We Want 6!
We Want 6! This campaign, launched and organized by the Surrey-based SkyTrain for Surrey Initiative (a local advocacy group committed to overseeing that competitive rapid transit exists in the City of Surrey today and in the future), seeks supporters from all communities of Metro Vancouver for the purpose of overturning planned off-peak and weekend service cuts on the Metro Vancouver SkyTrain system, which will reduce frequencies from 6 to 8 minutes on the Millennium Line and Expo Line in Surrey and reducing capacity system-wide by 25%. Please inform yourself – you can read more on the campaign and its reasons for existing below.
2013 Base Plan – Weekend frequency reduction proposal
2012 Provincial Audit – Weekend/weekday off-peak frequency reduction recommendation
Why oppose this?
In the wake of growing transit ridership and growing transit need, a frequency reduction in the service that serves as the backbone of the entire Metro Vancouver transit system would be an irresponsible choice given the minimal savings and potentially large impact on ridership, ride quality and servicing ability.
Waits between trains on the SkyTrain Expo Line in Surrey and Millennium Line will increase from 6 to 8 during the off-peak day periods and from 8 to 10 during the late night. This is a big difference that will impact riders’ abilities to catch connecting buses at SkyTrain stations - particularly in the late night hours – and get to their appointments on time.
With the savings so small (as low as 0.5% of the total annual savings proposed in a plan), why bother with such an impacting reduction of service?
TransLink should recognize the operational cost advantage of the SkyTrain and its technologies and commit to the SkyTrain off-peak frequencies that have been in place since 2002. Failing to do so may result in severe system-wide consequences in terms of transit ridership, mode-share and acceptability. This could also result in region-wide business consequences with the potential of weaker business along SkyTrain during off-peak hours. The consequences may effectively offset the savings.
- The current off-peak and weekend frequencies have been in place since 2002. This could be the first time since then that SkyTrain’s level of service will reduce.
- The original proposal to reduce SkyTrain weekend frequency in the 2013 TransLink base plan would have generated a savings of just $470,000 annually, in a plan that involves $91 million in annual savings. Percentage of total savings: 0.5%
- The provincial review proposes that frequency reductions also be taken in the off-peak hours on weekdays. This would save some $1.1 million annually in addition, totalling just a $1.57 million annual savings in a plan that would combine the base plan savings and audit savings to save $139 million annually. Percentage of total savings: 1.1%
- SkyTrain’s technology combinations (automatic train control, linear induction motor) allow for low operating costs. At $74 per service hour, SkyTrain is one of Metro Vancouver’s least expensive transit services to operate. The Expo and Millennium Lines cost $82 million to operate, maintain and administrate annually in 2011. With inflation to 2012 dollars taken into account, this means that the proposed weekend service cuts would save just 0.6% of the annual SkyTrain cost while the full round of off-peak service cuts would save just 1.9% of the annual SkyTrain cost.
- The operations and maintenance cost of SkyTrain rise yearly at below the cost of inflation if no service level increases are committed.
- The minimal cost savings could be offset by a ridership decrease as a result of the less attractive service.
- Passengers connecting to less frequent suburban busses may experience difficulty planning and meeting their transfers, leaving them with much longer waits at bus stops.
- Businesses who depend on customers and patrons arriving by SkyTrain may lose money
- Surrey customers will be restrained from a more competitive and affordable alternate transit option across the river in the wake of the opening of the tolled Port Mann Bridge this December
- More crowded trains in addition to longer waits – less comfortable riding
- The goal: TransLink commits to no SkyTrain service cuts
- TransLink can opt to recoup the minimal savings through other means (the frequency reductions in the 2013 base plan make up less than 1% of the total proposed savings)
- An agreement is reached between TransLink and the municipality or the province for the allowance of funding to keep the SkyTrain system’s off-peak frequencies at bay (Could the province fund the shortfall on the Expo/Millennium lines? $20 million of the Canada Line’s annual operations costs are contributions from the province [see page 74 of this document])
- Sign our petition opposing this now!
- Share this campaign page – use the buttons below to share this page on Facebook, Twitter, your local library and with your friends in any other way possible - spread the word!
- Contact your local newspapers! You can write to your local newspaper’s “letters” or “opinions” section to help spread the word with your opinions! Local newspapers have “letters” and “opinions” sections where letters from various people who choose to send may do so, with a chance of the article being featured on the paper and online on the website.
We are looking for comments, and we are looking for partnerships from other Initiatives for this campaign. We encourage you to send in your comments or state your support should you have any!
“Reducing the frequency of mid-day skytrain is silly. That’s when I do most of my riding and the trains are usually at least 3/4 full. Reducing the number of trains is going to make it feel like rush hour all day long.”
-Sheba on The Buzzer blog
Reduced skytrain frequencies would result in people missing bus transfers and waiting even longer. Especially in areas with already poor service such as Surrey.
- Scott on The Buzzer blog
The SkyTrain is an important service that many people use. By decreasing its efficiency less people will be inclined to use it, creating a loss for both parties. This is a pointless change to make and should be reconsidered.
- Rohit Roth
The value of the time lost to delay and congestion because of increased wait times on SkyTrain should be priced at the same value as that used to justify the construction of the Port Mann Bridge and widening Highway 1. Why would we deliberately induce cost and inefficiency when it comes to transit, but argue the same delay is intolerable on the road?
- Gordon Price, former NPA Councillor and Director – SFU CITY program
Want to have your testimonial added? Please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you sign our petition, you may also make a public comment which is displayed alongside it.
This campaign in the media
SkyTrain frequency should not be cut to save money for cash-strapped TransLink.
That’s the message a group of transit users are sending as they try to overturn planned service reductions.
“It’s going to feel like rush hour all day long,” predicts SkyTrain For Surrey organizer Daryl Dela Cruz. “We have to question whether this is defensible at all.”
Given growing transit demand in Metro Vancouver, he said it would be “irresponsible” to cut frequency on the backbone of the transit system, deterring riders from using it.
He said it could also make it harder for passengers to connect from SkyTrain to infrequent suburban buses, possibly leaving them with much longer waits at those bus stops if they miss a bus. Dela Cruz said it makes even less sense since the SkyTrain cuts deliver only 0.5 per cent of the savings laid out in TransLink’s plan.
Less frequent SkyTrain service during off-peak hours is bad for businesses, bad for riders and bad for TransLink, according to a Surrey organization.
“It’s something that risks discouraging the riders,” said Daryl Dela Cruz, an analyst with the SkyTrain for Surrey Initiative. “It hasn’t exactly been studied in detail.”
Dela Cruz said it may be difficult for riders — particularly those travelling to Surrey — to connect with infrequent buses if the trains are not running as often. Waiting out in the cold for a train or dealing with larger crowds may keep people from riding SkyTrain, he added.
Dela Cruz said his group, which focuses primarily on rapid transit in Surrey, is excited to see what will happen in the coming days and weeks.
“Let’s see if this can make an impact,” he said.
Jennifer Saltman – The Province – 24th October 2012