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Regional Transportation Commissioner weighs in on our 10-Year Plan

Lots of info posts today… hope you can handle one more!

Martin Crilly, TransLink’s Regional Transportation Commissioner, has come back with his evaluation of our 2010 10-Year Plan and supplements.

Check out a summary of his review, which links to the full 38-page PDF report.

If you don’t know, the Regional Transportation Commissioner plays an independent advisory and approval role in TransLink’s governance structure. This diagram describes how his role relates to the Board and others.

For some context, here’s a past blog post explaining our 2010 10-Year Plan process. The main TransLink site also has a Transportation Planning explanation.

The next step is for the 10-Year Plan to be evaluated and decided on by the Mayor’s Council in October.

The main TransLink website also has more on our governance and board structure, including meeting times, minutes, bylaws and more.


  • By Henry A., September 3, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

    Why not appoint an INDEPENDENT commissioner to do a review of Translink? Crilly’s assessment will not doubt be biased as he belongs to Translink and will do whatever Translink orders him to do.

    I’m getting very disappointed that rapid transit expansions might likely stop. If Evergreen Line or Millenium Line to UBC can’t be built in the immediate future, they should at least just extend the M-Line from VCC-Clark to meet up with Broadway-City Hall station. This link is extremely crucial, and it’s a strategic location within the Skytrain network.

  • By David, September 3, 2009 @ 11:31 pm

    I’ve read the report, it’s fair and balanced.

    While TransLink has made some blunders, the root cause of all their problems is lack of appropriate funding from senior levels of government, something Crilly wastes no time pointing out.

    Forcing SkyTrain and Canada Line on the region has bankrupt the bus system.

    It’s like telling your kid you’ll buy her a new car on two conditions: (1) you get to pick the car and (2) she has to fork over 1/3 of the purchase price. When you decide on a luxury SUV instead of the Civic she was expecting and could have afforded, your gift becomes a terrible burden she can’t afford to insure let alone fill with gas.

    Our current Premier, like those before him, refuses to be a man and accept the blame for buying a vehicle his daughter can’t afford.

    If the Expo Line had been standard LRT it would’ve reached Langley in the 1990s. If the Millennium Line had been LRT it would’ve stretched from UBC to Port Coquitlam and still cost less than the current train to the middle of nowhere.

  • By Cliff, September 4, 2009 @ 2:15 am

    The Millennium line was built specifically to accommodate phase two, the Evergreen Line. Without this line built, we have wasted a lot of time and money.

    To further complicate things, why do they want the Evergreen line (providing it’s ever built)to run up Clarke and St. Johns when the new Port Mann bridge will supposedly have capability for rapid transit?

    Seems like it would make more sense running it on the United-Lougheed corridor to take advantage of any new bridge. Such an option would also have the side effect of appeasing Port Moody.

  • By ;-), September 4, 2009 @ 7:41 am

    @David, can you clarify your definition of “LRT”? For the record, Canada Line and Skytrain are “LRT”. Prior to Skytrain, it was called “ALRT” or Automated Light Rail Transit.

    Metro Vancouver’s current implementation is a more efficient LRT version.
    -grade separation (roads are left available to vehicles, parking, cycling, no 2 minute rail crossings, and pedestrain activities such as festivals and parades)
    -driverless which allows for higher frequencies
    -highers frequencies to carry more riders (much appeciated to office workers)
    -longer trains… shorter less frequent trains would be workable with at grade service

    If you feel the above benefits are unacceptable, I hope you share your opinions with the Evergreen developers. For some reason, they recently changed their designs to use Skytrain technology to inflate the budget and delaying the project.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, September 4, 2009 @ 10:47 am

    Henry A:
    As the Commissioner’s website describes, the Commissioner position is independent of TransLink. TransLink’s name is only in the title of the position: we certainly don’t order him to do anything. That’s why he even has his own website for these reports!

    I do also want to mention that I don’t think rapid transit projects are slowing down due to lack of demand or lack of knowledge that people need such transit here. Rapid transit projects are just very expensive, which makes them much harder to implement given our current funding scenario and the economic downturn we are in.

    That’s why when we consulted on the 2010 Ten-Year Plan, only the maximal possible funding scenario contained any rapid transit development (the $450 million option). For some comparison, you might also be interested in a post I made during the APTA rail conference, which mentions the costs of constructing rapid transit in other cities.

  • By Gordon, September 4, 2009 @ 11:00 am

    Translink has been chronically underfunded since it’s inception, we certainly do not need the gonverment removing necessary sources of funding. Is there any way that $26o million could be voted in but phased so as it doesn’t crerate such a tax hit during a recession?
    We also need Vitoria to fund transit in a meningful way.

  • By Donald Nguyen, September 4, 2009 @ 11:16 am

    Once again, someone who does not take transit on a regular basis in Vancouver is telling Translink to live within its means, and meanwhile buses in Abbotsford (BCTransit-ValleyMAX) and other smaller communities run empty. In the City of Edmonton, when they build a new subdivision, ETS provides starter peak hour bus service right away and is way ahead in providing transit services to all parts of the city even though their transit usage per capita is less. We are being blasted for trying to provide the same level of transit services and it just infuriates me.

  • By David, September 4, 2009 @ 11:17 am

    Automated LRT is NOT more efficient than systems with drivers. The Calgary system carries more passengers per day than Expo and Millennium put together yet costs significantly less to operate. The Expo line alone cost significantly more than both Calgary lines put together. I’d really like to see your definition of “efficient”.

    Grade separation is very expensive and the main benefactors are people in cars, not transit users.

    Some driver operated, on-street LRT trains in Germany run just 30 seconds apart.

    Some trams in Hungary are longer than a 4 car Mark II SkyTrain. Train size is only limited by the length of city blocks.

    Evergreen is and always will be a waste of money on its present route. There simply aren’t enough people wanting to travel between Port Moody and Lougheed Mall to justify a tunnel.

    As Cliff noted, the new Port Mann bridge will make the south east corridor the preferred choice for rail between New West and Coquitlam/PoCo because it will provide a direct link to Surrey and points east and because avoiding over-priced technology like SkyTrain and eliminating the tunnel should bring the cost back down under $500 million.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, September 4, 2009 @ 11:45 am

    Hey — just since this is one of those topics that can stir up quite a debate, here’s a friendly reminder to stay civil and remember the participation guidelines.

    Not that everyone’s conducting themselves poorly or anything. I just want to make sure that nobody winds up yelling at someone for no good reason, you know? It’s no way to start a long weekend!

  • By Gordon, September 4, 2009 @ 11:56 am

    Skytrain’s weekday ridership is 274,000 which is 3rd behind Montreal & Tronto. At grade systems that interfere with traffic have much longer headways min would 4-5 mins where as skytrain Expo& Milenium line is 108seconds (peak). Currently skytrain capacity is limited by the lack of vehicles.

  • By David M, September 4, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

    Just wondering, but a while back didn’t Translink get authority to run a real estate division with the intent to use it to raise money for the transit system – similar to the Hong Kong model. If so, why is this not being discussed as a potential revenue source?

    I also don’t get our Provincial government. Translink has tried to improve funding, only to be cut off by the government – for example th parking tax and vehicle levy. I have to agree that it appears the government is making it impossible for Translink to be adequately funded.

    As a taxpayer I’d be fine with higher taxes to support better services. Cutting taxes and then telling us we can’t have the needed services is wrong.

  • By Cliff, September 4, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

    Some ideas to raise revenue:

    1. Licencing bikes. Licence plates and registration (though not necessarily insurance) $100 a year. If you’re low-income, then free. This would also allow reporting of dangerous cyclists; a growing problem in our region.

    2. Congestion zone consisting of the Burrard peninsula. Those on the peninsula travelling off it would also pay the charge. $5 per day (not per use).

    3. Micro-tolling on all bridges (except Burrard, Granville, Cambie). 25 cents a crossing. 50 cents in the rush hours. No free alternatives until the Mission-Abbotsford bridge.

    4. Ditch Air-care. Air-care had to cut rates because it was making too much money. Cars aren’t a big problem in the region for air pollution. Ships, the Burrard Thermal plant, and trucks make up the majority of air pollution. Getting rid of Air-care would make the micro tolling more palatable.

    5. Enable trucks to move more efficiently through our streets. Truck only lanes up and down Knight Street during the rush hours. Give trucks toll free access between 12am and 5am. This would encourage them to ship goods at night.

  • By Cliff, September 4, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

    Also, it won’t be that expensive to run SkyTrain on the southern corridor compared to Port Moody. The routing allows for most of the alignment to run at grade, thus cutting a big chunk off the cost.

  • By ;-), September 4, 2009 @ 3:45 pm

    @cliff: why not toll the Burrard, Granville, & Cambie bridges. To be fair all bridges should be tolled or none.

  • By Dave2, September 4, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

    Sure, at grade systems interfere with traffic, but remember that traffic also interferes with at-grade systems, a not too insignificant concern given that our roadway system is almost entirely at grade unlike pretty much every other North American city of our size.

  • By ;-), September 4, 2009 @ 4:57 pm

    Elevated construction is more expensive than at grade. Tunnels cost more than elevated. However retrofitting mass transit into neighborhoods means grade separation to minimize impact, especially after implementation. In addition, with resistance to widening existing roads, limited support for Bus Only lanes to preserve parking and residents demanding suburban bus reduction usage on arterials, planners were left with few options but grade separation in Vancouver and Richmond to meeting growing demands for better transportation.

    Efficiency can be measured in many ways.
    -the Canada Line can go from Richmond Centre to Waterfront in nearly half the time it takes for the 98.
    -the frequency and capacity of the train means I’m not left behind, like I frequenty do with the 98.
    -not waiting 15 minutes for the next train that you just missed.

    Without stopping for red lights, crossing pedestrians, turning cars, or car accidents…. the Canada Line is far more reliable than an at grade LRT. I don’t think a surface LRT is much of improvement over the 98 BLine.

    In Hong Kong, the grade separated subway can get from one end of the island to the other much quicker than the surface double decker streetcars stuck in traffic. Many passengers are willing to pay a premium to use the grade separated service.

    If we want to attract riders from their cars, there is a need for “efficient” options. Canada Line & Skytrain was a premuim solution, but badly needed in a congested area with limited agreeable surface options. Remember Canada Line is not exclusive to one group. Anyone can use it rich or poor. For that, Canada Line is a worthy investment for the future.

  • By Cliff, September 4, 2009 @ 8:23 pm


    If the Burrard, Granville, and Cambie bridges are tolled, then people will attempt to use Main and Quebec Streets to get into the city core.

    Also, am I the only person who thinks that not finishing the viaducts out to the Trans Canada was one of Vancouver’s biggest failures?

  • By Cliff, September 4, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

    Another problem with an LRT system in Vancouver is how drivers will interact with it. Let’s just say Vancouver isn’t known as a bastion of good drivers in North America. Throwing an LRT into a rush hour commute will spell trouble.

    People cutting LRTs off at crossings, people turning right and not yielding to a train. Seattle and Calgary have had problems like this, but here in Vancouver, the problems would be magnified.

    At grade crossings may work out towards Chilliwack and Abbotsford, but not in Greater Vancouver.

  • By ;-), September 4, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

    @Cliff: the streets you identified can be tolled as well. While toll booths would be impractical with limited space, the electronic tolling technology from Golden Ears can also be used here at anything that feeds into the centre.

    What I’m highlighting here is that your bridge proposal targets suburban commuters and travellors, but not people in a transit option rich core. That just doesn’t sound fair.

  • By Cliff, September 4, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

    Offer subsidized bus passes to anyone with car insurance with ICBC. Said bus passes would be like a U-Pass and nontransferable.

    Make specific local routes free. Do so by targetting westside users. People more likely to have cars and be less receptive to transit. The 17 (Downtown to Marpole only), 10 (West-side portion to Marpole only), 7, 32. The only problem with this suggestion is that east side users and the disadvantaged will scream unfairness and rightfully so.

    Another thing that could be done is a full blown London-like congestion charge for Downtown. The problem is the possible tolling gantry locations in the Downtown eastide under this proposal and their susceptibility to vandalism.

    There is no easy blanket solution, but that micro-tolling isn’t so bad regardless.

  • By Jay, September 4, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

    There are a number of ways to increase funding. I have always been a fan of creating a charge that meant that everyone would have to pay like medicare and that this would give everyone a transit pass that they could choose to or choose not to use. This could even be region specific so that all funds would be directed towards the region said person lived in. This would be a steady form of funding.

  • By Jay, September 4, 2009 @ 11:36 pm

    Also systems like Canada line are fabulous. This is not only because they are efficient but also for the fact that there is always room for expansion. Increases in frequency is another positive. The fact that there is no people operating such a systems makes it more safe. The fact that a operator isn’t required to drive the system makes it better then the one in Calgary. A issue as they are having problems finding people to operate there LRT Line cars. The Canada Line has cut my own commute by half and made it more comfortable, reliable, and there is never a concern of a full bus as the trains are always spacious and hav much higher head counts.

  • By JJ, September 5, 2009 @ 10:27 pm

    If the decision is made to keep the line out of auto traffic, to either put it above or below….then automation is a no brainer. If you want the trains to mix in traffic, then you need a traditional signaling system with human operators. Yes, traditional signaling systems with human operators can be quite efficient. If you are already deciding to spend money on grade separation for the entire route, then automation costs the same a a conventional signaling system and offers more safety and similar to better reliability for a lower operating cost and greater flexibility. If an automated system does not have sufficient capacity, it is due to the trains being too small rather than being too infrequent. The size of the trains is more related to the decision to go with grade separation vs mixed use as opposed to anything to do with automation itself.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Mayors’ Council meets and decides on TransLink’s 2010 plan and funding on Friday, Oct. 23 — October 21, 2009 @ 11:38 am

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