Category Archives: Transportation

News stories and links about transportation, from a Vancouver perspective.

Canada Post AGM

On Friday, August 19, 2016, Canada Post will hold its annual public meeting. The forum will provide an opportunity to learn about the company’s performance and growth as well as short- and long-term challenges and plans.

Siân Matthews, Chairperson of the Canada Post Board of Directors, Deepak Chopra, President and CEO, Jacques Côté, Group President, Physical Delivery Network, and Wayne Cheeseman, Chief Financial Officer, will present at this meeting.

A bilingual webcast will be available. Register for the webcast at

Air passengers choose their money over their life, and yours, in emergency

Yesterday’s crash landing in Dubai of an Emirates Boeing 777 was survived by all passengers and crew, although a firefighter died in the following blaze which consumed the aircraft’s cabin.

In such an emergency, airliner crews explicitly direct passengers to leave everything behind. However, many Emirates passengers ignored the order and stopped to collect carry-on luggage before exiting, endangering not only themselves but also the passengers behind them.

Most airlines aim to complete an aircraft evacuation in 90 seconds, the U.S. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) standard. A 2000 study of 46 aircraft evacuations by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board found that almost 50 percent of people had tried to take a bag. Not only do some stop for their luggage, others take video as shown in the Guardian’s link. (Sources: The Guardian, “Dubai crash-landing: video footage shows passengers stopping for luggage“;, 2016-08-04, “Crashing, Burning Planes Don’t Stop Passengers From Grabbing Their Luggage“)

Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table releases logistics labour market predictions for western provinces

The Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table’s1 Corridor Labour Market Information Project provides labour supply and demand information on 34 occupations in the air, logistics, rail, and trucking sectors for the Asia Pacific Gateway Corridor (APGC) transportation network, which extends from Manitoba to British Columbia. It provides occupational analysis at the four-digit National Occupation Classification2 (NOC) level. The forecasts were completed in conjunction with government and industry partners.

The reports and occupation snapshots are available at:

Read the Asia Pacific Gateway Corridor (APGC) LMI 2016-2025 Executive Summary (20 pp., 888 KB pdf).

Read the APGC LMI Background and Methodology Report (26 pp., 461 KB pdf).


The Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table (Skills Table) is a non-profit, regional partnership between labour, business, and education and training institutions. Our mandate is to coordinate decision-making and action to address overall concerns regarding labour shortages and skills gaps in the Asia Pacific Gateway, and build appropriate capacity in labour resources in innovative ways.

2 The National Occupation Classification “is the nationally accepted taxonomy and organizational framework of occupations in the Canadian labour market,” and is designed to classify occupational information from statistical surveys. The NOC is structured in a four-tiered hierarchical arrangement of occupational groups with successive levels of disaggregation as follows:

  • 10 broad occupational categories – Each broad occupational category has a unique one digit code number and is composed of one or more major groups.
  • 40 major groups – Each major group has a unique two-digit code number and is composed of one or more minor groups. The first digit of this code indicates the broad occupational category to which the major group belongs.
  • 140 minor groups – Each minor group has a unique three-digit code number and is composed of one or more unit groups. The first two digits of this code indicate the major group to which the minor groups belong.
  • 500 unit groups – Each unit group has a unique four-digit code. The first three digits of this code indicate the major and minor groups to which the unit group belongs.

StatCan reviews oil transport

Today Statistics Canada (StatCan) released Canada’s shifting sands: Oil production, distribution and implications, 2005 to 2014, a short report with 8 charts. Among the highlights are:

  • Oil production in Canada increased by over 50% from 2005 to 2014 with crude bitumen and synthetic crude accounting for almost all of the growth.
  • In 2014, Canadian railways shipped over 185,000 rail cars containing fuel oils and crude petroleum; three times the number shipped in 2005.
  • Since 2005, pipeline and rail accidents have tended to reflect broader economic trends, but notable spills have clearly demonstrated some of the risks of the oil industry.
  • Largely driven by oil sands expansion, the oil and gas sector accounted for over one quarter (26%) of Canada’s 732 megatonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2014.[*]

* On a national basis, transportation accounts for for 23-24% of GHG emissions and was surpassed as a source of GHGs by the oil and gas sector only in 2012, according to this report.

Verified Gross Mass of container shipments now mandatory

Verified Gross Mass (VGM) documentation for marine containers became mandatory on July 1, 2016 in Canada and elsewhere. Gross mass means the combined mass of a container’s tare mass and the masses of all packages and cargo items, including pallets, dunnage and other packing material and securing materials packed into the container. Under Transport Canada regulations1,

in order to verify the gross mass of a packed container in Canada the shipper shall either
a. weigh the loaded container (Method one); or
b. weigh all the items loaded into the container (including dunnage, securing material, etc.) and add the tare mass of the container to the sum of those single masses (Method two).

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) this year amended the SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) regulations. Specifically, Chapter VI, Regulation 2, paragraphs 4 to 6 which now require the verification of the declared weight of containers, whereas carriers previously had to rely on shippers’ declarations of weight/mass.

The IMO states2:

it would be beneficial if Administrations and port State control authorities could take a “practical and pragmatic approach” when enforcing [the updated regulations], for a period of three months immediately following 1 July 2016.

The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has published an advice circular (pdf download) regarding the SOLAS VGM. The MSC also reminded members of the shipping community “that the stability and safe operation of ships, including the safe packing, handling and transport of containers, is not limited to the provision and use of VGM information and is also covered by a number of SOLAS regulations, including SOLAS regulations VI/2.1, VI/2.2 and VI/2.3, and other IMO instruments, amongst others.”


2 (retrieved from:

Roberts Bank Terminal 2 update

The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project (RBT2) is a proposed new three-berth container terminal in Delta, B.C. (Deltaport) that would provide 2.4 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of additional container capacity. This project should not be confused with Deltaport Berth 3 which was completed in 2010. Transtalk last reviewed developments at Deltaport in 2008.

Artist rendering of proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2
Artist rendering of proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (image courtesy of Port of Vancouver)

The Port of Vancouver’s1 four existing container terminals have an annual capacity of about 3 million TEUs. The Port projects West Coast container traffic of 7 million TEUs, including the Port of Prince Rupert, by 2030.

RBT2 is part way through an environmental assessment process expected to finish in 2018. An overview of issues is provided in the Environmental Impact Assessment Executive Summary (124 pp., 5.15 MB pdf), published in March 2015. No decision on proceeding with RBT2 can be made before completion of the environmental review process under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act.

Recent developments include the establishment of an independent three-member review panel to conduct the environmental assessment: Ms. Jocelyne Beaudet, chair, Dr. Diana Valiela and Dr. David Levy, members.


1In April 2016, the port dropped the name “Port Metro Vancouver” to become the “Port of Vancouver.” In addition, the port authority announced it will implement the consistent use of its legal name, the “Vancouver Fraser Port Authority,” when referencing activities or decisions of the port authority.

Cruise ship pollution

The Disney Wonder discharges garbage at Canada Place, 2016-05-23The Disney Wonder discharges garbage and takes on fuel at Canada Place, 2016-05-23 (Max Burley photo)

A recent article in The Guardian, “The world’s largest cruise ship and its supersized pollution problem” focuses on Southampton, UK. The Port of Southampton is Europe’s busiest cruise ship terminal, projecting 462 cruise ship calls in 2016 and more passengers than 2015’s 1.7 million. The port has four dedicated cruise ship terminals able to handle the largest vessels currently afloat.

The Guardian says,

The Harmony, owned by Royal Caribbean, has two four-storey high 16-cylinder Wärtsilä engines which would, at full power, each burn 1,377 US gallons of fuel an hour, or about 66,000 gallons a day of some of the most polluting diesel fuel in the world.

In port, and close to US and some European coasts, the Harmony must burn low sulphur fuel or use abatement technologies.

British Columbia’s Ministry of the Environment says1:

Marine engines make a sizeable contribution to emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM2.5), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) on a provincewide basis. The contribution is even more significant when one considers that many of these emissions are concentrated in the busy ports of the Lower Mainland.

Marine engines use either marine diesel or marine heavy fuel oil. Both of these fuels have much higher sulphur contents than transportation fuels used on land. For ocean going ships visiting B.C., fuel sulphur contents typically fall in the range of 1 to 3% (this compares to 15 ppm or 0.0015% sulphur content for on-road diesel in Canada).

To address air emissions from ships the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2010 adopted MARPOL Annex VI which contains the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA). Effective August 1, 2012, it applies to ships operating in US and Canadian waters. The ECA extends approximately 200 nautical miles offshore and stipulates that when in force all ships operating in this area must use fuel oil with a sulphur content that does not exceed 1.0% m/m (10,000 ppm). See the IMO’s Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships page for more information.

The Harmony of the Seas won’t be visiting Vancouver anytime soon because, like other recent cruising colossuses, it is too big to pass under the Lions Gate Bridge.

Port Metro Vancouver’s shore power initiative has the potential to greatly reduce ship emissions in the lower mainland. Ships with the necessary equipment can shut down their auxiliary engines while at the dock and “plug in” to the electrical grid. Currently available only at the Canada Place cruise ship terminal (shore power enabled berths for container ships at Centerm Berth Five and Deltaport Third Berth are scheduled to be operational in 2017) the service recorded 76 successful connections in 2014, out of 98 ship calls having connection capability2.

In 2015, Port Metro Vancouver recorded 228 cruise ship calls with 805,000 passengers (includes both embarkations and disembarkations)3.

Other resources:

3Cruise Statistics Report 2008-2015, Port Metro Vancouver

Report assesses risk of Canadian marine shipping accidents

A new workshop report, Commercial Marine Shipping Accidents: Understanding the Risks in Canada (84 pp., 2.9 MB pdf), released on April 28, 2016 by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), explores risk by focusing on the likelihood of commercial marine shipping accidents across Canada as well as the potential social, economic, and environmental impacts of such accidents. The report and associated workshop were commissioned by the Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping (Clear Seas).


The following questions were developed by Clear Seas to guide the expert panel workshop:

  • What are the main areas of social, environmental, and economic risk associated with key stages of marine shipping of goods [such as oil, coal, and liquefied natural gas, and hazardous and noxious substances] in Canadian waters?
  • Are these risks commonly agreed upon?
  • To what extent are they measurable?

Key Findings

  • Commercial marine shipping risks are mitigated by a large body of regulations, safety protocols and practices, and navigation technologies, which have made marine shipping, in Canada and globally, much safer in recent decades.
  • Commercial marine shipping operates in a complex risk environment where a variety of factors interact to increase or decrease the likelihood of an accident and the severity of its impact.
  • The nature of commercial marine shipping risk varies by region due to differences in cargo, regulation, physical traits of the marine environment, and economic, social, and cultural uses of waterways and coastlines.
  • Risks associated with major oil spills are significant and well documented, and they underscore how resulting environmental impacts can bring about social, economic, and health impacts.
  • Better-quality marine shipping data are needed if the likelihood of incidents and accidents is to be better understood and measured for different cargo types, stages of shipping, and types of impacts.
  • Further research would address gaps in the understanding of Canada’s marine risk environment, particularly with respect to impacts of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) and diluted bitumen, spills in freshwater and cold environments, and on the multi-agency system that oversees marine safety in Canada.
The Council of Canadian Academies is an independent, not-for-profit organization that supports independent, authoritative, and evidence-based expert assessments that inform public policy development in Canada. The Council’s work encompasses a broad definition of science, incorporating the natural, social and health sciences as well as engineering and the humanities.

The Council began operation in 2005 and consists of a Board of Governors, a Scientific Advisory Committee and Secretariat. The Council draws upon the intellectual capital that lies within its three Member Academies: the Royal Society of Canada (RSC); the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE); and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS).

The CCA received an initial endowment of $30 million from the Government of Canada in 2005. In 2015, this commitment was renewed with an additional endowment of $15 million over five years.

The not-for-profit Clear Seas was established in 2014 with three-year funding contributions of $3.7 million each from the Government of Canada (Transport Canada), the Government of Alberta (Alberta Energy) and industry groups represented by CAPP (Candian Association of Petroleum Producers). (Source: CCA and Clear Seas web sites)

Canada ends terrorism insurance for airlines

Following the 9-11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and other targets, the insurance industry abruptly stopped offering airlines coverage for acts of war or terrorism. Governments in developed countries subsequently created publicly funded indemnity programs as a replacement. Canada will be the last country to cancel its government backed insurance for airline sabotage on June 30, 2016. The “Aviation War Risk Liability Program,” also covered airports, the air-traffic-control agency Nav Canada, freight forwarders, and other aviation-industry service providers.

The insurance industry eventually returned to that part of the airline market and premiums fell dramatically in 2013.

John McKenna, president and CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada estimates carriers collectively will pay $5 million more in annual insurance premiums. (Source: CBC News, 2016-04-25, “Airlines see bigger insurance costs as Ottawa cancels war-risk program“)

Uber’s effect on Los Angeles taxis

“City records show that Uber and Lyft have devastated L.A.’s taxi industry” says the Los Angeles Times, 2016-04-14.

The most notable loss for taxis in L.A. is a decline of more than 50% for pre-arranged trips (i.e. booked by phone or online) from the city neighbourhoods that used to represent most of such trips. The number of taxi drivers has declined 14% over the past three years. However poorer neighbourhoods have seen improvements in taxi service as drivers chase a smaller pool of available trips.

Uber and Lyft are now allowed to pick up at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), the most lucrative source of taxi trips. Although the two companies are picking up about 24,000 rides per week at LAX, the taxi industry has enjoyed several years of increased airport fares.

Uber advances in Canada

In Canada, Ottawa this week agreed to license Uber operations, starting Sept. 30, 2016. Ottawa Council’s decision was based in part on City of Ottawa Taxi and Limousine Regulations and Service Review. The report, dated Oct. 1, 2015, compares statistics, regulations and proposals about the Uber-taxi battle with an emphasis on Canadian cities.

Uber now has services in 11 Canadian cities, although some are operating clandestinely or are constrained by municipal opposition.

  • Edmonton
  • Hamilton
  • Kingston
  • Kitchener-Waterloo
  • London
  • Montreal
  • Niagara
  • Ottawa
  • Quebec City
  • Toronto
  • Windsor