Posts Tagged ‘LRTA’

Rail for the Valley News in the EUROPEAN Press!

November 9, 2010

Ha, ha, ha………

If TransLink, the provincial government and the Vancouver Sun don’t think the Rail for the Valley/Leewood TramTrain report isn’t worth responding too, Railway Strategies do. Here we have a situation of the RftV/Leewood report being deemed more important overseas than in the Vancouver metro area! This just furthers the evidence that our regional transportation planning has completely off the track or put another way, TransLink is taking the regional taxpayer for a very long ride on the wrong train!

The following link is to the Railway Strategies article.

News and Letters – October 27, 2010

October 27, 2010

Local news & Letters

Chilliwack Progress#

William Chambers has very succinctly scored with a well landed punch on Sharon Gaetz, with this one.

 Also in the Chilliwack Times

 Langley Times#

Metro urged to recant rapid transit priority for Surrey

Two more overpasses planned for Langleys

 Surrey Leader#

Make Bond use transit

 The Province#

Valley commuters need bridge

A Siemens Combino tram in Budapest colours.

International News

Gold Coast, Australia


Los Angeles


Dulwich Hill, Sydney


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:

Smart Growth. A look into Cities, Urban planning, and the Sustainable Movement.

June 27, 2010

A tram makes a city livable!

A reader of this blog has kindly given ‘Zwei’ some links about Smart Growth around the world and they are very much well worth having a look.

Notes on – Broadway merchants want light rail not SkyTrain down business corridor – meeting

June 24, 2010

A few thoughts on Tuesdays meeting put on by BARSTA regarding transit issues on Broadway or what Zweisystem calls the ‘Broadway Follies’.

First though a comment on Vancouver’s pedestrians; my god does anyone in Vancouver, including pedestrians and cyclists obey the rules of the road? Driving in Vancouver reminded me of some sort of perverted pinball game were people blindly walk across the street against the prevailing road signals. No fewer than five intersections on Tuesday did pedestrians (including one matron with a pram) attempted to cross the street on a red light. This is pure suicide, yet it seems to have become everyday practice in Vancouver.

It was nice to meet the feisty Susan Heyes, who took on TransLink over cut-and cover construction and won. Also it was good to meet Patrick Condon, Vancouver’s streetcar man, who explained to ‘Zwei’ how he did his study and ‘Zwei’ was impressed. Stephen Rees is always worth the price of admission, as he knows the transit game in the Metro area so well.

The panel did their shtick and the audience were very receptive about light rail/streetcar. There were a few die-hard SkyTrain supporters in the audience and the three most notable were:

  1. An older lady who wanted much higher density along Broadway, for what ends, she did not elaborate.
  2. A UBC student who wanted a ‘fast’ subway so he could commute from Coquitlam to UBC to save money by not renting closer to the university.
  3. A lady who claimed she lived on Cambie St., sang hosannas about the Canada Line and then stormed out of the meeting and drove away!

Donna Dobo and BARSTA have done their homework and with the panel on Tuesday night, are well advised on the issue. I will offer the following unsolicited comments:

  1. DO NOT get involved with the ‘free transit’ debate as it doesn’t work. It has been tried elsewhere and has failed miserably in attracting the motorist from the car.
  2. BRT or bus rapid transit costs more to operate and only slightly less costly to build than LRT. BRT systems seem to failed to attract the all important motorist from the car.
  3. Do not let city engineers get their way and take off parking on Broadway. All this means, for all their hype and hoopla, is that their transit planning concedes that they will not attract car drivers to transit.
  4. All new LRT lines being built also involve traffic calming, either passive or active, reducing auto capacity on Broadway is passive auto calming.
  5. The speed issue for transit is a non issue as all transit lines are as fast as they are designed to be. Because a surface LRT system will have stops every 500m to 600m versus a subway with stops every KM. or so, the commercial speed of LRT will be about 10 kph slower than metro.
  6. If a subway is built, electric trolley buses on Broadway will be replaces by smelly and health threatening diesel buses. Diesel particulate is a carcinogen.
  7. Unless the Broadway subway is built to regular heavy rail subway standards, the capacity of a SkyTrain subway and LRT would be about the same.
  8. City staff should really try to educate themselves on light rail, I continue to be absolutely appalled by city planners and engineers who are absolutely clueless on the subject, despite modern light rail being the most popular form of ‘rail‘ transit in the world.

Also sad to say is the the so-called intelligentsia at UBC still carry on with their puerile anti-LRT stance and still treat professors who champion cheaper and just efficient light rail as some latter day Luddites. It’s a sad statement on an institution which, it seems, has lost its way.

In conversation with the intrepid Susan Heyes, it seems through her research, the real cost of the RAV/Canada Line to date is about $2.8 billion – not including compensation or court cases. Also, it seems several people were quietly compensated by TransLink over RAV/Canada line construction, but somehow, their names have been blanked out on documents received from (not so) Freedom of Information!

An interesting night, a full house bodes well for BARSTA’s efforts in the future!

For the original news article:

The 1986 LRTA Study: Bus – LRT – Metro Comparison

May 20, 2010

A Vienna tram on a simple reserved rights-of-way.

The following is from the Light Rail Transit Associations hand book Light Rail Transit Today, comparing the operating parameters of bus, light rail, and metro on an unimpeded 8 kilometre route with stations every 450 metres. Using real data based on acceleration, deceleration, dwell time, etc., the study gives real time information for the three transit modes.

Please note: This study has been abridged for brevity and clarity.

The study assumes a vehicle capacity for a bus at 90 persons; LRT 240 persons (running in multiple unit doubles capacity); and metro at 1000 persons.

The time to over the 8 km. route would be:

  1. Bus – 22.4 minutes
  2. LRT – 18 .6 minutes
  3. Metro – 16.3 minutes

The Round trip time, including a 5 minute layover:

  1. Bus – 54.8 minutes
  2. LRT – 47.2 minutes
  3. Metro – 42.6 minutes

The comparative frequency of service in relation to passenger flows would be:

At 2,000 persons per hour per direction:

  1. Bus – 2.7 minute headways, with 22 trips.
  2. LRT – 7.5  minute headways, with 8 trips.
  3. LRT (2-car) – 15 minute headways, with 4 trips.
  4. Metro – 30 minute headways, with 2 trips.

At 6,000 pphpd:

  1. 1 Bus – 0.9 minute headways, with 67 trips.
  2. LRT – 2.4 minute headways, with 17 trips.
  3. LRT (2-car) – 4.8 minutes, with 13 trips.
  4. Metro – 10 minute headways with 6 trips.

At 10,000 pphpd:

  1. Bus – 30 second headways, with 111 trips (traffic flows above 10,000 pphpd impractical).
  2. LRT – 1.4 minute headways, with 42 trips.
  3. LRT (2 car) – 2.8 minute headways, 21 trips
  4. Metro – 6 minute headways, 10 trips.

At 20,000 pphpd:

  1. LRT – 0.7 minute headways, with 83 trips.
  2. LRT (2 car) – 1.4 minute headways, with 42 trips.
  3. Metro – 3 minute headways, with 20 trips.

Comparative Staff Requirements on vehicles in relation to passenger flows. Station staff in brackets ().

At 2,000 pphpd:

  1. Bus – 21 (0)
  2. LRT – 7 (0)
  3. LRT (2 car) – 4 (0)
  4. metro – 2 (up to 38)

At 6,000 pphpd:

  1. Bus – 61 (0)
  2. LRT – 20 (0)
  3. LRT (2 car) – 10 (0)
  4. Metro – 5 (up to 38)

At 10,000 pphpd:

  1. Bus – 110 (traffic flows above 10,000 pphpd impractical) (0).
  2. LRT – 34 (0)
  3. LRT (2 car) – 17 (0)
  4. Metro – 8 (up to 38)

At 20,000 pphpd:

  1. LRT – 69 (0)
  2. LRT (2 car) – 34 (0)
  3. Metro – 15 (up to 38)

Though the study is 24 years old and completed before the advent of low-floor trams (which decreased dwell times), it still give a good comparison of employee needs for each mode. Metro’s, especially automatic metro systems do require a much larger  maintenance staff than for bus or LRT and when one factors in the added high cost of subway or viaduct construction plus higher operational costs, Metro only become a viable proposition when traffic flows exceed 16,000 pphpd to 20,000 pphpd on a transit route. 

Claims from other blogs that automatic metros can operate more frequent headways than LRT are untrue; automatic metros can not operate at higher frequencies than LRT, but if Metro is operated at close headways in times of low traffic flows, they do so with a penalty in higher maintenance costs and operational costs.

Taking into account the almost universal use of low-floor trams, operating in reserved rights-of-ways, combined with advances in safe signal priority at intersections; given an identical transit route with equal stations or stops, LRT operating on the surface (on-street) would be just as fast as a metro operating either elevated or in a subway at a fraction of the overall cost grade separated RoW’s. Also,  automatic (driverless) metros, though not having drivers have attendants and station staff, which negate any claim that automatic metros use less staff than light rail.

The LRTA study does give good evidence why LRT has made light-metros such a as SkyTrain and VAL obsolete.

A Press Release From The Light Rail Transit Association

February 26, 2010


The following press release from the LRTA is their response to the UK  All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group, regarding LRT which ‘Zwei’ commented on earlier in the week.




25 February 2010


TramForward  welcomes publication of Light Rail and the City regions Report
TramForward welcomes the publication of the findings of the All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group Inquiry into Light Rail and the City Regions. At a meeting at Westminster Paul Rowen, MP for Rochdale who chairs the group, launched the report of the Inquiry held last autumn, in which a panel of MPsscrutinised submissions from more than 30 organisations.

The Inquiry found that light rail is best suited to heavily used urban corridors, where their speed, reliability and capacity can be fully exploited. Furthermore, evidence suggests that modern tram systems are very successful in attracting motorists out of their cars, reducing congestion, improving safety, providing access for all, transforming perceptions, improving the urban environment, and supporting regeneration.

Nevertheless, the Inquiry found a ‘lack of coherent policies and consistent direction’ from the Department for Transport, which creates uncertainty in the industry and stifles development, leading to delays and cost inflation. In contrast the European experience is characterised by relatively faster delivery and lower costs.

Light rail in the UK is disadvantaged, compared to other transport modes, by the current appraisal system, which fails to take into account the full range of benefits that trams have to offer, while trams also experience less favourable treatment in the levels of local contribution and utilities betterment required.

The report calls upon Government to work together with local transport authorities and the light rail industry to address and solve these problems to ensure fair treatment for trams in the future.

Geoff Lusher, Chairman of the Light Rail Transit Association said “we support the Inquiry’s recommendations and look forward to a more robust government policy towards light rail. In order to survive and prosper in the modern world, our city regions need to be able to plan, develop and finance transport systems appropriate to their needs.”


1. TramForwardis the campaigning arm of the Light Rail Transit Association. 

2. The Light Rail Transit Association is the world’s leading organisation campaigning for better public transport through light rail, tramway and metro systems in our towns and cities for 70 years. It also supports the revitalisation of suburban and rural transport through the application of light rail.

3. The LRTA acts through its network of local branches, which campaign for better transport in their localities.

4. Membership of the LRTA costs under 12p a day. To join, visit or write to the Membership Secretary, LRTA, 38 Wolseley Road, Sale, Greater Manchester, M33 7AU. Members of the LRTA receive the monthly magazine Tramways & Urban Transit – written and read by experts in the field – and gain other benefits including discounts on videos and books, tours of transport systems and cut-price admission to selected transport sites.

All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group (APPLRG) report – Should we do the same in BC?

February 23, 2010

Trams are coming to a city near you!

Some interesting news from across the pond. Urban transit development in the UK has been hamstrung by a very powerful and vocal ‘Roads Lobby’, within the central government (not unlike the SkyTrain Lobby in Victoria), which has all but stopped light rail development in the UK. In an era of peak oil and global warming, that the transportation department still advocates for bigger and wider highways in the UK, boarders on the ludicrous. Even converting little used railways lines into TramTrain or LRT, face horrendous roadblocks created by the British Government’s bureaucracy, while road oriented transit schemes (BRT) face little hindrance for implementation.

Like the UK, what is needed in BC is a level playing field for transit and transportation projects and not the litany of half truths and deceptions that follow BC’s penchant for the SkyTrain light-metro; a mode almost universally rejected in Europe and North America. TransLink’s shrill claims about SkyTrain during the Olympics are laughable, for the ever higher ridership numbers on the SkyTrain and Canada Line could be easily handled by light rail. Also, Zweisystem wants to correct the false impression that light rail systems can’t operate 24 hours a day, like the automatic and driverless SkyTrain. The fact is LRT can operate 24 hours a day, if demand warrants, and many LRT operations around the world do.

Automatic metros, like SkyTrain and RAV, must stop for signaling maintenance daily, or face a prospect of train stoppages during revenue service and is another reason why automatic operation, both being expensive to install and maintain, is only used on the heaviest used metro routes, which needs close headways to increase line capacity.

For public transit to become a force in dealing with urban congestion and to be an attractive alternative to the car, it must be built quickly and operate affordably, something which is impossible with light metro. A good example is the City of Surrey, which has been told it must wait 38 years for an extension to the SkyTrain light-metro system!

The region needs a level playing ground for transit planning and funding and the public, for once, must be informed honestly on both the pros and cons on light rail and light metro. Until this happens in the region, TransLink will still be steaming full speed a head, on a collision course with a financial iceberg!

TransLink steaming full speed into a financial iceberg.

From the Light Rail Transit Association

February 23, 2010

All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group (APPLRG) report :

The report which is being launched today (15.00, Tuesday 23rd Feb) at an event at the Grand Committee Room, Westminster Hall in Parliament is the outcome of an inquiry chaired by Rochdale MP, Paul Rowen and a panel consisting of:Tom Harris MP (Glasgow South), Graham Stringer MP (Manchester Blackley), Clive Betts MP (Sheffield Attercliffe), Lord John Attlee and Baroness Hanham. Members of the Inquiry met three times in the Autumn of 2009 to consider evidence and hear from twenty five witnesses including the LRTA. The transcripts of the inquiry sessions can be found at the inquiry web hub

The key recommendations of the report include:

For Government

  • the biases against light rail schemes should be removed from the appraisal process
  • the DfT should provide more leadership on light rail, including a dedicated funding stream and a centre of expertise
  • the Government can assist in cutting the high costs of moving utilities associated with new light rail schemes

For local transport authorities promoting light rail schemes

  • trams should not be promoted in isolation but should be fully integrated into wider transport, economic, regeneration and environmental strategies for changing cities for the better
  • the benefits of integration that can come through the tools available in the 2008 Local Transport Act should be explored

For the light rail sector

  • the multiplicity of players, in what is ultimately a small industry, should raise their game through a single, co-ordinated and effective body which will act as a single voice for the industry as well as establish cross-industry standards which can help drive down costs

The report highlighted utility costs as a potential ‘quick win’ in bringing down the costs of new tram schemes.

Paul Rowen MP said: “There’s little argument that modern trams can help get cities moving and transform the urban realm. However, progress on bringing the tram back to city streets can too often get bogged down in circular arguments about process and costs. Our report provides a way out of the impasse with practical recommendations which we will put to the transport leads for all three of our main political parties.”

The (AVG) Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft GmbH- Karlsruhe’s longest tramtrain route – S4

February 8, 2010

The AVG’s longest run is now a 210km (130 mile) S4 service from Öhringen through central Karlsruhe to Achern, south-west of Baden-Baden. The TramTrain route uses DB mainlines, regional railway lines and on-street running in various cities.

The above map gives the various routes of Karlsruhe’s famous TramTrain network; largely in an area of comparable density and population of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. This something to think about when planners and politicians claim: “There isn’t the density in the Fraser Valley to support ‘rail’ transit.”

The Growing Popularity of TramTrains Are Again In The News

January 27, 2010

The February Tramways & Urban Transit has an excellent article on TramTrains and their growing popularity with transit planners in Europe and North America. The article ” Tram-trains: are they worth it? “, is interesting and well worth reading as very important questions are posed. The article was written mainly for the UK market where TramTrain is seen by transit bureaucrats as a “cheap way to replace clapped out DMU’s” on local services and more thought must be put into UK TramTrain proposals.

The lessons for the UK are also lessons for us on the ‘other side of the pond’.

Most interesting and what North American TramTrain proponents have know all along, is that today’s TramTrain can trace its ancestry back to the North American interurban!

The lesson for Rail For The Valley is, for the proposed reinstatement of valley interurban operation to be successful, interurban or TramTrain must service urban areas like Vancouver and must must do away with inconvenient and time consuming transfers, like the transfer proposed by many ‘rail’ groups for the interurban service to terminated at Scott Road Station and passenger transfer to SkyTrain.

Eliminating the transfer to SkyTrain and providing a direct service to downtown Vancouver are key in making the Valley interurban or TramTrain a success.