Council Meeting re Broadway

Subway February 3 2015

At a meeting of Council which aired on channel 4 saturday 7th , most of the participants made several misleading statements. Staff made one which is arithmetically false, glaringly so; one which is impossibly optimistic, and one which leads to an erroneous conclusion.

Repeatedly I have advised City Council and Staff, Translink, the Mayors Council, and various media that the place to get numerically accurate facts is my website, On January 19, I handed a one-pager of major facts to councilor Meggs

Data on has been compiled over a few years by an individual who rides various crosstown bus routes several times a week.

It would be wonderful if the Provincial Government were to institute post-implementation audits on all major projects. Politically possible? Such audits of the golden ears, port mann, and evergreen line might find that ridership and travel time figures do not nearly approach the proponents’ estimates.

Golden Ears is a name Translink dreads hearing, a 6 lane bridge for 2 lanes on traffic. Evergreen will be every bit as bad. The BCLiberal election platform stated that Coquitlam to downtown via skytrain would be 15 minutes faster than driving. True. They ignored the fact that WCS is 15 minutes faster than skytrain, and infinitely more pleasant.

A post-implementation audit on Surrey light rail and arbutus subway would be even worse.

However the media would do a harsh post implementation critique of the broadway subway, with photographs of empty trains. The press who so unanimously supported it, and refused to give the public balanced information, would absolve themselves as they always do simply by not talking about their mis-informed applause. How often to the weather casters on tv mention yesterdays mis-calculations.

Trip Time Would be Halved

The false statement by Staff is that travel time would be halved. The fact is that except for people arriving on the millennium line, trip times would be increased for as many people as they would be decreased for.

Example: From kitsilano pool to City Hall for a public hearing. Buses 2 or 22 to broadway, then a 9, 14, or 99 to arbutus, subway to cambie. Trip time between 5 and 10 minutes longer than the current 99!

The Courier published an article with Councilor Meggs stating that end to end travel time commercial to pt grey would be 19.5 minutes. Surely Translink did not provide that information, they know better.

From commercial the subway stops are VCC, Emily Carr, Fraser, Main, Cambie, VGH, granville, arbutus, macdonald, alma, sasamat, allison road, and the campus. 13 legs, 2 minutes each = 26, +4 up and down equals 30 minutes curb to curb.

From burrard on the expo line, 13 legs is New Westminster. etc shows 27 minutes platform to platform, +4 up and down = 31 curb to curb.

Existing a.m. peak trip time on the 99 is 37 minutes! The schedule shows 39 in the p.m. peak, subject to traffic congestion.

Traffic Engineering department could cut 5 minutes merely by using tools in Staff‘s existing tool kit. The most dramatic results come from the simplest steps. Eliminate left turns from broadway, 7 to 7, at granville, cambie, and burrard. Introduce minimum 25 second wait for a pedestrian push-button light. Many are now 1 second at times. The pedestrian lights at cambie are 5 seconds, extend that along the line. VPD do not enforce pedestrian lights at all anywhere.

More minutes could be trimmed with a couple of innovative changes like recessed pedestrian crosswalks. Greenlighting has been tested by Translink on main street, it works, more time saved.

A recent bike-lane study ranked transit as the 11th most important use for city streets, ambulances only made 5th. If they were 2nd and 1st the buses would move much more easily. For the half-way subway the comparisons are worse. Higher percentage of shorter trips, up and down time, plus increased service interval (# 3 road Canada line is 6 minutes).

For anyone crossing arbutus, and the passengers on the 99 from east of commercial in peak times, the added time mushrooms.

500,000 Passups Annually

Arithmetically correct. Absolutely mis-leading.

In September 2013 I observed at Commercial and broadway for two hours.

Buses departed promptly on schedule, that being 3 minutes through the peak time. One additional bus was inserted, and one was sent empty to pick up the people waiting at clark, fraser and main.

From 7:45 to 8:15 there was a continuous lineup of people waiting. Being left behind by two buses was common. The maximum wait time was 8 minutes. At the peak there were 160 people waiting in line.

Translink sent 4 extra people. One was a driver getting some extra hours for the purpose of marshaling the people into 3 lines, which was unnecessary, the passengers knew the drill. One was a supervisor who was on the phone a lot, looked concerned, but didn’t seem to accomplish anything. The other two were transit police sent from the skytrain station, merely showing the flag, there was no incident.

If each of those people had brought a bus, the problem would have vanished. The schedule between 7:45 could have been 2 minutes instead of 3.

4 buses, 60 to 80 passengers each, 300 people. The longest backlog was 160. So there would have been room for 140 to board at fraser and at main. Since the expo line arrives accurately at 2 minute intervals, the load would have been well balanced.

The number of passups would have been near zero.

Given the simple solution, and the fact that Translink knew it because they sent 4 people, what conclusion can be reached?

Is Translink deliberately under servicing the 99 because it wants a subway?

Well! Is it?

And why does the City of Vancouver tout this very number in formal documents? The 2040 plan. Why could not someone from City Staff do what this one person did, go and see for themself.

And where are the media? A chorus of parrots doing no research whatever.

For facts and a fact based analysis, go to


Councilor Diel hit the nail right on the head without knowing it.

Lot of mis-information out there. Important to get actual factual information that people can trust. They read something in the news and don’t know whether to believe it”.

She doesn’t realize that the mis-formation is all the propaganda in favour, most of which is merely opinions based on someone else’s opinion.

The mis-information originates with Translink. It is echoed by KPMG, Urban Land institute, Mayors of Vancouver and Surrey, Planning at UBC. Except for West Van and Burnaby, the Mayors at the Council meeting believe it too.

And the media are flocking like sheep to interview the proponents.

Again I say. For FACTS and fact based analysis see

A REFERendum (plebiscite) means to refer the matter to the voters.

City of Vancouver is providing a dis-service to the voters by not granting them the opportunity to hear other voices.

Ideally the City would post links on to other sites, notably and Canadian federation of independent business.

Roberts Rules of Order, let all sides be heard.

Employment on the Corridor

Councilor Louie

It’s about what we currently have in congestion”,

See above to reduce congestion by traffic management. Putting the 99 underground eliminates 2 buses every 3 minutes, nothing else.

Then why has Council approved tens of thousands of residential parking places right along the Canada Line? More parking, more cars, more congestion.

Why it’s important .. central broadway is the 2nd largest employment area in the area.”.

But 85% of the people coming to central broadway are traveling north south, not east west. Bus routes 8, 3, 15, 17, 10, and14 cross central broadway. Add the Canada line which even now carries twice the passengers the 99 does.

Each station now has employment and jobs on the scale of metrotown.”

Metrotown has a massive mall and 2 office towers. Fraser, main, and arbutus stations combined don’t come close to metrotown. Granville is store front commercial. That basically leaves VGH.

West of Arbutus

Mayor Robertson. The Jericho Lands

For anyone from broadway and alma, this development, trip time would be increased by up down time, longer service interval, and an inter-modal transfer at arbutus. This could ADD as much as 9 minutes.

Staff “Last significant blocks of land in the city”.

Yes. Previous governments: federal, provincial civic; had the foresight to preserve blocks of land, like the hospital grounds and some on the edge of Queen Elizabeth park. Current governments are grabbing the cash by selling off everything for housing which has no need for more than half a city block. Selling assets and taking the proceeds into current revenue, only in fund accounting.

Staff. Potential for the line to be extended beyond to UBC

UBC runs full tilt 120 days a year, 1 out of 3, which is itself a disgraceful waste of money. For 180 days a year the existing crosstown buses west of macdonald run empty. So would a subway.


Staff People will be able to stay on the train and use the Canada line to go downtown. Mayor Robertson.

For any trip from oak west, there is a direct bus to downtown. Typical trip time 15 minutes. Taking 2 subways takes much longer. From main and broadway, the 3,8, and 19 are at science world expo line in a few minutes.

The Boutique Line (also known as the Canada Line) tops out at 6,500 hourly. Because of all the underground stations it cannot be expanded beyond that. The broadway to yaletown section is jammed now. Current 3 minute intervals could be reduced to 2, a 50% increase from current level of 67% of line capacity. Which is why the arbutus busway will soon be needed

Mayor Robertson Funding model 1/3 1/3 1/3.

At the Mayors meeting in Toronto, 17 Mayors representing maybe 80% of Canadians, all wanted infrastructure. So all the Cities get money and all federal taxpayers pay the taxes for it. Where is the advantage in transferring the spending from municipal budgets where we can see it, to a federal political slush fund?

We’re voting on building ½ a subway now, the other ½ later; paying an equal amount through our federal and provincial taxes, which works out to 6 time the money in this plebiscite for the subway.

Federal grants are allocated by riding. If we get money for transit, we won’t get it for water and sewer systems.

B.C.’s Premier recently had a forced move out of the Region. She stated that regional transit, unlike BC Transit in Kelowna and Victoria, can only get additional capital from taxes on the Region. That is how this increase in provincial sales tax for us only occurred.

There will be no matching funds from Victoria so long as the MLA for Kelowna is the Premier. Full funding for a 4 lane highway from Revelstoke to Lake Louise yes, and buses in Kelowna, but not for rail transit here.

Someone Farebox is now $0.5B. Hope to increase to $1.B.

Automobile addiction. 90+% of Vancouverites live within 3 blocks of an arterial bus route, and 4 of a crosstown route, most of which have 15 minute interval service until 11:30 p.m. Still there are 300,000 cars in the City, and the number increases.

A person cannot buy a condo at a Canada line station without buying a parking place. In Surrey new condos must have 1.3 parking places for each 1 br suite.

The levy on all parking places in the region was replaced by a % charge on parking. So everywhere except in Vancouver parking is free. In Delta it is free by bylaw, no one can charge for parking.

Staff Downtown has overcrowded buses

I ride the buses from downtown regularly, sometimes in the p.m. peak. If one is too crowded another will arrive soon. For the cornwall corridor the interval is 2 ¼ minutes at peak times. Many busy routes only 5 minutes. Outside of peak, overloads only occur for special events and Fri, Sat evenings.

Line Constraints.

Proponents of a broadway subway assume that the expo line and Canada lines can carry the hypothetical increase in passengers. Looks good on a map, but the numbers aren’t there. 50% increase on 2,600 is 1,300. But the expo line east of commercial drive is saturated, it’s pretty much at line capacity. And if downtown employment increases, the line will be needed for that. Translink is proposing 99 like service on 41st and 49th, specifically to divert crosstown traffic from the expo line. That’s the way to go.


City Council faces a dilemma. It has continuously, formally, vociferously, promoted a subway which; if it happens, and if it is subjected to a post-implementation audit, possibly when the other party is government; will be shown to have been at best a waste of a billion or three.

Fortunately some saner head changed the wording to plebiscite, which is not binding.

We need more money for transit. Although since a monthly pass is 1/8th the cost of owning a car, fare increase is very reasonable.

WCS, $80M per train. Seabuses, $25M each. $200M for 400 buses.

Something so that Translink can sweep dirt out from under the rug.

Stop land sales. Oakridge will be needed as the Vancouver transit depot. Marpole is barely above river level now.

The above are pennies compared to this tax.

10 more Canada line trains (the line limit) let’s guess $200M.

Increased passengers means increased service hours ergo increased costs in excess of increased revenue.

On balance, people would vote for the above package.

What might kill it, what should kill it, is the billions for rail projects.

The Solution

The Vice President of Planning for Translink is quoted in the Sun as saying that if the plebiscite passes, they will conduct a business case for the subway, and presumably the light rail. Don’t Staff do that before going for the money? Maybe he realizes the weakness of the arguments for them, I’ve certainly explained the situation to him often enough.

City of Vancouver can lead the parade stating that a truly independent body would conduct these studies. Not some consultant like KPMG who have lunch with the client, listen to their ideas, go away and write them up in a report, glossy them up a bit more, then bill the client for the report. Urban Land Institute membership are 50% people whose paycheque is dependent on major construction. Nobody in the region could be independent in mind.

A truly independent firm would conclude that that neither project is any good. The data which I have compiled are the only truth, and no other conclusion is possible if the study is not subject to prior conclusion. As for spending more on these two projects than the cost to double the bus fleet in the entire region, plus a couple of seabuses and some west coast, no contest.

Sea Level Rise

Please see the details on my Sea Level Rise page on

The simple fact is that all population and employment growth should be in “South Fraser” from North Delta to YXX. Therefore there will NEVER be any need for a broadway subway. Think the next century. Paris metro, Chicago L, and New York subway are over a century old.

Frank Jameson

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