Stephen Rees's blog

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

Friday round up

with 11 comments

re:palce magazine regularly links to my stories but I have not really paid a lot of attention in return. So I am pleased to draw attention to a post called “Pedestrians need their share of the road” written by Jay Ameresekere and posted yesterday. It is inspired by an article in The State of Vancouver titled Vancouver needs a pedestrian advocate says SFU professor. Anthony Perl takes the City to task for taking pedestrian space for cyclists. What  I think is missing from the analysis in re:place is a reference to pedestrians in the rest of the region. The City of Vancouver covers a small part of the area and only a quarter of the citizens, and pedestrians get ignored in most of the suburbs.

I am on the cover of the Richmond Review this morning, banging on about the forced transfer to the Canada Line again. But what caught my eye was this gem from Ken Hardie

He also said revenue from new Canada Line riders plus the savings from running fewer buses will be enough to cover its payments.

I added the emphasis since it is the first time that I have seen a public admission from Translink that cuts to the bus fleet were part of the strategy. Of course I have been saying that all along – and so have the CAW in their recent campaign. But the public stance of the cheer leaders has always been that bus service would now be so much better since the Canada Line would free up resources to be moved elsewhere. That’s true to some extent, but the impression given was that it would be 100% switched when it is now admitted to be less than that – and probably quite a lot less. Though you would probably have to be an insider to get access to the data to prove that contention. Just like Hardie could not say exactly what the subsidy payments to InTransitBC are going to be. It’s public money they are spending so sooner or later it will be found out: just not while we are celebrating, eh?

If you enjoyed the celebrations – or missed them – the Buzzer has more photos of the opening day. They, naturally, don’t link here or to my flickr stream but over 50 people did take a gander at my pictures, even if they were of the second day. There is also an effort by transit geeks to record the last few days remaining of express suburban service in Vancouver. If you have a digital camera or camera phone  there are still a few routes not represented at the time of writing.

The CBC notes the decline of US tourists to BC, which takes the shine off the new second Amtrak train – which now runs to Portland not just Seattle. (This had been a running story here for some time) They also record cuts to Greyhound bus services, which will hit some small BC communities hard: I had mentioned Greyhound in my recent piece on not competing with commercial services, but it may soon be needed that some public provision is needed to keep up basic connections. Not that there will any money to do that of course.

And one story I missed, the keeps cropping upon this blog is the “Fareless Square” in Portland OR, which many people want duplicated here. It has now been partially cancelled for bus riders – due to fare evasion they say. Part of a wide swathe of transit service cuts and fare hikes across the US

Written by Stephen Rees

August 21, 2009 at 10:37 am

11 Responses

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  1. As the article you link to states, only buses are being removed from the Fareless Square, rail service downtown will remain free.


    August 21, 2009 at 11:43 am

  2. Just a small clarification about Portland’s “Fareless Square.” The “Fareless Square” hasn’t been cancelled exactly; it’s just that buses are no longer a part of it, and it’s limited to the Max lines and the streetcars:

    “Bus routes downtown will not change as part of the new policy, but riders who board buses will have to pay fares there. The fareless policy will remain for MAX light rail and the Portland Streetcar.”



    August 21, 2009 at 1:02 pm

  3. Oops! Sungsu beat me to it. Sorry about that!



    August 21, 2009 at 1:03 pm

  4. Of interest – [B]Ottawa LRT Tehnology Forum[/B] dated June 2009.
    Includes presentations by all LRT systems in Canada and a few from the USA – plus a couple of manufacturers:

    Ron C.

    August 21, 2009 at 4:38 pm

  5. The addition of a second Amtrak train has received surprisingly little press.

    [moderator’s note – editted]

    Simon D

    August 21, 2009 at 8:07 pm

  6. In the Seattle the recently opened light rail system is excluded from the the fare free zone, which , of course still continues for buses only


    August 22, 2009 at 8:45 am

  7. The Coach-Express buses has been a premium service at a standard price and if they were to continue it they should charge people premium (West Coast Express level) fares. I thought that is what they were going to do with these coach-style buses when they introduced them in the first place.

    On another note, I rode Seattle’s Link Light Rail from Tukwila (closest station to Sea-Tac until December). There were a grand total of 23 people on that train from Tukwila to downtown terminus. A group of teenagers got on and went one station.

    This was sunday at 5pm and the line has been running since July.

    Compare that to the fact that I had to wait 2 trains at Waterfront station to even get on our packed Canada Line train. And, as I sat at YVR waiting for my flight, I could see every single train leaving YVR station for downtown jam packed too.


    August 25, 2009 at 6:33 am

  8. Seattle’s hybrid light-rail/metro system is a joke. Poorly planned, it was fraught with political interference.

    It had to use the bus tunnel under the city, lest it embarrassed past civic, state, and federal politicians. Seattle’s transit planners also followed Vancouver light-metro planning, rather than Portland’s and of course the LRT had to appease big business.

    The result is a poorly designed transit system that really doesn’t serve anyone and for a transit system that cost four (4) times more per mile to build than the national US average for new LRT construction, speaks volumes.

    By very strange coincidence Seattle’s hybrid light-rail/metro system is underground or on viaduct in predominately ‘white’ areas and on-street in predominately ‘black’ neighbourhoods.

    Good transit planning – Seattle’s LRT ain’t!

    Also remember this was the city that almost built a monorail for a regional transit system, which cost more per mile than the light rail! This was the same city that went to the Supreme court to ban showing the Simpson’s ‘Monorail episode’ during the the run up to the public vote on the issue!

    Malcolm J.

    August 25, 2009 at 8:37 am

  9. My Seattle friend tells me that the Monorail issue was quite a fiasco! They expropriated propertyand then when voters put a bullet in the plan, they offered to sell the property back to the original landowners. But, that was at the peak of the real estate market. So, expropriated at $300,000, and re-offered at $600,000! (incidentally, he also said the monorail was to cost a lot less than the current LRT did).

    He also tells me that the LRT was intended to be a TOD tool, but that all the projects that were proposed, planned or even commenced, were put on hold after the real estate crash. Otherwise, it might have supported a bit more ridership.

    My sense is that they put the LRT where it would be cheapest instead of where it SHOULD have gone to attract riders.


    August 25, 2009 at 5:08 pm

  10. Shane, this is how the monorail project became undone in Seattle. Seattle’s LRT project’s cost was given as the total cost of the project over a (I think) 50 year period (50 year bonds) as per American practice.

    The monorail people quoted direct costs for the project, as we do here in Vancouver with SkyTrain and RAV. The total cost of the monorail project was hidden until the monorail ‘people’ were compelled to state total costs as done with the LRT project.

    The total cost of the monorail project was slightly more than the LRT project.

    Well, the s*** hit the fan and another vote was held for the monorail, as the voters were not told the real costs for the project when the electorate narrowly passed the monorail bill a year or so before. The rest, as they say, is history, as the monorail failed, but in Seattle the monorail lobby is very strong indeed.

    As the cost of the monorail project increased the scope of the project was reduced, including single track (beam) operation! Sound familiar?

    Malcolm J.

    August 25, 2009 at 5:34 pm

  11. Reading “average readers” comments in the Seattle Times about both the LRT and the Health Care plans make us Canadians look like Castro’s love children. A couple of years ago a middle aged Texan couple in Vegas, after finding out that I was from Canada, asked me if Canada was “one of these communist countries”. When I said that we were a monarchy they were incredulous..and a tad disappointed that our queen was Elizabeth Windsor.

    Mind you, after I mentioned that English and French were our official languages, they both continued the conversation in fairly fluent French and assumed that French was an official language because of all the English Kings that came from Normandy and Anjou.

    Red frog

    August 26, 2009 at 11:58 am

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