Stephen Rees's blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘TransLink

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

“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

Tagged with , ,

Translink Liveries

with 9 comments

This post started life as a comment. Back in 2007. Originally the links in the comment went to a site called fotopic.net which ceased operations in 2011. So I went to my flickr stream to see if I could find similar illustrations.

So why did I “need” this? Becuase of this in my inbox this morning

The pingback was to this post and was from this article . It is nice to see that old stories from this blog continue to have some utility. And now this new post can be the source of reference to the old article and my comment under it.

For a while Translink had plain white buses: this was for buses ordered in the period of transition from BC Transit, before the new blue and yellow livery was decided on.

Translink P8101 Braid Stn New Westminster BC 2002_0114

Many remained in service in the old red, white and blue of BC Transit.

Translink P3105 D40HF Braid Stn 2002_0612

Note that black paint has been added to to window pillars and on the upper part of the doors. This was peculiar to the Vancouver transit system and was not added to BC Transit buses operating elsewhere.

Translink P4226 Pitt Meadows BC 2006_0908

This was the standard livery in Translink’s first iteration. As the fleet went through its usual maintenance cycle the older buses were repainted white with a blue and gold set of stripes.

TL S058 on C93 Williams Rd 2004_0811

Community shuttles had a variation on the paint scheme.

Translink R8076 D60LF on 98 B Line Richmond BC 2007_0708

The B Line had its own variation, with a blue front to help intending passengers spot the difference from regular services. This was very similar to the BC Transit B Line livery, which had a red rather than the gold swoosh.

Translink B8010 D60LF Broadway at Commercial 2008_0114

Of course that did not stop artics in regular livery being used on the B Line. A number of regular bus services needed the capacity of articulated buses to meet the surge of demand caused by the introduction of U Pass as UBC and SFU

E40LFR 2270 Howe at Smithe 2007_0827

When the new trolleybuses started being delivered they carried this new black and grey livery with the blue stripe converted to a swoosh and the black being expanded on the front and onto the upper panel – not just the window surrounds. New diesel and natural gas buses were similarly treated.

9548

The Novabus did not get nearly as much black paint as the New Flyers, and I think looks the better for it.

S351 on C21 Beach on Burrard at Dunsmuir

But the new Shuttle buses did

R9222 R9247 Bridgeport Stn

The high floor Orion highway coaches used on the express routes got their own yellow livery. This is the first version.

R9282 Burrard Station #602 Tsawwassen Heights

Later versions have grey on the lower panel. This one was photographed at Burrard Station: the introduction of the Canada Line saw these services cut back to Bridgeport Station in Richmond – which is where the previous picture was taken.

Xcelsior bendy on 41st at Arbutus

The most recent variation has also reduced the amount of black paint with grey on the front and sides and is, to my eye, more pleasing.

The last one on the lot

This was a variation used in West Vancouver for a while.

West Vancouver Blue Bus 1204

This is what they use now. There is so little blue visible that the words BLUE BUS have to be added above the bike rack in large, friendly capital letters.

BC Transit 9270 Abbotsford

BC Transit now uses this livery instead of the old red white and blue.

BC Transit 9067

Though in 2015 it could still be seen in Victoria – here on a British built Transbus (Dennis) Dart Plaxton Pointer delivered in 2000.

And, by special request, here is a preserved bus in the old BC Hydro Transit livery

BC Hydro Fishbowl

Photo by Michael Chu on flickr

2040 at Marpole 20080407

And I think this one may be earlier. I am told that in the bad old days buses got repainted with each change of government into the colours of the ruling party – but that can’t be true can it?

For those of you who like such things here is a complete graphic which also has SeaBus and Amtrak

Written by Stephen Rees

April 28, 2017 at 10:21 am

Posted in transit, Vancouver

Tagged with ,

TransLink Titbits

with one comment

evergreen_line_map

1: Evergreen Line Bus Integration:

 

Bus route changes related to the Dec. 2 Evergreen Line opening will be introduced on Dec. 19. There are numerous changes to local routings along the line. Regional changes include:

    • Replace the 135 Burrard Stn-SFU route with 95 B-Line service along the same route. No word if all door boarding is part of the change.
    • Terminate the 160 Burrard Stn-Barnet Hwy-Port Coquitlam service at Kootenay Loop. It no longer will go downtown.
    • Eliminate the 97 B-line as it is mostly replaced by the Evergreen Line
    • Eliminate 190 Downtown-Barnet Hwy-Coquitlam service.
    • The N9 Broadway-Lougheed late evening service will be extended to Coquitlam Central, providing 24 hour service (a first for transit in Vancouver?)
    • Eliminate mid-day West Coast Express TrainBus service. It is replaced by the Evergreen Line and an extended route 701 from Coquitlam Central to Mission City.
  • Unrelated to the Evergreen Line but being implemented at the same time:
    • The 5/6 Davie/Robson becomes a circle route serving the West End, Pender St. and Yaletown. Public reaction to the Davie St. leg will be interesting as the route no longer serves downtown directly, something it has done since streetcar days, and its Expo Line connection becomes a walking transfer from Cambie St. and Dunsmuir St.  to Stadium-Chinatown Stn.
    • The C21/C23 Community Shuttle routes serving Davie St to Main St. Stn are replaced by  regular route 23 along Beach Ave. This is a frequent service route that improves service to an area that needs it.

2: Pattullo Bridge:

The Pattullo Bridge Replacement Project has completed Phase 2 of the Community Connections Consultation. There were 2,233 participant interactions in this phase – most of them through on-line feedback. TransLink has submitted the project to the province’s Environmental Assessment Office. More information at http://www.translink.ca/en/Plans-and-Projects/Roads-Bridges-and-Goods-Movement-Projects/Pattullo-Bridge/Pattullo-Bridge-Replacement.aspx.

3: Compass Card:

CTV News filed an FOI request with TransLink for correspondence with Cubic Corporation, the Compass Card vendor. Three TransLink letters were released but Cubic refused to release its responses. The letters document problems with the bus validators, fare gates and West Coast Express validators. TransLink stated that Cubic had not met the quality levels required for these items. There is no information on the resolution of the difficulties. However, the news item states that the difficulties led TransLink to implement the single fare zone for bus trips. It hints that TransLink is “revisioning [whatever that means] the tap-out on the bus” as the technology seems to be working satisfactorily now.

In an interview that is part of the CTV clip, TransLink’s Vice-President of Information, Lloyd Bauer, confirms that the Compass Card has increased fare revenues by 7% ($20 million in seven months).

This post courtesy of TransportActionBC 

Written by Stephen Rees

December 2, 2016 at 10:21 am

Posted in transit, Transportation

Tagged with ,

Southwest Area Transport Plan

with 7 comments

Translink bus in Steveston

Translink bus in Steveston

I had a call today from Graeme Wood who writes for the Richmond News. He wanted to talk about Translink’s Southwest Area Transport Plan. He wanted me to predict what sort of changes people in Richmond might want to see in the transport system in the future. I’m afraid I wasn’t very helpful as it does not seem to me to be very important. First of all because the way to plan for a future system is to do some really good data collection on how they travel right now, and why, and then come up with some realistic proposals on how that could change based on what we know about things like population growth, land use plans and technology changes. Just asking people what they might like is a bit pointless. Secondly holding open houses and inviting people to fill in a web based survey form means you only get the opinions of a self selected (i.e. unrepresentative) group.

But it’s worse than that here now – and here is where I went off on a rant which I somehow doubt will appear in his newspaper, but you never know. They might be desperate to fill the space.

Here’s what the Translink web page has to say

In June 2014 the Mayors’ Council developed the Transportation and Transit Plan which identified investment priorities across the Metro Vancouver region. These priorities identified the need for types of services, but not the specific routes or specific areas that would benefit. An Area Transport Plan will establish a blueprint for the unique transit and transportation needs of the Southwest sub-region. Once funding is available, we will have a solid foundation for implementing the priorities that meet the needs of the community now and in the future.

I have added the emphasis: if you think funding is going to be available, and you live in Delta or Richmond, then you might like to wander along to one of their open houses or fill in the survey. Don’t let me stop you, or the thought that it is very unlikely indeed that much is going to change any time soon. Unless the stupid bridge actually gets built, in which case, forget it and buy a car. And if that is not a practical choice for you then you might have to take Jean Chretien’s advice and consider moving.

There is no funding for more and better transit or very much for walking and cycling – which anyway gets decided by the municipality not Translink. And, given the present ineptitude of our provincial government, that is not going to change any time soon. I think the two immediate, pressing needs for transit would be to restore the annual pass for people with disabilities and – having taken handyDART back in house – make a considerable investment in making door to door trips for people who cannot drive or use conventional transit a daily possibility rather than a very rare treat. The way that a society treats its most vulnerable citizens tells you a lot about what sort of society we are and want to be. The way this segment of our population has been treated in this province is a disgrace. And that has been true for at least the last twenty years to my certain knowledge and actually much longer than that. I think that if there are to be more funds available that ought to be the first priority simply as a matter of social justice. Even Hillary Clinton has recognized that transportation is a civil rights issue.

Whatever detail Translink puts on top of its 2014 Plan matters naught, if it cannot get any more funds to match the needs for an increase in its operations and maintenance budget – let alone the very desirable and lengthy list of transit improvements listed in that plan. The Mayors identified very real problems in the present funding model, not the least of which is the decline in revenues from the gas tax and the pressures of population growth. Of course we are in a stare down over the potential for increases in property tax: don’t expect that to end either.

Already Kirk LaPointe has decided that the Broadway Subway is not going to happen.

Our viability and livability depend on better public transit – not in a decade, but today, because we have waited a decade. Trouble is, the line has taken only one teensy step forward and some significant steps back since it was identified as one of several core projects in the Mayors’ Council report on transportation in 2014.

Yup, he got that right. Oddly he also seems to think that streetcars might be the solution as though they could be implemented faster than the subway. Actually any transit solution is going to be very expensive, very unpopular with at least one loud and influential segment of the population  and will take far too long to implement to satisfy the existing users of the 99 B Line. It is about as likely as the Massey Bridge – or the Port Mann – will see LRT running across it in my lifetime: or along the Arbutus Corridor come to that. While the province always likes to say that their new bridges could carry more transit in the future, that is simply the old “jam tomorrow, never jam today” promise.  There has never been a real intention to implement those plans.

People in Richmond or Delta who go to these open houses and outline the sorts of improvements they would like to see in the bus routes of their area are simply demonstrating the triumph of hope over experience. Good luck with that, folks. Let me know how that works out for you.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 13, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Compass Hacked

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ct_compass_ticket

When I did a search of this blog for “fare evasion” I found 44 blog posts. I have not tried to read any of them but I do know that one theme I went back to more than once was that the faregates would not eliminate fare evasion, they would just change the way that it was done.

CTV now have a report on how the single ride ticket can be reprogrammed with a cell phone to allow more than one ride. They do not tell you how to reproduce this hack for yourself, but apparently it has been known for some time and has demonstrated on other Cubic systems such as New York. And apparently it is possible for Translink and the Transit Police to determine if a ticket has been hacked. Get caught with one and you face a charge of fraud rather than fare evasion.

I did not know about this hack when I was writing those posts, and I am not promoting its use now. What I did know was that every fare collection system has been a target of hackers: no transit system gets 100% compliance and the case Kevin Falcon tried to make was fatally flawed from the start. The only surprising thing about this story is that the ability to hack tickets had not been identified publicly earlier. Translink’s representative says they knew about it last year. Cubic could not be reached for comment – I suspect because they probably knew much earlier and kept quiet.

Postscript: once this blog post appeared on line,  Jon Woodward, the CTV reporter who produced the original story, did read my older blog posts and tweeted about one I wrote in 2008 about London’s Oyster card being hacked.

And in the interests of completeness Jeff Nagel of Black Press has been talking to Translink who say that the amount that this fraud is costing them is  actually not very much. They even say

“There is a solution, it’s just a matter of measuring the costs versus the benefits,” Bryan said.  “Obviously there is an ability to manipulate this. For us it comes down to a cost-benefit analysis of what kind of impact it is having. Right now, it’s very minimal in terms of cost.”

Which, of course, was exactly the same position that Translink adopted when they originally examined faregates before Kevin Falcon imposed  them ignoring the cost-benefit analysis.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 10, 2016 at 5:47 pm

Posted in Fare evasion

Tagged with , ,

Starting April 4, They’re Closing All Fare Gates

with 7 comments

compass_circle

So I have a Compass card, and used up my last FareSaver, so I cannot say I am directly impacted. And, since I can afford to not only buy a Compass card but also keep it loaded against possible future needs I will now enjoy a more convenient system. But that doesn’t mean that the decisions that have been taken up to this point are not acknowledgements of failure. When a transit system adopts new fare technologies there do have to be some adjustments – but mostly that ought to be adjustments of the technology to meet the system’s needs and not the other way around. When the transit agency invites bidders to tender for their system’s requirements one of the things that both sides have to look at is how well the proffered technology meets the specification. In the case of the Compass card, Cubic have not been able to meet that test, yet it is Translink that is taking both the criticism and adapting to suit the shortcomings of what it has bought.

They have already abandoned one of the pillars of the fare system: three zones during daytime on weekdays. Yes, in some distant future they may be able to switch to fare by distance, but not with the existing equipment on buses. Now three zones have often been challenged, as arbitrary and based on a region centered around Vancouver (Zone 1) where fares rise based on distance to that centre which is not exactly what this region is now like. A short ride across the harbour costs more than the ride from Langley to Ladner. And since the bus route network has been designed and adapted over the years to feed passengers into the SkyTrain there are not that many opportunities to get a cheaper ride by staying on the bus: though I do wonder if the #19 has seen an increase in use recently. But the reason that the bus is a one zone fare no matter how many zone boundaries it crosses is simply because the tap out reader on the bus doesn’t respond quickly enough. A very basic system requirement, and an equipment failure. In other word’s Cubic’s fault, not Translink’s.

But that one ticket ride – which is so admired in places where multiple transit agencies serve the functional economic region – will no longer be available to the casual – cash paying – user. Who could be a visitor, or someone who either doesn’t need or cannot afford to use transit frequently. If you use the bus to get to SeaBus or the SkyTrain and pay on board you will have to pay again – as there will no longer be a usable transfer between bus and “rapid transit”. And will impact people travelling within one zone quite significantly: their fare has been doubled, just because Translink decided NOT to install a magnetic swipe reader on some gates. Or buy machines that could issue Compass tickets on board buses. I am sure that Translink has talking points about how that is not financially worthwhile, but then the whole Compass system is a financial disaster. It is supposed to improve revenue collection and deter fare evasion, but will never be able to pay for itself that way and the province has had to accept some responsibility for that.

For the “choice” rider – those who decide to stop driving for every trip and try transit – this is going to look like a deterrent. If Translink was able to stick to the idea of increasing transit mode share, that might be an issue. But the reality now is that Translink cannot cope with current demand – let alone increases even if they only come from a growth in population and transit share stays static – or even falls!

When the current generation of electronic fare boxes was bought for buses, adaptation to future needs was one of Cubic’s selling points. The decision to only go to magnetic swipe cards and not  smart cards reflected what was then available – but with the knowledge that the technology would change and the electronic farebox was specified to be adaptable to meet that possibility. In other systems, magnetic stripe cards are still in use alongside newer card readers. I have seen that for myself in a number of cities in North America and Europe, including ones using Cubic equipment and many more than three fare zones. Indeed the choice of Cubic as supplier for the new Compass system was influenced by compatibility of the new and old systems.

The issue over the accessibility of the system to people with disabilities ought to have been settled much earlier, and is a profound failure of a transit system which at one time was trying very hard indeed to improve accessibility. There seems to have been a significant unwillingness to listen to what was being said – or a willingness to ignore a small number of users over the need to install and get working a fare system bedevilled by delays and other failures. That is a failure of Translink, not Cubic.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 18, 2016 at 2:27 pm