I read in absolute amazement a letter full of invented and twisted facts by a Mr. Cruz, supporting SkyTrain [SkyTrain boosting profits, May 24 Letters, www.langleyadvance.com]. I shouldn't be surprised, as it is typical SkyTrain lobby bumf.
The letter was so full of hype and hoopla about SkyTrain that it is hard to know where to begin, except to point out that modern LRT made SkyTrain obsolete two decades ago, and no one buys SkyTrain anymore, due to its extremely high construction and operating costs.
Only seven SkyTrain type systems have been built, under three marketing names, Intermediate Capacity Transit System (ICTS), Advanced Light Rail Transit (ALRT), and now Advanced Rapid Transit (ART).
During the same period almost 150 new LRT systems have been built.
To claim that LRT has higher maintenance and operation costs has no foundation, and the opposite is true, SkyTrain costs much more to maintain and operate than LRT.
Instead of drivers, SkyTrain has attendants - more than 250 of them at last count.
The SkyTrain cars also cost more to maintain than modern LRV's. Again, no one buys SkyTrain anymore.
To compare SkyTrain with Portland's LRT shows Mr. Cruz's extreme bias. Portland's 84 km. MAX LRT with 85 stations, now carries more than 128,000 riders daily, less ridership than SkyTrain, due to the different demographics of the city, and not transit mode.
MAX's lower commercial speed of 34.1 km/h can be attributed to on-street (streetcar) operation through Portland's downtown, but on portions of line, speeds of 90 km/h are permissible.
The lower frequencies for MAX are for off-peak services, and if demand warrants, more trains can be operated, as in peak-hour service.
In Europe, LRT 30-second headways during peak hours are not uncommon.
It should be remembered that Portland's transit authorities rejected SkyTrain and opted to build with LRT because SkyTrain was too expensive to build and operate.
SkyTrain was designed to replace LRT, but was made obsolete by LRT due to LRT's inherent flexibility as it can operate as a simple streetcar, a light-metro like SkyTrain, and a passenger train, and combine all modes on one route.
Mr. Cruz should answer this one question: "After being on the market for over 33 years and during an era in unprecedented growth of urban transit systems, only seven SkyTrain type systems have been built: why?"
The answer is simple, and TransLink is now facing the consequences of building SkyTrain, as its huge cost of construction and much higher maintenance and operation costs are now beggaring the transit authority.
Malcolm Johnston, Rail for the Valley