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Transit in Vancouver vs Seattle vs Portland

A busy SkyTrain station!

We’ve seen this link making the rounds, and just wanted to share!

Sightline Daily, the blog of the sustainability-researching Sightline Institute, wrote a post last week called Transit Smackdown: Seattle vs. Portland vs. Vancouver. (The Tyee also reposted the article.)

The conclusions show Vancouver outpacing the others. A quote:

But neither Portland nor Seattle can hold a candle to greater Vancouver, BC.

The simplest comparison among the three cities looks at the average number of bus and rail transit boardings per person, per year, in the entire metro area. And on that measure, Vancouver vastly outstrips its two southern neighbors.

There’s a great deal of discussion in the comments on both posts arguing about the analysis, but nonetheless: the data still provides a very interesting comparison highlighting our service!


38 Comments

  • By Sheba, July 23, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

    Now if only we could get the ground-level light rail line built on King George and get a few east/west connector bus lines to connect with it…

    On a vaguely related note “B.C., Alberta drivers have worst habits” http://autos.sympatico.ca/auto-news/14196/bc-alberta-drivers-have-worst-habits

  • By ;-), July 23, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

    Too bad there’s no trophy…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascadia_Cup

  • By VanTransitFan, July 23, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

    Just by looking at all the graphs that were on the post, Vancouver has stood out with huge numbers compared to the other cities. Great job Vancouver. :P

  • By Cliff, July 23, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

    I have to wonder if Seattle and Portland employ similar strategies. Does Seattle proper have excellent service while Olympia, Bellevue, and Everett are ignored?

    I have to wonder how effective this strategy is in the long run when densification takes hold further east and south of the Fraser.

  • By Dan, July 24, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    Haha, I love the article’s byline: “Seattle and Portland battle to see who comes in a distant second to Vancouver”. In other words, they are already resigned to the fact that they can’t hold a candle to us.

    @Sheba: Not to mention the much talked-about Expo Line extension in Surrey.

  • By Dan, July 24, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    …of course another thing worth noting is how we have three times the population density of each of the two US cities.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, July 24, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

    ;-): a Cascadia Cup for transit! I like it.

  • By Chris M., July 24, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

    @Dan,

    Our population density was a conscious choice made by the GVRD by many decisions like drawing boundaries on sprawl and not putting a highway through the city centre. So you could say Translink shouldn’t get credits for this and the GVRD should. But its members of the GVRD that created Translink.

  • By JKKT - Kyle, July 24, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

    It is unfair to say that “Vancouver’s Transit system is better than other cascadian cities” based on ridership alone.

    Proof: http://buzzer.translink.ca/index.php/2012/07/big-goals-big-challenges-what-we-think-about-when-planning-the-transit-network/

    When Portland and Seattle are less dense, and have unsuitible transit designs, and are focusing on Objective 3 (see post above), it is not correct to say that Vancouver’s Transit system is better because they succeed in Objective 1.

    What the post is saying is that transit is a business, so the transit system with the most boardings for the least cost is the better transit system. This is almost guaranteed to be wrong in north american transit cities.

    http://www.humantransit.org/2011/05/top-ten-rankings-the-1-way-to-confuse.html

  • By Sheba, July 24, 2012 @ 11:31 pm

    Dan, I know what you mean about extending Skytrain in Surrey. You’d think they’d at least do the first stop at Fraser Hwy and 140th (where the outpatient building is) to tie in with the Surrey Memorial Hospital expansion. But the Newton to Surrey Central ground-level line will probably happen first as it’ll be cheaper to do.

    Cliff, Bellevue would have good transit as it’s one of the rich areas. Check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellevue,_Washington#Transportation The other areas it’s hard to tell by their Wiki pages, but with Amtrak already in place I’m guessing their local bus systems are less than perfect.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 25, 2012 @ 9:19 am

    I haven’t heard of any decisions regarding a ground level line in Surrey. Has something been announced?

    I would totally oppose such a thing, because the drivers would not respect the right of way. See Calgary for a great example of how bad it is.

  • By Sheba, July 25, 2012 @ 10:06 am

    Eugene, nothing has been announced about that line yet – but it’ll happen. I’m guessing you’ve read this: http://www.translink.ca/en/Be-Part-of-the-Plan/Rapid-Transit-Projects/Surrey-Rapid-Transit-Study.aspx

    …and just for you Cliff: http://news.sympatico.ctvnews.ca/local/bc/vancouver_reveals_plan_to_scrap_viaducts_for_super_street/1e087b9b

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, July 25, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

    Hey Cliff: I see that on this post and the Managing the Transit Network series you’ve been talking a lot about TransLink’s transit service and questioning whether we plan for South of Fraser area in the region.

    I just wanted to clarify that we most certainly do plan for the South of Fraser and it’s a huge priority for us. We are well aware that much growth is happening there and we work very hard to prioritize investment in South of Fraser. For example, we have studied rapid transit for Surrey; though its current funding is uncertain, the most recent 2012 Supplemental Plan highlights investments like rapid bus service on King George and Highway 1; and there are many more improvements listed on our 2005-2010 Transportation Improvements page. (There’s also a consultation backgrounder from 2009, and improvement info in press releases from past service changes in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.)

    However, there are some realities that present challenges to how much we can do and how fast we can do. One of course is funding. Another major challenge that is that transit network design adheres to the same fundamental geometric realities in other regions as it does in Metro Vancouver.

    That means higher density, mixed-use corridors and centres support higher frequency transit service. A dense and regular street grid that is optimal for transit also helps us serve communities more easily than a street grid that is more irregular, winding, and spread out. For lower-density suburban communities across North America, the level of transit service provided just won’t be the same as within their metropolitan core.

    However, Metro Vancouver is indeed lucky enough to have higher densities generally, and a long-standing regional commitment to compact, transit-oriented development. And Metro Vancouver’s recently adopted Regional Growth Strategy encourages municipalities to focus growth in Urban Centres and Frequent Transit Development Areas along TransLink’s Frequent Transit Network.

    And we do continue to work with our regional and municipal partners to ensure the coordination of land use and transportation planning and support the development of transit-oriented communities throughout the region.

    If it helps, here are some links for further reading on transit planning, land use, and transit oriented communities. Hopefully they aren’t things you’ve already read!

    Pages 12-21 of the Managing the Transit Network primer cover a great deal about what land uses and street configurations are optimal for transit:
    http://www.translink.ca/~/media/documents/bpotp/managing_the_transit_network/managing_the_network_primer.ashx

    Human Transit has a few great article on why grids work so well:
    http://www.humantransit.org/2010/02/the-power-and-pleasure-of-grids.html
    http://www.humantransit.org/2011/03/how-universal-is-transits-geometry.html

    And the Human Transit book is an excellent introduction on how to think about transit planning issues, and what factors are involved when it comes to planning transit well:
    http://www.humantransit.org/human-transit-the-book-introduction.html

    You can also read more about Transit-Oriented Communities and best practices for their development here: http://www.translink.ca/TOCs

    In sum: we know there is growth, and we want to bring you great transit and an excellent transportation network as much as you do! Regional equity is something we take seriously in our plans and projects and our outlook for the region, and I hope that’s conveyed!

  • By Cliff, July 25, 2012 @ 11:08 pm

    As a former resident of the tri-cities, I have to say, I have a few problems with the approach TransLink is using.

    Hey, you can’t please everyone!

    Firstly, the illusion that south Coquitlam will be receiving improved bus service as a result of the Evergreen line. Arguably, this is false. Before the Millennium line, I enjoyed more frequent service and direct convenient access to downtown Vancouver. After the SkyTrain arrived, service was cut and I was forced to use SkyTrain. It was then that I switched to my automobile.

    When the Evergreen Line finally arrives, if there is going to be a service increase, it may not undo the damage that was done when service was cut ten years ago. Over the years, service has been re-routed making it harder for residents to access bus service. For the longest time, the trip planner would tell me to walk across both Lougheed Highway and the Trans-Canada to access the 158 on United instead of using the 154/156. How is this accessible transit? I would often have to time my trips so that I would arrive after 9pm, so I could take advantage of the fact the driver of the 169 could drop me off anywhere along the route if it was safe. I chose to do so along a seemingly remote section of Lougheed Highway as my home was just mere feet away.

    As a former resident of the tri-cities, I find that I have been on the wrong end of these ‘improvements’ for quite some time.

    Now, the objectives. Maximizing ridership should not be the first objective. To me, that’s a cop out. It allows TransLink to consistently apply transit improvements to Vancouver proper and avoid outlying areas in the name of ‘maximizing ridership’. It doesn’t take a city planner to realize that if you stick a bus route in a dense area of town, it’s going to see people using it.

    What takes real skill is putting new bus routes in areas not served well by transit and having people switch to using them. And to be honest, I have not seen that yet. Talk about a Surrey rapid bus always gets people excited, but is always the first thing cut from the budget when the 49 bus needs more buses to accommodate pass-ups.

    Looking at the objectives, they should actually be in reverse. Provide access first, encourage long term growth secondly, and finally maximize ridership. We can see what the result of the current backwards objectives are. An underserved Surrey that BC Transit and TransLink has had almost 20 years to get right and hasn’t. Half of Coquitlam that has seen only negative service improvements. And no concrete plan to address the need to accomodate people in this area by providing for alternative means of transport such as carpooling or park & rides.

    Having plans are great. I know TransLink wants to provide these services and improve ridership in areas like SoF and the NE Sector, but time and time again, when belt-strings get tightened, these areas will always lose out. Like the King George B-line and Port Mann rapid bus.

    When SkyTrain does arrive in the tri-cities, I want to see some real improvements. I want to be able to visit my city’s centre without going through three other cities and paying extra to do it. I want to see express routes using the freeways and easier access to West Coast Express. I want to be able to think I can leave my vehicle at home and go somewhere. Not sit idle for 45+ minutes while I wait for the next bus to arrive.

    Most importantly, when TransLink says they are going to be providing improved services to places in the NE sector and SoF, I want them to mean it.

  • By Dan, July 26, 2012 @ 10:02 am

    @Chris M., Re Urban Density:
    Oh, I’m very much aware that our current and former political leaders were instrumental in bringing about the levels of population density and transport coverage we have today. In fact, TransLink is also a child of their foresight and planning. Ensuring that the #1 didn’t deface our city centre is their legacy, and it’s priceless.

    Re Talk about SkyTrain to Surrey:
    Here’s my prediction, for what it’s worth. Nothing will happen with regards to building new SkyTrain lines or stations until the Evergreen line is completed due to financial constraints. The Tri-Cities have been queued-up waiting for their rapid transit line since at least 10 years ago and ground has already been broken (from what I’m told) so this is the current priority.

    As for the next project, even though I think the UBC line is more important than any Surrey extension (B-Line routes are stop-gaps until fixed rapid transit lines are installed ot relieve congestion), my gut feeling tells me that we’ll see Surrey extensions first, given that Surrey is quite determined to create a viable urban core. (Not to mention it’s less capital-intensive to add a few stations to an existing over-ground line in the suburbs compared to building a new underground line in a dense city.)

  • By Dan, July 26, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    @Eugene: Indeed. The linked article about transport in Seattle and Portland and the associated comments talk about how our system is so much better precisely because it’s grade-separated. They laud our foresight in having avoided the “penny wise, pound foolish” approach of going for light rail because of the lure of lower upfront capital costs. Their own lines cost more to run, are slow as can be, expensive to operate, and are subject to labour disruptions. Had we gone that route in Vancouver, we’d be much worse off today. This is why, I believe, the province stepped-in and made the Evergreen line into a proper SkyTrain line instead of a light rail line as it was initially supposed to be. Fifteen years from now, they’ll be glad this happened.

  • By David Arthur, July 26, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    Eugene: Build it right, and they won’t have any choice but to respect the right-of-way.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 26, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

    David, how does that answer any of our concerns?

    In Calgary, the train has to sit at an intersection until the light turns green or the equivalent colour. Cars could literally keep going, and the train driver will not be allowed to barrel through. I find that infuriating. Even with our transit system, we *still* have bus drivers offering car drivers the opportunity to cut in. If you ever see tufts of hair on a bus, then that’s from me pulling my hair out.

    The photo that you showed has a cross walk right in front of the train, and it is about to cross a road or has crossed a road.

    In Calgary, there are signs all over the place to not stop at certain places, or the railway gates will come down on top of the cars. This is a true testament to how desperate car drivers are to get across those tracks. They probably won’t even flinch when a train comes, while the vehicle is in the way.

    Speaking of cars in the way, Vancouverites already have condemned themselves. I volunteered for the Downtown Historic Railway. A driver pulls into the railway crossing. 1 of the volunteers walked up to the driver, and starts dishing it out. You know what the driver did? He didn’t even look. He just flashed his police badge. Yes, that’s right, an off-duty cop believed that he was immune from the law, and that he had earned the right to do as he pleased.

    As it is, we still have people holding the doors open, when SkyTrain is about to leave. We also have people chasing after buses [I'd never...well, actually, I do do that :^(]. You can image what Calgary must be like. A train comes every 15 minutes at certain points in the day[or it did, in the 90's, I think], so you can imagine how angry you’d be to see the train pull ahead just 5 feet only to stop at a light, while you ran for the train and missed it by a few seconds.

    On top of that, maybe the driver left the station a minute early, or even 10 seconds early. If you arrive 5 seconds early, after a run, and then have to wait 15 minutes, then I bet that there’ll be hell to pay.

    I refuse to budge on the LRT issue. There is no way that I would approve of spending on something that is weakened by union strikes, and traffic lights.

    From what I recall of the last Translink strike, the SkyTrain people were helpful enough to run the system during the strike. I think that they knew that there would be bad will, if they striked. After all, only a hand full of employees were needed to run a system that affected thousands of people each day. The bus drivers striking made a point already.

    Let us accept the goodwill of the unions, and make good use of it.

    When I see an LRT train rolling by slower than a pedestrian walking by, I can’t help but think that it’ll never reach the 90 second frequency that we’ve been spoiled by.

    The whole reason that we can think of SkyTrain as a glorified bus exchange is because of how frequent the trains are. You don’t get that with LRT. Once LRT is built, then that’s what the community is getting for the 100 years.

    100 years of casually rolling around? No thanks!

  • By Sheba, July 26, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

    Dan – the ground level King George line will also happen first as where the line and the stops will be is fairly well agreed upon. The UBC line needs a lot more planning before there’s any kind of agreement.

    David Arthur – Ooh that greenspace around the train is nicer than the concrete barriers I was thinking (and will be probably what they’ll use. Those lines will have to be separated from traffic somehow. There will still be problems at intersections though. I don’t know what they’re thinking of with the 90 degree turn from King George to 104th.

  • By David Arthur, July 26, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

    Any properly-designed modern tramway has synchronised traffic lights, and they can run at quite a clip, even in pedestrian zones. Take a look at some of the videos of Strasbourg or Bergen that are on YouTube – Calgary’s 1980s system is far from the ideal, let alone the Downtown Historic Railway, whose very name establishes it as non-serious. And union-bashing is hardly a basis for sound transport policy.

    The French experience is quite illuminating: the tramways of the 1990s and 2000s have been far more successful in both ridership and urban regeneration than the mini-metros of the 1980s were. The SkyTrain was definitely the right choice for trunk routes into Vancouver, but for an area this far out, which wants to regenerate its own core, you need to be thinking about things other than getting people to the other side of the region quickly. A metro doing the job of a tram is just as bad as the reverse.

  • By Sheba, July 26, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

    Eugene – I’m pretty sure the Skytrain was deemed ‘an essential service’ and they had to go back to work. I know they were in solidarity with the striking drivers and weren’t checking anyones fare.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 26, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

    @ Sheba

    Thanks for the clarification on the essential service. I never expected anybody to have the guts to do that.

    @ David Arthur

    I went to YouTube, to give the videos a fair chance. I was looking for fast trains in heavily congested downtown streets.

    Strasbourg had none of that, but it did have an interesting junction. It was Y shaped. It was unrelated to what I wanted to see, but it was interesting.

    Bergen is in the US, right? I found something like that in the US. I think that it was New Jersey. The closest that it came to showing me speed was when it was out in the boondocks. On the right was a blur of trees. On the left were freight yards and freight train tracks. That was the only fast video that I saw, and it was completely removed from busy streets. The train was probably going 50-100 km/h. I would consider that standard or fast enough.

    I tried to find a French LRT video, but found nothing interesting.

    I was kind of ready to admit defeat, but then I found another video which seemed to be of Bergen. The train was about to pull into the station, and I thought that it was travelling slowly. When I did a double take, you know what I saw? I saw flock of pedestrians casually walking in front of the train. Yeah, I know. With modern timing gadgets, the train can avoid that kind of stuff, but we can’t even do that with the buses.

    I am currently doing research on passenger rail in Surrey, and you know what keeps coming up as opposition? Macallum [sp?]. The former mayor was so concerned about passenger rail near quiet neighbourhoods, that he fought it tooth and nail. Despite the best effort of the company, he prevented it.

    Regarding unions, I admit that I was harsh, but I also gave credit where I thought that it was due. You can see that I jumped to a conclusion and gave them the benefit of the doubt regarding SkyTrain, even though I strongly oppose unions.

    Although I don’t agree with unions, I understand where they are coming from. They are looking out for themselves. I get it. I look out for me too. However, they can’t use transit riders as a bargaining chip to look out for themselves.

    If you want to put this in perspective, then pretend that we are all handicapped in wheelchairs. Let’s all force all building owners to disable automated elevators, and then hire unionized elevator operators, who are allowed to strike. If they all strike at the same time, then able bodied people would be forbidden from operating the elevators, and would be required to take the stairs; not good, but feasible for most people. If they all strike at the same time, then wheelchair users are out of luck; you can write letters of complaint, or maybe hire a scab to carry you up the stairs, but accessibility will take a second priority to the operators’ complaints [legitimate or illegitimate].

    The accessibility laws were put into place for a reason. I don’t support them all, but there is a logical reason for most of them. If we can support handicapped people that way, then why do we insist on putting unions in between able bodied people and their access?

    1 thing that struck me in all the videos was how the trains rolled along in a sleepy manner. I almost felt like running beside the train and waving at the driver and the passengers. That’s fun to do with a sleepy happy train in the sleepy town of Mayberry, but for a world class transit system, I want rocket fast. I want average speeds of 100 km/h or more.

    Although I am closed to LRT, I am still open to discussing this.

    I want to see the union covenant to never letting the B-Line drivers strike. If they can go through 2 strikes and never once even think about letting them strike, then I will trust them, and then I’ll be open to drivers for our trains.

    I also want to see car drivers not pull in front of buses, nor do I ever want to see anybody ask for more bus bays, unless we are talking about highways or bus exchanges and stations; all this for the next 2 years.

    If we can’t these 2 things, then no deal.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 26, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

    @ Sheba

    Yes, I have mostly been up to date on that rapid transit project. I can’t remember if I have seen that page specifically, but I was always under the impression that it was still open to discussion by the policy makers. Thanks for the link, though.

  • By Cliff, July 26, 2012 @ 10:30 pm

    @Eugene -If I recall correctly, the West Coast Express regularly travels at speeds in excess of 100km/h and if the rail buff in me is right, it can run up to 160km/h but doing so would require upgrades to the track. Beyond 160km/h you enter the realm of high speed rail which is something else entirely. Additionally, I remember reading somewhere that MK1 SkyTrain cars are capable of 104km/h. They never achieve this speed in service.

    I’m a little worried about LRT in Vancouver (Surrey). The Vancouver driver is a very different animal from the rest of North America due to a number of issues. I need not remind everyone about the flexity streetcar that was struck during the Olympics, do I? To compound the problem, the region has a habit of building just enough and never takes into account the future. If LRT is going to be built in Vancouver, it will come at the expense of ever decreasing road-space where it will be justified by saying the LRT will absorb the additional strain caused by itself. Ten years later we will have both a congested street and an LRT packed to the brim.

    The saying “Do it right, do it once” comes to mind. Vancouver, when it came to rapid transit” did so and as a result we have a world class transit system we can compare to an elevator because of its frequency. The Expo line is only now needing upgrades and that’s only because we built more SkyTrain lines. It’s a proven success story. So why do we want to cheap out and build LRT?

    Stay the course. There is only one acceptable rapid transit for the Lower Mainland. Automated, frequent, SkyTrain.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 26, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

    @ Cliff

    Thanks for the numbers.

    Here’s a bit of a rumour. I heard from a stranger in a line that several bigwigs took a ride on SkyTrain from end to end without stopping. They managed to make the entire trip in 15 minutes. I find that hilarious and believable.

  • By Sheba, July 26, 2012 @ 11:12 pm

    I would *love* if the King George line (easier than writing Newton to Surrey Central to Guildford) was an elevated line for all the reasons that have already been stated – but I doubt it’s going to happen. If they were to put in one that would take the nice wide cars that are on Canada Line it was be awesome (is it just me or are those trains quieter?).

    But who’s going to pay for it? Evergreen Line was supposed to be operational by 2014 and it was pushed back to 2016. I can’t see another line going in before 2020. Heck I can’t even see the Expo Line being extended a few stops down Fraser Hwy to Fleetwood (which badly needs it) or Millennium Line a few stops to join up with Canada Line.

    Even with the fed and prov governments kicking in on big building projects, we still have to ask ‘who’s going to pay for it?’ We don’t have money at the local level to get the governments to match so that we can afford to building more Skytrain lines.

    Heck we don’t even have money to upgrade the Expo Line stations to have glass walls and roofs that cover the entire platform (like the Millennium and Canada Lines).

  • By Sheba, July 26, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

    Eugene – this is where they are on the King George line (and probably extending the Expo Line) http://www.translink.ca/en/Be-Part-of-the-Plan/Rapid-Transit-Projects/Surrey-Rapid-Transit-Study/Whats-Next.aspx

  • By Cliff, July 27, 2012 @ 12:09 am

    Well, assuming Waterfront to Columbia and an average speed of upwards of 70km/h… Yup, 15 minutes sounds about right.

  • By David Arthur, July 27, 2012 @ 7:45 am

    Eugene: The thing about speeds of 100 km/h or more is that they’re only possible with large stop spacings. Is public transport only for people who are going long distances? They also tend to require compromises in terms of where the stations are located, and multiple staircases/escalators to get in and out, both of which again disproportionately affect local riders. For that matter, expressways are faster than street-level roads, but most people are glad that they didn’t build one through the heart of Vancouver.

    By Bergen I actually meant the original Bergen in Norway, though I believe the U.S. one has a reasonable reputation as well. As for the question of whether drivers can handle it, that’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question – they’ll only learn to handle it if it exists – but you can also improve things by building the line to feel like a distinct thing (such as the grassed tracks in France) rather than a normal lane of traffic from which cars have been arbitrarily excluded. In most cases people seem to learn pretty quickly.

    I don’t know the particular geography well enough to say for sure which of the alternatives TransLink have proposed is best for Surrey; it may be that one of the SkyTrain alignments best serves the needs of the area’s residents. But if SkyTrain is to be built, it should be built for that reason, not because the most expensive technology must be automatically the best.

  • By Alan, July 27, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    @Eugene & @Sheba Actually SkyTrain is a different union (CUPE) and technically differenet company (BCRTC) as well. TransLink quickly got an injunction to stop pickets around SkyTrain’s stations when Coast Mountain Bus Company’s CAW (driver’s) and COPE (office staff) members were on strike.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 27, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

    @ Alan

    Thanks for the clarification. I think that the main thing to be thankful for in all of this is that there was some determination from somebody to get them back to work, and it didn’t reduce the strike’s impact a whole lot. A key role in all of this was the automated aspect of SkyTrain.

    @ Sheba

    Thanks for the “What’s Next” link. I checked it out.

    Also, unfortunately, we never have to worry about funding. The province has shown that despite its limited budget, it was willing to choose SkyTrain for the Millenium Line at the drop of a hat, even after all the advice against it.

    The source for all government funding is to place the burden on the laps of future generations, and say, “You have to pay this back. Thanks. Bye.”.

    As transit advocates, we can’t think about working within a budget, because if we do, we will always lose. The government sure found money for projects like more roads. Look at UBC. Look at the Sea To Sky Highway. If the government were really interested in saving money, they would look honestly at the needs of the communities, and then always choose transit and freight trains. It’s that simple.

    Every single transit idea that we propose is a net savings to the government.

    Also, sadly, it doesn’t matter, because the government doesn’t really care about what transit advocates want. Don’t you think?

    Also, as Dan said, grade separation is way better.

    @ David Arthur

    I looked at the Bergen [Norway] video that you suggested. I must admit that I was impressed enough that I watched the entire video.

    I am still not enthused about LRT, because the video clearly showed a woman almost getting into an accident. She was pushing a carriage on the right. She instinctively tried to move out of the way, but accidentally swerved towards the path of the train instead. Fortunately, she stopped herself before she got too close, and nobody got hurt. The train did stop.

    There were several other people who got out of the way, which showed me that they were taking big risks. They seemed to be well out of the way, but I am sure that the train could have sped up, if there were guarantees that there would be no pedestrians. In the city’s defence, I noticed that 1 or more pedestrians just stood there, waiting for the train to pass, when they could have made it across. This shows that LRT does get some respect. Unfortunately, the driver was waiting for a pedestrian, even though the driver clearly had the right of way, as the light indicated.

    That being said, I learned a few positive things from the video.

    The first positive thing that I learned was that the coloured ground [concrete, I assume] helped to mark the railway. Light grey lines marked the edges, and another colour marked the driveways and other crossings. I thought that this was very creative and clever. I imagine that GVRD residents might not be completely obedient to the rules implied by the lines, but as Canadians, we have shown our willingness to comply at times, even without a forceful hand. So, I think that if we used colours in the GVRD railways, then we’ll definitely have a better system, and could potentially speed things up.

    Also, the train passed by what appeared to be farm land. I don’t think that it was, though. It seems that we don’t really need certain safety precautions on certain stretches of King George: no fencing; no elevation; etc. This could reduce the cost of ALRT & LRT.

    You are right about the most expensive technology not automatically being the best. I’ll go so far as to say that the most expensive technology is rarely best for the average customer.

    You have a good point about freeways in downtown Vancouver, which would also include elevated tracks in downtown Vancouver. I hate to say it, but maybe the trick is to tear down buildings, and the put the elevated tracks there, and then build buildings around the tracks, so that the final product looks like Main Street Station and New Westminster Station. Yeah, I know. Cost, right? Well, I can dream about it, though, right? :^) That being said, people don’t seem to be abandoning the 22nd St neighbourhood.

    Typical implementations of LRT have a lot in common with long distance passenger rail such as Via Rail in that they are typically on the ground, and not necessarily separated from anything.

    With that in mind, I think that there are 2 opportunities for us to break out of the chicken-egg problem, and then educate the community.

    I’m not an expert on the Arbutus Corridor, so if anybody knows better, then please chime in.

    It was almost sold off, and the tracks were almost ripped up, but the city stopped it. This shows that there is local civic political will to see that it be put to good use. I propose that we start a campaign to bring service back to the corridor.

    Many years ago, I took a tour at the Purolator place in Richmond. I asked them about shipping their mail and parcels across Canada. It turns out that they ship a trailer’s worth to Ontario 3 times per week. Coincidentally, Via Rail sends trains across Canada each way 3 times per week. The tour guide said that they would “defintely” be interested [obviously, we can't take him so literally, but still]. It’s a huge win-win situation. I have already sent email to both companies, encouraging them to have a conference call. Via said that any company that is interested in this should contact them. Purolator only forwarded my mail to the correct department.

    I tried to contact Canada Post as well, but they said that I should write a letter. If anybody wants the specific HQ address, then let me know.

    I think this goal is so achievable, because Via could haul 1 car at a time from Richmond to Via’s Pacific Central yards, and back. That’s basically 3-6 round trips per week. With only 1 car to haul, I assume that the tracks should be able to handle it, even if the tracks are in bad shape. A slow moving train would do just fine in educating the community that the tracks are being used, and that they should look out.

    Another opportunity for us is to try to get handcart service on Granville Island. It could serve as a rail version of a rickshaw service, while encouraging people watch out.

    When I last looked, there was a handcart service outside of Granville Island, but it never really went anywhere.

    I can’t believe that we’re putting so much thought into this. We really need a place where we can make our ideas happen, instead of just talking.

  • By Paul C, July 28, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

    While I support ALRT over LRT more. I’m not opposed to LRT and do feel that it would work in certain cases in certain areas in the Metro Vancouver area.

    I do think however that the ALRT system that we have is not fully completed. Broadway definetly needs ALRT out to UBC. Surrey needs ALRT down King George to at least Newton and preferably White Rock. Surrey also need ALRT down the Fraser highway out to Langely. The Tri cities is getting ALRT Coquitlam centre. But I also feel that at some point in the distant future it will be expanded out to maple ridge.

    Now maybe at this present LRT might work down Fraser Hwy to Langley. But in 50-100 years from now. Do we want to be in a situation where there are 3-5 million people in Surrey and Langley trying to ride an LRT system that can’t handle the amount of people coming to it.

    Now I made a quick google search of Bergen and Strasbourg. And what hit me first was that both of them are small communities and not metropolitan areas. Now I could be wrong and they are part of a bigger Metro area. But it did not seem that way to me. And this to me is the biggest problem I have with proponents of LRT. They seem to pick systems in areas where the population is perfect for an LRT. And also that the area won’t be metropolitan in size if ever for centuries to come.

    All the major metropolitan cities in the world have a major high density grade separated system to move the mases of people around. Could you imagine what London or New York or Paris or Toyko or Hong Kong would be like if all they built out was a bunch of LRT lines going along the street. Hell I’d love to see that just to laugh at the chaos it would create.

    We need to stop thinking of Metro Vancouver as small community and start thinking about it as a big metro city with a big population. Because at some point in the future that is what we will be.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, July 30, 2012 @ 10:03 am

    Hi Cliff — just wanted to offer a response to your previous comment back to me.

    The objectives in the primer aren’t listed in an order of importance — they’re just the variety of priorities we can use to design a system. Our planning folks explain this better than me though:

    The order in which the three objectives are listed wasn’t intended to imply prioritizing one over the other. As outlined in the primer, all three are important, but there are tradeoffs that need to be made when trying to reach them all with a limited budget. The amount of resources TransLink invests towards each of the objectives is a conversation that needs to be had at the regional level and that is likely to play out during the next update of TransLink’s current long term strategy for the regional transportation system: Transport 2040.

    Bus services in the Coquitlam area will definitely see some changes in 2016 with the opening of the Evergreen Line. The details haven’t been worked out yet, and a lot will depend on broader funding availability. We do plan on consulting broadly with the public on any changes to the architecture of the network well in advance.

  • By Robert, July 30, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

    Re Purolator and VIA Rail: unfortunately starting this autumn there will be only two VIA trains a week from Vancouver to the east in the October to April period (see link in name). Too bad VIA doesn’t have service on the more direct southern route (via Calgary and Regina). I wonder if Purolator could use the twice daily Amtrak train to Seattle, assuming any customs issues can be resolved.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 30, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

    @ Robert

    Regarding the 2 trains per week, I was hoping that they would consider reinstating the third train.

    As for Purolator and Amtrak, I never thought about that. It’s a good idea.

  • By Dan, August 5, 2012 @ 12:44 am

    Regarding the Purolator idea and Amtrak. Amtrak used to do pallet shipping for UPS and the US mail, but they let freight take precedence over passengers. David Gunn, a good Canadian, took over and put a stop to this. Amtrak’s job is passenger transport, not pallet shipping. There were also endless rows from freight operators about a state operator infringing on their turf. You will not see Amtrak running freight, especially on those nice Talgo trains. Can you imagine a string of 30 Road Railers attached to the end? What a mess!

  • By Eugene Wong, August 31, 2012 @ 12:02 am

    @ Dan

    You have good points. Any passenger rail service should be careful to not infringe on the freight carrier’s domain. The type of service that I was speaking about involves servicing other companies, as opposed to directly competing with them. The companies should be able to offer the same service and get the same revenue, but Via should be able to help them cut their costs [hopefully :^)].

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