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UPGRADING OUR

SURFACE TRANSIT
The case for trackless train technology in Metro Vancouver
By Daryl Dela Cruz blog.daryldelacruz.com
How do we improve our surface corridors?
We have one of the most heavily used public transit networks in North
America, both on rapid transit and on surface bus routes.
Typically, surface route improvements involve introducing B-Line bus
services & transit priority, but this can only go so far (see: 99 B-Line)
Recently, light rail has been considered as a solution. However, LRT is very
costly, and there can be many practical limitations to its implementation.
We need a versatile, low-cost solution that can supersede both traditional
B-Line buses and light rail lines, achieving the goal of offering a higher
quality transit service on our surface corridors but avoiding disadvantages.
TRACKLESS TRAINS
TRAINS THAT CAN RUN ON EXCLUSIVE,
DEDICATED LANES BUT DONT REQUIRE TRACKS
TRACKLESS TRAIN TECHNOLOGY
Zhuzhou, China Brisbane, Australia
Autonomous rail rapid transit Brisbane Metro

Demonstration project by CRRC Corp, the largest rail Two-line metro using trackless train tech, integrated
rolling stock manufacturer in the world. w/extensive BRT network. Now under construction.
Components of trackless train technology

BI-ARTICULATED BUSES

Typically 33% longer than standard 60 ft articulated buses, can be even longer
Increase capacity to between 250-300 passengers per vehicle
Typically utilizes clean propulsion tech (i.e. CNG, battery-electric)
Used in cities in Europe, S America, China. Potential use in Canada on York Region VIVA.
Components of trackless train technology

VEHICLE GUIDANCE TECHNOLOGY

Above: Magnetic guidance sensors automatically steer buses, keeping


them within these very narrow busways in Eugene, Oregon
Right: Painted lines guide these buses on a system in France

Magnetic sensors or painted virtual train tracks keep vehicles on path


Allows for perfect, level docking when at stations
Enables safe coupling and maneuvering of vehicles, creating road trains
Components of trackless train technology

LEVEL PLATFORMS & SCREEN DOORS

The most advanced trackless train systems generally feature level boarding just
like their tracked counterparts. No ramps, roll onto the vehicle.
Conventional buses can have it. Kelownas 97X rapid bus route has level boarding!
Screen doors can allow for totally enclosed platform areas, protected by gates.
ADVANTAGES OF TRACKLESS TRAIN TECH
Higher capacity than conventional BRT
Lower infrastructure costs compared to LRT (no tracks, no utility relocation)
Possibility of phasing in supporting infrastructure (i.e. dedicated transitways)
High quality ride experience (smooth, spacious vehicles)
Lower costs to build out, faster to set up
Avoids reliability shortfalls of LRT/streetcar (no blocked tracks, etc)

It feels the possible perfect hybrid between bus


rapid transit and light rail transit
Edmonton Coun. Andrew Knack, describing Chinese trackless trains
Track construction and utility
relocation will disrupt streets
APPLICATION I
ARBUTUS CORRIDOR
No direct Arbutus to downtown route

Logistic issues w/streetcar tracks on


Granville St in downtown No direct to downtown route in City of
Vancouver proposals
Depot/maintenance yard requirement
may incur high costs on prime land
Tracks on Granville St would be blocked
off during special events (i.e. Halloween)
Canada Line still required for fast
Shared traffic streetcar
alignments may be
access downtown & must renegotiate Fri/Sat night closures,
prone to blockages likely necessitating expensive 2nd set of
tracks on Howe and Seymour
Limited potential to serve as relief line for
Limited potential to serve as Canada
Canada Line (E-W bus riders will continue
Line reliever to connect to N-S Canada Line)
Streetcars will require dedicated
ops/maint. centre on route, likely with
high costs due to taking up prime land
No connection to Richmond
or Marine Dr Station
Connection at Waterfront to SeaBus or
future N. Vancouver SkyTrain

No track construction in downtown means


APPLICATION I
done in 10 years, not 20-30 years
ARBUTUS CORRIDOR

Routes to both Granville St and


Suggestion: build as trackless
Main StScience World
train instead of streetcar
Downtown route offers higher time savings,
significantly improving potential to serve as a
Could possibly utilize Arbutus St here
rather than follow curving rail route Canada Line reliever
Downtown route can easily reroute from
Granville to Howe/Seymour on event days
No track construction or utility relocation on
busy downtown streets; lower costs, faster
Could utilize existing Vancouver Transit
Centre or proposed Silverdale Transit Centre
construction done in 10 yrs instead of 20-30
Extension along
Marpole-New West More route possibilities (i.e. English Bay to
line or Marine Drive
VCC-Clark, extension to New West)
Could potentially connect to Richmond
Disruption of Hawthorne Park + school

No connection to Hwy 1
routes at 156th St
APPLICATION II
104 Ave reduced to 2 lanes
SURREY-NEWTON-GUILDFORD
At-grade through busy city centre
Current LRT plan has limited extent, limited
travel time savings against existing transit
routes (incl. 96 B-Line).
Passes through accident-prone intersections
Poor business case in SRTAA (BCR 0.69:1)
Covers existing B-Line route only Extensive construction impact & disruption of
community (Hawthorne Park)
High cost to subsidize operations
No opportunity for trams to detour around
No direct connection to South
Surrey/White Rock blockages in track, could pose reliability issue
No direct connection to areas in South
Surrey, White Rock

High cost to subsidize operations Major access impacts during construction

Low contribution to transit modal shift Poor business case BCR (0.69:1)
APPLICATION II
SURREY-NEWTON-GUILDFORD
Suggestion: convert to BRT
project with future upgrade to
Integration w/ Fraser
Valley commuter services
trackless train system
Infrastructure is built gradually: King George
busway first, then 104 Ave as redevelopment
allows. Less community impacts (i.e. road
closures during constr., Hawthorne Park)
Buses can connect more places: example
Longer routes routes could connect Surrey City Ctr to White
More possibilities
Rock Beach, Coquitlam Ctr, Fraser Valley
Lower costs to build, cost savings can be
reinvested into Surrey-Langley SkyTrain
NUMEROUS POSSIBILITIES IN OUR REGION
Where could we build
To Capilano Uni trackless trains

Downtown along Hastings


streetcar routes

Willingdon
Surrey to Maple Ridge
41st / Pitt Meadows
Surrey to
Coquitlam
Arbutus

Marpole
to 22nd St

Surrey-Newton-
Guildford corridor

Steveston Fraser Valley


to Scottsdale to South Surrey
and White Rock
Hwy 99