Along with  a high-speed train link to Seattle as reported in Price Tags Vancouver, there is a new “by sea option” too. After seven years of planning Harbour Air Group will work with Seattle’s Kenmore Air to fly four times a week between Coal Harbour and Lake Union in Seattle, very close to Amazon.com’s headquarters.
The big challenge for this route as reported by Glen Korstrom in Business in Vancouver has been obtaining a Canadian Border Services Agency approval for a customs desk at Coal Harbour. There already is an American customs facility at the Lake Union dock in Seattle.
The proposed flights will land passengers in Seattle under one hour. In the interim the B.C. government is also  contributing financially for a business-case  report on the feasibility of the high-speed train link, bringing these two Cascadia cities closer together along the “innovation corridor”.


  1. That makes far more sense. An efficient plane gets 2-4 times the mileage per person-km than a car ! More here https://science.howstuffworks.com/transport/flight/modern/question192.htm or here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_efficiency_in_transport
    Rail makes sense for high volumes of people, like inner cities or even inter-cities in corridors with tens of millions of people. If we can’t even get a train to UBC, N-Van, W-Van or even E-Van why do we bother looking at one to Seattle or Portland with far less traffic ?

    1. The Wikipedia article shows airplane to be only slightly better than a car. There is no data for seaplane, but my guess is that it has worse mileage than regular aircraft so is probably equivalent to a car. A train is about 10 times more efficient. The velomobile tops the list at an equivalent of 2000 km/litre. It is 10 times more efficient than a train and 100 times as efficient as a car or airplane. Bikes rule!

      1. A bike lane would make sense to attract more tourism indeed.
        What people perhaps forget is that steam engines and trains were invented WELL BEFORE roads were paved and WELL BEFORE (gasoline or diesel powered) cars or trucks existed, namely in the early 1800s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_rail_transport
        They replaced canals or horse drawn carriages to transport goods first, later people, as they were faster and could carry more volume (of both people and goods). As such UK and a few European countries build rail lines WELL BEFORE they had decent long distance roads. Taking a train made far more sense than switching horse drawn carriages every few hours or taking a slow boat.
        However, in North-America the population & commerce grew massively by and large with cars and trucks already invented and as such the interstate highway system is far more developed than the train network, UNLIKE Europe, which had a decent rail network FIRST, then added motorways / Autobahns / Autostradas / highways later.
        Rail for passengers never was a major people mover in North America for these historic reasons, except NE region, but certainly not out west ie Oregon, WA or BC.
        Who takes the train to Whistler these days, for example ? Same answer as why very few take a train to Seattle or Portland or Calgary: slow, very expensive, cumbersome, infrequent.
        You either take a car, bus or fly.
        This fast train proposal is a waste of money to deflect from other more pressing (but controversial) issues like LNG, property taxation, oil pipelines, debt creation, ..

        1. Wrong again.
          “In 500 BC, Darius I the Great started an extensive road system for Persia (Iran), including the famous Royal Road which was one of the finest highways of its time. The road was used even after the Roman times. Because of the road’s superior quality, mail couriers could travel 2,699 kilometres (1,677 mi) in seven days.”
          Do you ever research your comments to avoid spreading bad information? It might be a habit worth adopting.
          The American interstate system is a relic of the Cold War btw – and was put in place to move men and missiles quickly around the country.
          Also, rail was the mechanism that brought all the settlers to the western edge of the continent. Not a people mover? C’mon.
          Seriously. Do your homework.

        2. Nobody takes the train to whistler because service was terminated in 2015. There used to be rail service all the way to Prince George. We often took the train to 100 mile house. Unfortunately, our previous government shut down passenger rail and leased the line to CN for 300 years. Instead, they widened the Sea to Sky. You may recall that there were stories about govt employees receiving huge kickbacks. So many people are now driving that the road has reached capacity. So how smart was it to shut down the rail service?
          If there were only a narrow gravel road with potholes, how many people would drive to Seattle? Now, if there were a high speed train, would demand not increase? Would folks who now drive or fly possibly switch to rail?

        3. Good points Chris. Victoria had the Galloping Goose to Sooke. At one time there were 3 passenger rail lines between Victoria and Sydney. We took one of the last rides on the E&N between Nanaimo and Victoria before it was shut down. Vancouver had an extensive streetcar network and interurbans to Steveston and Chilliwack. All gone now.
          I experienced the congestion between Abbotsford and Vancouver the other day. They are widening the highway further out. This will encourage yet more people to drive. Will we ever learn?

        4. Rail in Canada and US is slow and expensive. Car is faster and cheaper, as is air. There is almost zero demand for rail for those two reasons. It is even in relative decline ( vs population or GDP growth ) in Europe for both passengers and freight, despite far superior service. Buses or trucks cheaper, or planes faster and/or cheaper.
          It’s a yesteryear proposition.
          I’d rather see some e-Ferries investigated and bought as a pilot like in Norway. https://www.siemens.com/press/pool/de/feature/2015/corporate/2015-05-e-ferry/study-seven-out-of-ten-norway-e.pdf Ideal for short runs to various Gulf Islands.

        5. Lovely marketing piece for rapid transit you linked there Chris.
          Thank you.
          It confirms my very point that rapid transit ie light rail makes total sense in an urban context (aka to UBC, to N Van, to W Van ro E Van) but that it is NOT a big priority inter city eg to Seattle or even Portland from Vancouver.

        6. “I’d rather see some e-Ferries investigated and bought as a pilot like in Norway”
          BC Ferries had the Queen of Capilano built in 1991 or so. It is an electric drive ferry, currently on the Bowen Island run. It even has Siemens drives like the press release you linked. Its sister ship is the Queen of Cumberland, also electric drive. Both ferries use diesel gensets to generate power for the e drive.
          Perhaps you meant battery electric?

        7. Yes, real electric e-Ferries. Many newer cruise ships now use electric motors in lieu of a long shaft with vibrations for increased passenger comfort but still burn diesel and bunker fuel to generate electricity.
          So, yes, something like this https://electrek.co/2018/03/05/all-electric-ferries-battery-packs/
          Far more relevant for BC than a fast train that makes sense maybe in 2100 when each city is triple to quadruple the size. Of course with our opposition to mega projects perhaps 2018 is the right start date for a rail line delivery in 2100.

  2. “It confirms my very point ”
    It showcases your continuing habit of reaching bad conclusions from faulty premises. Do your homework please. Spreading bad information is worse than remaining silent.

  3. “steam engines and trains were invented WELL BEFORE roads were paved”
    This is so very wrong that you and whoever taught you history should hang your head in utter shame and embarrassment. It couldn’t be more wrong. It shows a complete lack of research and understanding of the history of transportation. That anyone with such a limited understanding of the historic conditions that brought us to this point would dare opine, let alone lecture others is ludicrous.

    1. Yeah, riding carriages on cobblestone roads or rock hewn roads with mud and crush in 17th century was so very smooth and conducive for long distance travel or goods movement. The only folks who loved it were axle & wheel repair shops. That’s why canals and eventually railways had a big advantage, due to speed and smoothness.
      In the UK sheet asphalt placed on a concrete base (foundation) became popular during the mid-1800s with the first such pavement of this type being built in Paris in 1858. The first such pavement placed in the U.S. was in Newark, New Jersey, in 1870. More here http://www.pavementinteractive.org/pavement-history/ or here
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_road_transport or here in Canada http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/roads-and-highways/
      18th century was the golden age of rail due to weak noisy rough roads and no trucks, cars or airplanes. 21st century: not so much anymore !

  4. Um, yeah, I’ve already done my homework. As indicated, paved roads predate the steam engine, automobiles, etc, etc. The bottom line is your original premise (which is wrong) leads to a cascading series of erroneous conclusions.
    Comparing modern trains to the 18th century (when there were no commercial train systems btw) is a faulty comparison. I suspect you mean the 19th c. but your grasp of history is so tenuous it’s entirely possible you think mass train travel was a feature of the 1700s.
    Might as well suggest that people would still be choosing the Model T over a modern passenger train. It’s the kind of idiotic comparison that makes progress on these ideas much harder. If you don’t know what you are talking about, try listening for a while.

    1. They had paved roads in England and continental Europe (or US or Canada for that matter) before they built the railways in early 1800s ? Enlighten me kindly ..
      Trucks and cars did not appear in any significant numbers until early 1900s .. a few prototypes 1880s to toy with .. so no need for paved roads.
      THAT was my main point. Railways brought a real economic advantage in the 1800s .. faster than canal boats or ocean going ships, and both faster and more capacity compared to horse drawn vehicles, for both goods or people. UNLIKE today where there isn’t any economic advantage of a railway to Seattle from Vancouver. Want to go cheap: take the car or bus. Want to go fast: fly. Where does rail fit in here UNLIKE 1800s where rail actually made a lot of sense ?

        Holy Dinah I am shaking my head at the sheer arrogance.
        Do your homework. Stop spreading bad information.

    2. You haven’t studied your history if you think paved roads were invented for motor vehicles. The big push for them around the turn of the last century came from cycling advocates. Cars came later. Why don’t you know this?

        1. You made claims about roads and railways that are clearly inaccurate. Now the topic is your reliability and accuracy. You ain’t getting a passing grade at present FYI.

    1. That wouldn’t be surprising. They went from 921 to 2500 tonnes displacement (but gained a cafeteria and much more passenger space). Power went from 1609 hp to 7305 hp, although with the gensets they wouldn’t use all of that. Travel speed went up, which allowed more time for loading and unloading. Reliability went down (due to complexity), but manoeuverability went up with the e drives. I rode both ferries for many years.

  5. There are people on this blog who opine a lot about the character of other commentators. This does get tiresome. Why not stick to facts or opinions specifically about the topic in question and skip the comments about the person writing the comments? It would make this blog much more pleasant to visit.

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