In much of the commentary over the West Van B-line, there’s an oft-repeated assumption, articulated by our very own Thomas:
You obviously do not know many folks in NVan or WVan. Many would never take the bus (or a bike for that matter). That is why there is so much opposition to it.
Embedded in that assumption is this: North Shore residents live primarily in large single-family houses, on steep slopes, that were designed (and still are) car-dependent. So pervasive is that narrative (and the argument that then follows: no need or desire for transit) that it requires a significant and wilful blindess to ignore all this:
This is Ambleside: one of the first highrise neighbourhoods in the region, approved at the same time as Vancouver rezoned the West End in the mid-50s It is still one of the densest neighbourhoods in Metro, home to a fifth of West Vancouver’s population – just under 8,000 people, half of whom are over 65.
All these high- and medium-density buildings are within three blocks of Marine Drive, down which the B-line would travel. Most of the terrain is flat or gently sloping. It’s Walkscore is 94 – and it’s realistically cyclable, ideal for a bikeshare system that could ideally include Park Royal.
And yet many talk about West Vancouver as though none of this really existed – or is inconsequential. But not to TransLink. That, to answer the question so many raise, is why it’s a regional priority as part of a cross-North Shore transit route. With a Transit Score of only 54, Ambleside is missing the service that its urbanism demands. It’s another West End, folks, and should be thought of as such from a transportation perspective.
Here’s the evaluation that Mike Buda references in his comments in a previous post:
The performance of this B-Line is affected by the following factors:
- It has one major employment centre anchor and substantial employment and retail along the corridor
- It would provide some travel time improvements over the existing frequent transit service, but more importantly would significantly reduce overcrowding on transit service in the corridor, which would make transit travel more attractive
- It has high population density along the route
- While the built environment along some parts of the route is not very pedestrian friendly, making it more difficult to get to and from transit, it also passes through some highly pedestrian friendly areas.
- Potential VKT reduction as a result of the potential B-Line is reasonably high.
Here’s my prediction: If West Van council approves the full B-line, critics will be amazed at the ridership (and the failure of Carmaggedon to occur along Marine).
The mythology of West Vancouver in a way requires that highrise Ambleside not exist (as Kerrisdale residents often omit its West End on either side of 41st Avenue from theirs). But the latent demand will emerge. West Van residents will use the bus.
And when bikeshare comes to Ambleside (with, yes, electric-assist), they’ll use that too.