We’ve Moved To A New Site!

Our new site!

As promised, our second edition of UBC SkyTrain is now complete! The new site is designed to simplify information about the Broadway Rapid Transit Corridor, as well as related information. Along with our site redesign, we also have a new URL. See our full post at http://www.ubcskytrain.co.cc/

Site Upgrade

If you are wondering where we have been in 2010, the answer is really quite simple. We are in the process of making a dramatic upgrade to our existing website. 2010 is actually quite an important year as we move into the second phase of the Broadway corridor study, where a choice in the technology for the UBC line will be made.

Also new to the group is our twitter account. At the moment, you can only follow us on http://www.twitter.com/ubcskytrain, but we hope to expand these interactive services through widgets on our new website. Stay tuned.

Canada Line Delivers A Smooth Ride (and attracts many on transit)

The Globe and Mail reports that the “Canada Line daily ridership breaks 100,000 occasionally, average at 92,852 including weekends!” Just some background information, the 100 000 ridership mark was “a unreasonable projection” from many critics, but they have been obviously proven wrong. This shows how successful frequent and quick rail rapid transit is in Vancouver.

Currently, the Broadway corridor has at least 80 000 passengers just on buses. This doesn’t count the many people who would commute to UBC via 84, 25, 41/43, and 49 routes to avoid the over crowded 99 B-Line. Confidently, the Millennium Line extension can easily achieve a ridership of 120 000 passengers if it is in service today, let alone in 2020.

The Broadway Corridor needs real rail rapid transit to quickly move passengers across Vancouver.   Skeptics were wrong about the Canada Line and will be wrong with the UBC Line.  Like the Canada Line, the UBC Line will connect major destinations and attractions including UBC, South Granville, Cambie Village (connecting with the Canada Line at Broadway-City Hall Station), Mt. Pleasant, not including with the present Millennium Line destinations.

Let’s replicate the Canada Line success with the UBC Line as SkyTrain.

Canada Line delivers a smooth ride

A Canada Line rapid transit train crosses over the Fraser River from Vancouver to Richmond, B.C., as Grouse Mountain is seen in the distance.

A Canada Line rapid transit train crosses over the Fraser River from Vancouver to Richmond, B.C., as Grouse Mountain is seen in the distance. Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

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Vancouver’s new transit line, which connects downtown to the airport and beyond, is already moving up to 100,000 passengers a day

The Canada Line earned Ryan Campbell’s affection by sparing him the daily ordeal of taking four buses and walking two kilometres to get to his job in Richmond.

Much of that grind for the 20-year-old West Vancouver resident has been erased by the $2-billion system, which began running last August and is the first in Canada to link a downtown to its airport.

But it’s the line past the airport to central Richmond that cheers Mr. Campbell.

On a chill, blustery December night, Mr. Campbell is far from the airport, disembarking from Richmond-Brighouse – the southernmost station – for a quick walk to his customer service job at a London Drugs outlet.

“It’s perfect,” Mr. Campbell said when asked about his views of the Line. “If [the Canada Line] wasn’t around, I couldn’t make it to this place I’m working at so easily.”

Because of stops through Richmond and at such Vancouver-area fixtures as the airport, City Hall, the burgeoning Olympic Village neighbourhood, Yaletown and the downtown SeaBus terminal, the Canada Line has picked up considerable support.

Daily Canada Line ridership has occasionally topped 100,000, which is the break-even threshold for the system covering its operating costs. That level comes about three years ahead of schedule.

Including weekends, the Canada Line is averaging 92,852 riders a day, said Steve Crombie, spokesman for InTransitBC, builder and operator of the system.

“The trend is increasing. We’ve been seeing weekly increases since the line started,” he said.

Critics focus on the fact that the Canada Line came before the much-needed Evergreen Line to the northeast, the devastating impact of street-gouging construction on businesses in the Cambie Village area of central Vancouver, and that some bus routes were trimmed or eliminated as a result of its opening.

But the line is crowded with its fans.

They include Steven Nelson, a 34-year-old Bell Canada technician who is in the Lower Mainland from Toronto these days for work related to the 2010 Olympics.

Mr. Nelson, also disembarking at Richmond-Brighouse, said that without the line he would have been relying on buses to get to work, which he suggested was not an enticing prospect.

“Overall, I think the service is great.”

Gordon Price, a six-term Vancouver city councillor who is now director of the city program at Simon Fraser University, said things appear to be going “pretty damn well” for the system.

He said he has been struck by the number of passengers toting and pushing their luggage. Mr. Price said he was skeptical business travellers would be interested in taking a system that compelled them to take their luggage to and from the stations.

“What I hadn’t taken into account was the downsizing of luggage to carry-on and wheels. You can sure see it, pretty dramatic,” he said. “It brought a class of people, who normally didn’t take transit into their thinking and got them aboard … both literally and enthusiastically.”

Mr. Price has been using the line to get from his home in Vancouver’s West End to the downtown campus of SFU, taking a bus to the Vancouver-City Centre stop for the line.

“It’s kind of an enjoyable trip in the sense that I get to see that transit culture in action, which I kind of enjoy.”

He also uses it to get to Vancouver City Hall, the airport, and has used it to go for dim sum at the critically acclaimed Chinese restaurants in Richmond.

His one big criticism: No station in the midst of the shops, restaurants and other businesses of bustling Cambie Village.

“Particularly after the hardship they went through, it would have made sense,” he said.

Via Globe and Mail

ALRT Extension

Kuala Lumpur is again, considering the extension of their Kelana Jaya LRT Line, which uses SkyTrain ALRT technology as well as the extension of the Ampang Line, another LRT line which is quite similar to the Canada Line with a higher capacity.  Clearly, light metros are popular in other parts of the world.

LRT plan gets the nod as residents feel it will ease traffic
By THO XIN YI Thursday December 17, 2009

A FEW residents associations and organisations in Subang Jaya and USJ have given the thumbs up to the LRT extension plan.

They feel that the LRT would be a convenient alternative for residents who have had enough of traffic congestion and poor bus services in the townships.

Subang Jaya Senior Citizens Club president Yeong Teik Boon believed that the extension would shorten the travelling time between Subang Jaya and the city centre.

“Buses here are not punctual and the Komuter station is not easily accessible by all,” he said.

Jamaludin Ibrahim of the USJ 5 residents association welcomed the LRT extension as it would help the people save money and time, while Subang Jaya Consumers’ Association secretary Gan Meng Foo believed that it would alleviate traffic congestion.

However, they hoped that the feeder bus services would be well-planned.

Persatuan Poh Toh Subang Jaya chairman Koay Teng Koon added that the car park facilities must be sufficient to encourage car owners to use the LRT to get to their destinations.

The Subang Jaya Coffee Merchants, Bars and Restaurants Association, meanwhile, urged the authorities to look into the environmental and health aspects when implementing the extension.

Kelana Jaya MCA chairman Ong Chong Swen, who is also the USJ 5 residents association deputy president, is hoping that the LRT extension would change the people’s travelling habits.

“They can take the trains to work and use their own cars for leisure on the weekends,” she said.

Ong added that she was informed by Prasarana that it had received 92% positive feedback on the project.

JKP Zone 4 deputy chairman Shafiee Shariff Abdullah also hoped that construction work would commence as soon as possible.

Subang Jaya resident M. Vivekananda, on the other hand, was concerned about the efficiency of the LRT in solving the traffic problem in the Klang Valley.

“Using the proposed LRT extensions can result in having to travel in a rather circuitous route.

“Additionally, if the existing LRT lines have not solved the transport problem in Kuala Lumpur, how can they be expected to solve the transportation problems in the other areas such as Subang Jaya and USJ?” he asked.

He suggested the authorities look into transport woes in a holistic manner to overhaul the traffic management system.

“By extending the LRT, Prasarana cannot bring about a magical transformation to end the transportation woes. A colossal amount of taxpayers money is involved in this project.

“The authorities need to make a judicious decision in the name of progress and sustainable development,” he said.

Another Subang Jaya resident G. H. Goh suggested that an independent loop be formed along the Damansara-Puchong Expressway for travellers heading to Petaling Jaya to save the time of LRT users who are heading to Kuala Lumpur.

Citing narzey of SSC

Three accidents and it hasn’t even opened

T-Bone Collision with Link LRT and a vehicle
Source: DON PHAM / NORTHWEST VIETNAMESE NEWS

Seattle’s new Link LRT System hasn’t even opened yet and there have already been 3 accidents involving trains running into cars and pedestrians at intersections.    This has occured even though most of the Link LRT is already fully segregated, with a small portion running alongside traffic.  According to Sound Transit, Seattle’s transit agency, the incidents shut down testing for about an hour and a half.  Could you imagine how many problems this would happen if LRT was chosen for the UBC Line, especially since the LRT would run throughout the entire portion of the Broadway and 10th Avenue Corridor?    Start with counting how many intersections there are along those streets.

Full Article:

A man was injured late this afternoon when a Sound Transit light-rail train and a car collided at Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Myrtle Street.

By Mike Lindblom and Phillip Lucas
Seattle Times staff reporters

A motorist received minor injuries Monday in a collision with a Sound Transit light-rail train in Rainier Valley, the third incident since frequent train testing began there this spring.

The crash happened just after 5 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Myrtle Street, next to the Othello light-rail station in Southeast Seattle.

Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray said the car was heading south and made a left turn, against a red light, from MLK Way onto Myrtle as the train traveled south alongside in the median of MLK.

The driver, a man in his 70s, was taken away by ambulance with minor injuries, said Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Helen Fitzpatrick.

Emergency crews tore the roof off the car to remove the driver, said Fitzpatrick. He was the sole occupant, transit officials said.

At the time of the crash, the train was traveling at low speed because it was about to stop at the station, Gray said. The train T-boned the car.

The crash caused minor damage to a front panel on the train. It drove under its own power to the maintenance facility.

Sound Transit is testing its trains along the 14-mile route from downtown Seattle to Tukwila, in preparation for service to begin July 18.

After the wreck was cleared at 6:30 p.m. train tests resumed.

This is the third incident involving a test train in Rainier Valley, where tracks run in a median at street level. Two were crashes with cars, and in one case, a person walked into the side of a train, according to Sound Transit.

“We’ve been running 20 hours a day for over a month here. We think people are getting used to it, but incidents like this are a reminder for people to follow the rules,” Gray said.

Sound Transit officials say their rail project has improved overall safety on MLK Way, by eliminating two-way left-turn lanes that used to play a major role in both motorist and pedestrian injuries.

Dana Echols, who said she witnessed the crash, and another bystander, Than Pham, said the rail intersections should have crossing gates.

Sound Transit didn’t install crossing arms because trains are going at the normal traffic speed of 35 mph or less, Gray said, and because neighbors in public-comment sessions didn’t want the area looking like a freight-train corridor.

A decade ago, an environmental-impact statement predicted 29 car-train collisions per year, and three with pedestrians, based on experience in other cities. Transit officials said actual numbers would be less in Seattle, because of improved warning signals and road designs, as well as relatively careful drivers here.

Critics of the project urged local politicians not to mix light rail with street traffic, before groundbreaking in 2003. Many U.S. cities, including Portland, run trains along arterial streets.

Sound Transit has visited many schools and groups to preach rail safety, while giving out water bottles, rulers and a board game with safety slogans. The agency and teenagers have made online videos, urging young people to keep off the tracks.

Jaywalking is still commonplace across MLK, while some motorists are noticeably enraged by longer wait times at traffic lights, where trains take priority.

“I just think that a lot of kids, Lord forbid, will be running across the train tracks thinking they can make it, and they’re going to get hit,” said Echols. “The train’s not even open yet, and people are already getting in accidents.”

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com

Source: The Seattle Times

Debunking Miro Cernetig’s Vancouver Sun Article

Many supporters of our pro-SkyTrain group have suggested that we write a letter to the Vancouver Sun regarding Miro Cernetig’s front page article on May 25.  We will be submitting a much shorter letter to the Vancouver Sun, however, here is our full response to that article:

Dear Editor,

This is a letter in response to Miro Cernetig’s opinion-based article about “Broadway subway to UBC is an idea headed in the wrong direction.” We, the UBC SkyTrain group would like to rebut a few of the arguments Miro Cernetig makes in that article.

Mr. Cernetig cites that population projections by 2040 are expected to increase particularly within the South of Fraser region, where Surrey, Delta, Langley, and White Rock are expected to increase by 56%, while the City of Vancouver is only expected to grow by 16%. While these figures may be true, one must also consider the form that this growth takes. The City of Vancouver has and will continue to have a much more concentrated density than compared to the South of Fraser regions, an important factor for transportation planning. High density areas deserve higher capacity rapid transit, which is what SkyTrain provides. Moreover, according to the Metro Vancouver’s Concept Plans for the region, the Broadway corridor along with other rapid transit corridors such as Cambie and 41st Avenue are slated for increased density.

In the article, Mr. Cernetig cites the lack of rail rapid transit in the suburbs, also slating that “yet there’s little talk amongst our mega planners of extending a rapid-rail system out to those fast-growing communities.” However, the Provincial Government announced the Provincial Transportation Plan, which included rapid transit extensions and expansions throughout Metro Vancouver, building on the 1996 Livable Region Strategic Plan (LRSP) by Metro Vancouver, formerly known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District. The Evergreen Line and the portion of the UBC Line to Arbutus form Phase II of the Millennium Line and are consistent with the 1996 LRSP. This extension of the Millennium Line to UBC is natural given ridership levels on existing B-Line as well as trolley service. With respect to the suburban services, Evergreen Line will provide service to the Tri-Cities before construction even starts on the UBC Line. In the South of Fraser, the 1996 LRSP calls for an Intermediate Capacity Transit System linking Surrey Central to Guildford, to Newton, and busway on Fraser Highway. The announced extension of the Expo Line is consistent with the line to Guildford and will bring more communities of Surrey closer to rail rapid transit. RapidBus service to Newton, potentially to White Rock, and along Fraser Highway to Langley from Surrey Centre is also in the works. The proposed Highway 1 RapidBus service is an additional service not specified in the 1996 LRSP, but announced by the Province. This will link many of the proposed Park & Ride centres with Guildford to Coquitlam South and Lougheed Town Centre. RapidBus is a natural predecessor to rail rapid transit as it allows governments to assess the ridership potential of a route. Once ridership levels on Surrey RapidBus lines can be determined, transit planning can then proceed beyond services set out in the Provincial Transportation Plan. Metro Vancouver is currently updating 1996 LRSP and we suggest that a revised LRSP would include expansions listed in the Provincial Transportation Plan and reflect growing transit needs in the South of Fraser region. To proceed with rail rapid transit projects without either planning or demonstrated ridership demands along the selected routes would be premature and would also be a risky investment.

The 99 B-Line on Broadway has demonstrated levels necessary to sustain a rail-based rapid transit line on Broadway. Today, the 99 B-Line moves 60,000 passengers per day while the other local Broadway routes, such as the #9 trolley, moves 40,000 passengers per day. That’s already a total of 100,000 commuters moving throughout the Broadway corridor via transit. It’s certainly not a “ridership figure far, far in the future.” It is important to note that this ridership figure is for the people who are using transit on Broadway today, and not tomorrow. Furthermore, this figure doesn’t include the commuters using other buses that would otherwise use the 99 B-Line if not for the slow speed and packed conditions. Buses along Broadway, which leave about every minute, are already at capacity. More transit riders will take the 99 B-Line and #9 trolley when the Canada Line opens this year, and again in 2014 when the Evergreen Line opens. It is critical that the UBC Line be built as SkyTrain to accommodate a regional level of service for generations to come.

SkyTrain has also been demonstrated to be exceedingly popular with Metro Vancouver residents and many believe that it is much needed on Broadway, according to the “High Public Support for SkyTrain Extension to UBC” article by Frances Bula of the Vancouver Sun published on December 15, 2007. The survey, conducted by Former Mayor Sam Sullivan, showed that “most feel a tunnel system under Broadway is the best technology and route for thee UBC/Millennium Line.” Moreover, an older but more scientific survey conducted by Canadian Fact showed that “61% of residents in Greater Vancouver were ‘more likely’ to support the construction of SkyTrain rather than ground-level LRT.” Because of this, we feel confident that a SkyTrain Millennium Line extension towards UBC would be a popular alternative for commuting along the Broadway corridor, especially if it is a seamless connection between Coquitlam and Burnaby, to Broadway.

Adrian Leung
UBC SkyTrain Group

On behalf of the group, I would like to thank everyone for their support.  I would also like to acknowledge those who have helped us with this letter.  Thanks again!