Posts Tagged ‘commuter rail’

The 10,000 PPHPD Question – TransLink is Hoisted on its Own Petard

October 5, 2010

At the recent streetcar symposium in Vancouver, TransLink officials contend that streetcars have very little capacity, almost less than a bus and that light rail can carry only 10,000 persons per hour per direction. This, despite the fact that the Light Rail Transit Association has, since the 1980’s, defined LRT “as a mode that can carry 2,000 to 20,000 pphpd, thus bridging the gap of what can economically be carried by buses and the ridership that would demand a subway“.

Many cities operating LRT or tram, provide capacities of over 20,000 pphpd on portions of their routes during peak hours, including Karlsruhe, Germany; Helsinki, Finland; and Tuen Mun, Hong Kong. Why then does TransLink maintain that LRT can carry only half as much as many LRT operations do in revenue service daily?

The answer lies in the 1994 Broadway – Lougheed Corridor BC Transit/Delcan study, which has formed the basis for TransLink’s questionable light rail planning since. Instead of involving consultants who have hands-on knowledge about LRT (as RftV did), TransLink continues to refer back to this questionable study, that was ill prepared and filled with technical error. TransLink wants to keep the door open for SkyTrain and metro construction in the region!

In order to make modern light rail appear inferior to the much preferred SkyTrain, the B-L Corridor Study used small capacity light rail vehicles, long headways and a small two car station in the middle of the Broadway/Kingsway/Main Street triangle to maintain the charade LRT comparisons to SkyTrain. The ruse has worked well and TransLink still spews out such dreadful bumf about light rail, that American transit and transportation expert Gerald Fox felt compelled to write a letter condemning the SkyTrain Evergreen Line business case!

If TransLink has been dishonest with LRT planning in the region since its inception, then we must assume that all TransLink planning is dishonest;  “the fruit of the poisonous tree“.

Regional politicians must now consider that TransLink’s metro planning and their so-called public consultations as a sham process and must now demand independent studies by consultants who have expertise in light rail for regional transit planning. If TransLink’s own vast planning department needs to be reduced to accommodate this, so be it, as the transit planning coming from the ivory towers on Kingsway are not worth the paper they are printed on.

A primer on modern light rail for Mr. Shiffer and company:

  1. The difference between LRT and a streetcar is that a streetcar operates-on street in mixed traffic, LRT operates on a reserved rights-of-ways.
  2. LRT and streetcars can carry 20,000 pphpd, or more, if need be.
  3. LRT can and does operate at 30 second headways.
  4. LRT is cheaper to operate than SkyTrain.
  5. Modern light rail has made SkyTrain and the light-metro class of transit obsolete.

It becomes evident why Vancouver and the Metro region is the only city in North America and Europe that uses SkyTrain and light-metro (Canada Line), exclusively for regional rail transit instead of LRT and its variants.

The taxpayer have grown weary of TransLink and carrying the SkyTrain tax burden.


Mr. Campbell Responds to the Rail For The Valley/Leewood Report With Deciet

September 25, 2010

Gordon Campbell has a very bad reputation for not telling the truth, in fact he is a habitual teller of very tall tales.

The Premier’s statement in the following article, ” But you know the operating costs of the SkyTrain are about 50 per cent a year less than with light rail. And the ridership is two and a half times greater with SkyTrain.” is a complete falsehood!

A 1996 comparison with Calgary’s C-Train LRT shows that the Expo Line costs 40% more to operate than Calgary’s LRT (both about the same length), yet the C-Train carries more passengers!

“Mr. Campbell, to restore your credibility, please provide the same type of – accurate – data for SkyTrain as can be found on the Calgary Transit website for its light-rail system.”

Operating costs, Calgary C-Train (2006).

  • Vehicle Maintenance costs: $13.9M (2006)
  • Station Maintenance costs: $2.8M (2006)
  • Right of Way Maintenance costs: $2.9M (2006)
  • Signals Maintenance costs: $2.4M (2006)
  • Average annual power costs: $4.8M (2006)
  • Annual LRV Operator wages: $6.0M (includes fringe benefits of 21.57%) (2006)
  • Total – $32.8 million
  • A 2009 study done by UBC Professor Patrick Condon also showed SkyTrain as being very expensive to operate and in his study, SkyTrain had the highest cost to operate than any other transit mode in the study, which reflects much higher operating costs.

    Mr. Campbell’s other statement that ridership is two times and half a much as LRT’s is pure fiction, both SkyTrain and LRT have the same potential capacities. To remind everyone, capacity is a function of headway & train length. This comment from the Toronto Transit Commissions 1980’s ART Study sums up SkyTrain potential capacity:

     “ICTS (which SkyTrain was called at the time) costs anything up to ten times as much as a conventional light-rail line to install, for about the same capacity; or put another way, ICTS costs more than a heavy-rail subway, with four times its capacity.”

    There is no independent study that shows that SkyTrain attracts more ridership than LRT, in fact at-grade/on-street light rail tends to be very good for attracting ridership.

    There are other erroneous claims being made in the article and they will be dealt with later.

    Mr. Campbell demeans himself with such claims, as he continues to demonstrate that truth is not in his lexicon. SkyTrain was built and will be built for reasons of political prestige and not what is best for the transit customer or the taxpayer. SkyTrain has failed to find a market domestically,in the USA and in Europe because it is both more expensive to build and more expensive to operate than its chief competitor modern LRT.

    Mr. Campbell, Rail for the Valley demands honest debate for the future of transit in the region, not your half baked statements based on fiction, to pursue your political aims.

    Oh, what tangled webs we weave, when we first practice to deceive“, Mr. Campbell, your tangled web of anti-LRT propaganda stops here, next time, deal in fact.

    Burnaby News leader

    By Jeff Nagel – BC Local News

    SkyTrain detractors should consider the benefits of the technology and not focus solely on the lower cost of building new rapid transit lines with at-grade light rail, Premier Gordon Campbell said.

    “It does cost less in capital – it costs about $150 million less,” the premier said in an interview with Black Press, referring to price estimates for the Evergreen Line to Coquitlam.

    “But you know the operating costs of the SkyTrain are about 50 per cent a year less than with light rail. And the ridership is two and a half times greater with SkyTrain.”

    The decision to make the Evergreen Line a SkyTrain extension rather than a separate light rail line will ultimately move more people, faster at lower long-term costs, he predicted.

    Campbell spoke Thursday, two days after the release of a new study from advocates who say a 100-kilometre light rail line from Surrey to Chilliwack can be opened on existing railway tracks for less than $500 million, compared to $1.4 billion for the 11-kilometre Evergreen Line.

    Several mayors, including Surrey’s Dianne Watts, have lobbied for light rail for future lines.

    Also critical to any transit expansion in the Lower Mainland, the premier said, is to ensure cities concentrate growth along transit corridors to support use of new lines while also making neighbourhoods more livable for walking and cycling.

    “You can’t have an urban transit system at rural densities,” he said. “You have to actually give yourself a chance for transit to make ends meet.”

    Campbell signed an accord with Metro Vancouver mayors Sept. 23 promising to explore a multitude of methods to raise more cash for transit expansion.

    He said mayors are free to put on the table even contentious options like a vehicle levy or forms of road pricing, which the agreement notes can help shape how people choose to travel.

    But he cautioned the key is to deliver good transit services that work and not merely try to use tolls or other fees to deter driving.

    “You can’t punish people into transit,” he said. “People use the Canada Line because they love it. It meets their needs.”

    Asked about public concern over the potential tolling of all three Fraser River bridges out of Surrey, Campbell downplayed the issue, saying the province determined in advance residents supported tolling the new Port Mann Bridge to deliver congestion relief.

    “There’s always going to be someone who says ‘I don’t want to do it,'” he said, but cited the time savings for users of the Golden Ears Bridge.

    “Think of the opportunities for connecting families, for moving goods.”

    He said an “adult conversation” is required on the options to fund TransLink for the future.

    Other parts of B.C. need transportation upgrades too, he said, adding the province will be hesitant about steering money to TransLink that deepens B.C.’s deficit or makes it harder to fund health care.

    “If there was a simple answer it would have been done a long time ago.”

    Rail for the Valley in the News!

    September 22, 2010

    The Rail for the Valley/Leewood TramTrain study has had region wide reporting, with most of the weekly papers featuring this historic news release.

    Click here to download the full 84 page report

    Surrey Leader, Langley Times & Chilliwack Progress, BC


    Valley light rail all go, twin groups claim

    Vancouver Province


    Chilliwack Progress

     Report supports light rail

    ‘An honest accounting’ of the potential transit system

    Chilliwack Times, BC

     From the North Shore News

    Valley light rail all go, twin groups claim
    Vancouver Province

    Even the Richmond Review and south Delta Leader has Jeff Nagel’s article!

    CBC TV News

    As Predicted – “Mayors consider raising taxes to pay for TransLink”

    September 16, 2010

     As predicted yesterday:

    TransLink is in a conundrum; there is no money for new metro expansion and the bureaucracy refuses to plan for much cheaper light rail. There is no way out, either taxes must increase to pay for metro construction or the transit system stagnates and becomes even more unattractive product for customers.

    It seems Langley City Mayor and the rest of the regional mayors are going to take the cowards way out, by raising everyones municipal taxes to build the Tri_Cities Millennium Line. Instead of questioning the need to build, yet again, another hugely expensive metro line on a route that doesn’t have the ridership to justify the investment, regional mayor should look at cheaper options. Instead of saying “NO” to TransLink and their dated and cumbersome metro planning, they are going again to attack the taxpayer to fund political and bureaucratic metro dreams.

    Next week, Rail for the Valley will be releasing a document that shows that we can build ‘rail‘ transit cheaper, far cheaper than the planning mandarins, in their ivory towers, on Kingsway can plan for. Here is an example: for the cost of the $1.4 billion plus Evergreen Line, we can build 140 km. of TramTrain in the region plus a Vancouver to Maple Ridge TramTrain service!

    Does Mayor Fassbender want a political reaction like the HST, by raising taxes for a transit mega project that in the past has failed to induce a modal shift from car to transit? Are regional mayors so insensitive to the effects of another tax hike to build something that can be achieved for a fraction of its price.

    It is time regional mayors hire an independent transportation consultant to give an alternative opinion for transit solutions in the region than what the well heeled bureaucrats at TransLink want forced on the public. Rail For The Valley certainly can suggest one!

    Mayors consider raising taxes to pay for TransLink

    Funds needed to build Evergreen Line

    By KELLY SINOSKI, Vancouver Sun – September 15, 2010

    Metro Vancouver mayors will likely consider a separate financial supplement to pay for TransLink’s $400-million share of the Evergreen Line by the end of the year.

    Peter Fassbender, chairman of the mayors’ council on regional transportation, said Wednesday the mayors hope to fund their commitment for the rapid transit line, or the provincial government will come up with another way to make them pay for it.

    A funding supplement would have to be approved by regional mayors, and could involve raising fuel or property taxes to bring in extra money for TransLink. The province has already said the Evergreen Line, the region’s top priority, will be built to connect Coquitlam to Vancouver via Port Moody. The provincial and federal governments have committed their share of the project.

    “We have a window of time to either come up with our commitment or the government will have to do something else,” Fassbender said. “[A financial supplement] is the only way we can come up with our share. What it looks like I don’t know yet because it hasn’t been developed.”

    Fassbender will meet Premier Gordon Campbell and Transportation Minister Shirley Bond next week to examine long-term issues of TransLink’s financial woes.

    He said he can’t “pre-suppose” what decisions will be made at the meeting but hopes “we’ll be moving forward in a positive way.

    “The purpose is to talk about working together to deal with sustainable funding and issues in transportation. It’s not going to be easy.”

    A report this week by transportation commissioner Martin Crilly suggested TransLink is still struggling to pay for transit services and will have to look at other methods if it’s to meet the ambitious goals in its 2040 plan.

    “To gain ground on the background growth of the region, a greater portion of the region’s wealth will need somehow to be devoted to providing that capacity,” he said in the report. “TransLink has yet to solve the conundrum of funding for capacity expansion, and cannot do so alone.”

    Crilly said Wednesday TransLink will have to move in the direction of a “user-pay” system to continue to build transit infrastructure and operate it. Road pricing is just one example, he said, to get more people out of single vehicles and using transit or carpooling.

    “That really is a more efficient use of space,” he said. “But in order to increase capacity it’s going to mean people will end up spending less on private travel and more on collective travel.”

    Read more:

    Mayors, Premier and Transportation Minister to meet next week – The Blind Leading the Blind

    September 15, 2010

    Talk about the blind leading the blind.

    BC Transportation Minister, Shirley Bond (who knows little or nothing about transit), the besieged premier (who knows that building glitzy metro lines buys votes), and regional mayors (who are equally unread on transit) are going to have a private meeting regarding TransLink’s ongoing financial crisis. The first hing that must be done is to invite the public, simply because the public is public transit’s customers and politicians should value their input.  Secondly, TransLink and the Premier must understand that TransLink’s perennial financial malaise is due mainly to the SkyTrain light-metro system and our perverse penchant to build very expensive to build and operate light-metro lines instead of modern light rail!

    To date the taxpayer has unknowingly spent over $8 billion for our metro system, yet for less than one  half the cost, by building with modern LRT we could have had almost double the route mileage – more trams, serving more destinations providing more incentive for people to use transit! Now there is a clever thought!

    Added to TransLink’s woes, is the singular fact that the SkyTrain light-metro system has failed to attract the motorist from the car and it is just far too expensive to extend in lighter populated areas and has not proven to be a credible transit alternative for the car. The current hype and hoopla about the Canada Line is merely self serving window dressing to sell the public on building more metro, but in real terms, for about $2.8 billion costs to date, the new metro has attracted only about 4,000 to 5,000 new riders (which is about normal for a new ‘rail’ line) and the new riders are mainly the elderly going to the River Rock Casino or Asian shops in Richmond most using discounted concession fares  and students using $1.00 a day U-Passes! The RAV/Canada line has yet to show that it has attracted the motorist from the car.

    Yes, the airport is also garnering new ridership, but do not forget the 15 minute service Airporter bus the Canada Line metro replaced.

    TransLink is in a conundrum; there is no money for new metro expansion and the bureaucracy refuses to plan for much cheaper light rail. There is no way out, either taxes must increase to pay for metro construction or the transit system stagnates and becomes even more unattractive product for customers.

    Next week, Rail for the Valley will present an affordable alternative to TransLink’s present grandiose metro and subway plans, the problem is: Will the premier, Ms. Bond and regional mayors listen!

    In BC Rubber on Asphalt Rules!

    Mayors, Premier and Transportation Minister to meet next week

    By Frank Luba, The Province – September 14, 2010 4:02 PM
    A closed-door meeting between Metro Vancouver mayors, Premier Gordon Campbell and Transportation Minister Shirley Bond next week is expected to go a long way toward settling TransLink’s financial woes.

    Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, chairman of the Metro mayors’ council on transportation, can’t presume to say exactly what will come out of the meeting.

    But he and TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis will both speak at the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce luncheon that follows the meeting. Cambell and Bond will also be in attendance.

    When asked if there will finally be some news about TransLink’s long-standing cash crunch, Fassbender replied: “We will at least be demonstrating where we need to go and how we’re going to get there together.

    “My hope is that Thursday will be a major step forward in finding the answer specifically to the question people have of ‘How are you going to do this?’” said Fassbender

    “They’re not easy answers,” he said. “There isn’t a quick fix here.”

    The situation has come to a crossroads.

    “We’re either going to move ahead or it’s clear we can’t work together,” said Fassbender. “But you know what? I believe we can.”

    The problem of TransLink funding was highlighted again Monday night when transportation commissioner Martin Crilly gave his seal of approval to the transportation authority’s 2011 plans.

    Crilly pointed out that TransLink doesn’t have the money to do what its own long-range plans to 2040 call for or what the region needs according to Metro Vancouver.

    “To gain ground on the background growth of the region, a greater portion of the region’s wealth will need somehow to be devoted to providing that [transportation] capacity,” said Crilly in a release.

    “TransLink has yet to solve the conundrum of funding for capacity expansion, and cannot do so alone,” said Crilly.

    Read more:

    Off The Rails – From the Abby Times

    September 12, 2010

    An interesting tome in the Abbotsford Times.

    Anyone wanting to put ‘rail’ transit down the median of the number 1 highway forgets that it would be hugely expensive and the curvature and gradients along the route would mean very expensive engineering would have to be done. Going ‘greenfields’ construction is always an expensive proposition which knowledgeable transit planners try to avoid.

    The problem with ‘rapid bus’ or BRT is that those who propose it do not ride it. The Achilles heel of any bus bases transit system is that it doesn’t attract ridership and BRT is no exception. Despite the hue and cry from the bus lobby, the singular fact remains that many people perceive buses as ‘looser cruisers’ and take the car instead.

    The one workable option of course is reinstating the Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban but using the 21st century Tram Train instead. It makes sense in our financially challenging times to use existing railway infrastructure to improve regional transit, as our region badly needs affordable transit solutions for our endemic transportation woes.

    The SkyTrain Lobby must grow up and realize there is precious little money for their grand metro solutions and SkyTrain here or there, sometime in the next fifty years is just not good enough!

    Off The Rails

    We’re all at the mercy of Highway 1.” – David D. Hull, Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce
    By Rafe Arnott, The Times – September 7, 2010
    A commuter train running between Chilliwack and Vancouver along Highway 1 is not feasible, say area rail proponents and infrastructure experts, but one running through higher-density urban areas could be a possibility.

    Rail for the Valley spokesman John Vissers said a commuter train running down the centre of the Trans-Canada Highway through the Fraser Valley would help traffic volume, but is financially impossible.

    Calling it a “pie in the sky” idea, Vissers said the government simply doesn’t have the money to finance such an ambitious transit project.

    “Putting something down the middle of the freeway is hugely expensive,” he said.

    “Where would the tax money come from to build something like that? That money doesn’t exist anywhere. The costs are staggering.”

    B.C. Ministry of Transportation spokesman Dave Crebo said a study to examine transit options and commuter demand in the valley is underway.

    “[We’re waiting] on the results of that, so no one would be committing to putting trains out there right now,” he said.

    Port Mann Bridge/Highway 1 Improvement Project spokeswoman Pamela Ryan said the new bridge is designed to accommodate a grade rail line.

    She said while running a train down the middle of the TransCanada Highway isn’t the best option, exploring other public transit routes through more densely populated areas in the Fraser Valley that could accommodate passenger stations is viable.

    “If we’re looking at providing rapid rail along the south side of the Fraser River, the Highway 1 corridor is probably not the best location for it,” Ryan said.

    “Whether that be Fraser Highway right-of-way, or whatever, rail systems are more effective when you have them located near high-density areas,” she said.

    Vissers thinks the existing rail line in the hands of FVLR would be a good starting point, rather than punching through another line.

    “We already own the track, and it’s underused. Why not put a few [rail] cars on it and see what happens?”

    Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David D. Hull said long-term planning is key to infrastructure growth, but British Columbia is 15 years behind dealing with traffic issues in the Fraser Valley.

    “We’ve neglected the capital infrastructure of the province for far too long,” he said.

    According to Hull, delays stemming from traffic issues with Highway 1 cost Lower Mainland businesses.

    “It’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The B.C. Trucking Association has estimated in their industry alone its in the tens of millions of dollars.

    “We’re all at the mercy of Highway 1,” Hull said.

    Taking into the consideration the current traffic volumes, Ryan said the new highway and bridge improvements would allow for a rapid bus line in designated HOV lanes to serve commuters, including a new park and ride transit exchange near 202 Street in Langley.

    “This Highway 1 rapid bus service will be able to take passengers between [Lougheed Station in] Burnaby and Langley in about 23 minutes,” Ryan said.

    “Which provides access not only to the Millennium Line, but the Expo Line as well.”

    Describing North America as a “rubber-tire society,” Hull said dedicated lanes for busses on the newly expanded Highway 1 might better serve current commuter demands.

    “That’s good enough to get you somewhere, I mean, you don’t have to be on a train.”

    Vissers said more roads only means more cars, and whenever capacity in increased, traffic follows, and that’s not a solution.

    “A solution is to develop alternatives.

    “Building freeway capacity is a 1970’s solution for the 21st Century… it doesn’t work.”

    Read more:

    The SkyTrain Lobby – Just The Usual Suspects!

    September 10, 2010

    "It used to be something called public transit ... then for reasons you're too young to understand, they did away with the public."

    Transit again is making front page news in the dailies and regional newspapers, with TransLink claiming that the next big rapid transit (read SkyTrain) line will be in Surrey, not Broadway. A few international transit blogs have picked up the story with the usual suspects singing hosannas about SkyTrain, while in the same breathe libeling anyone who supports light rail, including long time advocates of the worlds most built transit system! What is perverse about the SkyTrain lobby is that they moan on and on about how facts about LRT being distorted or untrue, yet all they have to offer in turn is TransLink’s dubious claims about SkyTrain and the Canada Line, which is a conventional metro and not ART.

    What is even more sad is that the old saw, “SkyTrain is cheaper to operate than light rail because it has no drivers” is trundled out ad naseum by the usual suspects and by bloggists who should know better. Automatic or driverless railways were the flavour of the month back in the 70’s and 80’s but have been found expensive to operate. Sure the system has no drivers, but in their stead an automatic metro system must hire a small army of attendants to keep trains and stations safe for the paying public. Not mentioned too, is a rather large squad of signaling experts must be on shift at all times to deal with problems with train operation because with an automatic metro, operating conditions must be at 100% or the system grinds to a halt.

    What has been found is that automatic metros are only cost effective if average hourly ridership is above about 15,000 persons per hour per direction, below that threshold, LRT is cheaper to operate and at 15,000 to 20,000 pphpd operating costs of both modes are about the same. Yet, one never hears this from the usual suspects.

    We have had now thirty years of SkyTrain only planning in the region and it has left us with a massive transit deficit. Sure, the SkyTrain metro system carries a lot of passengers, but 80% of those passengers have been forced to transfer from bus to metro. Transfers, especially forced transfers not only increase travel time, it deters about 70%of potential customers. There is no evidence that the SkyTrain metro system has caused a modal shift from car to transit and with the multi-billion Gateway highways and bridge project shows that the SkyTrain system is actually fueling new highway construction!

    SkyTrain is too expensive to extend and even finding funds to complete the Evergreen Line (Nevergreen Line) are almost impossible to come by, yet the SkyTrain Lobby persists that the proprietary metro is just ‘peachy‘.

    To date, SkyTrain has yet to prove in revenue service that it is cheaper to operate than light rail; to date SkyTrain has yet to prove in revenue service that it can carry more passengers than light rail! These two facts accounts for ICTS/ALRT/ALM/ART dismal sales record when compared to light rail and the once mighty Skytrain has now been relegated as a niche transit system for airports and theme parks. The usual suspects again remain silent about this.

    Yet we knew this already. From the 1983 TTC ART Study:

    “ICTS costs anything up to ten times as much as a conventional light-rail line to install, for about the same capacity; or put another way, ICTS costs more than a heavy-rail subway, with four times ICTS’s capacity.”

    Or if one had read Gerald Fox’s A Comparison Between Light Rail And Automated Transit Systems. (1991), which concluded:

  • Requiring fully grade separated R-O-W and stations and higher car and equipment costs, total construction costs is higher for AGT than LRT. A city selecting AGT will tend to have a smaller rapid transit network than a city selecting LRT.
  • There is no evidence that automatic operation saves operating and maintenance costs compared to modern LRT operating on a comparable quality of alignment.
  • The rigidity imposed on operations by a centralized control system and lack of localized response options have resulted in poor levels of reliability on AGT compared to the more versatile LRT systems.
  • LRT and AGT have similar capacities capabilities if used on the same quality of alignment. LRT also has the option to branch out on less costly R-O-W.
  • Being a product of contemporary technology, AGT systems carry with them the seeds of obsolescence.
  • Transit agencies that buy into proprietary systems should consider their future procurement options, particularly if the original equipment manufacturer were to cease operations.
  • The SkyTrain Lobby, with the usual suspects, ignore transit studies from experts who have hands on knowledge about light rail and metro and continue to put evangelic faith with those who want ‘pie in the sky’ metro and subway planning. The taxpayer, especially taxpayers who live South of the Fraser are growing weary of paying higher taxes to build just a little more politically prestigious metro in Greater Vancouver, just ask Premier Gordon Campbell and the HST fiasco.

    TransLink’s new motto for ‘rail‘ transit should be:

     “Build it Cheap and Build Lots“.

    500 Posts – The story so far……………..

    August 16, 2010

    Todays post, marks the five hundredth post on the Rail for The Valley blog and today I want to reflect on the main themes that keep out transit debates going.

    The Canada line

    Again, another major Canada Line story by the Vancouver Province news paper….

    -and I wonder why the Vancouver Province keeps writing ‘puff’ stories about the new metro service. In TransLink speak, having the media saying over and over again how wonderful SkyTrain and or the RAV/Canada Line is (the Joesph Goebbels Gambit), means the opposite is true. The Canada line is to the Liberals as the Millennium Line is to the NDP,  because the mainstream media fail to do any diligent research on the subject and treat all metro/rapid transit construction and operation as ‘motherhood & apple pie’ issues.

    The Broadway follies continue.

    Yes the debate rages on about ‘rail’ transit on Broadway and merchants clearly don’t want to be screwed like Susan Heyes on Cambie Street. Rumour was that our now disgraced premier wanted a subway legacy for Vancouver and a Broadway subway or Legacy Line was just the ticket. The $3 billion to $4 billion price tag for a subway is just a wee to much for TransLink, who can’t even find $400 million to build the Evergreen Line.

    The Evergreen Line.

    The Evergreen or locally called the Nevergreen Line is the epitome of what is wrong with our transit planning. TransLink continues to plan for ‘pie in the sky’ metro that the region just can’t afford. Just $400 million could fund a Vancouver to Maple Ridge TramTrain service, but we want a $1.4 billion metro instead and to hell with the taxpayer.

    The Valley Interurban project

    Hopefully some good news about the Fraser Valley will soon happen. To make the Valley interurban or TramTrain a success, we must think ‘out of the box’ and plan for the region and that includes Vancouver. Our present transit system is Vancouver centric, with the metro lines fragmented and for over 80% of metro users, they must take a bus to SkyTrain. To be success, the interurban/TramTrain project must service Vancouver and until it does, I am not so sure of the success, but the intrepid supporters of valley rail press on!


    TransLink continues fumbling and bumbling along achieving very little. The new TransLink board of experts, is really the government friendly board of amateurs and we hardly hear anything from them, yet they are all collecting healthy stipends. The calls for a separate transportation authority for South of the Fraser grows and if the present administration at TransLink doesn’t change, the call for a separate transportation authority will increase from a few peeps to a massive roar.

    The provincial government

    The current provincial government is broke and except for investment in the Canada line, has all but washed its hands on ‘rail’ transit in the province. The Gateway saga is the epitome of Gordon Campbell’s ‘rubber on asphalt’ transportation agenda.

    The Public Affairs Bureau

    The do their best to cloud transportation issues with phony letters to the editor and trolling the blogs. They are easy to find, their attitudes are clearly early Victorian!

    Rail for The Valley

    We continue to grow stronger and we are the only group in the region solely focused on the return of a Vancouver to Chilliwack Interurban or TramTrain service. hopefully a lot of hard work will pay off very soon!

    The blog

    Post #501 to follow. The SkyTrain Lobby beware!

    Two Valley Rail Studies

    July 10, 2010

    The following are two studies that have been done concerning ‘rail’ transit in the Fraser Valley.

    Texas’s Newest ‘Rail’ Transit line, the Red Line

    June 1, 2010

    This article for Mass Transit should prove interesting to supporters of the “return of the interurban“, in the Fraser Valley. What should be of interest is the cost of the 32 mile (51.5 km) line is less than $5 million per mile or $3.1 million per km. (CAD $ 3.24 million)!

    Let’s see, a Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban line is about 130 km., multiplied by $3.24 million/km. to build equals about CAD $421 million; or about the cost of about 2km. of bored tunnel under Broadway! I wonder if anyone at TransLink, especially those who are earning over $100k a year, are listening?

    From Mass Transit

    By Doug Allen
    Interim president and CEO, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority

    Beginning this week, commuters in Central Texas have another transportation option from which to choose: the Capital MetroRail Red Line, which began service on Monday, March 22, with a week of free service. First-day boardings exceeded our expectations by nearly 50 percent.

    The Capital MetroRail Red Line is a 32-mile system with nine stations using existing trackbed. The commuter line travels between Leander, through northwest, central and east Austin into downtown. Built for less than $5 million per mile, it is one of the most economically built systems in the country for the state-of-the-art features it employs. Given a skeptical community and in the wake of an unsuccessful light rail referendum in 2000, the MetroRail project was, by design, limited in scope. Using an existing rail line with only modest upgrades, limiting the number and length of sidings (or double track sections), constraining station size and budget, and buying a starter fleet of only six trainsets all contributed to the highly cost-effective nature of the project. These characteristics allowed for low cost and relatively quick startup, and may be a winning combination for similarly situated cities nationwide. Of course, these benefits are not without consequences, and it should be acknowledged that the level and quantity of service are constrained at the outset by the modest investment levels in the system. Fortunately the system was designed with expansion in mind and plans for doing so are in the works.

    Six diesel multiple unit vehicles manufactured by Stadler Bussnang provide incredible safety features, such as state-of-the-art crash energy management systems and passenger amenities. Tray back tables, luggage racks, free Wi-Fi, plush high-back seats, and bike hooks make for a positive rider experience. The system also includes dynamic message boards at stations and onboard trains, and a new Centralized Traffic Control system. Railroad quiet zones have been established to reduce noise pollution through neighborhoods.

    Because the system uses existing tracks that will still be used by freight trains — 32 miles of our 163-mile short line, the Llano to Giddings railroad — temporal separation is an important component of the system. As a commuter line, the three northernmost stations accommodate parking for 1,300 cars. At the southern end, two stations incorporate rail connector bus routes designed to be an extension of the train ride to deliver passengers to final destinations downtown and at the University of Texas. These quick bus routes meet the train at the station and drop off passengers at dense employment centers and the university within 10 minutes. Thus far, the rail connector routes are being well-used. More than two-thirds of riders deboarding at the MLK, Jr. Station are using one of two connectors that meet there.

    MetroRail’s successful launch was the result of the collaborative efforts of Capital Metro, the Federal Railroad Administration and our rail operations and maintenance partner, Herzog Transit Services, Inc., and their subcrontractors.

    The development of MetroRail did experience challenges, however. We delayed the system for nearly a full year to address system components that were not functioning as they were intended. A commitment to cost and schedule very early in the process, before all engineering and planning had been completed, created problems for us early on. The design was enhanced with a Centralized Traffic Control system, but integrating that system with the other signal technologies being employed on the line was more complex than had been anticipated and staffed for. We brought in new expertise and better oversight to the project, and signed on a new MetroRail provider, Herzog Transit Services, Inc. With only a few months until our opening date, Herzog spread across our line like army ants, conducting an intensive analysis of the entire line, and systematically attacking and correcting the remaining problems.

    The year-long delay was not without benefit. The Centralized Traffic Control System had been designed to operate in two modes, one for our freight operations, the other for MetroRail operations. Sensing that shifting between modes could be a weakness to the operation, the FRA asked that we consider redesigning the system to eliminate the possibility of human error initiating a shift between modes incorrectly, potentially creating dangerous results. We agreed, and subsequently took the time and effort to redesign and reprogram our entire signal network to put a safer system in place — one that we are more confident of and one that will reduce the potential of problems as we begin operating both freight and passenger service on the same track.

    With the design modifications complete and the right team assembled, the FRA gave us final clearance to begin passenger service. Of course, Capital MetroRail is just the beginning. With full trains and demands for all-day and weekend service even prior to the first day of service, we will continue planning for expansion even before the trains lose their new car luster.

    Capital Metro employees and volunteers are staffing all nine stations for the first two weeks to assist new riders and ensure they have a good first experience. Beginning March 29, valid fares will be required, and a one-way fare from end to end is $3. Capital Metro will celebrate its successful launch of commuter rail on March 27 with a commemorative “Safety Train” ride of community officials and area students who have participated in our rail safety education program and a dedication ceremony at the Downtown Station.

    We are savoring this historic moment for our transit agency and our community of bringing the first modern passenger rail system to this area. Our startup is going smoothly and now we are looking ahead to expansion of the service to meet the needs of our growing region.