At this point Martin Crilly’s report on Translink’s 10-year plan is ancient history in blog years, but I’ve been talking about Translink’s lack of capacity on Broadway and I think that, more than anything else, has coloured my reaction to Crilly’s report.  Crilly’s interesting big-picture claim was that Translink’s plan to attract riders by adding more and more capacity to the system isn’t working on its own and is getting too expensive besides.  He recommended that Translink look to policy levers for managing the demand for transit.  Which is a genteel way of saying, “Make driving more expensive, so more people can’t afford it and demand for transit goes up.”  Do that, and more people will take transit.

But Crilly’s argument only works if there’s enough capacity in the transit system to absorb all the new passengers who come flocking when their cars get too expensive.  If the capacity’s not there, they just keep their cars and find ways to squeeze the extra money out of their families’ budgets. Crilly claims that Translink’s system, as it stands, has enough excess capacity to absorb those new passengers. But as Stephen Rees pointed out a few days ago, we don’t hear a lot about excess capacity.  The Expo Line?  The B-Lines?  The 44?  No excess capacity.

Now, Crilly says his assessment of excess capacity is informed by data that us plebs don’t get to see.  Fair enough, I guess.  He’s the transportation commissioner and I’m not.  But this claim about excess capacity is central enough to his big-picture argument — and at the same time, it seems weird enough — that I really wish he’d shown  his work.

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