Posts Tagged ‘Fraser River rail bridge’

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 [ www.lrta.org ], 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.

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/the-1986-lrta-study-bus-lrt-metro-comparison/

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

http://www.calgarytransit.com/html/technical_information.html

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.”

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/a-must-read-for-regional-mayors-before-they-talk-transit/

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!

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If One Build Metro On Routes That Do Not Have The Ridership That Would Justify Contruction……

October 8, 2010

…..Then One Will Have To Pay Large Subsidies To Build And Operate It!

Large Subsidies Translates Into Higher Taxes!

Of course those high subsidies will have to be borne by the taxpayer, either in gas taxes, car levies, or road pricing (or all three), and or increased property taxes. The current belief by TransLink’s highly paid bureaucrats is that the homeowner in the Metro Region is flush enough to pay more property taxes.

What TransLink isn’t doing is planning for cheaper transit options and the term “affordable transit“, is not in their lexicon. Politicians and bureaucrats in Victoria are the same, as they force the metro region to build more SkyTrain and light metro. The time has come for Metro and Valley politicians to draw a line in the sand with this nonsense. If the politically unaccountable TransLink and Victoria want more SkyTrain in our region, then let Victoria pay for it, or better yet, take back the financial black-hole TransLink has become, in its entirety.

As previously mentioned, TransLink’s anti-LRT rhetoric has skewed all regional ‘rail‘ transit planning to favour SkyTrain, despite the fact that no one around the world buys SkyTrain for regional ‘rail’ transit. One now must consider all TransLink’s regional transit planning reported as “fruit of the poisonous tree” and reject it all!

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/the-10000-pphpd-question-translink-is-hoisted-on-its-own-petard/

TransLink’s business case for the Evergreen Line was so planned to support only SkyTrain construction, has been shredded by American transit & transportation expert Gerald Fox.

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/a-must-read-for-regional-mayors-before-they-talk-transit/

The Rail for the Valley/Leewood report has shown that there is another much cheaper way in providing regional ‘rail‘ transit the light rail or LRT and TramTrain solution.

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/groundbreaking-report-on-interurban-light-rail-released-today/

Thus we come to TransLink’s and the provincial government’s gambit to saddle regional property owners with ever increasing  taxes to continue building with the now obsolete proprietary SkyTrain light metro system. Regional mayors should stand fast and reject any further financial demands for ‘rapid transit’ until TransLink does a complete independent financial review of transit options for future ‘rail‘ transit construction, including the the contentious Evergreen Line and a complete independent audit is done on TransLink itself, SkyTrain/RAV-Canada Line and the bus system.

May Zwei suggest Mr. Gerald Fox or Mr. David Cockle to head such a review?

From the press.

TransLink asked mayors for a $68.5 million handout.

The Vancouver Sun

 http://www.vancouversun.com/news/TransLink+asks+Metro+mayors+million+handout/3639962/story.html

The Black Press

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/news/104509894.html

BRT to Chilliwack & SkyTrain to Langley? Just Business as Usual in BC!

October 7, 2010

The following article by Brian Lewis should forewarn us that the transit decision for the Fraser Valley has been already made. Like all transit studies done in the region in the past 30 years, the decision on transit mode is made beforehand and then a study is commissioned to confirm the decision. This is how transit planning is done in BC: Politicians make the decision and the bureaucrats make sure the political decisions stand with bogus, yet expensive studies.

One wonders why Trans Link is needed at all!

It is to be certain, Premier Campbell has not read the RftV/Leewood Report, though he is aware of its content with the announcement of an Express bus to Chilliwack and SkyTrain to Langley, sometime in the future. The TramTrain study is a radical change how transit is planned for in BC, in which no special party is rewarded, except for those wishing to use ‘rail‘ transit!

In Mr. Campbell’s world, bus based transit means new highways, which will keep the road Builder’s Association happy and building more SkyTrain will keep both Bombardier Inc. and land developers happy. Happy people translates into lucrative political donations to a political party which the happy people belong!

The Premier’s speech to the Union of BC Municipalities, was just telling the party faithful that it is business as usual in BC.

 

 

 

Premier’s transit pitch hard to swallow

By Brian Lewis, The Province

October 7, 2010

A mother shoving cod liver oil down her child’s throat in the belief it’s a good health remedy — even though it tastes bad — is one thing, but unilaterally shoving public transit policy down taxpayer throats is positively unpalatable.

That’s precisely what Premier Gordon Campbell did last week at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler when he announced Victoria’s intention to extend SkyTrain through Surrey to Langley. The tasteless tactic was repeated in the same speech when he proclaimed that Rapid Bus service would link Chilliwack with the rest of the Fraser Valley.

On both counts reaction throughout the transit-challenged region was predictable: “Oh, really?”

Regarding the SkyTrain extension, TransLink, the region’s mayors and all other stakeholders are a long, long way from agreeing on what type of rapid transit technology should be used in building the 17-kilometre link between SkyTrain’s current terminus in north Surrey and Langley district. By far the most expensive option is SkyTrain’s elevated guideway, which in current dollars is estimated to cost a whopping $2.5 billion, or more.

Campbell’s announcement took mayors such as Dianne Watts of Surrey by total surprise. As she has said many times, a ground-level system between Surrey and Langley makes more sense because it’s far cheaper, easier and quicker to build.

Langley Township Mayor Rick Green’s response was blunt : “SkyTrain to Langley is simply pie-in-the-sky,” he tells me.

“There’s no question the premier is jumping the gun here.”

Green notes that TransLink, its Mayor’s Council and the B.C. government only several weeks ago signed a Memorandum of Understanding to conduct long-term transit planning throughout the region.

Yet, here comes Campbell with an announcement that the extension to Langley will be the SkyTrain technology. “He does this even though the ink on the MOU isn’t even dry,” Green adds.

As for establishing a Rapid Bus system to serve as far east as Chilliwack, those advocating that the old Inter Urban rail line be utilized to re-establish light rail transit from Chilliwack to Surrey are more than a little miffed.

Green, who also heads the South of the Fraser Community Rail Task Force, points out that unlike Vancouver, Richmond or Burnaby, population densities in the valley tend to form in pockets, which makes an Inter Urban light rail system much more efficient and cost-effective than SkyTrain, which works best in areas where high density is uniform.

The premier announcing that Rapid Bus is the choice for service to Chilliwack also reinforces suspicions that a $400,000 study of transit options for the valley, undertaken by Victoria almost two years ago, which still hasn’t been released, will kill the Inter Urban light rail option.

Despite Campbell’s announcements, Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender says all transit options for the region will remain on the table.

He also chairs the Mayor’s Council and acknowledges that this places him in a consensus-building role to keep peace between the region and Victoria and to move the issue forward.

“We all have to work together for the south of Fraser solutions,” Fassbender says.

But a premier dispensing policy like spoonfuls of cod liver oil makes that job tougher.

blewis@theprovince.com

Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/opinion/Premier+transit+pitch+hard+swallow/3635873/story.html?cid=megadrop_story#ixzz11g8drgeT

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!

https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/a-must-read-for-regional-mayors-before-they-talk-transit/

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.

Spain’s FEVE Regional Light Railway – A Model For The Valley TramTrain?

September 27, 2010

The following came via the Light Rail Transit Association’s members group.

The FEVE is a Spanish narrow or metre gauge railway, what could be termed a ‘light’ railway, operating light rail style articulated electrical multiple units, diesel articulated multiple units as well as freight or goods trains. It is this type of operation that is envisioned for the Rail for the Valley interurban.

I visited last week the northern Spanish coast around Santander, and had the opportunity to travel frequently on the FEVE metre-gauge semi-light rail system, notably on the electrified bit between Santander and Cabezon de la Sal, which operates a regular service using high-platform tram-like articulated railcars. The stopping service uses double-articulated cars, and the “express” service single-articulated ones, both as single units. Current feed is by pantograph (I think 1500 vdc) to fairly basic but robust catenary, either span-wire or bracket-arm.

The stations are either unstaffed rural halts or else town stations with electronic gates and a “pay on arrival” ticket machine. Sometimes there is a roving conductor selling tickets on the railcar, but more often not. Disabled access is provided, either by new lift installations in the town stations or by using the ramp at the end of the platform in the rural case. There is also wheelchair space at one end of the railcar, and a lavatory at the other end. Bicycles are permitted.

The system is ferociously punctual, with a railcar every half-hour off-peak and more frequently at peak times. Rural halts seem to have spacious (and full ) car parks during the day, and even the off-peak services normally have a half-full load of passengers (in contrast to the competing local buses, which are frequently seen running empty). Fares are cheap, typically 1.90 euros single full fare for a 20 km trip (many concessions are on offer, and if my Spanish had been better I would have been tempted to try my ITSO pass and see if it worked !)

There is also a regular goods service, involving long trains of low wagons loaded with sheet metal hauled by a pair of diesel locos. At the frequent un-barriered rural level crossings these rely on massive air horns to announce their imminent passage (the passenger railcars use a whistle). This is one of the few visible weaknesses of an otherwise excellent system.

Whereas the goods trains go slowly, the railcars certainly don’t. I paced one from the adjacent motorway going at least 80kph, and they don’t slow down for the frequent sharp curves (the Spanish coast has very hilly topography – the new motorways have frequent tunnels, and the FEVE has frequent sharp curves rather like a full-size Hornby Dublo trainset.) Railcar brakes are interesting too: each trailing axle has a centrally-mounted disc brake of considerable size, but there are no track brakes. Despite that, the railcars can stop pretty quickly if required (see item above about “near-misses”)

I couldn’t get any information about the railcars’ build, but I would guess within the last decade and from a Spanish local supplier. The system seems to be subsidised by the “Ministerio de Fomento” (almost impossible to translate ‘Fomento’ – “public works and transport” is probably the closest, though it also means “encouragement”. We could do with that in the UK !)

A good example of European rural Light rail/Metro/Tram-Trains; exactly what we are attempting to achieve in the Fraser Valley.

 http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&tab=wl&q=Cabezon%20de%20la%20Sal

  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FEVE

Following photos by David Orchard

 
 
 
   

FEVE EMU

 
  FEVE Station
 
   

Interior of a FEVE EMU

 
   

FEVE DMU

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.”

http://www.calgarytransit.com/html/technical_information.html

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.

    http://thetyee.ca/News/2010/09/16/StreetcarToBeDesired/

    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.”

    http://www.bclocalnews.com/greater_vancouver/burnabynewsleader/news/103734279.html

    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: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Mayors+consider+raising+taxes+TransLink/3531218/story.html#ixzz0zhQW6cf6

    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: http://www.theprovince.com/news/Mayors+Premier+Transportation+Minister+meet+next+week/3524841/story.html#ixzz0zYIYqWw5

    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: http://www.abbotsfordtimes.com/news/Rails/3489498/story.html#ixzz0zK9NHh8q

    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“.