Posts Tagged ‘West Broadway Business Association’

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

October 13, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The LR55 Rail System – Cheap track for trams!

September 6, 2010

This item first appeared in August 20,2009, but I think it is so important to reprint the article in light of todays interest in streetcars and light rail in Vancouver and Surrey. The LR55 rail, not only provides a cheaper solution to tram track construction, it makes a quick job of construction, making life a lot easier for those living next to the new tramline. A 20 km. BCIT to UBC tramline could be laid in as many as 125 days (two track gangs) or a little more than 4 months!


One of the major expenses of conventional tram projects is the track. This is laid on a concrete raft set under the road. In order to accomodate these rafts the underground services, like gas and water, have been diverted out of the way of the tracks. This process took a considerable amount of time and money in schemes like Manchester and Sheffield. In addition it caused disruption to inhabitants while taking place.

To avoid or reduce these problems NET proposes to use the revolutionary LR55 rail system. This is laid in the road structure itself so that there is little or no disturbance to underground services. Instead a slot is cut in the road and the track laid in. The track exploits the strength of existing highway pavements by transmitting the static and dynamic loads from the upper surface, rather than the foot of the rail as in conventional track. This results in the load on the railhead being distributed onto the sub-base of the highway, being of a sufficiently low value not to require a separate foundation. Up to 100m can be laid in a night.


The track system consists of three main components:-

LR55 Rail
The rail carries the weight of the tram, steers the tram and is the return conductor for the electric power supply. The LR55 rail has a wide lip compared to conventional tram rail. This is to allow the road structure to carry the weight of the tram. The rail top surface and the trough unit are treated to provide a compatible skid resistance to the adjacent highway surface.
Elastomeric Grout
This is a rubber like compound that prevents vibrations from the tram being transfered to the road and surroundings. Old fashioned trams used to rumble along the street as the tracks did not have this feature. Modern trams are very quiet because of features like this grout. It also insulates the electricity returning to the sub station, so that it does not travel through other cables buried in the road.
Precast Trough Unit
This forms the base for the rail and connects it to the road structure. It is fitted into a slot cut into the road.

Track installation


Where there is a road base thicker than 225mm the Trough Unit is bedded into the base.


Where the road base is less than 225mm the Trough Unit is bedded onto the sub-base.

The track can also be laid in concrete pavements, older road construction and block paving. These are outlined in the technical specification for the track.

Should it be necessary to work on services crossing the tramway, the track is self-supporting over a distance of one metre. This allows access trenches to be dug without affecting the tram service. Safe methods of working have been developed to ensure the safety of tramway passengers and staff, as well as utility workers. These methods are already established in existing tram schemes.

There are further details of LR55 track at the LR55 web site.

For more information on LR55 for our more technical visitors:

Prefab tram track = fast construction! Friends of the Broadway Light Rail/Streetcar Take Note!

August 26, 2010

The following article from EccoRussia, gives an account of the installation of 670 metres of prefabricated tram track on the Athens (Greece) light rail/tram in just 10 days or about 67 metres of new tram track a day! At this speed of track laying it would take a mere 14 days to lay one kilometre of new track!

What is important, is that new tram/LRT construction would not unduly affect local merchants for a great length of time, as one’s storefront would not see construction in front of it for more than a few day, unlike Susan Heyes, whose business was disrupted for years by subway cut-and-cover construction!

It also means that a 20 km. BCIT to UBC LRT line would take less than 300 days to build! Or having two construction groups, working from BCIT and UBC towards each other, would take about 150 days. Now that is something to think about!

The first extension in the Athens tram, was duly finished and commissioned for circulation, in mid-October.

The extension measuring 670 meters comes as a trial for new technologies rather than a substantial addition to the already operating 22 km network.

One of them and surely the most important is the introduction of prefabricated segments for the substructure.

The segments were used in the crossing of Poseidonos avenue, a high velocity motorway in the south of Athens and gateway to the seaside tourist and nightlife areas.

In order to facilitate the construction of the crossing and the sequential congestion of traffic, given a conventional construction, prefabricated segments came as a natural choice.

The segments were constructed in a prefab plant in the outskirts of Athens, using Belgian know-how adapted in the local conditions.

The segments incorporating the rails and all major network duct ways were laid in less than ten days, including the soil and substructure preparation, a major advance to the other ways monthly time span.

Behavior up to now in the heavy traffic is said to be very smooth, and it is almost certain that prefab segments are to be used in the next extension to Peraeus.

Tram S.A. was founded in March 2001 and is a subsidiary company of ATTIKO METRO S.A.

In 2002, the company begun the construction of the new Athens tram network, while commercial operation started in July 2004, a few weeks before the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

TRAM S.A. is a public service corporation supervised by the Ministry of Transportation & Communications.

The company’s mission is to design, develop and operate the modern tram network.

Tram Berlin Linie M13 KT4D Warschauer Str. – Virchow Klinikum 1/7

July 28, 2010

This video from U-Tube shows a classic European tramways, which operates on-street and on reserved rights-of-ways, including simple HOV lane style of RRoW. Please note the simple (traffic light) style signaling at intersections and the various styles of RRoWs.

Streetcar/LRT has the flexibility to operate in almost all urban conditions, affordabley and efficiently, a lesson that the TransLink planning mandarins refuse to accept.

And the second ‘tube‘ in the series.

Now the third ‘tube‘ in the series.

Light Rail Fits In! Useful Links for LRT

June 30, 2010

A reader of this blog from the UK has sent Rail For The Valley some very useful links for those advocating for light rail.

Zweisystem send a a hearty thank you!

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:

LRT will motivate us to ditch cars, From the Hamilton Spectator

June 21, 2010

What I find interesting about this news item, is the statement, “…….a consultants’ report into the economics of LRT in Hamilton projected the system would need about 34,000 riders a weekday (8.9 million a year) to break even on its operational costs.“; which should put a stop to the SkyTrain’s lobby claims that light rail is expensive to operate! But, those advocating for LRT already knew that.

It would seem that the same figures would hold true for a Broadway LRT, which with the much higher ridership numbers, would not just pay its operating costs, but most or if not, all of its capital costs! Of course this is what the man from ABB told ‘Zwei’ almost fifteen years ago; “A BCIT to UBC and Stanley Park LRT route, would double present bus ridership on those routes in about two to three years, thus attracting enough ridership to not only pay for operating costs, but also to pay for its capital costs as well“!

LRT, built at no cost to the taxpayer!


LRT will motivate us to ditch cars: HSR chief

February 02, 2010

Meredith Macleod
The Hamilton Spectator

Does Hamilton have the ridership to justify light rail transit?

There are plenty of people in this city who think the answer is no.

In letters to this paper, blog posts and opinion surveys, they say not enough people want or need to go downtown and that Hamiltonians are too attached to their cars.

Critics point out that most cities with successful light rail have much larger populations than Hamilton.

Even Don Hull, director of the Hamilton Street Railway, says based on sheer numbers alone, Hamilton probably doesn’t cut it.

But he says that’s only part of the equation.

Present-day transit ridership doesn’t account for changes coming down the road that will push people out of their cars: increasing congestion, growing concern about pollution and climate change, and the inevitability of soaring gas prices.

Light rail transit will transform the city’s transit network, attract new riders and be the critical component that gets people out of their cars, Hull says.

And it brings investment and tax dollars to struggling neighbourhoods, he adds.

“More than population or density or ridership, the key to whether LRT is successful and viable is the support of all three levels of government.”

The B-Line from Eastgate Square to McMaster University — the city’s proposed corridor for a light rail line — affects four of the HSR’s major routes, Hull says.

Collectively, they account for about 50 per cent of the system’s riders.

That adds up to 25,000 to 30,000 trips a day, half or more in peak periods.

Hull says that’s not far off the usage that would be hoped for on an LRT line. In fact, a consultants’ report into the economics of LRT in Hamilton projected the system would need about 34,000 riders a weekday (8.9 million a year) to break even on its operational costs.

Hull says many cities, including Portland, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Denver, quickly exceeded ridership forecasts.

Hamilton is unique in that the ridership is already there, it just has to be shifted from bus to rail. Most North American systems, he says, run on an entirely new line and have to build from nothing.

That’s a big advantage, says Antonio Paez, an associate geography and earth sciences professor at McMaster, who specializes in transportation.

“There is only the potential to gain. It’s a relatively low-risk transition in that corridor.”

The objective is to make transit the most attractive option for getting around, says Paez. Choosing to run rail lines along the busiest routes in the city — King and Main — and cut into, or eliminate, car lanes will achieve just that.

“The goal is to make traffic less problematic for those who choose transit but not necessarily better for those who don’t choose it.”

Once B-Line buses are replaced by light rail, Hull hopes capacity can be boosted in other areas of the city.

In day peak periods, HSR is having trouble meeting demand on many routes, he says.

Another important element is the city’s official plan, which aims to see 100 transit trips per year per capita by 2030. That number now sits at 48 and the target simply can’t be reached without LRT, says Hull.

The beauty of choosing the B-Line for the first leg of an overhaul of the city’s transit system is that about 80 per cent of routes already intersect with the corridor.

“Everything off the Mountain as well as the North End and Bayfront routes meet up with King. It would be virtually an entirely intersecting system.

“That’s very desirable.”

Metrolinx has identified two rapid transit corridors in Hamilton to be developed in the first 15 years — the east-west line that’s on the table, and north-south on James Street from the airport to the waterfront.

Three other routes — Eastgate to the Ancaster business park, the Centre Mall to the Meadowlands and downtown Hamilton to Waterdown — are part of a 25-year vision.

Metrolinx has made no commitment to whether Hamilton will receive light rail or bus rapid transit.

A recommendation on the B-Line corridor is expected Feb. 19.

The Broadway Follies Part 4 – The Versatile Light Rail

May 12, 2010

The entire transit debate for the Broadway route has been defined by the SkyTrain Lobby as a quest for speed, as if speed was the only criteria for a successful urban ‘rail‘ line. Yet speed of a transit system is only one of many factors that determine a successful ‘rail‘ transit line. From the Haas-Klau study (Bus or Light Rail – Making the right Choice), it was found that the over all ambiance of a transit system, ease of use, & ease of ticketing were more important than speed. Yet the SkyTrain lobby, abetted by the many pro metro blogs, persist with this notion that speed and only speed is important for attracting ridership.

The SkyTrain lobby has completely ignored the singular fact that the owner of the proprietary SkyTrain ART light-metro system has never allowed it compete head to head against light rail in a planning competition, but only sells the mode in private deals with little or no public debate. The same is true with the VAL mini-metro system in France, but when faced with competition from light rail, cities planning for ‘rail‘ transit gave VAL second prize.

Why then when competing on a ‘level playing field’ LRT beats out the competition?

It is LRT’s universal versatility that makes the mode so popular with transit planners and operators. With modern light rail, there are many functions that light rail can do besides traveling there and back on an expensive elevated or much more expensive subway.

That LRT complements tourism has been long recognized by transit planners and most new light-rail/tram lines include vintage tram operation. Not only does vintage tram operation make a city more tourist-friendly, it complements businesses adjacent to the LRT line. Many cities hold month long or more vintage trolley or tram festivals, where yesterdays streetcars and trams from around the world operate (in revenue service) on light rail routes in off peak hours, to the delight of all.

Tram/LRT tracks are much easier to relocate than subways or elevated guideways, thus a light rail system can grow and accommodate transit customers needs now or in the future. A good example would be a short stub line from the proposed Broadway line, connecting to Vancouver General Hospital, providing a direct ‘hospital‘ service, at minimal cost which would guarantee to attract ridership. The same sort of sort stub line is used extensively to provide tram services to important transit destinations which are located somewhat inconveniently away from a transit line, such as sports stadiums, etc.

Restaurant or dinner trams have proven successful in a few cities around the world, most notably in Melbourne Australia. A restaurant tram is a very unique venue, with patrons having dinner while the tram trundles along various tram lines. Again, a simple tram line is exploited for service other than conveying commuters, adding to the ambiance of the LRT system and its surrounds.

One of the more interesting developments of modern LRT is the cargo tram or tram vehicles specially designed to haul containers. A BCIT to UBC LRT, operating cargo trams to and from UBC and BCIT and having a central transfer point along the line could possibly take several hundred diesel trucks and vans off the city streets daily, reducing congestion and noxious diesel fumes, especially in the more traffic sensitive Kitsilano district in Vancouver’s West side.

Several LRT/tram operation in Europe offer a bicycle trolley for conveying bicycles on longer trips. By using a bicycle trolley, customers inside the tram are not inconvenienced by cyclists and there is always plenty of room on the bicycle trolley, so the cyclist is not inconvenienced by long waits when space inside trams is limited, especially at peak hours.

Unlike the dinner tram, which offers a specialized restaurant service, offering a unique venue: the Bistro car is a tram car fitted with a small kitchen and bar, offering light refreshments and snacks for transit customers. Used on longer haul tram routes (Karlsruhe’s longest tram route is 210km), the Bistro car offers a pleasant place to pass one’s time on a tram journey.

If light rail is built on Broadway, it will bring with it the ability to do many jobs, other than just move people to and fro. The modern tram can mover freight or convey dinner guests in a specialized cars; the modern tram can adapt to customer needs such as offering a cycle trolley or a Bistro car; modern light rail can network to more destinations thus providing an affordable and efficient alternative to the car. Modern LRT can and will define the Broadway corridor as a more user-friendly and merchant-friendly place for decades to come.

So when the SkyTrain lobby go on and on about speed being the only reason to build transit, what they are really saying is that they want an inferior and dated product and are afraid the the public will discover that modern LRT is an extremely versatile transit mode able to accomplish many tasks, without much effort.

West Broadway Business Association calls for light rail

January 9, 2009

A new group, the West Broadway Business Association, has been formed: The WBBA is a non-profit society representing the local interests of businesses along West Broadway, from Alma to Burrard, and beyond to Cambie.

They’re calling for a surface-level light rail or tram system along Broadway instead of the current plan to build a subway:

“We are very much in favor of improving rapid transit,” said Dobo, owner of Just Imagine on West Broadway.

She said many merchants and residents were unhappy with the impact of the Canada Line and would be horrified at cut-and-cover or tunneling projects occurring in the area.

A vast Lower Mainland light rail network stretching from UBC to Hope, or a 12km subway…

what a hard choice