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

Archive for the ‘transit’ Category

Guest Post from Rick Jelfs, Transport Action BC

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Global News BC had a 15 minute, year-end interview with TransLink chairman Kevin Desmond on 19 Dec 2017 at https://globalnews.ca/bc/. Issues discussed are possible later SkyTrain service on Friday and Saturday nights, safety, new Canada Line stations, Canada Line capacity expansions, double decker bus pilot, Compass Card changes and mobility pricing.

  1. Late night service is obviously doable but TransLink needs to maintain the system in a State of Good Repair. Extended operating times would remove 500 hours annually from the existing, overnight maintenance window. Desmond said that a wider, community discussion is needed to determine what is needed in terms of later service. He emphasized that extended hours will require trade-offs. And he did not mention the Canada Line, which would presumably require contract negotiations with the concessionaire to extend service hours.
  2. The system is safe, in spite of the much-publicized, Canada Line incident involving a Muslim woman. Additional police officers will be hired to compensate for the Evergreen Line expansion.
  3. Capstan Station construction will be 100% paid for by the private sector. A 57th/Cambie station may be considered under a similar funding model but would be much more expensive as it is underground.
  4. Canada Line capacity will be augmented by 24 new cars on order. Any Canada Line station lengthening is 10-15 years out. He stated, diplomatically, that the Canada Line was under built.
  5. He is very keen on double decker buses and hopes to order 30 DD buses early in 2018.
  6. TransLink is investigating allowing mobile devices and credit cards for fare payment.
  7. Stated there are equity issues with Mobility Pricing

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The Eno Center  for Transportation in Washington DC has published a report touting the benefits of contracting out as a way to improve transit service. “A Bid for Better Transit: Improving  Transit Service with Contracted Operations” looks at a number of examples of contracted operations in three European cities (London, Stockholm, Oslo) and three North American ones (New Orleans, Vancouver, Los Angeles). The discussion is not a “privatisation will solve all our problems” that, once implemented, can be left to run its course, but is more complex and requires agency commitment, negotiation and monitoring.

The authors state 3 key issues must be part of any contracting out considerations – the public interest cannot be contracted out and only government can do so; contracts must clearly align agency goals with a contractor’s profit motive; and agencies and contractors must work together to innovate and improve system operations.

The paper provides an overview of TransLink’s contracting out activities (or lack thereof) emphasizing that changes in provincial political priorities led to the current situation whereby BCRTC and CMBC are wholly-owned subsidiaries rather than contracted service providers. It does point our that the potential threat of contracting out may be enough to prevent excessive cost increases. That being said, TransLink does contract out some niche services.

However, the Canada Line P3 contract is looked at critically be the authors . They argue that the political motivations to get the line opened for the 2010 Olympics led to a P3 contract that overemphasised construction speed at the expense of long-term operational flexibility. TransLink is left with a 35 year contract under which it must negotiate service changes with the concessionaire.

https://www.enotrans.org/etl-material/bid-better-transit-improving-service-contracted-operations/

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Transit ridership is up a reported 41% on certain routes in the South Okanagan. Good news but the numbers would be starting from a fairly low level. Unfortunately, there is no source for the numbers published and there is one oddity; a 30% decline in operating costs per passenger is described as “minor” so I suspect a typo.

https://www.castanet.net/news/Penticton/213507/Public-transit-usage-up

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Written by Stephen Rees

December 21, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Infographic courtesy of Prof Chris Oliver

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Written by Stephen Rees

December 20, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Posted in cycling, health, transit, walking

Canada Line Criticisms Endorsed

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I have been reading an article on the Daily Hive by Kenneth Chan this morning that pretty much repeats every one of the criticisms I have levelled over the years at the Canada Line.

POSTSCRIPT I should have noticed this publication date at the top of the article Aug 14, 2014 9:58 am

It was underbuilt, and the P3 cost more than conventional funding. Among the problems that has caused are trains and stations that are too small, too slow and too inconvenient. It has been far more successful than its initial critics claimed, and Chan does come up with some inventive ways of tackling these issues. I think he is very informative on the parochial nature of local politicians and their very limited vision, and how they managed to hobble the project from the start. Sadly too many of them are still warming seats on their respective councils and regional bodies alike.

There needs to be change. Hopefully we can make a start on some of these sooner rather than later as at least we have got a change in provincial government, and realistic probability of federal funding  – which was why the name of the line was chosen in the first place!

 

 

Written by Stephen Rees

October 12, 2017 at 10:45 am

Jagmeet Singh on Transit

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I am not a member of the NDP and haven’t really been following their leadership race, but congratulations to Jagmeet Singh for securing the leadership. He says (on his blog)

a Jagmeet Singh-led government will:

Adopt a National Public Transit Strategy: Canada is still the only country in the G8 without a national transit program and people across Canada are looking for more affordable, reliable, and accessible public transit options. Congestion in our urban centres is hurting both our economy and our environment. A Jagmeet Singh-led government will implement a National Public Transit Strategy that will provide the long term and predictable funding for public transit that cities and communities across the country are seeking.

This appears under the “Carbon Emission Reduction” section. Good.

Now perhaps some of the dippers who read this blog can explain to me how a leader can impose his will on the rest of the party. I come from a UK Labour Party background where policy commitments of this kind have to be endorsed by the annual Party conference (convention in North American parlance). While a leader can espouse a policy, it is the membership at large which determines policy. And if you have a taste for such things try a search for “Clause Four” to see where that leads to.

I am, as I said, heartened by this commitment. But to what extent is this reflective of what the party rank and file actually want? Aren’t the big supporters of the NDP the union members in the car industry?  Isn’t that where most of the big bucks come from in the national party? 

The last bit has been deleted in response to a comment.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 1, 2017 at 7:34 pm

CUTA Integrated Mobility Report

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I have decided that there is no way to make this work just with a retweet. So this blog post is addressed to mostly to readers who come to this blog because they are interested in how Canadian transit agencies should better adapt themselves to changing circumstances. Unlike CUTA’s approach to transit statistics, this report is not restricted in its distribution and it is free to download as a large pdf.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 11.30.34 AMIt is meant to be a resource for transit agencies wishing to advance their communities towards integrated mobility.

So if that is something you want to read, start at the CUTA report web page from which there is a download link.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 28, 2017 at 11:32 am

“Watermelon” wants free transit

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Straight picture

There are a lot of nice photos of Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon and a nice old bus in the Straight. I replied under the article but decided I should post here too. Not that I need to write much more

“she’s traded in her bikini for a business licence”

Erm, I don’t think so. Wreck beach is not the sort of place where people wear bikinis, is it. And her famous Georgia Straight front cover picture doesn’t have her wearing a bikini either.

watermelon

As for free transit, we have been around this argument several times over the years

https://stephenrees.blog/…/a-case-for-free-transit-in…/

https://stephenrees.blog/2008/03/31/free-transit/

https://stephenrees.blog/2007/12/20/free-ride/

And just to show I’m not the only one who thinks this idea is far from “sensible”.

https://thetyee.ca/News/2007/07/30/FareFree6/

The way to get more people using transit is to increase service – and make what you do provide more reliable. That means more trains and buses – and put the buses is exclusive bus lanes. Put a camera in the front of every bus, and paint the bus lane red, then the operator just clicks the button every time the bus gets behind a vehicle that is not a bus. Use the ticket revenue from that to buy even more buses. But you cannot afford to give up 50% of current revenues if you want to increase service.

By the way the City has no power to make transit free – but there is a great deal it could do to give buses priority on Vancouver’s streets.

I think we would be better off with Pete Fry on council.

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Seven Sisters Road by “sarflondonunc” on flickr

Written by Stephen Rees

September 26, 2017 at 3:27 pm

“TransLink expands Metro Vancouver bus service by 105,000 service hours”

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artic-unloads-at-bridgeport

The headline comes from a Vancouver Sun article. There is not much in the way of context – other than two previous announcements of smaller increases earlier this year and a reference to the Mayor’s plan for expansion.

So I went to the Translink web site and dug out the 2016 Transit Service Performance Review which informed me that last year Translink delivered 3,897,000 bus service hours, which was a 1% increase on 2015 – which is also the compound annual growth rate for the last five years.

Which means that was has been announced is a 0.02% increase in bus service, if we assume that all these quoted figures are annualised.  And, of course in 2017, it is less than that since these new service hours will only be delivered in the last quarter of the year.

So good, that we are getting more bus service in this region. But the rate of population growth is “6.5 per cent since the last census in 2011” (also a Vancouver Sun report, but of census data). So we are only just keeping pace with the increase in the number of people, let alone making a bigger impact on transportation trip making (“mode share” in planning jargon).

So one cheer for Translink and raspberries to Postmedia for simply printing a press release without any analysis.

We must commit to a much faster increase in transit use – which means more service hours for buses, more transit services of all kinds and much more priority for buses operating in traffic – which is most of them, most of the time. Just to give you some idea of what the plan needs to look like, take a gander at this new expansion map for Sound Transit.

Translink now has the details of the September sheet change online

Written by Stephen Rees

August 22, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Posted in transit, Transportation

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