Posts Tagged ‘RAV/Canada Line’

Canada Line Puzzle – What’s The problem?

November 5, 2010

Subways & metros cost a lot of money to build and operate.

The cost of the Canada Line is now understood to be over $2.5 billion, with some estimates as high as $2.8 billion. The article illustrates the problems with automatic (driverless) transit systems is that when problems arise, service suffers. When metro stems stops it greatly inconveniences customers, many of whom have to make transfers to buses to complete there journey.

It is inexcusable that such a problems is plaguing the Canada Line and when a transit systems operates erratically, customers look elsewhere for their transportation needs.

Read, they will take the car instead.

Canada Line’s woes have people asking questions


The Canada Line’s operators are trying to get to the bottom of an issue that’s plagued the $2.1-billion system this week.

Commuters at the rapid transit line’s Richmond stops were left frustrated during Wednesday and Thursday’s morning rush hour, and again on Sunday evening when trains unexpectedly stopped between the Aberdeen and Lansdowne stations.

PROTRANS BC’s Jason Chan said sensors on the car are detecting a loss of traction but engineers haven’t been able to determine whether the problem is mechanical or simply an electronic glitch.

Whatever the cause, the issue has forced trains to run on a single track instead of the usual two.

That’s meant delays for people looking to get in and out of Richmond.

“There is no definitive conclusion to this,” Chan said. “We’re trying to find out exactly what is going on and resolve the issue.”

Chan also dismissed the notion that the year-old system was experience teething issues.

“It ran all last year, and during the Olympics, with no problem,” he said.

Scheduled maintenance track work was completed on the same section of the line last weekend during the night when service levels are low, but Chan said the service disruptions this week are unrelated


New highway won’t help tunnel – Then why build a new highway?

August 19, 2010

Now the truth comes out, the new Gateway highway being built across Delta farm land won’t reduce truck traffic through the tunnel. Mind you we knew this years ago, but the provincial government and transportation minions said “oh no, Gateway would take a lot of trucks off the 99 highway (with implications of reducing truck traffic through the tunnel)”.

But of course, the multi billion dollar Gateway highways and bridge building program, like the RAV/Canada and SkyTrain metro lines, has nothing to do with alleviating transportation problems in the region, rather its is all about land development, particularly taking precious farmland out of the Agriculture Land Reserve!

Gateway has proven current SkyTrain/metro planning is unaffordable, thus for the foreseeable future, ‘rubber on asphalt’ transit solutions will be the order of the day……..unless the region starts building with much cheaper light rail and very much cheaper TramTrain.

What of course is not mentioned  is extending the RAV/Canada Line metro across Richmond and the South Arm of the Fraser River to South Delta, simply because it is far too expensive to do so. The new $2.8 billion metro line, while basking in the limelight with the many platitudes from the Liberal government and mainstream media, sits like a great ‘white elephant’ as it is just too costly to extend in Richmond, let alone across the South Arm of the Fraser River!

Blinkered 1950’s transit planning has hamstrung the taxpayer with gold plated SkyTrain/RAV metro and an ever growing freeway network and earning the Vancouver Metro area a deserved name of L.A. North!

New highway won’t help tunnel

Provincial projections show only slight dip in truck traffic once South Fraser Perimeter Road opens

By Sandor Gyarmati, The Delta Optimist

August 18, 2010

Truck traffic in the George Massey Tunnel won’t decrease much when the South Fraser Perimeter Road is completed.

The provincial government’s projections obtained by the Optimist note truck traffic through the tunnel currently stands at about 15,600 trips daily, while the projected number after the highway opens will be 15,000 per day.

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson Dave Crebo said the biggest impact the SFPR is likely to have on traffic patterns in South Delta is to divert trips from the Highway 17/River Road corridor.

Coun. Scott Hamilton, who commutes to work through the tunnel daily, said Delta knew and has been saying all along the reduction of trucks through the tunnel would be minimal.

Interviewed by phone as he was about to drive through the 51-year-old tunnel, Hamilton said a Delta-commissioned study a few years ago backed up the contention that the impact on truck traffic would be insignificant. Deltaport expansion would also level out any drop in trucks the tunnel might experience, he noted.

“The studies have already been done way back and the percentage of truck traffic that would turn north through the tunnel was extremely high compared to what they were trying to make people believe,” he said.

The current daily traffic count through the tunnel stands at 95,000. According to the provincial government’s estimates, the tunnel will not see a significant traffic increase in the next few years.

Hamilton, though, said the tunnel numbers would only grow due to an increasing population base south of the Fraser River, especially in South Surrey/White Rock.

“You take a look at the modest growth Delta has had, especially in South Delta over the last 20 years, and it’s nothing compared to various areas of South Surrey and White Rock. That’s what’s impacted the tunnel and caused the problems along Highway 99.”

Development in South Delta will also play a role in increased traffic heading north into Richmond and Vancouver.

Dave Turner of Halcrow Engineering, who conducted a Tsawwassen traffic study, said it’s a given that any residential development here will have some impact on the tunnel. He said the housing development at the Tsawwassen Golf and Country Club will result in a modest increase but the bigger impact will likely occur if the population projections from development on the Tsawwassen First Nation reserve hold true.

The SFPR will help alleviate some of that population increase because the new road will redistribute traffic movements on the south side of the river, said Turner.

The government’s projected daily traffic count for the SFPR is 22,000 vehicles daily.

The $1 billion, four-lane highway will stretch from the ports at Roberts Bank to the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s expected to be completed by 2013.

Tunnel congestion and what to do about it certainly isn’t a new issue for South Delta. Back in 1987, for example, then MLA Walter Davidson warned that population growth south of the Fraser would overload bridges and the Massey Tunnel during rush hour by 1996.

He noted a Richmond municipal engineering report suggested the expansion of the Massey Tunnel and Alex Fraser and Port Mann bridges. Davidson said the Alex Fraser Bridge, which opened the previous year, had alleviated bottlenecks at the tunnel and Port Mann but rush hour back ups were already starting again.

Hamilton said he’s seen first-hand how traffic has changed from bad to better and then growing much worse again.

“I remember when they opened the Alex Fraser Bridge, for example, back in 1986 and you could have shot a cannon down the middle of that bridge and not worry about hitting anything at eight o’clock in the morning. Now sometimes traffic is backed up to Highway 10 … the commute through the tunnel isn’t going to get any better, that’s for sure.”

Hamilton said tunnel traffic won’t be alleviated unless a new crossing is built. The new Port Mann Bridge won’t be much help for northbound traffic from South Delta, he added.

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Come On Now Mainstream Media, Why All The Hype And Hoopla Over The Canada Line?

August 10, 2010

Subways & metros cost a lot of money to build and operate.

In the past week, the mainstream media have been singing loud hosannas about the success of the Canada Line, how it is surpassing ridership projections and all is happiness. What the MSM failed to mention is that over 80% of the total trips on the RAV/Canada line have come from about 40,000 or so bus riders who have been forced onto the new metro. The bus routes that now force feed the Canada line include the 98-B Line & 401-2-4 buses in Richmond; 601-2-3-4-5-6-20 series of buses from South Delta and the 351-2-4 from South Surrey and the former daily 15 minute service Airporter Bus. The new ridership on the Canada line is mainly $1.00 a day U-Pass holders, older Asians shopping in Richmond and gamblers going to the River Rock Casino to be relieved of their money. What the MSM have completely ignored is that the promised 200,000 car trips a day taken off the road because of the Canada Line has not materialized because the motorist has not left his/her car in favour of using public transit. In fact, TransLink is threatening to cancel some peak hour bus services because of a lack of predicted ridership.

The Canada Line is the epitome of poor transit planning, political interference and squandering of precious transit dollars on a politically prestigious mega metro project!

The problems with the RAV/Canada line, are conveniently ‘swept under the carpet’ by the mainstream media.

The MSM ignore that the RAV/Canada Line’s first estimate was a mere $1.3 billion and they continue to ignore why there was such an unrealistic low estimate for metro/subway construction?

The main supporters of the Vancouver subway portion of the Canada Line were the City of Vancouver, influential West side Liberals, Vancouver’s NPA civic party, and former City manager and close political crony of the premier Ken Dobell,who did not want much cheaper light rail (LRT) operating on an existing ‘rapid transit’ route, the politically contentious Arbutus Corridor. To that end, the estimates for a subway were deliberately low-balled in an attempt to pass public and media scrutiny, giving rise to the anti-LRT rhetoric that Vancouver has become so famous!

The problem is subways are very expensive to build; so expensive in fact that the original SkyTrain ICTS/ALRT light-metro was designed to be elevated to mitigate the high cost of subway construction!

As the costs for the RAV/Canada Line began to spiral out of control, the scope of the project was reduced to try to contain the ever higher cost estimates for the metro. The following economies to reduce costs were emplaced.

  1. A switch was made from SkyTrain to a cheaper generic, yet incompatible metro system.
  2. A switch was made from bored tunnel to cheaper (if you do not compensate adjacent businesses) cut-and cover subway construction.
  3. The stations we so designed to only accommodate three car trains.
  4. The terminus’s In Richmond and YVR are single stub stations.
  5. Minor items like omitting escalators, etc.

Despite major downsizing of the Canada Line, according to Susan Heyes (who is one of the few people who have done due diligent cost analysis of the Canada Line for her successful court case against TransLink) now estimates the real cost of the truncated metro in the neighbourhood of $2.8 billion!

Here is what the taxpayer got for his/hers nearly $2.8 billion RAV/Canada Line; a truncated heavy-rail metro which by design has a much lower capacity than if light rail were to have been built on the Arbutus Corridor at about $2 billion cheaper!

 The cost to upgrade the RAV/Canada Line? About $1 billion to $2 billion!

Where was the massive media investigation and feeding frenzy which happened with the ill fated FastFerries? Could it be that the political party associated with the Fast Ferry debacle was NDP and not Liberal? Why has the RAV/Canada Line been given a free pass by the mainstream media?

There is absolutely no chance the the Canada line will be extended to Steveston or across the river to South Delta/Surrey and for many the only way to use RAV, is to take a bus and buses are very poor in attracting new customers to public transit! For all the boasting by Richmond Mayor, Malcolm Brodie, the Canada line is absolutely useless for Richmond residents to use locally and it will only act as funnel, taking commuters to YVR (driving would be faster) and Vancouver.

So the next time one hears MSM reporters and commentators sing high praises for the Canada Line, the real story is a hugely expensive, truncated heavy-rail metro line, that has less capacity than a much cheaper light rail line, which has not attracted the all important motorist from the car and what new ridership the metro has attracted are concession fare types, taking advantage to shop or gamble in Richmond on the cheap.

The  Joseph Goebbels gambit: Repeat a lie often enough and the public will believe it is true!

High ridership means Canada Line could hit break-even point 3 years early – Another Early August April Fool?

August 7, 2010

When news is slow and TransLink is in want to fund another metro line, expect good news stories.  $150 thousand a year plus TransLink spin-doctor purrs out the RAV/Canada Lines success; golly gee whiz, the Canada Line is carrying over 100,000 passengers a day and it will soon pay for itself in three years.

What is politely forgotten is that the Canada Line already has about 40,000 bus riders a day, forced onto the metro, including those who once used the 15 minute service Airporter bus. The SkyTrain Lobby crow that the Canada Line has infrared passenger counters, but TransLink fails to mention if they are used for the ridership calculation. If such counters were in use, why not post daily ridership numbers? So is TransLink using the old method of inflating vehicle capacity, plus their patented alchemy of financial income to determine ridership?

On it goes, TransLink has yet to state what portion of ones fare on the Canada Line goes to the operating consortium, which operates the P-3  portion of the Canada line or if TransLink apportions fares from the Canada line from the buses, SeaBus and the SkyTrain metro system. (For those who don’t know, the Canada line is not SkyTrain, nor is compatible with the proprietary railway.)

Oh by the way, there is absolutely no mention of the 200,000 car trips a day taken off the roads because of the Canada Line, which makes one wonder if that claim is just too inconvenient to mention.

Another irksome problem is all those $1.00 a day U-Passes using the transit system and how they fit into the financial scheme of things? How much is the taxpayer subsiding the U-Pass holder on the Canada Line?

According to Susan Heyes, who has done much due diligence research on the RAV/Canada Line (unlike the mainstream media) the cost of RAV is now almost $2.8 billion or about  $1.5 billion more than the original cost of $1.3 billion for the RAV/Canada line metro! Gee whiz, that makes the about $400 million FastFerry fiasco look like chump change and that is probably the real reason for TransLink’s August April Fools.

The Canada Line break even in three years – ha, ha, ha – sorry TransLink, you have pulled the same stunt once too often to fool ‘Zwei’ again, next time, get BC’s Auditor General to do the books, then maybe I would believe you!

Subways & metros cost a lot of money to build and operate.

High ridership means Canada Line could hit break-even point 3 years early

Weekday ridership on the $2-billion Canada Line has surpassed the 100,000-rider mark for four months in a row — an average the line wasn’t supposed to reach until 2013, The Province has learned.

Even factoring in lower weekend ridership, the seven-day weekly average on the rapid-transit line has still been building so steadily that it’s almost at 100,000, too.

If the boom continues, it could mean TransLink’s debt on the project could be paid off years sooner than expected, even though the overall cost grew over the years.

While the Canada Line was announced as coming in ahead of schedule and on budget, that budget changed as the plans for the line changed.

Back in 2004 and 2005, the project’s costs were pegged at $1.5 to $1.7 billion. By 2006, with inflation and financing costs, the line’s cost was tabbed at $2.05 billion.

In her investigation of TransLink last year, B.C. comptroller-general Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland pegged the cost of operating the line at as much as $21 million a year more than fares would cover — and she said that situation would last until 2025.

“For example, the cost of operating the Canada Line . . . is expected to exceed the additional system revenue it generates until 2025, with costs exceeding incremental revenues by $14 to $21 million for most years until then,” she wrote.

TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said Thursday that scenario could be getting brighter.

“When we’ve hit the figures we’ve hit three years early, it simply suggests we’re going to hit the break-even point earlier,” Hardie said. “It would be nice if it was three years, or even more, early.

“Right now, we’re on target to hit the break-even point in 2022, but if we keep going the way we’re going it could be even sooner than that — which would be nice.”

After a controversial construction period in which businesses struggled to deal with the Canada Line’s open ditch on their doorsteps, the connection between downtown Vancouver, Richmond and Vancouver International Airport opened ahead of schedule, with great fanfare, on Aug. 17 last year.

The line came into its own during the 2010 Winter Olympics. With access to much of downtown Vancouver restricted, local riders were forced on to public transit and people coming in from the airport began to use the taxi-free alternative.

It was during the Games that the line hit a single-day high of more than 280,000 riders, and Hardie says the positive Olympic experience is one of the reasons for increased ridership.

“It gave a lot of people the chance to try the line,” he said.

April was the first complete month in which weekday ridership exceeded 100,000, with an average of 101,676. The figure climbed to 104,682 in May, 106,320 in June and 107,198 in July.

When the lower-ridership weekend days are factored in, the May average was 94,223 rides daily. It increased to 97,969 in June and 99,210 in July.

Hardie also attributed the Canada Line ridership to the fact there are a lot of destinations on the line — downtown Vancouver, the airport and Richmond Centre.

“It wasn’t just a matter of commuters flocking one way in the morning and the other way in the afternoon,” he said. “In fact, there would be fairly strong ridership in both directions.”

The final factor in increased ridership came whenTransLink successfully integrated its system to allow bus riders to be fed into the rapid-transit line.

A quick Province survey of passengers this week revealed a generally satisfied ridership.

Grace Brunger, 27, was riding a southbound train with her bike, heading for Southlands to go horseback riding.

“It’s cheap; it’s fast,” said the Coal Harbour resident. “I can get anywhere.

“I don’t even have a car,” added Brunger, a newcomer to Vancouver. “Even with my bike, I can always get on right away.”

The line was a good investment, she said, “better than roads.”

Still, clouds remain on the Canada Line horizon.

Richmond councillors Ken Johnston, Bill McNulty and Derek Dang issued a press release Thursday calling on TransLink to crack down on fare evaders across the system — including on the Canada Line.

Recently released figures indicate there were 24,000 fare cheats system-wide in 2009, and 550 on the Canada Line in just its first five months of service.

“I’ve personally seen people without monthly passes walking directly past ticket purchase machines and hopping on to trains — with Canada Line “green jacket” staff watching the entire way and doing nothing to stop it,” McNulty said.

The councillors want a crackdown at all stations at all peak hours until fare gates are installed. They’re expected to arrive in 2013, along with new “smart card” technology.

The unhappy councillors cited a 2008 PricewaterhouseCoopers report that estimated there were 4.1 million stolen rides annually, with revenue losses ranging from $5.3 million to $9.4 million.

There are more riders now, so it’s likely there are also more cheaters.

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