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Bond shies away from major TransLink reforms

with 34 comments

BC Local News

There was a lot of huffing and puffing from the Minister of Transportation – but in the end she backed down. I think this is a significant story – but if the other media noticed it, I didn’t until tonight. Flicking idly through our local paper in Richmond this evening. Aldergrove had this two days earlier.

The idea surfaced with the Comptroller General back in November last year – along with a similar populist attack on BC Ferries. The common theme for both was that the senior management was overpaid and over populated. BC Ferries did not cut the pay of their Board – though they say they will hold back a bit in future. The new CEO of Translink, Ian Jarvis, has been more ready to cut staff and has also got rid of senior people. But the big costs were the recently completed major capital expansions – and the impact they have on operating and maintenance. The great big question has been the Evergreen Line: the province says it will be built, and the region will have to pay its share but Translink cannot afford to run the system it has now. And the Mayors were not going to approve an increase in property tax region wide for an expansion to rapid transit that benefits only the north east sector. Everyone wants more transit, the region wanted to be able to determine its own priorities for that but the province, as usual, stepped in and moved the Canada Line on to the list, saying it was needed for the Olympics, even though it was not included in the Olympic budget.  The Mayors’ Council was brought into existence, and Translink “reformed” by previous Minster Kevin Falcon – pretty much in a fit of pique of the Mayors’ display of independence questioning the need for the Canada Line. Then after the arguments over who pays for the Evergreen Line got testy, the CG suggested cutting the Mayors’ Council in half and adding provincial representatives. That was actually an old idea – the previous GVTA had room for three MLAs on its board, but they never took their seats.

The idea has now been dropped. Instead

TransLink’s 10-year expansion plan will no longer need to be fully funded – instead it will only have to budget for spending in the first three years.

This reflects reality a bit better – but changes nothing. The province told Translink that both the Canada and Evergreen Lines would be built – one was the other wasn’t and is still short of money. So she still talks about a “new funding formula” and she still is not saying “if she will grant TransLink new powers to tax or raise revenues”. So other than dropping the threat to the Mayor’s Council, nothing much has actually changed on that score.

Translink was praised by the Minister for “adjusting routes”. That actually means service cuts. Fares have gone up to. Service was reduced significantly after the Olympics – even though the higher service levels showed a remarkable success for this region. Combined with road and lane closures, increased transit service had been very popular and traffic was significantly reduced, while the much increased demand for travel during the two week sports festival was pretty well met. But like nearly every other system in North America, the transit system in this region cannot meet its bills, and is looking for ways to cut costs and increase revenue. Just to “stand still”. In Translink’s case the significant new burdens imposed by its recent major capital projects  – the Canada Line and the Golden Ears Bridge – mean that it cannot proceed with any of the other planned expansions. Raising fares and cutting service will also mean loss of ridership. Instead of the spiral of improvement that expansion brings – more service, more riders, more revenue – we now face what other systems face – the spiral of decline. That is not what a growing region needs, nor what we need to be doing to cut vehicle emissions – most importantly of greenhouse gases. In Greater Vancouver the lack of heavy industry means that transport is responsible a much higher share of ghg than other major city regions. And, of course, the province is pressing ahead with major highway expansions that its own data show will increase ghg emissions. They do, of course, ignore the inevitable longer term impact on land use and the consequent locking of the outer parts of the region into continued automobile dependency.

Meanwhile, Translink continues to consult about the need for more rapid transit such as the province’s stated preference for a tube train out to UBC versus trams on Broadway and maybe other routes too. Not that they have any money for either.

I think the Mayors can be pleased. But I still do not see any resolution to the conundrum that the province has created. They said – and continue to say – that they will build the Evergreen Line. It will be Skytrain – and that costs more than the province and the feds have committed. And the region has no ability to come up with more new funds. And now that the HST is through the provincial legislature, talk of even more new taxes is not going buy this already highly unpopular government any more votes.

But changing the need to have funding in place for a ten year plan that is on hold is nit actually significant at all. Minister Bond looks as though she is out of ideas and is probably lucky that attention is elsewhere right now. But that won’t last long, and this problem is not going to solve itself. Road pricing? Regional tolls? I don’t think so somehow. Yes they are needed, but they are politically unfeasible. And that was true before the BC Liberals flip flopped on HST. The easiest way out is to postpone the Evergreen Line yet again – even if that does lose the federal funding. After all. Minister Bond has shown she can break commitments quite easily if she has to.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 2, 2010 at 10:11 pm

34 Responses

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  1. I agree that this is good news. I don’t think that translink needs a new shake up and they have a lot of things to do.

    I think the reporter was wrong about service cuts. The additional funding that was approved prevented cuts to current service levels, IMO a braver option than cutting service. I am unaware of any cuts to existing services, unlike other transit agencies, like portland’s.

    “Jarvis added, “The good news is that we’ve avoided service cut backs that would have been a real blow to Metro Vancouver’s sustainability and quality of life.” [1]

    And I would think that there is a difference in procuring capital funding adn operational funding. Risks raised by Martin Crilly WRT the canada line and Golden Ears Bridge refer to predicted revenues.

    “The pace of wage growth strongly affects
    TransLink’s total costs and is possibly understated in the Plan. On the revenue side, two large new assets—the Golden Ears Bridge and Canada Line—are just starting to earn revenue; the 10-year projections of customer traffic for them, representing
    up to 12% of Plan revenues by 2019, are much less predictable than for TransLink’s long-established services.” [2]

    And remember that the main reason for translink’s recent structural deficit is mainly the result of the recent expansion of bus service to less-served areas, such as the south of fraser. Not that this wasn’t important to do to give south of fraser better access to transit, but to assign blame to the canada line for translink’s financial weaknesses would be incorrect. (certainly the C-line exposes translink governance problems, but that is another story.)

    “The majority of the $130 million structural deficit faced by TransLink is a result of factors other than Canada Line, such as the increase in the operational cost of the bus fleet, particularly into lower ridership, geographically sparse areas.” [3]

    Personally, I remain optimistic that there will be an announcement about the evergreen line soon.

    mezzanine

    May 3, 2010 at 1:11 am

  2. “Personally, I remain optimistic that there will be an announcement about the evergreen line soon.”

    Ugh. Another announcement on Evergreen? They are paving the way to Port Moody with cut ribbons, but I don’t see any trains running. This line has been announced and reannounced to death. Can we have a moratoium on announcements until the trains are running?

    Last Provincial election, Iain Black (MLA for Port Moody) responded to questions about Evergreen by saying “Why are we talking about this? Evergreen is a done deal! It is being built as we speak.”. And the crowd seemed to accept that as some form of truth.

    Pat Johnstone

    May 3, 2010 at 11:32 am

  3. ^true that. We shouldn’t let up the pressure until there is finally construction.

    My suspicion is that they are awaiting a verdict on the Susan Heyes appeal before proceding, if they are angling for a P3 to be involved with evergreen.

    mezzanine

    May 3, 2010 at 11:49 am

  4. We will never have a decent transit system until we force our politicians to live for 1 year–at their own expense– in a town that has better transit system. Of course they wouldn’t have a car.

    I know that isn’t the place BUT how many of the people that diss tramways and Professor Condon proposal have actually seen and used them? precious few.

    As for Portland transit been dreadful…whenever we got there we park downtown for something like $4 for 4 hours–in a parkade–and take the Max and the smaller tram to go here and there. We feel that both are great. Car drivers seem to cope with having some streets 1/2 taken by LRT quite well.
    We (buddy and I) find that public transit in Portland is a lot more pleasant than in Seattle.

    When the Evergreen line was planned as a tram everybody in my North Road neighbourhood was against them. It didn’t help that, at open houses, TransLink staff was unable to explain why the videos of the Strasbourg tram didn’t show cars…most of them had actually seen and used a modern tram, a subway.. I swear that they drooled at my photo album of trams..

    Cue to last fall, when all the apartment owners in the low rise buildings on the North Road side found out that the big concrete beams of the guideway would cut 50% of their view on the 2nd floor and all of it on the 3rd floor…not to mention that the resale value will go down a lot..all of a sudden a tram looked good..

    Some of the neighbours in my building—mostly the ones against trams that got e-photos of Euro trams from me in the past—checked the Bombardier tram during the Olympics and were very impressed..
    Their only hope is that the SkyTrain doesn’t get build before they retire 20-30 years from now.

    Red frog

    May 4, 2010 at 12:00 pm

  5. Actually, it looks like there are some route adjustments (cuts and additions):

    http://www.bclocalnews.com/news/92791804.html

    “TransLink will “rationalize” transit service by boosting the frequency of bus runs in some areas at certain times and reducing it in others.

    The aim is to wring more revenue out of the transit system by trimming service hours in areas or time slots with low ridership and running buses more often where more riders can be served.

    TransLink estimates that by reallocating 4.5 per cent of total service hours, the system could generate an extra $10 to $15 million per year in fares.

    “We’re challenged with limited resources to make the best use of those resources,” CEO Ian Jarvis said.

    The first such changes kick in this month, with buses connecting to Bridgeport Station on the Canada Line out of South Surrey and South Delta running more often between 7 and 8 a.m. – every six to eight minutes for some runs – but less frequently earlier in the morning before 7 a.m.

    Officials says that reflects a trend of riders there leaving later for downtown now that the Canada Line provides them a faster, more reliable trip.

    Service is also being reduced on Cambie Street, where the Canada Line now runs, and reapportioned to other areas.

    If it works as billed, the winners should be bus riders on congested routes who often watch one or more full buses pass them by without stopping.

    Conversely, anyone who’s often one of the only passengers on board may find their route targeted for a trim.

    TransLink has laid out principles it says will guide service rationalization.

    They call for the protection of service to transit-dependent riders who don’t own cars; maintaining runs that are strategic in connecting the network; and protecting growing markets that are experiencing substantial ridership increases.”

    mezzanine

    May 4, 2010 at 3:46 pm

  6. To expand what Mr. Frog posted, some years ago during the early period of the RAV/Canada line debates, I attended a public forum in the land of the creme de la creme.

    I did my little song and dance about LRT, but with something different which TransLink did not show – the lawned rights-of-way.

    Well I was allowed 5 minutes and after a short video and overhead projector shots of green tram lines, the public wanted more! To the chagrin of TransLink’s officials, I fielded about 15 minutes of questions, by both the panel.

    At the end of the meeting, a gentleman came up to me and said (no lie) “I live on the Arbutus Line and if they put a lawned and shrubbed tram line on the route, I really would not have an objection.

    D M Johnston

    May 4, 2010 at 9:24 pm

  7. @Red Frog

    When I went to Portland for the first time in years, I was all excited about the opportunity to try their LRT and street car. I had heard a lot of great things about it. Well, what a huge disappointment that was. It is sooo slow through downtown, the trains only run every 15 minutes on the weekend and there really isn’t much development along the line to speak of. There was a couple of interesting ones but really, not enough to really make a difference.

    Instead of being impressed, it made me realize how much better our rail transit is. Yes, it needs improvement and streetcars and LRT can be a part of that. But for corridors like Broadway, a subway is really the way to go.

    Regarding the Evergreen Line, I could go either way on that one. The important thing is that the stop changing their minds and just get on with it. The delays are costing money. SkyTrain was only $700 million ten years ago. Now LRT would be more expensive than that. Switching back to LRT similarly would further delay the project and increase the costs even further.

    Regarding the properties on North Road losing resale value. I expect that fear will be unfounded. It is not like North Road is really nice now with all the speeding traffic. Indeed, if they do a good job when building the Evergreen Line, the street could be nicer and the resale values will increase. Don’t forget this is Metro Vancouver, where pretty much anything sells for half a fortune.

    Richard

    May 5, 2010 at 2:24 pm

  8. @ Richard

    On weekends the four light rail lines offer 15 minute headways, giving a 3 1/2 minute service (all trains) into Portland’s town centre.

    I can travel directly to the Washington Zoo & park. SkyTrain doesn’t service Stanley Park.

    The tram takes me right in the middle of Portland’s famous flea market and of course services the airport.

    Transit isn’t about development, it is about moving people and for an American City, Portland’s MAX is doing a good job.

    Also, do not forget that the capacity of an at-grade/on-street LRT line is 20,000+, much more capacity than will ever be needed on Broadway.

    Portland offers 15 minute headways per route, because the passenger demand warrants 15 minute headways. Headways can always be reduced if passenger demand increases.

    For every km. of SkyTrain we build, Portland builds about 3 to 4 km of LRT and just wait till peak oil hits and we will be very envious of Portland’s cheaper LRT.

    D M Johnston

    May 5, 2010 at 5:49 pm

  9. “Transit isn’t about development, it is about moving people and for an American City, Portland’s MAX is doing a good job.”

    I’m not sure if we should be aspiring to american standards, and not asian or european standards.

    And is portland really doing a good job? according to city of portland data and american community survey data (a branch of US census), the mode share has been unchanged over 10 years in spite of the opening of 4 LRT lines and the streetcar:

    http://www.humantransit.org/2010/01/portland-a-challenging-chart.html

    “If we’re to believe the data, the journey-to-work results of all this investment, and all these people living closer to transit, didn’t amount to much. Transit mode share for work trips went nowhere.

    I would be more shocked to see these numbers if this had been a period of investments aimed at dramatically increasing transit mobility, by which I mean where you can get to on transit and how fast, but that’s not really what the Portland Streetcar and Yellow Line were about. But although rail gets the press, most of the city is on the bus network. Most of the City’s bus network is unchanged (in structure and levels of service) since 1982 and saw little change in this decade.”

    mezzanine

    May 5, 2010 at 6:59 pm

  10. Sadly, I would not rely on the chap from Humantransit as he is definitely anti LRT and pro metro.

    Gerald Fox reports differently and as he has far more experience with Portland and American transit systems, I would think his claims holds more weight.

    Here lies the problem in Vancouver, all we have is TransLink’s statistics and TransLink’s statistics are untrustworthy, how then can we make adequate comparisons?

    Yet on the world stage light-metro has fared badly when compared to light rail and one just has to assume that due diligence was associated with every new LRT project. Compare this with Vancouver where TransLink will not release the RAV LRT study, still claims that LRT can carry only 10,000 pphpd (less than half of real capacity), and that trams on streets cause traffic chaos.

    Back to the post. We can’t keep funding hugely expensive metro projects, especially if they are built on routes that do not have the ridership to sustain a metro. how are you going to pay for it?

    Higher taxes? Doubt it.
    Higher fares? Deters ridership and exacerbates the situation.

    How?

    Then there is the Fraser Valley; do you think they want to pay taxes to fund another subway in Vancouver?

    History is repeating itself in Vancouver, where over 50 years ago, Europe went on a tear building subways, yet ridership stagnated or even declined in cities where tramways were abandoned and metro was built instead.

    Portland is slowly increasing its LRT network, line after line, creating a tram network that will attract the motorist from the car. In Vancouver we are still struggling to build metro that at best gives current bus riders a questionably faster trip.

    No transit system is perfect, but who copies Vancouver? No one. Who copies Portland, many cities.

    Again, you bring up the old saw of ‘speed’, which is not the most important factor in attracting customers to transit, rather it is the overall ambiance of transit system and ease of use and ease of ticketing, which has proven to be more important than speed to attract transit customers (Haas-Klau).

    If the Evergreen Line is ever built, it will be the last ha rah for SkyTrain, as there will not be any money left over for metro as Site-C will now gobble up what little money that is left in the treasury.

    D M Johnston

    May 5, 2010 at 9:55 pm

  11. “Then there is the Fraser Valley; do you think they want to pay taxes to fund another subway in Vancouver?”

    Because at the end of a day, a stronger, more robust transit network benefits everyone, transit users, drivers and cyclists. you will take off the surrey to vancouver car commuter from the roads at the very least. Even the comptroller general alludes to the ‘network effect’. remember the olympics – with everyone on transit, roads were remarkably easier to drive on on major arterials.

    “Again, you bring up the old saw of ‘speed’, which is not the most important factor in attracting customers to transit, rather it is the overall ambiance of transit system and ease of use and ease of ticketing, which has proven to be more important than speed to attract transit customers (Haas-Klau).”

    I don’t think Mr. Haas-Klau lived in a basement suite in Newton while trying to commute to a better-paying job in vancouver…

    “A move from the city to the suburbs used to signal prosperity for American families. But last year, the number of poor suburbanites outnumbered poor people in cities by 1 million for the first time. That startling statistic is part of a new report that examines poverty trends in the first part of the decade. ”

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6598999

    mezzanine

    May 6, 2010 at 8:42 am

  12. The guy in his basement suite in Newton would be better served by intelligently implemented LRT than SkyTrain.

    Tram train on the old interurban corridor and BNSF main line would have only 6 stops between Newton and Main Steet in Vancouver. The line would serve both downtown Vancouver and Broadway from Main to UBC. Those heading to other destinations would have the option of transferring to Expo or Millennium SkyTrain or the bus network.

    It would also give that Newton resident the opportunity to seek work in Langley or Abbotsford because there would be direct train service to both those communities.

    A whole network including tram train from Vancouver to Chilliwack; Broadway LRT; Surrey LRT Fleetwood-Guildford-Surrey City Centre-Newton and Langley LRT from Walnut Grove to Brookswood would cost less than a Broadway subway and serve far more passengers.

    David

    May 6, 2010 at 10:04 am

  13. Ms. Haas-Klau’s (Professor of Urban Transport, University of Wuppertal, Germany) studies (Bus or Light Rail, Making the Right Choice and 3 others) were international in nature, including Europe, the UK, Canada and the USA.

    Let’s see, by your logic a non-stop (no intermediate stations) SkyTrain from Newton to downtown Vancouver will attract the most ridership because it will be very fast.

    D M Johnston

    May 6, 2010 at 10:06 am

  14. @ David,
    True that, I agree LRT in Surrey along KGH and 104/152 is viable. They may be able to link to King George/City Centre skytrain to strengthen the network. Once we have a b-line established in the near-term future, we can build ridership. Our person in Newton has increased mobility.

    WRT to your other routes, we haven’t even done the corridor studies. Tram-train is not even on the LRSP. Get the corridor studies up for them, but arguably, there are higher priority corridors.

    mezzanine

    May 6, 2010 at 10:45 am

  15. This feeds really well into a discussion at New Westminster Green Drinks last night, which started a mention of Condin’s book. There seems to be strong debate about what tool to use, but little consensus on what problem the tool is being applied to fix.

    Trams and Skytrain solve two different problems. If your goal on the Broadway corridor is to get students to UBC at rush hour, then a buried Skytrain is a no-brainer. If your goal is to facilitate moving people between locations from Broadway to Arbutus, then the tram seems the right way to go. If you want to do both well, then you need both, or some sort of hybrid.

    But I don’t get that out of the free chapter in Condin’s book. to me, it is a bout how do you structure a community so that the tool that is cheapest and easiest to use (the streetcar) can be most effective? As EcoDensity(c) slips across the Cambie and Granville bridges and we start developing Strathcona and Kits, we should be designing what we build to fit a preferred transportation system, then develop the transportation system.

    Which closed the circle to how we are designing new New Westminster neighbourhoods, the original BC streetcar city (although we may need a couple of cablecars for 6th and 8th).

    Pat Johnstone

    May 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm

  16. With all due respect Pat, SkyTrain does a poor job of solving any problems.

    It’s an intermediate transit system that’s neither convenient enough for local service nor fast enough for long distances like Langley to Vancouver and its costs are several times higher than the combination of local trams and tram trains operating between centres on a limited stop basis.

    Metro systems create development nodes with auto-dependent development in between. With metro costing 3-5 times as much as LRT the nodes have to be extremely high traffic generators and cause significant upheaval to the areas they’re located in. Urban tram stops are close enough together for the nodes to touch creating a continuous ribbon of development. The low cost slows the need for radical changes to neighbourhoods.

    I don’t know who Mr. Johnston was responding to when he talked about a SkyTrain with no intermediate stops. I think I made it clear that we need a combination of local trams in multiple cities and express services between those cities.

    In the Fraser Valley we are blessed with large chunks of agricultural land which provides a local source of food and creates opportunities for non-stop operation of LRT vehicles. This is the perfect location for tram train operation. You can have your convenient local tram that stops frequently to gather passengers and encourages local shopping because that same vehicle also serves the long distance commuter by jumping on a main line railway or highway median and running non-stop across the ALR to the next town centre where it may resume local service or may continue as express all the way to Vancouver.

    I believe the biggest problem on Broadway is lack of capacity which leads to uncertain travel times. Solve that problem and you allow people to stop worrying about getting passed up by full buses. That in itself saves significant amounts of travel time because people don’t have to build extra waiting time into their day.

    Studies have shown that passengers rate reliability, consistent travel times, convenience and comfort ahead of speed. I have relatives in South Delta where Mr. Johnston and a certain other well known blogger reside. Unlike those very public figures my relatives actually like the changes that have occurred as a result of the Canada Line. Why? Not because it’s any faster because most of the time it isn’t. They like it because they can plan for the trip to take the same amount of time every day. That’s more important to them than a bus that was sometimes a little faster and sometimes a lot slower.

    Finally I disagree that the transportation network should follow development. If the transit is there first the area will attract people who will think twice about driving in the first place. Yes that involves an outlay of public money in advance of high ridership numbers, but the alternative is worse.

    If the transit network isn’t there first then as people move into the area they buy additional cars. Once you’ve done that the marginal cost of using that car for every trip instead of just some trips is low. At that point it really doesn’t matter what transit gets because everyone is committed to a lifestyle of driving everywhere.

    David

    May 7, 2010 at 1:42 am

  17. @ Stephen

    “That actually means service cuts. Fares have gone up to. Service was reduced significantly after the Olympics – even though the higher service levels showed a remarkable success for this region. Combined with road and lane closures, increased transit service had been very popular and traffic was significantly reduced, while the much increased demand for travel during the two week sports festival was pretty well met.”

    That statement about how transit service was cut. Is a bit miss leading. Sure if you are comparing it to the service during the Olympics it was cut. But it is still the same service level that was provided before the Olympics. So if the Olympics had not of happened. The service level would have stayed the same.

    “Road pricing? Regional tolls? I don’t think so somehow. Yes they are needed, but they are politically unfeasible.”

    And there in lies the problem with politician. They are only ever thinking of themselves and not the greater good of the region.

    I’ve always thought that the provincial government should have no say on how Translink decides to bring in more income. At one point they were going to have a $100 vehicle levy, there was also the idea of raising the parking tax. And yet in both cases the province came in and said you can’t do that. My general question is why can’t they do that. Now I realize that people don’t like the idea of taxation without representation. So to that I would suggest that Translink be setup as more of a non profit organization. I realize that is a bit stupid as they can’t even make a profit.

    Paul C

    May 7, 2010 at 5:16 am

  18. A note:

    A tram or streetcar and LRT are not the same. LRT is a tram or streetcar that operates on a ‘reserved’ rights-of-way or a route that is reserved for the exclusive use of the tram. A RRoW can be as simple as a HOV lane with rails or a more elaborate lawned RRoW, like the Arbutus Corridor.

    As well, LRT has signal priority at intersections.

    A tram or streetcar operating on a RRoW is free of vehicle obstruction and can maintain much higher commercial speeds than a streetcar, almost on par with a metro.

    With Broadway, the capacity of one traffic lane can increase from about 2,000 pphpd with cars, to over 20,000 pphpd with streetcar or LRT!

    zweisystem

    May 7, 2010 at 7:03 am

  19. The statement I made was NOT misleading. Service prior to the Olympics was hardly adequate. Pass ups on busy routes were not uncommon and places like Surrey have a 4% transit mode share.

    “taxation without representation” means that we need representation – effective, elected, responsible. That means we need a directly elected regional body. We do not need a mulitiplicity of bodies with overlapping jurisdcitions, so we should combine Translink and Metro and have that directly elected. Much like they do in most other major city regions around the world. And it would need single member constituencies – not getting elected at large to ensure a safe conservative majority.

    Stephen Rees

    May 7, 2010 at 7:43 am

  20. “Finally I disagree that the transportation network should follow development.”

    A slight mischaracterization of my comments. I don’t think transit should follow development. I think that your development planning has to acknowledge the transportation plan, and your transportation plan has to acknowledge sustainable transportation. Therefore the discussion of what to build on Broadway is moot until a development plan for Broadway is developed, until we have a clearer picture of what Broadway needs in 2020, 2030, 2040…

    We can disagree on the usefulness of Skytrain technology, but for the pupprorted purpose of the UBC extension (shuttling people to Westbrook Mall with maybe 5 stops along the way) then I think it is an expensive but efficient choice that doesn’t rely on tearing up a hell of a lot of the most expensive real estate in Canada.

    A streetcar/tram on Broadway or one on 4th and another on 16th seems like a great solution for moving people about the west side of the City, assuming the ongoing development fits that type of people moving (see Condin’s book), but it will be a crappy way to get people from Broadway Station to UBC.

    But your point is made, if we can’t commit to either of those, an LRT on Broadway is probably the best compromise solution. It won’t do either well, but it will provide continued just-kind-of-OK service we expect from Translink, and provide incentive for more road development.

    Pat Johnstone

    May 7, 2010 at 9:54 am

  21. “Studies have shown that passengers rate reliability, consistent travel times, convenience and comfort ahead of speed.

    That’s more important to them than a bus that was sometimes a **little** faster and sometimes a **lot** slower.” [emphasis added]

    hmmm.

    mezzanine

    May 7, 2010 at 10:45 am

  22. “The statement I made was NOT misleading. Service prior to the Olympics was hardly adequate. Pass ups on busy routes were not uncommon and places like Surrey have a 4% transit mode share. ”

    I realize that service before the Olympics was hardly adequate. Even still during the Olympics even though there was an increase in the service level. Most of that was in the skytrain and west coast express. There really wasn’t all that much of an increase in service level of the bus service. At least not that I could see.

    ““taxation without representation” means that we need representation – effective, elected, responsible. That means we need a directly elected regional body. We do not need a mulitiplicity of bodies with overlapping jurisdcitions, so we should combine Translink and Metro and have that directly elected. Much like they do in most other major city regions around the world. And it would need single member constituencies – not getting elected at large to ensure a safe conservative majority.”

    If your talking about the idea of a mega city. That I would not support. Now if your talking about the idea of another layer of government for things like transportation and possibly other things. Do we now bring up the problem of adding another politician to the mix. Which means we as tax payers would have to pay another person’s wages.

    Maybe the solutions is when you go to the polls to vote in your Mayor and Council extra during the municipal election. That on that same ballot of those that you voted for. You would get to pick a few people to represent your city in Translink. It doesn’t even have to be your mayor it could be some of your councillors. Also a city like Vancouver would get the most seats, with Surrey behind based on population. This way you’ve now voted for who will be on the board of translink and you don’t have to increase your politician pay roll by adding more to the mix.

    Paul C

    May 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm

  23. Yes mezzanine you’ve highlighted the right fact. Some days the old bus was 5-10 minutes faster than the new bus & Canada Line combination, but other days the bus would get stuck in traffic for close to an hour.

    It’s hard to schedule dinner if you don’t know whether you’ll be home at 5:50 or 6:40. You tell a person that they’ll be home every night at 6:00 and they’ll gladly give up the extra 10 minutes at home the bus provided. If they’re young and fit they’ll even give up a seat all the way in exchange for consistent travel time and a seat half way.

    Others have found their commute isn’t 5-10 minutes longer, it’s 20-25 minutes longer. In those cases the added time every day, additional transfer and perhaps the loss of a seat at least one way is enough to put them behind the wheel of a car.

    One of my coworkers lives in Steveston and used to commute to downtown Vancouver on the #98. Because he always got on a the first stop he had relatively good success in obtaining a seat. That meant he could work on the bus both to and from work. He was thus free to come in late or leave early a lot of the time. Now he’s a sardine on Canada Line and has to keep his laptop in its bag. He’s now forced to to spend additional hours in the office each day and travel in peak hours which puts additional stress on both him and the transit system.

    I will readily admit he’s an exceptional case, but his life is so much worse that he’s looking for work closer to home.

    David

    May 7, 2010 at 2:10 pm

  24. You want to elect your TransLink representative? Tell the Premier. I doubt he’ll listen though because it was his idea to reduce the power and influence of local representation in the first place.

    David

    May 7, 2010 at 2:36 pm

  25. Trams purposedly don’t run fast in downtown areas (Portland, Europe, Japan..)because the goal is to service businesses along shopping streets. However they run faster in suburban areas, especially those that share tracks with commuter trains.
    On Broadway we could have trams stopping everywhere and express trams for UBC. Same as buses but a 44 metres long tram, like those in Bordeaux can carry 3 times more passengers than a 99B line articulated bus.

    “Regarding the properties on North Road losing resale value. I expect that fear will be unfounded. It is not like North Road is really nice now with all the speeding traffic”
    Richard, you aren’t visualizing what will happen if SkyTrain is built on North Road. The big concrete guideway will cut off all of the view from the 3rd floors apartments. Those living on the 2nd floor will have to sit down on the floor in order to see under the guideway. Then there is the noise from SkyTrain.

    Do you really think that prospective owners will be willing to pay over 200 000 for these no view + noise 1 bedroom in 2014?
    (in the 1970-80s buildings on North Road the 1 bedroom are assessed for around $ 170 000)

    Red frog

    May 8, 2010 at 8:57 pm

  26. @ Mr. Rees:
    “places like Surrey have a 4% transit mode share.”

    I think that’s incorrect, at least for commuters, according to numbers from StatsCan. As of 2006, transit mode share was 11%. Granted, in 1996, it was 10% (not much of a change over 10 yrs), but after 2006 they introduced the FTN to south-of-fraser, and i would expect a nice increase.

    http://www.metrovancouver.org/about/publications/Publications/2006_commute_report_30oct2008.pdf

    page 9 of the pdf.

    mezzanine

    May 9, 2010 at 4:17 pm

  27. ^ Re-reading, sorry if the last post sounded petty, but 2 points:

    1) translink, isn’t doing that badly. there is always room for improvement (where is the surrey b-line?), but it is making tremendous effort for the limited resources it has. 11% is low for me, but metro portland mode share is less than 10%. For the central city, it is ~ 12-13%.

    http://www.humantransit.org/2010/01/portland-another-challenging-chart.html

    2) I do appreciate it if ppl put a link to a stat, a study or an important point. If one can’t, some context is the next best thing (eg. year, etc)

    mezzanine

    May 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm

  28. FROM the Light Rail Transit Association at http://www.lrta.org:
    “What’s the difference between tramways and light rail?
    ..Mike Taplin, the LRTA’s Chairman answers: First, when we say tramway we mean streetcar in the American way of using words…There is no definite border line between streetcar and light rail – they merge gradually from one to another, and as a streetcar system gets upgraded it becomes light rail. A lot of this is to do with planning jargon; streetcars are seen to be old fashioned whereas light rail is trendy!”

    The photos on the page at http://www.lrta.org/explain.html along with the photos in the photo gallery at http://www.lrta.info/photos/photogallindex.html shows a variety of trams of various sizes and heavier vehicles like the Portland Max. Photos from Vancouver show the Bombardier tram and the RAV line..

    Red frog

    May 9, 2010 at 9:43 pm

  29. As I have been a member of the LRTA for over 25 years, what makes LRT different from a tram or streetcar, is the concept of the reserved rights-of-way, or a rights-of-way for the exclusive use of a tram. Now a RRoW can be as simple as a HOV lane with rails, or a more complex lawned RRoW.

    The Arbutus corridor is an excellent example of a RRoW.

    In North America, transit planners tend to regard anything on-street as a no-no and tend to grade separate where possible, this of course transforms LRT into the light-metro category.

    There is ongoing discussion, as I write this, as to redefine LRT as a at-grade transit system, only to be grade separated if ridership demands longer trains at short headways, or if there is a barrier such as a major highway, river, or in Seattle’s case a lake!

    Karlsruhe Germany is putting a main downtown tram route in a subway because it is carrying over 30,000 pphpd in peak hours! One and two car trams every 45 seconds in peak hours!

    So much for TransLink’s claim that LRT can’t carry more than 10,000 pphpd!

    Grade separation takes the ‘light’ (both light in costs and light in construction) out of light rail.

    Malcolm J

    May 10, 2010 at 7:40 am

  30. @ mezz

    I always cite overall market share, not just journey to work. Transit provides service all day, seven days a week. Focussing on journey to work is misleading as it allows advocates to overstate the case. Transit does not meet the need for travel in places like Surrey – as the low market share demonstrates. Until transit service is improved in such places, there can be no progress.

    Stephen Rees

    May 10, 2010 at 7:54 am

  31. @ Mr Rees:

    Fair enough, but where are you getting the overall market share numbers? The 2008 trip diary full report isn’t available AFAIK. I am guessing that you are getting the surrey transit mode 4.4% from the 2004 results, 6 years ago and prior to the FTN roll-out in South of Frser.

    http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/gateway/reports/pdr-supp/Trip_Diary_Summary-TransLink.pdf
    page 34

    It would be useful to see the older reports, (1999, 1994) to see if there is growth, but they are not online.

    And the statscan mode data is limited to commuters, but with that limitation still useful as it is readily comparible to other North american jursidictions

    mezzanine

    May 10, 2010 at 9:13 am

  32. “Transit does not meet the need for travel in places like Surrey – as the low market share demonstrates. Until transit service is improved in such places, there can be no progress”

    You could put the best transit system in the world there, and they have already a good one (probably one of the highest bus hour/rider in the region): as long as local policy will turn its back to it, it will be doomed to be a failure, and it is what happen exactly in Surrey: As long as Surrey will be geared at developing thing like this: http://www.surrey.ca/Doing+Business/Business+Development/Sales+and+Leasing+Inventory/Industrial+Areas/Campbell+Heights+Industrial+Area.htm
    (as far away as possible of existing transit route in into Surrey juridiction)

    don’t bet a single penny on Transit there.

    Surrey is to the GVRD what Greece is to the EU.

    They would like all the benefit of a strong transit system but without putting a single effort to make it sustainable…

    As long as Surrey will not change its development culture, they will be no progress.

    voony

    May 10, 2010 at 9:22 pm


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