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

Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Why I want to stay here

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Merry Christmas.

On Christmas Eve it was not raining, the wind had also dropped and it was not really cold at all. So a really good day to go for a walk from Locarno to Spanish Bank and back.

SM Samarinda

Snow on the mountains, clouds over the inlet

Snow on the mountains, clouds over the inlet

Snow on the mountains, clouds over the inlet

This is an immature Horned Grebe that was fishing off Spanish Bank

Immature Horned Grebe

And then this evening, as the sun went down, a last flash of sunlight bathed Grouse Mountain in pink lightIMG_1383

Written by Stephen Rees

December 24, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Posted in Transportation

Why people migrate

with 2 comments

Men are generally too much attached to their native countries to leave it and dissolve all their connexions, unless they are driven to it by necessity.

That is a quote from Alexander Hamilton, that I happened to have on Simplenote. I was testing the ability to post from the latest Android app version to WordPress. Might be useful the next time you hear someone vapouring about refugees – or immigrants, come to that.

 

Written by Stephen Rees

December 21, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Transportation

Massey Tunnel

with 6 comments

I think one of the biggest takeaways from this morning’s Government Announcement is that you should not summon the press to a briefing and stage an announcement when you have nothing to announce. The incoming NDP government was quick to announce the cancellation of the previous government’s massive new bridge proposal. They also appointed Stan Cowdell P Eng to conduct a review. He submitted a substantial report this summer and today there was a briefing for the press with a summary of that report. At the time of writing only the Province has anything of substance on that, though I expect more will be available once they all get back to their desks.

I wish that I had been wiser than to agree to go on the CBC call in program. At least there did seem to be more understanding of the need for transit. The point I was trying to get over was that after all this time just promising to have more consultations and a decision by the end of 2020 wasn’t enough. They could have had something to say if they had a greater commitment to transit. Claire Trevenna was able to talk about the immediate spending of $40m on the intersections at each end of the tunnel, improvements to lighting, signs and road surface. All things that highway engineers at MoTI care about. And there was a brief reference to Translink – but nothing of substance.

In the longer term the options are still more general purpose traffic lanes – instead of a 10 lane bridge, 6 or 8 lanes might be considered – or the same in new immersed tubes and possibly a different alignment. But consideration of transit was vague and ill defined – and according to The Province

The review also recommends that the province consider eliminating HOV or transit provisions at the bridge median in favour of lower-cost alternatives.

Which is not at all what I wanted to read!

There are double decker buses on order. Translink is increasing services in general. It has run into opposition in West Vancouver for a bus lane and cross municipal boundary B Line for the North Shore, and is scrambling to revise its work program to meet the changed priorities for Surrey – which also includes more rapid buses. It is a “feature” of our system that it is the region that will bear the brunt of increasing bus service – the MoTI has probably done most of what can be in the way of bus lanes along Highway #99. I will once again re-iterate that buses are now 1% of the vehicles but carry 26% of the people. It is a real shame that there wasn’t more said about what can be done to increase that market share in the very near future while we are waiting to find out how many more lanes MoTI engineers will get to build – which is all they care about!

(One thing that did occur to me was that no-one talked about the “need” to remove the tunnel identified by the Port!)

Here is the pdf of the complete review

George-Massey-Crossing_Independent-Technical-Review_FINAL

Or you could go to the MoTI web page if you prefer

Written by Stephen Rees

December 17, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Transportation

A Guest Post by Professor Patrick Condon

with 4 comments

To appear in the Tyee

Dear Surrey Mayor McCallum.

Congratulations on your recent return to the mayor’s office in my favorite city, Surrey BC. I read where you are wasting no time to capitalize on the mandate granted you (by the 41 percent of the 33 percent of eligible voters that voted you in) to throw out 10 years of transit planning by former and current officials throughout the region. You have successfully trashed their plan for a 10 km surface light rail serving your Gildford and Newton Town Centers in favour of a 4 km Expo line extension to – Fleetwood?

I know you said during the election that you could build Skytrain all the way to Langley City Centre down the Fraser HIghway for the same money as the light rail plan, but sadly Translink and the Mayor’s Council dont agree. They say that since Skytrain costs twice as much per km as surface light rail, the 1.65 billion already allocated will only get you through Green Timbers Park (not a lot of riders there!) to Fleetwood (I bet the owners of the Fleetwood Park strip mall are overjoyed!).

Premier Horgan and PM Trudeau have already said they are still happy to fund the original plan but will not give you one dime extra for the switch to SKytrain. Worse still, the Mayors Council just voted to make you pay back the 56 million already spent on the light rail proposal, which ironically is about the same cost as the Grandview Heights Community Centre and Library, project you scrapped for lack of funds. Wow. That’s what i call a pretty bad day for sure.

But fear not, I can help. What if I told you that there is a way to serve Scot Road, West Surrey, North Delta, Newton Town Center, Cloverdale and Langley City Centre by rail for way less than the cost of the 4 km “FLeetwood Skytrain Express” (as some wags are calling it).

Wait, it gets better! What if I told you that you could also be a hero to the folks in Abbotsford and Chilliwack by extending the line all the way out to serve them too, still for the same money!

Wait! It gets better still! After all that there would still be enough to put a tram line down King George Highway to Newton Town Centre andover to Guildford so you won’t have to pay back that 65 million!

Interested? Here’s how.

For 75 years BC Electric served the locations listed above along a track that is still in use. It’s the old BC Electric Interurban Line. It turns out that the line was never sold, only leased, to CP rail. The conditions of the lease call for the return of the line to the Province if ever passenger rail service were to restart.

Better still, the lease also stipulates that if the frequency of rail service is such that the rail must be double tracked, CP must pay the costs! What can be better than a free double track ROW?

What about vehicles? Well you could run catenary lines on the route for an electric train, but they cost a ton.

Fortunately there is a simpler and far cheaper solution. Alstom Corporation , a global transit company that now supplies transit vehicles to Ottawa and Toronto, just launched a hydrogen powered transit vehicle that can be had for less than the cost of a handful of skytrain cars. And here is maybe the best part. Hydrogen fuel is manufactured right at the BC Hydro facility in Surrey . So the project supports the growth of local green jobs for Surrey too!

The concerns you have voiced about LRT vehicles getting slowed down in traffic and adding to congestion (which are misplaced I would argue, but admittedly strongly felt by some) go away with this plan since the track is in its own ROW for the whole distance with very few at grade crossings. And at grade crossings can be controlled by crossing gates (as is done for hundreds of commuter rail and tram/train systems in North America) or by simply slowing down the train to obey signals as they do in Portland OR. for the MAX Line tram/train.

More good news. This plan has already been studied. The engineering and business case was developed not too long ago in the “Proposal for Rail for the Valley” by Leewood Projects of Surrey UK (yet another Surrey tie in!). They estimated that it would cost around .6 billion for track, vehicles, stations and catenary for a commuter rail tram/train system of over 90 km! A tiny fraction of the cost per km of SKytrain and a 100 year transportation solution for the entire South of Fraser urban region.

That study was conducted in 2010 so it will cost more now. But the study assumed catenary infrastructure not needed if you use hydrogen power and track reconstruction which may not be a cost borne by you (as mentioned above) so who knows, costs could be less.

Worst case, let’s say the cost is a cool billion. You still have $600 million left to play with. And if you want to get the other mayors off your back you could strip the bells and whistles out of the light rail proposal you hate (but the Board of Trade desperately wants) and do a Portland Oregon style tram to Guildford and Newton for less than 60 million per km.

Or maybe you can mollify the other mayors, the board of trade, and your local environmentalists with a hydrogen powered bus rapid transit to Newton and Guildford for even less.

In short, you have many ways to make Surrey the centre of a thriving metropolitan “South of Fraser Kingdom” rather than the dead end of the Vancouver Skytrain line (and get yourself out of what looks like a tight spot politically). Now that you have successfully blown up the whole regional transit plan I am sure you can see the benefits of grabbing this fantastic life preserver, and give Surrey and the whole South of Fraser region the futuristic transit it deserves.

Your humble servant and Surrey booster
Professor Patrick M. Condon.Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 11.30.47 AM

Written by Stephen Rees

December 16, 2018 at 11:34 am

The urban mobility revolution | Peter Ladner

with one comment

Written by Stephen Rees

December 15, 2018 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Transportation

Regional Transportation Strategy

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This graphic came to me via Twitter. I think it needs to be seen in a larger format

Mayors Council strategy

Written by Stephen Rees

December 13, 2018 at 10:26 am

Posted in Transportation

Crowdfundraising: A new type of bus shelter

with one comment

NEWS-Nov20-Treecanopy_1

I am posting this story as the result of a request from UBC’s Public Engagement: Campus and Community Planning. It has already been picked up by Daily Hive and I don’t feel much need to copy and paste their content. However if the idea of a green roofed bus shelter that mimics forest tree canopy is intriguing to you I suggest you look at the project webpage at UBC . There is a useful video which neatly summarizes the proposal.

We regularly get to enjoy the benefits that humans experience by walking under the tree canopy – most often at Pacific Spirit Park and most recently out at Harrison Mills. I am not sure that a bus shelter offers the same scale of benefits – and I am also not sure that the people working on this project have taken into account the somewhat anomalous situation of bus shelters at UBC compared to the rest of the region. Being street furniture, bus shelters are the domain of the municipality, except for off street locations like bus loops, transit exchanges and some SkyTrain stations. The municipalities do not actually provide the shelters but contract this out to advertising companies (in the City of Vancouver it is presently J.C.Decaux) who make their revenue from the advertising panels. The target market is not bus passengers, or even pedestrians but the people driving past, and that is what determines the likelihood that a stop will get a shelter. Plus of course the availability of enough space. On many city streets, such shelter as might be available is often the canopy of the building at the back of the sidewalk.

Harbour Centre

This is also the case by the way for benches at stops: they seem to appeal a lot to realtors.

We've got a new bench

Of course now that Vancouver is declaring its intentions to become Greenest maybe they will be keen to do a different kind of deal rather than getting their share of the ad revenue – or perhaps the Mark II bus shelter will incorporate a solar panel and lighted ads in the walls that appear to be missing from the current design (the current contract runs until 2022). From the rendering supplied by UBC at the top of the post it looks like they do not understand that shelter is also needed from wind – and wind driven precipitation.

The green roof would be a distinct improvement over the current glass roof of the most common Vancouver bus shelters

No shade here

But in other cities like Edmonton shelter at the busiest stops offers much more than a roof

ETS Bus Stop 100 Street

Looks like all this one needs is its own wind turbine!

POSTSCRIPT
I was in Beyond Bread getting a loaf and as I came out realised what a great bus stop this was. Once again no actual shelter but there is a bench and a canopy on the building. Of course if you wanted to you could wait for your bus inside the cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee at the same time. Just keep that Transit app open to be warned of the bus’s imminent arrival – when Translink gets their GPS API working again!

IMG_0169

 

 

Written by Stephen Rees

December 6, 2018 at 11:33 am