I wrote earlier about the six proposed routes that could connect the North Shore municipalities of West Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver and District of North Vancouver with the region’s rapid transit line. I also wrote about what I thought would be the preferred option which is a rail or tunnel crossing at the Second Narrows Bridge which would tie into either Brentwood or Metrotown in Burnaby for access to the region’s rapid transit system. I also think the existing seabus will be augmented with more sailings.
Of course you could hear the guffaws from West Vancouver where even a rapid bus was seen as causing congestion and not needed. But the truth is that this connection is not about them, but about future residents and future town centers which could locate on the north shore, and which would require access to some kind of rapid transit system to get people to services and jobs.
As the region continues to develop, several North Shore town centres can develop and an enhanced seabus service and rail link through Burnaby could connect the downtown and the region.
Intrepid Price Tags reader Ross Bligh (yes, he is the Dad of Price Tags’ Architectural Reporter James Bligh) wrote to the editors regarding this Simon Fraser University study covered by Brent Richter in the North Shore News.
Stephan Nieweler, transportation instructor in Simon Fraser University’s department of geography, and former students did work two years ago on where a rapid transit alignment would go. Their vision encompassed a connection across the Second Narrows Bridge and a gondola that rode up to Capilano University.
The team went one step further, examining the density of people that lived within a five minute or 400 meter walk of already established rapid train stations.
Using a metric developed by sustainable transportation author Robert Cervero, Nieweler concluded that 14 to 30 residents/positions per acre were needed for a light rail line to be placed on the North Shore. A density of 27 to 45 per acre was needed for a subway or Skytrain. Surprisingly the existing Lonsdale stretch has almost 75 people per acre.
“In raw numbers, Nieweler’s analysis found the North Shore LRT, if it existed today, would have more than 111,000 people and employees within 400 metres of the line, compared to 93,500 on the proposed Arbutus to UBC line or 46,680 for Surrey LRT.
They also forecast into the future, using the Official Community Plans to gauge population and employment growth. Over the next 20 years, the case is even stronger, Nieweler found, with almost 160,000 residents or jobs within 400 metres of the North Shore line, compared to 113,500 for the Broadway extension and 78,100 in Surrey.”
While the Nieweler study did not examine car ownership rates, population demographics, employment types and current commuting, it still provides a pattern language of how the North Shore can densify and can connect to the regional system It is well worth a read.
Nieweler also soberly states that such a line is in the preliminary planning stages, but remember we’ve only had SkyTrain since the 1980’s. That’s less than 40 years.
“Unfortunately, I feel the congestion on the North Shore is going to get much worse over the next decade and at this rate, we’re not going to see a significant solution for 20 years maybe,” he said. “I don’t think the North Shore can wait that long. I think it’s going to be a crisis situation with the traffic if we wait that long.”
Images: Bowinn MaMLA & CBC.ca