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:

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TransLink, UBC and City of Vancouver engineers and planners have told us what they think about the technology for the Broadway to UBC rapid transit line.  There’s no room for more busses on this monster corridor, and LRT has too-low capacity.

This information came out at the July 28 Town Hall meeting mentioned recently in Price Tags along with significant background.

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Similar to YVR Airport’s approach, UBC may decide to kick in some money and other inducements and approach senior governments to help pay for running the Broadway subway from Arbutus to UBC. The distance is around 7 km, a longer distance than the currently-underway Broadway Millennium Line extension that stops at Arbutus.
Perhaps the owners and developers of the 92-acre Jericho Lands should get onboard for this ride —  making their development transit-oriented, benefitting themselves and benefitting the city as a whole.

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As reported by Frances Bula in the Globe and Mail and as posted on the City of Vancouver website the City is finally developing a ten-year strategy to create thousands of new rental units in the city and to ensure these units are scaled to income with the hope of providing accommodation and lowering speculative building. You can view the report  here which also  includes four separate accompanying indexes. Yes we are also a year away from the next municipal election in Vancouver, one that could be challenging for the current council as housing affordability, accessibility and homelessness have increased to alarming levels.
As Ms. Bula observes “Ultimately, city planners say they want to see 72,000 new units of housing built in Vancouver in the next 10 years, but in specific categories.They have set targets of 24,000 purpose-built rentals, 12,000 social-housing or co-op units and 36,000 ownership units, which would include coach houses as well as condos. It is expected that about 12,000 of those purchased units would end up being rented out. About half the units in the plan are geared to households with less than $80,000 a year in income.”
Some of the concepts have already been debated including incentivizing development potential if 20 per cent of units in a building are accessible to citizens making low incomes. And there’s a proposal to permit homeowners in single family areas to build infill houses and add up to two units in older homes built over 75 years ago.
New ideas include constricting development speculation and demand by spelling out rental and subsidized housing requirements in areas with new neighbourhood plans.  With the achievable market units already clearly outlined, developers “will be less likely to pay exorbitant amounts of money for land – something that happened in recent years along the Cambie corridor after it was rezoned for apartments to create density along the Canada Line.”  Areas where this strategy will be implemented include the Broadway corridor and the three SkyTrain station precincts.
The City will change regulations to allow more than five people living in a house that are unrelated, and will create a “tenant-protection” manager at the City who will ensure that tenants are not evicted for renovations if those permits are not actually in place. This ten-year strategy is a game changer for the City of Vancouver which has been criticized for slow response on these important issues. The report is scheduled to go to Council next Tuesday the   28th of November. Staff has indicated that the actions contained in the report will be immediately acted upon if the report is approved on Tuesday.


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People in Canada have become used to the fact that a lot of our public realm often does not include a washroom. Price Tags Vancouver is using the Canadian term for that room that includes a toilet and a sink. This room is called a “rest room” in the United States, but it serves the same purpose-it’s a place that all humans need to use, and use more frequently as humans get older.  So why have we not been installing these necessary facilities, especially near our rapid transit or heavily used bus corridors, especially for an aging population that relies on transit as a major mode of transportation?
Kudos to the City of Vancouver’s Seniors Advisory Committee who are pushing for TransLink to install accessible public washrooms in all new stations, and in the Millennium Line Broadway Extension. As Glenda Luymes outlined in the Vancouver Sun  the lack of washrooms even drew the ire of the Raging Grannies who were in town to protest something else a few years back, but developed a special song about the lack of rapid transit washroom services. They sang that song in front of  Waterfront Station.
Seniors’ Advisory Committee Chair Colleen McGuiness stated “It’s beyond short-sighted not to put them in. Loneliness and isolation are a concern for seniors, and a lack of public washrooms on transit routes is a factor in that.” 
Oddly enough the renovated SkyTrain stations on the Expo line have space and are prepped with plumbing for washrooms, but TransLink won’t be  reporting  on  washroom availability until next year.  Issues will include the cost of maintenance, security, and sanitation. But if Edmonton, Toronto and Paris can provide washroom facilities at some stations, surely Vancouver can as well.  You can take a look at this older copy of The Buzzer that provides a chart of which transit systems have washrooms. This TransLink newsletter from 2011 also asks  “I’m curious what Buzzer readers think about the issue. Is adding more washrooms to the system important to you? If so, how do you think they should be implemented, and by whom?”



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The provincial Liberals have been treating Metro Vancouver like an annoying child for years.  Finally, the kid got pissed off and pushed back.  The loss of five Ministers from Metro – notably the one responsible for TransLink, Peter Fassbender – has created a new meme.

That headline and analysis may just be the first salvo by Kevin Falcon in a future Liberal leadership race, but it seems to reflect an emerging consensus from the commentariat that the Liberals, minimally, took Metro for granted – and got punished.
During the election, not a lot of attention was paid to the Liberal response to the Mayors’ Council questionnaire to all the parties on their positions with respect to transportation – perhaps because most of the responses were the same with respect to the big-budget transit projects.
But there at the bottom in the middle was the revealing difference: the Liberals would still require a referendum for a new funding source, including any form of mobility pricing or development cost charge to help pay for the regional portion of costs for the next stage of the 10-year plan.
Though it wasn’t widely noted, the mayors were furious.  They had tried to play nice, keeping the rhetoric low key to avoid more bad blood.  But once it was clear that no matter how much political capital they would have to spend to explore new funding options, regardless of any consensus they might reach, they would be put through the ringer of a referendum, presumably without any backing from the Premier when it really counted.
The kid was being treated with contempt.  The Liberals anticipated that no matter how much they disregarded the interests of the majority of the provincial population in the place where the jobs were really being created, they would not have to pay a severe price.  They could even afford to lose a seat or two.
Not the way it turned out.  If Sam Sullivan had failed to pick up a few hundred votes in Vancouver False Creek – the place where affordable housing and transit issues are most critical – they’d be in even worse shape.  (Speaking of which, can anyone remember anything Sullivan has said of importance on these issues?  Anyone?  Bueller?)
Now the referendum requirement has taken on symbolic as well as real-life importance.  Will it remain a requirement if the Liberals end up with a bare-minimum majority?  Will the Mayors’ 10-year plan remain in limbo, potentially for years, if it is?  Will Clark reverse her position on the referendum even as she literally ploughs ahead with the Massey Bridge?
And what of the other parties?  Are they prepared to go to the mat on removing the referendum requirement as the price for doing business?  Will the Metro MLAs, particularly the remaining Liberals, take a position? Will the province’s leaders, in other words, show some leadership?
Or do we have to have another election to settle the issue?

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In one of those puzzling moments, the Mayor of Delta has spoken out against the Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation-which the Mayor sits on. The Mayor’s Council has released its #CureCongestionGuide as reported in Price Tags here, taking a look at all the policies put forward by the various Provincial parties and ascertaining which parties will further the development of public transportation in this region. The parties were asked about their understanding and commitment to the Mayor’s ten-year vision for Metro Vancouver which included Surrey light rail and replacing the Pattullo bridge. The Mayors’ Council had a “scorecard” and gave the NDP a 3 out of 5 points in terms of their  transit and transportation platform and responses.
The Mayor of Delta is the only Mayor in the region that wants the ten lane, multi-billion dollar (estimates now suggest $8 billion with carrying costs) unsustainable Massey Bridge being built by the Province on the sensitive Fraser River delta.  The proposed new bridge goes right into her jurisdiction, and  the Mayor was the only positive vote for this monolith, with the other Mayors asking the Province for a reconsideration.

As reported by Ian Jacques in the Delta Optimist  the Mayor stated “I really believe that we have to stay out of the politics of it and send our message strong and clear to whoever is the successor. I think this goes too far,” she said. “We need to encourage people to get out to vote, but vote as you wish. Know the facts. Here at the facts from the TransLink area, but in terms of comparing parties and encouraging people to vote in a certain direction, I have a problem with that.”
The Mayor of Delta also doesn’t like that the other mayors are not supporting  the Province’s Massey bridge, ostensibly designed for congestion, but really overbuilt to accommodate LNG carrying ships on the Fraser River. “It is a huge connector for the west side of the Lower Mainland and to have it totally ignored in this fashion is quite insulting frankly and quite unacceptable to me. We have been working on this current proposal for five long years and to not have any mention of a proposal of this nature in the study is baffling.”
Mike Buda, executive director of the TransLink Mayors’ Council Secretariat actually made a lot of sense when he clearly stated “Voters need to understand the kind of role the mayors’ council is looking for of the next provincial government to support that 10-year vision.”  And that is true. The current Provincial government wants to conduct another transit referendum after the last disastrous exercise. While we all know that the key to affordability and accessibility in the region is good public transportation, no one needs to be dragged back into that expensive referendum process again. We need to move forward with a Provincial government willing to work in partnership with Metro Vancouver to keep the region affordable and accessible. And that means working hard and co-operatively for good regional public transportation.
But back to the Mayor of Delta-“They are talking about the Pattullo Bridge and that hasn’t been on the books nearly as long, so to my way of thinking, the argument that the Massey project is a provincial project is very thin.”
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In Price Tags’ quest to provide you with important information and to ensure you also win any urban trivia bet you may wager, we want you to hear this first-it is entirely okay just to stand on that urban escalator.
As written in the New York Times -“It may sound counterintuitive, but researchers said it is more efficient if nobody walks on the escalator.”  All of this started when Paul Wiedefeld the general manager of the Washington DC metro alleged that the culture of walking up the escalator on the left hand side and standing on the escalator n the right hand side could “damage the escalator”. Of course Otis the escalator company immediately responded that this urban legend was wrong, and Mr. Wiedefeld then said standing side by side on the escalator would be safer and reduce the chance of falls. Otis responded that “its longtime position has been that passengers should not walk on escalators, as a matter of safety.”

Of course Transport for London had a trial in Holborn Station in 2015 with an escalator that is 77 feet tall. The challenge was to change passengers’ behaviors and get them to stand side by side riding — not walking — during peak periods.” The results? Standing on both sides of the escalator reduced congestion by 30 per cent. But Sam Schwartz, New York City’s former traffic commissioner notes that getting North Americans to just stand on an escalator is  challenging. “In the U.S., self-interest dominates our behavior on the road, on escalators and anywhere there is a capacity problem. I don’t believe Americans, any longer (if they ever did), have a rational button.”

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