Expo Line

Joyce Station East Stationhouse

There’s been a flurry of transit related news this past week. Most of it about funding transit from the local Metro level and the BC provincial level. I haven’t had time to sift through the numbers, let alone blog!

joyce_stn_rendering

So let me work on something that’s a bit more tangible and easier for me to blog quickly about. My local SkyTrain station is under reconstruction. The whole east stationhouse is being rebuilt.

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New SkyTrains, New Colours

New SkyTrain cars (from Paul Hillsdon's flickr photostream)

New SkyTrain cars (from Paul Hillsdon's flickr photostream and the Buzzer blog)

It looks like the new trains are about ready to hit the tracks.  After the winter we had and the five trains that passed before I could even start my commute, I say hallelujah!

The numbers are now into the 300s.  The one pictured above is car #306 and we have the new livery/colour scheme.  It looks to be the exact same scheme as the new trolley buses.  There’s the dark gun metal gray on top and the dark blue on the bottom.  A trim of yellow/gold separates the two tones.  It seems to be the new standard for TransLink vehicles.

I personally like the new colour scheme.  I know Stephen Rees has already said that the scheme is akin to Darth Vader.  I like the gun metal gray in particular.  But that’s a personal preference.  It will probably look less dirty than the white livery.  White just has a tendency to get grey and yellow in the rain and dirt splattered all over the place.  However, given our grey weather, the bus may blend into the environment too well.  That’s why police cars are mostly white.  White is bright and highly visible even in the dark.  In any case, I’ll give my thumbs-up to the new colours.

Apart from the colour, the more important thing is that there are more of these cars.  The Expo Line is really overcrowded during the morning commute.  But once the 4-car Mark II trains come along, it can clear the backlog and you even have a hope of finding a seat!  Too bad the Canada Line station platforms are too short to ever accommodate a train as long as 4 Mark II SkyTrain cars.  Let’s hope the wider width of the Canada Line trains will help.  We’ll have to see if it makes a difference or not.

For a closer look, here’s a YouTube video posted by The Buzzer blog.

Reallocating train routes if Evergreen Line runs

Surrey Leader: SkyTrain route rejig possible

Transit Network 2014 by Paul Hillsdon

Transit Network 2014 by Paul Hillsdon

There are some interesting re-routing of the line assignments if the Evergreen Line ever gets off the ground and running.  It looks like the original plan that was done many, many years ago when the Millennium Line was first planned and the Port Moody-Coquitlam (PMC) Line was supposed to follow closely.

Trains running from Coquitlam Centre would likely have more passengers than trains from Columbia, Sapperton, and Braid.  It seems to make sense to me.  So they should have the more direct route.  However, that little portion between Lougheed and Columbia is going to seem like a waste of money if it only plays the minor role of a connector shuttle.

Perhaps some of the Coquitlam trains could run from Coquitlam Centre to Columbia.  Of course, that all depends on how they end up configuring the tracks at Lougheed Town Centre.  The station is already pre-built the ability to accommodate a third track on the north side of the station (see photos at Just a Gwai Lo)

It’s nice to dream and all, but we will not have an Evergreen Line if there is no money to run our buses.  So until we see the shovel hit the ground, don’t hold your breath.

Evergreen Line Under MoTrans

Vancouver Sun

It looks like Kevin Falcon is having nothing to do with local debate and decisions about the next major transit line scheduled for Metro Vancouver.  The BC Ministry of Transportation is taking over the reigns of the Evergreen Line project.  The Evergreen Line is a new transit line to run from Coquitlam Town Centre via Port Moody to connect to the Millennium Line at Lougheed Mall. The article says that the Evergreen Line is now scheduled to start service in 2014.

This line is not a new concept.  In fact, it was originally supposed to part 2 of the original Millennium Line construction.  At the time, it was called the Port Moody-Coquitlam (PMC) line.  Well, almost 6 years after the Millennium Line started service, the Evergreen Line has been delayed time and time again.  At one time, construction was supposed to be concurrent with Canada Line construction.  However, the Canada Line is such a money-hog that there wasn’t much money left to do another rapid transit line and expand bus service in Metro.

Also, before the Ministry of Transportation released their huge “$14 billion transit plan,” the Evergreen Line had gone through a two years of public consultation where they had settled on Light Rail Transit (LRT) at ground level with elevated portions.  LRT may be slower in some respects, especially if there are no transit priority measures, but it is a heck of a lot cheaper than SkyTrain.

Now that Falcon has decided on SkyTrain as the technology of choice, we will have a very quick transit alternative to the Tri-Cities, but at a pretty high cost.  Also, in order for the line to be SkyTrain compatible, meaning that the Evergreen trains will like be able to run on the Millennium line, then we can only turn to Bombardier.  So don’t expect a huge amount of bidding to lower costs, for the trains, at least.

The article also discusses future rapid transit projects like the expansion of Expo Line stations and the an Expo Line extension to Guildford.  Personally, I’m not sure that will be money well spent at this point.  Sounds great and all to my megalomaniac transit side, but maybe we could serve Surrey better with LRT or Bus Rapid Transit before we start talking about SkyTrain to Guildford.  Bus Rapid Transit, like the B-Lines, are good at creating the initial demand as in the case of the 99 B-Line along Broadway and the 98 B-Line along Granville and No. 3 Road.

There’s also mention of the UBC extension of the Millennium Line.  I envision NIMBY galore as rapid transit starts to encroach on the West Side of Vancouver.  In terms of existing ridership, the UBC extension would have a very firm foundation to start with.  Visitors to Vancouver always tell me how surprised they are when they find out that there is no rapid transit out to the university.  However, putting stations in the West Side and the perception of crime that comes with it, will draw out the “creme de la creme” folks in organized protest.

As a final point from the article, there’s this paragraph:

There are reports, too, that TransLink is facing a substantial operating squeeze over the next few years, as growth in demand and new services outstrips the available revenue stream by hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Not my table,” Falcon is inclined to say, amid reminders that TransLink is now responsible for its own balance sheet.

But each time he intervenes on something like the Evergreen line, he invites calls for further intervention and more provincial dollars down the line.

It feels like I’m listening to Lady MacBeth wash her hands of blood and responsibility.