Monday, September 1, 2008

How LRT was Sabotaged in Favor of SkyTRain

A much more complete story on SkyTrain vs. LRT has become available through one man's Freedom of Information pursuits.

This is a lengthy document, but it is real and it is very much worth your reading.


Light Rail Guy said...

Ah, the Greer Report, I guess someone dug it out of a mouldy file. All the major media got it and sat on it!

What's more interesting, the CBC did a lengthy documentary on how Vancouver, or should I say, how the Social Credit Party forced SkyTrain on the region.

Yours truly and the late Dez Turner were amply interviewed.

In short, a desperate to-be-reelected Bill Bennett purchased the unsellable ICTS transit system from the UTDC (then owned by the province of Ontario) and the then famous 'Blue Machine'. Bill Davis, then Conservative premier of Ontario was just as desperate to sell a (now renamed ALRT) as it was a piece of junk and included the 'Blue Machine' as a deal sweetener.

We got SkyTrain (ICTS; renamed ALRT [2 versions]; renamed ALM; and now again renamed ART transit system) and provincially owned UTDC got a sale so they could actually put the entire UTDC up for sale as a successful company.

Lavalin later bought the UTDC and went bankrupt trying to build SkyTrain in Bangkok and Bombardier picked up the SkyTrain ashes.

Bangkok has a elevated metro system - locally called SkyTrain - but it is just an elevated metro system built by Siemens and no relation to our ALRT/ALM SkyTrain system. It seems most cities with an elevated metro system call it SkyTrain or Air-Train.

Prime Minister Mulroney, then in a reelection bid personally had the CBC SkyTrain story killed because it was a time-bomb for Conservatives everywhere. I do know some of the content and it was/is very explosive. It involved secret deals, kickbacks and lots of unsavoury business practises.

So somewhere in CBC's long forgotten vaults is a very dusty story how Vancouver was forced to build SkyTrain.

Light Rail Guy said...

I forgot to mention that the 1983 Toronto Transit Commission Accelerated Rapid Transit Study (ARTS) found that ICTS (yet to be renamed ALRT) cost up to 10 times more to install than LRT for about the same capacity. ICTS cost more to build than a heavy-rail metro, which had three times the capacity than ICTS.

That and the later Gerald Fox study, 'A Comparison of Automated Guided Transit Systems and LRT Systems' sealed the fate of SkyTrain (ICTS; ALRT; ALM; ART) around the world. To date, all SkyTrain's type systems sold have been either forced upon the operator (Toronto - Scarborough Line, Vancouver); never been allowed to compete against LRT (Kuala Lumpor, Detroit - the little known 'Mugger Mover') or sold in a private deal, all involving airport terminal operators, with Canadian government financing (JFK AirTrain, 1 airport line in Korea, and 1 airport line in China)

Such is the sad sorry history of SkyTrain.

Since 1980 over 100 new LRT systems have been built (many expanding) and now, over 150 new LRT lines are under construction, approved, and/or in the later stages of planning.

There are now over 600 transit systems in the light rail family operating around the world.

These numbers speak for themselves. For reference, please go to the LRTA's web site at

Anonymous said...

Tonights Newshour on Global BCTV, Sept 03 1800h, has an item looking at transit to Chilliwack using existing rail lines.