Can Vancouver Afford to Abandon SkyTrain for Its Broadway Route?

» Vancouver’s plans for a Broadway rapid transit line could come in the form of SkyTrain rapid transit or light rail.

With 40,000 students and almost 10,000 employees shoehorned into the tight space between the Strait of Georgia and the City of Vancouver, the University of British Columbia (UBC) is made for rapid transit. It’s an ideal terminus for a major public transportation line, with thousands of transit-friendly people ready to line up to commute to other parts of the region.

Indeed, the existing buses connecting UBC to the rest of Vancouver are jam-packed along their routes, with up to 100,000 riders making the link daily. The University has been envisioned as the eventual destination of one of the region’s rail lines since the automated SkyTrain Expo Line first opened its doors in 1985. With the active and pedestrian-heavy Broadway corridor serving as the connecting spine and the Millennium SkyTrain designed specifically to allow for an eventual western extension down that street, it has been assumed for years that UBC would get SkyTrain service at some point.

Several months after the successful opening of the Canada Line between downtown Vancouver, the airport, and suburban Richmond, transportation authority Translink has begun its study of six options for the future development of the Broadway corridor. Though a 12 km SkyTrain link is being considered (as shown above), so are bus rapid transit and light rail alternatives, each of which could offer good mass transit at a reduced price compared to the automated metro service offered by SkyTrain.

With the region facing a serious long-term budget gap, can it place economic concerns above the benefits of a more expensive expansion?

Jarrett Walker discusses the options on Human Transit, arguing that while extending the Millennium Line from its current terminus at VCC-Clark to Arbutus Street (about two-fifths of the way to UBC) is an important step, the lower densities west of there imply that a cheaper street-running light rail alternative could connect to UBC along the remainder of the routing. East of Arbutus Street, the light rail line could continue northeast along an existing rail right-of-way (including that of the ephemeral Olympic Line Streetcar) to the Canada Line Olympic Village Station and and Main Street Millennium/Expo Lines Station.

This alternative would provide connections to the Canada Line for both UBC and Millennium Line riders at a cheaper price than would be possible with a fully tunneled SkyTrain route, expected to cost up to C$2.8 billion. This would give riders from both sides of the region direct access to the very dense Fairview district (near City Hall) and allow one-transfer rides to UBC from anywhere with a rail link. The emphasis here would be on connections. (The light rail/SkyTrain alternative alignment shown below.)

Two fully light rail options and the bus rapid transit option would be less advantageous, as they would limit access to Fairview from the east side of the region by requiring a transfer to get there. (One of the light rail alternatives shown below.)

The question, though, is whether any of these options satisfy the strong transportation demand of the Broadway corridor. With expected ridership of 150,000 passengers a day, can a street-running light rail line from UBC to Fairview handle the traffic? Today’s buses, running every 90 seconds at peak, are overcrowded; it would be difficult to offer light rail trains at similar frequencies because of their long lengths and interaction with surrounding traffic, meaning that capacity would not increase nearly as much as it would with SkyTrain. Light rail, in other words, would leave little room for future growth.

Moreover, should riders hoping to get to UBC be expected to settle for 16 mph average speeds on light rail or buses — the fastest they’re expected to run even with exclusive lanes? The Canada Line travels at a significantly speedier average speed of 22 mph.

Today, downtown Vancouver has a 49% transit commute share, pretty high for any city; on the other hand, UBC is only able to attract 27% of commuters by transit (despite a very high student population), and Fairview’s even worse, at 21%. A relatively slow light rail line cannot provide the kind of mobility improvements possible with a fast, automated SkyTrain line.

The advantages of building the route as a SkyTrain line accrue as you zoom out, too; combined with the proposed Evergreen Line, a new UBC route could provide a direct link from Coquitlam and Port Moody to the city’s western edge, serving as the region’s new east-west mainline. By expanding the transfer-free links to UBC, the number of transit riders can be expected to increase substantially.

Meanwhile, while it is true that density decreases substantially west of Arbutus Street, even those neighborhoods have population densities of 16,000 people per square mile, not too low — and there is plenty of room for transit share growth among higher income residents there if faster options were offered. The Canada Line’s south Vancouver stations have been very popular, despite their similarly only moderate densities in the surrounding areas. Meanwhile, the massive population at the UBC end of the corridor should obviate concerns about limited ridership from stations between there and Arbutus, since trains will fill up from the beginning of the route. Light rail would slow down the commutes of tens of thousands of daily transit users.

As Translink considers its options over the next few months, it will have to put any projects within the context of its difficult financial condition — which means, given few resources, a full-length Millennium SkyTrain extension from its current terminus to UBC seems unlikely. That said, if there is political will to promote a SkyTrain extension to UBC, provincial and regional officials will be able to assemble the funding; the money should not be the limiting factor in choosing the appropriate technology for this corridor.

In the coming months, Translink will produce more detailed information about the corridor, including projected ridership and transit times for each technology. If those figures come out strongly in support of the SkyTrain alternative, as I would bet, it would be unfortunate to select either light rail or bus rapid transit alternatives for the line.

Images above: Alternatives for Vancouver’s Broadway Corridor, from Translink

43 Comments | Leave a Reply »
  • I agree that this corridor warrants SkyTrain-level service. One other complicating factor is the local skepticism about tunneling after the Cambie debacle. TransLink will have to tread carefully, making it very clear from the outset that there will be no cut-and-cover tunneling on Broadway. Station construction might still cause disruptions, though.

    P.S. The name is Arbutus, not Arbitus.

  • FD

    Where did you get all of your made-up stats?

    This study is still in the early stages, so there are no projected ridership volumes for the corridor (150,000 daily boardings?). Nor do we have any information about the various options, including travel time. Again, you’re using an LRT travel time estimate made by SkyTrain proponents (the 16km/hr comes from a pro-skytrain group’s website), which has no basis in fact, as far as I can tell.

    I’m sure you want to be fast off the mark by telling everyone which is the best option, but I think the your readers and the residents of Vancouver will be better served by an informed debate, not made up stats. So let’s wait and see what information comes forward about each option (costs, ridership estimates, station locations, system design characteristics, etc) so we can understand their true costs & benefits.

    • 電車男

      Not to defend “made up stats,” but…

      1) 150,000 daily boardings sounds pretty realistic if buses at 90 second headways are full

      2) Whether or not the average speed stats are precisely right is irrelevant when you consider that Skytrain would, simply by avoiding interactions with street traffic, run faster than buses or light rail.

      Wait for official information if you want, but I’d imagine it will be similar to Yonah’s estimates.

    • The data on LRT travel time came from the City of Vancouver’s 1999 technical study of the corridor, quoted on the UBC SkyTrain website, but not produced by that group.

      You may disagree with the city’s conclusions about likely speeds, but an average speed of 16 mph (25 km/h) for light rail lines up about at the median for similar tram systems around the world, according to Professor Patrick Condon’s report on learning from Portland (p. 5).

      Ridership numbers come from the same study, which estimates about 40,000,000 annual riders on the line with a major investment, which correlates to about 150,000 daily weekday riders.

      The study is perhaps out of date, produced more than ten years ago, but if anything the ridership numbers should be even higher when the reevaluation is completed; Vancouver has seen a major increase in transit usage since 1999 and the 1999 study only considered rapid transit to Arbutus, not all the way to UBC.

      And, by all means, yes, I want to see the information that comes forward from Translink’s study this year! I’m certainly willing to promote the idea of BRT or LRT on the corridor if I see new information suggesting ridership won’t be as high or commute times between light rail and SkyTrain won’t be so different.

      • You should bear in mind that Condon’s an anti-Skytrain hack, who’d much rather Vancouver built streetcars instead of rapid transit. When he says light rail will average 25 km/h, it reveals that the notion that LRT will ever be fast on that corridor is a sham. It’s analogous to Mix-ryG-son-dy’s quoting of a study saying driving is subsidized to the tune of 20-70 cents per gallon: it shows that any figures more favorable to the mode are a sham, but that the true figures may be less favorable.

      • Pantheon

        The fact that someone has a particular point of view doesn’t make them a “hack”. If you have evidence that Condon’s estimate for LRT speeds are overly optimistic, you should present that evidence.

      • No, but the fact that Condon isn’t actually a transport engineer or an urban transport professor, and has not published in either field in peer-reviewed journals, kind of does make him a hack. For example: his assertion that rapid transit only makes sense at 400,000 riders a day is pulled out of thin air.

        (You may ask what’s the difference between me and him is. The difference is that I actually read what the journal articles and the planning experts say before rattling off.)

  • David M

    Given that Translink has stated that the corridor sees 100,000 daily boardings on the buses (No. 99 express (articulated buses), No. 9 articulated electric trolley buses, No. 17 electric trolley west of Granville Street).

    Before Canada Line, ridership to Richmond on the 98 b-line bus (limited stop) was around $15,000 per day, with an additional 25,000 riding the local trolley buses on Cambie and Granville and another 10,000 on the suburban express buses from White Rock, South Surrey and South Delta. Canada Line carries over 100,000 today. Given this, I would expect Broadway to carry over 200,000, and I would estimate the new line ridership at around 250,000 easy.

  • Jo

    There is absolutely no doubt the skytrain needs to be extended to at least Arbutus. The issue is should it extend further out to UBC. I think so. Yes west of Arbutus is lower density, but so is south Vancouver and the Canada line stations there are still heavily utilized as you’ve mentioned. The fact is UBC is the 3rd largest transportation destination after Downtown and Broadway Central district. That alone warrants a high enough ridership and demand to support skytrain west of Arbutus all the way to UBC.

    LRT is not appropiate along this corridor. It cannot work in a NARROW and CONGESTED artery like Broadway. It may work for one or the other, but not both. LRT is better suited on wider arteries found in the suburbs or in narrow but not congested corridors. One must also remember all the cross streets along Broadway. All this will render the LRT to be slow and inefficient,not exactly a form of rapid transit.

    Funding of the Line is a major concern. But this is a crucial piece of infrastructure for the WHOLE region, not just Vancouver. People from the suburbs of Burnaby, New West, Surrey and the Tri cities will all benefit from the faster and more convenient connection to Broadway and UBC. This line is not a privilege for Vancouver, but rather a necessity for the entire region.

  • And this isn’t just about Broadway, it’s about east-west mobility in Vancouver generally. Both 4th Ave. and 16th Ave (each 6 blocks from Broadway) carry significant transit demand at least as far as Alma St; a Broadway SkyTrain would likely accommodate demand not only from the #99 B-Line but also from the 4, 7, 9, 17, 32, 33 44, and 84, just to name a few. Car sharing locations in Vancouver (often a predictor of strong transit demand) are almost exclusively downtown and in Kitsilano, Point Grey, and UBC. My suggestion would be construction of the RRT alternative from VCC-Clark combined with LRT from Main St/Science World to to Arbutus, turning south from there along the intact-though-abandoned Canadian Pacific right-of-way. This would effectively double capacity along the busiest sections from Arbutus eastward while still providing the Rapid Transit that the UBC market could clearly support. Broadway would be a spectacular street if the 50 buses per hour could be largely removed and pedestrian improvements put in their place.

    If the Canada Line can sustain 100,000/day along a low to medium density street such as Cambie, being anchored by downtown and YVR airport, surely UBC and Broadway would provide robust ridership and strong productivity.

    My analysis here:
    http://www.zachshaner.ca/2010/04/vancouver-skytrain-all-the-way-to-ubc-an-illustrated-argument/

  • Vancouverboy

    Article claims standard skytrain speeds of 22 mph… according to wikipedia, it should read 28 mph service speed (maxing out at 56 mph between stops).

  • AL

    Regardless of any debate about actual technology to UBC, the Millenium Line *must* be extended as Skytrain from VCC to intersect with the Cambie line. This was a dumb move to have ML stop short (built before Canada Line, but it was easy enough to see it coming!)

    • JSBertram

      You can thank politics for that.

      If you were to look at a BC map of the electoral districts of the GVRD when Millennium line was planned and built, you’ll notice it only went through NDP ridings when the NDP was in power.

  • There are three kinds of speed to be considered here: First is how fast a system can be expected to be in operation given the financial constraints; a $3 billion subway may take 20 years just to get the money on the table. That is slow, not fast.

    Second is door to door (origin to destination speed) including the time to get to rapid transit, get up or down to the platform on escalators, stairs or elevators, and then get to the destination. Often a grid of slower surface lines means faster door to door speeds for many riders. (e.g. http://upclose.unimelb.edu.au/transcript/8)

    Third, and least important, is the actual travel speed of the transit vehicle itself. This is mostly relevant to people who have origins and destinations on the same rapid transit line, usually a small minority of transit riders.

    As far as capacity goes, there are three potential routes within the study corridor. Broadway should be the first to have rapid transit, but building three surface rapid transit lines on the three corridors could be done for less than the cost of one subway line, and would have a greater capacity.

    More on this at http://www.livableregion.ca/blog/blogs/index.php/2010/04/16/broadway_rapid_transit_alternatives_lack

    • Tessa

      your first link is a dead end.

      Also, you didn’t take into account a hugely important factor, and that is frequency and the associated wait time. Skytrain runs every 4 minutes on the main expo line at midnight, less than 10 minutes on the millenium and surrey parts. That’s possible because it’s automated, otherwise they would have to pay for drivers, and that won’t happen with empty trains.

      With LRT, you can expect headways of no better than 15 minutes after peak hours, just as Portland has experienced, and that will hugely turn off riders because it means they’ll be waiting an average of seven minutes just to catch the train – which adds a lot of time to their trip.

      Escalators also don’t take a lot of time, especially compared to crossing to the middle of the street and then walking down the median to the station as is usually required.

      As well, there comes a point where capacity maxes out, and i don’t think LRT, given the constraints of cross-traffic and the slower nature of the service, would be able to offer anywhere near the capacity of skytrain for the cost. Yes, you could build three, but then I highly doubt it would be any cheaper – i think that estimation on your part is wishful thinking.

      Also, with more transfers built into any LRT system, you’re going to also have to deal with transfer penalties. Transfers can be made relatively easy but the penalty is still there, whereas skytrain offers one-seat service to Coquitlam with the Evergreen line.

      LRT has its uses, for sure, but this is just not one of those corridors. With potential ridership rivalling the expo line means that skytrain is almost certainly needed.

      • Max Wyss

        To Tessa:

        > With LRT, you can expect headways of no
        > better than 15 minutes after peak hours,
        > just as Portland has experienced, and that
        > will hugely turn off riders because it means
        > they’ll be waiting an average of seven
        > minutes just to catch the train – which adds
        > a lot of time to their trip.

        With all due respect, this statement is pretty off. The headway is a question of the actual implementation, and 15 minutes for peak times is something you encounter on commuter rail, but not on light rail. 15 minutes headway, is something you should see on light rail maybe on a sunday morning.

        Light rail can easily handle train intervals in the less-than-a-minute range, but for practical purposes, you may have 5 lines operating at 6 minute intervals superimposed. Yes, that is busy, but absolutely doable.

        If you “must” have 15 minute intervals, or even worse, creating coordinated schedules becomes crucial, which means that connections have to be assured and made short (as far as that is possible; when you have a complex network, it may not work in all cases).

        It has been shown that for intervals down to about 12 minutes, people actually time when they leave their place to go to the transit stop; with shorter intervals, they simply go there.

        Anyway, the conclusion “LRT equals worse than 15 minute intervals” can only come from low-density implementations…

      • Max, the 15-minute part isn’t a question of technology, but of costs. Light rail with drivers can’t run at very high frequencies late at night without busting operating budgets, unless ridership is high.

      • Max Wyss

        To Alon and to Tessa: Mea culpa, or I messed up. The original message states “outside of peak times” (which I seem to have overlooked when I wrote my comment). Sorry ’bout that.

        Actually, the light rail lines I have more or less in front of my door do indeed operate at 15 minute intervals outside of peak time (although one of them will get an overlay from another line from next December on, and then it would mean every 15 minutes a direct, and in between an additional service with changing trains.

        However, the statements about scheduling coordination remain as said. If done right, it is possible to make the light rail line popular enough (if it has been planned well), that the 15 minute intervals will have to be replaced with 12 or 10 minute intervals.

        Also, concerning drivers, as long as there is really only one staff on a train, that is acceptable, and compared with a bus, the cost would (have to) be the same.

  • Ocean Railroader

    It looks like the facts say that Sky Train needs to extend a new branch line into this area which makes logical sense. It makes sense in that there is a sky train network in place so any new cars could get repairs and up grades at a existing sky train shop vs having to build a whole new light rail system that is acting as a branch line of the Sky train system. But in the long run a new branch of the sky train makes sense.

  • Tim V.

    I think the cost of the one underground Broadway corridor could be better spent on say…3 surface light rail lines running east to west. One on or near the Broadway corridor, one on King Edward/16th Ave, and one along SW Marine drive. This would increase mobility for a lot more people than a tunnel in the Broadway corridor. There is a lot of Vancouver south of the Broadway corridor that would LOVE to have something to ride other than very crowded 41 or 49. That being said, I think an extension of the Millenium Line to Olympic Village station on the Canada Line is logical. Should help relieve overcrowding on the Expo line into downtown Vancouver.

    • Tessa

      the density drops off intensely south of 16th, especially on the west side. If you’re going to build rapid transit west as far as UBC, it doesn’t make sense to build it anywhere south of 16th avenue at all, not even 41st Ave. Just check the map: http://regardingplace.com/?p=435

      The density on Marine Drive is actually below 4.5 people per acre, well below the amount needed to provide reasonable transit service, which is why only the 49 bus runs on marine, and only for a short period of time on its way to UBC. It is still a really crowded bus, though, but it can still be served with more buses.

      A broadway extension of rapid transit would actually take a lot of pressure off the 49 and 41 buses by giving much better service to UBC, as well.

  • Tessa

    Thanks for the very sensible post. I’m also looking forward to those final numbers on the corridor. I agree with some here that there is debate as to whether we have the money to extend the skytrain past Arbutus, though I think the need for skytrain is there in that corridor right the whole way. It could be done in two phases, though, if necessary.

    But that first leg, I think, is absolutely necessary, in order to complete that gaping hole in the system, take pressure off the expo line into downtown and also help all those people going from burnaby/east van to south van/richmond/airport. It’s really needed.

  • Broadway has by far the greatest demand and potential for increased transit usage of the three corridors (4th, Broadway, 16th, Marine). It is not certain at all that improved transit service on these other corridors, while needed, would reduce the need for high capacity transit on Broadway.

    The other issues with trying to split the service among the corridors are the high operational costs of running several high-frequency transit lines and the likelihood of low frequency service in off-peak hours due to high operational costs.

    Regarding just extending the Millennium Line to Cambie, there is huge transit demand west to at least Arbutus. Forcing everyone to transfer at Cambie is not a particularly great idea. It would just be moving the problems at Broadway-Commercial a few km west.

  • Paul C

    You mentioned about the financial difficulties that Translink finds itself in. What needs to be remembered is that difficulty is currently happening. Since this line wouldn’t be started for a few years. Whose to say what the financial situation will be by then. Maybe other revenue sources will have been thought up by then.

    I would like to see an extension of the M-line all the way to UBC. But if there is problem with finances. Then we need to build the M-line to Arbutus, but not build the combo option with the LRT. The biggest problem I have with that idea is would it lock us into always having and LRT line after Broadway. Would we be constantly having to transfer at Arbutus. It would be better to just take the M-line to Arbutus and run a B-Line the rest of the way. See how ridership and capacity is like if the system is still overloaded. Then when funds become available. Continue the M-Line further.

    • Jo

      Totally agree. At the very least, extend the skytrain to Arbutus and have the B-line, NOT LRT, the rest of the way to UBC. LRT is too perminate a feature and if shown to be inefficient, we will be stuck with it. The government is unlikely to spend any more extending the skytrain further when they invested all that money on the LRT.

  • poncho

    Maybe the question should be will Skytrain provide enough capacity, afterall arent the biggest complaints with the Canada Line that it was under built? (Yeah I realize CL isnt “Skytrain,” but it practically is).

    What are the initial thoughts for the Arbutus corridor? What kinds of densities are along that route? Where might it terminate? Would it run into downtown? What kind of modes for that corridor might be considered? Might a UBC/Broadway line possibly allow for a branch down Arbutus?

    • John W

      No mention seems to be made yet of what the costs would be for the likely construction design of a SkyTrain route. There’s no way it would be a fully tunnelled route. I imagine it would be elevated west of Arbutus, and there’s a kilometre or so stretch in the University Endowment Lands that could possibly be at grade. Having only a third or so of it deep-bore tunnelled (cut and cover being politically impossible) would surely come in at a much lower cost than the inflated amount in the article quoted by Yonah. Any numbers for this more realistic scenario?

      @poncho: The Arbutus corridor has been included for quite some time as a possible future phase for the Downtown Streetcar proposals. The ROW heads pretty much due south, through Kerrisdale to SW Marine Drive. Judging from google maps, it could have a logical terminus at the Marine Drive station on the Canada Line.

      @Ocean (below): A small clarification – there are no highways per se in the City of Vancouver (other than where Hwy 1 cuts through the northeast corner). Some of the arterial roads, such as 16th, are wide enough to be able to give up a lane though.

      • I would challenge you to convince residents and business owners on western Broadway to support elevated SkyTrain west of Arbutus. Putting a viaduct in the middle of a vibrant commercial corridor is generally a terrible idea.

        From my perspective, if you want SkyTrain, it’s going to have to be underground at least until it reaches the Endowment Lands.

      • John W

        Good point. Though if it was centre running and elevated enough to still give the street a unified feel, it might work. Certainly the Canada Line in Richmond worked much better for this with its wider roads and strip malls.

        The stretch west of Alma may be a possibility for elevated still. Not sure how they dealt with nimbyism when they built the first SkyTrain line. From the looks of it, some of the residential stretches are along old alleyways (eg the stretch along Commercial, just south of Broadway), other bits such as near Nanaimo station look pretty standard residential on google street view.

        Though they’ve got it on 10th on all the maps for the alternatives you’ve shown, if the portion of the route between Alma and UBC is primarily just to get there then it might make sense to instead travel along the green spaces beside 8th (or perhaps 16th) to minimise the impact on householders.

      • It’s okay – at Copenhagen Metro costs, the line could be fully underground and still cost about one-third less than the estimate quoted by Condon.

    • Paul C

      @Poncho

      The Canada Line was built with a small budget. Also because it was a completely separate line they could build any sized station they wanted. So they went with the smallest sized stations that they could.

      Because the Broadway line would be an extension of the M-Line. They are forced from the start to have stations with 80M platforms to match the station platforms on the rest of the line. What would be even better is if they just spent the extra money up front and built 100M platforms. Although it probably won’t happen. We will most likely get the 80 M platforms.

  • Ocean Railroader

    If they build the sky train and it turns out to be overcrowed they could build several smaller streetcar lines a few blocks away from the sky train with their own highway lanes to take the pressure off of the sky train.

  • Tom West

    Regardless of what happens on the rest of Broadway, the gap between the eastern end of Millennium line (at VVC-Clark) and the Canada line must be sorted out.

  • Adam O'Neill

    Well folks, thanks for the great read.
    As residents of Broadway and Fraser as well as transit users/cyclists my wife and I are trying to soak up as much of the great dialog on this topic as possible.
    We’re trying to focus on the underlying motives.

    For me, I think cost is my primary factor, as the need is great and I feel if we can take a staged approach to improving the transit capacity/mobility/quality we’ll be able to start enjoying better service sooner rather than later.

    For what it’s worth here are some of my ideas for a phased plan.

    1. Tom is totally right, we need to mind the gap. The Millennium Line and the Canada Line need to make friends, ASAP. Especially with the Evergreen Line coming. It’s right in the Metro Vancouver Regional Planning documents from the 90′s. We have densified these suburban communities and we need to provide fast and efficient transit between our many town centres. It’s a regional system too (especially with all cities paying for these improvements) and we need to make skytrain the better option for Tri-cities to Richmond/Airport trips.
    Now it seems to me that RRT is very expensive due to the need to bore a tunnel heading down broadway or under 10th. Seeing that I’m very concerned with cost and would like to try and spread out the big dollars over a multi-staged plan I’d say extend the Millennium Line to Olympic Village Station via a raised guideway, basically the cheapest way to mind the gap. It could have a few new stops too, maybe Great Northern Way Campus and one at the Main Street side of the Olympic Village. Now that the gap is taken care of we need to get these folks to UBC/Broadway.

    2. Build a LRT from Main Street Station to UBC via Olympic Village Station, the Arbutus right of way, turning on Broadway and then along W. 10th to UBC. This LRT can run in one or two car trains at 15-2 minute intervals depending on the volume for up to 15,000 people each hour, an increase over the current B-Line’s capacity by roughly 50%. The travel time should be significantly quicker on the portion of track between Olympic Village Station and Arbutus at Broadway do to the separated ROW. Speed would also increase compared to the B-Line on the Broadway and W. 10th sections do to priority signalling, having a dedicated lane and raised platforms for easier loading/un-loading. I also just plain like LRTs on a street, I’ve noticed that drivers kind of calm down when they’re sharing the road with LRT and pedestrians and cyclists are less likely to J-walk without really looking. I feel safer on a street that has a train on it, and would be curious to see if introducing them to streets has lessened accident rates in the past in other cities? Now to deal with the central Broadway corridor.

    3. BRT for central Broadway(Broadway/Commercial Stations to Arbutus) to convert to LRT in the future. With 80 foot electric buses operating in convoys, taking advantage of priority signalling, raised platforms and reserved lanes BRT would be a great improvement over the current B-line. When BRT is no longer providing enough capacity we could convert it to an LRT and use the buses on a parallel new BRT line along 41st. I figure we could have the LRT in mind when the BRT is built so that we could reuse the platforms, priority signalling and maybe the overhead cables.

    I think that this would create a system that would be able to grow with the region and the local area and not put all our eggs($$$$) in one basket, but enable us to provide great transit to more areas. Thanks for all of your posts, they have been very informative, Cheers.

  • Brendan Read

    A few questions:

    1. Has there been an analysis of distance learning and teleworking as screens to determine how many future trips will be diverted to these virtual modes, leaving the balance for private vehicles and transit? This technology is rapidly improving while costs are dropping–and students are on the leading edge of adoption and use–just look at the videos on their smartphones

    2. How many car trips will actually be diverted by these options?

    3. What are the rough estimates of capital and operating costs of new rider attracted and how do these benchmark against other similar investments elsewhere?

  • Carl Wimmer

    When I went to UBC in 1970, there could not have been 20,000 people there, students and employees. Now there are 50,000.

    Please do not design a system that “takes care of today” but is a few dollars cheaper. in time UBC has the room to grow to 100,000 in a first class, world class , higher EDU facility.

    How in heaven’s name are you going to transport that volume of traffic using some cheap system that handles today.

    The Broadway corridor is undergoing a study to ramp up from a 3 FSR to a 5 FSR. With downtown now looking at FSR, in certain cases of 13, it is clear that the Broadway Corridor might be looking at 7 FSR, once day.

    Please, please don’t build some cheap ass system that is obsolete from day one because of lack of vision.

    And that lack of vision can include Skytrain and Canada line planners who design platforms that can handle at most a 6 car train.

    From the day it opened, Canada was jammed. People are already “gaming the system” by trying to board at stations down the line because all Richmond trains are full.

    Richmond trains in rush hour could 10 cars long, not 4.

    Let us be long view people when we build the broadway line.

  • Drewski

    The existing Skytrain technology is the refined–and fully functional–version of what UTDC created with Toronto’s Scarborough RT. Skytrain manages headways comparable to TTC’s subway lines. Skytrain is the appropriate choice for the Broadway corridor’s traffic volumes. The Canada line’s limitations (stations that limit trains to 2 cars) mean that Rotem trains couldn’t be easily interchanged on Broadway versus Canada. I really believe that the Canada line’s limitations are so bad that they will force construction of LRT in the Arbutus corridor.

    Money? Like every other Canadian urban area, Vancouver/Translink hasn’t pushed hard enough against the provincial government for stable funding. This goes back to when the province directly owned BC Transit, and is directly analogous to Ontario’s general disengagement from transit (downloading of GO, followed by drastic cuts in provincial transit capital and operations funding). In theory, a payroll tax, income tax, gas tax, or addition to HST could all pay for transit, in Vancouver, Toronto or any other part of Canada. The small problem is the utter lack of political will to force the issue at the respective provincial level. The capacity to pay is definitely there, the demand to justify the line is clear, but the political will to demand a new power of taxation from the province–any province–is next to zero. Hasn’t happened for AMT in Montreal, hasn’t happened for Metrolinx in Toronto, hasn’t happened for Translink in Vancouver. That’s less the fault of politicians (or the antiquated concentration of power at the provincial level) than it is the failure of the voters to demand better.

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