All articles tagged with ‘TransLink’

Metro Vancouver and Transit

Transit in Metro Vancouver is always a hot button topic. Anything and everything from fares, bus stops, right up to the technology used for transit vehicles. It seems that in the last decade or so, TransLink (the operating company behind Metro Vancouver’s public transportation system) and the government (both municipal and provincial) have proven they are incapable of effectively providing any sort of reliable operation to commuters in the Lower Mainland.

I’ve lived in the Vancouver area all my life and watched SkyTrain grow beyond the New Westminster station to Columbia, then over the Fraser to Scott Road and eventually out to King George, the Millennium Line when it only stopped at Sapperton, when there was no fare gates, and that you had to walk up steps when boarding a bus. Before the turn of the century, everything was branded as BC Transit, in its red, white and blue colour scheme of the Union Jack on our provincial flag. While there have been some major improvements and changes to the way we get around the region, not all of it is positive.

Many of those who live in Vancouver proper, Burnaby, New Westminster and parts of the Tri-Cities (Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam), transit is generally available and reliable. The story changes to the communities south of the Fraser River, where buses are frequently delayed or non-existent, and local governments ignore the advice of the people that elected them into office by offering unpopular methods of transportation.

That unpopular method is LRT (Light Rail Transit). For the last decade or more, the City of Surrey has been doing studies and waffling over the idea of how best to connect its many town centres (Surrey Central, Newton, Guildford) together with the existing SkyTrain network. In the last year or two, the city has made the firm decision to implement LRT going down King George Boulevard to Newton and out east along 104 Avenue to Guildford. I could go on and on about why this is a terrible idea (read my thoughts on this), but once the decision from the provincial and federal governments to issue funding for construction for the LRT, there has been a hard stance from all levels government that LRT is going forward. Their lack of vision and all the computer-generated imagery showcasing a happy community with less cars and more pedestrians is short-sighted. Surrey is a growing city and a decade after LRT is in place, the city and TransLink will again be petitioning the provincial and federal governments for expanded SkyTrain service, thus wasting more of our tax dollars which could have been spent efficiently from the get go. The LRT will eventually be dug up and replaced with an elevated SkyTrain guideway (akin to when the express bus lanes down No. 3 Road in Richmond were built to great fanfare only to be torn up a few years later for the construction of the Canada Line).

Now Vancouver is considering LRT along a major east-west thoroughfare: 41st Avenue. Yes, the 41 bus is always crowded and yes it takes forever to get from Joyce-Collingwood station out to the University of British Columbia. Here we go again. If you drive along 41st Avenue, you’ll notice it’s not very wide and always congested. Lined with single family homes, the city will need to expropriate a large number of properties to make this work, driving up the cost exponentially. While the city is trying to find ways to move people to their destinations with fast and affordable service, LRT, again is not the right idea. You’re basically moving the bus onto rails at additional cost with limited room for increased capacity. And with the Oakridge area undergoing major renovations to include high density residential space, this idea will fall flat on its face. A better solution would be dedicated HOV lanes for transit vehicles and cars with two or more occupants.

Furthermore to TransLink’s and the government’s poor knowledge on building transit is the Canada Line. Completed in 2009 before the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the Canada Line became too popular for its own good. Listening to the complaints of local business groups in Richmond that two tracks would make their establishments lose money because of an unsightly sterile concrete guideway, the line became single tracked after Lansdowne station (and out at the Vancouver International Airport). But it’s no joke now that the density in the island city is increasing with plans to tear down Lansdowne Mall to replace it with new high-rises and commercial space. But that’s not the worst of it. The Canada Line was crippled from the beginning with short platforms limiting the trains to two cars total. This lack of thought for future capacity has filled station platforms and crowded trains. TransLink has ordered more cars from Hyundai Rotem (the group that manufactured the first trains) to add more to increase service. There was even talk of making the trains into three cars, but that never materialized. Now Vancouver and Richmond are building up density along this rapid transit route which cannot possibly keep pace with that growth. Let’s not forget the clandestine construction which pitted local merchants along Cambie Street against TransLink and the builders over lost sales from lack of customers avoiding said construction (they’re now finally being awarded damages).

Then there was the Compass card debacle. How many transit systems around the world use fare gates/turnstiles and contactless cards for admission? Quite a few, and yet TransLink managed to drop the ball repeatedly because they didn’t redesign the fare structure beforehand. Trying to get proven technology to work with TransLink’s zone-based fare structure was a headache for the company and the public in general as costs spiralled out of control to the tune of $194 million dollars. The fare gates sat open almost four years before they were all closed in July 2016 finally forcing riders to tap in or out and ending nearly 30 years of the honour system.

The only recently positive news coming from TransLink and the levels of government is the extension of the Millennium Line out to Arbutus Street (and hopefully further out to the University of British Columbia). The Millennium Line has long been reviled as the “SkyTrain to nowhere” and its daily passenger counts are far less than the Expo Line, this has the potential to bring longer trains (no more two-car Mark II trains) as it connects with busy Broadway corridor. As long as TransLink plays its cards right and builds stations with longer platforms, this addition to SkyTrain becomes a much needed respite to the crowded 99 B-Line buses.

And to add a cherry on-top of it all, a TransLink bus stop in Pitt Meadows was named the worst in all of North America. Why? Because it’s on the paved shoulder of Lougheed Highway against a jersey barrier. Passengers are forced to endure speeding vehicles if they wait on the shoulder or they have lumber over the cement barrier to board their bus when it arrives. TransLink said they would address this, but why was it built in the first place? How could this ever have been a good idea from the beginning?

While TransLink continues to roll along like a sow in slop, it’s safe to say their executive leadership (along with the assistance of the Mayor’s Council*) will continue to draft up impractical and ill-considered plans to expand and “improve” the future of transit in Metro Vancouver.

*While TransLink is an independent entity, the Mayor’s Council (that’s 21 Metro Vancouver mayors, the Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation, and the elected representative of Electoral Area “A”) pretty much has final say over the costs of projects, TransLink board appointments, fare increases, and executive compensation plans.

Surrey Light Rail project a terrible idea

Surrey is one of the fastest growing cities in Metro Vancouver. And with that growth comes the need to improve transportation so that residents and visitors can move between home and work and social events. Enter light rail, Surrey’s and TransLink’s silver bullet to making that future a reality.

Unfortunately, that silver bullet is nothing more than a lead weight, heavy with unnecessary spending, ill-advised ideas and a misunderstanding of the community. The first phase is to have street-level light rail transit (LRT) run down the middle of King George Boulevard between Surrey Central station and the Newton Exchange near 72nd Avenue, with another line out east to the Guildford Exchange on 152nd Street.

A map of the proposed Surrey LRT and future expansion to SkyTrain Expo Line. Source: TransLink

It sounds like a good idea considering that these routes are busy on any given day when taking the existing bus service or driving. However, street-level LRT down a major thoroughfare is not the best answer to this problem. Here’s why.

The LRT routes are not grade separated. This means that trains will run down the centre of King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue. This means that these trains will be subject to all existing traffic lights at intersections and traffic. Take into consideration of vehicles making left-hand turns off of King George or 104th and you can easily back a train up. Existing bus service is not subject to this (unless they themselves need to make said turn) as they run in the right/curb lanes. In turn, this is a glorified bus route that is restricted to the rails and can’t go any faster than what traffic dictates.

Then you have to factor in pedestrians. With the platforms for the LRT routes being in the middle of these roads, the potential for jaywalking and pedestrian-related incidents increase as passengers rush to catch a train or seek to cross the roadway after exiting to get to their destination. Watch the video below to see how trams and other LRT vehicles interact with cars and pedestrians.

Capacity is also an issue. Any LRT trains will need to limited to a certain length to prevent them from blocking intersections when stopped or delayed. Trains that are too long and moving too slowly could cause backups for traffic intending to cross when passing through an intersection as lights change or due to other circumstances (e.g collisions, pedestrians, etc). With a bus, you can add and remove vehicles as demand allows — and they can manoeuvre around any issues brought on by traffic, construction, etc.

With LRT sharing the same path as cars, trucks and SUVs, what’s to stop a vehicle from driving into support pillar for the overhead lines, bringing it down and necessitating a halt to transit service? Or if a vehicle collides with a train thus backing up service?

What about the cost? As of June 24th, 2018, the LRT project is projected to cost 1.65 billion CAD. And once the project begins, what’s to stop it from snowballing? That money could be put to better use, like more buses or towards expanding SkyTrain further into Surrey.

These are just a few of the many issues facing this boondoggle of a project. There’s so much wrong with putting a light to medium capacity system in the middle of a continuously growing city — it’s just as hilarious as the idea to limit the Canada Line to two cars per train with short station platforms. It’s not a sustainable vision.

Over the last, local community groups have been calling for extension to the existing Expo Line which terminates at King George. SkyTrain has the added benefit of elevation, meaning it is grade separated keeping it away from vehicle traffic and errant pedestrians. SkyTrain service can also be increased due to demand if necessary, to a max headway of 90 seconds between trains.

The Surrey LRT project is a novelty that might work well in other cities where road traffic is lighter, but it’s not right for Surrey. Surrey council needs to realize that there is demand for SkyTrain and improved bus service, not a dedicated LRT system that has no potential for growth and fuel for commuter’s headaches. You can voice your feedback through any of the community meetings or online.

TransLink fares going up on July 1, 2018

Compass Cards

TransLink fare prices are rising on Canada Day 2018.

To help provide improvements to Metro Vancouver’s transit system, TransLink is increasing its fares between five and ten cents on Sunday, July 1st, 2018. This fare increase is part of phase one of the Mayors Council’s 10-Year Vision for transit to add capacity, bus service and other enhancements around the region.

Single trip fares will see a ten cent increase, while concession fares go up five cents; monthly passes will cost two dollars more (concession by a dollar). Purchasing a DayPass will cost 25 cents more. The table below breaks down the cost per zone and fare type.

Single Use/Cash Tickets
Zone Current Fare New Fare
   Adult
1 $2.85 $2.95
2 $4.10 $4.20
3 $5.60 $5.70
   Concession
1 $1.80 $1.90
2 $2.80 $2.90
3 $3.80 $3.90
Stored Value Compass Card
   Adult
1 $2.20 $2.30
2 $3.25 $3.35
3 $4.30 $4.40
   Concession
1 $1.80 $1.85
2 $2.80 $2.85
3 $3.80 $3.85
Monthly Pass
   Adult
1 $93.00 $95.00
2 $126.00 $128.00
3 $172.00 $174.00
   Concession
All Zones $53.00 $54.00
Day Pass
   Adult
All Zones $10.00 $10.25
   Concession
All Zones $7.75 $8.00

Source: TransLink

Granville Station elevator repairs takes part of station out of service for 2 years

Starting today, and for the next two years, the three long escalators at Granville Station are no longer in service as TransLink works to replace them. These escalators are almost 30 years old, installed when the Expo Line began operation in 1986.

During this work, only the Dunsmuir Street entrance/exit will allow access to the train platforms. The Seymour Street entrance will remain closed until completion in 2020. Passengers looking to access SkyTrain through Pacific Centre will need to detour through the Bay and Vancouver Centre Mall.

TransLink recommends taking extra time if using Granville Station, or consider Burrard, Waterfront or Stadium-Chinatown Stations instead.

Source: TransLink

New SkyTrain cars coming in the next two years

Additional cars to increase capacity on both SkyTrain lines and the Canada Line is being accelerated according to an announcement made by TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond on Friday, February 23rd.

The first 28 cars destined for the Expo and Millennium Lines will arrive in early 2019, followed by another 28 cars toward the end of 2019. A further 24 cars are on order for the Canada Line which are expected before the end of 2020.

The original order of the cars was made in 2016 under Phase 1 of the region’s 10 year vision for transit which includes a 20% increase for rail service.

Statistics provided by TransLink show that ridership is up by 5.7 percent, reaching 407 million boardings in 2017.

LIVE: Announcement Regarding Increased Capacity on SkyTrain 🚇

Posted by TransLink on Friday, February 23, 2018

Source: TransLink

TransLink fare increase kicks in July 1

Stored value and single use Compass Cards

TransLink fares go up on Canada Day 2017!

On Saturday, July 1st, 2017, the cost of taking transit in Metro Vancouver will rise as TransLink looks to fund projects on improving its services in the region. Fare increases are part of the agency’s funding model towards a ten year, $2 billion investment in service and infrastructure.

Single trip fares will see a ten cent increase, while concession fares go up five cents; monthly passes will cost two dollars more. The table below breaks down the cost per zone and fare type.

Single Use/Cash Tickets
Zone Current Fare New Fare
   Adult
1 $2.75 $2.85
2 $4.00 $4.10
3 $5.50 $5.60
   Concession
1 $1.75 $1.80
2 $2.75 $2.80
3 $3.75 $3.80
Stored Value Compass Card
   Adult
1 $2.10 $2.20
2 $3.15 $3.25
3 $4.20 $4.30
   Concession
1 $1.75 $1.80
2 $2.75 $2.80
3 $3.75 $3.80
Monthly Pass
   Adult
1 $91.00 $93.00
2 $124.00 $126.00
3 $170.00 $172.00
   Concession
All Zones $52.00 $53.00
Day Pass
   Adult
All Zones $9.75 $10.00
   Concession
All Zones $7.50 $7.75

 

Source: TransLink

Cougars sneak into Port Moody Millennium Line station

While TransLink usually deals with human fare evaders, two cougars managed to bypass security and wander the tracks on the Evergreen extension of the Millennium Line on Friday morning. In the security footage below, TransLink stated in their Facebook post that the felines triggered the guideway intrusion alarm as they walked through the Inlet Centre station in Port Moody.

The late night visit took place just after 4:00 am PDT, well after transit service concluded for the day. Transit staff checked track-side fences and involved the BC Conservation Officers for assistance. Inlet Centre station sits below Barnet Highway and is not elevated.

Cat red-handed… A pair of cougars set off the intrusion alarm last night at Inlet Station on the Evergreen Extension. The meow-nificent pair were spotted on CCTV walking along the guideway through the station! Morning staff searched the line and were unable to find the animals before morning service began. We're not pawsitive how the duo gained access to the guideway, and we will be inspecting fencing along the line to ensure there are no holes or obvious ways for wildlife to get inside. All stations have closed circuit cameras which allow us to see what triggers intrusion alarms at any point. While this incident involving cougars is a first, it's not uncommon to see wildlife on the system. Our staff worked closely with Conservation Officers for guidance and will closely watch the station for signs of the clawver cats return. ^sk

Posted by TransLink on Friday, April 21, 2017

Source: TransLink

Let TransLink know how you feel about fares

Compass Cards

TransLink wants your feedback on its current fare structure.

Are you frustrated with the cost of taking transit around Metro Vancouver? Does the current zone system confuse you? Now’s your chance to let TransLink hear your opinion with the transit fare review survey.

Current fares on SkyTrain, bus and SeaBus are determined by how many zones travelled. While all bus rides are one zone, SkyTrain has three zones — but the number of zones differs depending on the time of day (three zones during peak/rush hours and one zone for evening hours/weekend/holidays). This perplexes people not familiar with the system and those who use it infrequently.

This feedback aims to make adjustments to the fare structure based on distance travelled, time of travel and method of transport used.

So what would you like to see? Fares based on distance (such as paying less to travel from Joyce-Collingwood to Metrotown), time of day (more for travel during rush hour Monday morning instead of early afternoon on a Wednesday) or service (it’s cheaper to take a bus than it is to ride SkyTrain or the West Coast Express).

The survey closes on Friday, February 17th, 2017.

Source: TransLink

Evergreen Extension to open December 2, 2016

Evergreen ExtensionThe much awaited Evergreen Extension to the Millennium Line opens to passengers on Friday, December 2nd, 2016. This addition to the SkyTrain network links Coquitlam and Port Moody into the rest of the rapid transit system that serves Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey and Vancouver.

Service begins at 12:00 pm PST with festivities held at the Coquitlam Centre station. Updates to TransLink’s web site with transit routes and schedules go live on Monday, November 28th, 2016. Changes to bus service come into effect on Monday, December 19th, 2016. TransLink will also have added staff from Monday, November 21st through to Thursday, December 22nd, 2016 to help with questions on bus service, connections and schedules.

Source: The Buzzer Blog

Service changes for the Expo and Millennium SkyTrain Lines on Oct 22

TransLink unveiled some significant changes with the way trains travel over the Expo and Millennium Lines. On Saturday, October 22nd, 2016, all Millennium Line trains will run between VCC-Clark and Lougheed Town Centre stations while Expo Line trains run Waterfront to King George and Waterfront to Production Way-University.

These changes relate to the upcoming introduction of the Evergreen Line linking Port Moody and Coquitlam up with the rest of the SkyTrain system, which is expected to open before year’s end. The Evergreen Line no longer becomes its own separate line, but extending the Millennium Line into the afore-mentioned communities.

This means that the Millennium Line no longer runs to or from Waterfront station in downtown Vancouver and that Columbia is not the last point of transfer between the two lines; these are now Production Way-University and Lougheed Town Centre.

So, to remember:

Expo Line

  • Waterfront (Vancouver) to King George (Surrey)
  • Waterfront (Vancouver) to Production Way-University (Burnaby)

Millennium Line

  • VCC-Clark (Vancouver) to Lougheed Town Centre (Burnaby)

A visualization of how the two lines will appear when service changes on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016. Omitted from the diagram are the Evergreen Extension and Canada Line.
Updated SkyTrain Service Map

These changes do not affect service on the Canada Line.

Source: TransLink

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