Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Traffic

Translink riders need to hear from the top about system shutdowns, what will be done about them

After two massive transit system shutdowns in less than a week — one of which saw hundreds of passengers risk injury or death by fleeing cars along elevated guideways — it’s time to hear from Translink CEO Ian Jarvis what happened, why and what will be done.

If Translink doesn’t quickly organize an inquiry, someone else should — perhaps the Translink Mayor’s Council, which now has slightly expanded powers to direct Translink’s affairs.

So far, only public relations officers have been thrown out to the media pack, which is demanding answers on behalf of hundreds of thousands of stranded riders. The message box: it’s a “glitch” or a “short circuit” and “we’re 95 percent reliable.” Oh, and “we apologize,” and there won’t be any refunds. It’s neither fair nor appropriate to make these staffers the human shield. (Skytrain president Fred Cumming was quoted in some news reports last week.)

Both internal and arms-length investigations are warranted into these extraordinary events, which caused massive disruption and exposed many to risk of injury or death.

Contrast what happened in December in New York, when the derailment of a Long Island commuter train left four death and scores injured. More serious, certainly, but who knows what factors helped avert casualties here?

Within hours, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the scene, MTA chairman Tom Prendergast had announced an internal investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board began its own review. Investigators quickly concluded the train driver had fallen asleep. [Read more →]

July 22, 2014

Metro Mayors review Stone’s comments in Legislature for hints on future of transit referendum

Metro Vancouver Mayors are poring over the transcript of this week’s Legislature exchange between Transportation Minister Todd Stone and George Heyman, the opposition critic and NDP MLA for Fairview.

The takeaway: no breaking stories in this debate during estimates, but confirmation of some important developments in the continuing transit funding saga, including funding for a Pattullo Bridge replacement and a willingness to implement road pricing if it’s approved by voters.

Here’s the transcript, which can be found here: [Read more →]

April 4, 2014

Urban Futures survey shows massive and growing support for public transit investment to tackle congestion

Do Metro mayors face a tough sell on the upcoming transit referendum, as Ken Cameron suggests in this Tyee review of the new Urban Futures survey? Or is public opinion waiting for elected officials to catch up?

In fact, as Cameron notes in his analysis, this massive 2012 review of Metro public opinion found support for transit investment growing very significantly since the last survey was conducted in 1990. The relevant chart is on page 46 here.

Not so reassuring: the declining anxiety about the housing supply.

March 26, 2014

Train2Main highlights how far Skytrain has come, how much further it must go

The impending upgrade of the 32 year-old Main St. Science World Skytrain station, the first built in the entire system, will mean an upheaval for users of the busy hub, which will be partially closed for many months.

It’s a reminder of how old the original system is getting, how well it has served the region and how much more investment is required to serve the one million additional residents expected in Metro Vancouver in the next 30 years.

Since the first track went up,  Skytrain Expo Line and Millennium Line ridership has risen to 77.8 million trips in 2014. The Canada Line will account to another 41 million trips.  Buses and shuttles handle 238 million trips, with overcrowding and pass-ups commonplace.

With 500,000 new residents arriving in the region in the next 10 years, more investment is clearly needed.

For about six months starting March 30, construction will require shortening of first one platform and then the other, making the platform too short for four or six-car trains. This will force Translink to serve the shorter platform with a shuttle between Waterfront and Commercial-Broadway.

Depending on the stage of the rebuilding project, travellers heading to Main St. will have to get off the through train at another station and change to the Train2Main shuttle to complete their trip, adding up to 10 minutes to the journey.

But when the work is done, Main St. Science World will be ready, I hope, to receive the increased ridership to come from the Evergreen Line.

Too bad, we can’t say the same for the Broadway Corridor west of Commercial-Broadway, where many of the Evergreen travellers will be headed. Yes, Skytrain has come a long way, but has a lot further to go.

March 13, 2014