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This Just In: Another System Failure

July 29, 2014

A crash has closed the Lions Gate Bridge and Causeway in both directions.

11:30 am:



Thousands impacted, unknown delays, few options.  Perhaps even a loss of life.

Will those impacted now be voicing their frustration and anger on social media?  Will there be a call for a review, given the repeated incidents on this critical piece of our transportation system?  A demand that salaries and bonuses of senior executives be cut until there are no more instances of such failures?  A condemnation of the incompetence of the Ministry of Transportation?

No, of course not.  This was an accident, likely caused by an individual.  What can you do?  Maybe spend more, as we did before, to widen lanes.  Or perhaps build a new bridge or tunnel as an option.

But in the end, it won’t matter.  This kind of system failure – minimized where possible, but inevitable – is the price we pay for the freedom of the road.

It is also an incredible double standard.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Ken Ohrn permalink*
    July 29, 2014 1:16 pm

    Can I be the $1200 per day consultant brought in to investigate? What? Oh. There won’t be any investigation?

  2. Guest permalink
    July 29, 2014 3:25 pm

    Are you saying that drivers are more tolerant?

  3. July 29, 2014 4:35 pm

    What double standard ? LionsGate ought to be 6 lanes, not 3, plus a train underneath or in the middle of it. And yes, a crossing ought to be $20 in rush hour, and perhaps $5 off hour.

    • Ron S permalink
      July 29, 2014 5:24 pm

      Why on earth would you add more lanes, they just add to congestion and/or makes it easier for people to drive. Its like you haven’t learned anything from the content on this blog.

    • Sean Nelson permalink
      July 30, 2014 11:27 am

      If you charged $5 to $20 per crossing, you wouldn’t need the extra lanes. That’s the whole point of road pricing.

      • July 30, 2014 11:52 am

        Perhaps .. perhaps not .. as W-Van and N-Van and Vancouver grows it needs additional infrastructure .. but yes perhaps not Lionsgate but perhaps Hwy 1 or Granville or Hwy 99 south ..

  4. Thomas Beyer permalink
    July 29, 2014 7:44 pm

    I would charge for it. People like their cars. Not everyone, especially in N-Van and W-Van, likes public transit. The answer is BOTH, but not for the ridiculous free system we have today for publicly funded roads. How about: $20 fast lane and $5 slow lane, you can then chose how important your time is ?

    To reduce congestion one has tp charge for use. Economics 101. This is one of the blog topics and sound urban planning, not just vote buying like today with freebies.

    • octavio permalink
      July 30, 2014 6:23 am

      What happens when you pay $20 for the fast lane and it’s congested? Refund? Discount? Nothing?

      • Thomas Beyer permalink
        July 30, 2014 8:14 am

        You increase the price until it is not congested. Several US and international highways do that now. With GPS it could even be done minute by minute although most do it not that often.

      • July 30, 2014 11:50 am

        To a degree the system is self-adjusting .. if folks realize that they save only 2 minutes and not 20 for an extra $15 then they will not use that lane .. it is an example only. The issue of “free roads for all at all times” is coming to a gradual end .. much like free quality public education and free healthcare ..

  5. July 29, 2014 9:11 pm

    A former premeir famously, and rightly said, that a skytrain line replaces a 10 lanes freeway:

    To measure the consequence of the Monday skytrain meltdown, one has to imagine the consequence of the closure of ~45km of a 10 lanes freeway for 5 hour in the middle of the day (for reasons such as the “MOT has decided to repace the lamppost light bulb”).

    furthermore, one has to imagine that it means also the closure of at least half the regional freeway capacity.

    The closure of the Lion’s gate for little more than 45mn around noon, has impacted not much more than 3000 people (most of them able to make alternative plan)…

    The monday morning switch issue affecting the skytrain between Broadway and Waterfront has lasted enough to impact ~30,000 riders

    45 mn delay for a Transit rider is not that infrequent due to skytrain issue, be for the pudical “medical emergency” or other troubles.

    People seems to cope pretty well with the above, and are not calling to fire executives, or have independent enquiry (thought they should…virtually noone build subway without platform door nowadays! …A reason, is that in other part of the world, a 95% reliability for an automated subway could be considered as a pretty lame achievement in fact,…especially when the 5% of trains not on time, quickly means delay measured in hours).

    45mn delay also quickly happens if a bus break down occurs on a low frequency route:

    So far noone has called such event a system failure…

    So, as Thomas says, What double standard?

  6. Bob permalink
    July 30, 2014 12:37 am

    We can all thank the NDP for copping out and not building a modern replacement for the Lions Gate, Preferably a tunnel that would have connected the North Shore directly with downtown and not Stanley Park.

  7. bar foo permalink
    July 30, 2014 7:35 am

    Any reasonable person can see the difference between a failure because of an accident or a breakdown, and a failure because of terrible design and planning. The first Translink failure was just one of those things; the second was because of poor engineering and management, and deserves all the condemnation it gets.

    Trying to find a parallel between an accident on a bridge and a fundamental system/operational design flaw is disingenuous to say the least.

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