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UBC anxiety ramps up at talk of a two-phase approach to building Broadway rapid-transit line

November 27th, 2012 · 159 Comments

Council heard an update today from its engineers on plans for the line which answers some of these questions. I’ll be posting that story later. In the meantime, here’s what I had today

And, for keen readers, here is belatedly the story that came out of council on the city’s position re the Broadway line.


Direct light-rail line to campus the way to go, UBC says


University maintains the mayor’s proposed two-phase project “is just not a solution’

UBC is urging the city to advocate for a rapid-transit line all the way out to the university right away.

Officials say the two-phase system for the Broadway line, which Mayor Gregor Robertson has been pitching, is not workable for them.

UBC has 140,000 people a day coming and going from the campus by transit, with nothing but increases on the horizon. The Broadway B-Line bus service, which currently connects the campus on the western tip of the city peninsula with a Commercial Drive station in east Vancouver, frequently has to pass up people waiting at bus stops during peak hours.

A two-phase rapid-transit line “is just not a solution,” said Pascal Spothelfer, the university’s vice-president of community partnerships. “Over 50 per cent of our passenger volume coming to UBC is by transit. That’s despite the fact that a large number of people are being passed up.”

Having a line all the way out to the university will spark even more of a transformation at UBC in how people get there and how the university develops, he said.

“It is a real game-changer, a generational shift.”

Mr. Robertson said recently the city is advocating to regional transportation authority TransLink for a first phase along Broadway with a tunnelled SkyTrain to Arbutus – an option everyone knows is going to be expensive.

From there, he said, rapid buses could take people the rest of the way to UBC, and a SkyTrain could be extended to the campus at some undefined point in the future.

The extension was supposed to have come quickly after the Millennium Line was built from Coquitlam to Vancouver in 2001.

But it was moved down the queue after the province pushed for the Canada Line to be built in time for the Olympics.

TransLink is currently reviewing plans for the Broadway extension, along with plans for a light-rail extension for Surrey.

But UBC is saying that it might be better to build one cheaper light-rail line in order to get the whole route covered within TransLink’s budget, instead of one expensive SkyTrain for half and then buses for the other half.

“I’d rather see whatever the solution is to be a complete solution,” said Mr. Spothelfer.

Mr. Spothelfer said the two-phase solution just moves the problem down the line for the passengers trying to get across town.

“So if a train is full, do we have 20 buses waiting to take them?”

A two-phase approach also guarantees that UBC wouldn’t get rapid transit until some long-distant new round of funding, because TransLink typically only takes on a big transit expansion once a decade.

“If we miss this opportunity, it’s not like this will come back in the next two years. If a line gets built to Arbutus with no continuation to UBC now, only my grandchildren will get it.”

University officials are hoping that they hear a new message from the city as soon as Tuesday, with Vancouver’s two top engineers scheduled to give an update on the Broadway-line plans.

The university and city have been in a “very active dialogue” since the mayor made his remarks about a two-phase approach 10 days ago, said Mr. Spothelfer.

UBC has seen its students, staff and faculty shift their commuting patterns dramatically in the past 14 years, going from 77 per cent private-vehicle use to 43 per cent.

About 138,900 transit trips are now made to and from the university on an average weekday.

Mr. Spothelfer pointed out that the university is the province’s third-largest employer, with a huge number of commuters. It also has a large number of its medical students and faculty travelling regularly to the growing hospital-and-research precinct near Broadway and Oak, which is about 10 kilometres east of the university.

The mayor’s reference to a two-phase solution with buses came as news to the university.

“I was a bit surprised by him bringing up the buses again,” said Mr. Spothelfer.

He said he understands the city’s priority is serving the density it has along Broadway.

“They’re pretty set in what serves their immediate purpose.”

But he and others at the university are anxious to prove that serving UBC with good transit sooner rather than later is also in the city’s interest.



Categories: Uncategorized

159 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bill Lee // Nov 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Move the whole UBC out to Chilliwack (Sardis) to become the agricultural institution it started as.
    No need to be on Point Grey other than it was empty land at the time, subject to erosion and beyond the streetcars.

    A few will complain, but the massive number of new jobs for a new campus “finally built right” in two years will silence them.
    And a new Shinkasen high speed rail going through Sumas Mountain will mean easy access for all.

  • 2 Chris Porter // Nov 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I think there is no question that the SkyTrain from VCC should be extended to Arbutus. The only debate is what to do past then.

    It’s too bad that the city has concerns (legitimate ones) about light rail west of Broadway – like platform length, reduced parking, and left-turn bans. I’ve always found the Combo design that Translink floated during their consultation a few years ago to be appealing.
    SkyTrain from VCC to Arbutus. Light-rail from Main Street to UBC. All for the same capital cost (and cheaper operating costs) as a full SkyTrain to UBC.

  • 3 David W. // Nov 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    The city politicians and their hand picked staff have their heads buried so deep inside some orifice that they cannot see reality. The province doesn’t consider UBC a priority and the official opposition doesn’t either. Vancouver would be lucky if Broadway is any higher than #4 on either party’s transit list.

    For the city to stand there and say “$3+ billion subway or nothing” is only going to make “nothing” the answer for decades to come.

    They’re making the classic mistake of putting all their eggs into one incredibly fragile basket.

    Broadway and 10th as far west as Sasamat had streetcars up until 1950. There’s track bed under the road just begging for some modern pre-fabricated track sections to be put on top of it. Unlike the years of cut and cover tunnel mess we saw along Cambie, pre-fabricated track is laid in a few weeks. The entire line could be done in 24 months for a small faction of the cost of tunnelling.

    Hook a pair of 40m trams together and you’ve got the equivalent of 4-5 B-line buses with just one driver. With salaries accounting for 70% of operating costs the potential savings are clear.

    Yes Broadway is a major truck route and commercial street. Yes there is a huge amount of cross traffic in the central part of the route. Those are challenges to operations, but a smooth ride that doesn’t leave you standing in the rain for 20 minutes watching full buses go by has to be a huge improvement over the status quo.

    In other cities on-street light rail has improved the fortunes of local businesses. That’s one reason why the merchants of West Broadway support LRT. I think they also have enough business sense to realize that the subway proposal is a pipe dream in every sense of the term.

  • 4 Jon Petrie // Nov 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    From the Globe article: “UBC has 140,000 people a day coming and going from the campus by transit.”

    Seems way too high — maybe what is meant is “70,000 people coming and going resulting in 140,000 trips on transit.” (?)

  • 5 Frances Bula // Nov 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    @Jon. Ha, you’re right. I should have said 140,000 trips, not people.

  • 6 Bill Lee // Nov 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    “UBC has 140,000 people a day coming and going from the campus by transit, with nothing but increases on the horizon. ”

    While we assume this is trips, are they measuring at UBC?
    That B-Line bus is the busiest in the city(?) but people get off all along the line.

    The 135 (Hastings to SFU, one of 5 routes to the Burnaby Mountain) campus, carries 13000 persons a day. (Remembered number. Source: something in the Buzzer one day)

    So 140,000 / 2 = 70,000 person/trip. That is more than the student population out there.
    Considering the standing capacity of a long bus might be 150 (wiki article on 99 b-line says 120, maybe a wet day with thicker clothes), that would be 70 000 / 120 = 583 buses. And 8 am to 8 pm or 12 hours and 48 buses an hour!
    I’ve run out of calculating space on the back of my transfer/fare-receipt

    The route would be thick with buses?


  • 7 Urbn Observer // Nov 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Why doesn’t UBC consider building more adequate and affordable student and workforce housing at their campus in Point Grey instead of having these massive taxpayer transportation subsidies for the University’s development plays?

    Have UBC students and staff walk to work, class, and labs as oppose to commuting.

  • 8 Chris Porter // Nov 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I assume 140,000 trips is for every bus heading to/from UBC (not just along Broadway), but even then it’s a gross exaggeration.

    The 4 has 9,600 weekday boardings (over it’s entire length)
    The 9 has 25,300.
    The 25 has 19,300
    The 33 has 6,450
    The 41 has 24,800
    The 43 has 6,500
    The 44 has 8,050
    The 49 has 19,700
    The 84 has 9,000
    The 99 has 54,350
    I don’t know how many boardings are on the 258 from West Van or the 480 from Richmond, but it can’t be that much.

    If you add all of those up you get 183,050 total daily boardings on every bus (except the 258 and 480) serving UBC. Unless more than 75% of people riding those buses are going to/from UBC then the 140,000 number is simply wrong.

    Translink numbers are 2011 statistics from this doc:

  • 9 gmgw // Nov 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    It used to be that the classic example of chutzpah was the kid who murders his parents and then begs for mercy from the Court because he’s an orphan. To that we can now add the spectacle of the UBC administration demanding that the rapid transit connection to UBC be made a regional priority, the better to service the ongoing and massive densification of the campus and the adjacent lands that that same administration has been carrying out for some time now.

    I guess we can cynically blame, at least in part, the pesky provincial government for the current situation. Had they acceded to UBC’s wish, decades ago, to be allowed to essentially pave over the entire Endowment Lands for development instead of creating a regional park there instead (what a terrible waste of good developable land!!), we might have seen major transit improvements much sooner. Denied the right to clearcut the whole of Point Grey, UBC decided instead, a couple of decades ago, to ensure their continued (and considerable) affluence by developing and/or densifying every square inch of land they did control, with a corresponding upsurge in population, both working and residential. The campus and environs are now unrecognizable compared to their appearance when I was a student there in the 80s. Virtually an entire new town has been built, including academic, residential, and light industrial developments. And during this process has anyone in a position of authority– local, regional, provincial– said: “Um, er, given that there has been no concomitant increase in transportation infrastructure, dear UBC adminstrators, and the fact that all access routes to the campus pass through residential areas, do you really think that this massive amount of development is sensible?”? Now UBC wants a rapid-transit line built out to them, not only to service the planning disaster they’ve created, but also to enable ever-greater densification in the years to come.

    UBC’s status as an entity unto itself, unconnected to any municipality, is turning into a severe liability not only for the city of Vancouver but for the entire region. Why should billions of dollars of regional transit money be spent to service a development-mad entity that admits no responsibility to anyone? Despite what I suggested earlier, there have been, in recent years, some mild criticisms of UBC’s irresponsible development patterns raised by the GVRD and, latterly, Metro. UBC, in effect, told them to get stuffed. Their demand for a rapid transit connection to the campus should be met with exactly the same response. The money for such an enterprise is urgently needed elsewhere.

  • 10 Chris Porter // Nov 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Found the other stats.
    258 has 250 daily boardings.
    480 has 4,400.

  • 11 Bill Lee // Nov 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    @Chris Porter // Nov 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm #7

    Very nice.

    I went to

    [ Upper Right Corner] About Us > Media > Resources: DOCUMENT LIBRARY

    Opens up Search box. Type in “Route” [number] and get more than you wanted.

    Trying for newer numbers on my 135 comment above.
    10 at a time, of 273 here ["Narrow your search" options on the side bar]
    Or sort by DATE, Relevance

    See “2011 BSPR Route Summaries 100 to 299″ part way down.

    They tell you “a 116 page PDF” data from 2010, 2011
    [Quick View | Details | Opened 9 times, Today, 6:36 pm

    So routes 1-99 (pdf 62 pages)

    Routes 100-299 (pdf 116 pages)

    Oh, and 135 is 19 600 boardings a day, ranked 9 of 221 routes (highest number route number 259, soon to be 555)
    135 takes the same time to get downtown by a few minutes as the 14 Hastings trolley, despite the fewer stops.

    Lots of papers for the UBC Broadway route for 2012.

    No data for 2012 yet, as the year ain’t over. Save the Champagne.

  • 12 ned // Nov 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    gmgw #8
    “Why should billions of dollars of regional transit money be spent to service a development-mad entity that admits no responsibility to anyone?”
    Cannot argue with that.
    Good comment.

  • 13 canadianveggie // Nov 27, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I was thinking more about the 140,000 daily trips. It’s possible that it represents a peak, or at the very least it ignores the summer months. Then it would be in the realm of possibility.

  • 14 Brian // Nov 27, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    What seldom gets mentioned is that the UBC line does not solely serve UBC. I’m surprised at how often people overlook the fact that the Broadway corridor is a long corridor of dense development and is a generator of trips that have nothing to do with UBC. When I was a student riding the full length of the line twice a day, I noticed that buses seemed to usually turn over at least half their riders at Granville alone. It seems like you get a significant amount of turnover now at Cambie.

    I think that this alone makes a good case for skytrain at least to Alma.

    I agree that UBC’s development has been at least fiscally irresponsible (I used to wonder why my tuition was used to build expensive condos), but I’m not sure it constitutes a planning disaster. I certainly don’t think it constitutes a reason to withhold skytrain service from UBC. Not improving transit to UBC just makes it more difficult for the students and staff who can’t afford to live in the fancy new homes on campus.

  • 15 Kram // Nov 27, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    @gmgw // Nov 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm,

    It’s not as bad as all that. High density housing at UBC allows those who work on campus to skip cars and transit entirely and for those going east it ensures that those transit vehicles don’t return empty. If you’re looking for something really foolish, it’s suburban sprawl on farmland in the Fraser Valley and spending billions on highways and bridges which are quickly turned into single occupant vehicle parking lots.

  • 16 Charlie Walsh // Nov 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I feel the need to point out that a significant project like a Broadway subway line would be built with the goal of producing a shift in the way people navigate our city. We can debate how many passengers are on the B-line, but at the end of the day we all know that the current system is over capacity and that many more people would use a subway line. This city would be infinitely easier to navigate as a result. People would get out of their cars. A project that would achieve huge ridership from day one and do a great deal to help progress toward environmental goals seems like a no-brainer to me. The return-on-investment is there, considering all of the many economic spinoffs that would result and the guaranteed use this line would get from people all across the Lower Mainland. UBC is this province’s biggest and most important university. Rendering it more accessible will only do good things for the productivity of BC’s knowledge economy. This condo discussion seems like such a sideshow. The point is that this subway line would connect some very important dots in the region, leaving room for further growth into the future.

  • 17 tf // Nov 27, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I will never forget stepping off the plane as a young student those first days of September over 30 years ago. I was going to live and study at UBC.
    I left my suitcases in a locker at the airport and took city transit from the airport to UBC. That trip will remain in my memory forever. Talking with people, learning about the city as the bus travelled north on Granville 70 city blocks to Broadway. The sun was shining, the sky was blue; the slow, long climb up 10th Ave; the bumps as we rode past the golf course; the vistas of sea, sky and mountains. As a girl from South Western Ontario, I knew that I had died and gone to heaven.
    I can only imagine what would have happened if I had travelled those 50 blocks!! underground in a sterile, monotonous subway – I hate the subway!!!
    Vancouver – do not hide your beauty – let it shine. Light rail transit all the way!
    Thanks for the blog Frances!

  • 18 Richard // Nov 27, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Here is the City’s case for the Broadway subway.

    It is really quite a strong case. UBC has 80,000 transit trips a day and Central Broadway has 80,000 too. I expect the 140,000 to UBC was total trips now or a projection once rapid transit is built.

    A cheap LRT implementation just isn’t going to do. All around North America, cities have realized that significant grade separation is required for fast-efficient safe rapid transit. Many LRT projects are getting more and more grade separation increasing the cost so there really isn’t much difference between the LRT and totally separated transit.

    The advantage of totally grade separated is that frequencies can easily be below 2 minutes increasing the capacity of the systems and or enabling shorter, less expensive underground and elevated stations. Also the faster travel times mean greater ridership and revenue plus less expensive trains for a given level of ridership.

    Toronto’s Eglington LRT will be underground for 10 out of 19 km and the cost is $4.6 billion or $240 million a km. Ironically, this is the same cost as the Broadway to UBC subway and Evergreen Line combined that would be a total of 23 km so it is even less expensive than Eglington.

    Seattle’s LRT expansion will be almost $10 billion. The segments under construction right now are pretty much all underground. One costs $370 million per km while the other is $300 million per km. The total cost is $4 billion for 12km. More expensive than the UBC Line.

    Honolulu is building a $5.3 billion elevated transit line for $5.3 billion for 32km.

    Even value leader Calgary is spending a lot more to grade separated LRT. The soon to open West LRT is $1.4 billion for 8.2 km, more expensive er than the totally grade separated Evergreen Line. They will also have to invest $800 million in a tunnel downtown sooner or later. Sometimes it pays to spend more and do it right the first time.

    With a projected ridership of 320,000 per day by 2040, the Broadway subway to UBC will have much greater ridership than all of these other systems.

    I also added up the cost of major infrastructure projects over the last 12 years (most of it over the last 8) and came up with a total of over $12.26 billion , an average of over $1 billion per year. This includes $3.48 billion for rapid transit, $6.9 billion for roads and $1.86 billion for BC Place and the Convention Centre.

    Put in this context, even at the high end for the Broadway $3.2 billion and Surrey Rapid Transit, $2.1 billion are completely reasonable over the the next 8 years with some funds aside for other investments. This region and province definitely have the economic capacity for this level of investment. The population and the economy will be growing so these investments relative to population and GDP will even be more favourable.

    The bottom line is that rapid transit is a great investment for the region given its environmental, health economic and safety benefits. We can easily afford even the most expensive options that have the greatest benefits. Lets get on with it.

  • 19 Guest // Nov 27, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Key point in the presentation – imagine (if it were LRT):
    80 metre long trains on 120 metre long city blocks running every 2 minutes down the middle of Broadway.

    One point that people haven’t mentioned is that the UBC student ridership does so at discounted U-Pass rates. That may be 80,000 riders, but what’s their contribution to the operating costs of the system? At $30 or $35 per month, would that be more like 20,000 or less?

  • 20 Roger Kemble // Nov 28, 2012 at 6:54 am

    . . . I can only imagine what would have happened if I had travelled those 50 blocks!! underground in a sterile, monotonous subway . . .

    Well said tf @ #17. I lived in the city for over forty years from 1951. I was a grad student at UBC 1984/87. I took the regular, half empty, Broadway bus back then: that was before the deluge!

    It is unfortunate that all, and I mean all, conversation is consumed by moving from here to there: wherever here is, wherever there is. Not too long ago it was cyclists fixating: mercifully a sympathetic council satisfied that want for the time being.

    Time has warped talk of a livable region, the livable city: living, working, entertainment, shopping, yunno, and the nice little urban villages where we gossip with the neighbours on the way to shop. Greedy, mostly offshore, speculators, distracted politicos, timeserving planners, vulgar developers and their ignorant, untalented architects have scotched all that!

    Here, today, the conversation obsesses on what I call shiny trinkets. The concept of the city as a beautiful living amenity is completely lost on the very few who appear to have filled their narrow craniums with so much shiny trinket chatter their brains have no room but to migrate to their scrotums for lack of space!

    Of course the Great Trek, that took UBC out to the Point in 1922, was a big mistake but times were different then. The, even bigger mistake, of siting SFU at the other end is not so easily forgivable.

    Since then the town has been ravaged by the uglies to the point it is now deeply indebt, totally unmanageable despite a massive, essentially disinterested, bureaucracy wallowing up at Thu Hall.

    The outcome is a desperately sprawling city with various Metro authorities’ lying to themselves to keep thu plebs quiet.

    The current big lie is a Sky train Broadway line. Trust me it will never happen. Be it a tunnel or Cambie-ized cut-and-fill authorities that harbor such delusions just plain lie: first and foremost it is unaffordable.

    I mean big-time UNAFFORDABLE if it is a tunnel. If it were cut-and-fill the disruption (we never learn, do we!) would put so many businesses out the tax base would drop precipitously.

    Fear not though, the shiny trinketeers will not be fazed. Petulantly they will gobble-up and gadfly the last word, even though we are blinded by wafts of Great Gobi dust storms, not giving a tinker’s shit about ground level commodity, firmness and delight: i.e. incrementalized walkable, urban villages!

    Money . . . money . . . money!

    The western world is on the threshold of a massive financial discombobulation (forget AGW), the likes we have never seen.

    Not only will we be unable to skid the underground to UBC we will be unable to keep our clandestine sweetie in his pied-à-terre. We wont even be able to keep her in rubbers.

  • 21 canadianveggie // Nov 28, 2012 at 8:41 am

    I heard NDP Transportation Critic Harry Bains on CBC radio this morning say that the Broadway corridor, and public transportation in general, is a higher priority than the Massey Tunnel. That’s a good sign. A change of government might bring this closer to funding.

  • 22 Brian // Nov 28, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Charlie #16

    Wish I could have said it so well myself. This is a surefire way to accomplish many stated city, regional, and provincial goals in a big way.

  • 23 Richard // Nov 28, 2012 at 9:50 am


    As I stated in my last post, we can afford a Broadway subway and Surrey Rapid Transit. It is just a matter of priorities. The maximum cost of both put together is one billion less than the six billion we have spent on roads and bridges over the last decade. It is a matter of priorities. And the economic benefits of transit far outweigh the costs. Great transit makes us more prosperous while automobiles sink us further into debt.

    Views are fine but fast comfortable smooth rail on the Canada Line is a far better experience than the packed slower buses that rocked and bumped all over the place that used to be the only option.

  • 24 Bill Lee // Nov 28, 2012 at 10:45 am

    @Guest // Nov 27, 2012 at 11:24 pm #19

    While noting the retail price of the present U-Pass (going up; funded on the idea that everyone (EVERYONE!) must pay for it, but only 30 percent or less of the students would use it, the U-Pass is now uneconomical), the U-Pass and conversion of mud lots into condos reducing parking spaces, they now park in the suburbs and use and abuse the U-Pass.

    Readers might look at Tim Louis’ calculations of a universal regional pass.

  • 25 DW // Nov 28, 2012 at 10:46 am


    With all due respect, Vancouver was a very different place 30 years ago. And times have changed – we all need to get to where we need to go more quickly because money needs to be made. (Sad state of affairs, I know, but this is the reality of the new economy.)

    I was a UBC student myself not too long ago and I rode the #25 every day for years from my parents’ basement in East Van. For the most part, it was a terrible experience. The views were never there because it rained basically everyday that I was on the bus (after all, the majority of UBC students take the summers off to work or travel) and the bus was slow and packed to the gills after Main St. This was only 7 years ago; I can’t imagine the system now with more students and U-Pass.

    In typical Vancouver fashion, there are a few anti-progress, dogmatic types who continue to bury their heads in the sand about the city Vancouver has become. Short of putting up a firewall around the Lower Mainland and making it illegal for people to pursue a university education, people are going to continue to come to metro Vancouver and people are going to continue to attend post-secondary institutions such as UBC. Aside from going up and working the rigs in Alberta, most organizations today require a minimum of a Bachelor degree to even get coffee and push paper. It sucks, but that is the way things are. How do you get an increasing amount of people to where they need to go as quickly as possible? That is the fundamental issue here.

  • 26 Bill Lee // Nov 28, 2012 at 10:52 am

    The romantic in me would like to see steel girders in the lanes north of Broadway (no disruption of the streets, and irregular building profiles means that there are spots for supporting girders in the back lots), for the Wuppertal Schwebebahn.

    Read the German Wiki version for more adoration of the 1890s project still running, the cars are 24 metres long and have 4 doors. One carriage can seat 48 with approximately 130 standing passengers. The top speed is 60 km/h and the average speed is 27 km/h.
    It runs along a 13 km line, the length of the Commercial Station to UBC line.

  • 27 MB // Nov 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

    It’s profoundly disappointing to keep seeing this light rail v SkyTrain see-saw appear without attribution to context.

    Half the entire population of BC resides in the Lower Mainland, and well over a third in Vancouver, Surrey, Coquitlam and Burnaby alone. The historic government support for transit in all its forms in Metro Vancouver pales by comparison to asphalt.

    Serving BC’s second largest employment centre and the small city at UBC (students, staff and both permanent and temporary residents) with a high-quality subway service on Broadway makes just as much sense as redesigning King George for a major light rail service. Both have different existing levels of demand and urban context, however both can reap the huge benefits from shaping growth in future to be more transit-oriented and efficacious with respect to energy and urbanism.

    Both would continue the role that quality rapid transit has defined over the last quarter century as one of the most effective economic stimulators we’ve ever had. Having an option to expensive car ownership has become a majore selling point in condos. The more important questions in these cases would be, How can we do it better? How can we improve the quality of urbanism?

    Light rail does not cost less than a subway in dense areas with existing very high demand when you account for relocating underground services, permanently cutting off access to businesses (with resulting losses) by placing a kilometre long barrier in the middle of the road between stations, the sheer disruption during the construction process, and the inevitable calls for grade separation (see Richard’s great comments above).

    Moreover, trying to replace an existing high-capacity bus service with a highly disruptive slower tram option (with denser station spacing) on Broadway without any improvement in ridership or quality of service over the B-Line and the #9 bus would be a waste of over a billion dollars. In that light, promoting trams to sure failure on Broadway would help defeat paying for them where they are really needed and can be most effective.

    The pent up frustration over funding will continue to build pressure as long as the federal government absents itself from larger involvement in its own cities. Who else can organize nation-wide contracts and demand deep purchasing discounts than a government that manages projects spread over the five or six largest cities in a national project?

    Tunnel boring machines can be purchased once and cost-shared between cities, with only repair and shipping costs added as the machines transfer from one project to another. This way it may be affordable to have two boring machines working in tandem on Broadway, for example, with awards for early completion built into the construction contracts.

    Also, cost-sharing makes choosing the technology easier to base on quality and frequency of service and context rather than exclusively on price, or on taking unhelpful measures to phase construction over many years.

    The same order-of-magnitude deep unit discount expectation can be applied to bulk orders for trams, hybrid bus vehicles, concrete formulations with lower emissions, materials, etc. Also, the larger the contract, the more sway a government has over requirements for vendors to finance community benefits which may become the decisive factor in choosing a particular bidder.

    Railing against “development” without discerning the good from the bad (the Ridge Theatre and beautiful heritage buildings were classified as “development” in their day too) and dismissing rail transit options as “trinkets” while ignoring the profound impact of the road system is not constructive. As long as there remains a stratospheric-scale, cheap oil dependent regional road system in Canadian cities, there remains a need to offer viable alternatives sometime before mid-century.

    Is there more one’s long view of urban Canada has to offer?

  • 28 Roger Kemble // Nov 28, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Thanqu for your opinions Richard @ #23

    There are three east/west cross town TX opportunities to UBC:

    4th has the most direct route up a gentle slope from Spanish Banks and is probably the most convenient connection for north shore students.

    Broadway is the trinketeers’ obsession.


    41st/49th: possibly the lesser traveled yet still the most convenient for affordable basement suite living students. It is this route that should be beefed up because its proximity to the most student-populous basement suites area.

    The Broadway corridor was traditionally the basement suite route but that has now been priced out of consideration.

    A little bit of imaginative flexibility with electric trams may be the safety valve in the end.

    Let us not forget after billions spent The Canada Line is prematurely overcrowded, platforms too short and riders still light to their waiting autos. Cambie Street traffic as intense as ever.

    Intensity concentrated access causes land-lift that exacerbates local housing affordability.

Tunnels and gadgetry do not replace the auto: dream on.

The convenience of the SOV is ingrained and until the driver is priced out it will remain so.

  • 29 Richard // Nov 28, 2012 at 11:49 am


    That was true 50 years ago but times have changed. For young people cell phones and iPads are the shiny trinkets and status symbols. Many can’t be bothered with driving, it distracts from using the iPhone. The auto industry is so freaked out, the are designing cars that are basically giant iPhones with wheels.

    The Golden Ears Bridge is costing taxpayers $30 million a year as the usage is way below peojections. It is turning into the White Elephant Bridge. The Port Mann Bridge will likely be the same. Even American are driving less.

  • 30 Richard // Nov 28, 2012 at 11:51 am


    While the whole region suffers from affordability challenges, the towers around SkyTrain station are far more affordable than the $2 million shacks in the areas of Vancouver that have resisted high density development.

  • 31 Sean Nelson // Nov 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    @Roger Kemble #28

    “41st/49th: possibly the lesser traveled yet still the most convenient for affordable basement suite living students. It is this route that should be beefed up because its proximity to the most student-populous basement suites area.”

    Translink HAS beefed up 41st and 49th. AND they’ve added TWO brand new bus routes along 33rd and 25th, specifically to help with the UBC crowd.

    Yet the Broadway corridor is still vastly oversubscribed. Do you know why? It’s because:

    a) The Central Broadway area is a major transit destination, and the new buses and routes elsewhere do nothing to change this, and

    b) Students from outside Vancouver who are traveling to UBC still prefer Broadway because the Skytrain portion of their trip covers more of the distance faster, and therefore their overall travel time is reduced – even if they do get passed up by a couple of buses.

    Unfortunately we can’t have large hospitals with specialized services in every region of the city, nor can we have universities in every district. So the goal of being able to walk everywhere, while laudable, is unachievable. We need high-speed grade-separated transit backbones to make this a livable city.

    But I do agree that underground travel sucks. I much prefer the elevated guideways. Can’t see them happening along Broadway, though.

  • 32 boohoo // Nov 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    This article is about UBC, but that is not the be all end all of this line. There are a number of reasons why rapid transit makes sense on Broadway.

    But again, this is all just lines on maps with the Liberals in office.

  • 33 Roger Kemble // Nov 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    True Sean @ #31 but ultimately the city will to have to incremenalize into manageable urban villages if for no other reason it and Metro admin are in chaos.

    . . . I do agree that underground travel sucks” Me too!

    But “. . . elevated guide ways” NOT because they would traverse a most pleasant shopping area along W Broadway @ Macdonald.

  • 34 Richard // Nov 28, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    It would be great if it was elevated in Pacific Spirit Park and UBC. Less expensive and a great view. Elevated SkyTrain would be better than surface rail. Safer for wildlife, dogs and joggers to cross. Plus good rain protection for cyclists and walkers in the rail.

    Whatever the experience is, underground transit is extremely popular. Look at the success of the Canada Line. In the States, around 9 times as many people use heavy rail, most of which is underground as use light rail, most of which is on the surface.

    One way to look at is that fast underground transit gives you more time to be actually out in it as opposed to just looking at it from a window stuck in a train.

  • 35 Lewis N. Villegas // Nov 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    It’s not a slam-dunk.

    All options have merit… Only Skytrain to Arbutus is a non-starter. Blight somewhere else, or go to Richmond and see it in place and in action. What a dump of a street No. 3 Road has become. Nobody walking there mid-November, temperatures above 10°C, Sunday dinner time.

    1. Trolley BRT would significantly increase capacity, especially if boarding was pre-ticketed. Curitiba, as we all know, achieved subway LOS with BRT.

    2. LRT would be fine. I just don’t trust the engineers with designing a street that pedestrians could cross willy-nilly.

    In San Jose LRT is an unbridgeable pit in the centre of an arterial pedestrians stay clear from. (As Richard probably knows, that system goes up on Skytrain piers and stays elevated for most of the way, loosing the ground plain to high volumes of traffic).

    3. Tunnelling could start NOW and no one would be the wiser for it. Encouraging to hear transportation folks think it would work as an underground—by far the best investment.

    The nut transportation planners need to crack, however, is the reduction in automobile traffic from 40 to 50,000 per day to below 20,000.

    Then, we can talk ‘good urbanism’ in support of ‘good transit’.

    However, that would require a level of neighbourhood planning we still do not have at City Hall. At status quo, any transit investment on Broadway, or anywhere else, comes with towers.

    The reality check is that—even as we build our understanding of “good” urbanism—we are building a “system” not just the Broadway Line.

    So, capacity will be increased system-wide through wise investment. The ridership numbers increase as a result of other lines feeding in for non-UBC related cross-town trips. And, as stated earlier by others, the region as a whole benefits.

  • 36 Lewis N. Villegas // Nov 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    @Richard 34

    I think the better answer to the affordability question is found along the line of ‘building the system as a whole.’

    Broadway & Commercial and Broadway & Arbutus would be major hubs linking east-west service with north-south/south-east routes.

    From there we can take people to destinations that have affordable housing simply because the number of lots and the building type for development drives the pricing in the downwards direction.

    Large investments in transit infrastructure must be made on the basis of this kind of regional map and reasoning.

    If the Arbutus Line is built as LRT, it crosses the river and goes to Chiliwack in a 75-mile-plus trek.

    We can build enough Transit Oriented Development (TOD) along the old BC Electric ROW to provide affordable housing.

    I’ve made it a habit of checking where the ROW goes in Surrey, for example. It’s all industrial (and I would guess) ALR.

    We can surely convert 120 acres of ALR to TOD at 1.5 mile increments all along the urban areas, further apart in the rural parts of the line. At 10,000 per TOD we would deliver state of the art ground oriented multi-purpose housing.

    You tell me the commute time. But if it is on a service with wifi and café car, I’m doing billable hours on the train.

  • 37 Richard // Nov 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm


    The point of transit should be to support development where people don’t have to use transit or drive for many of their trips. Nodes need to be pretty dense to support this type of development. As well, Broadway is close enough to downtown where many people can cycle to work.

    Your idea is less than ideal in these respects and many others. Why turn farms and industrial land when we can create a more vibrant and healthy city by creating high density walking oriented communities along rapid transit lines.

  • 38 Richard // Nov 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    @Lewis 35

    Guess you never went to Number 3 before the Canada Line. While not perfect, it is a lot better to walk along now and actually starting to feel urban in areas. Still needs more density to get a critical mass of people living there but they are working on that.

    Finally, compare it to the depressing empty sidewalks on the Barcelona LRT in this video.

    Obviously nothing magical about streetcars that creates great streets.

  • 39 gman // Nov 28, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Richard 38
    If I was going to post a video to show trams in operation rather than Barcelona I might show somewhere they are a success like Melbourne,this video will show you a huge variety of trams running in traffic.Unlike most cities Melbourne never dismantled their system in the fifties and sixties.

  • 40 rico // Nov 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    There are plenty of examples of successful trams and LRT. I do not dispute their success, the question is what is best for Broadway. I think just abou everyone will agree that a mixed traffic tram would be a bad fit for Broadway. The question then becomes what are the advantages and disadvantages of a good LRT verses Skytrain. To me the regional nature of the traffic on Broadway (50% of traffic from outside the corridor) combined with fact it runs perpendicular to so many major streets mean grade seperation (Skytrain) has an advantage over LRT. This is a corridor that needs rapid transit and the advantges of just continuing the Millenium line are obvious. Lets put pressure on the politicians and get it built.

  • 41 Lewis N. Villegas // Nov 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Your idea is less than ideal in these respects and many others. Why turn farms and industrial land when we can create a more vibrant and healthy city by creating high density walking oriented communities along rapid transit lines.


    Why indeed? I guess walking to work for these folks is just not on. If by ‘healthy city’ we mean a city where the streetwalls are taller than the streets are wide, then you have the answer to the question you are asking.

    At 1.5 chain or 99-feet wide (30 m) Broadway should not be built up higher than 33 feet (10 m). We can reach a 40-foot streetwall with setbacks from the property owners.

    Unlike No3 Road, Broadway is an east-west corridor with more severe implications for solar penetration.

    We must guard against geometries that the City was getting wrong as recently as their Mount Pleasant Broadway East workshop two weeks ago when they were prescribing different heights for the north and the south side of East Broadway (6 and 4 stories respectively).

    Sure, a higher mass on the north side won’t shadow the arterial… But it will turn the same kind of havoc on the neighbourhood on its north side.

    Arguably, the long-standing 3-storey walk-up neighbourhoods are the ones that needs greater protection against overbuilding.

    Should we not come clean and accept that as a collective, the city design professions are showing a surprising lack of capacity on detail issues? It is not just vision that is lacking, but a solid grasp of the fundamentals that define the common ground upon which great cities have been built, and continue to grow.

    On the other hand, 120 acres of land around a suburban railway station is barely a scrape on the face of either a light industrial zone, or the ALR. Given that I’m looking at the BC Electric ROW, station sites already had an urban past predating the ALR.

    I can’t see a substantial loss. Then again, I have a well-trained blind spot for Sacred Cows.

    But I can see a calming influence on property prices throughout the region following one strategy over the other. We ride the cho0-choo in part to spread the density, manage the markets and achive results in social functioning.

    Guess you never went to Number 3 before the Canada Line. While not perfect, it is a lot better to walk along now and actually starting to feel urban in areas. </i?


    Au contraire, I bought my first Billy bookcase at the original IKEA location on No. 3 just north of Alderbridge.

    We’ve built No 3 road twice in the last 20 years and as far as I can tell we never got the pedestrian scene—the urbanism—right either time.

    Heck, we never even tried!

    I walked camera in hand and surveyed with bewilderment and dismay what I presume was the ‘BRT’ implementation on No.3 that predated the Canada Line. That was impassable to pedestrians as well. I remember looking at the fence barricades that transit designers like to erect thinking ….

    … Huh?

    The Granville Street (Bus) Mall was another such example. All the money spent snazaing it up, only to have it choking with buses, one after the other. Then, presto! From 1975 to 2010 a total rebuild in 35 years! (Can’t really call the new version a “Great Street” either. Should have preserved the last one and adjusted it to a new level of service IMO).

    That’s why I agree with the warning you or someone else posted above that LRT on Broadway would fill the place with trains.

    We agree. Its a tunnel that’s needed!

    * * *

    Richard’s objections on the urbanism side of the issue only serve to highlight my point. We’ve fallen behind. We need to understand both ‘good’ urbanism, and ‘good’ transportation. There is no magic way to line up the ducks. It really doesn’t matter which one comes first.

    In the mid-1800s Greenwich Village built an Elevated Train, then tore it down in thirty-some years, built a subway, then built another one. Transit improved both times, urbanism suffered.

    Yet the place is still a joy to visit. It’s uniform build out with background buildings cut from the same brick fabric; its continuous development of a vernacular building type; the nature of its broken grid—some of it cut at the knees like at Sheridan Square to build the subway—some providing closed street end vistas at just the right place; the resilience of its people; its walkability; Jane Jacob’s observations about how folks keep an eye on the children even from the fourth floor flat window; the doors and the windows on the street; the five foot door yard with an iron grate and a mature tree growing it; the aspect ratio of its streets—some of it badly abused; all of it combines to make it an authentic place.

    Now that we are putting behind us the suburban phase of our urbanization we need to look to those places for lessons in buildable and joyous urbanism. Montreal, Greenwich Village, Beacon Hill, San Francisco’s Marina District and Washington Square neighbourhood… even Mount Pleasant up to about 1915. All these places were served by transit. Yet they spun an urban magic all their own.

  • 42 Glissando Remmy // Nov 28, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Thought of The Night

    “Same way physical activity beats sleeplessness, experience with trams beats … Vancouver’s Chief Engineer.”

    “Light rail doesn’t meet the people-moving needs of the corridor,” said Jerry Dobrovolny, Vancouver’s director of transportation.

    Based on his experience with LRTs around the world, he says that “A surface-level light-rail line, by contrast, would have “tremendous impact” to the area, particularly west of Arbutus Street, where the corridor narrows.”

    Stop the presses!
    The Oracle of City Hall have addressed the mortals with words of wisdom;
    “It’s the cut-and-cover without the cover” …

    I say, it’s clear as daylight, it’s a catastrophe of catastrophic proportions, we’d better get Climate Change and Global Warming instead of a LRT to UBC!

    Good thing though, that worthless peasants like … myself, are familiar with some of the best LRT’s in Europe, so I don’t have to take the Chief Engineer’s comment with a grain of salt, something I’m advising you to do though!

    To complement gman’s #39 Melbourne…

    From the LOL, terrible, hideous, uncivilized, not sky-train/ tube worthy… Prague!

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • 43 David // Nov 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Granville Mall was also rebuilt in 1988.

  • 44 David // Nov 28, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    “The Skytrain Lobby” is often accused of favouring grade separation so the trains don’t interfere with traffic. In reality, it’s quite the opposite

  • 45 David // Nov 28, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    The trains had the right of way. As if that matters.

  • 46 gmgw // Nov 29, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Some random notes:

    IIRC, the original proposal for at-grade light rail along the Broadway corridor would have required approximately 230 level crossings along the route from Boundary to UBC. Just a tad impractical. The decision to abandon that concept is one of the few examples of common sense being brought to the discussion of this issue.

    I find it bemusing to see people like tf (#17) and Richard (#34) arguing for an at-grade or elevated system purely because they don’t like riding in a “sterile, monotonous subway”, as tf pouts. Richard even argues for a Skytrain-style system through Pacific Spirit Park, so he can enjoy trhe view!? Right, sure; what a wonderful audiovisual enhancement that would be for one of the preeminent pieces of parkland in the Lower Mainland. I say to people like tf and Richard: Get over yourselves. Take a look at how disruptive Skytrain has been to residential neighbourhoods on the east side, whose residents were given no choice in the matter. Take a lesson from dozens of more mature cities. You want a view to look at when you’re heading out to UBC? Take the damn bus. You want to get there faster? Go underground (take a book if you can’t bear the “monotony”). Less of an imposition on the landscape, and a whole lot less disruptive to contiguous residential neighbourhoods.

    @canadianveggie#21: If Harry Bains actually said that transit along the Broadway corridor is a higher priority than the Massey Tunnel, he’s evidently oblivious to the daily massive rush-hour gridlock on either side of the tunnel; in the afternoon, southbound traffic is frequently backed up to Westminster Highway, while the arterials around the intersection of 99 and highway 17 can charitably be described as nightmarish. The levels of toxic fumes ascending to the heavens and suspended particulates deposited daily on neighbouring lands and residential areas can only be guessed at. Of course, God forbid that $2.8 billion be spent on developing a traffic-reducing, commuter rail system (or whatever) to Delta and points south while poor suffering UBC students are forced to stand while riding the B-Line. My heart goes out to them. Still, for a change they should try standing in the aisle of the #351 on a snowy day as it slips and slides its way to White Rock at freeway speeds, while praying there are no sudden stops.

    @Sean Nelson #31: The crosstown transit route on 25th is hardly “brand new”. It’s been in place for about 15 years– unless it’s recently been enhanced in some way of which I’m unaware.

    @Richard (again), #38: I’m in full agreement with Lewis V. in his pejorative comments about #3 Road. Along with a few other extreme examples like central Langley or the area around Coquitlam Centre, I can think of few streetscapes in the Lower Mainland that have been so completely given over to the automobile. Walking # 3 north of Westminster Highway is one of the most unpleasant pedestrian experiences I know of, not only because it’s horrendously ugly (and the elevated Canada Line, with its trains constantly whining past overhead, has only made it noisier and uglier), but also because, thanks to the car-scaled developments everywhere, everything’s so ridiculously far apart and/or set back from the actual boulevard. It’s not quite on a par with strolling along the Gardiner Expressway, but it comes close.

  • 47 Richard // Nov 29, 2012 at 12:18 am

    @Lewis N. Villegas

    Well, we agree on somethings I think.

    The neighbourhoods that consist of three story walkups do need protecting. They are dense enough to support walkable neighbourhoods.

    However, higher densities one or two blocks away from rapid transit stations are worth considering in even in those neighbourhoods. There does need to be some turn over as many of these are approaching or over there design live. A slow pace of change would be appropriate. Along Broadway, higher densities one or two blocks from rapid transit would be the best option. This would help preserve the one and two story buildings in between the major streets that give the commercial streets their vitality. It would be better than seeing a walk of faceless four story buildings lining streets like Broadway.

    A few towers near rapid transit gives the density needed to support walking oriented vibrant streets while preserving much of the affordable housing and commercial spaces.

    There are many ways of creating great urban spaces. One key is having lots of people around as they are the main interest and what creates vibrancy. Mass transit and high densities are two ways to insure lots of people on streets.Without people, the design of the space doesn’t matter at all. With lots of people, design makes the difference between a good space and a great space.

    In some cases, like Robson Street, all we have to do is get out of the way, remove the obstacles that litter the sidewalks and let pedestrians have free run of the entire street.

  • 48 Richard // Nov 29, 2012 at 12:21 am

    @gmgw 45

    My apologies if I was not clear. I fully support the subway and grade separated transit. My point is that an elevated section would be great in the park and better in many respects than at grade. I’d have no problem if it was a tunnel though.

  • 49 Richard // Nov 29, 2012 at 12:24 am


    It was Condon that chose to highlight the Barcelona LRT. He should cherry pick better next time.

  • 50 A Dave // Nov 29, 2012 at 1:57 am

    If a grade-separated system is required to safely navigate the west side, then inevitably somewhere along the line some silly bugger like me must bring up the painfully obvious fact that Vancouver already has a light rail Right Of Way on the Artbutus corridor, and LRT could be up and running on it within two years.

    That’s at least a decade sooner and about 1/5 to 1/8 the cost of tunnelling a Broadway Skytrain.

    The Arbutus Corridor could easily add a spur along 41st or 49th to UBC as Roger suggested, and this line would also help connect a number of the original walkable urban villages and help spur growth there.

    We would also completely avoid several excruciating years of traffic disruption, construction insanity, and economic pain that the tunnelling would cause. Just imagine the CO2 gases and solid waste such a mega-project will produce!!

    A direct rail line from the main metropolitan core out to the largest university is surely a key planning objective for the region?

    Locally, it would be an improvement on Skytrain to Broadway and then 99er, or any of the Dunbar, Arbutus, McDonald etc. milk runs servicing the neighbourhoods between downtown and UBC.

    How much capacity would this add to the rest of the transit system, relieving the other routes, including the Canada Line feeders?

    Heck, UBC said they don’t care which form of rail it takes, just as long as something gets built there SOON.

    And this doesn’t mean a Broadway rapid transit can’t be built sometime in the future. The two routes would eventually complement each other well, especially after a decade or more of the LRT helping spur growth around stops on the west side.

    So, we can have 10-15 more years of crappy, overcrowded bus service, then endure 2-3 years of construction chaos, before finally paying, what? 5 billion+ for the privilege?

    Or, we could have a smaller, yet effective rail system up and running in two years for a fraction of the cost and none of the grief.

    To put it another way: I think it would be fiscally irresponsible, terrible planning, and just plain idiotic to consider ANY form of rail transit on the west side of Vancouver without first utilizing the existing Arbutus Right of Way we are so fortunate to already have.

    I see no reason why LRT along this corridor wouldn’t be a smashing success.

  • 51 Roger Kemble // Nov 29, 2012 at 3:16 am

    To put it another way: I think it would be fiscally irresponsible, terrible planning, and just plain idiotic to consider ANY form of rail transit on the west side of Vancouver without first utilizing the existing Arbutus Right of Way we are so fortunate to already have.

    And that says it all. Well said A Dave @ #49

    Some bloody fool planners built duplexes on the Arbutus route as it crosses Kits Point back around 1970+/-. (The 154 was displayed in Kits park for decades: it’s now at Round House).

    The FC trestle is easily replaced. Getting rid of those duplexes not so easy.

    Gman @ #39 Melbourne trams in action. Great vid! Thanqxz.

  • 52 rico // Nov 29, 2012 at 7:03 am

    A Dave, LRT on the Arbutus corridor with RRT on Broadway is combo 1 in the options study. While not my favourite it will be acceptable to me.
    Gmgw, the reason some people suggested an elevated structure through the park is reduced cost. So lets turn your comments around, who are you to ask that the costs get inflated just to preserve your view. Actually I doubt going elevated for such a short section would save much so subway the whole way is safe.
    I think all those people crying about skytrains horrible impact on No. 3 have terrible memories. Before skytrain it was the worlds worst stripmall shit hole. Still not great but the area has improved by orders of magnitude from what it was in 2000.

  • 53 Chris Keam // Nov 29, 2012 at 8:24 am

    “Richard even argues for a Skytrain-style system through Pacific Spirit Park, so he can enjoy trhe view!? Right, sure; what a wonderful audiovisual enhancement that would be for one of the preeminent pieces of parkland in the Lower Mainland.”

    Skytrain isn’t that loud. I live within view of the Expo Line and it’s pretty much noiseless from a short distance away. As for the view, once you are in the trails, it woud be invisible unless you were taller than the trees and I don’t think the good people of Puget Drive will fall to pieces if a train sullies their bazillion dollar views every few minutes.

    Geez, hasn’t anyone ever taken a trip on Skytrain on a rainy day to entertain a toddler? Cheapest kid-friendly entertainment in town to zoom out to Gateway and back, over bridge, through tunnel and getting a chance to see the city from a new perspective. Add in a trip to the Beaty or MOA (if UBC had an elevated subway and you got yourself some family fun right there, and a transit system people will actually use.

  • 54 Roger Kemble // Nov 29, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Before skytrain it was the worlds worst stripmall shit hole.Rico @ #51 . . . still is!

    Oh and BTW some a-hole also built a Starbucks over the Arbutus line at the entrance to GI!

  • 55 Sean Nelson // Nov 29, 2012 at 9:17 am

    @gmgw # 45: “Richard even argues for a Skytrain-style system through Pacific Spirit Park, so he can enjoy trhe view!? Right, sure; what a wonderful audiovisual enhancement that would be for one of the preeminent pieces of parkland in the Lower Mainland.”

    The number of people who would enjoy the view from an elevated Skytrain line going through that nice parkland would far, far higher than the number of people on the ground.

    People complaining about the impact of the guideways never account for the benefits to the transit user. An elevated line is a far better transit experience than a buried tunnel. I think a little balance needs to be brought into the discussion.

  • 56 Roger Kemble // Nov 29, 2012 at 9:33 am

    . . . a little balance needs to be brought into the discussion.

    Sean @ # 54 Yes, a more than a little bit . . .

    Eventually all this shiny trinket nonsense will die down and we’ll be gossiping about some other silly notion.

    I don’t mind contributing to the gossip so long as it doesn’t go elevated tracks in thu park! That is just stupid.

    After reading all this nonsense I’m back to my original concept, of semi-autonomous urban villages that don’t need any unaffordable pie-in-the-sky . . . check this message heading!

  • 57 gman // Nov 29, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Richard I think its you that is cherry picking not Condon. Of all the video available you showed the loudest most desolate stretch you could find.It in no way was a fair representation of the versatility and popularity of trams all over the world.All Im doing is adding some balance to show they can run in traffic and its not some terrible screaming bullet train wreaking havoc on our streets.And maybe try and coax some of the mole people back into the sunshine and expose them to all the wonderful shops and restaurants along the route. Even on broadway all the big intersections have right and left turning lanes and a tram running in the outside lane would have little effect on traffic flow as drivers adjust their trips and more people ride and you don’t even have to give up on street parking.It might not get you there at buzz lightyear speed but then maybe the students who run out the door with their jacket half on shoes untied and a piece of toast hanging out of their mouth could get up ten minutes early. After all I don’t think the entire rest of the world could be so wrong.

  • 58 Mira // Nov 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Thanks gman#39 #56 and Glissy #42 for the link to the incredible quiet and sometimes ballet beautiful tram rides. Who knew it would be so enjoyable to watch!
    I think your case is made. Only people driven by a different agenda would not to see the LRT advantage in terms of cost, reliability…
    Melbourne and Prague… my favorite cities I never visited :-( , maybe one day! Thanks guys.

  • 59 Rico // Nov 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Trams and LRT are popular and successful around the world….So are Metros. Hopefully no one is arguing that Trams and LRTs are not successful (or that Metros are not successful), the question is what is the best technology (and routes) for the goals that Vancouver and BC have. I am pretty sure everyone will agree that Trams are not appropriate for Broadway (unless you want to spend a billion plus for the same thing we have now), the question is what would a good quality LRT on Broadway look like and how would it compare to Skytrain in a tunnel. To me looking at the planning documents Skytrain has an edge.
    Re: Cherry picking if you look at the list of LRT systems used by Patrick Cordon the only conclussion you could reach is that he cherry picked his comparisons to support his position….he could only come up with one recent North American LRT project for his list but still did not include something like Toronto’s St. Clair? Give me a break (that said the general premise could use a second look, the LRT cost does seem high but clearly we can’t use his numbers for comparison…maybe someone should look for North American LRT projects that are at grade street running full LRT projects since say 2000, including all engineering/utility/vehicle costs of course.

  • 60 Lewis N. Villegas // Nov 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Nice to see the Bulabloggers back in form in time for the Season. I honestly think we could sell tickets, have Madama Bula MC, and give the proceeds to the food bank, a housing non-profit or both.

    Richard, I think we agree on just about everything except the ‘towers’ bit. Look, the first towers were built on Younge Street after the subway went in. Did they add density? Sure. Did they bump up the overall density in the city? Not a chance. Did they create walkable neighbourhoods? No. Those depend on the 19th century building tradition in Toronto. Did they make a few people a lot of money? Duh.

    On surface rail or underground for Broadway… It ALL depends on what the ridership is going to be. If you agree with Richard and I that it is going to be maxed to capacity, subway is the way to go. No disruptions to underground tunnelling, though I’d love to be on the job figuring out how to deal with existing and new the underground servicing. Building great cities is messy work.

    Is it regional? My guess is ‘yes’. Without sketching on a map, my impression is that a subway from Commercial to Arbutus would connect the principal north-south trunks: Skytrain & Canada Line. It would also set up the expectation for the third one, Arbutus.

    Will we get Arbutus? It may depend on how we’re going out to the Valley. I’ve always seen the Arbutus line crossing Richmond to join the BC Electric ROW in Surrey. A primary advantage over the historic route through New Westminster—I must say—is avoiding the Skytrain technology.

    On the streetcar issue that Glissy represents so well in the linked video (note that the Mercedes Benz gets jittery as its wheels ride the rails). That is a super example of a street two lanes wide (40 feet max; possibly as little as 33-feet) with arcades on either side. You sense the trams are smooth and silent, loading and off loading just like the Olympic line did in False Creek (Roger, that Starbucks can be gone in a New York minute). Cars run in the tram tracks, but it is only one line of cars in each direction.

    That is not Broadway today, though I sense that Glissy may well be suggesting that it COULD be Broadway post-implementation. And he may be right. I’m reading Roman Castrum all over that site, and that geometry is a whole lot different from CPR platting.

    From the earliest times of CPR platting 9th Avenue (Broadway) was seen as the ‘crosstown link’ albeit on the wrong side of False Creek (i.e. far south of the CBD). And that’s how it still functions in my mind’s eye: as the north intersector for trips arriving on the north-south lines. The south intersector would be the Arbutus Line as it turns to go to the valley.

    Finally, transit demand will remain strong as long as transit functions to level the economics of urbanism, and the choo-choo is a ride to lower land values but not a lesser standard of living. We live in an area that tested that concept at the turn of the century. Kitsilano was made by cutting a double line of service into virgin forest, then platting it with cottage lots. Scale has changed; principle remains more or less the same.

  • 61 MB // Nov 29, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Now that we’re posting videos on trams, here’s one from a large and growing selection:

    Deaths and injuries at level crossings are surface LRT’s dirty little secret. Calgary’s C-Train killed two dozen people and injured over 100 at surface crossings during the 90s, and these numbers have surely tripled or quadrupled during its 30-year history.

    It is not a little macabre that Mr. Rail for the Valley and his tiny cadre of supporters would defend this unacceptable and preventable form of tragedy by, on more than one occasion, callously tossing in SkyTrain’s suicides and maintenance accidents by way of comparison.

    SkyTrain has no level crossings and therefore zero fatality stats from this file.

    Broadway has 38 level crossings between main and Alma, and the huge majority of them are signalized, a sign that the cross traffic in all forms for its entire length is very intense.

    Ignoring for a minute the utter waste of public money of merely replacing the B-Line and bus service on Broadway with trams, there remains an as-yet accounted for safety risk.

    Any rapid transit project should have risk management and best management practices at its heart from the very beginning, from initial planning, through construction and operation.

    The tragic stats above are one of the strongest reasons I do not support surface rail of any kind on Broadway, a corridor I have lived within and used for 32 years and know well.

    Road allowances (and rail corridors) with greater width and fewer crossings are much better suited for both surface fast regional light rail and slow mo trams, and I do agree the Arbutus corridor can offer a viable tram service of some kind, as would 41st Ave.

    But I’ll never agree that light rail could ever move 300,000 people a day past Starbucks at Granville Island (Anderson Rd x 2nd Ave) in future as an alternative as an alternative to a high-capacity subway on Broadway.

    The B-Line and other bus routes move 140,000-160,000 people every 24 hours today (depending on the source). 70,000-80,000 of these riders are from outside of Vancouver. These numbers are from today’s Vancouver Sun. (No link provided due to a paywall).

    Broadway’s existing transit stats and context offer one of the largest demands in North America that has yet to be adequately met. Anyone who has spent four years commuting by bus to UBC on this corridor knows that a subway is 40 years overdue.

    Posting videos of Melbourne and Barcelona trams provides absolutely no analysis of Broadway’s characteristics and does little to address the real circumstances on the ground in Vancouver.

    Lewis, the evidence in Calgary points to a perverse relationship between C-Train and sprawling suburbs with all their accompanying issues, like car dependency. Calgary spends more than any other city on roads on a per capita basis, despite three decades of light rail.

    One cannot promote transit without promoting appropriate planning measures in equal proportion. But there, unlike here, the land economics lead them to build low-density subdivisions to the horizon because they are not restricted by provicial legislation to protect scarce agricultural soils. Ergo grossly undervalued farmland at the city edges is gobbled by the square km at a go.

    In that light, I find your dismissal of BC’s ALR a little too casual. I suspect a more thorough analysis of BC’s extremely scarce food-growing soil resource would lead to a different conclusion regarding its presence.

    I believe it’s best to stick to light rail in the suburbs and promote better urbanism and more efficient use of their existing non-ALR lands.

  • 62 gman // Nov 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    MB,Jeez now we are all going to die,even in the video they said the train had a green light and the poor guy was so distracted talking on his cell he didn’t even hear the horn,he could of just as easily walked in front of a bus…sheesh.And then the 38 level crossings is brought up,well I call them traffic lights and trams stop for them just like the bus does now.And lets not forget that they would eliminate I don’t know how buses that are running there now.
    I think we should look at the positive aspects of both and weigh the results against cost,livability and cost of expansion. Maybe UBC should look at more onsite student accommodations while we are at it also.

  • 63 MB // Nov 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    @ A Dave 49

    Your arguments are painfully circular. Let’s regurgitate some of the counterarguments from previous posts once again.

     The Arbutus corridor does indeed present itself as a ready-and-waiting light rail route, but only to a point, in my opinion. Any transit planner worth her salt would conclude very quickly that light rail on Arbutus is not a viable substitute for a high-capacity subway directly to UBC on Broadway due to its geographical orientation, transfer penalties at any proposed E-W spur line, frequency limitations (therein capacity limitations), potential to be delayed by traffic and accidents at crossings (even with signal priority), and higher per trip operating costs. An Arbutus tram, however, would make a nice spur line from a Broadway subway main line and could connect to downtown and the North Arm and beyond. But a replacement? No way.

     You cite “excruciating years” of various kinds of pain resulting from tunnel construction. This assumes that the tunnels would be cut-and-cover, a form of construction that would be totally unacceptable to Vancouver decision makers and residents after the terrible experience on Cambie. Bored tunnels would not be noticeable from the surface except at the portals, and they would be set just below the utilities and therein avoid disrupting them. Covering the station excavations with engineered trusses and steel plate “roofs” would help minimize the construction “pain” far, far better than the massive disruption building surface light rail would incur, for that requires relocating underground services in the entire route, which would jack the cost big time. You do not build a railway over parallel underground utilities. And swinging the track bed to & fro to avoid being over utilities would be just plain stupid. Please note that every arterial not only moves traffic, but also contains major underground trunk lines. Just ‘cause you can’t see ‘em doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

     Light rail track beds and the metal, glass and plastics in the rolling stock and electrical systems are not emission-free. Many of these materials are sourced from China where coal-fired kilns and power plants make them with cheap labour and low environmental standards. Concrete formulations can be designed for a net reduction in emissions of up to 40%, and can be made locally therein reducing emissions from long supply chains (e.g. aggregates) significantly. Concrete and aggregates can also contain pretty high volumes of recycled material too. Aluminum can be specifically sourced from Alcan/Rio Tinto at Kitimat where low-emission hydro electricity is the primary energy source during smelting. Further, the issue of emissions from the use of concrete in subway tunnels is a red herring when you account for the net reduction of 150 emission-free years of operation and the displacement of hundreds of millions of car trips during that time. Emissions is a weak argument considering that a subway, if properly designed and engineered, will be operational well into the next century. I would also suggest that the per rider emissions of a subway would be lower than that for light rail over the asset lifespan simply because a subway can move a lot more people with greater frequency.

     Regarding your comment that it would be “fiscally irresponsible, [a form of] terrible planning and just plain idiotic to consider ANY form of rail transit on the west side . . . without first utilizing the Arbutus [corridor] . . .”, just have a quick glance at this density map by Erick Villagomez:

    Note that, while Arbutus remains a viable corridor for future consideration, the Broadway corridor is ideally placed clear across the widest part of the city with the second largest CBD in the province located the central section and serves a helluva lot more residents, employers, employees and the largest hospital campus in BC. The map doesn’t even show UBC, which is off the left side of the page and several km from Arbutus, but is one a relatively straight line from Broadway.

    Perhaps you could consider these points before posting again.

  • 64 gmgw // Nov 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    @Roger Kemble #53:
    As I understand it, the Starbucks at the entrance to Granville Island is built on a site leased from the City. If the City ever decides to actually do something with the Arbutus Line (we should all live so long), which runs through said site, their lease agreement with Starbucks stipulates that SB will remove their building.

  • 65 Frank Ducote // Nov 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Context matters here as everywhere else, folks. A surface rail option on Broadway would add maybe 10% more capacity at best over buses and create untold havoc for other traffic and street purposes and uses in the meanwhile.

    For example, stripping all curb parking in Kitsilano and Point Grey shopping areas where the ROW narrows from 100′ to 86′ and 80′ would not be very popular, as would probable tree removal and sidewalk narrowing. Future access to below-grade utilities would also be serioulsy compromised. The tight turns on Alma from Broadway to W. 10th would be a significant challenge as well.

    However, given its own particular context, perhaps surface rail would work well in parts ofa Surrey and the Fraser Valley, where settlement patterns are different (less built-up), there is an existing rail ROW available, and numerous grade-separated crossings can likely be avoided. And no reduction in the very important ALR would be required. (I can’t believe someone suggested that.)

  • 66 MB // Nov 29, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    @ gman, the accident was totally preventable.

    To you that means the guy should have been paying attention, and we just ignore the close proximity of a train which is unlike any other vehicle on the “road.”

    To me I agree that he should’ve been looking, but that’s human nature, and human nature must be accounted for in the design of transit systems and the context in which they are placed.

    This accident and all the others in downtown Calgary would have been impossible if the damned system wasn’t designed so cheaply from Day One and placed in a subway under the Stephens Ave mall, as they have been talking about for decades.

    Instead they put their public investments into building a 12-lane sunken freeway and several hundred km of oh-so-beautiful concrete overpasses and sound attenuation walls along their vast freeway system.

    I know firsthand how large the payments are to families of people killed by Calgary’s C-Train at crossings. I also know second hand that there is a very high turnover of train drivers in Calgary because of the stress of dealing with these accidents.

    It doesn’t have to be so.

  • 67 MB // Nov 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    This accident and all the others related to C-Train in downtown Calgary would have been impossible if the damned system wasn’t designed so cheaply from Day One and was instead placed in a subway under the Stephens Ave mall, . . .

  • 68 Glissando Remmy // Nov 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Thought of The Day
    TAKE 1

    “No need to bring Global Warming Alarmist Techniques into Bus/ Trolleybus/ Tram/ Sky-train/ Tragic Vehicular Traffic discussion… in general. I think.”

    MB #ALL


    … Bus.

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • 69 Glissando Remmy // Nov 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Thought of The Day
    TAKE 2

    “No need to bring Global Warming Alarmist Techniques into Bus/ Trolleybus/ Tram/ Sky-train/ Tragic Vehicular Traffic discussion… in general. I think.”

    MB #ALL


    … Helicopter.
    Beat that, MB…

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • 70 Richard // Nov 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    It should be blatantly obvious by now that a transportation system based on high speed heavy vehicles (trains, cars, trucks) on city streets where there are lots of pedestrians is just a really bad idea both from a safety and a transportation point of view. We have known this for decades. There was huge resistance to allowing automobiles on streets. Subways were built for this reason long before the automobile was in common use.

    One hundred years ago, people predicted that we would have solved this problem by placing all high-speed traffic, rail and motor vehicle, underground or at least elevated in cities.

    People walking, in cars and on bikes make mistakes and break the “rules”. Regardless of who makes the mistake, the mistake should not result in serious injury or a fatality. As we should know by now, these rules do not ensure safety. Actually, their main purpose is facilitate high speeds and volumes to assign blame when the inevitable collisions do occur.

    The way to do that is limit the speed of motor vehicles to 30kph or less.

    Trains, due to their much greater wait and longer stopping distances should likely even travel slower, probably around 20kph. This, however, increases operating costs, reduces ridership and increases the number of expensive trains needed for a given level of ridership.

    There is probably no transportation value to higher speeds anyway as collisions reduce the reliability of the service and are expensive. Measures to decrease collisions by restricting crossings increase pedestrian, cyclist and potentially bus travel times so over all, this is not a mobility improvement.

    So, in evaluating options for Broadway, any surface option should take this into account.

    For underground, options should include measures to reduce suicides including screen doors or lowering train speeds in the stations. Fortunately, our platforms are short so lowering speeds won’t impact travel times that much. The screen doors on the platforms probably would add a few tens of millions to the project cost, a small percentage of the total budget. This would be worth it for the safety and reliability benefits.

    Again, this should be included in the evaluation of the Broadway options.

  • 71 Bill Lee // Nov 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    The real solution is to throw UBC out of the city out to Chilliwack-Agassis where they can start right with modern buildings and residences rather than jury-rigged ancient bricks. See UBC-O or UNBC.

    Meanwhile, in The Big Smoke…
    ” A new subway line in downtown Toronto is being prioritized, with a goal of having it running within 15 years….
    “Metrolinx head Bruce McCuaig said Thursday that the so-called Downtown Relief Line is so important to help reduce congestion that they are moving up their target by a decade.

    “For planning purposes the line has been estimated at 13 kilometres and to cost approximately $7.4-billion. This is part of the $34-billion overall transit project called The Big Move.Thursday’s ambitious update on the four-year-old Big Move also includes extending the Yonge subway line north to Richmond Hill, at an estimated cost of $3.4-billion.”
    [ more ]

  • 72 MB // Nov 29, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    @ Glissando,

    A pretty solid attempt at a diversion. And you just couldn’t help yourself with the global warming dig, could you? What, you want this one to pass 300 and collect your 200 carbon credits?

    Buses are designed exclusively for roads. Trains are not well suited there, except under special design considerations.

  • 73 Ned // Nov 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    MB #71 LOL, Bus-ted! :-)
    You have to admit, Glissy is subtle.

  • 74 Voony // Nov 29, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Absolutely right MB:

    our platforms are short so lowering speeds won’t impact travel times that much. The screen doors on the platforms probably would add a few tens of millions to the project cost, a small percentage of the total budget. This would be worth it for the safety and reliability benefits.”

    On skytrain, our stations station are not has much shorter has the Paris subway, (80 m vs 90m), and platorm screen improve the speed (train enter station at full speed)…

    Wort to had the psychological trauma of a full platform load watching someone running under the train (We avoid the the trauma on a train driver, which can be absolutely tremendous – typically it sign the end of his driving career in most of the time – and that is one reason why Toronto is considering platform screen too)

    Installing fare gate instead of platform screen is just showing where our priority are… I just feel very sorry for that.

  • 75 guest // Nov 30, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Video of the Seattle LRT – the MLK Way median section starts at about 2 minutes in. The street width looks comparable to Braadway (just 2 narrow lanes each way outside the tracks) – the area just isn’t built-up yet with buildings.

    Los Angeles Expo Line LRT – probably in a more built-up environment than a lot of other LRT projects in North America:

  • 76 A Dave // Nov 30, 2012 at 1:11 am

    “Perhaps you could consider these points before posting again.”

    MB, it was out of consideration of the safety concerns you so often cite, and Richard’s list of ultra-expensive grade separated LRT in other cities, that I brought up the obvious option of LRT on Arbutus, where both of these legitimate concerns are rendered pretty much moot.

    Other cities should be so lucky to have a ROW like this ready and waiting to be utilized.

    “light rail on Arbutus is not a viable substitute for a high-capacity subway directly to UBC on Broadway”

    This is the only claim you made worth addressing, but I said quite clearly that the Arbutus line would not preclude Broadway Skytrain some time in the future, and in fact would “complement” it well, if it ever does get built.

    In the meantime, the Arbutus LRT would provide immediate, cost-effective relief to what is surely becoming the joke of North American transportation systems, in the second most traffic-congested city on the continent.

    In fact, by the time the Broadway Skytrain does get built, Vancouver will probably already have outgrown it (like the Canada Line), and need a second East-West train line anyway.

    That’s another reason why it would be idiotic not to build the Arbutus line NOW.

    Getting passed by a bus several times a week on your way to work because it is too full really, really sucks, especially in winter.

    The prospect of having to do it for 15 more years is totally unacceptable. Period.

    Only someone who doesn’t actually commute daily on our pathetic transit system would have the luxury and stubbornness to dismiss other viable options so easily.

    We need relief now. We have a ROW. It would be safe, affordable, and add enough capacity to relieve the overtaxed bus routes for the next decade or two.

    That, to me, is the perfect definition of a no-brainer.

  • 77 Roger Kemble // Nov 30, 2012 at 4:39 am

    MB @ #’s 27, 61, 63, 66, 67, 72. Wow talk about prolix, loquacious always wanting to get your face in! AGW, burrowing, you name it!

    When I was a kid I saw an accident to end all accidents. I was standing at the end of a bomber command runway when they were talking off to do their usual thing to the innocent women and children asleep in their beds on the other side.

    Not relevant? Shit you don’t seem to care!

    Four engine Halifax bombers where streaming off. All of a sudden there was this green and white horrendous, atomic bomb like, plume as one of the them dove in: the pilot must have misjudged, or maybe it hit a crow.

    Anyway that was the end of probably eight or ten young Canadians that I will never forget: they weren’t much older than me.

    My point is, accidents happen no matter what the circumstances.

    You MB obviously have an indulgent boss who turns a blind eye to your skiving on the job.

    You just cannot let go: why, if you have a mind you can find as many gory subway accidents as you find in Calgary: but hey that would’nt put you king of the pile would it! You cannot abide not being on top of every one can you Moronic Blowviator!

    If your boss cannot see you milking his time he must be as moronic as you are!

    Don’t mind me calling you Moronic Blowviator because that is certainly what you are.

    There are so many advantages to street level tram cars, like the convenience of stepping on and off at street level, not having to burrow into the dank and dark at limited stops (Canada Line has four lousy stops on the Cambie corridor between King Ed and the river), being able to see when a tram is coming your way. If the Cambie line were up top there’d be stops at every intersection: and if YVR’ers are in such a hurry they should have planned better.

    I’ll go out on a limb here and categorically state underground Broadway will never happen in your life time and if you want to know why wait for Mr. De Jong’s budget come February.

    There are umpteen techno-visual and tactile reasons why trams are more urban-convenient than ground hogs so I’m not going to go all Moronic Blowviator obsessive like you. Your boss seems to pay you to rummage, so rummage on to find out why I am right!

    If the Three trinketeers are obsessing there’s definitely something wrong. They know not squat about a healthy functioning city!

    Now go back to be you compulsive blowviating.

    gmgw @ #64 That would have bin mid ’90’s +/-. All the more reason not to vote NPA . . . ever!

  • 78 rico // Nov 30, 2012 at 6:26 am

    Rodger you had started behaving again. What happened?

  • 79 MB // Nov 30, 2012 at 8:39 am

    @ Roger, I’m enjoying our repartee on my couch with my wife’s laptop while off for a couple of days. Thanks for your friendly concern, constructive input and engaging personality.

    @ A Dave, we do agree on some major points re: trams on Arbutus and elsewhere, if not on Broadway. And I do agree that under the current set of politicians at two senior levels, not much will happen on any transit file.

  • 80 gman // Nov 30, 2012 at 9:28 am

    “Buses are designed exclusively for roads. Trains are not well suited there, except under special design considerations.”
    Special design considerations? You mean like the streets under every bloody trolly bus in the city MB? Because those trolly buses replaced the streetcars that ran on those very streets for years and allowed neighborhoods and communities to develop along the way.
    Its like you live in an alternate universe,after all the trams that have been shown running in traffic all over the world,you refuse to acknowledge any reality concerning them.Look at other cities MB and what you will find is the vast majority of them are going with trams as opposed to skytrains,like about 177 to 4.I guess those 177 cities didn’t read your scary death posts.

  • 81 Sean Nelson // Nov 30, 2012 at 9:47 am

    @A Dave #75: “In the meantime, the Arbutus LRT would provide immediate, cost-effective relief to what is surely becoming the joke of North American transportation systems…”

    Jarrett Walker is a very prominent transit planner who’s worked with transit agencies all over the world. He writes a very interesting blog on transit issues at Jarrett is a very well-spoken, reasoned professional who tries not to take sides in arguments, but he does work very hard to make sure people understand the impacts of the choices they’re advocating.

    You’ll find that Jarrett doesn’t think Vancouver’s transit system is a joke. He’s actually very impressed with Vancouver’s Skytrain network – see:

    His biggest criticism? The Millenium line stops short at Broadway and doesn’t “complete the network” by linking to the Canada Line at Cambie. He’s said that extending the line to Arbutus to service the dense central Broadway district seems reasonable – see:

  • 82 John // Nov 30, 2012 at 10:04 am

    If there are 140,000 trips a day to UBC perhaps it is time that students live closer to the campus. Densify Point Grey – is that not what the Vancouver planners are telling everyone else, live closer to work and except less.

  • 83 PendrellSt // Nov 30, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Light rail is no better than a bus. Go to San Francisco and sit in traffic on the Muni Metro waiting for the light to change and you’ll realize that dropping a billion or two on light rail is a complete waste of money. Build a subway or don’t bother. Paris has it right, metro all the way.

  • 84 Rico // Nov 30, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Gman, having personally riden on lots of trams in Europe I love them…but lets put some context in. All the tram systems I rode had a strong regional system in place as well (RER, S-Bahn,Tram-train, Metro). The trams were for local travel. Ask yourself given limited money where we are most lacking in Vancouver….It is not local travel where the trolleys do a pretty good job and could do better if they were given similar priorities (bus bulges, bus stop consolidation, exclusive lanes, signal priorities). The big gap in our service is REGIONAL travel. Broadway is the major REGIONAL transit route lacking in Vancouver. Don’t forget that if done right a subway down Broadway should include improvements to the pedestrian realm and surface bus travel…perfect time to put in bus bulges for the #9 if you have a local trip to make.

  • 85 MB // Nov 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    @ gman 79

    I’ll address the safety issue once again by copying below a comment I made over on Stephen Rees’s blog.

    I won’t respond to your personal invective.

    I’d like to emphasise again the issue of safety and it’s unfortunate imprint on surface rail transit, an issue that continues to be glossed over by tramophilia, especially in the Broadway debate.

    The trams illustrated in the Tyee accompanying Condon’s editorial would hold perhaps 300 people each during rush hours. You’ll have potentially hundreds of people disgorging or running to catch the train at stations placed in the middle of the road. Does someone have a station design for a narrow and busy corridor like Broadway that guides passengers away from walking in front of the trains and other road traffic?

    Just a practical concern. In my view light rail works best when you’ve got corridor with adquate width to build the safest stations, as well as to either grade separate pedestrians from all traffic or minimize the number of level crossings. Broadway is not Arbutus or King George.

    It bears reposting a link to Voony’s very helpful analysis comparing accident rates between modes of transport. This is an issue every transit project — and their supporters — should address head on.

  • 86 MB // Nov 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Thank you Rico for differentiating between regional travel and local access.

    This is very important because there is great confusion here when technology is placed over quality of service.

    It’s worth linking again to Jarrett Walker’s 2010 post on this topic.

  • 87 Richard // Nov 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm


    I would recommend more research. The issue is not the type of rail vehicle, it is the separation of the tracks so that the trains don’t conflict with and hit pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and other transit vehicles. Many LRT and even streetcar systems have signicant portions of their routes separated from other users. This separation included tunnels, elevated guideways, freeway medians and old railway right-of-ways. It is more expensive but it is much safer especially when trains are run at higher speeds.

    So, instead of comparing the number of tram or LRT systems to SkyTrain, compare kilometres of non-separated right-of-way to separated right-of-way. If you look at the number of people carried, separated rail beats non-separated rail in North America by at least 10 to 1. Probably 20 to 1 if you consider the portions of light rail systems that are separated.

    Look around North America and you will find many projects that are partially or totally separated.

  • 88 Lewis N. Villegas // Nov 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    In that light, I find your dismissal of BC’s ALR a little too casual. I suspect a more thorough analysis of BC’s extremely scarce food-growing soil resource would lead to a different conclusion regarding its presence.

    MB 61

    Sorry to pull the discussion back, but it is important to get this point illustrated properly.

    Join me on a trip to Pienza some hours outside of Rome. We’re there to see the effects of adjusting the sides of a renaissance square on our perception of space/place. But, we see something else in that medieval town: a hilltop town surrounded by agricultural land.

    The lesson is this: we can put a hard boundary on a small enclave of urban land surrounded by ALR. The plusses should far outweigh the minuses (loss of 120 acres of arable land).

  • 89 Lewis N. Villegas // Nov 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Context matters here as everywhere else, folks. A surface rail option on Broadway would add maybe 10% more capacity at best over buses and create untold havoc for other traffic and street purposes and uses in the meanwhile.

    For example, stripping all curb parking in Kitsilano and Point Grey shopping areas where the ROW narrows from 100′ to 86′ and 80′ would not be very popular, as would probable tree removal and sidewalk narrowing.

    FD 65

    Just skimming the surface here… You can double the capacity of the 99B-Line, I bet (but don’t really know ’cause it’s not my bailey wick) by giving the buses lane priority; ability to trip the light signals; and making sure every one was a double bus.

    As far as the ROW concerns, check Banhoffstrasse in Zurich (Jacobs put it in Great Streets). While my memory of that place was that it was closed to traffic—I could be wrong on that—the shopping was first rate, the place very animated, and the transit superb.

    Of course Zurich is not exactly a sprawling North American city. I would expect a population within walking distance many times greater than west side Broadway.

    But that begs the question: what are we trying to preserve? Broadway or the built form of the neighbourhoods adjacent?

  • 90 MB // Nov 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    @ Lewis:

    … we can put a hard boundary on a small enclave of urban land surrounded by ALR.

    That sounds very similar to Langely City. Except it’s not on a hill. Langley Township hall is, though, just to the east.

  • 91 Lewis N. Villegas // Nov 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    [Citing danger to pedestrians:] There was huge resistance to allowing automobiles on streets. Subways were built for this reason long before the automobile was in common use.

    Richard 70

    The streets of major cities in the early 19th century, and as far back as Rome in the time of Julius Ceasar, were jammed packed by horse drawn traffic. Rush hour meant a stinking mess of beasts of burden stationery doing their business on the street.

    London built the tube ahead of Paris by several decades. My understanding is that it was both the nature of the geology on the north side of the Thames, and the patchwork quilt of impenetrable private land holdings that drove transportation underground. In that era most of the greatest British engineers were trained in Paris.

    So, while the concern for human safety is paramount—be careful out there there’s falling helicopters—the reason for separation is to avoid the impenetrable mess on the ground.

    Using this principle to liberate the ground plane altogether—ostensibly for people’s enjoyments, not roaming gangs of thugs and thieves—was a dream of the early modernists. An impractical dream that has never built out in an accepted/acceptable way.

    Skytrain(s), the Georgia, Alaskan, Embarcadero viaducts all fail the same test. Work great out in the country, but bring blight to the city.

  • 92 MB // Nov 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I suggest, Lewis, that it would be an admirable goal to make Broadway into a Great Street of modern repute.

    However, to me that means putting pedestrians above all machines, including transit, on the surface and by promoting finely textured retail frontages.

    A subway with a presence only at stations every kilometre, an enhanced #9 trolley on a two-block stop rhythm, and an expanded pedestrian realm at sidewalk level would help bring tens of thousands more people into its 8 km length west of Main Street on a daily basis without their problematic cars.

    This can be accomplished by taking over the parking lanes to create new plazas at stations, and provide crosswalk and mid-block sidewalk bump outs while still allowing half the existing parking to be shared with expanded commercial loading.

    Broadway is long enough to afford varying densities and urbanism, but it would provide all the necessities of life without encumbering locals with the cost of car ownership (which translates into more affordable housing and disposable income).

    Just a thought.

  • 93 Lewis N. Villegas // Nov 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Hi MB

    No. Langley city is a thing all onto itself. It has a municipal boundary all its own, like City of North Van. But the footprint is many times greater.

    In all of the historic hill towns I’ve seen in Spain, France, Italy and Greece, you can walk from one end to the other in 5 – 10 minutes. They observe that walking distance rule in their urban form.

    The chore would be to keep the TODs at 120 ac and not allow them to sprawl. The fundamentals are solid, implementation would be tricky.

  • 94 Lewis N. Villegas // Nov 30, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    … make Broadway into a Great Street …

    I think Glissy’s video (#42) does just that. What’s left to figure out is how to get from here to there.

    (1) What is the capacity of that LRT we see slipping by just soooo elegantly.

    200,000? Can it do 300,000 without turning that great piece of urbanism into a hell hole of passing trains?

    (2) How many vehicles are driving by in that clip? I’d say something like 10,000 v/day total, in both directions. Maybe half that much. There just isn’t that many cars, and their fuel costs are what? 2x or 3x ours?

    We can carry 10,000 vpd per lane in one direction. The question on the “good” urbanism/”good” transit question is: Can we reduce vehicle numbers to 16,000 bpd or less on all our arterials, including Broadway?

    The practical way to do that is to provide four lanes, but use two of them off-peak for parking. That’s 40-feet given over to traffic.

    The reason is to safeguard the livability of the street. To make even busy neighbourhood streets safe and liveable. Pollution, noise, and danger crossing the street, all taken together.

    (4) Do we need to change the built form? In the first minute of the clip you see reflected on the side of the tram car an urban room opening to the street. It’s where the camera is positioned.

    The buildings in the densest part of the first 3 mins is 4.5 stories high. The ratio of streetwall to street width appears to be 1:1 in the tightest locations. Or 40 feet high and 40 feet wide.

    We could do all that on Broadway.

    However, the most likely scenario is that we would choose to set back buildings 10 feet to gain a 120-foot ROW on the 99-foot sections, and a 1 : 3 aspect ratio with 40-foot street walls.

    We would put the trains below grade, per Richard’s suggestion, and lower the traffic to 16000 per day per my suggestion.

    We can build 20 to 30-foot sidewalks either side; and give 40-feet to vehicular movement. That leaves 20 to 30 feet for a centre median.

    Result = Great Street.

  • 95 Richard // Nov 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm


    Underground transit also protects users from falling helicopters and small meteorites too I suspect.

    But seriously, lets at least have a fair logical debate here. Bringing falling helicopters in is rather rediculous. Motor vehicle and streetcars are a much more signicant risk to people than falling helicopters. The stats prove this. We have known this for decades. It is time we stop making these deadly mistakes.

    Nice cherry picking regarding older subway systems. New York City is built on a grid system so clearly it was not a “patchwork quilt of impenetrable private land holdings that drove transportation underground” there.

  • 96 Richard // Nov 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm


    I think you are misunderstanding the streetwall ratios. I think they are meant as minimums to gain a sense of enclosure and the comfort that implies in urban spaces not a maximum. If this is not, can you please provide the research that says otherwise.

  • 97 Lewis N. Villegas // Nov 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Hi Richard,

    As I have it, Manhattan—just one of the five that make up NYC—was building public transportation in the second half of the 19th century—like London—then ramping up to the 1920s—like Paris. But I think the Brits were first.

    I like to comment on the elevated train that went up in Greenwich Village, was demolished some 30 years later and replaced by two subways. One of them, cut-and-cover, is responsible for the huge width of 7th Avenue (if I memory serves), the destruction of Sheridan Square and the creation of a local landmark, Village (Cigars) Smoke Shop.

    On streetwall

    The classic source is Vitruvius (era of Augustus), with interpretations added by Alberti (1400s) and Palladio (1500s). Human sense perception, we surmize, has not changed appreciably since then. What worked in Rome, Pienza or Vicenza then, still works now. Question: How can we make use of it on Broadway?

    Pittsburgh , Pensilvania. Philip Johnson built the PPG (Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, company set. 1895). The buildings define squares built to classical proportions of 2 : 3. But the scale is super-human. These are the glass corporate towers with Tudor profiles. Huge chandeliers hang over the over-sized arcades surrounding the open spaces. None of it works. It’s just too big. Scale is out.

    So, proportion and scale together.

    The classical sources say that the best squares do not exceed proportions of 1 : 2 : 3. They base these calculations on the physiognomy of the human eye as well as sense experience. Think of a space where the building height is 1x, the width is 2x 3x. The experience of walking into such places is so memorable that I’ve likened it to walking into an “urban room” with the ceiling open to the sky.

    Nightfall and artificial lighting seem to heighten the effect. But there is a rub.

    The classical sources—and all that has been built following their prescriptions—set all three dimensions. What are we to do in the street? Especially those never ending streets like the ones of grid plans like Vancouver’s?

    There hasn’t been a good answer.

    On Broadway between the BowMac sign and the Lee Building sign (now removed)
    there is a perceptible dip in the street. This has the effect of closing the street end vista when we are walking in those blocks. Its 1.25 mile length is probably too long, were it not that it corresponds roughly to the distance from Place de la Concord to the Arc du Triomphe. In Paris, where the Champs Elysées also dips in the middle, the dip was created artificially by the hand of Napoleon I.

    In any case, lacking the ability to have an ‘urban room’ the experience of street space can be corrected by the practice of street tree planting at close centres. This was observed by Alan Jacobs in “Great Streets” and practiced by French engineers in the 17th century in the town of Versailles (stand at the gates to the palace and look away from the palace), and in the 19th century by Napoleon III-Haussmann in the other French capital, Paris.

    The Parisian Avenues, many of them easily surveyed from atop the Arc du Triomph are a special case. They are several times wider than the buildings are high (boulevard widths vary, building heights are remarkably consistent). But, most boulevards are planted with several rows of trees.

    The effect could not be better. The aspect ratio of 1 : 3 or greater allows for solar penetration in a city where it rains a lot (sound familiar?). The trees add a welcome respite in the summer months when the temperatures get too hot. Yet, violá when the winter comes, the leaves drop and solar penetration is enhanced. All year round, the lines of closely spaced trees correct for the overly great width of the street. Walking on the sidewalks the urban space is defined by the streetwall on one side and the wall of trees on the other. The former much more permeable to pedestrian movement than the latter.

    So, in a land where eating cake has had political connotations, we can have the cake and eat it too. Tree planting can be used to “correct” for the aspect ratio of the street. We can build the streets wide enough for northern climes, and modern traffic, yet retain the close-quarter experience of the narrow streets of Rome.

    Its not so much a ‘misreading’ of the ratios for human sense experience as a practical and somewhat complex application of them.

    We revel in the tight and narrow streets of the hill towns, but realize that it would be impractical to building them in a modern setting. However, as the French discovered, we can use closely planted rows of trees to “correct” for optimum human sense experience.

    We also get do a little bit of passive solar design at the same time. Oh, and there is one more thing… frees take in carbon oxides and make roots, wood and leaves from it, expelling oxygen as a by-product. And leaving people like me with a poser: Do these streets really smell sweeter?

  • 98 Voony // Nov 30, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Banhoffstrasse in Zurich

    Excellent example you bring on the table, Lewis,…
    Excellent example for Robson street (including Robson Square BTW).

    Many similarities, length|width of the street, retail streetscape…
    By the way 30km/h is the maximum speed for Transit on Banhoffstrasse in Zurich (safety issue as you could know)…here we are presented with a LRT on Broadway at 30km/h average speed…Hope you can fathom the difference.

    Average speed on Banhoffstrasse is more in the 10km/h range, and it is fine for the length of this street, which is at “destination arrival”…could it be fine on Broadway?

  • 99 Lewis N. Villegas // Nov 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    I tend to agree, Voony. I wasn’t in Zurich long enough to understand how Banhoffstrasse worked as part of a network of streets and transit. But it felt more like a central location shopping street like Robson, more than a heavy traffic artery like Broadway.

  • 100 David // Dec 1, 2012 at 3:21 am

    Helicopters? Ruled out in 1959 along with trams. Automatic operation of buses via electronics may ensure everyone has a seat.

  • 101 Roger Kemble // Dec 1, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Moronic Blowviator @ #88 . . . a presence only at stations every kilometer . . .” and as I understand an exchange from subway to surface at Arbutus. Do you realize what devastation that will bring to Broadway? Do you understand how sparsely spaced that subway access is? Do you understand how unnecessary . . . .

    I am not nearly as well travelled in Europe as Voony et al: indeed it is debt ridden, angry, about to erupt. Biblioteca Tobiac, despite the visible L’s shaped chunks, is 95% underground, well connected to the renowned Paris sewage system. Huh, I prefer the new world.

    Of course the real solution to out TX problems is incrementalization . . .

    . . . but that is way beyond the intellectual capacity of the Trinketeers . . . n’est pas?

    Sin embargo it will dawn eventually: hopefully not too late!

    I attended a Wood Works conference sponsored by the Canadian Wood Council at NCC yesterday: there were maybe 80+/- there.

    Lunch was served in front of E. J. Hughes’ magnificent mural depicting Capt. Malaspina at Nootka. Noticeable, of the 80 or so attendees, not one noticed the mural, NOT ONE. That explains why, as all of a sudden, latterly, as an after thought, street aesthetics has crept into this conversation, it will be long forgot when, and if, the drilling starts.

    We have a long way to go when it comes to urban aesthetics: why have I only read of it here today. I have bin pushing it for months and judging by my stats with huge audience (but very sparse Vancouver: professional jealousy run rampant!)

    An exchange at Arbutus (how many hectares to park awaiting buses) will change the place but for the better is . . . errrrrr . . . problematic: indeed I am very familiar with that intersection but . . .

    Since we are on about European cities, I prefer to cite La Ciudad, were the Chapultepec exchange is, wow, huge: what with turn around and clearance space etc. Of course Vancouver is not DF but proportionately the TXX will still be huge.

    Access every km? When you get old and withered Bloviator you may appreciate the folly of that metric!

    So far as UBC access is concerned, its vice-president for community relations has a more vivid take than all us miss-informed gossips combined.

  • 102 rico // Dec 1, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Rodger, Rodger, Rodger…After the subway gets built you can still take the #9 local. Won’t need to go underground and travel a damp and dark tunnel smelling of sewage and possibly having trolls and ogres living in it.

  • 103 Roger Kemble // Dec 1, 2012 at 7:12 am

    PS For area TXX Arbutus read area TXX UBC . . . a whopper!

    Biblioteca Tobiac = I>Biblioteca Tolbiac . . .

  • 104 Richard // Dec 1, 2012 at 11:00 am


    When I’m old and grey, I will appreciate not having to dodge surface LRT or having to hurry up and scurry along when the train is a comin.

    In Toronto, I saw a woman who was having trouble getting her walker over the tracks in the street. Would be scary if that train was a comin.

    In Sacramento a couple of weeks ago, a person was accidentally dumped out of a wheelchair onto the tracks by the person pushing them. One of them was killed.

    So for me when I’m old, I’d much rather have the train safely underground. There will be the 9 for short trips and electric wheelchairs are getting better all the time.

    Lets hope that three billion buys more than one elevator per station.

    Anyway, they are proposing the LRT only stops every one km anyway. Unless, of course, it has to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting someone.

  • 105 guest // Dec 1, 2012 at 11:18 am

    One of the purported problems with LRT on Broadway is that stops will be LRT-distanced apart – i.e. 1 km apart (it’s an LRT, not a streetcar – see CoV slideshow for distinction between the two).
    But the narrowing of the street (one lane each way for cars west of MacDonald) would make the running of a local No. 9 bus difficult (or at least a hinderance for other road users)

  • 106 Rico // Dec 1, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Good comment Guest, any idea what the plan to deal with that is?

  • 107 MB // Dec 1, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    @ Lewis

    Street aspect ratios while an important consideration are not the only metric. Architectural character, lighting, materials selection etcetera can make or break an outdoor room regardless of height to width ratios and sun penetration.

    I also believe that protection from the winter rain is imperative. When the sun is only 18 degrees off the horizon in winter and it’s pelting down one doesn’t worry about building shadows. Winter rain is one of the least mitigated design response here. Your classical geometries seem to be all located in Mediterranean climes. The Coast Salish long house and their orientation to a gravel beach (making a village of West Coast ancient classical aspect and geometrics) could be just as appropriate.

    While there may be some principles derived from Euro centric villages, there is an entire other world out there. I’d say there are guidelines and clues regarding urban design in history, but certainly no rules as hard and fast as the laws of physics.

  • 108 Frank Ducote // Dec 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    From the ever-helpful web, here is an apt definition of bloviate: “to discourse at length in a pompous or boastful manner.”

    I always enjoy adding to my vocabulary. Now knowing what this word means, I think most of us here can figure out who the real bloviater is!

    On a more serious note, can people not figure out how to disagree without name-calling and use of intimidation and bullying tactics?

  • 109 EastVancouverite // Dec 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I’ve lived in Toronto for the past year and find myself on St Clair Ave West with some regularity. This corridor was rebuilt to upgrade traditional streetcar service to a higher order mode that benefits from a dedicated right of way with in-street stations and a degree of signal priority. It is quite similar to the Spadina streetcar route, which also has a dedicated right of way, and primarily in-street stations. Translink’s mulitple LRT configurations for the UBC Line all bear a great deal of similarity to the St Clair West streetcar corridor, with the exception of much wider stop spacing.

    Based on my experience the St Clair streetcar route is significantly better than conventional streetcar service. It is noticeably quicker; gets held up at fewer intersections; provides more weather protection than an average streetcar stop; and provides a dramatic increase in safety for disembarking passengers since cars cannot zoom by its open doors. With all of that said, it is not even close to being in the same league as a subway.

    In no way, shape, or form is it a superior option for cross-town travel than the Bloor Danforth subway to the south. Despite numerous intersection closures, the St Clair streetcars still routinely get held up at larger intersections and the presence of these, plus the numerous stops, limits the amount of distance one can ravel in a given amount of time. Moreover, the in-street stations are open the elements and exceptionally narrow. This makes for an uncomfortable passenger experience during peak periods. Most platforms are little wider than the residential sidewalk one would find on a side street. Two people can stand abreast but no more. Furthermore, it takes quite a while to clear the station and many departing passengers miss the crosswalk cycle because of platform congestion and end up crossing during breaks in traffic.

    I think that St Clair-style rights of way are fantastic and are the best-practice for providing streetcar/tram service in-street. If a time comes when Vancouver’s trolleys are upgraded to rail, St Clair-style rights of way and stations are the way to go. However, for a main line of the regional rapid transit network, an in-street light rail system that resembles the St Clair route is not going to be comparable to what can be provided by a metro-style system like a tunnelled extension of SkyTrain to UBC.

    Ultimately I think what is being debated are competing visions of the future of Vancouver. I see it as necessary to connect the 2nd and 3rd largest destinations in Metro Vancouver to the regional rapid transit system. I see it is necessary to put these regionally-important centres of employment, education, services, and housing within reach of the most number of people via the shortest travel times.

    Professor Condon argued that ‘speed is obsolete’ in a well publicized dialogue with transit consultant Jarrett Walker of Human Transit. I respectfully disagree when the UBC Line is concerned. While there are laudable short, medium, and long-term land use benefits from constraining mobility, there are also severe penalties in the form of congestion, discomfort, and time investment for the hundreds of thousands of people who travel to Central Broadway and West Broadway, and UBC every day, to say nothing of those who depart from these locales to destinations throughout the City of Vancouver and the rest of the region. The Network Effect is powerful, and there will be tremendous benefits for the entire network to be gained by extending rapid transit to some of the region’s largest destinations along Broadway and ultimately at UBC.

  • 110 Terry m // Dec 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Roger KEmble
    If it wasn’t foryourbloviator reference, your comment would’ve really interesting!

  • 111 Silly Season // Dec 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Frank #104 and Terry #105. Hear, hear.

    Children, please…it’s Christmas…

    (or the seasonal holiday of your preference…)

  • 112 Richard // Dec 1, 2012 at 11:45 pm


    Well said.

    Here I’d settle for some decent rain protection, colour (and no, I don’t consider beige, dull green and grey colour) and high quality smooth walking surfaces (and no, exposed aggregate concrete is not a quality surface). How tall or short the buildings are is far less relevant.

  • 113 Roger Kemble // Dec 2, 2012 at 2:14 am

    I’d be very wary enlisting Lewis’s help Moronic Bloviator @ #103. Lewis, given his head will strut Nazi-Gauleiter like as if he were just off the Admiral Graf Spee (which, I believe secretly, he is)!

    He’ll turn Safeway into an all Krier-like Great Hypostyle Hall, Greekoid Cariatydes standing sentinel at the checkout. I’ve watched him do it.

    And we see the gullible, here, stretch their buttocks to keep in line. Their comments come steeped a morass of Vancouver’s coagulated fear: yunno “ganging up to whistle at the girls across the street (Pierre Berton). Wouldn’t know a pretty place if JCI Vanc put it on a ramp for the fashion mags!

    I’d stick to floggin’ real estate if I were you Bolvie!

    Go back to having tea with the ladies Frank @ #104. What the hell do you know sitting at your desk for eleven years, waiting for your pay cheque. Take that ring out of your nose!

    Good urban design is not about decreeing tram stops every 1km but rather placing them where they are needed: and applying that principle to every aspect of the urban environment.

    My comments ARE interesting Terry m @ #105. Listen up!

    Season’s greetings, all. QED

  • 114 rico // Dec 2, 2012 at 7:48 am

    I guess interesting is relative in general I only skim your comments to see if you said something so offensive it demands a reply. Technically your last comment did not quite cut it but I am a bit bored…by the way most mature transit cities have ‘local’ type services and ‘regional’ type services so if you in a rush or just on your regular commute you can take the Metro or RER etc. If it is abeautiful sunny day and you are afraid of ogres under ground you can take a local bus or tram. Since we already have a good local service #9 and most of the demand is for regional or fast service (compare the ridership of the 99 to the 9) it seems to a waste of resources to put a tram stop every 100m. That is why the options being studied are LRT type services and Skytrain/metro type services. I don’t think any reasonable people are proposing tram services on Broadway.

  • 115 Frank Ducote // Dec 2, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Roger – you are a truly sad and pathetic human being.

  • 116 Norman // Dec 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    No trams, please. They wouldn’t improve the current capacity problem, they operate at street level, interacting with traffic and worst of all, they require operators. I have no desire to ever again be at the mercy of unionized transit operators.

  • 117 MB // Dec 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I miss Urbanisimo. Now all we have Kemble ‘blo’ jobs.

    I’m not offended at the name calling … sticks and stones & all that. But it is amazing that some people have a phenomenal capacity to militate against their own life experience by walking square into a hole they dug themselves.

    Perhaps it’s time for a Zen moment.


  • 118 Roger Kemble // Dec 4, 2012 at 5:12 am

  • 119 ThinkOutsideABox // Dec 4, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Richard 29:

    That was true 50 years ago but times have changed. For young people cell phones and iPads are the shiny trinkets and status symbols. Many can’t be bothered with driving, it distracts from using the iPhone. The auto industry is so freaked out, the are designing cars that are basically giant iPhones with wheels.

    The Golden Ears Bridge is costing taxpayers $30 million a year as the usage is way below peojections. It is turning into the White Elephant Bridge. The Port Mann Bridge will likely be the same. Even American are driving less.

    I’ve seen this point made on various threads where urbanists seem to congregate on the web, that people are driving less kilometres. And based on this notion that their total distances are less, assume to loosely extrapolate to say other things such as there are less drivers or that it’s indicative of a trend.

    But then there’s this that puts the kibosh to all sorts of extrapolations:

    Cdn auto sales on road to near record year, with 1.6M sold in first 11 months

    …”A solid December is widely expected, and Canada has a chance at breaching the 1.7 million unit mark, potentially making 2012 one of the best-ever years for new vehicle sales in this country,” Dennis DesRosiers said in a report…

  • 120 keith♠ // Dec 4, 2012 at 10:28 am

    The way to pay for these new transit lines is to have separate fares.
    For example; 50,000 riders paying $2 per ride each way over the next 40 years would amount to $4Billion, more than enough for a new Broadway Line.

  • 121 Richard // Dec 4, 2012 at 12:50 pm


    Read it closely. It says “near record”. With increasing population, ever year should be a record year unless, of course, people are buying fewer cars.

    Anyway, car ownership does not mean people are using them a lot. The Netherlands has high car ownership rates but many just sit in the garage while people cycle for their everyday trips.

    The article is mostly auto industry hype. Something they are excellent at.

  • 122 ThinkOutsideABox // Dec 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Richard, you were trying to suggest that auto makers are fearful that younger people are opting to replace automobiles with iPhones. The point is that making groundless assumptions based on loose extrapolation is that it appears you are only kidding yourself, as it appears to this cyclist and auto driver.

    I’ve read other anecdotal claims like the millennials are opting not get their driver’s license. Right. So those near record auto sales are thanks in large part to Gen X+ migrants who won’t be driving.

    I also note it’s a CP article, and a story that is being covered by multiple media outlets.

  • 123 Richard // Dec 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm


    Please think about it. Near record means less than record which means fewer than record. Anyway it is spun, it still means less cars are being sold.

    And again, the population is increasing so the per capita sales are decreasing even more.

    As well, many people avoided buying vehicles over the last few years due to the recession. This is just likely a blip as people are buying now after delaying purchases for years.

    The auto industry is really scared because young people just don’t care that much about driving and cars as older people.

  • 124 spartikus // Dec 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Analyzing U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, a team from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute last November found that while 46% of 16-year-olds had a driver’s licence in 1983, that proportion dropped to just 31% in 2008. And it isn’t just a matter of tougher licensing requirements for teenagers. (Virtually all states have moved to graduated licensing and more expensive, privatized driver instruction.) The percentage of 20- to 24-year-olds with licences declined to 82% from 92%.–car-use-declining-in-north-america

  • 125 spartikus // Dec 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    And another (it’s probably the same survey)…

    A University of Michigan survey of 15 countries found that in areas where a lot of young people use the internet, fewer than normal have driving licences. A global survey of teen attitudes by TNS, a consultancy, found that young people increasingly view cars as appliances not aspirations, and say that social media give them the access to their world that would once have been associated with cars.

  • 126 ThinkOutsideABox // Dec 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Also from the economist article:

    And more people owning cars—rather than longer journeys—has been the prime driver of traffic growth in the past.

    Pssst, Spartikus a few posts back in the thread about the Arbutus development, you had posted that theatrical attendance was down. You quoted from a source who’s business and interest is renovating theatres to the new niche luxury seating/catering standard. And while they may have sourced their graph from the MPAA, they neglected to indicate that box office revenue was at an all time high.

    Off topic? The point is about being careful extrapolating to make conclusive statements. It seems to be lost here and it doesn’t help with credibility.

  • 127 gman // Dec 4, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    I see that two most livable cities reports just came out,one had Vienna as number one and the other had Melbourne as number one.What these two cities have in common are tram systems…….don’t these people understand the carnage these trams cause.LOL

  • 128 gman // Dec 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Vienna in the morning,its just crazy,or maybe not.

  • 129 Richard // Dec 4, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Vienna also has great subway and regional rail networks. I doubt that they would even consider a tram or surface rail for a major regional connection like the Broadway Line. Surface trams running at low speeds with lots of stops are fine for short local trips or accessing the Metro but they are not rapid transit.

  • 130 Richard // Dec 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Further to my last post, the average speed of the trams is 15.7kph as opposed to 32.4khp for the Metro.

  • 131 Richard // Dec 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    And the Metro gets almost three times the ridership with one third the distance compared to the tram network. That is around nine times the ridership per km. It is pretty clear that people like to use fast grade separated transit.

  • 132 gman // Dec 4, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Richard I wouldn’t call a 5 or 6 mile trip to UBC a long run.More cities are looking back to track sharing like Karlsruhe,there is a definite advantage to having a common track gauge that allows different styles of trams and trains to use the same tracks and that’s not possible with skytrains third rail.Modern trams are very capable of speeds equal to skytrain.I believe skytrains average speed is 45kph.But it is track specific and requires separation all the time.Trams are much more versatile for future extensions.

    Trams can also be equipped with a retractable shoe to pick up the third rail on already existing sky train lines and leave the elevated line to loop through neighborhoods avoiding huge congestion on platforms.

  • 133 Richard // Dec 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm


    You miss the entire point. It does not matter how fast the tram can go, it is how fast it can safely go in a given environment. On Broadway, with all the pedestrian crossings, that is not very fast at all.

    What extensions? Where would a tram go from UBC? Naniamo?

    Again you miss another critical point. It is a regional connection, not just a connection from Commercial to UBC. Many people will start in Burnaby, Port Moody or Coquitlam. That is a much longer trip. Faster more frequent SkyTrain and no transfer at Commercial could save many people up to half an hour everyday. That is a huge difference.

  • 134 spartikus // Dec 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Off topic? The point is about being careful extrapolating to make conclusive statements. It seems to be lost here and it doesn’t help with credibility.

    Said the person making conclusive statements.

    I’m sorry, should we ignore the trendline of the data of multiple years?

    Box office up. Great! How much money did the The Ridge make? Can you say? Do you think if there was a compelling business model for The Ridge, the developer wouldn’t be so lukewarm and/or there would proposals from third parties? Now, I could be mistaken in that. Are you aware of some? Conversely, perhaps you should send a note to White Hutchison of this opportunity, who not only renovate theatres, but add bowling alleys to them. Win-win!

    And there’s this…

    Cineplex doubled its profits in the third quarter as the movie exhibitor countered a decline in moviegoers with higher priced tickets and more sales at its concession stands.

    Cineplex multiplexes will survive. For awhile, at least.

    As for car ownership, you didn’t include the whole quote from The Economist, did you?

    Older people retaining their licences may swell the ranks of drivers for a while yet, but eventually young people postponing the use or purchase of cars could reduce them. The total number of people with cars may thus drop. And more people owning cars—rather than longer journeys—has been the prime driver of traffic growth in the past. If ownership stabilises or declines, traffic may do so too.

    So I’m not sure why you think you’ve got a “gotcha” here. Or is there some ulterior motive for both The Economist and the University of Michigan?

    Personally, I prefer to put more stock in trend-lines, rather than statistical fluctuations. And the trend-lines don’t point to a promising future for car or movie theatre companies.

  • 135 gman // Dec 4, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    No its you who is missing the point.Can you not see the logic in a more versatile system?Again,trams have the ability to run on any track unlike sky train.And no one said anything about Naniamo…jeez.The very simple concept is that a tram has the ability to leave the mainline and loop through neighborhoods making pickups at simple bus shelters in turn reducing pressure on the extremely expensive sky train stations. The extensions I speak of would be those loops through Burnaby,Coquitlam,New West, Richmond or even Langley or Abbotsford.So really we are talking about from commercial to UBC and that equates to about 9 minutes slower not a huge amount of time.Is that worth 2.8 billion that could be used to further enhance the system throughout the city and region in the future?Drivers will adjust to trams and change their route accordingly without much problem,so trams wouldn’t really slow traffic any more than a bus does.
    Richard I also understand how opposed to trams the bike lobby is because it threatens your ability to put bike lanes on streets,but what moves more people a seasonal bike lane or a tram? I think a tram on Hornby would have been much more successful at moving people than a bike lane.
    We have an opportunity to build on our mistake,sky train,and look at an affordable and more livable system.And try and utilize the rail system that has existed right under our noses and that would enhance our existing neighborhoods instead of enriching developers creating new ones.

  • 136 gman // Dec 4, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Roger Kemble 113,
    You got that right.

  • 137 Richard // Dec 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm


    Time to do some serious research.

    Trams by themselves do not create a great transit system. Look at any region of our size and you will find that it has regional rail, a metro (like SkyTrain), buses and perhaps trams. Trams are likely the least essential component. Buses can typically provide just as good or better service. As trams are used mostly for shorter trips, they tend to complete more with walking and cycling than driving. Not much point in getting people off their feet and bikes and onto trams.

    If we had a bunch of rail lines sitting around that were not being used, then train-tram might make sense. However, the mainlines are being used for movement of goods and using them for passenger service costs a lot of money.

  • 138 gmgw // Dec 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    @Richard, Spartikus, et. al:
    This discussion conjures up a vivid memory for me, one I’ve cited here before: That of a then-close friend, one of the wisest, most insightful people I’ve known, rather ruefully telling me back in 1975 (she’d just bought a secondhand car): “Most of us who are buying cars now realize that this will be the last car we buy”. It was one of those uncomfortable moments when you fancy you can see The End approaching in the distance.

    That was, as I say, in 1975; so long ago that a house that same friend bought the following year on a 33-foot lot in Kerrisdale for $65,000 was assessed several years ago at over $900,000. Sadly, I lost touch with her a long time ago, so I don’t know if she held true to her prediction. But I must say: The dinosaur certainly is taking a long time to die…

  • 139 gman // Dec 4, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Richard we already have enough sky train for a region our size,what we need is an affordable way to better the movement of people,I’m surprised you would advocate for more buses when all studies show that comparing a rapid bus system to trams although the original expense of trams is higher it off sets the costs of buses do too its longevity compared to buses. And after all we should be looking to the future.
    And we used to have a pretty efficient rail system it doesn’t take much research to look back at what was a good system that we threw literally under the bus.

  • 140 MB // Dec 4, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Before we swoon and caress the Arabesque curves of tramophilia let’s take a look at another much more mature city: London.

    The fairly recent extension to the Jubilee Line cost $5.6 billion (Can) and made it possible to move 213 million people a year over its 36 km length in 2011. That’s 585,000 boardings every day on average.

    RRT on Broadway is estimated to top 300,000 a day at half the cost namely because it’s connected to two other high capacity lines, and is about to be extended to Coquitlam.

    Now consider that the London Underground has 11 lines covering 400 km and records 1.7 billion boardings a year. Then you’ve got commuter rail like the 5 lines of the Overground and the $28 billion 118 km Crossrail project currently underway. Add in the Docklands Railway, the Heathrow Express and the many national railways that converge in London at the great rail stations and feed all of the above lines and you’ve got over 600 km of rail and 2 billion boardings a year.

    Greater London has 8.5 million people — 3.5 times Metro Vancouver — and few if any trams on their charming streets and relatively few freeways. Most of the rail is concentrated underground an in historic passenger rail corridors.

    Londoners wouldn’t dream of ripping up their historic roads and spend billions more merely replacing those other icons of efficient transport: the red double decker buses.

    The London public transport system is efficient enough that the Underground recoups 86 percent of its operating costs through the farebox. Moreover, the vehicle congestion charge paid for a major increase in bus service in central London.

    They are light years ahead of us. I’d bet Londoners reading this blog would wonder what all the fuss was about.

  • 141 gman // Dec 5, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Your comparison to London is just stupid and if you really look at London they are expanding their tram service .

    I swear MB if I said shite stinks you’d eat a handful just to try and prove me wrong.

  • 142 Richard // Dec 5, 2012 at 1:18 am


    OK, a whole six new cars plus a bit of double tracking, in a city of 12 million, that is a winning argument.

    Seriously, it should be pretty obvious that fast frequent grade separated rapid transit is going to encourage a lot more people to use transit. A tram that may or may not be as fast a bus and will likely not be as frequent (as trams carry more people, they don’t need to come as often) is not going to convince that many people to leave their cars at home.

    Believe it or not, not everyone is a tram fan. They just want fast frequent transportation.

    Indeed, this is what the numbers show from cities all around the world. The core of the system is grade separated transit supported by buses or trams for local trips and access. It really doesn’t seem to make much of a difference if it is trams or buses. You can find great transit cities with no or very few trams. There are also great transit cities with huge tram systems.

    Now many cities that already have great metro and regional rail systems are now starting to use trams. We will have to see how that works out. I suspect it will increase transit use somewhat but in a region like ours, without a great metro network and the only regional rail is the West Coast Express, trams should be seen as a substitute for either.

  • 143 gman // Dec 5, 2012 at 2:02 am

    You are a very thick person.

  • 144 gman // Dec 5, 2012 at 2:12 am

    My apologies I meant Richard.

  • 145 ThinkOutsideABox // Dec 5, 2012 at 3:15 am

    Thanks Spartikus for making my point again. During the period between 2005 and 2011, box office revenues have gone from 8.8 to 10.2 billion. The long term trend for revenue is pointing up. Movie theatres draw more people than all theme parks and major U.S. sports combined.

    Worldwide box office revenue between 2007 and 2011 has gone from 26.2 to 32.6 billion

    That other trend you’re clinging to is correct – in that same period, theatrical admissions in Canada/US have gone down from 1.38 to 1.28 billion.

    But you know something that major exhibitors and the hundreds of mom and pop shops who are shelling over hundreds of thousands of dollars per screen upgrading to digital projection don’t. Clearly they’re doing something wrong with the long term trend of revenue on the increase.

    Whether it applies to the circumstance of The Ridge or not, theatrical exhibitors are now in a position where they must upgrade to digital distribution and projection, or shut down if they don’t, with Fox ceasing to distribute prints in 2013 the other studios to follow.

    There, that’s more information than a single long term trend in isolation hawked by a company in the business of renovating theatres from which came forth a plethora of spurious rationale. Remind me not to take your investment advice.

  • 146 Roger Kemble // Dec 5, 2012 at 3:40 am

    Ah Bloviator @ #134 at it again.

    I lived in London but that was a long time ago.

    We were passing thru a couple of years ago.

    We minded-the-gap from Gatwick to Victoria but was fair flummoxed by the break down of the line to Kings Cross. We waited hours for a taxi. Ultimately we boarded BR at KC headed for Edinburgh but we were happy to alight at York.

    At York my erstwhile colleague BR passengers headed for points north and Edinburg had to debark because the lines were out. They were bussed, I understand, the rest of the way.

    Blame it on your great aunt Maggie T. Blovie.

    So please let us “. . . caress the Arabesque curves of tramophilia” in potty little V and rejoice that the delightful Madame B doesn’t kick us off her blog for our constant inanities.

  • 147 Richard // Dec 5, 2012 at 4:04 am


    Again, I recommend looking at the facts and numbers with an open mind instead of just anecdotes. I used to believe all the hype about tram but the reality is that if you look at the ridership in cities around the world, it is hard to make the case that they can compete with grade separated transit.

  • 148 rico // Dec 5, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Gman @ 129. You have some seriously pie in the sky ideas about how the simple geometry of a tram line could work unless you are deliberately misleading. Unless you have a single destination at the end of the line all those ‘loops’ you propose won’t be loops they will be transfers. I assume what you are actually advocating for is something like a tramtrain. Tramtrain is a good system but we are unfortunate in Vancouver that we don’t have the geometry to pull it off. We don’t have the available mainline, we don’t have the super powerful destination at the end of the line. Successful tramtrain tends to start at widely spaced suburban rail stations then run on a mainline like an Sbahn then turn into a tram at the destination rich terminus. If the line is too long in tram mode it is too slow and when it is too slow it does not work. Not sure about anywhere that has loopsof trams in the suburbs, probably because buses are more efficient in that situation.

  • 149 Sean Nelson // Dec 5, 2012 at 7:39 am

    @gman #130 “Can you not see the logic in a more versatile system?”

    That’s exactly the same argument that the GM / Firestone / Standard Oil consortium used on transit agencies to get them to rip up their streetcar lines and replace them with buses.

    It’s pretty obvious that the Broadway corridor isn’t going to go anywhere in the next 100 years, nor is the demand to access it going to drop. Your argument that a grade separated system is a bad idea because we can’t reroute it is, frankly, ridiculous – and the impression you give by making it is that you don’t have any serious arguments to offer.

  • 150 MB // Dec 5, 2012 at 8:35 am

    @ gman, I didn’t include Tramlink (London) because it has only 24 vehicles on one 27 km line to Croydon with two branch lines.

    With 38 stations this guarantees it is a local slow service and will be outcompeted by the Underground, the Overground and Crossrail in denser areas.

    You will never have 1.7 billion boardings a year in London with trams. What you will have, though, is a pleasant suburban experience if you’re not a commuter.

  • 151 MB // Dec 5, 2012 at 8:44 am

    I should mention that 22 km of the 118 km Crossrail project (currently under construction) will be tunneled under Central London and will link with the Underground in 11 locations, as well as with several historic train stations where one can connect with the rest of the UK and EC by rail.

    The majority of the line and its branches will share surface rail corridors with other rail lines. Both Transport for London (the local authority) and the national government’s Dept. for Transport signed on as guarantors, therein savings of about one billion pounds will be realized in the project financing due to the public sector’s presence.

    All this information can be found on Wikipedia.

  • 152 MB // Dec 5, 2012 at 11:52 am

    @ Lewis 89:

    No. Langley city is a thing all onto itself. It has a municipal boundary all its own, like City of North Van. But the footprint is many times greater.

    I believe you may be confusing Langley City with Langley Township.

    The City is indeed surrounded by the ALR, as is the immediately adjacent Township suburbs. It’s hard to tell the difference between the two where the City is located. But the ALR boundary is unmistakable.

    The land within the larger Township is 75% ALR, so they are unique.

  • 153 Roger Kemble // Dec 6, 2012 at 1:46 am

    Voony @ #94

    Thanqxz for your comments. Essentially I see the future of Vancouver, if we have the wit to respond to inevitable circumstance, as incremental, historically based, urban villages.

    Clearly that puts me at odds to conventional thinquing.

    A brief history . . .

    The city accreted, with no particular plan in mind, other than opportunities for land speculators, because such people dominated most councils since WWll: i.e. Vancouver (to say nothing of Metro) is ticky-tacky sprawl writ large.

    TEAM was responsible, in the early 70’s, for decimating the local industrial base. TEAM shoo-ed thousands of jobs out of the city (in so far as it had the limited power to do so) while replacing them with offshore real estate speculation and money laundering: i.e. the Executive City!. I notice there is a movement afoot to erase all memory of their dastardly reign.

    My obsession . . .

    Incrementally, historically based, semi-autonomous, semi-self contained urban villages with light connecting trams and vehicular connection enough to facilitate movement of goods and emergency: i.e. enjoy a walkable community with most everyday facilities close at hand. If proponents of GREEN CITY have any integrity there are few other options!

    Not only are grade separated vehicles an affront to the tranquility of neighbourhoods and budgets, with resource extraction, manufacture, transportation to their specific location and on-site engineering they mock the environmental meaning of the word GREEN: trams are too but to a much, much lesser extent.

    To conclude . . .

    The Cambie Line is already obsolete. Don’t repeat the mistake by wasting billions on ever-inadequate grade separated shiny trinkets: elevated they ruin established neighbourhoods, tunneled they are a miss-appropriation of money better spent on improved health facilities and affordable accommodation.

    Creatively, never in my sixty years living in the city has it ever lived up to its cultural pretensions. Now is the time. Blocks 51 and 61 are my focus of Vancouver’s cultural Renaissance. To pretend, by way of Robson as the only connection of the West End to Sky train, is frantic hyperbole.

    Never underestimate the disastrous impact of young, compliant, complacent, pusillanimous, badly educated arrogant corporate yes-men, design and planning professionals of which the city and province abound.

    That is my truncated reasoning Voony. In future I will attend your blog more often!

  • 154 DW // Dec 6, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I don’t know why I’ve come back to this discussion because it sounds like a broken record. However, I think this discussion could use a more youthful (and perhaps more naïve) perspective.

    I am 30 years old and I belong to the generation of people whom the media and many of those nearing retirement age like to chastise: Generation Y. While many generalizations are made about our lifestyles and our hopes and dreams, I will provide some insight into what a typical educated, and upwardly mobile Generation Y person actually wants.

    1. We still like cars. I like the open road and I drive a proper car (powered by the rear wheels with a manaul gearbox and an inline-six cylinder engine; no GPS or Bluetooth, thank you very much). In particular, men my age still lust after cars because we need to chauffeur our women (or that hot date for single guys) around. We may not drive them everyday, but we enjoy the perks of having a car.

    2. We also like fast and frequent public transit because all of us have travelled overseas and understand good public transit. I take the Skytrain because it’s convenient and gets me to work within a reasonable time. Most of my upwardly-mobile friends take public transit also. What matters for us is speed and cost.

    Thus, what we need is transportation infrastructure that supports our attachments to both the private auto and to public transit. It’s not an either/or proposition.

    Guess which option for the Broadway corridor fits the best?

    Bring on the dismissals of this opinion!

  • 155 ThinkOutsideABox // Dec 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

    In particular, men my age still lust after cars because we need to chauffeur our women (or that hot date for single guys) around. We may not drive them everyday, but we enjoy the perks of having a car.

    Not to mention iPhones and sexting make poor substitutes for late night booty calls for those not fortunate enough to be in close enough proximity to make the walk of shame.

  • 156 Mira // Dec 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Bravo, DW #148 for speaking out!
    Today’s City Hall morons and the so called ‘progressive’ politicians, the good ol’ hipsters , they think we all need to go back to walking, cycling, pushing a cart, horseback riding, I don’t know, whatever makes their bourgeois lifestyle going.
    We need some of everything. That’s the conclusion.

  • 157 boohoo // Dec 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    “We need some of everything. That’s the conclusion.”

    Which is exactly what they are proposing. Your cart pushing bullshit is so ignorant it’s remarkable.

  • 158 gman // Dec 13, 2012 at 12:50 am

    200000 a day…….I understand this isn’t Broadway and the trams are 54 meters but I’m sick of hearing “you cant,it will never work,that’s ridiculous” And the only argument is that it will save 9 minutes…really?
    Even their own numbers show a tram would move 119000 a day,plus it would loop to main street covering more area at half the cost.
    Sean Nelson #149
    Perhaps you don’t understand the argument I’m making as far as technology is concerned.Its very simple,common gauge rail gives the ability to expand or adjust our transit system with more versatility.Modern trams have the ability to run either on existing sky train tracks at speed or at street level at slow speeds where as sky train cars cant.And that combined with track sharing with existing commercial rail lines would seem to be a much more versatile and cost effective system.—worlds-longest-trams-on-worlds-busiest-tram-lines.cfm

    Its the difference between a city growing and density increasing in an organic way along its main thorough fares and tubes connecting nodes of faceless towers where no neighborhood even existed before and in the mean time blighting those in between stations that have been here since the city was born.

  • 159 rico // Dec 13, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Gman, do you deliberately misunderstand the various points people on this blog are making?
    First point, in North America trams are considered a local service usually running in mixed traffic without signal priority. LRT is generally considered a regional service usually with exclusive lanes, signal priority ect. No one is proposing a tram. If you cherry pick half of the combo one option (LRT to Main) without the other half (Skytrain on Broadway) you miss the largest destination. UBC is secondary to central Broadway so yes you would have a cheaper line going further you would also miss more than half the riders. Your point about the flexibility for trams to run grade seperated or slowly in traffic is not that relavent to a Broadway/UBC line because it is a regional line and should not have any of the slow bits. If you wish to put a tram in a subway or elevated you can….of course it will cost you the same or more as Skytrain… In Broadways situation I don’t see why you would. The only options worth considering are Combo 1 (LRT Main to UBC Skytrain to Arbutus) and straight Skytrain to UBC. As to time 9 minutes each way is 18 minutes per day, throw in a time savings for no transfer to the Millenium line and lets say 20 minutes per day. At minimum wage $10\hr that is give or take $3\day/rider. Assuming 60,000 riders (not Boardings) that is $180,000 per day not exactly chump change.

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