Archive for the ‘Commentary’ category

TransLink directors don’t get it

November 27, 2009

Surrey Leader


By Frank Bucholtz

Metro directors see no problem with their big pay hike” reads the headline on a story appearing on Black Press Lower Mainland newspaper websites – a story which also appeared in many of those newspapers.

It seems Metro Vancouver directors have no problem taking an additional 25 per cent this year. After all, it’s our money, and they see themselves as deserving of every penny they get.

They may not have a problem with their pay hikes, but many taxpayers do. We are being asked to pay more in property taxes each year – some of which goes to service the bloated Metro political structure.


It’s simple: Put in the turnstiles

November 26, 2009

The Province


TransLink, our toothless regional transportation agency, just doesn’t seem to get it. It keeps saying it is starved of cash and needs to raise more money from metro residents.

Yet it continues to lose badly needed funding because it is unwilling to tackle the continuing problem of widespread fare evasion.

Not only are freeloaders costing the transit system millions of dollars annually in unpaid fares, they’re also avoiding paying millions in fines levied against them by transit police.


There is a good reason only seven SkyTrain type systems have been sold in the past 30 years.

November 25, 2009

Vancouver Courier

Letter to the Editor

The article “TransLink’s Prendergast offers parting advice” contains an error, which is commonly made by those who know little about modern LRT, which must be rectified.

The comment: “At-grade light rail typically can’t carry as many people or run as fast as grade-separated SkyTrain,” is absolutely false.

The maximum capacity of a modern LRT line is over 20,000 persons per hour per direction and even some European streetcar or tram systems do manage 20,000 persons per hour in peak hours on portions of their lines.

SkyTrain, limited by automatic (driverless) train control can only manage under 15,000 persons per hour and needs a billion dollars or more in upgrades just to match what modern LRT can achieve today.

As for speed, SkyTrain’s higher commercial speeds can be, in part, accounted for fewer stations per route kilometre than comparable LRT systems.

The maximum speed for SkyTrain is about 80 km/h, yet in Portland, their MAX LRT line travels at 90 km/h on portions of their line.

MAX’s commercial speed is lower than SkyTrain because it has about twice as many stations per route kilometre than SkyTrain and the light rail travels as a streetcar through downtown Portland, with no track reservation or signal priority at intersections.

St. Louis’ LRT system in fact has a higher commercial speed than our SkyTrain light metro.

One would wish the media stop listening to the many SkyTrain urban myths and start dealing with established facts about modern light rail.

Malcolm Johnston


Get HandyDART buses rolling again

November 24, 2009

The Langley Times


The strike between the Amalgamated Transit Union and MVT Canadian Bus that has idled HandyDART has more than two sides.

There are at least 4,500 points of view if you count all those poor folks who have been stranded by the month-old dispute. And you should.

We don’t hear much from these individuals who must be struggling to get around without this valuable service. The elderly, disabled people and other vulnerable folks don’t have public relations companies or labour unions to speak for them, yet we can guess that they are either managing or staying at home with no end in sight.


Flawed analysis props up B.C. public-private partnerships

November 23, 2009

The Straight

By Marvin Shaffer

Many will have heard Premier Gordon Campbell and his cabinet colleagues talk in glowing terms about public-private partnerships (P3s) for major projects like hospitals, highways, bridges, and sewage treatment.

Traditionally, governments borrow money for things like hospitals and bridges. They use that money to pay the private sector to design and build the projects. Once built, the facility or infrastructure is wholly owned, operated, and maintained by government on behalf of the public.

In P3 projects, however, the government typically enters into multi-decade contracts with private corporations to design, build, finance, and operate facilities, whether that be hospitals, toll highways, or sewage treatment systems. Rather than financing and operating these facilities, the government effectively leases them from the private partner, paying for the right to use them over the life of the contracts.


TransLink’s Prendergast offers parting advice

November 21, 2009

By Jeff Nagel – BC Local News

Keep the pressure on to get the kind of transit system the region needs.

That’s the advice from outgoing TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast, who spoke to civic and business leaders Thursday at the Metro Cities Conference in Vancouver.

“If you want to maintain livability, if you want to control your destiny, you’ve got to get on an expansion path,” said Prendergast, who returns next month to New York to head the Big Apple’s transit system.

He said area mayors and TransLink’s board are united but they need to persuade the provincial government of the need for more funding.