We’re reviving a Vancouver-oriented Price Tags Golden Oldie from December 2012 that rings with resonance today, as we enjoy lively and informed debate about when subway and LRT are appropriate.

Given that the VCC-Clark Drive to Arbutus section is funded and underway, the Arbutus to UBC section is getting scrutiny. Given UBC’s involvement and possible financial support, the impending Jericho development and the lengthy low-density section of the proposed line, not to mention Skytrain vs. LRT, it’s fertile ground for thinking.

So many of the topics discussed in 2012 are relevant today, perhaps in a different manner on the Arbutus to UBC section.

The Editors of Price Tags

Bob Ransford discussed the push by the Vancouver Council to get a rapid-transit line down Broadway in his Vancouver Sun column.  Lots of good points.

I sent it off to Human Transit blogger Jarrett Walker to see if he had any counterpoints.  Oh yeah.

So here are the two of them, with Jarrett’s remarks italicized along the way:


Questions about a Broadway subway line must not go unasked

The number of stations would have a huge impact on the shaping of neighbourhoods along the rapid transit line

By Bob Ransford, Special to The Sun – December 8, 2012

Now that Vancouver city council has decided that a $2.8-billion subway rapid transit line to UBC is the best way to meet the growing public transportation demand along the Broadway corridor, some hard questions need to be asked.

Why ask the questions after the decision has been made?

Well, if history is our teacher, we should know that securing a political commitment to finance a transit project close to $3 billion is a near-impossible task. I can almost guarantee we’re facing at last five years of wrangling over transit governance, regional planning priorities, provincial participation, tax policy, cost sharing and a myriad of other issues standing in the way of finding the money. While that wrangling is going on, there will be lots of time for asking and answering questions.

Second, if a miraculous agreement can be reached to secure $3 billion to build a single transit line in a region that needs at least double that amount of money to finance a short list of other transportation priorities, our attention will then turn to another two to three years of serious planning.

It’s during this serious planning phase that we can’t afford to ignore asking the serious questions and answering them honestly and completely.

These are the serious questions that went unasked and therefore unanswered during the dysfunctional planning that led to the construction of the Canada Line. That’s why, more than seven years after the Canada Line station locations were planned, not a single new housing unit along this high capacity transit system has been built in Vancouver. It’s also why at least three and perhaps as many as five transit stations are missing on the line.

JW: The Canada Line is certainly not missing three stations, unless you really do want it to be a slow streetcar. For a consistent station spacing adjusted for density you’d have added just one, at 16th.  Stations are not just a cost factor but also a delay factor affecting total travel times.  This is the first hint that Ransford is uninterested in whether transit is actually useful for getting people where they want to go in a way that is preferable to their alternatives.  

It’s why the system was designed with small station platforms, inhibiting expansion of trains to accommodate increased ridership.

These questions weren’t asked because all the attention focused on seeking consensus on raising the money to build the system. When a tenuous agreement among a long list of partners was reached to fund the project, after seemingly endless wrangling to, no one wanted to provoke any more serious debates. “Forget the questions, let’s just build the system” became the mantra.

JW: I have never encountered a capital project of any size or worthiness that didn’t require a bit of this mantra.  The political system is designed to reward picking things apart rather than putting them together, so a certain amount of this kind of assertiveness is always necessary, especially toward the end of the debate.

We can’t afford to repeat that fiasco. Serious questions need to be asked before a contract to build the system is signed.  The first and most important question that needs to be asked is about how this new transit system will shape neighbourhoods along the line.

JW: Why is this the important question?    Like his hero Patrick Condon, Ransford seems uninterested in the primary function of transit, which is to help a citizenry feel liberated to access the riches of their city without cars.  Development outcomes, like sustainability outcomes, are secondary results of transit systems that get the transportation outcome right.   Development around stations in great.  Ignoring transport outcomes in order to serve the needs of certain developers is another matter.

The plan is to build a subway all the way to UBC with only three proposed stations between Arbutus Street and the UBC campus. Research demonstrates that automobile trips are one of the biggest contributors to GHG emissions. We also know that most people make vehicle trips in a range just beyond where they are comfortable walking, primarily to meet their daily needs

JW: The geographical problem of the Broadway corridor is that density drops off suddenly west of Arbutus and so does redevelopment potential.  The only reason any project extends west of Arbutus at all is UBC itself.  This is why it made sense for TransLink to consider options that end at Arbutus.  

UBC Prof. Patrick Condon has demonstrated in his extensive work comparing transit systems performance and costs that local buses and streetcars extend the walk trip at costs considerably less than SkyTrain LRT, allowing frequent on and off stops for trip chaining (performing more than one errand on the same trip) and accommodating typically short trips to work or to shop when compared to other modes.

Walking becomes the mainstay mode of movement in streetcar neighbourhoods, with the streetcar itself acting as a sort of pedestrian accelerator, extending the reach of the walk trip.

JW: Slow streetcars stuck in traffic, such as Portland’s, are useless as pedestrian accelerators because when you count waiting time, they are barely faster than walking.  When travelling along the Portland Streetcar path, I always start walking and board the streetcar only if it happens to overtake me; I must always allow enough time to walk the entire way, so the Portland Streetcar does nothing to actually save me useful time, ever.  

A more effective relationship between walking and transit is for the two to be in separate, non-overlapping, and therefore complementary roles, which means transit speeds must be well above walk speeds.  Subways are good pedestrian accelerators because they connect one pedestrian-intensive space to another over a longer distance, delivering the customer as a pedestrian.  Surface light-rail and busways can do this too, but only if the “intimate slow neighborhood” crowd isn’t allowed to slow them down to the point of making them useless. 

A mixed-use neighbourhood flourishes when people either walk between their homes and local shops, services or jobs or take a short jaunt on a streetcar and get on or off close to their destination. Typically, streetcar stations are 300 to 400 metres apart. Residential densities within a 400-metre radius of these lines typically average 20 to 30 units per acre. That means low-rise apartments close to the station and townhouses, duplexes and some single-family homes near the edge of the 400-metre radius. With a streetcar, over time along the Broadway corridor, modest redevelopment would occur and the existing retail villages along the corridor would be revitalized and would thrive.

JW: I love all the outcomes that Ransford desires here, but those outcomes work best in the presence of transit that is protected from delay, such as the way subways (or some exclusive-lane rail and busways) function.  Slow transit doesn’t make people live slower lives.  Instead, it makes people use their cars because those become the only way to access the city quickly.

More fundamentally:  The entire presumption of this discussion is that the role of transit investment is to manipulate people’s lives to make them act in ways that certain advocates and developers approve of.   I prefer to think of people as free actors in a free society, and to focus on liberating transit riders rather than trying to manipulate them.

Compare this neighbourhood-shaping influence to a high-capacity, costly subway system with just three stations between Arbutus and UBC, more than a kilometre apart. First, the system is aimed at moving people relatively long distances quickly, rather than serving local neighbourhoods. Hence, three stations.

JW: “Local neighborhoods” or “communites” is almost always code for “lower-density areas that do not have enough demand to justify major transit facilities.”  Do people at Arbutus & Broadway not count as a local neighborhood simply because they live and work and shop at high enough density (and redevelopment potential) that a station is viable there?

The idea is to move large numbers of people from the Broadway/Commercial transit node to the Central Broadway jobs centre and others on to the terminus at UBC.

JW: No, the idea is to move people rapidly east-west across a high-frequency grid, where connections with north-south Frequent Network lines enable fast travel between countless origin-destination pairs all over Vancouver.

This type of transit line will do little to support the existing retail villages along the corridor. There will be pressure to develop density around the three transit stations. It will be the kind of density most existing residents will find unacceptable and will characterize as “spot zoning”.

JW: Rapid transit (subway or surface) has to run quickly and does this by asking people to walk further to fewer stops.  As a result, it tends to be better at supporting nodal patterns but not in linear patterns.  

Transit that stops every block or two is useful mainly for protecting people from having to walk.  This is an issue for a small senior/disabled sliver of the population, but for everyone else, walking is good for you!  If we’re going to manipulate public behavior through transit investments, I’d rather focus on manipulating to do healthy and sustainable things.

Densities around transit stations of this type should radiate up to about 800 metres from the stations and should be in excess of 30 units per acre on average, with much higher densities within the 400-metre radius.

This kind of density transforms neighbourhoods. This is the kind of transformation Burnaby has been embracing along the Expo and Millennium lines for years. It’s this kind of density Vancouver planners and politicians have been afraid to talk about, leaving seas of low-density housing around a number of existing expensive, high-capacity transit stations in Vancouver years after the stations were built.

JW: Ransford has been indirectly ragging SkyTrain up to now, but now he cites SkyTrain’s unique ability to galvanize really massive density.  Why?  Because it’s fast, frequent, extremely frequent, reliable, and doesn’t slow down to the point of uselessness just because it’s going through a linear neighborhood.

Meanwhile, if Ransford is really implying that Point Grey should adopt Metrotown or Patterson as its redevelopment model, he might want to spend some more time talking with folks in Point Grey about what they want, because they will be heard sooner or later.

So after we’ve answered the first question about whether or not we can afford to invest $3 billion of public money in a single transit line moving people from A to B and on to C along the Broadway corridor, we then need to ask how that transit line will reshape our neighbourhoods.

JW: Sorry, Bob, but there are other questions, such as:  What’s the best way help people get where they’re going in a way that’s preferable to their cars?  And what’s the best way to liberate citizens to access the riches of the city to travel sustainably in a way that values their time?  Ransford isn’t interested in those questions, but I suspect the people of Vancouver are. 

Bob Ransford is a public affairs consultant with Counterpoint Communications Inc. He is a former real estate developer who specializes in urban land-use issues. Email: ransford@counterpoint.ca or Twitter.com/BobRansford

JW: Despite my heckling, Bob may be right about some things:  The Broadway line is a tougher sell once you get west of Arbutus because the really high densities that are possible east of there are politically almost impossible to imagine at Point Grey or even around Broadway/Macdonald.  

I could see it possibly making sense to run light rail in subway part of the way westward but to come to the surface between Arbutus and Macdonald, not as a stuck-in-traffic streetcar but as proper surface light rail like Portland’s Interstate Avenue or East Burnside segments or Seattle’s MLKing segment.  That would allow it to have another stop or two, though not a lot more stops, and it would have to have strong surface signal priority etc. 

However, it would help everyone to remember that if it weren’t for the truly colossal demand out of UBC — demand that’s going relatively long distances and that currently uses incredible quantites of fast bus service — nobody would be talking about a Broadway line west of Arbutus at all.  Once we’re west of Arbutus, the Broadway line doesn’t need to be about redevelopment at all; it’s amply justified solely by the UBC market.  It’s about replacing hundreds of bus trips with fewer automated trains, thus allowing TransLink to run much more service at much less cost and lower emissions, and thus freeing up resources that can be used to improve transit service all over the region.


  1. Jarrett has a great line I’ve heard him say multiple times, it goes something like, when you replace a bus service with a streetcar without proper priority measures, all you get is a very expensive bus. And that appears to be what he’s arguing again.

    In every public consultation about the Broadway corridor I’ve attended over the years I keep hearing lines like “clean, green, electric streetcars, reducing GHGs, etc…” We have green electric transit along Broadway already, the trolley buses, and I keep having to remind people at these events, we’re discussing replacing the 99, not the 9.

    1. Exactly. Even if we build Skytrain underground, the #9 bus will still be running along Broadway making frequent stops, and doing the exact same job as a streetcar. If you live a long ways from a Skytrain stop, take the #9 to the nearest station.

    2. Condon proposes a tramway with frequent stop spacing as a means of establishing a particular intra-neighborhood pattern. He does not consider transit systems with wider stop spacing, which are more useful for traveling longer distances, apparently because he does not think they help to establish similar patterns.

      As the most widespread and fastest form of transportation aside from interurbans (which have metro- or LRT-like stop spacing), trams established his desired pattern in most Western cities around the turn of the century, including in Vancouver. Nowadays, most of these same neighbourhoods persist in form but with high driving mode share.

      In cities with high driving mode share, tramways no longer define development patterns but remain as neglected legacy systems (e.g. Toronto, Melbourne) or tourist attractions (e.g. Lisbon, Seattle). New development has become auto-oriented except near metro stations and frequent regional rail lines in cities with extensive frequent transit networks. Tramways can still be a useful part of the transit network and influence development where they provide a reasonably fast, frequent local service well connected to rapid transit.

      The pattern Condon likes would emerge in the corridor if it were legal and the most profitable to build under the zoning, whether the local transportation mode runs on rails or wheels. Tower forms would be built if they were legal and more profitable. Because any substantially higher-density use would be profitable, the form that gets built is really a matter of zoning. He might be more successful at getting a moderate-density pattern that looks and feels tramway-dependent if he instead lobbied the City of Vancouver to make it legal and the most dense under the zoning!

      1. I should add another or for cities that have legacy tramways mostly separated from traffic that are well-connected to their metro and regional networks (e.g. Prague, Berlin).

  2. In Ottawa we are going through our own LRT debate (or at least we were) and I think Jarret’s final point is the key. Ottawa has a pretty concentrated transit demand downtown, coming principally from East-West, so our LRT will be about serving that demand, not about redfining our suburban development pattern. And in so doing, we can free up other resources for elsewhere.

  3. I agree with Jarrett Walker a lot of the time, but to state: “density drops off suddenly west of Arbutus and so does redevelopment potential” is DEAD WRONG. There is tremendous development potential west of Arbutus. Of course there are great political hurdles, but we are talking about a transit line designed to last 100 years. Who can say what will happen over a hundred years?

    1. Of course this corridor could be developed. From someone looking outside from a spaceship they will think it rather odd such low density exists in Vancouver so close to its core. Kits, Dunbar, and PG are desirable pieces of land, and increasing pressures for higher density are measurable by diverging intra-regional land costs.

      1. I think the Cambie corridor re-development has the potential to signal what direction this may go. If Cambie ends up being re-developed as planned, in a more linear fashion instead of nodal high rises, then I suspect Vancouver City Council will probably be able to push a similar plan along Broadway west of Arbutus.

  4. To equal the passenger capacity of underground RRT/ALRT, you’d need almost back-to-back street level LRT. And you’d never match the speed of an underground route, no matter what you did. Might as well stick to buses if at-grade LRT is the choice.

  5. Great comments by Jarrett.

    A couple of points. There would be little or no financial benefit from running an LRT in a tunnel to between Arbutus and MacDonald. It might even cost more. The frequency of service is limited by the on street portion requiring longer more expensive platforms in underground station to provide a given level of capacity. The Eglington LRT is an example of this. It is around the same cost per km as the Broadway Line with around half the line underground and half on the surface. The underground sections of the Seattle LRT that are currently under construction are even more per km than the Broadway Line. Ottawa’s LRT with only a 3 km tunnel downtown is not much less per km.

    In addition, there would be the expense of a LRT yard in pricey Vancouver.

    The forced transfer at Commercial in addition to slower travel times and frequencies would reduce ridership and revenue.

    Bottom line is that if a significant portion of a transit line is going to be underground, it is likely better financially to make the whole line grade separated and automated.

    Dense nodes are better and more convinent for pedestrians than linear corridors. They function much like town squares. It is much easier to walk to a bunch of destinations at a strong node. One can even comparison shop. Linear corridors only really are good for cars. They are fine for bikes too if there are separated bike lanes.

    Transit is a nodal form of transporation so nodes are far easier to serve effectively with transit than linear corridors.

  6. Wow, I’ve never seen Jarrett so unequivocal in support of a particular technology. He’s usually very much more a “here are the pros and cons and now you decide” type of guy.

    But I thought it was ironic that he wrote:

    “I have never encountered a capital project of any size or worthiness that didn’t require a bit of this mantra. The political system is designed to reward picking things apart rather than putting them together, so a certain amount of this kind of assertiveness is always necessary, especially toward the end of the debate.”

    Upon reading this, my immediate thought was that this always seems to be true for transit projects but that highway projects often magically escape this somehow. The PMH1 project, and the fact that it changed midstream from a 5-lane bridge to a 10-lane bridge, is a prime example of something happening pretty much out of the blue and with very little debate among politicians.

    1. I agree. It is a mystery how the PMH1 got designed and built as it did. Why is there so much public discussion and debate about public transit and so little when it comes to highways and roads? Some difference is understandable, but this much?

  7. I’m a bit surprised Walker got one point so wrong. The Canada Line is indeed “missing” three stations that were planned: Cambie at 33rd, Cambie at 57th and Capstan Way in Richmond. Granted the final plan may not have included them in the initial tranche, but it was always intended they be part of the system.

    As to which other two that are missing according to Ransford, the only one that strikes me right away is Cambie at 16th. Bypassing that commerical node has made it a bit of a backwater, and the walk from Broadway is uphill and would be too long for older people.

    1. Cambie at 16th seems a no-brainer to provide, but Cambie at 33rd and at 57th to me seem to cause more damage from a reduction in trip speed than could be justified for the benefit of the station. The Capstan Way stop in Richmond would be silly as it is so near to Aberdeen.

      1. adding 16th, 33rd plus 57th stations would not not reduce trip speed using SKIP STOP.==== Airport train stopping at at these new stops but NOT stopping at King Edward, 41st or Langara The 3 new stations would put a lot of people within walking distance. They where not included in the original build in order to pretend that the cost was under $ 2 billion.====Penny wise pound foolish

      2. Going slowly around the curves near 33rd the train is practically stopped anyway. It makes sense to anticipate a station there. Otherwise it would have made way more sense to run it straight through so it could actually gain some speed.

    2. He’s not talking about stations that were planned but not included, he was talking about stations that ought to be there or can be justified. That was how the original comment was intended and that was how Jarrett responded.

  8. I certainly agree with these comments. We don’t need to speculate about the trade-off between speed and walking. The 99 and the 9 are a perfect natural experiment. People clearly prefer the more widely spaced option. And the current population of users already supports the service, so all this handwringing about development is not necessary. That said, I suspect that we will see densification along the line, particularly between Broadway and 16th from Macdonald to Alma. The single family dwellings along 10th are doing very well because 10th is too busy and narrow for this type of development, so that will be an impetus to move to 4 and five story apartments along this road.

    I don’t even think the Canada Line is missing a station. There ought to be one at 16th, but I doubt the Olympic Village station is necessary. If the station box for the Broadway station were built north of Broadway, there could be a level entrance down at 2nd which would cover that catchment area. Because the Olympic Village station is deep, the station access time might not even be that different with moving walkways.

    I was just riding the Red Line in LA over the weekend and it further confirmed by belief that bored tunnels are to be avoided where possible. It just takes too much time to get down there. Even with the badly designed Canada Line stations under Cambie, station access is just must faster with cut-and-cover tunnels close to street level. There is really no need to bore tunnels under Broadway, and the cut-and-cover disruption could be mitigated in other ways. Vehicle traffic could be moved to 4th, 12th and 16th with just the buses on Broadway and maybe 10th from Macdonald to Alma. The full sidewalk width could be maintained and the bike lane moved to Broadway to increase the shopping traffic. Maybe a movable canopy would be build for the bike lane on Broadway to make it more popular to increase the traffic in the area. And businesses that suffered declines could be compensated for their losses. The city estimates a bored line at 2.8 billion. The Canada Line was built for 115 million per km. That would be 1.4 billion to UBC. Only 60% of the Canada Line is buried, but there is still a bored section, a maintenance centre and a bridge built on mushy ground. With a cut and cover tunnel to UBC, something like 170 per km ought to be realistic. That would be just 2 billion. At the very least, the price and quality of service differential between a bored and cut-and-cover tunnel and a compensation program ought to be examined.

    1. Regarding 16th, due to the grade from Broadway to 16th, a station would have been really deep raising construction costs. The access times would large leaving little advantage. Not all bored tunnel stations have to be deep. Typically, bored tunnels are deep in some cities because the the city was not designed on a grid thus the tunnel has to be deep to avoid buildings. Another reason is to avoid other subway tunnels.

      A bored tunnel would likely go under 10th to avoid disruption to Broadway at the station pits. 10th is high than Broadway so exits to Broadway would be working with the grade helping to lower access times.

      1. The Red Line in LA needed to be bored under downtown and across the Hollywood Hills, but much of the line runs right under orthogonal streets. It isn’t like the dip under the foundations between Yaletown and Downtown. The impetus to a bored tunnel was probably to avoid traffic disruptions – something that only lasts a year as opposed to the 100+ years of the tunnel.

        In this city we see excavations and underground parking construction occur in 8 months all over the place, so that type of timetable is probably something that can be insisted upon in the negotiation with the tunnel contractor.

      2. “A bored tunnel would likely go under 10th to avoid disruption to Broadway at the station pits. 10th is high than Broadway so exits to Broadway would be working with the grade helping to lower access times.”

        That is a really, really interesting point. 10th is not far from 12th, that distance being the “short” end of the Broadway-fronting blocks, and in some areas it would help with the deep grade.

        Switching gears slightly, I wonder if cut-and-cover could work on 10th? I don’t see it working it Broadway given the Cambie ordeal. Other commenters have noted what seemed to be an almost 50% discount resulting from opting for cut-and-cover over a bored tunnel, which is pretty compelling and hard to ignore.


    In addition to the 33rd Ave, 57th Ave and Capstan “future” stations on the Canbad Line – the “real” missing station is at Nelson St. in downtown Vancouver. Original plans long before the RFP was issued called for a station at Dunsmuir (connecting to Expo Line) and one a Nelson (to serve the Granville strip). Those 2 stations were consolidated to a station at “Robson”, which was then moved to Georgia to link with West Vancouver Blue buses. The result is the absence of a transfer to the Expo Line except at Waterfront, a missing catchment area in downtown south, and downtown Richmond eventually having more stations than downtown Vancouver (after Concord and Pinnacle build Capstan Station).

    WRT UBC student traffic being justification enough to build SkyTrain to UBC – you also need to factor in that those students are all travelling on U-Pass – at steeply discounted fares (i.e. not paying their way). Is it cost effective to build a SkyTrain in tunnel for them, or surface priority LRT? Coupled with the neighbourhood concerns, I could easily see TransLink’s “Combo 1” proposal succeed – providing SkyTrain to Arbutus *serving the Broadway corridor) and LRT from Main St. to UBC along the streetcar RoW. That would distribute ridership load, eliminate a transfer (one tranfer from Expo Line to LRT @ Main St.) and give West Broadway slightly shorter stop spacing. It would also give Granville Island (CMHC) a badly needed rapid transit connection (from both east and west) – federal funding, anyone? (There has also been suggestions that UBC could contribute to the line too (maybe for the segment across the Endowment Lands).

    1. The problem with Combo 1 is that the LRT does not add much more than the bus. If the 99 (or 84/99) were given its own lane, larger double articulated buses, signal priority and street median stations, there really is very little difference between that and the LRT besides price. And if only part of the Broadway Line were built, it would really need to be to Macdonald and not just Arbutus because there is quite a bit of local demand down there. Ending at Arbutus would add a needless transfer for Broadway corridor traffic.

      I’m not sure that it is really right to say that UBC students are getting “steeply discounted fares”. The upass contract is offered at a discounted monthly rate (especially vis-a-vis the 3-zone pass), but all students pay it so the revenue per transit user is higher. Maybe a translinker can offer some statistics on this (if they have statistics on what percentage of students would be 2 and 3 zone users).

  10. Distance VCC -> Arbutus: 5.1 km Cost 400-700 mill
    Arbutus -> UBC: 6.7 km Cost 500-700 mill
    It doesn’t make sense to build Skytrain to UBC. The crucial missing link is C. Line to E. Line. http://www.humantransit.org/2010/04/vancouvers-broadway-corridor-options-announced.html
    What we can do is Skytrain to Cambie then an extension to Arbutus with permanent BRT/LRT connecting C. Line (Cambie) to UBC.

    Regarding C. Line Stations: Instead of More Stations, streetcar-ing Skytrain better is frequent Streetcar along South Cambie.

    1. While I agree that the proposed combinations are worth investigating and that the number one priority of a Broadway line needs to be to serve the business district between Cambie and Arbutus, I do think we should only consider these options if we are not able to find the funding to extend the Skytrain all the way to UBC.

      There are big and unanswered questions about a UBC LRT Line supporting a Broadway Skytrain line:

      1. How will this integrate with the proposed Vancouver Streetcar? Will this be a branch of it? Will it interline? Will this replace the Vancouver Streetcar?

      2. I think it’s likely (and desirable) that Vancouver will develop a secondary LRT network after the primary rapid transit network is completed. A UBC LRT would become the beginning of that secondary LRT network. Aside from the Streetcar and a possible Arbutus line, what is this secondary LRT network going to look like? Are we at the stage where it makes sense to begin working on this secondary network? A Hastings line is another possibility to consider and we need to consider whether that will be LRT or Skytrain too.

      3. What about an OMC for a UBC LRT Line? The Vancouver Streetcar originally envisioned using the space underneath the viaducts (a good reason to consider keeping the viaducts) but would that be enough space to support an LRT Line all the way to UBC, plus a Vancouver streetcar network?

      There’s a lot of “ifs” with this plan that still would need to be worked out and we’d also ultimately run the risk of just ending up with Skytrain to Arbutus and no rapid transit out to UBC which would be a mistake in my view. Better to try for a single Skytrain line straight from VCC-Clark to UBC.

      1. I was just thinking the same thing about a secondary LRT system to complement the Skytrain system. I was looking on Google Maps at potential routes focusing mostly on available right of ways. Obviously Arbutus would be at the top of most people’s lists but I also noticed theres a right of way from on King Edward (wide median) from about King Edward Canada Line Station at Cambie to the University Endowment Lands where there is a powerline easement/trail all the way to East Mall where again there is a wide street capable of handling a LRT line in an exclusive RoW. Not that this is an alignment well suited for redevelopment to high density towers but it is a RoW and could be a secondary high capacity exclusive transit route to get people to UBC.

      2. @ jon, There is a lot of potential for a secondary LRT network but in my view, it is still just that: secondary. But there hasn’t been a lot of thought into it yet. If we opt for a Skytrain/LRT Combo though, we’re basically committing to start off this LRT network without really having an actual network plan in place.

        As for the question of re-development, as I said earlier, I really think what happens with the Cambie Corridor is going to be key. If Cambie pans out as a largely linear redevelopment instead of the nodal development that has sprung up along a lot of the Skytrain, it will reinforce the reality that re-development isn’t driven as much by the technology of a transit line but by the land use policies that are put in place. Far too many people seem to believe that LRT (and Skytrain for that matter) are imbued with magical properties that cause certain types of development to just happen and completely ignore the fact that municipal governments land use policies actually drives what can happen in a given area.

      3. I don’t think it would make sense to bother with LRT to UBC. If a hypothetical underground Broadway RRT terminated at Arbutus or Macdonald or similar, you may as well continue on with BRT direct to UBC rather than bother with the huge capital cost of LRT (and operating savings with LRT are not that compelling as compared with BRT).

  11. Not to get too ahead of ourselves as getting this line built is a huge hurdle and the priority but are there long term plans for say, Expo/Millenium line to extend from Waterfront Station to Gastown and possibly down/under Hastings out to about Boundary Loop? And maybe a short extension/branch of the Expo/Millenium Line from somewhere around Burrard or Granville Station to the West End perhaps via Robson?

    1. I think for those of us hoping for rapid transit for the West End might be better off pushing for the Vancouver Streetcar and then ensuring that said segment of the Vancouver Streetcar is a genuinely rapid streetcar with exclusive lanes and signal priority. Branching off Skytrain from the existing lines would be hugely expensive unfortunately.

  12. In this opinion, Bob Ransford ties walking and thriving neighborhood to the “streetcar” stopping every 300 to 400 metres apart..so it is apparently the solution he is arguing for

    The same day or so (on twitter) it was arguing (with Walker) that there is no problem at rerouting a bus route 1/2 mile away of the thriving corridor it serves (That is the Robson bus…):
    It could be interesting to understand how Bob Ransford explains his own Transit contradiction.
    (we could disagree with Jarret viewpoint, but at least it is a coherent one).

    As mentioned by many before, the first and main goal of Transit is to improve accessibility/mobility into the region, the rest is bavardage.

    How to do it on Broadway is obviously the most important question

    It looks there is a good general agreement on what is needed on Broadway toward that purpose .Sure there is still room for bavardage on the West side – the 99B has no more than 3 bus between Arbutus and UEL (it is not a common practice to have a subway, even a LRT, with more stations than the bus it replace) – but the matter of the fact is that
    everyone seems to understand that the Broadway line is a regional line, of regional importance, meaning to replace the 99B not the 9.

    How to pay for it is the second most important question?

    We could still argue on the price tag, but we know there is no cheap answer, and we also know the province spend much more money than that on our regional road network:
    so it is not a matter of money availability, it is a matter to get our priority right, and when I say priority, it is not a LRT here vs a Skytrain there…

    It is a Robust transit network backbone versus unstopped motordom expansion

    discussion on which form the Point Grey’s building should have is not only secondary, it is no more mere bavardage, distracting of the real issue at stake:

    What shape of development we want for the region? A one anchored on a comprehensive transit network, or a one depending on on our road network – the only one the province is committed to make it working today.

    That is the only real question which should be asked at this stage..

    I hope to see you all, along Bob Ransford tomorrow evening at The Olympic Oval, to question the BC MOT on it http://engage.gov.bc.ca/masseytunnel/consultation/ .

  13. As a result, [rapid transit] tends to be better at supporting nodal patterns but not in linear patterns.

    Lest anyone get carried away with their interpretation of this little turn of phrase:

    Cities around the world have demonstrated that the maximum anywhere-to-anywhere mobility benefit of rapid transit is achieved when a subway line can be accessed within a reasonable walking distance from any point along the line.

    Yes, stations should be placed at the most vital pre-existing nodes. And yes, those nodes will accrue extra importance as the most easily accessible points along the line. But to express-bypass entire sections of city in the name of a faster journey between preferred distant destinations is to privilege very long trips at the expense of the anywhere-to-anywhere potential of the “high-frequency grid” that Jarrett Walker advocates.

    I am relentlessly critical of Seattle’s Link plans, where gaps of up to 3 miles appear between stations in the middle of the city, ostensibly to save distant suburbanites 30 seconds on their commutes. BART’s multi-mile gaps within Oakland and San Francisco proper are equally unforgiveable; that system has been a total failure at anything it purports to achieve beyond being a very expensive sprawl-enabling commuter rail.

    Fortunately, three stations between Arbutus and the University Endowment Lands — roughly one station per mile — is a perfect stop spacing for the lower-density (yet consistent) urban environment through which the line passes. This is not a repeat of Seattle or the Bay Area’s mistake: the line remains accessible by foot from anywhere along it; the closer you are to a major cross-street, the easier the access will be. Jarrett is correct that Ransford’s demand for more stations and a slower line would be unreasonable.

    But please don’t construe this into an argument for multi-mile stop spacing on future urban lines.

    1. Well said. I would say that 1-mile spacing should be the general standard for a subway/skytrain type of rapid transit line where high speed over a long distance is important. 1/2 mile spacing is better for something like Portland MAX light rail where distances are shorter and it is usually running at-grade. Of course, stations always have to affected by destinations and such, but these are good rules of thumb.

  14. @ Voony

    . . . Bob Ransford ties walking and thriving neighborhoods to the “streetcar stopping every 300 to 400 metres apart..so it is apparently the solution he is arguing for

    Me too Bob!

    God help us, some over-achiever even suggested an elevated grade separation thru Pacific Spirit Park.

    Admittedly my U days, taking the no 9, are long gone but I also share Voony’sit is no more mere bavardage” or to give the conversation even wider breadth, “chisme“.

    Trust me Bob, walking thriving neighbourhoods is far more important than getting there thirty seconds faster: it plays out economically, socially, educationally and culturally. Besides who says, after climbing the on/off stairs checking your pass etc. it is faster?

    If we can admit the Canada Line is already obsolete we can get on with a mature conversation.

    The point of TX is to 1 get there. The point of the city is 2 to be there. : Two totally contradictory paradigms.

    1 satisfies the techno-oriented, that huge populations are on the move: preferably underground at an expense, given the current ponzi financial-ization, that will never be paid off. The system will go brokepaying only the interest!

    Vancouver, unfortunately a very new city, developed as sprawl. In contrast older cities developed by subsuming their contiguous villages: i.e. they already had thriving sub-centers. So those insistent upon bringing up Paris, Melborne, or wherever are barking up the wrong tree.

    So far as UBC and SFU are concerned taking them to John and Jane is far more practical than taking John and Jane to UBC and SFU. Besides the latter are not the be all and end all destinations.

    Already the two U’s have recognized their early, huge siting mistakes, and have incrementalized in an attempt to facilitate the interests of their clientele: more, eventually, is in the offing.

    Taking the incremental town, its facilities and amenities, to John and Jane is the future.

    1. I realize, I made a counter sense: my previous post should have read:

      discussion on which form the Point Grey’s buildings should have is not only secondary, it is no more than mere bavardage, distracting us from the real issue at stake:

      What shape of development we want for the region? A one anchored on a comprehensive transit network, or a one depending on on our road network – the only one the province is committed to make it working today.”

      Also: you should have read

      “the 99B has no more than 3stops between Arbutus and UEL (it is not a common practice to have a subway, even a LRT, with more stops than the bus it replace).”

      …and as mentioned previously, those bus stop end-up to be very well positioned: so very little room for meaningful discussion at this stage.

      If there is a stopping issue, it is more between Clark and Main (Fraser or West of Fraser) : and that is effectively tied to redevelopment potential/orientation of False-Creek flat…
      (you can see the problem is in fact that VCC clark station shouldn’t have been built).

  15. Roger Kemble writes, “So far as UBC and SFU are concerned taking them to John and Jane is far more practical than taking John and Jane to UBC and SFU.” When UBC was planted out at Point Grey it was little more than a finishing school for west-side high school grads. Like SFU (atop Burnaby Mountain) and UNBC (on Cranberry Hill), it was designed to be purposely remote. And that, in any conversation about urban sustainability, seldom gets a look in.

    This is a great discussion thread and clearly one that has drawn in some knowledgable folks. Thanks for that. My own contribution, I fear, has to be a tangential one: to what extent can this construction and then operating investment be led by the needs of an institution that (a) has just joined Coursera (and so is saying, effectively, don’t come to us … we’ll come to you), (b) talks a great deal about winding down undergraduate commitments so as to focus on graduate programming, (c) exists within a metro region that now contains as many as eight full-blown universities, a few transferable colleges, and BCIT, and (d) has done far less to bring its business into the city centre than SFU? Consider the transit implications if all f2f first year Arts and Science programming was shifted to the (very stalled) Great Northern Way space.

    While it is often the case that metro subways terminate at airports (which are, at the end of the day, transportation transfer points), I don’t know of one of any size that terminates at a university — not unless there’s the prospect of growth occurring beyond the uni in the future. I’d be pleased to learn otherwise.

  16. Why does the rest of the lower mainland have to put up with a hideous elevated structure and Vancouver gets the first class treatment of an underground system. If they want it underground they should pay for any extra costs through extra taxes from Vancouver taxpayers.

    1. I think if you polled actual users of the Canada and Expo lines you’ll find that the Expo line passengers perceive their route to be the “first class” one because of its beautiful views and lack of constant screeching, rebrevating noise…

    2. When I use the SkyTrain through Burnaby et al I actually love the view and really enjoy the trip. Granted, it’s probably a different experience altogether for the homeowner next door to the track.

  17. @ KC” Adam Finch’s 16th Ave solution. It would be great if we could also get this Vancouver Sun opinion article piece debunked as well” Are you out of your mind. That’s the best bit of common sense yet!

    Adam Fitch is arguing for LRT along West 16th.” Absolutely! Are you so much the trained seal, pant sniffer, like most of these commentators, you refuse to buck the herd?

    1. How could his idea possibly make sense? You’re effectively bypassing Broadway, particularly Central Broadway, where the bulk of ridership comes from. His premise is that it’s a service for UBC, not for Broadway which is a regional employment destination.

      Even if underground SkyTrain were built up to Arbutus, it would be an immense benefit and improvement for not just the city but the region’s transportation network. That would effectively serve all of Central Broadway, which is the most congested portion of Broadway’s bus routes.

      I don’t “buck the herd” for the sake of bucking the herd, for the sake of “going against the man,” as you seem to be doing. This simply makes complete logical sense. There’s something called doing it right and doing it half-assed without looking at economies of scale. LRT, especially along his route, would never achieve the same high ridership numbers that are realistically expected from underground SkyTrain via Broadway. It’s also a longer route, and with LRT it’s effectively much slower.

      While Surrey is also important, even the City of Surrey’s LRT ridership estimates for multiple routes are nowhere near the high ridership anticipated for a 12-km SkyTrain route along Broadway to UBC.

      Vocal skeptics also said the Canada Line would never achieve its ridership projections: where were they when the Canada Line reached its ridership projections in its first year?

      Metro Vancouver lacks the transportation (road) infrastructure that similar sized regions have. Instead, we committed ourselves towards building a competent, high-speed, high-capacity rapid transit network to compensate. All of these factors and competencies are required in order for such a service to be competitive with the car as the mode of transport. And avoiding building a real long-term solution simply because of short-term inconveniences like construction is not a good excuse for not building it. That’s simply avoiding the big picture.

      1. well said. I should note too that I was one of those vocal skeptics about Canada Line ridership, and I wholeheartedly support Broadway, accepting that I was wrong about the Canada Line and ought to have been more vocal about the lack of spaciousness of the stations, etc. (that said, my main concern was with the P3 arrangement, not building the transit).

        I certainly don’t want that same mistake made on Broadway, though, of underbuilding the system. This one will likely have double the ridership as the Canada Line, and needs to be built big from day one.

    2. @ Roger Kemble, I find it highly disappointing (and also highly inappropriate) that someone who claims they want a “mature conversation” upthread decides to vent their disagreement by insulting someone you disagree with. It doesn’t augur well for your participation in this or any other conversation.

      @ KC To date, none of the alternative schemes presented have ever really seemed to address these simple realities, of the enormous demand in Central Broadway and the significant potential for densification that would come with rapid transit. None of the band-aid schemes come close to providing the “future-proofing” that a Skytrain extension to this corridor would provide.

      I think the attitude of defeatism too that comes in from all these people, this belief that somehow this project is “too expensive” or “too difficult” and is unattainable is the worst part of this entire aspect. A transit project of this size is hardly outside of the capacity of Metro Vancouver or the Province of British Columbia and by talking down what the region is capable of, they simply give cover to the freeways crowd, which somehow never has a problem finding the money for their projects.

      1. I’d also like to add that while European examples are also cited, it’s often ignored that these same examples are feeders for very large and comprehensive networks of subways and commuter rail. European cities acknowledge the need for primary arteries for transit along primary corridors. The same LRT and streetcar examples that are used are for secondary corridors and as feeder services for their subways and commuter rail. Our only feeder equivalent for SkyTrain, our primary artery, are our buses. It’s no different for our road system: e.g. we have arterial roads to get to the destination quickly, and side streets to get to our exact destination.

        There’s certainly a place for LRT and streetcar in the region, but not as primary arteries.

        And these same European LRT/streetcar examples are also completely different from the urban form of the Broadway corridor or Vancouver for that matter. Just because it costs XX dollars for this certain system in Europe doesn’t equate the same XX dollars for Broadway. No two contexts are ever the same. Not to mention that different jurisdictions have different ways of calculating costs of construction, they consider different things to be considered as part of costs. In other examples, there are also existing efficiences that are completely taken out of the equation.

        If we truly want transit to have a higher place in the region, we need to think on a macro-regional level, rather than micro-neighbourhood level. We need something that works regionally, how one gets from destination A to destination B. The borders of our municipalities are arbitrary and invisible, every municipality is interlinked. We work as one region, not independent municipal units. More particularly, a transit system that is highly competitive to the speed and conveniences of North American driving.

        We need to stop being so short-sighted, minimalist, and cheap for things that are still around and used for many, many, many decades to come. Metro Vancouver is the only major metropolitan region that I know of that is so minimalist in planning its transportation infrastructure. We seldom think of economies of scale or the future for the matter.

        Jarrett Walker said it best: “Slow transit doesn’t make people live slower lives. Instead, it makes people use their cars because those become the only way to access the city quickly….The entire presumption of this discussion is that the role of transit investment is to manipulate people’s lives to make them act in ways that certain advocates and developers approve of. I prefer to think of people as free actors in a free society, and to focus on liberating transit riders rather than trying to manipulate them.”

        Altogether, this is what UBC’s Professor Condon, and other LRT/streetcar supporters and Broadway transit skeptics, do not understand.

      2. @ Jack Hope: I think the attitude of defeatism too that comes in from all these people, this belief that somehow this project is “too expensive” or “too difficult” and is unattainable is the worst part of this entire aspect. A transit project of this size is hardly outside of the capacity of Metro Vancouver or the Province of British Columbia and by talking down what the region is capable of, they simply give cover to the freeways crowd, which somehow never has a problem finding the money for their projects.


    3. A modified Combo 1 with the LRT segment west of Arbutus shifted from Broadway to 16th Avenue is slightly longer and likely slightly less costly per km. The total cost is likely very similar to Combo 1.

      If this was some kind of regional express line, 16th Avenue might be a better street. But there just aren’t that many places or people there to justify choosing 16th over Broadway for a limited-stop frequent transit line.

    4. I get the impression Roger that if a single person said jumping off the Lions Gate Bridge was a great idea, you would insult the majority for being trained seal pant sniffers who refuse to buck the herd.

      Transit that doesn’t go where people want to go is pointless. The point of the Broadway isn’t just UBC, that’s just one station. The point is the whole Broadway corridor. That’s where people want to go – 100,000 trips every day, even on overcrowded buses. Remind me, what’s the ridership on 16th avenue on the 33 bus again? Not even close – it simply doesn’t have the destinations.

      Even with a waste of money 16th avenue LRT, one which bypassed Broadway completely and did nothing to help people coming to UBC from the eastern suburbs but rather only downtown and a few West Side mostly residential neighbourhoods, wouldn’t even solve overcrowding on B-Line buses, which would continue to pass up people everyday and remain overcrowded. And all those people who refused to put up with substandard service would continue to drive their cars, solving nothing.

      I sometimes think people who put forward ideas like this want transit to fail, but then again, the author lives in Kamloops so I don’t expect them to understand the realities of Vancouver’s transit system.

      1. Lived in the UK 21 years, Victoria 5 years, Vancouver 46 years, Mexico City 2 years and now Nanaimo 14 years . . .

        Right and I am still responsible for the taxes your TX frivolities incur . . .

      2. Roger as a taxpayer in BC you indeed would be on the hook for Vancouvers infrastructure…of course Vancouver taxpayers are on the hook for infrastructure in Naniamo so I guess that evens it out. Don’t forget if they built a freeway you would still be on the hook for it too. Also note you are advocating spending a lot of money on a tram (not LRT) that has a perfectly good existing service….the number 9 trolley. I would expect rapid transit on Broadway (LRT or Skytrain) to turn an operational profit….so what is best for the taxpayer in Naniamo: an expensive tram that replicates an existing service, new roads or rapid transit that will turn an operating profit?

      3. Lived in the UK 21 years, Victoria 5 years, Vancouver 46 years, Mexico City 2 years and now Nanaimo 14 years…

        You’re 88 years old. You will neither pay much for this project, nor would you be around to suffer the substandard “herd-bucking” alternatives you propose.

        Age≠wisdom. Clearly.

  18. It would be great if we could also get this Vancouver Sun opinion article piece debunked as well” . . .

    And . . .

    These opinion pieces lately are getting a bit nauseating to read.

    Thus spoke KC.

    Grand disruption experienced on Cambie has been well documented. Grand future disruption on Broadway has been detailed by others.

    A LRT pressure relief valve on 16th, in addition to an Broadway LRT, is a sensible idea worthy of more than “debunked” and “nauseating“.

    @ Jack Hope. . . insulting someone you disagree with . . .

    Pompous! Safe your indignation for yourself Jack.

    1. Not sure if you’re doing yourself a favour around here by hurling around those insults…

      Again, temporary inconveniences during construction are an extremely poor excuse to not do something that will ultimately create a product that is multifold superior than the (poor) alternatives. Ever heard of short-term pain for long-term gain? That also happens to be how some of society’s most successful people rose up, and it’s no different with this or anything else. And by long-term for Broadway or any infrastructure, we’re talking at least 60 years here.

      Underground SkyTrain stations along the Broadway corridor don’t necessarily have to be on Broadway, they can be located on 10th Avenue: one block south of Broadway. And either way, whether it’s on Broadway or 10th Avenue, the construction impact would be nowhere near the same as Cambie for the Canada Line. We’re talking about one block long stretches for the Broadway corridor just to build the stations, not the entire length of the street.

    2. I hope someone gets Roger a copy of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” for Christmas.

      All of this fussing over construction delays and being “on the hook” for this particular project speaks exactly to the mentality that I referred to earlier, this whole “can’t be done” attitude. And for a project that is hardly outside of the scope or magnitude of transit projects that have already been done. Especially for a corridor that already has the kind of ridership that would guarantee busy trains from day one.

  19. I generally agree very strongly with what Jarrett Walker has said, and appreciate his frankness in this discussion when he does enjoy hemming and hawing on occasion. He gets it right when he points out that a Broadway skytrain would serve a regional market whereas a streetcar, or just the #9, serves a local market. He is also right to point out that transit technologies don’t pre-ordain a type of development.

    On that point, I have to ask: Do LRT supporters think Calgary is a development model that Vancouver should follow? LRT there is accompanied by car-oriented sprawl. In fact you can find LRT in all sorts of different environments, from highway neighbourhoods (with expected development patterns) in many parts of Portland to high-density Barcelona. Same with subways. Montreal is hardly a point-and-podium tower paradise, yet it is heavily served by high-capacity subways. Instead, Montreal is filled with ground-oriented, high-density but low-rise housing. Same with many European examples. Not every subway leads to Joyce Station.

    If you want better streetscapes, transit is sure important, but transit that is viable against the car. And remember, in the end it’s zoning that decides how the city looks – you’re much better lobbying the city than TransLink.

    That said, I too will disagree with Walker’s assessment on the Canada Line. It could use a few more stops. And Toronto and Montreal subways both stop more frequently than the expo or millenium lines, about the same as the Canada Line were it to be built out with all its stations, and it hardly compromises their usefulness as regional connectors.

    1. As a Calgarian transplanted to the Vancouver region (and one who just had a chance to take a spin on Calgary’s new West LRT line) I’d just like to add some additional information and my own perspective on this.

      Calgary as a city is almost a textbook case of the North American car ideal, a city with virtually no natural barriers and only a few policy/jurisdictional barriers to its growth, with a strong city centre employment district in the city’s approximate geographical middle. Metro Vancouver on the other hand is made up of many jurisdictions, bounded on three sides by natural boundaries and the US border, and with a downtown centre that is in one corner of the region and is substantially more oriented towards residents than employment.

      When the C-Train opened in Calgary, the city’s population was roughly 580,000, whereas Greater Vancouver had about double that. Thirty years down the line, Calgary and Greater Vancouver’s populations have both roughly doubled.

      In both instances I think that both cities made the right choices for their transit projects. Calgary’s geography (natural and jurisdictional) means that Calgary is now reaching a similar population to Metro Vancouver’s at the start of the construction of the Skytrain. Despite having a similar population though, Calgary is still more spread out than Metro Vancouver and highly suburbanized. A metro-style train for Calgary didn’t make sense in 1981 and it doesn’t make sense for Calgary now, although the new West LRT is the most urban and metro-like transit line to date, one of the reasons why it wasn’t built sooner.

      Metro Vancouver, on the other hand with it’s natural tendencies towards higher densities, a Stadtbahn style LRT like Calgary’s would not have achieved the same results simply because it could not move the same number of people as the metro-style Skytrain. As Calgary gets bigger (and it is) its going to have to make upgrades to its LRT to make it more and more metro-like, such as an approximately one billion dollar Eighth Street Tunnel. But this is a natural consequence of Calgary starting from a smaller size when it began building its system. Eventually the C-Train will be a metro-type system although I’m sure it will still be called “Light” Rail because its powered by pantographs.

      Now we can go back and argue that Vancouver would have been better off if it had started building rail transit sooner but it’s all academic and water under the bridge now. Making sure we use the right tool based on the conditions that exist now in building our transit infrastructure is the most important thing and I think’s apparent to most that means servicing the Broadway corridor with Skytrain.

      1. Thanks for adding. I hope I didn’t come across as saying LRT is wrong or bad for Calgary because it’s associated with sprawl. My point was merely that LRT or subway don’t cause pre-ordained styles of development. It depends on many other factors, many of which you mention. The history and perspective was definitely helpful though. =)

      2. The only advantage Calgary got from LRT is that being on the surface downtown allowed for a longer system to be built sooner. (compared to the Edmonton example)

        Now, Calgary would be much better off with the Skytrain “Metro” style system. Calgary’s huge LRT ridership is ample proof of that. Unlike Portland, for example, we run our system hard. The system has been so successful it’s been choking for over ten years.

        “Metro” from the deep South to NW or up Centre Street would have even bigger ridership numbers.. Fast, frequent, reliable, it produces ridership.

        I told city council in 2002 that we needed four car trains as quickly as possible. Still waiting. And to be clear, Calgary has LRT as rapid transit, not the delusional replace trolleys with streetcars model the LRT on Broadway folks want.

        Like Metro Vancouver, Calgary is now at the point where the supposed leaders have to stand up and provide funding solutions to keep moving forward. As I’ve said previously for Vancouver, if the province set aside 1% of general revenues for seven or eight years, then Broadway to UBC Skytrain is funded.

      3. @Robert in Calgary

        Calgary has 56.2km of active rapid transit, built mostly to pre-metro standards and with all level crossings outside of downtown using crossing gates, guaranteeing the trains a priority at every intersection they pass through, except again in downtown Calgary. All of this while Calgary is still below the total regional population that Metro Vancouver had when it began construction of it’s first Skytrain line. As of now, the Skytrain only covers 68km, although it obviously moves a lot more people.

        Calgary is also nowhere near Metro Vancouver’s density. Calgary, even now, still has the lowest population density of any major metropolitan area in Canada and one of the lowest in North America.

        Realistically, Calgary could never have afforded to start building a metro system that early on, but fortunately, the current system can be upgraded to meet metro standards, primarily by building the Eighth Avenue Tunnel (of which portions are already partially built, again thanks to far-sighted city leadership) and dealing with some the level crossings that are problematic, such as Heritage Drive. While this will definitely have a cost, it will not be nearly as much as starting from scratch at this stage would be.

        You’re absolutely right that in both cities (in all Canadian cities) the city’s leadership needs to step up and get the financing happening. Calgary’s unicity model means that Mayor Nenshi doesn’t have to contend with competing with the Mayors of Midnapore, Bowness and Forest Lawn for funding, whereas the divided nature of Metro Vancouver governance obviously makes things much more problematic.

        Calgary, given the financial constraints and its size when it started absolutely made the right choices in its LRT system.

      4. @jackshope

        “Calgary is also nowhere near Metro Vancouver’s density. Calgary, even now, still has the lowest population density of any major metropolitan area in Canada and one of the lowest in North America.”

        This is misleading.

        What makes Calgary sparse isn’t so much its housing development as its undeveloped land. Much of the new housing developments are 8 units per acre. This is not an urban density, but it’s quite compact when compared with just about any suburban development in the US, or in places like Milton outside of Toronto. Calgary has a buffer of undeveloped land on its edges in the north, east and south. The numbered (un-named) communites here are undeveloped: http://www.calgary.ca/CS/IIS/Documents/emaps/community_map.pdf Providence (13A-13G) alone is 15.5 square km, and is farmland.

        And according to http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/hlt-fst/pd-pl/Table-Tableau.cfm?LANG=Eng&T=205&S=3&RPP=50 Calgary isn’t even the least dense city in Canada.

      5. @23skidoo, I am quite aware that many suburbs built since the 1980s or so have been at or around 8 houses per acre, as I spent most of my adolescence and early adulthood in just such a suburb. However, there is a string of much lower density inner suburbs which have only recently begun to add density. Until fairly recently too, developers strongly resisted including any kind of multifamily development in new neighbourhoods. Again, the neighbourhood that I spent much of my early years in strongly resisted the addition of a small section of duplexes!

        I also didn’t say the least dense in Canada, I said the least dense of major metropolitan areas. As well, those figures can and do sometimes include surrounding jurisdictions that are no where near urban densities, but are considered part of the ‘metro.’ The figure included for Edmonton, for example, includes its major suburban municipalities which change the figure quite a bit. Edmonton proper is substantially denser than Calgary, however, Edmonton itself is only about 70% of the capital region, so those other jurisdictions change the figures considerably. Calgary, on the other hand, contains over 90% of the population of the region. So unlike Edmonton, almost all of the Calgary region is part of a single jurisdiction.

        So while things are going in the right direction in terms of adding additional density I think the gist of my original statements is indeed correct, that the current density of the city is simply not comparable to the Lower Mainland’s. Perhaps I should have used the term ‘municipality’ rather than ‘metropolitan area’ for greater precision and clarity.

      6. @jackshope

        Don’t get me wrong – I’m not claiming that Calgary is dense. But often people trot out the line that it’s so much less dense than any other mostly post-war city, and that simply isn’t true. Because the city boundaries contain so much completely undeveloped land, the numbers for the city itself (not the metro area) will always be misleading. Post-amalgamation Ottawa is the same way.

        Here’s a better link for the population density of the cities themselves (and again, cities that have not developed all the way to their boundaries have misleadingly low numbers):
        Vancouver 5,249.1
        Montreal 4,517.6
        Toronto 4,149.5
        Winnipeg 1,430.0
        Calgary 1,329.0
        Edmonton 1,186.8

        I’m not here to pick a fight or be a pain over irrelevant details; it’s just that I’ve lived in Calgary 20+ years and it irks me to hear that it’s exceptionally low density and sprawling, when the housing is really substantially similar to Edmonton’s. There are other bad things to point out about this city – the arterial road system that is basically at-grade expressways with intersections every mile, difficult to walk or serve well with transit, or the lack of bridges, which can turn a 2 km trip as the crow flies into a 10 km one – no big deal in a car, but a real barrier to walking, biking or transit.

    2. @Jack: great post!

      @Tessa: I don’t think we’ll ever see more underground stations on the Canada Line, at the proposed “future” sites at 33rd Avenue and 56th Avenue. The costs will likely be massive to build.

      But Capstan Way will most certainly be on the books, as well as the fourth YVR station between the terminus station and Sea Island. That’ll happen when the airport goes ahead with its plans for the massive terminal expansion to the east of the existing terminal.

      One other problem with the Canada Line is it’s not exactly designed to anticipate “unrefined growth.” As in, its capacity doesn’t allow much of a buffer for unexpected large scale growth that has been the result of development projects around stations. Take for example, a proposal to build a massive shopping and entertainment centre on “Duck Island” on a site just a few metres east of Bridgeport Station where the Richmond Night Market is. Another example, continued densification of the Cambie corridor – starting with the massive re-proposed development at Oakridge.

      We’re seeing this with the recent discussions to revamp Metrotown Station for as much as 15 months. When the Expo Line was designed and being built, there were no proposals or visions for a mega mall and urban centre where Metrotown is located. Hence, Metrotown was not designed with more space to allow for greater passenger circulation volumes within the station.

      It’s also not necessarily the actual train system that will constrain capacity, it’s also the stations. The ticketing concourses/pathways/mezzaines lack spaciousness to accommodate the 300,000/day that Translink says the Canada Line can ultimately handle (and now that we’ve introduced fare gates, there’s the growing issue of whether we have enough concourse space to install additional fare gates as passenger volumes grow). Passenger circulation inside of stations becomes a huge issue as our SkyTrain system, and even more of a case with the Expo Line, depends on frequency to increase train capacity. That means, increasingly, the circulation of passengers entering and exiting the station (at least the busiest stations) becomes a frequent flow. And then, there’s not just the platform lengths but also platform widths. In Vancouver, we have a habit of building very narrow platforms and this is particularly an issue since the Canada Line’s platforms are short already as is. It inhibits the circulation of people boarding and disembarking from trains, and from them going up the escalators/staircases. Narrow platforms also inhibit the construction of further vertical station circulation (escalators/staircases).

      I’ve noticed this as an issue at Vancouver City Centre Station. People bunch up to get onto the northern escalator/staircase. But this is also an issue of poor placement. That northern escalator/staircase is placed right in the middle of the platform, while the secondary staircase is built towards the southern end of the platform and is not within the quick reach or even the sight of most passengers. Hence, it sees very little use and that vertical circulation capacity goes completely unused. That southern end staircase at City Centre Station was also supposed to have been built with an escalator, just like the middle circulation, but they cheaped out during construction and decided to “future” it. Not that it would see much use though, until a secondary station entrance for City Centre is built on Robson….if that ever happens.

      1. Thanks for adding that and I very much agree it’s a problem. VCC station as you rightly point out already feels like it’s overcapacity, and can’t handle the crowds coming off the trains in a timely fashion. There is huge congestion with people getting off the trains and I worry what that will look like when the trains get even longer and the escalator can’t handle it. I think VCC is also constrained by being an island platform, and so people waiting for the train get in the way of those disembarking the other train.

        As well, since all but one Canada Line stations at the moment has only one entrance, that is another constraining factory – hopefully one that can be changed in the future with more entrances at Broadway and VCC.

        I would very much like to see Vancouver take an approach similar to Richmond, which already has an agreement for developers to fund the new Capstan station. There is already plenty of development going through the pipe at city hall for the area around 33rd Avenue, and they could easily be paying a fee per unit like has been set up in Richmond, with that money going towards the new station. I don’t believe anything is planned there, though, which is a pity considering the proximity to QE Park and the Women and Children’s hospitals.

        As for 57th, I guess it depends on whether they ever develop the golf course.

      2. @Tessa: Island platforms are actually pretty good, and are great as interchange/transfer stations to another line in most cases. However, the City Centre platform is just far too narrow (and wide) to be used well. I do like Broadway-City Hall’s side station design of having an overhead mezzaine/walkway as supposed to the under-platform pathways of Oakridge-41st and Langara-49th.

        33rd Avenue could be possible. The RCMP’s E-Division headquarters is located there (~30 acres in size), and it will likely be slated for dense redevelopment. E-Division has been busy building a massive new headquarters out in Surrey and will be moving out soon. There’s also the old Saint Vincent’s Hospital site across from E-Division on 33rd Avenue. And of course, we have the huge Children’s Hospital adjoined to the Saint Vincent’s site.

        With the Canada Line, the problem was the P3 specifications on the design of the line were far too open ended. It did not specify the designs and specifications of the line in detail as it should have, which is always necessary for a contract with the private sector. They basically handed over the entire design process to SNC-Lavalin. Whereas, the Expo, Millennium, and Evergreen Lines were largely pre-designed before contracting it out to the private sector for final engineering, design, and construction. And of course, RAVCO also stated that the private contractor only had to build a line with a capacity of 15,000 pphpd.

      3. I’ll agree island platforms can be good, but in situations where the station is underbuilt the island platform can exacerbate the problem, as those entering the station on the stairs block those trying to leave. Broadway City Hall is I think the best-designed station on the Canada Line, but it also had the advantage of being on a sloped area, which allowed the mezzanine area to fit. The other stations don’t have space above the tracks for people to cross over above, though it would certainly be much more user-friendly if they did (or if they at the very least had entrances on both sides of the street).

        What still eats at me thought in the P3 arrangement is how the service level is set in stone in the contract, and that TransLink has to pay an unusually high cost to add extra trains during rush hour. Which of course means that even during rush hour, only 16 of 20 existing trains are in use, which makes the system even more overcrowded than it has to be. I’ll be much happier to see an extension of skytrain with Translink as the sole operator when the Broadway Line goes ahead.

        I wasn’t actually aware of the RCMP E Division building there. That probably will be prime development, but it would help if the city were already getting started with some extra cash from existing developments going through the pipes. Look on here and you’ll see quite a few: http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/

        Maybe they could even be allowed to build below the minimum parking requirements (or hell, no parking at all) if they contribute to a fund to pay for alternative transportation, i.e. the station at Cambie or bike facilities. We need to find some way to pay for this because I doubt property taxes will be offered up as a source of funds, nor is the provincial government exactly keen to pay. The Woodlands station in New West could be the beneficiary of a similar program out there.

      4. @Tessa: I agree, the service aspect of the Canada Line contract bugs me too. On BC Rapid Transit Co’s operated SkyTrain network, adding more trains should there be a need for it is as simple as a switch of the button. With the ProTransBC operated SkyTrain Canada Line, Translink has to punch up the costs before phoning in.

        But on the bright side, the Canada Line system is miraculously (relatively) much, much cleaner than the other two lines. That’s the one major benefit I’ve seen from the private contractor. You have to wonder how BC Rapid Transit Co cleans their trains.

        I believe, though I’m not sure, that the Evergreen Line is also a P3. And as recently announced, it’ll also be by SNC-Lavalin. However, the system will remain Translink operated and the system is of course also already largely designed, unlike the Canada Line.

        Yes, definitely. Centre platforms are only efficient if they are wide enough.

    3. @ Tessa, you didn’t come across as anti-LRT at all but I just thought that some additional comparing and contrasting would be useful. Unfortunately, too many people become dogmatic about these things and conversations can quickly degenerate into “Skytrain good, LRT bad” vs “LRT good, Skytrain bad.”

      What really bothers me is watching livability and/or transit advocates ripping either city apart when both Vancouver and Calgary are transit success stories. Too often this is due to a purely ideological and irrational attachment to a particular mode of transport or due to arcane notions of how the world ought to be.

      In the final analysis, it’s a mistake for any city to disregard a potential tool when making choices about how to facilitate mobility for its citizens. Just because a screwdriver isn’t very good at nailing doesn’t mean that the screwdriver is useless and can be disregarded.

  20. Oh boy it will be a foggy Friday when they start chopping down the mature trees along 10th.

    Indeed why waste C$5B+ when the various extremities will incrementalise. Indeed SFU has had satellites for years and UBC is in the process.

    83 actually . . .

    Seasonal greetings, have fun . . .

    1. Yes we must not forget about the trees. God forbid one of them might have to be taken down.

      The only people who bring up the tree argument are those who are opposed to a certain idea.

  21. VISUAL ART, G&M today re Rennie’s VAG alternative proposal. There is a parallel!

    It calls for exhibition and storage space at seven newly created or re-imagined distinct venues, including the VAG’s current home downtown.“

    Is incremental-ization the future?

    I have not had an opportunity to study Bob Rennie’s 22 page proposal for seven dispersed art venues: I have followed some of the sparse, previous public, tid-bits on his proposal though.

    On the face of it this is a very sound idea: to say the least it will be cost effective, it will be more accessible to more art enthusiasts, maybe even make some off-the-street converts.

    E. F. Schumacher published a series of essays “Small Is Beautiful: Economics as If People Mattered” in 1973. We have waited a long time for the right conditions to gel.

    Not surprisingly VAG director Bartels is not amused. I suppose she may feel slighted to have her authority diluted: the nature of bureaucracy.

    On a parallel plane I had occasion to follow and participate in a bloggers dialogue on the Broadway corridor TX. 

    Interestingly even before the conversation got off the ground all minds were made up: not unlike the VAG conversation.

    It’s to be a Cambie style underground east/west and that’s it: the oracle has spoken.

    Try to widen the conversation, which any normal scientifically inquisitive mind would do, try to explore all possibilities . . . that’s a no, no! 

    Exploring is what blogs are all about . . . except in Vancouver! I thinq an out of town expert has set the agenda that all must follow.

    I never cease to be amazed by group thinq especially as time goes by it is usually wrong (at great expense)! 

    Maybe that’s why Michael Audain is moving his collection to Whistler?

    Now I may know how Bob R must feel presenting his very unusual and viable scenario to bring Vancouver culture into the community and into the twenty-first century: everywhere a road block. 

    Huge behemoth wach-am-a-call-its, stone-wall-concensus have to be a thing of the past, especially in art and city building, even though they will go kicking and screaming.

    1. Bob Rennie is more concerned about making his developments more attractive to sell. He is, after all, a realtor. His position of dispersing the VAG into different galleries across the city would make sense only in his context of real estate value potential and does nothing to build the gallery as a thriving institution. We need one big institution to draw people in and create interest before we can sustain something like what Rennie is talking about. Having more galleries across the city does not equate to drawing more interest and patrons.

      Let’s start out with increased operational costs of having separate galleries, you lose economies of scale of having under one building. These were their costs in the existing VAG alone: “The VAG had total revenues of $14.1 million, including $4.6 million in grants, $2 million from fundraising and $1.8 million through gallery admissions, according to its annual report for the year ending June 30, 2009. This fell short of the $14.8-million in expenses over the same period, including $3.5 million spent on exhibitions and $2.3 million for maintenance and security.” http://www.canada.com/story_print.html?id=51f5668f-2caf-4521-bbc0-c48150b8246b&sponsor=

      You have much more costs to deal with with separate galleries. You need to duplicate staff as each museum would need its own set of cleaners, curators, security, front desk, managers, etc. And who pays for that? Higher ticket fees. Under its existing business model, the VAG already runs deeply in the red.

      People don’t want to be commuting across the city to visit tiny galleries. There’s a benefit of having under one house, a benefit of having critical mass. To have multiple exhibits under one roof so patrons can see everything and re-visit exhibits afterward. For instance, take a look at the Contemporary Art Gallery on Nelson. It’s practically unknown. These multi-galleries proposed by Rennie will be very small exhibits. This is not NYC, Paris, Rome, Vienna, or London where there’s demand for pretty much anything of any scale where each museum is huge and has critical mass. Not to mention we don’t have their world-renown treasures to draw people in and inspire them.

      The vast majority have little interest in art galleries, but to attract them it must be convenient for them and straight forward.

      The VAG’s vision may be expensive, but like the Broadway SkyTrain it’s a vision that is sound, logical, and plans for the future rather than looking at short-term immediate costs such as construction costs. Sure, might be cheap to build in the short-run but what about after that? Will the museum/rapid transit line thrive?

      Here’s another idea….let’s put the Vancouver Aquarium’s belugas in North Vancouver, seals in Surrey, and dolphins in Richmond.

      1. And just think, it creates 5 opportunities to charge an admission fee instead of once to see the exhibit. Having had a chance to review this proposal, I also find it undesirable and again symptomatic of small thinking that pervades around issues of city and community building in Metro Vancouver. I don’t see the Seattle Art Museum rushing off to distribute it’s contents across the much vaster and harder to travel Puget Sound region.

        There are times when it makes sense to decentralize and there are times when it doesn’t. While some people feel it would be lovely if everyone just stuck to their own neighbourhood, the reality of economic specialization and of modern regional economies mean that while I prefer to live in New Westminster, my only job options may be in Port Coquitlam. People should be able to do just that and given transportation options that permit that without having to resort to single vehicle driving. And people should be able to experience Vancouver’s artistic legacy without having to go across clear across the city 5 times.

  22. Jarret said it best about how slow transit doesn’t make people live slower lives. It just makes them want to drive their cars more. The general public will more likely than not use a mode of transportation that is either the fastest or the cheapest or a combination of the both. It is why most people still drive because it is still faster in most cases and in some cases cheaper.

    The cost of a project of this size and importance. Should never be the sole reason why we choose one mode over another. Cost to me in irrelevant as it will be long forgotten 20 years from now. It will however be remembered if in 20 years we are talking about how the Broadway line was under built. Just because we tried to save a few $$$ today.

    As for whether we should build a grade separated system to UBC. That can be up for debate. While on a personal level I would love to see it out there. I also realize that it may not be needed at this point in time. We know at this point in time that 100,000 people take transit along Broadway each day. From what I remember the mode split is approx 60,000 for the #99 and 40,000 for the #9. What we do not know is where those 100,000 people get on and get off. Are they mostly between the Current Broadway/Commercial drive station and Cambie. Are they between Cambie and Granville. Once Translink gets their smart card system going. I hope they will be able to collect the data that will be necessary to show where most of the riders on Broadway are. And with that data we will have a better idea of how far this system must go.

    While I would love to see an above ground grade separated system like the expo line. I also realize that building such a system in the Broadway area would be much more difficult.

    1. By no means is this completely accurate, but from the eye as a frequent 99 B-Line rider:

      1) Broadway-City Hall
      2) Main Street
      3) Granville
      4) Willow (VGH/Oak precinct)
      5) Arbutus

    1. Judging from your response, I’m gonna say you’ve ran out of ammo.

      And no, this is my only alias – I do not know who “MB” is.

    2. K.C. is not MB. Perhaps, Roger, you’d have lower blood pressure and offend fewer people if you ran your own blog. Oh yeah, you do. Well, there;s only one person to blame if not many care to visit it.

      Overall, this is one of the more intelligent discussions on Broadway rapid transit in years.

    1. I admit it I linked to your very long blog. Definitely out of ammo. Not a thing you have not spewed countless times. Just longer.

      1. There’s also this zweisystem character troll from ‘Rail for the Valley’ that keeps repeating this one line, it goes something like this: “if you keep repeating a lie, people will come to eventually believe it.”

        Sadly, that’s his own game plan of trying to get LRT through the door (damn all evidence against it) and he’s low (and smart) enough to play that game.

        These types are so tunnel visioned into a certain mode of transport, namely LRT and streetcar, or a certain ideology on how we should live, that they become completely delusional of the realities of what people want, need, and will respond to for their everyday life uses. They are also extremely ignorant (and arrogant)…to this day, Condon still can’t properly differentiate between LRT and streetcar. He uses LRT and streetcar examples interchangeably for “evidence” that it’ll work on Broadway. We’re effectively building ourselves a more expensive version of the 9 trolley: is that really an improvement, especially on capacity? Then there’s the foolish 16th Avenue LRT idea. Sure, it’ll carry the ridership it’ll attract on 16th Avenue BECAUSE it’ll attract nowhere near the same ridership as a line down Broadway/10th Avenue!

        Building a workable public transit system is no different than building a multi-layered road system of expressways, major artery roads, side streets, etc. There’s no “one-fit-all” solution, but every network needs its primary artery to work.

        From our experience with the Canada Line, we should have learned what people desire most: frequency and speed. We live in a region compiled of different municipalities, and people travel across from one municipality to the other. People also value their time. And as the saying goes, time is money.

    2. K.C.,
      Roger and Patrick Cordon are quite different from Zeisystem. They are both pro urban….just a little confused about how the real world works. Zeisystem is anti urban and willing to say whatever it takes to get people to love LRT/Trams and hate everything else (actually I wonder if it is more about some sort of vendetta he has against Translink). Actually I am disappointed in Patrick the last time he floated the slow transit idea he defended his ideas on line and seemed to listen to the critisim. This time around he clearly cherry picked his data to reach a predetermined conclusion and refuses to engage in his critics (he did not even bother to post his sources). D-, Fail…

      1. I also find Patrick Condon to be the most disappointing of all especially given that as someone of obvious intelligence and education he engages in what can only be considered willful blindness. It badly damages his credibility on other matters, which is unfortunate as he has some good ideas. Ironically, Translink has given him an “out” in one of it’s proposed combination plans but thus far he seems disinclined to take them up on it.

        The problem though is the term “light rail” which is basically attached to any kind of urban train that has a pantograph or trolley pole. It allows the intellectually dishonest to conflate what are actually widely varying systems. For example, the Siemens U2 trains that were bought by Calgary, Edmonton, and San Diego for their light rail systems in the early 80s were originally designed for Frankfurt’s U-bahn system of which most is underground and almost entirely separated from other traffic (they may have a few at-grade crossings at the tail ends). These are ‘light rail’ trains but in Frankfurt you can bet money that they easily move numbers comparable to Skytrain. Of course, they also have a supporting infrastructure built to make that possible, which people leave off when they make these comparisons because it completely undermines the case their attempting to make.

        As for other people, well in those cases whatever their motivations be, they’re good examples of poisoning the well and undermining the case that they’re trying to make, especially in the case of the Rail for the Valley folks. A lot of potential supporters of the idea of Fraser Valley rail are turned off because one of its leading and most vocal proponents is purveyor of disinformation, agitprop and conspiracy theories.

  23. You’re a nice little bunny rabblt rico-peek-oh. Thanqu for checking out my stuff so regularly. You’ll learn a lot.

    You once said no one reads my stuff. Well . . . errrr . . . you do.

  24. Thanqu everyone for mindlessly ganging up for an underground public lavatory all the way to UBC when all UBC wants is something we can afford so there’ll be a bit left over for education.

    Everyone have a very merry Christmas and don’t dig your holes so deep you cannot climb out after the hols . . .

  25. KC, I guess that you don’t understand my main rationale for putting the UBC line on 16th rather than Broadway. You say that it will have a low capacity, and a low demand (presumably, because you think that not that many people want to travel on 16th).

    I contend that this is absolutely untrue. Most of the riders on the 99B are on there because they are going or coming from UBC, not because they have a destination on Broadway. They do not care what street their transit ride goes on, they just want to get there as fast and comfortably as possible. An LRT on 16th will do that for them.

    Then, when Broadway is decongested from removing the 99B from it, it will be more pleasant, and the 9 will run on it better. A small fraction of the savings from this plan, compared to a Broadway Subway, would pay for beefed up 9 service, and beefed up MacDonald, Dunbar and Alma service to connect 16th and Broadway.

    1. You can’t remove the 99 B Line just because there’s transit on 16th. Not only are most of the riders on the B-Line not riding all the way to UBC, but most of those who DO ride to UBC aren’t going downtown as such a line would go, but instead they’re going to the eastern suburbs through Broadway/Commercial.

    2. If you look at studies, like what is said above, the majority of the ridership is coming from Central Broadway. Not UBC. But yes, UBC is a huge destination along the way.

      Also, take a look at this Vancouver density map: http://regardingplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/cov_densitymap_midi.jpg

      Huge density exists along the Broadway corridor to support rail rapid transit, and this large swath of density is not present anywhere else in the city nor the region. Central Broadway also has more jobs than Richmond and Surrey, combined.

      And with all due respect, I don’t think you have a full understanding of Metro Vancouver’s traffic patterns. As said above, a route along the old CPR/Arbutus corridor would serve Downtown, but fact is most are coming from the suburbs. A CPR/Arbutus corridor route would be a highly unattractive, lengthy detour – one that doesn’t serve Central Broadway directly and meanders unnecessarily to get to UBC instead of a more direct, quicker route along a much denser commercial and residential precinct.

      A 16th Avenue service doesn’t do anything to improve the situation and skips out Central Broadway entirely. As a very frequent user of the 99 B-Line, most of the boardings/disembarkings are at Main Street, Cambie, Willow (Oak), Granville, and Arbutus.

      When building infrastructure, we can’t simply look at immediate short-term requirements and the short-term costs, whether it be construction impacts and/or construction costs. This is infrastructure that will be around and used for decades to come.

      I also think you’re focusing far too much on serving existing demand on Broadway, and have lost complete sight of the potential high ridership a Broadway Line would have given its superiority as the City of Vancouver’s east-west transit artery. Only a route along the Broadway corridor can provide a long-term solution to our existing and future needs and for spurring new ridership. And there’s also a huge value in extending the existing system, ridership will not only be maintained but will grow from the fact that it’s part of the existing SkyTrain network….imagine one seamless train ride from Coquitlam Centre to UBC, no transfers. From end to end in under an hour with high frequency = extremely competitive to the car, an attractive mode of transport.

      With all that said, a old CPR/Arbutus streetcar or LRT (as part of the City of Vancouver’s vision of a Downtown/Gastown/Chinatown streetcar network) would be highly beneficial in the future to COMPLEMENT the Canada Line. This would be a secondary north-west route for the city, like how the Expo Line is the primary east-west route while the Millennium Line (currently) is the secondary east-west route.

      These arguments for alternatives to building a Broadway subway remind me of the same alternative arguments we heard for the Canada Line. Some argued for the Arbutus corridor as well, but it’s a much longer route, it’s further out west in the city and doesn’t serve the east well (meaning those traveling from the east will have to take a much longer journey to get to an Arbutus line, making the line unattractive to use), there are no major employment/residential areas along Arbutus (except that it’s on the western periphery of Central Broadway). If the Canada Line were built on Arbutus instead of Cambie (and especially if it were also an LRT), it would be nowhere near the success it is today. In Richmond, there were even arguments to have the Canada Line run along Garden City Road instead of No. 3 Road: where all the employment and destinations are!

      You’re advocating for something quite similar with your 16th Avenue vision. In fact, it’s almost an exact parallel. To be quite blunt, and this is not on a personal level like Mr. Kemble above, but it would be an extremely foolish idea and we will regret it immediately. It would be a travesty.

      1. Just checked the Metro Vancouver major utilities map and there’s a huge new water main on 16th from Arbutus westward. Moreover, the 3-foot diameter high pressure main, which services a huge area, meanders all over the road allowance and median.

        By comparison, the nearest major regional-scale utilities that parallel Broadway run on 8th Ave.

        My point is that acedemics like Condon and professional consultants like Ransford should know a thing or two about the realities of engineering and construction before spouting numbers that do not acount for site-specific conditions. It doesn’t take long to obtain information on underground utilties that will, like it or not, have a major impact on these projects.

        Subway tunnels needn’t be that deep, just a few metres below the utilities will do it, depending on proper geotechnical assessments.

  26. What is never mentioned here is that the SkyTrain is an Automated Light Rail Transit system, in other words an automated tram.

    Its passenger capacity is similar to the one of big tramways (LRT for you North Americans) currently used in a lot of towns.
    The LRT in Portland and Seattle run double units 58 metres long that carry up to 344 passengers in Portland, 400 in Seattle.

    The trams on the T2 line in Paris run twin units 66 metres long, with up to 440 passengers.

    By comparison a Canada line twin set is 41 metres long and carry 334 passengers.
    The Mark II pairs are 33.4 metres long and carry 260-290 passengers. A 2 pairs train can carry up to 580 passengers.

    The Seattle Japanese LRT can run in a train of 4 single units, with 800 passengers.

    Note that in Japan systems somewhat similar to SkyTrain (they have rubber tires and glass walls to separate the tracks from the platforms) are only used to service well-defined areas with a limited population (artificial islands for example) and feed into a commuter train or a subway.

    What we need is a REAL subway, like those in Toronto and Montreal (no point comparing Vancouver to even Dusseldorf, never mind London, Paris, Berlin, Osaka etc. etc.).

    Toronto latest subway trains have 6 linked cars, each just over 23 metres long (with walkways between each car) and can carry up to 1100 passengers.
    The new Montreal subway trains that will enter in service next year have 9 cars–with walkways in between–and a capacity of up to 1260 passengers.

    I strongly disagree with the limited number of stations planned for the UBC line.
    All the subways I have used in various countries of Europe and Asia have relatively close stops.
    If it suits people (in all these countries) that have a far more extensive experience of rapid transit than the average Vancouverite, why argue with success?

    1. The capacity of a trainset is only as a good an indicator of the capacity of a rapid transit line as the minimum headway.

      1. I agree with mike0123. It’s better to have a 2-car train coming every 2-minutes is better than having a 6-car train coming every 6-minutes. The ultimate capacity of the Millennium and Expo Line is 30,000 pphpd, (passengers per hour per direction) the same as Toronto’s 6-car train Yonge Subway Line. Why is that so? SkyTrain automation gives frequency to its advantage: you can’t operate with frequencies as little as 75-secs without automation. The newest SkyTrain vehicles that are being ordered are 4-car fully articulated train that will hold in excess of 700 passengers per train. Not to mention the cost of building longer and bigger station platforms….

        FYI, currently, the Expo Line runs the most capacity among all 3 SkyTrain lines and utilizes just 15,000 pphpd of its 30,000 pphpd capacity.

        But of course, the Canada Line has ridiculous written all over it. Its 40-metre platforms are only expandable to 50-metres to fit in a small articulated middle 12-metre car into the existing 2-car trains: this is the only possible expansion of train lengths. With this expansion and a full train fleet, the Canada Line is capable of reaching just 15,000 pphpd as its max. capacity. Already, 3 years after it opened, the Canada Line’s peak frequency gives it a capacity of over 6,000 pphpd. It’s certainly not a long-term design. Ideally, the Canada Line should’ve been built with 60-metre platforms from the start and expandable to 80-metres. But I’d like to think we’ve learned our lessons from the Canada Line.

        As for more stations on the UBC Line, where exactly would you suggest such additional stations be placed? The UBC Line’s proposed station locations make sense for this route and mirror the existing 99 B-Line. I don’t see the need for additional stations anywhere else. Certain lines in Europe and Asia may have more stations per kilometre, but no two transit line routes and corridors are the same. Apples and oranges. We also don’t want to slow down the “rapid” part of “rapid transit.” If the UBC Line is an extension of the Millennium Line with 80-metre platforms (and that’s what is being proposed and must be built, given that it’s an extension of Millennium Line, Expo, and Evergreen Line infrastructure with 80-metre platforms), it should be sufficient capacity for the foreseeable long future….although ideally, it should also be built to be expandable to 100-metres like the rest of the system.

        What we should also be concerned about is the station layouts: whether there’s enough circulation/mezzaine space, whether future entrances can be built, whether vertical circulation placement is logical (see the crap shoot example I gave earlier in this article comments section about Vancouver City Centre Station), etc. The Canada Line’s ultimate 15,000 pphpd capacity and the Expo/Millennium Line’s 30,000 pphpd ultimate capacity are meaningless if station layouts are not designed for even today’s passenger loads moving inside the line’s busiest stations (although in all fairness, it’s being resolved at Main Street, Commercial-Broadway, and Metrotown Stations).

    2. Not many places in Europe or Asia have density as low as Vancouver west of Arbutus over a subway line.

      And there is some precedent for wider stop spacing. Moscow has wide stops quite far apart at the ends of the lines.

      For local service, the #9 trolley bus is not going away.

    3. “All the subways I have used in various countries of Europe and Asia have relatively close stops.”

      That is because you have probably used only pre 1970’s subway.

      Hong Kong MTR, Shenzhen subway, Shanghai subway, singapore subway…all having interstation in the vicinity, if not greater, than a mile, don’t fit the definition of “close stop”

      Not even talking of Paris RER, latest opened line in London (Jubilee line ) or Paris (line 14) (1), have interstation close to a mile too.

      So yes, if it suits to all these countries/cities to not build “underground streetcar” and prefer to have something closer to a S-bahn/ RER like they have in Zurich or in less extend Syndey and Melbourne… (this to name cities close enough in size to Vancouver)…which all have been a resounding success…Why argue with it?

      …Why suggest that the Toronto Sheppard subway-or underground Eglinton Streetcar- is a good example for Vancouver?

      (1), notice that the Paris subway 14, opened in 98, with 6 cars train set (90 meters long),…carrying not much people than the skytrain current configuration (68 meters long),
      More generally the rolling stock capacity is only one aspect driving the capacity of a system, frequency is another one…it is where grade separartion make a difference.

    4. Keep in mind the LRT in Portland and Seattle run trains often every 15 minutes. Those are terrible headways, and result in much slower service (due to waiting), and much lower real life capacity than Skytrain. While hypothetically they could run trains maybe every three minutes (less frequent than skytrain, realistically that will never be achieved due to cost without an unimaginable increase in ridership on those systems.

      At this point skytrain has a total capacity of 15,000ppdph or so, that’s true, but it’s also easily expandable. As stated above TransLink plans to extend the trains without expanding platforms, then they intend to increase headways to 75 seconds from around 108 seconds currently, and then they can still extend the platforms to 100 meters from the current 80 meters. It’s hardly maxed out.

      1. Tessa, in my experience downtown there are four 6-car trains every 5 minutes eastbound in the workday afternoon rush hour. That is a 75-second headway. I timed them several times at the Burrard Station between 3:30 and 4:30. Each train contained significant numbers of people.

        That is a great success story despite the ongoing lack of steady funding, and is a testament to building a case for Broadway.

  27. Since this thread seems to be reactivated.
    I was annoyed at the Patrick Cordon article in that I felt his premise was potentially valid (why is the LRT on Broadway option so expensive) but his data was so skewed it could not be taken seriously…..So while I understand no two projects are alike and every project has its own costs I did a quick list of the very new, under construction or proposed LRT projects in Canada and listed their cost per km for comparison. Note I did this quickly, the sources are varied and particularily for the Toronto projects their scope and costs have changed repeatedly so take these with a huge grain of salt….I am sure I screwed up at least some of them (but not intentionally). Also did not check to see if everything was apples to apples, I assume all costs are total costs including property, utilities, vehicles etc. but did not check too closely. I also did not bother with year of cost estimate and standardizing them all. Here goes…..cheapest to most expensive.

    Waterloo LRT at grade 818million for 19km = 43.1million/km
    Calgary LRT extension…so no maintainance facilities or vehicles etc., at grade 2.9km for 130million = 44.8million/km
    Victoria LRT early stages, at grade 950million for 18km = 52.8million/km
    Hamilton LRT (B-line first phase), at grade, 13.5km for 830million = 61.5million/km
    Toronto, Sheppard LRT, mainly at grade, 14km, 1 billion = 71.4million/km
    Broadway = 91.7million/km (from Patricks article I did not check Translink…I assume he got the correct numbers)
    Toronto, Finch LRT phase 1, mainly at grade, 1.2billion for 11km = 109.1million/km
    Toronto, Scarborough, at grade?, 1.8billion for 11.4km = 157.9million per km
    Ottawa LRT, substancial tunneled section downtown, grade seperated in busway, large stations, 2.1billion for 12.5km = 168million/km
    Calgary recently opened extension, includes elevated, tunnelled and at grade, 1.5billion for 8km = 187.5million/km, not sure if it needed ops yard extension.
    Edmonton NAIT extension = 755million for 3.3km, substancially grade seperated, not sure about ops yard requirements.= 251.7million/km
    Toronto Eglington = 5billion for 19km = 263million per km (I think this is for the current plan but things keep changing so it may not be), has a substancial tunnelled section.

    It should be noted that none of these projects have a cost per km remotely like those used by Patrick, even the Calgary extension at grade without ops building works or I assume extra vehicle purchases, not sure why the Waterloo cost seem so low in comparison (also still more expensive than all the examples used by Patrick).

    Let the corrections to my numbers begin….

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  30. This piece is NOT a debate. Bob Ransford wrote an opinion piece, and Jarrett Walker wrote a critique of it.

    Ransford was writing about how rapid transit infrastructure can, and should, be used to catalyze and shape urban form. I would like to add that it was also a critique of the City of Vancouver’s record on this matter, and if the CoV wants to have a say in how the Broadway line is designed and where and how many stations there are, then it should be paying more towards it.

    Walker’s priority is on designing an efficient transit system. That is good goal too.
    Both goals are important. It does not need to be a debate. It needs to be a colaboration, working towards the best design to achieve mulfiptle goals.

  31. “As for present civic urban form being the highest achievement of mankind, I disagree and suggest that we should be aiming higher. There is certainly merit in higher density rather than sprawl, but that higher density could be multi-use with residential, commerce, retail, education included and with clean industry, open space and recreation areas within walking distance. ”

    Best cities to live in, by the spatially adjusted liveability index…

    Richard Clowes from Linkedin Urban Planning Group.

    Richard, you are the first I have seen to recognize “Getting there is not the point. Being there is!”

    Conversation is raging in Vancouver now about spending billions on tunneled transit when IMO the city would be much more livable . . .


    . . . if it were to recognize its historic origins of many small multi-use villages.

    In recent time these villages have been consumed by sprawl until they are barely recognizable but enough remains that they can be resuscitated back to their original multi-use although greatly enhanced.

    The Vancouver Transit conversation is far too one dimensional to offer lasting solutions for a future livable city

    I would like to re-post your comments on the Vancouver conversation as a viable alternative to obsessing on tunnels and rapidly moving shiny trinkets.

    I have also posted this on . . .


    Thanqu . . .

  32. Richard Clowes full comment on Linkedin Urban Planning Group . . .

    “Best cities to live in, by the spatially adjusted liveability index…

    Hi Nahoum, I am certainly not for abolishing civic urban form, but I believe that it does not suit all players. I believe that planning needs to reonsider its objectives. owns and cities once grew organically to fulfill the needs and desires of their inhabitants, in this regard they provided sheltr, workplaces, shops (market stalls), schools and the like all within walkable distances. These days cities and towns have evolved as a group of single-use zones that segregate residential, commercial, retail, work, education into separate areas. This was probably a good idea when industries were dirty and public utilities (water, sewer and the like) were either rudimentary or non-existent. This is not the case today and hasn’t been the case for the past half century at least. Thus the reason for segregation and regimentation of population into separate zones based on activity is unnecessary and inneficient. As an example, the concentration of finance and banking ito city cores results in traffic congestion as workers travel, often long distances, to and from work. Even when the workers use public transit this is inefficient as it requires large fleets that are used to capacity during two short peaks each day.

    As for present civic urban form being the highest achievement of mankind, I disagree and suggest that we should be aiming higher. There is certainly merit in higher density rather than sprawl, but that higher density could be multi-use with residential, commerce, retail, education included and with clean industry, open space and recreation areas within walking distance.

    There also seems to be a belief that equates rural with low-tech and unskilled occupations. This may have been the case back in the days of horse-drawn ploughs. These days farming is run on business principles and much farming relies on computerised machinery and off-farm consultancies providing accounting, planning, surveying, irrigation design, marketing, environmental, scientific and legal services.
    By Richard Clowes”

  33. I wish I’d seen this thread 5 months ago when it was still active. There’s some really great stuff here. I’m bothered by some of the errors that are spouted as facts (Arbutus actually has a significantly higher population than Cambie and is decades ahead on the conversion to multi-family housing), but that’s going to happen in any discussion.

    In making a decision about Broadway there are several things to consider:
    1. Metro Vancouver’s travel pattern is becoming more decentralized every year. The biggest growth is suburb to suburb travel. Putting all our increased transit funding into one route is inefficient and replacing a bunch of buses with SkyTrain will not actually save any money.
    2. Doing something to encourage transit oriented development in Surrey is more important to the region than any new transit on Broadway.
    3. There is no current or foreseeable growth pattern to support a subway to UBC.
    a) Peak hour, peak direction travel has reached its maximum. UBC is selling off land for housing, not building employment or accepting more students.
    b) The new housing is located 2km from the proposed subway station.
    c) Peak hour, peak direction is only over capacity September-mid December and January-March.
    d) Peak hour, non-peak direction travel is dominated by deadhead buses and empty seats.
    e) Off peak travel is also dominated by empty seats despite lower service frequency.
    4. From a network perspective the proposed LRT from Main Street Station to UBC makes sense as a way of separating many UBC passengers from the Central Broadway passengers and moving many pedestrian transfers away from the already crowded Broadway/Commercial station. The Main-Arbutus section is very good because it passes through mid-high density areas, but doesn’t interfere with cross traffic. It would also open up a myriad of options for future expansion north, south and east.
    5. Slow transit driving people into cars came up because of the suggestion that Broadway employ urban stop spacing instead of metro stop spacing. That’s truly the domain of theorists because Vancouver, TransLink and the Ministry of Transportation have always envisioned the Broadway line to be regional rapid transit.

    But having raised the subject I would like to say that slow transit only pushes people into cars when the car journey is significantly faster. I’ve worked downtown for most of the last 25 years while living in several different parts of Vancouver. I’ve tried driving to work, but in each case I saved little or no time while spending significantly more money. When I worked in an office park in Burnaby, on the other hand, driving was the only reasonable choice.

    1. @David, the reason that I revived the discussion “The Broadway Line: Ransford vs Walker” (which was started back on December 10, 2012), and why I have also been posting on another discussion on this site – New “Light Rail Links” calition indicator of Surrey Momentum (Which was started on May 10, 2013), is because I am promoting an alternative vision.

      I contend that the best way to deal with the congestion on the 99B Broadway B-line, in the short term, is to establish an surface LRT line on the CPR line and 16th Avenue. This is not an ideal solution politically, and is not a long-term, high capacity, high-speed solution, but it is a good solution for the near term. It could be constructed far cheaper, and far more quickly, than a Broadway subway.

      Feel free to contact me for more information.

    2. No worries about being late to the party. This thread will never die.

      1. Even with increasing suburb to suburb travel, transit is not very effective in that environment. Service could be increased in those areas, but that service won’t capture much mode share and won’t provide much of a benefit to the folks that live there. It makes more sense to deliver the service to where it will be used. Now of course transit investment can be used to shape growth which is why I support extending Skytrain to Langley and a BRT service on King George, and I would support doing this before the Broadway Line. But there will have to be considerable change in development for this investment to be well used, and it will not be as well used as the Broadway Line in our lifetimes. I do not see how putting transit expansion in areas where it will be well used is “inefficient”, and I certainly do not see it as “all” our increased transit funding. Both lines will be built. As to the comment about saving money, this really isn’t about saving money. It is about better service and a better city. This isn’t a poor part of the world; we can afford to spend some money to make this a better place to live.

      2. Not sure that transit oriented development in Surrey is more important than new transit on Broadway, but certainly enough people think that and think that Surrey deserves the next big transit investment that I would support Surrey first.

      3. You state that “there is no current or foreseeable growth pattern to support a subway to UBC.” There is already enough traffic on this route to justify rapid transit. It is incredibly heavy. Probably heavier than any other corridor save for the Expo Line in the Burnaby Vancouver segment. There may be empty buses, deadhead buses and buses not at capacity, but there is still more transit traffic here than nearly anywhere. If empty seats held a veto on transit improvements, we’d never get any. And just because buses are good enough or still have capacity doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get better. We only have one earth, we might as well make it as comfy as possible.

      While there is enough traffic here already without any new development, there still will be some. UBC has plans to continually grow its research function, and it is developing land for housing. And the area along 10th between MacDonald and Alma needs some redevelopment because it is not working very well. Traffic is too heavy for that width of street in a single family neighbourhood. It would do well to be changed to something more like the Arbutus brewery lands stepping down in density to 16th.

      4. I like the idea of a LRT or streetcar on the old Arbutus rail line, but that cannot be a regional transport priority. First, the real transit priority is on Broadway, not along the rail corridor, so even if the rail corridor were built, Broadway would still have to be built as well, at least to Arbutus. Second, I don’t see why it makes sense to try to separate the UBC bound traffic from the general Broadway traffic. A good line on Broadway will serve both. What’s the advantage to separating them? Building both is basically the “Combo 1” of the UBC RT study, and it doesn’t make financial sense. It is only $250 million cheaper in lifecycle costs than the full Skytrain to UBC yet it does not serve the UBC or West Broadway traffic nearly as well. Another thing that gets overlooked is the impact on Broadway between MacDonald and Alma. That is a very pleasant community shopping street that would be badly impacted by LRT. All uncontrolled intersections would have to be closed or replaced with controlled intersections matching the LRT timing. Two lanes would go – more at stations – which would mean it would be even more unlikely that the bike lane would move to Broadway. And the trains would have to keep a pretty good clip to be rapid transit, and fast traffic is just not conducive to a good pedestrian environment.

      The plan that the city is promoting is a bored tunnel from VCC to UBC for $3 billion. Actually I don’t like this plan. The bored tunnel requires deeper stations that are harder to access. A cut and cover tunnel with stations as close as possible to the service with no mezzanine level provides the best possible service. And as a big bonus, this might only cost $2 billion. Now I’m all for spending money on improved transit, but $1 billion extra for something that isn’t as good is not a good deal.

      The supposed benefit of a bored line is less surface disruption. I don’t doubt that this is true, but because the stations need to be deeper and kept open longer, the disruption at the major intersections will actually be worse. And there are things that can be done to minimize the disruption. First, the amount of time that the street can be opened up ought to be limited. Foundations are dug and four levels of parking are poured in less than six months, so there is no reason that a tunnel should take longer. And the six months in front of commercial areas could be done at the slowest time of the year. I would also move the bike path to Broadway during the excavation so as much shopping traffic as possible stays on the street. Finally, if businesses still suffered, we could have a compensation program. Because the cut and cover tunnel provides better service, I would still support it even if all the mitigation measures drove the cost up to $2.9 billion.

      5. The ridership levels between the 99 and the 9 show that people prefer fast transit. The fact that they will still stay in slow transit if it is as slow as an automobile is not a comfort. Why not give people what they want (especially when it is good for them)?.

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  35. “There have been no new housing units built along Cambie”? Has he not driven along Cambie in the last few years? It’s booming!!

  36. Both Bob Ransford and Jarrett Walker are valued friends and highly respected professional colleagues of mine, so I tread warily wading in here some six years after this exchange was first published in Price Tags by yet another respected colleague, Gordon Price. Also, unlike Jarrett, I am not a public transit planning expert. But, for what it’s worth, here goes:

    To my mind the key point about getting the Broadway rapid transit line built is that it should serve the tens of thousands of daily commuters to/from UBC, which is either the biggest or second biggest single employment/activity centre in the entire Vancouver region (the other being YVR). Getting a large chunk of those commuters out of their cars and/or to UBC faster and more reliably than it currently takes on the oversubscribed, unreliable (i.e. full) 99 B Line bus would be the big payoff in terms of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, traffic congestion and lost productivity (ironically except for UBC perhaps, which has come to depend on all that nice parking revenue on campus). The system has to be regional and has to be fast, or those UBC commuters will not switch. It’s that simple. The other considerations (valid as they may be) are, to my mind, secondary.

    Given this, it is here that I part company with those advocating for surface streetcar/rapid bus options (Patrick Condon, et al). There is certainly a role for surface transit systems, especially where they are physically separated from traffic and pedestrians with signal prioritization, as Jarrett explains. And yes they are of course much cheaper than underground systems, and yes they support local development and community building, etc., but this approach will not effectively address the primary purpose of the Broadway corridor rapid transit route: getting very large numbers of people quickly to and from the #1 (or #2) employment/activity centre in our region. So to me it makes absolutely no sense to stop the underground subway line at Arbutus, as this just moves all the existing problems of travel mode shift and transferring from Broadway/Commercial to Broadway/Arbutus. Stopping the line at Arbutus was a political decision, to placate the other Metro Vancouver municipalities and ensure they all got a piece of the approved funding pie, so that they would vote to support the plan. Sooner or later the Broadway line will be built all the way out to UBC. And it will not get any cheaper if we wait.

    I will leave all the other valid stuff raised about community building, nodal versus linear densification, and the number and spacing of stations, for others to debate. I only know that in the future, there is room for, and indeed there is need for, BOTH underground (regional) and surface (local) transit systems along this corridor, and indeed all across greater Vancouver.

  37. I agree with Walker about, well, walking:

    “Transit that stops every block or two is useful mainly for protecting people from having to walk. This is an issue for a small senior/disabled sliver of the population, but for everyone else, walking is good for you!”

    When it comes to walking for 10-15 minutes or taking the bus, I’m to cheap to pay $2.30 and too lazy to wait 7 minutes. I might drive, or might walk, but I am highly unlikely to take the bus. This is subjective, but Condon’s 400m station spacing does little for me.

    The real solution, I think, isn’t more stations: it’s better paths. I’ll happily walk 10 minutes in a pleasant or interesting environment, but I won’t walk even 5 minutes alongside 70km traffic on Lougheed Highway if I can help it.

    The recent opening of the Willigdon linear park converted an unwalkable wasteland into a decent stroll. Suddenly there’s actually somewhere to walk to from here that doesn’t pass through an automobile wasteland. I won’t take the bus up to Hastings, but I will walk 15-20 minutes. Probably more often now than I will in the future (the park is shiny and new, and the weather is good): but it’s pleasant enough that I doubt I will stop (and I could get a bike).

    As for this end, as I’ve said before, development around the train is the only reason there’s anything to walk *to* at Brentwood.

  38. Since the above discussion ended in 2013 several elements have come to the forefront.

    These include the current planning process for the Jericho Lands being developed by the federal Canada Lands Company and three First Nations, likely as a high-density site, the current development of a high-density site owned by the Musqueam Nation at the west end of the First Nation-owned 120+ acre UBC golf course (which will no doubt itself come under heavy development pressure), ongoing residential development on the UEL, increasing UBC campus student, faculty and staff populations, and a very recent initiative called Making Room to open all detached home lots in the city to gentle density increases exploring Missing Middle housing types, which will also stimulate services and business along arterials. Making Room, if approved, will open Kitsilano, Dunbar and Point Grey to tens of thousands of new residents and jobs within 500 m of the Broadway-UBC corridor and will cause a significant increase to transit demand, especially if a seamless connection is made to the entire regional rapid transit network.

    In addition, UBC itself has floated the idea of bringing the Broadway Line all the way to campus and proposed two campus stations. UBC has also opened up to the idea of contributing funds to the line through several possible financing mechanisms, including development levies.

    Federal and provincial funding is now committed for 80% of the cost of extending the line from the False Creek Flats to Arbutus and Broadway. This required no less than a very close BC election and a change in governing federal parties to bring urban transit issues to a higher level of priority with politicos. Before that, it was freeway madness. The Mayor’s Council subsequently approved its share of the project as part of its 10-year plan. The detailed design and engineering is underway.

    The stars seem to be aligning to simply continue the line to UBC in one contract. With the above recent occurrences in mind, there are potentially seven stations west of Arbutus: Macdonald, Alma, Jericho, Sasamat, the Musqueam Lelem development on University Blvd (coupled with development on the adjacent open golf course), core campus and South Campus.

    I have an alternate proposal to two UBC subway stations. I would argue that the high-capacity subway should terminate at the core campus station and a full-scale largely surface LRT line be planned from there to the South Campus, then onwards to the SW Marine Dr corridor and eastwards on 41st Ave and ultimately to the eastern and South of Fraser suburbs. I envision a build-up to possibly a future Francilien-scale service with 500-600 m stops (i.e. half the Broadway Line station spacing, twice the bus stop spacing). In effect, a secondary rapid transit service. The LRT line could dip below Kerrisdale to preserve the heritage character (which includes narrow streets) and below Burnaby’s Central Park to parallel the Expo Line with direct connections to two or possibly three stations before popping out of the South Slope to cross the river and head into North Delta and Surrey.

    Long-term planning is crucial and this idea includes an array of regional transit modes and options, including the beginnings of a suburban LRT network. Put the subway, LRT, buses and trams where they make the most sense, but in all cases they must be accompanied by appropriate land use planning. With federal and provincial buy-in, it could be part of a regional and national public transport strategy to fight climate change and promote sustainable cities without denigrating into the circular and myopic subway vs LRT debate.

    1. Sounds like a plan. Though perhaps a tunnel through a Joyce-Collingwood interchange and under Boundary to Canada Way (coming above ground past BCIT) would cover more ground?

      1. One of the objectives of the above LRT idea is to provide a decent rail link from SoF communities to the mid-section of the Burrard peninsula. Ideally that would include a bridge over Queensborough and Annicis islands roughly parallel to the Alex Fraser bridge, then on to connect to an extended Surrey LRT line on King George x 72nd Ave. From there it could swing SE to Cloverdale and on to a SkyTrain terminus in Langley City. It’s a straight run north on 200th St from Langley to Maple Ridge via Golden Ears, and a fairly quick swing west to Coquitlam Centre Station on the Evergreen Line.

        The demand for the route you proposed could probably be better met with a rail shuttle under the steep slopes of Willingdon (SkyTrain? LRT?) between Metrotown and Brentwood stations, including a major station at BCIT with a possible extension to a future subway line on Hastings. Canada Way is pretty low density with few employment centres or malls. The thought did occur to me that an express bus service could complement the Number 25 milk run, including lots of long bus bays at BCIT. The 25 could turn east on Canada Way to New Westminster once the Willingdon rail shuttle is in place.

        I think there are many longer bus routes like the 25 that could use a B-Line style express service parallel with the milk run. That would be one of the most effective and affordable ways to improve transit performance in the region.

      2. With respect to an LRT line on 41st Ave, I don’t see insurmountable barriers to building a fenced, dedicated median for a surface rail bed with stations both at major arterials and one more in between the arterials. The in-between stations would of course accommodate generous signalized crosswalks. This is not Broadway with a signalized crosswalk at almost every intersection and thousands of people a day who use each of them extensively, so the trains can safely move at some speed to meet regional demand and connectivity while an improved complementary bus service would meet the demand for shorter and slower local neighbourhood trips. The link to SoF suburbs would justify the cost of relocation of underground utilities in those sections where they run down the centre of the road.

        What is attractive about the Francilien model in suburban Paris is that the planners worked with the original train supplier (Bombardier) to design wider cars with up to five seats across interspersed with wider aisles for standees. If the service proves attractive and demand goes up, then the schedules can be adjusted with new rolling stock entering service and the frequency getting boosted. High interior capacity coupled with high frequency is extremely dynamic.

        I also see this idea as a catalyst for accompanying sustainable urbanism initiatives with an emphasis on human-scaled streetscapes, mixed use, high quality urban design and architecture, and a diminished preferential treatment for the private car.

        1. Sure. Arbutus-Cambie and Knight-Victoria, however, are going to be a problem; I’d support cut-n-cover there accompanied by traffic reduction (green median, bike lanes, bus bulbs), like what Toronto’s doing with Line 5.

          Just going to point out that the SNCF Class Zs are suburban rail, more akin to the WCE. Assuming TransLink does the studies and they can run a 94-113m commuter train every 3-5 minutes without breaking 41st, then by all means. Not sure where they’re going to put the OMC, though…

          1. Arbutus-Cambie and Knight-Victoria, however, are going to be a problem.

            Not necessarily. The road allowance is 30 m in most places. Most of the lots are zoned for detached homes with generous front yard setbacks and rear lane access. The allowance gets squeezed where side lots face the road (25 m), and especially where the heritage Kerrisdale streetscape takes over (20 m). Looking at the lot lines, it’s apparent that the city has made an effort to incrementally obtain the 30 m by taking a slice off some of the lots through the permitting process where newer houses and commercial-retail have been built.

            Take out the equivalent of two oversized centre lanes for an 8 m dedicated, fenced median for the LRT track bed where the allowance is 30 m with six lanes of asphalt. There is 8 m left over for two 4 m boulevards once the LRT line and four 3.5 m car and truck travel lanes have been accounted for. On-street parking will be eliminated unless the city negotiates with key property owners to take slices off their front yards, but I’d say the days of single family facing 41st Ave will be numbered even under currently proposed housing policy, but especially with decent transit infrastructure that brings an impetus to build continuous sidewalk retail-office-commercial in the central segment of this corridor. I suggest a part of the urban design initiative must make provision for a greatly expanded pedestrian realm even if future buildings need to be set back by a few metres.

            The stations in the most important parts of the line should be a minimum of 8 m wide and 80 – 100 m long. Centre-loaded may work best because the track bed will remain straight, an important consideration when looking at relocating underground utilities. This would include any station on the central segment between Arbutus and Victoria, and any hub station connection (e.g. Oakridge, Metrotown).

            Given the intensity of redevelopment along rapid transit corridors it shouldn’t be impossible to negotiate additional space on sites facing the corridor to make room for a generous 16 -18 m wide station footprint and additional left turning bays for buses, cars and trucks at major cross arterials. Under no circumstances should left turns be permitted across the tracks without signalized turning bays. Likewise, further protection from traffic and jaywalkers will need to be built-in to the median edges using custom raised concrete barriers and decorative fences. This means that traffic will be inconvenienced. I say, so what?

            The key would be to minimize the tunnelled dips in the line through the above forms of property acquisition. Negotiation is better than expropriation, which should be used only as a last resort, but never for heritage buildings and streetscapes or forested parks. This entails two tunnels: a short one at Kerrisdale with provision for a surface platform for the Arbutus tram; and a longer one to protect Burnaby’s Central Park.

            The 41st Ave corridor is not Broadway, and therein fairly long runs of dedicated median would not sever many greenways and bike corridors or eliminate signalized crossings. In fact, the station / crossing locations could be coordinated with the N-S greenways. And as mentioned, unlike Broadway, the LRT line could stop twice as frequently with one station placed between stations on arterials and accommodate an additional generous signalized crosswalk, essentially one every 400-500 m from Rupert to Arbutus.

            Regarding the technology, I am thinking that this is a fairly fast regional LRT line (hence the separated median), not a slow local neighbourhood or tourist low-floor tram. The Bombardier Flexity Olympic tram won’t cut it, mainly because it was too narrow with limited carrying capacity. The Bombardier Spacium product was designed for high capacity metropolitan service and thus assumed a generous 3.04 m 5-seat width. They come in seven and eight-car trainsets (94-112 m) designed for the Paris Francilien service. Using the same product but initially in a three or 4-car trainset configuration would give you a total length of 46 – 56 m. Introducing 6-car trains when future demand warrants will require an 85 m platform.

            This is not the WCE. However, the Bombardier Regina (or Alstom or Siemens equivalent) could work well as a fast intercity express service. It was conceptualized with Sweden’s input and could be used as a model for Canadian conditions, including Metro Vancouver to Chilliwack, and Metro to Whistler and beyond. There could be a branch of a Fraser Valley commuter train service joining the Metro rapid transit network at Langley city, but the mainline will need to touch Surrey Centre on its way further in. That will require a lot of vocal advocacy and political support to bring it through to Vancouver’s central waterfront

            Frequency is very important, but LRT is subject to limitations under the labour provision of the operating budget with respect to drivers and unattractive split shifts made necessary by the two-rush hour phenomenon where the majority of riders travel to and away from the centre together. In my view, all transit service in Canada is long overdue for a major upgrade to meet our climate objectives, but also to improve the quality of life in cities with walkable neighbourhoods and increased balance in transiting between the centre and the edges.

          2. The 41st Avenue line you are proposing has stop spacing typical of modern tramways in many European cities. It is similar to Paris T1, which has 485 m on average between stops and averages 19 km/h including stops. It is not a fairly fast regional LRT line like Paris T11, which has 1800 m on average between stops and averages 44 km/h including stops while reaching up to 100 km/h between them.

            Unfortunately, one line can’t in the same location both have stop spacing of 400-500 m and be a fast regional service. I agree with your suggested stop spacing for this corridor and your overall intent on 41st, but it would not be and should not be called a fast regional service.

            Also, the trainsets you suggest are not suitable for this corridor. They are suitable for regional lines that do not travel on city streets.

          3. I really don’t get it.

            Justin and Alex have been harping at me because I dared to propose LRT on West Broadway – supposedly a colossal inconvenience for pedestrians. Now they’re advocating a high speed LRT, lined with a barrier no less, along 41st?

            “Likewise, further protection from traffic and jaywalkers will need to be built-in to the median edges using custom raised concrete barriers and decorative fences. This means that traffic will be inconvenienced. I say, so what?”

            So what? So what about the pedestrians who’d have to walk 500m out of their way to cross the street? This sounds like a big screw you to walkability. Am I missing something?

            Furthermore, if you see the end of single family facing 41st this becomes even more problematic. I’d take it a step further. By the time LRT is seriously considered for 41st it will more closely resemble the West Broadway of today – albeit potentially a wider corridor. It would be entirely inappropriate. Fast LRTs should only be proposed where the necessary separation doesn’t negatively impact existing neighbourhoods. They should never run in the middle of an arterial anywhere in the city.

            That was a bonus with the UBC LRT. There are several places along that corridor where it could run at greater speed without being a problem: Olympic Village Station to Granville; Highbury to Discovery along 8th and, of course, UBC Boulevard from Blanca to Block F. In the grand scheme it wouldn’t gain a lot of time with these fast sections – but at least they are currently nearly uninterrupted ROWs that wouldn’t force people to walk further than they currently do.

            There are options if and when Jericho Lands and the UBC Golf Course are developed. One could easily account for a faster train when a development goes in after the transit is in place. Or, one could just choose to slow the train down in future. It should be an imperative that those development cater to those working and studying at UBC. The very existence of such developments would shorten the average commute such that speed becomes less of an issue.

            41st has SW Marine for a fast blast into UBC but nowhere else, anywhere, from Camosun to Metrotown. It doesn’t make sense to consider it a higher speed service. And the one stretch where it could go fast is so remote one must question whether expensive transit is warranted at all.

          4. I don’t entirely disagree, but east of Victoria shrinks to about 10m. Even after expropriating and redeveloping the sidewalk and/or a few front yards (which should be done anyway, don’t get me wrong) to get two lanes and a rail median, that’s still going to put a squeeze on Victoria itself; the #20 takes forever to clear 41st as it is, to say nothing of the future Metrotown-Burnaby B-Line… aaand I’m also hoping that a short tunnel would allow a branch down Knight St Bridge to eventually replace said B-Line.
            As for Arbutus-Cambie, the current plan is to transform everything from Oak to Columbia into a Dense Walkable Community. That’s going to create significant levels of N-S foot traffic, and since we’re (hypothetically) tunnelling under the Greenway already for much the same reason, we might as well keep said tunnel going until at least Cambie.

            Of course, everything east, west and between is suburbia slowly converting to townhouses; a tram every 3-5 minutes at avg 24kph+ (with improved bus connections, of course) should work just fine there. Drivers there don’t want to adjust, that’s their problem.

            A 4-car Spacium gives you about 526-28 passengers; that’s a couple dozen over an equal-sized Flexity Outlook. Is either one sufficient for 41st, and wholly at-grade? We’ll likely have to wait for the TransLink study two decades from now.

          5. @ Justin

            Sorry, but the narrowest pinch points between legal boundaries on the 41st Ave road allowance are 20 m, including east of Victoria Dr. In fact, east of Earles it’s back to 30 m to the bend before Kingsway. Once the city is done consolidating the road frontages the entire corridor will be a uniform 30 m with one exception: Kerrisdale.

          6. @ Ron

            Here’s a 2015 list of the EXISTING SIGNALIZED INTERSECTIONS on Broadway from Main to Alma:

            Main / Kingsway

            Here’s a list of the non-signalized intersections:


            So, that’s 35 out of 39 intersections that are vital for pedestrian safety and walk-in business viability. That’s an average of 159 m between intersections. Of the four remaining I believe Balsam and possibly Waterloo have been signalized since I compiled this list (needs to be confirmed).

            Putting it another way, 90% of all intersections over 6.2 km of this major corridor are in demand enough to warrant signals, only eight of which are major arterials with the rest activated solely by pedestrians and cyclists. It is so clear that addressing the remarkable duopoly of heavy regional and local transit demand must also protect and enhance pedestrian rights on the street for all ages and abilities. Ergo a future-proofed high-capacity subway coupled with improved Number 9 trolley service and a major pedestrian realm expansion.

            Can you please explain how 41st Ave with very few signalized intersections between arterials would not benefit with signalized crossings and station spacing at 400-500 m, even begins to compare on the same 6.2 km section, let alone anywhere else? It’s just plain geometry and it doesn’t lie.

            Further, this confusion over two very different corridors with clearly differing transit demand, economic and physical characteristics and pedestrian movements seems to be coupled with missing my repeated comments on using all forms of transit with mode appropriateness to improve our cities, rather than the illiterate one-size-fits all approach: put trams in mixed traffic no matter what because miracle Zurichian urbanism, it is claimed, is simply conjured out of thin air.

          7. Zurich trams are not in mixed traffic.

            You can eliminate from your signal list everything east of Arbutus. They are just an irrelevant distraction and it cuts the list by almost 2/3.

            41st will also see increasing pedestrian crossing signals as it grows to resemble West Broadway over the time it takes to justify LRT – especially, but not limited to the section between Main St. and Kerrisdale. It will also likely see increasing retail frontage in this particular strip. Do we want to see 41st become more walkable? Or do we want to ram a high-speed LRT with barriers down the middle? It’s one or the other. Greatly reducing the places one can cross the street does not increase walkability.

            I’m all for looking at an LRT option here – not high speed. I previously mentioned Brentwood-Metrotown-Oakridge. Extending to Arbutus would make sense. To UBC is a lot farther off due to the extremely low densities and long stretches of zero development in the southwest quadrant. This is unlikely to change for a long long time. It holds little, if any, opportunity to improve residential proximity to UBC.

            I continue to be amazed by the UBC-centric focus instead of working toward a more liveable, walkable city throughout. It appears you’re willing to sacrifice the livability of 41st to reward a campus that should never have been moved to the end of the world.

            We won’t move UBC. We can house more and more staff and students nearby and not build street-destroying transit through existing neighbourhoods so staff and students can move to far-flung ‘burbs.

          8. There’s also Camosun, Discovery, Trimble, Sasamat, Tolmie and Blanca. Even excluding Camosun since it’s not part of the “plan,” that’s still 17 of 25 streets west of Arbutus being busy enough to be negatively impacted by light rail, not counting UBC’s.
            By contrast, the only retail vilIages and large-scale developments on 41st are at Oakridge and Kerrisdale. So if we don’t get a SkyTrain for 41st, then any surface rail does need an Arbutus-Cambie tunnel (for the same reasons as Broadway) and a Knight tunnel (to maintain non-SOV transport capability); the rest is going to look like present-day Oak.

            That “‘screw you’ to walkability” is exactly the problem with LRT. You can have a veritable parade of collisions from people who don’t see the tram or who try to race it, or you can slow the tram down so much that you end up with a billion-dollar bus. Or you can have a fence running down the median and splitting the street in two, save for a select few crossings with barriers and lights. What you can’t do is have your cake and eat it too.

            @ Alex – Got it… so legally the City/TransLink’s allowed 20m. So long as they’re politically allowed that much too – the last thing anybody needs is a high-profile war of attrition against holdouts and/or developers.

          9. Except that if you go back to another thread you will see that I spent some time counting crossing times and pedestrian usage and determined that LRT at 4 minute headways would not “negatively impact” pedestrians on West Broadway. Sometimes you’d have to wait. Sometimes not. Just like now.

            Furthermore, back then you used the example of intersections *without* crossing signals to argue that all motorists come to a screeching halt the moment your toe leaves the curb to try to shoot down my assertion that pedestrians would not be impacted. Today it’s the high number of pedestrian signals that are the basis of your argument against LRT. Yesterday it was the number of unsignalled crossings.

            So which is it?

            And if LRT is just an expensive bus, why haven’t they all just disappeared over time? Why are they growing? Your argument that they’re all being pushed by ignorant planners chasing money earmarked only for the most stupid, expensive, inefficient and disruptive form of transit is not very convincing. We’re talking about massive investments in a type of transit that most interferes with the almighty car. And you want us to believe senior governments are waving that cash around? Most everything we see and hear about senior governments in most places in the world is a near worship of the automobile.

          10. Alex said that intersections with signals are vital, and that there’s a lot on Broadway. You said that most don’t count. Then I said that there’s more than just Alex’s list, and that most of Broadway/10th is a series of retail villages; for those villages, the non-signalled crossings are indeed vital too.
            They’ll now need a light that slows crossing times down, and unless they stop at all reds like the buses do, trams will cut said light short (with Edmonton’s Metro Line, even 10-15 minutes creates lineups). MVs will be less patient and more stressed. Crossing will be more dangerous, and jaywalking either near-suicidal or physically impossible. None of that is good for the already high walkability on the corridor.

            Whether or not you see the difference, SW Marine/41st is over two-thirds SFH on both sides of the road. Minimal N-S foot traffic means that walkability can only go up, and since it’ll likely develop into townhouses and empty sidewalks like Oak, not by very much. The few sections that actually are or could be urban? Yes, those should have tunnels or viaducts. You’re looking for inconsistencies that are really failures on your end rather than mine.

            Trams have disappeared over time. Cities around the world from Berlin to Vancouver to Buenos Aires ripped up their tracks in favour of buses and metros. Others opted to keep their streetcars and upgrade them while also adding buses and metros, and that’s fine.
            What we’re seeing is cities that did the former either electing Next Generation politicians trying to change their car/bus-only suburban cities, or Old School politicians who just want more development. Again, the US federal funding system doesn’t allow you to save up a bunch of grants for a light metro – that’d have to be self-funded, which is hard for most cities. Neither group has any solid experience with streetcars, but they’ve rode some on vacation, so they’re pretty sure it’ll do the job just fine.
            Except that with no off-road ROWs or grade separation or existing metro network, no TOD, and no perspective as a commuter (only as a tourist), they end up spending billions resurrecting a 19th/20th-century tramline that clashes with a 21st-century city. If we’ve already swapped on-street trams for buses – which we have – then there’s really no point in going back. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

          11. It is up for debate if LRT running at normal speeds is a good fit on our streets. But I can’t think of a single street in Vancouver where LRT running fast enough to require a barrier would be a good fit. Maybe if you dig deep there might be a short stretch here or there alongside industrial areas where it could work, but I remain doubtful.

            Frankly I find your promotion of such a system along any part of 41st removes all credibility from all your previous points. If being able to cross the street at the spacing of blocks is vital I’d argue that it is vital everywhere that people walk. My suggestions would not create a problem. Ramming a high-speed LRT down any street in the city and creating long barriers to crossing is quite simply a non-starter.

          12. Define “normal” and “high speed” before talking about credibility. A barrier should be part of the plan for any tram going above 25-30kph – you’ve literally proposed 50kph for Broadway.

          13. Like nowhere else in the world.

            You and Alex propose an LRT on 41st, running at higher speeds with a barrier, to serve the region. You repeat over and over how speed is so important to serve the region and only SkyTrain can deliver.

            So you tell me what you mean by speed.

          14. Nowhere save for St. Petersburg, Budapest, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Ottawa, and others. Hong Kong’s fences stretch across the whole network… can’t help but notice that their pedestrians don’t get killed by trams.

            SkyTrain is obviously a better choice, but so long as it goes all the way to UBC on Broadway, it really doesn’t matter what 41st gets. Light rail would be a semi-rapid line to complement the existing SkyTrain; Toronto’s partially-tunneled Eglinton Line is much the same, and will average 28kph. If people in the West Side need to get across the city super fast, they can transfer north to the Millennium or east to the Canada. That’s what an RT backbone is for.
            Alex hit the nail on the head: “(use) all forms of transit with mode appropriateness to improve our cities, rather than the illiterate one-size-fits all approach.” Insisting that everything has to be either LRT or RRT via slippery slope logic weaken nobody’s argument besides yours.

          15. @ Ron

            Zurich’s trams are not in mixed traffic.



            THAT is not a viable transit solution for Broadway. The Number 9 buses already accomplish local, slower demand and changing them out for trams in mixed traffic will merely duplicate the bus service, while costing a billion and half to do so.

          16. @ Ron

            You are still missing my point on 41st. Adding a separated LRT line as a secondary-level service (i.e. slower than SkyTrain with twice as many stops, faster than a bus or tram with half the stops) will actually increase the number of signalized crossing points for walking humans over today simply by building additional stations between arterials. The fenced median is about both safety and enhancing transit service improvement.

            The quality of urbanism is up to city hall and the private sector that proposes development projects. It is a separate issue from the type of transit technology. If I had my way I’d have the city conduct an urban design plan for the 41st Ave corridor (which is really almost a clean slate today with several km2 of low density detached house lots – development at arterials excepted) with mixed use, walkable neighbourhoods and streets lined with low rises, mid rises at stations, Missing Middle everywhere within 500 m of 41st, and lots of generous sidewalks and continuous retail to enhance the pedestrian realm on the high street, which really should be the community living room and kitchen. And I’d make every effort to promote a frequent transit network.

            A more walkable and denser community in the 41st corridor will require the property lines on 41st to be set back to accommodate the LRT station track beds and platforms in the centre, very wide crosswalks, signalized turning bays, and much wider sidewalks with a rich landscape treatment and leased space for outdoor terraces, retail and cafes. I don’t believe there needs to be more than two vehicular travel lanes west of Arbutus. Everything must under all circumstances be universally accessible.

            I can walk 500 m to a station or a crossing in five minutes. And that’s the maximum distance — it’ll likely be a lot less for most people, homes and businesses. My octogenarian mother would have been able to easily roll alongside during the years she was able to operate an electric wheelchair. And there will always be the the ubiquitous city bus doing one more stop in between stations.

          17. @ Justin
            @ Mike01234

            I had another look at the issue and believe you are right about the Francilienne trains vs a tram like Flexity on 41st. My main concern is capacity and I found the Flexity Olympic tram brought in by Bombardier from Brussels was way too narrow and short and subject to overcrowding. If there are wider models (and I’m sure any of the big companies can make one to suit), then go for it. But they really do need to work on the interior design — I hate the aesthetics of riding inside a fridge. I say that about all transit vehicles.

            I will stick to the fenced median, 500 m station spacing Arbutus to Earls, tunnels below Kerrisdale and Central Park, and to make a direct connection eventually between Metrotown and UBC.

            Your comment, Justin, about commuter rail up the Valley got me thinking more that such a service from Abbotsford (eventually Chilliwack) should firstly target Central Surrey as the largest suburban destination, then downtown, perhaps using the BNR corridor. However, there could be a branch line that terminates in Langley City where it would meet with the extended SkyTrain and a 1 km stop tram service that follows the route I mentioned above through Cloverdale, Newton (to connect with a future extension of LRT on King George), North Delta then across the North Arm via Annacis and Queensborough and to Metrotown. The bridge could be designed to accept more rail links over time.

            The electrified commuter rail could be served by the Francillenne-type of service with shorter Spacium trains on a 2+ km station spacing. That may also commit a future SoF rail network to this technology. I suggest the interiors will need better treatment than just lino floors and hard seats. Should this service be considered over the Langley-Metrotown tram, then stations could be built only in Langley, Cloverdale, Newton and then Metrotown. It will obviously be a supra-regional service with nodal town centre stimulus and the need to build a dedicated median with overpasses or dip the line below arterials where there are no stations. Tunnelling may not be justified unless ridership studies indicate good potential, which I doubt will occur for some time.

          18. Beautiful! Like a Swiss clock. Thanks for the video. It shows clearly that the trams are not in mixed traffic.

            There is just one scene in the 18 minute video where cars are allowed onto the tram lanes – undoubtedly just nowhere else they could separate them out in this tight city. Notice that there are also only 2 scenes in the video where the trams appear to stop for anything other than crossing other trams or at stations. This is a remarkable dance of timing with trams crossing every which way even as cars, bikes and pedestrians navigate easily around them. Their one-time performance remains incredibly high even in what looks like chaos at times.

            Of course the video focuses on the most congested, intertwined, station-heavy and curvy parts of the system where speeds just have to be slow. They didn’t show any of the outlying lines where they can get up to speed. This is not a duplication of the Number 9 bus.

            You simply cannot compare this to Broadways with it massive width, straight lines, predictable grid, lack of a dozen crossing tram lines and much less pedestrian traffic (though much more MV traffic). It seems Zurich has done a better job of getting people out of their cars don’t you think?

          19. @ Alex,

            You can put more pedestrian signals on 41st without spending $billions on LRT. The Zurich video shows how everyone can get along in an extremely congested, narrow and complicated street pattern with dozens of criss-crossing tram routes. The speeds are slow because of the complex layout but so what? Everything is close by.

            This is what we should be aiming for. You miss the point.

            Still, on “Broad”way and broad-straight-simple 41st LRT could faster without the need for a pedestrian-screwing barrier – like they do in the outlying areas of Zurich. It’s not worth blocking pedestrian crossing so people from waaay out there can get where they’re going a couple of minutes sooner.

          20. Actually Alex, the maximum distance would be 250-300m, halfway between crossings. That’s two or three minutes of walking maximum, not five minutes – perfectly acceptable west of Arbutus or east of Victoria. Again though, the section in the middle is still going to need one or more tunnels.

            You were on the right track (no pun intended) suggesting wider trains. The only problem is that the Francilienne’s capacity/length ratio isn’t that much greater than the Flexity’s; TransLink’s order should probably have Bombardier remove a few seats.
            Unfortunately, crowding is likely always going to be a problem, at least until we invent the flying car or teleporter. It just means that the train is popular.

            I’d have to question Annacis, there being not much ridership in industrial parks. Queensborough maybe, but only with a lot of rezoning; perhaps we could rebuild the swing bridge on the north side for pedestrian access to New West?

            It seems better to use the SRY for any Surrey/Langley service, being more direct and better able to join with an Arbutus-Marine or 41st route. BNSF to Abbotsford makes sense as a partial SkyTrain relief line, but that’d be more of an S-Bahn/WCE than a tram (and probably a collab with BC Transit).

          21. Two or three extra minutes of walking is not acceptable.

            Just ask a motorist if two or three extra minutes of sitting in a luxurious car with a perfectly balanced sound system and air conditioning and/or heated seats and steering wheel if this is acceptable. Not!

            You are sacrificing local walkability for the benefit of people who don’t give a damn because they choose to live farther away. A recipe for a bad urban environment.

            Keep going! You’re both showing how little you’ve learned about great city building,

          22. Zurich is a good example of how to integrate tramways into a city. The trams stay on the surface in the middle of streets separate from car traffic, they have typical stop spacing of about 400 metres, pedestrian crossings may be as close as every 50 metres plus at both ends of stops, and lines extend up to about 5 km from the centre. Instead of separating service into a local stopping pattern every 200 m and a limited stopping pattern every 800 m, Zurich has a single stopping pattern every 400 m.

            At a local scale, buses rarely run parallel to trams and, in the few places they do, buses do not stop more often than trams. The tram is the most local service, even with stops spaced at 400 m. Duplication would be a waste.

            At a regional scale, regional rail/s-bahn runs on a regular schedule throughout the day and integrates well with local services like buses and trams. These services use railway corridors separate from streets to provide faster service throughout the metropolitan area.

            Of course, all of the features of a typical Zurich tramway could be provided on 41st with trolleybuses with connections to our version of regional service at Joyce, Cambie, and UBC.

          23. No doubt trolleybuses could provide the same service, given the same ROW. I think what Alex has in mind for 41st and beyond is closer to a close-stop suburban rail.

        2. 2-3 minutes is a stroll to a coffee shop and back. No downgrade from 41st’s present streetfront (or rather a lack of such for over 60% of the route), nor from the Mixed-use Walkable Neighbourhoods you’re assuming get built, but a world of difference to pedestrian safety and to the commuters required to keep those neighbourhoods alive.
          In which plane of existence can a midrise retail village depend entirely on just residents within walking distance? Certainly not ours – just ask Olympic Village or Robson or Broadway/10th, to name a few.

          You’ve spent all this time ranting and throwing insults about how SkyTrain is an expensive waste of money, how light rail is relatively cheap, and how it can operate at 50kph down a busy street without any problems whatsoever. Now we’re actually talking about a corridor where all of that applies if designed properly, and where you’ve got other people to actually agree with you on that… and you’re still ranting and throwing insults. Zweisystem looks rational and agreeable by comparison.

          1. You were adamant that waiting a few extra seconds to cross Broadway with LRT was unacceptable, and now, magically, an extra 2-3 minute walk is okay. You were adamant that one can cross Broadway anywhere and cars will all stop. But on 41st it isn’t possible to cross anywhere except at pedestrian signals. Some consistency please. Otherwise I’m going to sound like I’m ranting.

            I envision much of 41st being denser, more walkable and more self-sufficient. Reducing walkability is just not on. Increasing by up to 3 minutes the time it takes to cross the street is reducing walkability. Especially in the rain. Again, ask a motorist what they would think of tacking 3 minutes on to their comfortable, climate controlled drive. I suggest hysterics. Let go of the barriers.

            The West End and Downtown South have the population to support their neighbourhood shops etc. They have also become destinations that give them even more vitality, but that isn’t a requisite for every walkable commercial centre. Nor is that level of density. Obviously it needs to be higher than Broadway/10th. Olympic Village has not yet fully built out but it will always suffer from having half its potential resident base in the water. Even so it does very well with very light MV traffic and longish walks to decent transit. I’m doubtful many people arrive by SkyTrain. Anywhere that can pull in walking residents from all directions at those densities will do well without the need for “commuters”.

            I have never said SkyTrain is an expensive waste of money. If you have taken that away then no wonder you accuse me of ranting. Perhaps I could be a little lighter if you didn’t put words in my mouth (not the first time) – nor propose degrading the walkability of our neighbourhoods.

            I’ve clearly said that SkyTrain is too expensive and over-built beyond Arbutus – along with a few other negatives. I prefer LRT because it better integrates into the neighbourhood. But not if it requires barriers and forces people to walk farther. That is the opposite of good integration. There well may be places where 50km/h is too fast, There are also places that 80 would be okay. Obviously not on-street. But most of the street can handle 50. I’ve never gotten out the radar gun but I’d suggest that is the normal speed of Zurich trams once they’re outside of the dense tangle of the inner city.

            The short of it is that I envision a much better future where we’re not trying to fix the damage created by the car by applying SkyTrain. For the most part, we’ve already done that and it has created some focal points in the suburbs so they can do some city building. But there are limits to that strategy. Now it’s time to start fixing our cities and giving more people the opportunity to do more things closer to home. Then you don’t need to compete with the car with expensive grade-separated systems. The car will automatically become less important. Speed won’t be as critical. Capacity and increased networking will. For that LRT beats SkyTrain.

          2. “Isn’t possible to cross anywhere except at pedestrian signals” is you putting words in my mouth. I’ll try once again, but sooner or later you’ll actually have to process it, rather than ignoring it and continuing to blame others.

            With Broadway/10th, the majority of the route is retail villages. Urban and commercial space. Amenities on both sides of the street and beyond. There’s plenty of N-S foot traffic all the way down and plenty of development potential.
            With 41st, the only present or future urban areas are Kerrisdale-Oakridge and Victoria (possibly Fraser), and I’ve said those should have grade separation. Do tell, how many people on future Wallace or Sophia or Nanaimo do you envision crossing the suburbs per hour, when right now those streets don’t even want or need a push-to-walk?
            Houses are turning into townhouses all over the city, yet still most sidewalks are empty. Foot traffic comes from commercial density, and there’s hardly any case for such along 41st until rapid transit is built.

            Actually, Olympic Village is supplied by people coming from the 84 and off the seawall. So Creekside/OV Square is bustling, West 2nd is bustling… West 1st is near-dead. There’s a limit to how many locals can prop up a commercial district, and outside customers are always welcome. In fact, Surrey’s BIAs and Board of Trade have said that moving people from the rest of the SoF to their businesses is a goal of LRT (though at 21.4kph average, not a very achievable one).

            So SkyTrain for Broadway and Surrey is an expensive waste of money. Hair successfully split. And yet so is upgrading the Canada Line, which according to you is underbuilt and overpriced and should’ve been light rail (which has a fraction of the capacity). What did you think of the Evergreen? It’s hardly putting words in your mouth when you’ve disparaged the whole network so many times; I’m still waiting for that one lip-service segment you keep insisting that SkyTrain could work on. Conversely, I’ve always said LRT is possible on certain corridors – Arbutus/SW Marine, possibly 41st, etc – and I’ve tried to deescalate on multiple occasions. Might as well have spared my text.

            A quick YouTube search will demonstrate that Zurich’s trams operate at a near-consistent speed throughout. One could likely match or overtake it on an e-bike.
            Yet even then, there’s an accident about once every 2.5 weeks, and several deaths. Medium and heavy rail are kept as far apart from people as possible; “light” rail refers to passenger limits rather than speed or mass, and should be treated much the same. Same reason we separate bike lanes from roads and sidewalks; “integration” means “share the road,” and that hasn’t worked one bit.

            As long as we haven’t demolished Langley or North Van or Maple Ridge and moved their residents in closer, that damage will continue to exist and grow. Slower trains doesn’t mean shorter commutes, it means more driving – give them a metro for the fast commutes, and they’ll plan their lives and city around transit instead.

          3. @ Justin,

            “Isn’t possible to cross anywhere except at pedestrian signals” is you putting words in my mouth.

            You seem to be of the opinion that there will be no negative impact to crossing 41st with a barrier in place and making people walk up to a 3 minute detour. I’m not sure how else I could interpret that.

            SkyTrain has sprawled to it’s beneficial limit. Further outward expansion just fuels more sprawl. No need to demolish the outer suburbs. Just stop expanding SkyTrain farther out and making it easier to live that far out. We have enough city rebuilding to do to last us a century without expanding.

            I had already told you that SkyTrain might be a good fit for Brentwood-Metrotown-Oakridge. Improved network – less sprawl. But now you want to use LRT. I’m good with that too (as I had mentioned) as long as it doesn’t have barriers. Keep it in separate lanes. I’m cool with separation. Haven’t figured out where that comment came from.

            Don’t degrade neighbourhoods for the benefit of people who choose to live far away.

            It is entirely possible to have a vibrant commercial centre that relies only on locals. (Of course others are welcome.) We haven’t built much of it because the car got in the way. Let’s get to work.

            I’d say some of these trams are approaching 50km/h and it’s still all shot in the inner city. You can’t find outlying lines on a quick search of youtube. This is understandable. Outlying areas are usually boring. So I don’t know how you can speak to trains all running at a constant speed. This is clearly not the case.


            This and Alex’s post also puts to rest your assertion that you need 4 or 5 minute headways.

          4. I wasn’t aware of this but in some outlying areas the trams do run in mixed traffic. Of course, there’s almost no traffic – the trams doing a good job of getting people out of their cars apparently.


            But you tell me this tram is going under 50 – with no barriers.

            Towards the end there is a stretch where the tram is doing closer to 80 and it does have a low barrier that would keep dogs and small children out. This strip does not in any way resemble 41st, present or future. It does more closely resemble False Creek South, 8th Ave along the Jericho Lands and UBC Boulevard. Perfect for LRT to UBC.

          5. For clarity’s sake, always check the tense: “won’t be possible to cross anywhere…”
            Yes, you can cross anywhere on 41st right now, but the number of people crossing is measured per hour, not per minute like Broadway; Southlands and Killarney are hardly going to turn into Kitsilano within this century, and a 2-3 minute detour is hardly going to wreck a stroll across the road to a golf course (really, there’s nothing else south of 41st).

            SkyTrain still needs to go to Langley, Maple Ridge, and the North Shore at both crossings – that is the beneficial limit. With SkyTrain, they stop depending on cars and have something physical to rebuild around; without it, they double down on sprawl.
            As I’ve said repeatedly, I would prefer SkyTrain for 41st, but I don’t care either way so long as Broadway is RRT, and the LRT is good enough to function as RRT-lite and make a significant difference over a B-Line. That means barriers and tunnels – otherwise we might as well go with RRT, which is exactly what you specifically don’t want because it’s overkill.

            Again, Olympic Village. Not to mention all the empty mixed-uses in Steveston and East Van. Just because Gastown is able to go it alone (which is debatable, given all the tourists and buses) doesn’t make it a one-size-fits-all success story.

            Any tram faster than 30kph should come with barriers and gates, is what I said. Zurich should do the same: their collision rate is once every 540k vehicle kilometres (about once every 2 1/2 weeks), with 60 injured and 7 dead over a two-year period. An old lady got killed just last March. Just because it’s in Europe doesn’t mean it’s better or safer.
            As you’ve done, you can easily find channels that record the entire ride all the way to the suburbs, and it’s more or less uniform.
            Yours does 30-40kph on average, not even close to 50 – same as many buses. The one time it appears to go faster in yours is the stretch where it dips underground. That’s what grade separation is for – no space conflict in a tunnel or on a viaduct, so the driver can put the pedal to the metal. Failing grade separation, the least we can do is put up a fence or get it off the road; same reason why new bike lanes have physical barriers rather than just dotted paint lines.

            If it’s not every 4-5 minutes, then what’s the point? Save the money and add a B-Line that goes just as fast and more often for just a chunk of a tram’s cost.

          6. Zurich trams are running at 1 minute headways in places. You’ve got my comment backwards. They also travel <25 km/h in some places and 80 in others. You call that uniform speed?

            Please please please do not expand SkyTrain out farther. It will just push sprawl out farther. Killarney should resemble Kits before SkyTrain goes outward another metre. That's how you get vibrant, walkable commercial centres. Not by serving them by SkyTrain from Timbuktu.


          7. Alex’s post said 4-5 minute frequencies were impractical, the opposite of your argument. Hence the confusion.
            Just because they’re coming one after the other doesn’t mean they’re part of the same route. The city’s timetable gives 7-15 minute frequencies per route, like with buses that also sometimes come all at once. Run one route every two minutes like SkyTrain, and you’ll get bunch-ups and more collisions.

            Surrey’ll be our Oakland, and Langley its Berkeley. It may feel like Ancient Mali for someone who rarely leaves downtown, but it’s home to 143k people and set to double by 2026 with or without SkyTrain. The question is whether we want to leave it car dependent and let it sprawl further, or break that dependency with fast, frequent transit – and they’re already preparing to do the latter: https://www.langleytimes.com/news/langley-city-prepares-for-rapid-transit-arrival/

          8. We clearly have different goals. You want to build lots of expensive, fast transit and get lots of people to use it. I want to reduce the need for people to travel so much and provide enough quality transit to serve the needs of those who must.

            People walking, cycling and using transit within or near their neighbourhoods add to the vitality, health and safety of their neighbourhoods. Those SkyTraining around the region subtract from them.

            If Langley is successful in their strategy they will have reduced the need for people to go to Surrey and beyond. They need to ensure they create the conditions to provide enough jobs for their own residents. But it usually doesn’t work out that way. The TOD will attract some small percentage of the growth but create a new impetus for the remainder to live in their car-oriented sprawl surrounding it. You may say that’s better than nothing. But I’d argue it just makes it more attractive to move farther out. The vast majority will just drive everywhere. The developers of single family subdivisions will extol the convenience of “just a 15 minute drive to SkyTrain”.

            Clearly not building rapid transit to Langley will make it less attractive to move out there. The closer people live to Vancouver the less likely they are to drive and/or to drive far. We’ve already spent $10s of billions on SkyTrain and the regional town centres are finally starting to take shape. There’s decades worth of city building to do without spending $billions more. Don’t dilute it with further sprawl.

            Having said that, I do support Surrey LRT including to Langley because it helps define a new sub-region that should work towards self-sufficiency south of the Fraser. In the long run we’ll all be better off and use less energy as a society if they can reduce the need for people to rely on the jobs and amenities north of the Fraser. It will help them focus on their unique geography, demographics and assets. It will enhance to possibility of it becoming an interesting place to live (and visit) instead of just more of the same – sprawling ever outward.

          9. And again, you’re assuming that RRT only serves long commutes and LRT short ones… when actually both are theoretically designed to achieve the former, and good transit-oriented city planning is responsible for the latter.
            Few people will spend $2.10+ just to ride the train for a couple of stops – not when it takes four minutes or more to show up, and not when they can just walk or bike. If they’re on it, they want to be miles away from their start point, and if they’ve each spent $600-700 worth of tax money on construction, it had better be significantly better than a bus trip.

            Rather, Langley will have created a reason for Surrey locals to travel to them and live/work/play, or meet up halfway across; if they need to go across the river, that’s now an option too.
            Same way somebody in Vancouver and somebody in New West can meet up for drinks and dinner halfway (r/vancouver, just three days ago); light rail, with its B-Line level speeds trying and failing to promote a “stay where you are” culture, simply makes those things more difficult and encourages driving.

            If Langley residents move far away because they hate city life, they shouldn’t be in the GVRD at all. Squamish, Vancouver Island or the Sunshine Coast is more their speed.
            If people are getting priced out of the area, that’s the market’s fault rather than SkyTrain’s. Light rail is perfectly capable of climbing land value to similar rates, which is exactly what Surrey First is counting on – same real estate money for $1B less cost, passengers be damned.
            Otherwise, there’s no reason why people would want to live farther away from a faster commute.

            Repeated fixation with “diluted” urban growth is puzzling, since it assumes a metro region can only grow one area at a time. That has never been the case, and a drop in suburban growth does not turn into a rise in city growth; what we can do is turn the suburbs into cities of their own right.

            Likewise, the idea that SkyTrain for Langley inhibits growth in Surrey is equally odd; Vancouver, Burnaby and New West have hardly robbed each other of redevelopment. Any failure to make Surrey attractive is entirely the fault of its city council. Though rail transit helps with walkability, they’re perfectly capable of reshaping their city without it.
            For example, all of Surrey’s arterials should have trolleys every 15 minutes and a B-Line bus every 3-4. Same service as the LRT plan, but much more coverage and much less money.

            By the way, I sincerely hope that Zurich tram is not going at 80kph. Not only is that kind of at-grade speed dangerous for street users and unhealthy for the neighbourhood, but the stated top speed is 70kph. 80 means it’s out of control!
            I’ll assume you were eyeballing it like I was, in which case I’ll link you to a better reference (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wseVSML6SLU). The tram never goes above 30-40, which matches with the average speed of 15.6 (to be fair, it drops to 11 in the inner city, which isn’t “uniform”).
            Still should have a barrier and signals – some of those pedestrians are not looking both ways before they cross.

          10. Using transit to solve a housing market failure is like buying nice shoes to deal with a toothache. Okay… an exaggeration but let’s focus on fixing the problem and not just adding expensive band-aids.

            People regularly spend $2.10+ to drive a few km. They just delude themselves that the cost is a few cents in gas in the moment. Let’s educate them. Relying on the “market” when it’s based on delusion is not a good long-term strategy.

            People don’t look outward for jobs and opportunities in today’s economy. Langley will not attract people from Surrey and inwards. (Some exceptions always apply.)

            Part of the “meet halfway” problem stems from the sprawl-disaster created by the car. Let’s stop feeding that. For occasional get-togethers speed shouldn’t be the critical issue. You can choose to drive – one drink limit! SkyTrain can’t compete with a car outside of rush hour for such specific trips anyway. A few extra minutes on LRT is no big deal. And if there’s twice as many LRTs as SkyTrain it might just be faster.

            People settling in this region, new or local, will settle where it’s easiest. If you make Langley too easy that’s where they will go. But it’s a delusion if they commute to Vancouver, or even Burnaby – even if by SkyTrain. (Most will drive to everything because it’s Langley.) I eat organic – not for me but for the bees etc. Most people don’t think like that. Short term. Cheaper housing. Transportation costs are always a future expense. It hasn’t made the situation better – just more desperate as the cost reality of being strand waaaaay ooouuttt there becomes apparent.

            Of course SkyTrain has taken office jobs from Vancouver. That’s not all bad. Actually it’s a good thing. You need a critical mass of office space to create a viable city centre. But there are limits. Langley would rob New Westminster, Surrey City Centre and Coquitlam Centre just as they’re trying to attain that critical mass. Vancouver can hold its own. The rest need some support.

            Give them a chance before you dilute them.

            Langley might have its day. Now is way too soon. But I commend them on looking forward. That’s a positive sign.

          11. The metaphor holds up fine – it’s the premise behind it that’s broken. Nobody expects public transit to fix the housing crisis all on its own, because that’s not its job…. likewise, it’s also not its job to enhance a community or create complete streets or whatever buzzphrase gets thrown around next. Both are the City’s jurisdiction.
            What TransLink is supposed to do is figure out where people are coming from, where they’re going, and move as many as possible from here to there in a timely and efficient manner. Any kind of happy side benefits are exactly that.

            “A few km” is a problem solved by more frequent bus service. Any shorter, and it can be walked; any farther, and it calls for SkyTrain. Nine-tenths of light rail’s niche is already being filled by existing vehicles, and all we need to do is make more of what we have.

            In which case, there’s a whole lot of exceptions. Only one-fifth of the Metro’s suburbanites come into Vancouver for work, and of course the non-work aspects are scattered all over the region. That’s good, and we should keep building so that it gets even better.

            Now you’re talking top-down social engineering. Should we somehow try and move everybody’s circle of friends into a single neighbourhood? Or should we forbid anybody from socializing with people from the other side of town? We’re one big city, not a series of villages or islands; increased integration is not only normal, but welcomed.

            If an extra three minutes is enough to make driving the more attractive option, then an extra twenty minutes by light rail will make transit downright ugly. Rather, not having to deal with parking, gas refills, traffic or tickets makes those three minutes pretty insignificant.
            A transfer to an express route is always faster than a local route next door. If you mean twice as many LRVs on one line, that’s already been dismissed repeatedly.

            Once again, most Langley residents work locally or head into Surrey; anybody who needs to get across the Fraser is already going. Your prophesized sudden surge in work-related commutes downtown – in which Langley residents somehow decide that another half-hour of commuting is worth it – reflects more on Future Surrey’s bad planning than it does Future SkyTrain.

            Rather, Vancouver’s NIMBYism and viewcones have taken office jobs away from Vancouver; Maple Ridge and the North Shore are getting offices, and they don’t even have SkyTrain. It’s a mere matter of zoning – there’s plenty of highrise commercial space for everybody.

          12. Top down social engineering is any government policy you don’t agree with. I didn’t tell people they should move to Squamish.

            //A transfer to an express route is always faster than a local route next door.

            Said like a true suburbanite where everything is far away. Or, usually, even farther. LRT has higher capacity that a bus. It isn’t a bus.

            //What TransLink is supposed to do is figure out where people are coming from, where they’re going, and move as many as possible from here to there in a timely and efficient manner.

            TransLink has determined that LRT is more than adequate for Langley. I hope you’re fine with that.

          13. By all means, explain why anybody would move farther away from better transit unless they hate urban life.
            Or how the “meet halfway” problem is solved without quicker people-moving, Communist-style relocation or invention of the teleporter. In the extra forty minutes by tram spent getting there and back on the tram, they could already be there via bus/SkyTrain and talking face to face.

            //Said like a true suburbanite where everything is far away. Or, usually, even farther. LRT has higher capacity that a bus. It isn’t a bus.//

            We can argue until Armageddon about whether Kitsilano/Fairview is urban, suburban or in-between, but most amenities are in a walkable/bikeable/busable twenty-block radius, as with downtown. You may be satisfied with missing out on anything beyond that radius. Most of the city is not.
            Surrey’s planned LRVs are barely faster than a B-Line. They’re no more frequent than a B-Line. Save $3B, order a few dozen bi-articulateds for any route necessary, run them every three minutes; they’ll brake faster, too.

            //TransLink has determined that LRT is more than adequate for Langley. I hope you’re fine with that.//

            As soon as McCallum wins and TransLink still continues to say that. They’ve been passive-aggressively supportive of SkyTrain for years… right until a few months ago when election season began.

          14. //In the extra forty minutes by tram spent getting there and back on the tram, they could already be there via bus/SkyTrain and talking face to face.

            Where is “there”? Where is “back”?

            There are a lot of “there”s and a lot of “back”s and we’ll never serve them all with SkyTrain. Once you get off those few narrow corridors most people are going to drive. You want to lengthen the corridors. I want to widen them.

            I can get anywhere I want in the region. When it’s far away or in an obscure spot it’s going to take a while. Why would anybody expect anything different? If you live in such a place you create your own transportation disadvantage. There are lots of opportunities to live near good transit without spending $billions more on SkyTrain to Langley. A lot of people choose not to. You tell me why.

          15. We’re talking about meeting halfway, remember? Both parties are starting at Point A and Point C, ending at an equidistant Point B; gotta get there, then return to the respective points (or to elsewhere). You gave no alternative solution when asked, so I maintain that faster transit is the answer.
            As mentioned, the couple in question is starting at Vancouver/New West and meeting in Burnaby. With a tram, that’s an average of 84 minutes there and back, against 40 with SkyTrain; one can spend the other 40 or so at home, work or the destination.
            Light rail works fine as a feeder system replacing trolleys. As a backbone system replacing B-Lines – without grade separation or even Arbutus/SW Marine’s rail separation, no less – it does not.

            An individual tram line has even less “width” than SkyTrain. For 2-3 trams’ cost, we can build SkyTrain and also run more frequent connecting buses on every route, rather than just a few specific ones. Even 5 minutes peak and 10 off-peak puts service much higher than Zurich’s trams.
            Collective tram lines will work no better; all the density/demand is on the one corridor, meaning any next-door parallel line will be empty and the original full. Or we can just build one SkyTrain and encourage people to cover the first or last few blocks by frequent bus or on foot; if it’s a walkable community, there shouldn’t be a problem with actually walking.

            Again, Langley is hardly obscure, now or later. Better for it to grow SkyTrain-oriented than car-oriented; as seen with other North American cities, on-street light rail ends up doing very little to prevent the latter.

            And without any change to the political status quo, LRT will “create” the same humdrum mishmash of expensive condos and SFHs that you fear with RRT… and Surrey First would be fine with that, so long as they get the development fees. What you really want is bold politicians (unafraid of NIMBYs), increased TOD, and more social housing and rentals – and all those can be done regardless of what transit technology is chosen. Buses and trains simply move people.

  39. The next rapid transit priority should be to connect more regional centres directly to the metropolitan core (e.g. North Vancouver to Vancouver) with radial lines. Then, the priority should be to connect regional centres to each other (e.g. Richmond to Metrotown to Brentwood to North Vancouver, Newton to Surrey to Guildford to Coquitlam, Maple Ridge to Langley) with circumferential lines. Once the original radial lines become saturated, faster regional lines should be prioritized that once again radially connect regional centres or nearby transfer points on existing lines directly to the metropolitan core. All of these lines should touch as many employment areas as possible, connect to all intersecting lines, and connect to as many bus routes and as possible.

    With a subway to UBC, a second line to UBC should be a very low priority. A direct surface light rail line between Oakridge and UBC would not likely be faster than Canada Line + Broadway subway and the western end of the Broadway subway will not be near its capacity. From 41st/Cambie, it will take 5 minutes to Broadway/Cambie + 2 minutes to transfer + 15 minutes to UBC for a total of 22 minutes. From anywhere east of Cambie, there is a frequent set of north-south bus routes that connects the entire Burrard Peninsula quickly to the Millennium Line or Expo Line for a faster trip to UBC, Downtown or any other regional centre except maybe Richmond. There are cases where these bus routes should be made more direct or less subject to congestion.

    There is no need for a fast regional line to connect regional centres other than on the way to the metropolitan core at any time in the foreseeable future. Maybe there will be a need to relieve the Expo Line and provide a shorter trip between Surrey and Downtown Vancouver. Maybe such a line should also connect to Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack. There is no need for such a line directly to UBC, especially if it’s slow and especially if it connect to a subway that already goes there.

    1. I would agree that the next rapid transit priority should be to the north shore, possibly as part of a loop that includes Hastings-SFU / Burquitlam. SkyTrain is the way to go there. What I proposed above was a more affordable secondary rapid transit option where surface LRT could be introduced in low density areas. Keep in mind that Oakridge is surrounded by huge land-rich subdivisions filled with sprawling 50-foot lots bracketed by 33-footers almost everywhere else along 41st Ave. Shifting to 500 m station spacing on that line from one km spacing on the primary rapid transit network will place all points on 41st within walking distance of new townhouse, low rise and commercial-retail developments on those open lots on or within two or three blocks of 41st that are bound to eventually double or triple the population in that corridor. Where low density residential land cannot easily be bought up to widen the narrowest parts of the corridor, namely near the major cross arterials like Granville, then dipping the railway under for short distances could be considered.

      I listed above a number of development, population and business influences that will affect UBC and the immediate neighbourhoods. The Making Room initiative will bring the same influences to every currently low density residential area of the city, mostly with low rise. Though UBC is not currently a big destination for people living in North Delta, Newton and Cloverdale, the added jobs and multi-family residential west of Boundary Rd, not to mention the existing draw of Metrotown as a transit, job and residential hub , will no doubt jump in attractiveness with a direct rail link from those communities.

      In addition, that is only one line, and with a new rail bridge additional branches to Richmond (at least until sea level rise takes its toll), and between Richmond / YVR and Surrey could be developed one day. With appropriate development and zoning responses, the suburbs will start to incrementally urbanize and will undoubtedly develop their own employment centres. It is feasible with rail transit to foresee additional town centres drawing commuters south of the Fraser and increased two-way city-suburb transit ridership by mid-century.

      Clearly, this requires the kind of long-term planning that is practically non-existant outside of the Metro Planning Department. At one time a huge freeway network was being planned and drawn up. That was thankfully killed off, with the exception of more recent provincial projects like Port Mann. Since then our rail transit planning has not been wide enough in scope to match the intensity of the proposed freeways. A new emphasis on transit planning and sustainable urbanism needs to be given priority.

  40. MAYORS PLAN——Suburban mayors who voted to spend a hogs share of transits capital funding in the C O V did not have a mandate( or input) to do so from their electorate. It was a rush job to get the referendum over the line . Metro wide public input is needed to set transits capital spending priorities.

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