Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

SkyTrain route rejig possible

with 18 comments

Jeff Nagel on unnamed consultants’ idea for reconfiguring SkyTrain if the Evergreen line is built.

transit network 2014

transit network 2014

The image, by the way, is not the one Jeff used – this better quality one I got from fellow flickrite Paul Hillsdon.

The idea is to run trains through from Coquitlam to VCC so that there is no need to change at Lougheed Mall. The existing Millennium Line service would be cut back to a low volume shuttle service between Columbia and Lougheed freeing up a lot of capacity for Expo Line service to Surrey. A new short turn service on the Expo Line could also be added to run between Waterfront and Metrotown, which is the section which has the highest demand.

The August study indicated the configuration could save TransLink $20 to $100 million by reducing the number of extra SkyTrain cars that would have to be bought to achieve desired service levels.

Which may appeal to the current Translink management – though as usual Ken Hardie is doing his best to be non-committal. If there is a cash crunch – because the Mayor’s have yet to approve a new funding source – then there may be little option. Of course my preference would be to have more SkyTrain cars and more service. Because everywhere I have been that has been shown to be the most effective way of getting people to switch modes from driving to riding transit. But that is not – it seems – Translink’s main objective any longer.

And while I am taking images from Paul’s flickr stream here is a shot of the new SkyTrain cars in the new, standardized Translink livery. (Although that is where I found it, apparently it originates with the Buzzer blog.) The Darth Vader tendency at Translink wins again. Their preference for all new vehicles is “paint it black”.

New SkyTrain cars

New SkyTrain cars

Written by Stephen Rees

January 15, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Posted in transit

18 Responses

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  1. Short turning cars from Waterfront to Metrotown has always been rejected by Translink and BC Transit before. One wonders why it is being muted now.

    I think desperation is setting in, because despite all the hype and hoopla about SkyTrain, TransLink has never shown any figures of the metro actually attracting vast numbers of motorists to transit. 80% of SkyTrain’s riders first take a bus to the metro and buses are notoriously poor in attracting the car driver.

    As there is no independent audit of SkyTrain’s ridership, no one knows for sure how many do actually ride the metro. The need for the Evergreen line is very weak indeed and money could be better spent elsewhere. While we throw huge sums of money at SkyTrain, other transit sachems go begging – the return of the interurban for one.

    And what happens if Bombardier Inc. abandons SkyTrain production, due to to the ‘economic’ times, what then? Certainly SkyTrain is a rather dated proprietary light-metro, largely regarded as obsolete by many transit specialists ans now is seen as a museum piece like the Wuppertal Schwebbebahn monorail.

    Malcolm J.

    January 15, 2009 at 5:57 pm

  2. Just to give proper credit, the photo was shot by Jhenifer Pabillano and posted on The Buzzer Blog which is where Paul found it 🙂


    January 15, 2009 at 6:15 pm

  3. Are they going to repaint the older cars?

    They do look nice and quite distinctive.


    January 15, 2009 at 6:58 pm

  4. The original proposal – in Transport 2021 – was for a direct east west service from Coquitlam along the Lougheed – Broadway route. The Millennium line was really just part of that with a link to New Westminster so that the Edmonds O&M facility could be used. Its odd circular route – which largely duplicated what was already there – never made much sense expect that it served an NDP constituency (Burnaby and East Vancouver).

    And as Malcolm needs to notice – this is NOT a Translink proposal but from a consultant who is clearly trying to get the best out of the system we have been landed with. A worthy effort and I would have thought worth praising not carping.

    Stephen Rees

    January 15, 2009 at 6:58 pm

  5. I also notice in Jhenifer’s video that the new cars appear to have yellow overhead bars for standees.


    January 15, 2009 at 7:01 pm

  6. Stephen, I was led to believe during the Millennium Line debates over a decade ago, that a “y” switch was to be placed at the Coquitlam junction to permit direct running to the terminal Glenn Clark station or Waterfront Station via the Expo Line. It is also my belief that the formation for such a junction was built. I recall a meeting that I and the late Des Turner attended, where ‘Lecia Stewart, said this was so. I am somewhat surprised that this did not happen and a major redesign is needed!

    Has anyone looked to see that this indeed happened?!

    Just a note, at one time it was proposed to join the Millennium Line to the Expo Line, past Broadway Station, for direct service to Waterfront. I even have a copy of the study.

    Malcolm J.

    January 15, 2009 at 7:53 pm

  7. Don’t be surprised Malcolm. This line was the same as all the others. Once they started building it, “budgetary pressures” meant that things promised had to be dropped. The initial enthusiasm for TOD at the stations suddenly shrank – and the Project Office’s view ended at the station buildings’ drip line. Lots of things like bus loops suddenly became someone else’s problem – not the Project. The station at Lougheed was a very early victim of downsizing – and one that was vocally protested at the time by the North East sector Mayors. Not that anyone was listening. It was also supposed to open in 2000 – hence the name.

    The thing that killed the proposal to build a link into the Expo line at Commercial was not just the cost – horrendous – but the prospect of having to shut down the Expo Line to build a junction. Cutting into an elevated structure is not something to undertake lightly.

    There have been all sorts of proposals at different times. There was a room at Translink HQ full of old studies – piles of them. In some cases all the reports and documents that got printed – but then were never distributed because things change. New bosses, new governments. I often wondered why they were kept. In “1984” there was a policy of obliterating old promises and policies as you went along. I often thought that would have suited our governments’ desires better.

    Stephen Rees

    January 15, 2009 at 8:27 pm

  8. Richard

    January 15, 2009 at 8:55 pm

  9. Actually Lougheed station has short sections of tracks that are not used by the Millenium line cars–one may be used in case of a train stuck in the station but another spur actually stops up in the air–so it would be possible to go from VCC-Clark ( or preferably from Cambie st) straight to Douglas college. We can’t have ALL the lines, whether they are SkyTrain or LRT or.. going from various places in the suburbs to waterfront! look at quite a few transit systems around the world, preferably in towns between 2 million and 4 million (no point looking at big metropolis like Tokyo, London, Paris etc.) and you can’t help noticing that a seamless trip in these towns means making at least one transfer and more often than not 2 or 3 transfers. Even in small towns like Bordeaux and Strasbourg (both with a LRT) many of my trips involved several transfers.

    Red frog

    January 15, 2009 at 9:55 pm

  10. Malcolm, they already run short turn shuttle trains between Waterfront and Broadway during rush hours and have been doing it for about a year now. Passengers seem to love it because just when the platform at Broadway is getting unbearable, an empty train pulls in. About every 10 minutes.


    January 16, 2009 at 12:41 am

  11. Mr. Frog; a seamless trip, ceases to be seamless when one has to make a transfer. In downtown sections with cities having trams, one line in the city may have up to 6 different services, servicing 6 different locations.

    In Vancouver we continually ignore good transit practice and try to reinvent the wheel, in order to to appease SkyTrain. The great mantra is to feed as many people onto SkyTrain as possible because, “we spent $6 billion on the metro already.”

    Don’t laugh, several ‘METRO’ transit bureaucrats have said this.

    What we have is an extremely expensive transit system that fails to provide the product to attract the all important motorist from the car. For many, taking the car is quicker and far more convenient.

    A real life example: My wife works one day a week at a job on Granville St., near the Granville Bridge. She takes the 600 series express bus to her job. Simple, seamless journey. When RAV opens, she will be forced to transfer and wait up to 10 minutes (not 3 as was erroneously posted) to use the subway, then transfer again to a bus to Granville. Not going to happen, she will use her car after RAV opens. This poor transit planning at its worst – TransLink treats its customers like crap, yet worships metro construction as god like image. The realities of the situation will soon hit the fan, when the south Surrey and South Delta bus services are changed. I will predict TransLink will reinstate them within 1 year.

    Our transit system is like a cheap Christmas train set – all glitzy in its box, but hard to use, breaks easily, and is soon discarded.

    Malcolm J.

    January 16, 2009 at 6:32 am

  12. If you take a look at this aerial of Lougheed Station you will see that there is room for a curve to connect onto North Road northbound and that a south to west chord could also go in as grade separated to avoid the operational issues of a flat junction

    Stephen Rees

    January 16, 2009 at 8:01 pm

  13. Here’s a pic of a model of the originally proposed configuration for the PMC Line at the Model Shop website. It shows the turnout for the tracks heading up North Road (as well as the third platform).

    Model from the other direction:

    BTW – the fact that the Evergreen Line as SkyTrain can have through-routed trains to VCC-Clarke Station isn’t news – it was always the plan (despite Burnaby City staff stating other wise in one of its reports to council (and on which it based its vote to support LRT at the time for the Evergreen Line)).

    Ron C.

    January 16, 2009 at 8:24 pm

  14. Just zoomed in on the aerial Google pic that Stephen posted (great detail) – you can see that all of the swicthes required to link the third platform have already been installed – both west and east of the existing platform and that the track layout as built is consistent with the configuration shown in the MOdel Shop model pics.

    Ron C.

    January 16, 2009 at 8:34 pm

  15. Also keep in mind that the “Split at Columbia” scenario is only one of four options, and despite being labeled as prefered, it would involve “Building a third track at Columbia in the “back” of the Columbia inbound platform will allow
    the Lougheed shuttle to avoid sharing the track with the Expo main line trains. A crossover
    for the shuttle would be needed outside Columbia station, likely in the vicinity of the unbuilt
    Woodlands Station (approximately 950 metres from Columbia).”

    I’d prefer the “split tail” or “double coordianted” option on Page 11 of the pdf Richard posted upthread. “Split at Columbia” would mean two transfers (3 trains) to go from Metrotown to Production Way – SFU, and that just seems excessive for such a small system.


    January 16, 2009 at 11:03 pm

  16. […] personally like the new colour scheme.  I know Stephen Rees has already said that the scheme is akin to Darth Vader.  I like the gun metal gray in […]

  17. For Metrotown to Production Way, it would be about 26 minutes connecting once through Broadway/Commercial vs. about 24 minutes connecting through Columbia and Lougheed. Of course, it’s a longer walk at Broadway/Commercial. Or you could take the 110 bus for a one-seat ride, but it would take 36 minutes ;-).


    January 17, 2009 at 9:38 am

  18. Malcolm I didn’t invent the definition of Seamless meaning that one go from one’s home to one’s place of work or shopping or school etc. by using a combination of transit modes (like bus + train + subway + bus etc.) seamless means that one goes from one mode of transit to another in a station or at a stop, without having to walk for blocks in several streets. This is pretty much accepted in Europe and Japan, and even Toronto and Montreal, all places I am very familiar with. In Japan a commuter card covers a single route from home to work (or school) using a variety of transit modes, both public and private ones. I have used trams, subways, commuter trains and buses since I was a kid in the 1950s and very very few use one single line to service “6 different destinations”. At any rate people need to go from their home to many destinations so it is just not possible for them NOT to have to transfer. Only walking, biking or using a car provide seamless service according to YOUR definition. Do check for the maps of many transit systems around the world, the maps shows one Has to transfer in many cases. The tramways in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Frankfurt, Berlin, Croydon, Milan, Hiroshima, Tokyo, Osaka etc. etc. to name only some that I have used, do connect with buses, trains or subways.. as the case may be. YOUR OBSESSION AGAINST SkyTrain is absolutely ridiculous. It is not the greatest thing in the world, that’s for sure, but for those that use it daily, like me, it works just fine. “What we need is a seamless region-wide system, using both rail and bus, that can take people from one end of Greater Toronto to the other,” says GO Transit managing director Rick Ducharme in “Analysis of Seamless Transit Services in Rural Areas” in “Creating a seamless regional transit system. Local transit agencies strive for a Seattle where New Yorkers can feel at home” in

    Red frog

    January 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm

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