– Commute now 20 minutes longer thanks to the train

Rail for the Valley

Delta Optimist

More evidence that all is not well in “Lotus Land“. Despite some ‘good news’ stories provided by TransLink’s spin doctors this weekend on local radio stations, the new, almost $3 billion RAV/Canada Line light metro system has increased journey times for South of the Fraser commuters, especially if they have to make two or more transfers. What is also interesting is that any savings in journey times for bus riders from South Delta/Surrey, is not the Canada line, but the newly installed HOV lane on the highway 99 from Number 5 Road interchange to St.Edwards Drive, near the Oak Street Bridge, which now buses can avoid about 2 km. of congestion.

The question must be asked: “Why the need for an almost $3 billion metro system, when what was needed to decrease journey bus journey times was a $50 million HOV lane?

Which again begs the question: “Why didn’t TransLink invest in HOV lanes on Hwy 99 in the first place?” Seems to be a lot cheaper solution than a very expensive metro system.

No wonder TransLink is verging on bankruptcy as it seems we have idiots running the show.

Published: Saturday, September 26, 2009


Re: Sky didn’t fall as riders make switch to Canada Line, Community Comment, Sept. 19

I disagree with Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison’s conclusions about the train’s usefulness. Furthermore, her “Chicken Little” characterization was off the mark because nobody predicted the world would end.

The travelling public did predict that commuting times would be negatively impacted (I thought it would add 10 minutes to my ride) despite TransLink’s predictions that travel from Ladner to UBC would be quicker.

After trying every reasonable combination of bus-to-train-to-bus connection I could find over the last two weeks, I have found that both predictions were wrong.

My prediction of a 10-minute increase was out by a factor of two — my commute time has actually increased by 20 minutes each way when riding the train.

So, by that measure, I think that predictions of worse transit service from South Delta have been proven correct. No, the world hasn’t ended, but the train has not lived up to its intended purpose of improving the public transit experience.

Judging by conversations with other bus passengers, I am not alone.

Minimizing commuting time on public transit is all about minimizing transfer time; fast vehicles alone are not enough. Rides such as Bridgeport to 41st Avenue are simply too short to compensate for the longer transfer times built into the new system.

It’s easy to squander all the benefit of a high-speed train run with a lengthy transfer. It’s a shame that TransLink was not upfront about this reality during its planning and open houses.

Remember the Fast Cat ferries? Same effect is at play with the train.

The comment about the new bus lane south of the Oak Street Bridge is a red herring because its only linkage with the train is political expediency. It could have been built long before the train was conceived. If TransLink was serious about eliminating bottlenecks for buses, it could build a southbound “fast bus lane” on Highway 99 at Westminster Highway.

There is no doubt the train has degraded the commuting from Ladner to UBC. Perhaps other routes have been improved, but it’s hard to judge the overall balance. TransLink has never provided an unbiased assessment of who benefits and who pays, but it’s my suspicion that overall commuting from South Delta has also been degraded.

In conclusion, I will use the 601-480, just as I did before the train was built. I’ve tried the train in all sorts of route combinations, but nothing works well.

But I guess the train will move lots of well-heeled Olympic fans, and that was the main reason for its construction, wasn’t it?


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