“One in a million” shutdown underlines importance of Skytrain to regional transportation

skytrainThe “one in a million” accident on the Expo line that forced a long shutdown of Skytrain service during Tuesday’s rush hour underlines once more how critical it is to renew and expand rail commuter service right across Metro.

There is no way a “bus bridge” can fill the gap when trains don’t run, especially if buses and drivers all already fully-committed to rush hour service. Nonetheless, Translink’s efforts have vastly improved since an in-depth review of the response to shutdowns two years ago that saw angry passengers breaking out of trains to walk the guideways to the stations.

Since those incidents, Translink has committed $71 million to upgrade and maintain aging Skytrain infrastructure, but defeat of June’s funding referendum means Translink is struggling to fund regular operations, never mind expansion.

Annual “service optimization” on bus routes is reducing service to low-ridership areas and contributing to a slow decline in overall ridership.

These are not happy times for transit riders. No wonder so many transit planners’ hopes are pinned on a new funding commitment from the new Trudeau government in Ottawa.


What’s a fair transit fare? Toronto’s annual debate tests the trade-offs, but Translink strategy unclear

bus pictureWith Compass card users breaking the 100,000 mark, a new single-zone bus network and Faregates soon to swing shut, it’s been a year of dramatic changes for Translink users, who saw voters reject new funding tools in June’s referendum.

But what is the future of fares on Translink? Riders already pay the biggest share of the system’s overhead. With ridership flatlining, buses overcrowded and pass-ups common, this seems like a bad time for fare increases. (The last was in 2013.)

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Actually, the way Vancouver keeps its books makes a lot of sense – just ask rating agencies

city hall photoThis week’s report from the C.D. Howe Institute complaining about how Canadian cities keep their books actually ranks Vancouver as tied in second place with four other municipalities for accuracy and transparency of its budgeting.

But that didn’t stop the Vancouver Sun’s Don Cayo from damning Vancouver and Surrey for budget practices that “make no sense” even though Vancouver has already implemented the overwhelming majority of the C.D. Howe recommendations. (The one exception is a recommendation not used by any municipality.)

In fact, one credit rating agency declared last year that “Vancouver displays strong governance and management characteristics. The city uses a long-term financial planning framework, including a ten-year Capital Strategic Outlook, a four-year Capital Plan, and an annual consolidated budget (capital and operating) with a four-year outlook.”

To set the record straight, I sent the Sun this letter this morning, along with an invitation for Mr. Cayo to meet with the city’s finance team: Read More

Viaducts replacement won’t impact ambulance trips to St. Paul’s — first responders don’t use the Viaducts

downloadThere are good reasons to challenge the proposal to move St. Paul’s Hospital to False Creek Flats, but the fear that ambulances will not be able to connect as quickly to the new site is not one of them.


Because first responders don’t use the Viaducts today.

Vancouver Burrard MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert raises many good questions about the provision of services to West End residents in the latest Westender — strangely the article is not available online — but is making an understandable mistake when he reminds readers that the Viaducts will go.

No problem.

 As last month’s report to council made clear, “staff have heard from emergency service providers that they do not use the Viaducts due to concerns that they can easily become stranded on the elevated roadways if there is an accident.”

Overall, traffic performance over the revised road network will be improved and, according the Providence Health Care, most St. Paul’s users will find emergency access better as well. Downtown Eastside residents, for example, would find their emergency trip halved if headed to the new site.