Metro Vancouver campus commuters and transit-takers, here’s your chance to attend a “Town Hall” presentation and discussion on extending Vancouver’s Skytrain beyond Arbutus Street to UBC’s Point Grey campus.

The event will be hosted by Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra, with participation of representatives from TransLink, UBC, City of Vancouver and West Broadway Business Improvement Association.

Not sure whether to attend? Here’s some background, via an earlier Price Tags post.

If you go, remember — you get your say, you don’t get a veto.

Saturday, July 28, 2018
Registration 12:30 – 1:00 pm
Town Hall: 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Pacific Spirit Church, Memorial Hall (2195 45th Ave at Yew)
Light refreshments will be provided


  1. This is a good sign, but also very, very curious. A federal Liberal MP is hosting a forum on taking the the Broadway Line project all the way to UBC. That is the good part. It bodes well to have a voice in the national government caucus promoting the extension of the existing planned project. Transit is an important and effective instrument to fight climate change and to foster urban efficacy.

    On the other hand, Joyce Murray is supporting the Trans Mountain pipeline project and its nationalization, though rather tepidly, possibly reflecting the split for and against it in her own constituency. In reality, that project is highly flawed and has been discredited by very smart people from every angle from here to Timbuktu — technically, economically, environmentally, morally.

    This leads me to arrive at one possible conclusion: that extending the Millennium Line beyond Arbutus with federal Liberal cooperation may be contingent on completing Trans Mountain, just as placing a national carbon price is dependent on the same contingency due to a cynical political calculation by a weak leader, basically horse trading away the carbon budget farm for a few jobs.

    The fact remains that Canada is already well beyond the emissions cap and 1.5 degree limit Trudeau agreed to in Paris, even before Trans Mountain. In effect, if Alberta is to have its recently enacted carbon tax maintained (that’s likely not realistic anyway with Jason Kenney barking up the electoral tree) while also allowing expansion of the oil sands to its 100 million tonne CO2 limit, every other province and city in the nation will have to eliminate all their emissions to allow Alberta to continue polluting at egregious levels to render out a high-cost, low quality product controlled by international interests.

    That really sucks as nation-building.

    A true national interest project would have seen the feds already enacting carbon pricing on every province regardless, and develop a National Transit Plan without any false rhetoric about climate change, and especially without the hypocrisy of trading climate change policy for pipelines. In that respect, it may be better if the relatively new BC NDP government picks up the tab to complete the Line to UBC in one contract without tolerance for questionable federal conditions.

    So what’s a fellow to do? Attend the Town Hall and keep his mouth shut in the hope there is some solid evidence that UBC will get its rapid transit link to the region? Or face disappointment that its all political vapour and could be subject to dealmaking with a devil of another project?

    1. My bet is that she’s scared s**tless that she will not be re-elected in 2019 because of her party’s support for the pipeline. So, she’s trying to push for some nice things that will make her look good come election time. Not sure how strongly the Federal Liberals are actually supporting this, but I think this is all a political calculation on Murray’s part.

  2. What’s going to happen when an elevated guideway is proposed?

    Why should your neighbourhood be pampered with the super-expensive luxury of a subway simply because your address starts with W?

    Will the west side accept an Oakridge-scale development or two to justify the massive increase in transit capacity?

    How will the merchants on West Broadway and West 10th feel when all those potential customers are taken out of sight and relegated to sparsely spaced stations far away from most of their businesses?

    How will they feel when bus service is reduced?

    Will the speed just encourage people to live farther and further away?

    Wouldn’t more staff and students living on campus instead contribute more to the health and vibrancy of the campus?

    Are there better ways to spend $3billion?

    1. The new path to UBC could be built into the design of (soon) Vancouver’s largest construction site, the federal gov / native jointly owned Jericho Lands. Ideally underground to build housing on top, to connect a station on Alma @ Broadway with the next one at the current empty Safeway site on 10th a block east of Blanca.

      West of Blanca, along UBC golf course at grade may make sense. Elevated makes sense only if one crosses many intersections, and if one doesn’t destroy adjacent real estate values.

      Perhaps our MP Joyce Murray will announce this pathway or new station on Jericho Lands at the open house next week although I expect her to be very vague as nothing has been decided most likely, incl co-funding by UBC or indigenous land owners that would benefit hugely from a station at or near their vast 100 acre site.

  3. Ron, you posed eight questions.

    My responses:

    1. The city, TransLink, province and feds have been committed to a subway for a few years now. The funding is already in place. It’s unlikely that will change.

    2. The “super-expensive luxury” will in fact be an affordable and necessary investment that connects to the entire regional transit network, not just the West Side. The life cycle, per rider and per capita costs are perfectly affordable to an average growing city approaching 3 million population.

    3, 4, 6, and 7.: It depends how they choose to build the city. This subway has hardly “spawned” Oakridge:

    5. This question is a few years out of date. The only reason base transit service was reduced after expenditures on major transit projects is historic underfunding by senior governments prioritizing the Age of the Automobile. This is a new century and the attitude is moving laterally away from underpinning the almighty car while increasing funding for transit in all its forms. That investment has been fairly steady despite the above shortages mainly from the province, and as the result transit use is now at record levels. The number of boardings in 2017 alone was enough for every resident of the Metro to ride 163 times. A new record is currently being set in the first few months of this year with an overall increase in excess of 5% over last year’s record. In other words, demand is the driving force, and Metro politicians at all three levels who cut back funding while demand is increasing so rapidly will face political oblivion.

    8. $3 billion represents about eight months of the annual automobile subsidy in the region. That $3 billion capital cost plus debt servicing costs will be fully paid off in about the 35th year of operation. That leaves at least 65 years of profitable service considering the subway will be designed with a lifespan of at least a century.

    1. Clarification: the funding is now in place for a subway to Arbutus. Switching to an elevated line beyond Arbutus is not likely in the absence of an industrial rail corridor (e.g. Expo Line and the BCER corridor) or super wide road allowances; the strongest preference seems to be to continue tunnelling for continuity. Engineers may bring the line to the surface (or use cut & cover) in the Jericho and UBC golf course sections to save money.

      1. Well there was certainly enough room to go elevated on Cambie south of King Edward. But the west side always gets its subway while everyone else gets the noise and unsightly hulking concrete. You can literally draw a line down the east-west divide. And there’s always a great excuse isn’t there?

  4. 5. Are you trying to suggest that West Broadway and West 10th will get a subway and the #14 and the 99 B-Line?

    3. 4. Is the west side ready for Paris density? Wouldn’t we get more return on such a massive subway investment if the Jericho Lands come to resemble the future Oakridge?

    6. 7. If we get more and more staff and students living at UBC instead of commuting in from Coquitlam we’ll have less and less need for a subway. The 99 B-Line has about 40% excess capacity beyond Arbutus.

    What kind of city do we want? One where more and more people travel farther and farther on faster and faster transit? Or one where we reduce our society’s enormous energy consumption, increase their care of the places they live/work/play because they spend more time there? One with small pockets of mega-highrises (walkable though they may become) dotted between massive swaths of single family sprawl? Or, more like Paris, a city that is much more vibrant and walkable throughout?

    What kind of transit fosters which?

    You can always try to force a certain kind of development against the backdrop of an incompatible type of transportation.

  5. Grade-separated (underground) frequent and fast rail transit with an expanded Number 9 trolley on the surface will serve every transit need and all future demand one can imagine in the Broadway-UBC corridor.

    I don’t see the advent of transit in terms of East vs. West class warfare. Observe east of Main already served by regional rapid transit, then observe the West Broadway-UBC corridor economy and population not being served by regional rapid transit at all. That corridor is the second largest concentration of jobs, office floor space and population in the province and is transit-deficient.

    Ideally Central Paris density would foster greater transit density and investment than nodal development. I don’t have a problem with that anywhere within 500 m of Broadway to Alma and nodal beyond, accompanied by an incremental erosion of the obsolete detached home and a new paradigm of greater diversity in attached ground-oriented homes in the sprawl between stations. In fact, that may actually be the pattern that evolves. Further, attached homes and low-rise apartments occupying a much smaller parcel of land will be more affordable than the detached home on larger lots that preceded it with virtually no competition for 75 years, therein attracting families to live, work and go to school in one neighbourhood, to travel less, to consider giving up car ownership, and to age in place.

    I commuted from Main Street to UBC for four years during the 80s and wished there was a subway even then. I wouldn’t live in Coquitlam, but half of the current Broadway-UBC transit riders do live beyond Boundary Road. A planning exercise that purposely
    confines people to one neighbourhood and decreases regional connectivity and mobility choice just isn’t feasible. Build a diverse, walkable mixed use community and serve it well with transit choice and more people will travel less far. The proportion of ultra-long distant transit commuters isn’t that big. Most people are travelling short to medium distances, and that may still entail transferring from one line to another and crossing into another city, sometimes two.

    UBC and the West Side are setting upon a serious transformation. The campus already has almost 70,000 people during the day, 30,000 more than when I attended. With more development on campus, and Jericho and the UBC golf course (150 acres) coming on stream in the next 20 years along with the overdue changes proposed by the Making Room planning initiative, there will be a major population increase within 30 years which will be accompanied by a corresponding increase in transit demand. The key is to offer transit service that is superior to the private car. If that service means reversing 60% of the trains at Arbutus seamlessly while 40% continue to the campus, then so be it.

    1. I’m just going to add that there’s no room for a viaduct and stations down Broadway without a whole lot of demolition (which sucks – that’d be a great view for passengers); at best, the line could come above ground west of Alma. And unlike past/present Cambie and its #15, most of Broadway’s pretty dense, so there’s always going to be high demand for local trips on the #9 and #14.

      1. Broadway viaduct room ______ One on each side above the curb (parking ) lane. That would still leave 2 traffic lanes in each direction.======= The (number of ) or distance between stations or tram stops does not depend on which of (LRT , skytrain or subway ) is chosen

    2. I thought Central Broadway was the second largest concentration of jobs. And it’s a given it is getting a subway. What occurs beyond only generates half the transit riders and it’s that much in big part because of the U-Pass. There is no guarantee that non-student development beyond Arbutus will generate nearly as high a percentage of transit passengers.

      “A planning exercise that purposely confines people to one neighbourhood and decreases regional connectivity and mobility choice just isn’t feasible. ”

      I’m proposing the opposite. A development corridor 500m each side of Broadways is pushing way beyond the limits of walking to the subway for the majority who live there – especially since the stations are likely to be 2km apart. For the same price you could build 3 LRTs that serve that broad corridor that would be close to everybody. You are fixated on speed. I suggest you stop being fixated on speed.

      Why do we need speed? To make it convenient for people to travel farther. It undermines the very idea of development that provides most everything you need nearby. It’s not about forcing people to stay in their neighbourhood. It’s about fostering the type of development that makes it attractive to do so. Ultimately that’s what gets people out of their cars. It’s short term thinking that tries to fix sprawl by pushing higher speed transit farther and farther out. You capture some commuters who live car-dependent lifestyles otherwise.

      LRT can be phased as needed rather than building something that is radically over-built for decades in one go. And it would provide even better connectivity to the higher-speed regional SkyTrain system. A better network of mass transit around and between those existing lines would create even better connectivity without encouraging people to live farther and farther away.

      Are people really being honest with west siders about what is coming their way with a subway? Or are they implying that they can have their subway and nothing will really change? Do you honestly see change coming incrementally? Because I’ve seen little of that so far. SkyTrain reach is mostly generating radical redevelopment. In a few pockets, nothing at all which is just as bad.

      Maybe we should let the Cambie Corridor, Grandview Woodlands, Metrotown, Brentwood, Edmonds, Loughheed, Coquitlam Centre Burquitlam Downtown Richmond and Surrey City Centre fill in first since we’ve already invested so many $billions on transit for them. Maybe work on getting more high quality educational facilities out to some of those areas rather than perpetuating the mistake of putting campuses at the ends of the world.

      1. Students are always going to bus in and out; the U-Pass merely makes it cheaper. The “freeloader” argument is more of a CTF argument.
        As for non-student growth, I was under the impression that more density east of Arbutus is a good thing.

        SkyTrain stations are 1.5km apart on average. If I’m halfway between, that’s 750m, or 8 blocks and a 9-minute stroll/3-minute bike ride; if I’m on the 500m “edge” of your corridor, that’s 6 or 2 minutes. Hardly the Grouse Grind.
        With an LRT, said 750m trip takes 1-4 minutes of waiting at the stop and another 2 minutes actually getting there. So I’ve just spent $2.10 (and the city’s spent $1.7 billion) just to save 3-6 minutes. Evidently, a fixation on speed is a good thing, otherwise you’d advocate for walking and cycling instead; if you still maintain that it’s a bad thing, then let’s ditch both the SkyTrain AND light rail concepts.

        Understand that since the SkyTrain is being built along Broadway/10th, most of the current ridership will migrate to Broadway/10th instead. Three light rail tracks on (let’s say) 4th, Broadway and King Ed (16th is a no-go because of the water and gas utilities) means two undercapacity routes and one severely overcapacity route.

        Slowly but surely, all those areas are getting redeveloped for mixed-use density. Again, blame City Council for their timid “spot zoning” approach to redevelopment; TransLink only does trains. Actually take a look at Cambie Corridor Phase 3 – better late than never – and you’ll find the exact kind of even-spread density you’re looking for.

          1. 6 and 2 minutes each on foot and on bike respectively, as with the “9-minute stroll/3-minute bike ride” in the previous half of the sentence. Any further reading/arithmetic comprehension is up to you.

          2. Justin you compared spending $2.10 to the city(?) spending $1.7billion. I’d call that murky math. You’re also confusing the length between stations with the width of the corridor. Also, LRT station would be closer together. So, on avarage, the passenger may be saving time with LRT. As Thomas says, below, “Times a million annual riders that is a LOT of minutes.”

          3. Nope. The city spends $1.7 billion ($690/person) to build it, and then everybody spends another $2.10 to ride for marginal time savings.
            Average SkyTrain station distance: 1500m. Travel time by walking, 18 minutes; bike, 6 minutes; tram, 5-8 minutes; SkyTrain, 2-4.
            Maximum distance to reach a SkyTrain station: 750m. Walking, 9; bike, 3; tram, 3-6; SkyTrain, 1-3.
            Transit corridor width: 500m. Walking, 6; bike, 2; tram, 2-6; SkyTrain, 0.7-2.
            Not very murky, so long as you’re willing to try and follow along instead of digging your heels in like a stubborn NIMBY. LRT is competitive with walking and biking; SkyTrain is competitive with driving.

            Closer stop spacing makes transit slower. Stopping every 400m, waiting, then speeding back up adds 1-2 minutes per station, cancelling out much of the time saved.

            // As Thomas says, below, “Times a million annual riders that is a LOT of minutes.”//

            And now you’ve joined my side of the argument. The whole point of SkyTrain is saving even more minutes over a bus or tram, as Thomas usually points out.

          4. Your analysis clarifies that LRT is faster for shorter trips and SkyTrain is faster for longer trips.

            Which technology encourages people to live closer? Which technology encourages people to live far away?

            What kind of city/region do we want?

          5. Urban design stems from planning and architectural policy at city hall, not from transit mode. In medium-sized cities in France with trams the urbanism predated the trams by centuries. What is it about this obsession with trams? That seems to be allowing form to triumph over function. BRT can provide an almost identical service and are technically more flexible, but they are missing the sexiness.

            There seems to be a certain myopia about regional mobility, and that’s when it’s reduced to mere “speed.” Likewise about local mobility. Taking a hard look at the Broadway-UBC corridor will determine that both forms of mobility and connectivity are equally important. Ergo my conclusion that a high quality regional rapid transit service via a subway coupled with an enhanced Number 9 trolley service will meet all the transit demand for a long time and remain highly complementary to local businesses and the pedestrian realm.

            Arbutus-UBC is nearly seven km. With six likely or potential stations, that will average 1.16 km spacing. Moreover, 1,700 m of the route could be devoted to cut and cover through the existing open spaces which will generate $500 million in construction savings. The extension to the campus will ring in well under $2 billion, with perhaps 1/3 provided by UBC separately from taxpayers. To portray this as unaffordable simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

            Further, there will also potentially be 150,000++ additional residents in the corridor over the next 30 years with all the attendant commercial and support amenities and services and jobs between the campus, golf course (122 acres of developable land), Jericho and the Making Room planning initiative that essentially eliminates detached housing zones. The Network Effect and induced demand will ensure a decent build-up in ridership even west of Arbutus.

            Taking the Broadway Line to UBC, which has evolved into a small city, is common sense.

          6. Ron, cherry-picking only undermines your argument. Looking at all the numbers shows that SkyTrain beats everything in every category, and light rail only gets competitive with walking for long trips.

            People will always try to live as close as possible to what they want. When they can’t get that (which is most of the time), they commute – that’s what we’re seeing right now. The only thing that changes with light rail is that the ads say “31 minutes to downtown” instead of 15.

          7. 7 minutes if SkyTrain. No matter what way you look at it, on-road LRT loses out to RRT.

          8. Alex, I’m quite enjoying the debate about all of the nuances of why or why not LRT. But I’m not buying the capacity argument. We’re a long way from capacity being the issue – beyond Central Broadway at least, and even that is debatable if we gave it a proper LRT bump.

            Sprawl induces transportation demand beyond a factor of 1:1. Increased mixed-use density reduces transportation demand below a factor of 1:1. In other words 150,000++ isn’t a 150,000 increase in transportation demand. So tame those big numbers into something that reflects reality. (This isn’t Houston.) The higher the density (done well) the lower the increase in demand per capita. At some point it may well become a negative value but let’s not speculate on that.

            If and when demand exceeds the service of a single LRT line, add another – in a few decades. That would add resilience and broader networking at less cost.

            The two issues that clearly stand out in favour of grade separation are speed, arguably lower operational costs* and the lack of intrusion on space occupied by cars.

            (Some claim ridership – but without reliable comparables that’s just speculation.)

            What else?

            The advantages of LRT are proximity, lower capital costs, phasing, reduced MV capacity (built in) and softer integration within neighbourhoods (passengers remain part of it).

            IMHO I’d take the capacity issue right out of the debate for UBC. When Vancouver reaches the size and densities of real world cities we’ll still have a subterranean resource to work with. For now, and decades to come, a subway is not actually necessary for capacity.

            * At $25million to $60million per station upgrade after only 30 years one really has to wonder.

          9. If it’s got more than enough room for everybody, it’s overcapacity; if it has just enough room, it’s undercapacity. No transit system in existence can justify itself against this kind of argument.

            The upcoming extension will draw UBC riders from other bus routes (4, 44, 84, 25, 33), opting to switch to a faster connection at Arbutus-Broadway; development is happening and is set to happen west of Arbutus, meaning new residents who’ll ride the 99 because it gets them to the SkyTrain next door – both Alma and Macdonald can be crowded as it is.
            A West 4th streetcar is guaranteed neither of those (sparse past Balsam), and a King Ed streetcar even less. More likely that we’d get one packed tram and another near-empty one.

          10. Justin, if they’re only building the RRT (subway/skytrain) as far as Arbutus, I would run the 99 B-line from Burrard Station to UBC via Burrard Bridge and Broadway, using bi-articulated buses that can hold 270 passengers. At 5 minute headways that’s 3,240 passengers per hour, and at 3 minute headways that’s 5,400 passengers per hour. This new 99 b-line would replace the old 99 B-line from Arbutus to UBC, the #44 and the #258. I would also short turn the #14 downtown and instead extend the #9 all the way to UBC on a regular basis, thinking that the new #99 could absorb the ridership. Ridership on the #84 would decrease as passengers rode the Broadway Line all the way to Arbutus and transferred to the #99, saving about 10 minutes on their commute, This spare capacity could be used to take passengers on West 4th who could ride the #84 instead of the #44 as an express bus to UBC. This would also provide a great connection to the #95 B-line, so that people living in East Van only have one transfer to make to take rapid bus transit all the way to UBC.

          11. Glad to know I’m not the only one who thought of that. Pitched it at a TransLink and a CoV open house though, and they seem dead set on terminating the 99 at an Arbutus loop; my guess, they don’t want their busiest route getting held up by “police incidents” on Burrard Bridge.

        1. Times a million annual riders that is a LOT of minutes.

          A TOTAL no-brainer as the DCCs and CACs alone will fund. A great freebie for City of V as they chip in at best 20-33% !

          The ONLY questions to me is: why are we not building yet ?

      2. “A development corridor 500m each side of Broadways is pushing way beyond the limits of walking to the subway for the majority who live there – especially since the stations are likely to be 2km apart.”

        I live a bit over 500m from Brentwood station. It’s not too far at all: it’s why we bought here. My mother-in-law routinely walks the same distance to services or to catch a bus.

        I suspect we’re on the verge of largely solving the last-mile problem. Bicycles, e-bikes and electric scooters (with various trade-offs) will make short work of short trips (though accessibility, especially for the elderly, remains an issue). Where people were willing to walk 400m in 5 minutes, now they can cover over 1km. Doubling range quadruples the catchment area for goods, services and transit. Your 2km station distance collapses, and corresponding development shifts from punctuated to continuous density.

        If this happens, the balance between transit modes shifts. The demand for low-speed short-distance service drops, while for high-speed long-distance service it increases. Neighbourhoods woven together by sidewalks and bike lanes are networked by rapid transit.

        “speed . . . undermines the very idea of development that provides most everything you need nearby. . . . It’s about fostering the type of development that makes it attractive to do so. ”

        A useful perspective, and I’d really like to see proper empirical evidence on these points, but I’m doubtful of the solution. There’s no escaping the need for long-distance connections. It is not possible to roll back the clock to an era where living where one works was the norm. The rise of working couples and specialized highly-skilled work means that many workers are forced to commute long distances. Saying no to speed recalls those who oppose transit because they don’t want population growth. It doesn’t work that way.

        Nor am I convinced that high-speed transit undermines local development. That is certainly not my experience here. The biggest benefit of the Skytrain isn’t the train itself, but the density that has sprung up around it. The high-speed train is reducing trips and distances. There was a bus loop here for ages, but it never had that effect. I doubt LRT would have been much different.

        1. Indeed. Well argued.

          Time is money. As such, people with more money (i.e. those who value their time more) take the car or the train/LRT/Subway/skytrain but NOT a slow bus !

          1. Some of us value our lives too much to be fooled by the false time savings of motoring. This cohort is growing in size as people understand and are made to bear the full cost of their transportation choice.

  6. Alex —– Is it common sense to spend 2 billion on a subway when skytrain would cost about 700 million ?. The $$$$ saved would be be used for skytrain in the suburbs.

    1. No room for elevated rail east of Alma. Elevated west of Alma, OTOH, should definitely be a thing – helluva view to start your morning with.

        1. Cornwall residents would NOT be amused. Run it where it is dense, aka Broadway, and then underground, maybe above ground along UBC Golf Course west of Blanca. Money is cheap to borrow, and Vancouver gets billions in CACs. A total no-brainer. From 2013, over 5 years ago: Massive benefits to BC. Massive.

          Eventually a UBC loop, going back on 41st to hook up with Canada Line at Oakridge Mall and then Skytrain in Burnaby.

          1. If money is cheap to borrow , then borrow it for a sububan skytrain instead . Residents of transit starved metro neighborhoods will not be amused to find out that funding for THEIR skytrain is to be used to put the broadway UBC line underground at triple the cost.. Translink has a priority problem not a financial problem.

          2. Not entirely disagreeing, but wouldn’t it make more sense to have the 41st stretch as a separate route? You can always have the M-Line and 41-Line curve around each other at UBC like the Waterfront-Burrard-Granville box.

        2. Creative, but a Cornwall/4th route skips Greektown, Point Grey Village and Block F/Lelem in favour of (mostly) suburbia. The beaches should be fine with increased bus service (every 5 minutes?); perhaps a streetcar extension in the future, after the M-Line reaches UBC?

    2. One needs to ALSO count the value of real estate besides the train. An elevated (and often noisy) train in an already quite dense area would ruin the neighborhood and associated real estate value.

      1. (1) People whined about their east end real estate values when Van der zalm proposed skytrain from Stadium to New Westminister. Had he proposed a subway at 3 times the cost it would never have been built. (2) East of Alma there is room for elevated rail above the curb (parking) lane . It does not have to be ugly like it is in the East end (3) Skytrain is less noisy than private cars per person carried . (4) Perhaps the property owners along broadway could pass the hat around to collect the extra $ billions needed to put the line underground

          1. 20 ft high viaducts above both curb lanes would not be disruptive except for losing some parking stalls=== Developers would compete to get the elevated stations included in their projects. ===== Loss of sunlight would be marginal & offset by the improved passenger experience to a tunnel

          2. 20′ is about 6m or two storeys – that’s going to cast a nasty shadow on one or both sidewalks, no matter where you put it… then there’s needing 18′ of horizontal clearance for each track (… and again, stations require a lot of buildings to be bought out and demolished.

            Ironic as it sounds, Broadway is likely not broad enough for elevated rail. Just ask TransLink at the next open house.

          3. Easily handled by running the tracks down the centre with supports straddling the MV lanes onto columns in the parking lanes. Station platforms are then placed to the outsides occupying the width of a travel lane and parking lane. Don’t say it can’t be done.

            Ugly? Hell yeah! Just like so many places outside of the west side.

          4. This isn’t Chicago in the Forties. When you find an on-road concrete guideway and stations for a corridor that’s less than 25m between buildings and needs two 90 degree turns, please let TransLink know. Spare everybody the backseat engineering in the meantime.

            Personally, I’d say a SkyTrain viaduct would be fine if Broadway were eight lanes or wider.

          5. Your claim has been there isn’t enough room. That’s false. We don’t need to go to Chicago, nor back to the 40s to see the heavy handed imposition of elevated guideways on a neighbourhood. On Commercial they just ripped through properties along an alley and left the bare minimum clearance on those who were left. There are places in east Burnaby where the big hulking concrete guideway ran almost right over people’s houses. Similar on the west edge of New Westminster and near Joyce in Vancouver.

            It’s time we stopped pretending that the west side should get special treatment. What are they willing to contribute to avoid being treated the same way?

          6. That “bare minimum clearance” is 5 metres. A few minutes on Google Maps will show that the closest building or house is not only that far away from the Expo, but that most are separated by a treeline or even an entire two-lane street.
            None of that applies to Broadway – forget 5m spacing or trees, one SkyTrain station is as wide as the whole street and both sidewalks! Not to mention the two hairpin turns and demolitions needed to get the M-Line from VCC-Clark to Emily Carr to Broadway and Main… and then Broadway to 10th at Alma.

            An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Wanting a viaduct for Broadway simply because you resent the Expo one and want to inflict your resentment on everybody else? That does nothing for you, for the conversation, or for the city. If there was a way to build it, it would already be in the cards.

          7. I take it as a given that it will be subway to Arbutus. I don’t know why you keep bringing it up since I’ve said that repeatedly. I would also assume that the jog from 8th (Jericho Lands) to 10th would be tunneled. Nothing against tunneling where appropriate.

            It’s not spite but fairness. If an elevated guideway is cheaper than a subway then that’s what it should be. (Or LRT of course.) How about an independent and transparent analysis of the costs?

            I noticed that an independent analysis of the Fraser Highway Line showed that SkyTrain was more expensive than LRT in both capital AND operating costs. (From the Daily Hive of late last week.)

            On Broadway and on West 10th clearances from the guideway to property frontages would be approximately 8m. The stations could fit between curbs – no need to encroach on sidewalks. But, as Bob says, they could also be integrated into abutting developments where that makes sense. Just like they did in New Westminster where an elevated guideway pierced their downtown.

          8. Bob and I were referring to above-ground rail east of Alma. West is a given.

            Following your logic, you propose that the M-Line elevate past Arbutus, go back down before Alma, then back up again. Which involves several hundred million CAD more of land acquisition and lifting the TBM out of its pit/moving it to Alma/putting it back in/drilling for about 200m more, as well as knocking narrow stations through a corridor just as narrow…. all for less than 2km of actual elevated rail, because “fairness.”
            Or TransLink and its contractors could just drill straight to Alma and elevate from there, like any sane engineer would do.

            Said analysis also notes that operating revenue would be higher with RRT, and that King George-Fleetwood would be economical. Since Hepner has TransLink by the balls right now, I fully expect a new report proposing a two-stage SkyTrain to Fleetwood (Langley later) and/or a full extension with a short-turn track at Fleetwood once McCallum gets elected.

            Macdonald-Alma is 20m between building fronts, as are most SkyTrain stations. Any resulting elevated rail will make the Canada Line’s stations look like the Shinkansen’s.

          9. That is absolutely NOT what I propose. I don’t actually propose an elevated guideway. I propose LRT.

            But if it’s going to be an extension of SkyTrain the line should be elevated west of Arbutus to save costs. It would remain elevated beyond Alma while it follows the diversion to 8th so that is can serve the Jericho Lands. There is a nice level shelf about half way along that property that would be suitable for a station (but better for LRT.) West of that the grade rises quickly and the SkyTrain guideway could take advantage of that rise to go subterranean and tunnel over to 10th. (Or they could expropriate a bunch of property and skip the tunnel.)

            I don’t think there’s any hope that the UBC extension will be built at the same time as the currently advancing project to Arbutus so the logistics of the TBMs are irrelevant. They used one for the Evergreen tunnel without building a subway for the length.

            Furthermore, building the UBC extension at the same time – ie running the TBM further west, to wherever you want it to go, would add years to the completion date to Arbutus. It would leave Central Broadway dealing with increasing pass ups for many unnecessary years.

            Why is it a given that West 10th would be elevated but not West Broadway? Makes no sense. West Broadway measures 26m between buildings. West 10th only 24m.

            Fraser SkyTrain has higher capital costs so you could build more LRT and capture more passengers.

          10. The Evergreen tunnel is one section through Burnaby Mountain, and level with the guideway on both ends. Before or after Alma, simultaneously or decades apart, two tunnels and an up-down-up track is unsound.
            Expropriation can no longer be done for next to nothing. As we’ve seen, even cutting a road through a park or paving over a railway is financially and politically costly.

            Doing things in segments only increases costs and disruption. Best to get the whole thing finished sooner than later – and with more and more people joining the conversation, it looks like “sooner.”

            The only station on 10th would be Sasamat, which can use the Safeway parking lot. Disruptive to the three blocks’ worth of Point Grey Village, yes, but the rest is a 7m-wide guideway on a straight shot down suburbia and apartments with big setbacks.

            On Fraser? Not with 2k-6k pphpd and 21.4 kph you can’t. Again, capacity means operational profit, which makes up for construction. Look at the bill, sure, but also look at the five dozen yearly statements coming after it.

          11. No. Not on Fraser. Why chase after those who don’t really want transit anyway? The whole argument about technology out in the distant ‘burbs is about “stay out of the way of the almighty car”. Nobody is planning to actually ride the thing. There are a handful of people who want the taxpayer to fund excellent higher speed transit so they can sprawl and speculate on their house with a pool. The rest, resigned to a region with increased transit infrastructure, just want it to be out of their way.

            Think about it. People in Langley are not aiming for urban. They’re not looking for a metro system. They’re not looking for an urban environment. They’re aiming for the polar opposite.

            If they really want excellent transit they could move to where there is excellent transit. And then we should help them with that- not sprawl excessively expensive metro lines waay oouutt thheerree,

            I’d argue that they’d be better off evolving their neighbourhood without reliance on a zippy trippy to Vancouver or somewhere else on the line – if they want a home town they love, But do they want a home town they love?

            For the ridiculous cost of SkyTrain to Langley we could build higher quality transit to/from and through places where more people would actually appreciate it.

          12. Yes on Fraser. “Nobody’s planning to ride it” casually dismisses the whole SoF region, its projected 202k daily ridership with SkyTrain & BRT, and residents who desperately want a proper alternative to driving.

            Again, confusing cause with effect. Assuming that people like to drive and like to live far away – rather than Vancouver’s unaffordability and job market getting them stuck in a place with poor rapid transit investment – is almost a “let them eat cake” level of condescension.
            Provide a rapid transit line that facilitates non-driving commutes, and suddenly there’s demand to live closer to it and zone/build denser. That evolves neighbourhoods.

            Over half of Langley commutes to Surrey; that won’t change. The point of SkyTrain is so they can get somewhere beyond if they need to. Slow transit and a forced transfer doesn’t make Surrey more attractive, it just reduces efficiency and wastes people’s time.

            No higher-quality transit than SkyTrain… not unless you’re willing to spend several more billion on a subway. If you mean “prettier,” well, that also requires more money.
            Hubs are useless without spokes – just ask Detroit about their People Mover. We need to build both, and with a SkyTrain project happening every seven years, we will.

          13. //Over half of Langley commutes to Surrey; that won’t change.

            Don’t be daft. Of course it will change. If you make it faster and easier people will absolutely travel farther. Nobody would have lived in Burnaby and worked in downtown Vancouver before cars or fast transit. Many people will do the math and opt for the bigger, cheaper house farther away.

            That will drive up housing costs in Langley so people will move out to Aldergrove and demand a SkyTrain extension.

            On the other hand, if you build LRT to Langley, that will maintain the half now working in Surrey and be less attractive to those who work in Burnaby or Vancouver. That will keep Langley more affordable and reduce the total kms commuted. But when Langley residents want to come in to town they just need to transfer. Nobody is building a wall.

          14. Nope. Despite what you might think, people don’t think it’s “fun” to spend time and money travelling long distances. If they’re going halfway across the city, they have to, and slowing them down won’t change that.
            Now if people want to, that falls under your self-described “once in a while” trips to amenities all over Metro Vancouver. An uptick in that (without increased driving) is a win for the entire region.
            All Surrey needs to do is keep urbanizing and not decay, and Langley residents will go there. With increased mobility and density, it’ll work both ways, and Surrey residents will go to Langley. Everybody wins.

            Take off the nostalgia filter. What really happened is that Burnaby was content on being a car-oriented suburb full of people driving downtown until SkyTrain showed up. And that politicians were too scared of NIMBYs to take advantage and rezone SFHs along the SkyTrain for higher density and rentals (not counting corruption, demovictions, condos vs rentals, speculation or foreign money laundering).

            You literally just said that you want light rail’s slowness to stop people north of Fraser from going south, and vice versa. Not a literal wall, but a wall nonetheless… and it’ll work about as well as Trump’s or Khrushchev’s. Address the problem (the housing crisis) instead of the symptom (people leaving the city), or Metro Van’ll be out several billion and still facing an exodus while LRT advocates scratch their heads confused.

          15. Justin – Putting the skytrain above the curb lane is a great solution if the road street were narrowed and a protected cycling lane were put under the guideway. Then parking lane beside the bike lane and 2 traffic lanes in the middle. That would make an awesome bike path which would be dry year round. Great for shopping and for getting to UBC. Also provide shade for walkers in the summer time.

          16. //Nope. Despite what you might think, people don’t think it’s “fun” to spend time and money travelling long distances.


          17. Bring that up again once we have a sudden surge of vets coming home from a world war, starting families and needing a whole lot of housing at once. It’s irrelevant until then.

          18. Actually, in my haste to be concise I wrote the wrong sprawling suburb. What I meant was Llewellyn Park.

            But it doesn’t matter. From the beginning of fast transport the suburbs have sprawled. The majority have traveled farther and farther in search of the bigger/cheaper house and a bigger yard. They have eschewed urban living and the superior public transportation that comes with it. Now they want their cake and eat it too.

            Because transportation was subsidized it exacerbated the problem. If you build SkyTrain farther out it will make it easier for more people to live farther out. And they will.

            You can deny it all you want. It doesn’t change reality.

            But there’s no need to sprawl further. We have more than a half dozen town centres already served by SkyTrain that are in their development infancy. If people want SkyTrain service they can move to one of those.

          19. The only gated mansionvilles we have are southwest of Fairview and west of Ambleside. Langley is not one of them.
            A simple StatsCan search will give you a town where the average personal income is $38k (just above the city’s “living wage”) or less. A simple Google search will give you three bedrooms for the price of one of Vancouver’s. These are blue collars and families who can’t afford Vancouver, and so they end up in Langley commuting to Surrey; hardly the urban-disdaining one percenters you label them as.

            You want people to live closer? Curb speculation and dirty money, pressure City Hall for larger-scale redevelopments near SkyTrain, relax the viewcones, and build more rentals and co-ops – Joyce-Collingwood, Station Square et al. are insufficient as well as too expensive.
            Even then, Surrey is still set to outgrow Vancouver, with Langley as its main suburb. Let’s redevelop Langley around the train, not leave it as-is and have everybody keep driving.

            From the beginning of cars the suburbs have sprawled. Rapid transit has alleviated sprawl. Effect, not cause.
            “Reality” is that slow transit on its own preserves the status quo. Fast transit and below-market housing reduces vehicle usage. Myopia, mindblindness and ivory tower syndrome will get us nowhere.

          20. I completely agree with your second paragraph. Use the correct tools to fix the problem.

            Don’t use a chisel to hammer nails. That’s what pushing an urban metro system beyond the urban fringe is doing. It doesn’t actually solve the problem – it just pushes it farther and farther out. It is unsustainable both economically and environmentally.

            The people who suffer are the blue collar workers who must commute farther and farther even if it’s on a faster train. But being blue collar, many of them need a vehicle and will drive. Farther and farther.

            Yes, grow the Surrey-Langley region around the train. I saw a wonderful 40 year vision by Surrey transportation planners in the Daily Hive a week or two ago. A networked grid of LRT to serve a growing city without sprawling out further.

          21. Right metaphor, wrong tool, wrong job.
            SkyTrain connects townships: it’s the right fit for Surrey-Langley and Newton-Guildford, both of which are Vancouver’s urban fringe.
            Light rail supplements the SkyTrain: it’s the right fit for Scott Road to Newton or Walnut Grove once the transit backbone gets built. Then again, so is an express bus, which does the exact same job for less money and no street disruption….

            By “vision” you mean a bunch of lines on a map. Voters have soured on Surrey First, so they’re going all-in on their little vanity project as a last resort come October.
            At $157M/km x 150km, Surrey wants $24 billion spent on themselves over the next two decades. That’s enough to get SkyTrain for Langley, Guildford-White Rock, Hastings, Willingdon and the North Shore, with some left over for B-Lines for each proposed route. Same/better level of service, much more coverage and ridership, definitely profitable.

            What’s with the constant double standard? If you’re obsessed about SkyTrain “creating” sprawl or unaffordability (it doesn’t), then you should be even more worried about light rail.
            Observe the distinct lack of modal switch, abundance of park n’ rides and large amounts of redevelopment money changing hands in LRT-only cities. Urbanists, businesses and developers love it. Actual passengers think they should’ve gone with more buses or a metro instead.

        1. Elevated line from VCC Clarke to UBC would cost about 2 billion ( instead of a subways five) .Most could be recovered by a local density & transit value capture. Net Land costs for stations & turns would be zero ( or a profit) after the land is rezoned & sold . To spend most of METRO transits capital $$$$$$ on one gold plated project is not fair to the communities who are getting the no money , its not a priority story.

          1. Hardly gold-plated – it’s pretty common to bury rail transit once it reaches downtown (and make no mistake, Broadway will be part of downtown in the near future). I’d rather spend an extra $3B getting it right than deal with more Canada Line-level underbuilding, which is likely what we’d get with an “El” on Broadway.

          2. The part of the Canada line that is underbuilt are the steep grades & small stations in the UNDERGROUND sections. Increasing the station capacity would not be a problem if it was elevated

          3. The elevated stations are still 20m wide, Bob. No way they’re fitting down Broadway or downtown Granville without shrinking platforms to 1-1.5m wide and not having a concourse, which negates any length advantage.

          4. Elevated stations can be incorporated into the second floor of new developments , increasing the the buildings value. No shortage of developers wanting the station included in their project

          1. Bike lane could be elevated 10 ft under skytrain rising to 20 ft next to skytrain when required.

          2. Points for creativity Bob, but the trolley buses alone need 17′ of clearance. A 20′ elevated bikeway and 30′ viaduct and stations (which still need property and demolition) would likely cost just as much as a subway.

  7. @Justin,

    The track spacing requirements you listed apply to mainline rail (and to ladder tracks in yards specifically) for the ability to pass freight trains and their risk of derailment. This does not apply to well-maintained closed metro systems. 18′ is closer to the total width of the guideway than to the width per track.

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