How to solve the current and soon-to-worsen congestion at the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station?  TransLink will try the Spanish Solution.

From Vancity Buzz:

Translink has identified the “Spanish Solution” as the optimum path to address the severe overcrowding on the Commercial-Broadway Station train platforms during the morning and afternoon peak rushes, when long and crowded queues at the older Expo Line platform are a regular norm.

The Spanish Solution involves the construction of another platform to the east of the station, where Safeway is located. A portion of Safeway will be demolished to make way for the additional platform, the expanded ground-level concourse for the new platform, and the staircase, escalators, and elevators leading to the new third platform. A second elevated pedestrian overpass will also be constructed across Broadway Avenue and over Shoppers Drug Mart to serve the new third platform – to increase circulation capacity between the Expo and Millennium Lines.

The Spanish Solution has been implemented in many major transit stations around the world, but apart from the Seabus stations at Waterfront and Lonsdale, this will be its first implementation in Metro Vancouver. The new third platform will serve as an “outboard platform,” for exit only. The existing centre platform will be a shared entrance and exit platform for trains to Surrey as well as the entrance for trains to Waterfront.

The new outboard platform will likely be used exclusively for exiting, with train doors facing the new outboard platform opening a few seconds earlier before the train doors facing the centre entrance platform. In essence, for trains traveling to Downtown Vancouver on the Expo Line, there will be one platform for boarding (existing centre platform) and another platform for disembarking (the new outboard platform).

A diagram showing an example of the Spanish Solution:

 (I think the top arrow is in the wrong direction.  Passengers should be only exiting on to the new outboard platform.)


Casually dropped into that item is a bit of a bombshell: “A portion of Safeway will be demolished to make way for the additional platform …”

Why not demolish the whole Safeway and, Oakridge-style, build a new mixed-use, high-density development on the site?  Lots of lovely asphalt there – the new brownfields of our time.



Why stop there?  Maybe now’s the time to finally tackle one of the great outstanding opportunities for transit-oriented development in the entire region: the area within walking distance of Broadway-Commercial.

The lost opportunity was a consequence of one of the great (but now-forgotten) protests in the early 1980s over the arrival of SkyTrain.  The Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood (solidly Left) fought the Social Credit government (solidly Right) that was pushing through an elevated rapid-transit line, then known as ALRT, prior to Expo.  The protesters objected to the scar the guideway would leave (they wanted it buried, even though it ran down the east-side lane) but weren’t all that enchanted about the prospect of additional density either.

City Hall, under Mayor Mike Harcourt (solidly Centre), couldn’t overrule the Province – but did have control over rezoning, and chose to keep the it pretty much what it was (the same at Nanaimo and 29th Avenue stations) with only the most modest increases in density.

Perhaps now is the time for another look.  There is a remarkable opportunity (not so much to the neighbourhoods to the north, east or south – now solidly gentrified, but to the west) where a triangle of land, separated from the surrounding community by the Grandview Cut, and the Broadway and Clark arterials, could be considered for high-denisty and, yes, highrise infill.


The views are among the most stunning in the City – and that’s saying a lot – but only if the towers could rise above the existing dwellings.  That could allow for the leverage needed to get a significant amount of affordable housing – or whatever other priority was identified to justify the additional density.

It’s just an idea.