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This video on YouTube captures a bit of the B.C. Electric’s interurban line that ran from New Westminster to Chilliwack between 1910 and 1952. An interesting little “what if?” film – could a network of these have limited the suburban sprawl in the Valley, or was the car culture simply too powerful, as magnetic as the Uber/share/self-driving paradigm is becoming today for some people?
Apparently passenger service on the line had become unprofitable as early as the 1920s because of the growth of car ownership. Freight, especially the transportation of milk, kept the line going, and it was an essential piece of infrastructure during the gas- and tire-rationing period of the Second World War.

Comments

  1. Alex:
    “We are paying too much to even begin to correct the mistakes of last century, ”
    To successfully proceed through the 21str (sic) Century, sometimes we need to take clues from the 19th.”
    Both on the same day. Such versatility.

    1. Streetcars emerged from the 19th Century, Anon. They multiplied in the early 20th, but were outcompeted by the tsunami of Autotopia by the 50s. That is history.
      We will be paying for that egregious misjudgement for a long, long time.

  2. I’d want to remain anonymous too… if I couldn’t figure out the difference between the 19th and 20th centuries.
    Or are you anonymous because you were banned under another name?

  3. In Henry Ewart’s book the Story of BC Electric Railway, the author notes that British Columbia Electric funded road improvement projects and an interurban bus network to mollify municipal opposition to the end of rail service, though even then there were still proposals to use coupled PCC streetcars to continue to provide service to Langley City.
    The problem with the Fraser Valley Line is that it was designed for the efficient operation of a limited monopoly, rather than the efficient movement of people and goods. While it hits many of the old townsites South of the Fraser, it does in a great sinuous wave across the valley, from the River to Cloverdale to the River to Boarder and back to the River again. This is great for intercepting freight and passengers lacking alternatives, but it meant that as soon as there was a means to traverse the more direct Yale Road at faster than the speed of a horse that the Interurban was at a disadvantage to all but the lowest-priority uses. This is unlike the older Central Park Line/Expo Line, which took an unusually and expensively direct route between Vancouver and New Westminster.
    I’d like to think that passenger service to Langley City should have been retained, as this could still be a conveniently linear service linking New Westminster with Newton, Cloverdale and Langley. I’d wish that the VV&E right of way through the valley, paralleling Fraser Highway, had been preserved, so that it could have been reworked into a more direct extension of the BCE route serving the string of townsites placed along the old Yale Road.

  4. Check out innovative energy and more vanguard thinking at globalbem.com .. cheers from the other coast .. hopefully we humans figure out that ‘spreading out’ is a good thing; not bunching up .. a lot of programming/social engineering has gone on in the last 20 years and its not been beneficial

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