Category Archives for "British Columbia"

Dec 29

TransLink Chairman Year-end Interview

By Rick | British Columbia

Global News BC had a 15 minute, year-end interview with TransLink Chairman Kevin Desmond on 19 Dec 2017. Issues discussed included possible later SkyTrain service on Friday and Saturday nights, safety, new Canada Line stations, Canada Line capacity expansions, double decker bus pilot, fare payment changes and mobility pricing.

  1. Late night service is obviously doable but TransLink needs to maintain the system in a State of Good Repair. Extended operating times would remove 500 hours annually from the existing, overnight maintenance window. Desmond said that a wider, community discussion is needed to determine what is needed in terms of later service. He emphasized that extended hours will require trade-offs. And he did not mention the Canada Line, which would presumably require contract negotiations with the concessionaire to extend service hours.
  2. The system is safe, in spite of the much-publicized, Canada Line incident involving a Muslim woman. Additional police officers will be hired to compensate for the Evergreen Line expansion.
  3. Capstan Station construction will be 100% paid for by the private sector. A 57th/Cambie station may be considered under a similar funding model but would be much more expensive as it is underground.
  4. Canada Line capacity will be augmented by 24 new cars on order. Any Canada Line station lengthening is 10-15 years out. He stated, diplomatically, that the Canada Line was under built.
  5. He is very keen on double decker buses and hopes to order 30  double decker buses early in 2018.
  6. TransLink is investigating allowing mobile devices and credit cards for fare payment.
  7. Stated there are equity issues with Mobility Pricing that will have to be addressed

The interview can be found here.


Source: TABC

Dec 29

South Okanagan Transit Ridership Up

By Rick | British Columbia

Transit ridership is up a reported 41% on certain routes in the South Okanagan. Good news but the numbers would be starting from a fairly low level. Unfortunately, there is no source for the numbers published and there is one oddity; a 30% decline in operating costs per passenger is described as “minor” so I suspect a typo. The report can be found here.

 

 


Source: TABC

Dec 29

Contracting Transit Operations

By Rick | British Columbia

The Eno Center for Transportation in Washington DC  published a report touting the benefits of contracting out as a way to improve transit service. “A Bid for Better Transit: Improving Transit Service with Contracted Operations” looks at a number of examples of contracted operations in three European cities (London, Stockholm, Oslo) and three North American ones (New Orleans, Vancouver, Los Angeles). The discussion is not a “privatisation will solve all our problems” that, once implemented, can be left to run its course.The report contends that contracting out is a tool available to transit agencies that is more complex than straight out privatisation and requires agency commitment, negotiation and monitoring.

The authors state 3 key issues must be part of any contracting out considerations – the public interest cannot be contracted out and only government can protect the public interest; contracts must clearly align agency goals with a contractor’s profit motive; and agencies and contractors must work together to innovate and improve system operations.

The paper provides an overview of TransLink’s contracting out activities (or lack thereof) emphasizing that changes in provincial political priorities led to the current situation whereby BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC) and Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) are wholly owned subsidiaries rather than contracted service providers. It does point out that the potential threat of contracting out may be enough to incentivise the subsidiaries to improve efficiency, increase productivity and control costs. That being said, TransLink does contract out some niche services.

However, the Canada Line P3 contract is looked at critically be the authors . They argue that the political motivations to get the line opened for the 2010 Olympics led to a P3 contract that over emphasised  construction speed at the expense of long-term operational flexibility. TransLink is left with a 35 year contract under which it must negotiate service changes with the concessionaire.

A Bid for Better Transit: Improving service with contracted operations


Source: TABC

Dec 27

In Memoriam (Amtrak Cascades Train 501 Crash)

By Rick | British Columbia

Transport Action BC wishes to express condolences for the deaths of Jim Hamre and Zack Wilhoite, as well as the other victim and the many people injured in the December 18, 2017 Amtrak Cascades Train 501 crash.

TABC was shocked to hear the news about the derailment on a day that was meant to be a celebration of the inaugural service on the new alignment. To hear about the deaths of two prominent activists with All Aboard Washington / Rail Passengers Association (NARP) is a further shock. While we did not know either Jim or Zack, we have always been impressed with the work All Aboard Washington has done to advance passenger rail in the state of Washington. AAW is a model of how a rail advocacy group should function. The steady, incremental improvements in the Amtrak Cascades service over the years is in large part due to the hard work of advocates like Jim and Zack. We owe it to them to continue the fight for better train service.

More details on Jim and Zack’s lives and work can be found at AAW and RPA (NARP).

Sincerely,

Matthew Buchanan
President – Transport Action BC
Coquitlam, BC


Source: TABC

Sep 09

BC Update – 2017-09-09

By Rick | British Columbia

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BC’s new NDP government cancelled bridge tolls on TransLink’s Golden Ears and the province’s Port Mann bridges, as promised in the recent election campaign. Member Stephen Rees wrote an article discussing the cancellation, the present and former governments’ wrong-headed approaches to road/bridge tolls and possible impacts on Metro Vancouver’s Mayors’ Council road-pricing studies. The article is at https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/08/28/Risk-in-NDP-Plan-to-End-Bridge-Tolls/?utm_source=weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=280817.

No word on when/if transit riders’ tolls (a.k.a. fares) will also be eliminated as part of the NDP government’s “Toll Free BC” sloganeering.

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The new government also halted work on the Massey Bridge project that would have replaced the 4-lane Massey Tunnel with a 10-lane bridge. An independent technical review will be initiated to determine options for moving forward. Predictably, Delta’s mayor, Lois Jackson, and Liberal MLAs decried the move stating that the issue has been studied in depth and a rehash is not necessary. Somewhat hyperbolically,  Liberal MLAs also claimed the NDP’s decision puts commuters lives at risk. Other Metro Vancouver Mayors expressed relief at the decision, hoping to work closely with the provincial government on the issue. More details at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/massey-tunnel-update-sept-6-1.4277357 and http://vancouversun.com/news/politics/ndp-cancels-construction-on-george-massey-bridge-project .

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Greyhound has applied to the BC Passenger Transportation Board to eliminate 5 routes in the province (http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/greyhound-bus-route-on-b-c-s-highway-of-tears-one-of-five-that-could-be-axed). The routes are Victoria-Nanaimo, Prince George-Valemount, Prince George-Dawson Creek, Dawson Creek-Whitehorse, and Prince George-Prince Rupert. Plunging ridership and competition from subsidised BC Transit services are claimed as causes for Greyhound’s request. The BC Transit claim is a bit of a red herring as most of the routes eliminated have no to minimal intercity subsidised transit service.
The Prince-George-Prince Rupert route is the infamous Highway of Tears where improved public transit has been an issue for many years. BC Transit recently implemented limited Burns Lake-Smithers-Prince George and is working on further transit proposals in the corridor (https://bctransit.com/highway16/home), although there will be no end-to-end direct service.

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The CBC spent a year investigating leaked documents from the Port Mann Bridge construction project, concluding that ‘weak oversight’ led to extra costs related to efforts to speed-up certain aspects of the construction to meet the province’s opening date. The investigation also notes that provincial rules regarding procurement and auditing were apparently not followed (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/weak-oversight-plagued-b-c-megaproject-which-insiders-believe-cost-taxpayers-millions-1.4144535). Political blogger Lailla Yuile discusses the CBC report and provides her own insight on the Port Mann Project at https://lailayuile.com/2017/09/07/everything-old-is-new-again-cbc-investigation-raises-big-questions-about-port-mann-bridge-build/.

Calls for an inquiry into the ‘cost overruns’ and the project’s management are being made. Some are suggesting that the former Liberal government’s practice of purchasing oversight, rather than using government staff, on large capital projects means that all such projects should be reviewed.

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Source: TABC