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The Broadway Line: Ransford vs. Walker

December 10, 2012

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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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.

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118 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2012 11:22 am

    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.

    • December 10, 2012 11:37 am

      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.

    • mike0123 permalink
      December 10, 2012 9:31 pm

      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!

      • mike0123 permalink
        December 10, 2012 9:35 pm

        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. Chris B permalink
    December 10, 2012 11:50 am

    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. Adam Fitch permalink
    December 10, 2012 12:46 pm

    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?

    • December 10, 2012 8:27 pm

      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.

      • December 10, 2012 8:47 pm

        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. Andrew Browne permalink
    December 10, 2012 12:50 pm

    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. Richard Campbell permalink
    December 10, 2012 12:50 pm

    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. Sean Nelson permalink
    December 10, 2012 1:47 pm

    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.

    • Adam Fitch permalink
      May 20, 2013 7:30 pm

      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. Angleterre permalink
    December 10, 2012 2:03 pm

    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.

    • Andrew Browne permalink
      December 10, 2012 2:37 pm

      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.

  8. yvrlutyens permalink
    December 10, 2012 2:08 pm

    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.

    • Richard Campbell permalink
      December 10, 2012 2:54 pm

      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.

      • yvrlutyens permalink
        December 10, 2012 3:29 pm

        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.

      • Andrew Browne permalink
        December 12, 2012 11:05 am

        “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.

  9. Guest permalink
    December 10, 2012 2:46 pm

    Comments:

    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).

    • yvrlutyens permalink
      December 10, 2012 4:03 pm

      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. Guest permalink
    December 10, 2012 2:47 pm

    That “Canbad” reference is just a typo.

    • Sean Nelson permalink
      December 11, 2012 11:12 am

      Typo… or Freudian slip? ;-)

  11. December 10, 2012 6:48 pm

    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.

    • December 10, 2012 8:40 pm

      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.

      • December 10, 2012 9:21 pm

        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.

      • December 11, 2012 12:22 am

        @ 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.

      • Andrew Browne permalink
        December 12, 2012 11:08 am

        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).

  12. December 10, 2012 8:31 pm

    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?

    • December 10, 2012 8:44 pm

      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.

  13. K.C. permalink
    December 10, 2012 10:07 pm

    Hi Gordon,

    It would be great if we could also get this Vancouver Sun opinion article piece debunked as well: http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/Forget+about+Broadway+subway+think+along+West+16th/7678648/story.html

    Adam Fitch is arguing for LRT along West 16th. These opinion pieces lately are getting a bit nauseating to read.

    Best,
    Ken

  14. December 10, 2012 10:43 pm

    Reblogged this on amvpower.

  15. December 10, 2012 11:36 pm

    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/ .

  16. d.p. permalink
    December 11, 2012 12:40 am

    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.

    • Zef Wagner permalink
      December 12, 2012 3:03 pm

      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.

    • February 6, 2013 11:15 am

      I would suggest you are forgetting that the Number 9 bus fills the gap between stations very nicely.

  17. December 11, 2012 7:12 am

    @ 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.

    • December 12, 2012 1:05 am

      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).

  18. December 11, 2012 9:37 am

    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.

  19. johnnyC permalink
    December 11, 2012 10:18 am

    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.

    • Sean Nelson permalink
      December 11, 2012 11:17 am

      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…

    • Andrew Browne permalink
      December 12, 2012 11:09 am

      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.

  20. December 11, 2012 1:43 pm

    @ 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?

    • K.C. permalink
      December 11, 2012 9:45 pm

      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.

      • Tessa permalink
        December 12, 2012 5:32 am

        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.

    • December 11, 2012 11:03 pm

      @ 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.

      • K.C. permalink
        December 12, 2012 12:06 am

        Well said, thank you.

      • K.C. permalink
        December 12, 2012 12:29 am

        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.

      • February 6, 2013 11:26 am

        @ 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.

        Bravo!

    • mike0123 permalink
      December 11, 2012 11:30 pm

      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.

    • Tessa permalink
      December 12, 2012 5:40 am

      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.

      • K.C. permalink
        December 12, 2012 5:56 am

        Well said, thank you.

        And from what I can gather, Roger himself is from Nanaimo.

      • December 12, 2012 8:19 am

        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 . . .

      • rico permalink
        December 12, 2012 8:57 am

        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?

      • d.p. permalink
        December 12, 2012 1:24 pm

        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.

  21. Angleterre permalink
    December 11, 2012 5:30 pm

    Just to clarify, Capstan Way is not a theoretical Canada Line station, the funding deal has been inked between Richmond, Translink and the developer:

    http://www.richmond-news.com/business/Capstan+funds+train+station/6590340/story.html

  22. December 12, 2012 1:07 am

    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.

    • K.C. permalink
      December 12, 2012 6:16 am

      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.

    • December 12, 2012 1:40 pm

      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.

  23. Tessa permalink
    December 12, 2012 6:54 am

    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.

    • December 12, 2012 2:23 pm

      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.

      • Tessa permalink
        December 12, 2012 4:20 pm

        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. =)

      • Robert in Calgary permalink
        December 15, 2012 9:26 pm

        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.

      • December 16, 2012 12:07 am

        @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.

      • 23skidoo permalink
        December 18, 2012 12:10 pm

        @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.

      • December 18, 2012 3:36 pm

        @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.

      • 23skidoo permalink
        December 18, 2012 4:26 pm

        @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):

        http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/hlt-fst/pd-pl/Select-Geo-Choix.cfm?LANG=Eng&T=302&S=51&O=A

        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.

    • K.C. permalink
      December 12, 2012 2:55 pm

      @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.

      • Tessa permalink
        December 12, 2012 4:19 pm

        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.

      • K.C. permalink
        December 12, 2012 4:43 pm

        @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.

      • Tessa permalink
        December 13, 2012 6:03 am

        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.

      • K.C. permalink
        December 13, 2012 2:27 pm

        @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.

    • December 12, 2012 7:29 pm

      @ 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.

  24. December 12, 2012 2:18 pm

    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 . . .

    • Paul C permalink
      December 12, 2012 8:21 pm

      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.

  25. December 12, 2012 4:38 pm

    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.

    • K.C. permalink
      December 12, 2012 5:10 pm

      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.

      • December 12, 2012 8:10 pm

        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.

  26. Paul C permalink
    December 12, 2012 8:59 pm

    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.

    • December 14, 2012 4:42 am

      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

  27. December 13, 2012 2:33 am

    You really don’t get it do you KC (alias MB). And of course drones fall into line. You really don’t get it!

    • K.C. permalink
      December 13, 2012 3:35 am

      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.

    • February 6, 2013 1:02 pm

      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.

  28. December 13, 2012 7:11 am

    Wot was that you said KC (alias MC)? “. . . ran out of ammo . . . eh!

    http://members.shaw.ca/urbanismo/thu.future/vancouver.failed.html

    . . . now all the world knows . . .

    • rico permalink
      December 13, 2012 7:40 am

      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.

      • December 14, 2012 5:02 am

        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.

    • Rico permalink
      December 14, 2012 11:02 am

      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…

      • December 14, 2012 3:10 pm

        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.

  29. December 13, 2012 7:50 am

    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.
    Regularly!

  30. December 13, 2012 8:04 am

    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 . . .

  31. Adam Fitch permalink
    December 18, 2012 6:41 pm

    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.

    • rico permalink
      December 18, 2012 7:11 pm

      The majority of ridership is on central Broadway….not UBC.

    • Tessa permalink
      December 22, 2012 5:22 am

      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.

    • December 23, 2012 4:56 am

      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.

      • February 6, 2013 1:26 pm

        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.

  32. J-L Brussac permalink
    January 13, 2013 2:42 am

    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?

    • mike0123 permalink
      January 13, 2013 12:49 pm

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

      • January 13, 2013 1:12 pm

        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).

    • 23skidoo permalink
      January 13, 2013 12:58 pm

      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.

    • January 13, 2013 1:03 pm

      “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.

    • Tessa permalink
      January 14, 2013 8:22 am

      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.

      • February 6, 2013 1:45 pm

        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.

  33. Rico permalink
    February 6, 2013 4:52 pm

    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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  36. Adam Fitch permalink
    May 20, 2013 6:53 pm

    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.

  37. Roger Kemble permalink
    May 21, 2013 4:46 pm

    “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 . . .

    http://www.theyorkshirelad.ca/1yorkshirelad/vancouver.re-boot/Vancouver.re-boot.html

    . . . 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 . . .

    http://pricetags.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/the-broadway-line-ransford-vs-walker/#comment-29262

    Thanqu . . .

  38. Roger Kemble permalink
    May 21, 2013 4:56 pm

    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”

  39. David permalink
    May 23, 2013 6:26 pm

    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.

    • Adam Fitch permalink
      May 24, 2013 12:12 pm

      @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.

    • May 24, 2013 1:21 pm

      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)?.

  40. November 18, 2013 10:47 am

    Good arguments for a UBC-Broadway line here: http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2013/03/mayor-robertson-ubc-broadway-subway-would-canada-line-ridership/

    A no-brainer really.

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