink’s planning officials still maintain that modern light Rail has a limited capacity of about 10,000 persons per hour per direction and refuse to entertain the fact that they are wrong. All of TransLink planning, including the RAV/Canada Line, the Evergreen line, the Broadway/UBC rapid transit line, and Fraser Valley transportation have assumed LRT’s seemingly inferior capacity and despite the fact that modern LRT can carry in excess of 20,000 pphpd, have portrayed LRT as a poorman’s SkyTrain.

The assumption that light rail has only a capacity of 10,000 pphpd is wrong.

The Light Rail Transit Association [ ], which can trace its history back 63 years, which has continually campaigned for affordable and efficient public transit, defines light rail transit as:

“a steel wheel on steel rail transit mode, that can deal economically with traffic flows of between 2,000 and 20,000 passengers per hour per direction, thus effectively bridging the gap between the maximum flow that can be dealt with using buses and the minimum that justifies a metro.”

The following study from the LRTA, shows that even in 1986, it was generally understood that modern LRT could carry 20,000 pphpd.

More recently, (2006) Calgary Transit LRT Technical Data page claims that the maximum theoretical capacity of the C-Train is 30,700 pphpd!

Maximum THEORETICAL single direction capacity (pass./hr/dir) at 256 pass./car and 2 min. headway:
3-car train 23,040
4-car train 30,720

If TransLink’s basic assumption about light rail (including streetcar) is wrong, then TransLink’s entire planning history, regarding bus, LRT, and SkyTrain is wrong and is not worth the paper it is printed on. Yet TransLink, without any public scrutiny and very little political oversight, continues to plan for hugely expensive SkyTrain light-metro projects, which supposed support for, has been heavily biased by questionable studies and even more questionable tactics – all fruit from the poisonous tree!

Noted American transportation expert Gerald Fox, summed up his observations on the TransLink business case for the Evergreen line;

” It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding.”

Has TransLink’s regional transit planning over the past ten years nothing more than “Fruit of the poisonous tree?”, based on the fact that TransLink’s bureaucrats desired that light rail (LRT) be seen inferior to SkyTrain, on paper, to ensure further planning and building of their cherished light metro system?

Rail for the Valley would welcome TransLink’s clarification on this issue!


The Failure To Understand Modern Light Rail = Public Transit Chaos

May 25, 2010

‘Zwei’ has been taken aback by the viciousness of the SkyTrain Lobby and the great lengths they have taken in discrediting the LRT, while at the same time refusing to acknowledge the marketing failure of the proprietary (ICTS/ALRT/ALM/ART ) light-metro system, known in Vancouver as SkyTrain.

‘Zwei’ is also taken aback by abject refusal by many supposed experts to take the time to clearly understand modern light rail and/or modern LRT philosophy,  instead treating it the same as a glorified bus or a poor-man’s metro.  As well, ‘Zwei is dumbfounded, by many of the same supposed transit experts who do not understand the fundamentals of transit and or rail operation, especially from a customers point of view. In Metro Vancouver, many planning bureaucrats abjectly refuse to acknowledge that  modern light rail is a very strong tool to mitigate congestion and pollution, which only exacerbates our regional transportation planning ennui.

A good example of not understanding ‘rail‘ operation are those who continue to pontificate that automatic transit systems have fewer employees, therefore cheaper to operate than light rail. This simplistic view is wrong and except when traffic flows are in the order of 20,000 pphpd or more, then there are noticeable cost savings in automatic operation. The notion that automatic metros can operate 24/7 is just that, a notion as driverless metro need daily ‘down time’ to adjust and check the signaling system for if something goes wrong, the driverless metro stops and until a real persons checks the system to see why the metro stopped and if it is safe to continue operation, will operation be started again.

Unlike LRT, with an on-board driver, automatic metros need a full complement of staff to operate at all hours to ensure the safety of passengers, on trains and in stations. Many LRT operations have service 24 hours a day and with the simplicity of the transit mode, very few staff are needed. Contrary to what many ‘bloggist’s’ post, modern light rail is much cheaper to operate than metro and driverless metro.

The hysterical wailings of those wishing grade separated transit systems also ignore the fact that moder LRT is one of the safest public transit modes in the world. The fact that SkyTrain has a higher annual death rate than comparable LRT operations is forgotten in their zeal to discredit modern trams. Yes, cars do crash into trams. Yes, car drivers do disobey stop signals and deliberately drive across tram lines in the path of an oncoming trams, with predictable results. Yet tram/LRT/streetcar road intersections are about ten times safer than a road – road intersection. In Europe, if a car driver ignores a stop signal and is in an accident with a tram, the car driver is heavily fined and may lose his right to drive. In Europe, autos seldom come to grief with a tram, as the legal consequences colliding with a tram is a strong deterrent.

The speed issue is another ‘man of straw’ argument as those who want SkyTrain. They bang the ‘speed‘ drum loudly proclaiming that SkyTrain is fast and speed trumps all in attracting ridership. Speed of ones journey is just one facet of the many reasons why people opt to take public transit. What is true, it is that the overall ambiance and convenience of a ‘rail‘ transit system has proven more important attracting new ridership. Contrary to what many believe, elevated and underground transit stations tend to deter ridership. The speed issue is a non-issue and fact is, if the Vancouver to Chilliwack tramtrain comes into operation, it will have a much faster commercial speed than SkyTrain, yet Zwei would never make the claim that tramtrain would be better because it was faster!

Studies have shown (Hass-Klau Bus or Light Rail, Making The right Choice) that in urban areas the most beneficial distance between transit stops is 450m to 600m and with any greater distances between stops tends to deter ridership and stops closer than 450m tend to be too slow. Those want a fast subway under Broadway are commuting from the far reaches of the SkyTrain and or bus network and one would question why they would live so far away to commute to UBC, if they are at all?

In the real world, transit systems are designed and built to economically move people, not so in Vancouver where transit is built to cater to the needs of land use, thus we continue to build hugely expensive metro lines on low ridership routes (for metro), where selected property owners make windfall profits from up-zoning residential properties to higher density condos and apartments. This is a ‘fools paradise’, because we are spending up to ten times more to install a metro on transit routes that don’t have the ridership to sustain a metro, while at the same time failing upgrade many bus routes to LRT to cater to higher passenger flows, which now demand greater operational economies. Much needed transit upgrades and improvements in the region go wanting to fulfill the extremely expensive and questionable SkyTrain/land use dream on only a few routes.

The failure to understand modern light rail is leading the region into a massive financial black hole, by continually building extremely expensive metro while at the same time treating LRT as a yesterday’s transit mode. Today, Vancouver’s transit fares are some of the highest in North America and fares will continue to rise, largely in part due to SkyTrain and light-metro. TransLink will continue to be in financial peril if planning bureaucrats continues to plan and build with metro on the Evergreen Line and the Broadway subway.

Modern light rail has been crafted, with over 125 years of public transit experience, to fulfill  human transit and transportation needs, unlike our automatic SkyTrain light metro, which original design and selling point was to mitigate the massive costs of heavy-rail metro in an age before modern LRT. To put SkyTrain in a subway is an oxymoron and demonstrates the modes proponents gross ignorance of transit history; to continue to build SkyTrain on routes that do not have the ridership to sustain metro demonstrates complete fiscal irresponsibility.

As Zweisystem has always observed, “Those who fail to read public transit history are doomed to make the same very expensive mistakes.”

The failure to understand the role of modern LRT, streetcars and trams, will lead the region into transit and transportation chaos, where the much needed ‘rail‘ network will be but patches of expensive politically prestigious metro lines linked by buses: impractical, unsustainable, and fool-hardy.

Chaleroi light-metro station - Too expensive to complete and never used!

A Poll That the Main Stream Media Ignored. Can We Expect The Same For Other Non SkyTrain ‘Rail’ Projects?

May 19, 2010

A very strange thing happened yesterday with ‘Zwei’. When I was discussing a transit matter with an US transit type about the RAV/Canada line. He told me that TransLink officials claimed that over 80% of Vancouverites supported RAV and if it were not for the high costs of the metro, many more metro type transit systems would have been built in the USA.

I replied that “Well no; TransLink likes to claim 80% support, but their polling results are questionable.”

I have dug up the following 2004 contrary poll from Robbins Research and emailed it to him and I thought it should be posted on RFV as well. What is interesting is that there is such a wide gap between this poll and TransLink’s claims.

With the Broadway Follies now in full swing, it must be remembered that what TransLink claims, isn’t necessarily true and that we should treat what TransLink or Vancouver City bureaucrats claim about public support for SkyTrain, the RAV/Canada Line and the upcoming  SkyTrain Broadway ‘Rapid Transit’ Line as we would treat a Nigerian Email.

What the SkyTrain lobby really wants.

From Robbins Sce Research

A random sample of 405 Vancouverites on May 14, 2004, It features a margin or error of 4.2%, 18 times out of 20, @97% competency.
Question #1Recently, the Board of Directors of Translink voted down RAV, with the opposing votes claiming that it was too costly, and that it may ultimately overburden taxpayers. Do you agree with THIS opposition to RAV?

Yes    72.6 %
No    27.4 %
Question #2Would you regularly use light rapid transit between Vancouver-Richmond and/or the Vancouver Airport?

Yes    35.3 %
No    64.7 %
Question #3How likely would you be to EVER use a light rapid transit means of transportation between Vancouver/Richmond and/or the Vancouver Airport?

Very Likely    33.6 %
Likely    10.7 %
Not very likely at all    55.8 %
Question #4The Vancouver Board of Trade, The BC Business Council, Premier Gordon Campbell, and Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon are all demanding that the Translink Board reconsider their vote on RAV. Mayor Larry Campbell voted for RAV, Vancouver City Councilors David Cadman and Raymond Louie voted against the proposed RAV. Whose position do you agree with?

Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell    31.4 %
Vancouver Councilors David Cadman and Raymond Louie    68.7 %
Question #5In your opinion, what direction should Translink now take with respect to light rapid transit between Vancouver-Richmond and the Vancouver Airport?

Scrap the whole concept, we don’t really need it and its all too expensive    14.9 %
We should construct light rapid transit between Vancouver Richmond and the Airport for under 1 billion dollars with NO cost overruns to be born by the taxpayer    81.8 %
We should construct the original RAV line for between 1.5 billion and 2 billion dollars just as was planned    3.5 %


Commentary-No matter how you choose to look at the light rapid transit issue between Vancouver Richmond and the Airport, it is clear that the original ‘Cadillac’ RAV must be kept off the table for ever. Its too expensive, and taxpayers do not want to be exposed to additional taxes owing to cost overruns.
It is obvious there is a need to light rapid transit to the airport; however it remains interesting how many respondents who said they would use RAV want to know what they would do with their luggage. This is the same question which was raised by Airport workers in a previous poll of Richmond residents.
Media coverage of last week’s ‘losers’ on the RAV vote, including Surrey Mayor and Translink Chair Doug McCallum, Vancouver Board of Trade and BC Business Council representatives, Rezac and Lampert, Premier Gordon Campbell and Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon, complaining about the outcome is becoming very offensive to right thinking British Columbians. It is abundantly clear that these individuals are not thinking in the interests of the citizens they purport to represent, or in the case of the two special interest representatives, ANY voting citizens.
Why do the media persist in speaking to special interest groups on subjects that those groups or organizations have no democratic interest in? I put the same criticism on the Canadian Taxpayers Association debating with H.E.U. members. This RAV debate if not modified to a dialogue that makes sense to the voter, and the consumer, runs the risk of further turning this province into a political Ozark. Mr. Falcon’s comments that 80% of the public want RAV are dishonest.