Comment 47213

By Kiely (registered) | Posted September 04, 2010 at 17:07:06

Why would you do that? Increasing ridership (to double the current level) is a principal city objective, and increased tax assessments due to new investment and rising property values adjacent to the LRT corridor are real revenues that need to be taken into account.

By the way, every study I've seen shows that the lifecycle cost per passenger of LRT vehicles is significantly lower than the lifecycle cost per passenger of buses. - Ryan

Because the numbers will be skewed and speculative.

If what we want to know is "Is it worth it", that will depend on what you're buying. I'm sure there are LRT systems which could be more expensive than buses over their lifetime. But if you can't even tell me what is being bought how can you tell me which is cheaper and whether it is worth it?

Corporations buy large fleets of expensive equipment by comparing real cost (maintenance, warranty, operational) of the competing makes and models of equipment they intend to buy. If you want to know what is cheaper and what will give you the most ROI, tender the contract to both BRT and LRT... if done right the proof will be in those numbers, not generalities about the type of systems themselves. Those numbers tend to just serve advocates of one side or the other.

I happen to support LRT, if the right equipment is purchased and the system is built properly the lifecycle cost should be lower than BRT. But the numbers being thrown around by the advocates of all sides are at best incomplete and at worst simply BS because they do not mention what is being purchased. Without that information we cannot accurately predict what the actual running cost of the system will be. Sorry, but that is the truth.

For example:

If you just talk to sales guy A and B for their sales numbers (which often include price per hour of operation numbers, etc…). Their respective equipment will always be the best economic choice.

If you dig a little further and start looking at the real maintenance requirements (i.e., routine maintenance intervals, time to overhaul of major components, etc…) you may find the overhaul interval of a major component on equipment B is half equipment A and that skews the numbers in favour equipment A. For example just the difference between a 250 hour or 500 hour oil change interval can be hundreds of thousands of dollars of cost per piece of equipment over its lifetime. When you're talking 10s or 100s of pieces of equipment this gets into the millions pretty quick… just for engine oil.

If you dig even further though and ask current users of the equipment you may find equipment A has unscheduled maintenance problems that even with the increased planned maintenance requirements of equipment B the unscheduled maintenance skews the number back in favour of equipment B.

What are you buying? What are the service and maintenance requirements? What are the unplanned maintenance issues? How much manpower is required to perform the maintenance procedures (e.g., I have worked on equipment where two guys could pull an engine in an hour, I've worked on others that takes 4 guys a whole day). This is the level of analysis that needs to be done, not just some intellectual's reports on the pros and cons of LRT and BRT. In the end you need the guys with grease under their nails to help tell you which one is the better choice… until I hear from one of those guys (not some prof from Mac, or member of the Metrolinx board, etc…), I will continue to view the numbers presented with much suspicion.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-09-04 16:09:01

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