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TransLink puts out preliminary Broadway rapid-transit options, two with streetcar

April 18th, 2010 · 40 Comments

Public-policy nerds, transit buffs, anxious Broadway merchants, anxious off-Broadway residents: start your engines.

TransLink held its first quiet stakeholders’ meeting Thursday to introduce the tentative six options for Broadway rapid transit. As people kept reminding me, these aren’t fixed in stone. The idea is to put preliminary ideas out there to get public feedback and weigh the pros and cons of each, as well as possibly making changes.

The public meetings will be starting soon (check the TransLink website for dates and times to be put up imminently, I’m told).

There are a certain amount of policy talk, but boiled down to the essentials, TransLink has promised to do a “multipe account evaluation,” which means they’ll score each possibility in several different categories: environmental, financial, social/community, deliverability, transportation goals (i.e. which would catch the most riders), and urban-development matching (which would mesh with existing development nodes).

Now, drum rolllllll, here they are:

1. A bus rapid transit route (BRT) that would essentially follow the existing 99-B route, though with many more mechanisms (priority lights and so on) to make it a real rapid bus

2. Light rapid transit 1, which would also essentially follow the existing 99-B route, though there are two options to consider at the eastern end when it comes to how to hook into the existing system (go along Broadway or dip down to Great Northern Way to meet that orphaned VCC station just west of Clark, built back when city council was convinced the flats were going to explode into a high-tech cauldron of invention)

3. Light rapid transit 2. Same thing, but with a branch that would use the Arbutus tracks from Broadway over to Science World

4. Rail transit. Something like SkyTrain. I presume. Also on the B-line route, but would have to be fenced or separated in some way from the street in the way that LRT doesn’t.

5. Rail transit on Broadway, with the LRT branch on the Arbutus line, same as #3.

6. And finally, last but not least, the “best bus alternative” — a look at what TransLink could do to provide the best possible transit service using only buses (but which is somehow different from bus rapid transit in #1). This will give everyone the lowest-cost comparator to measure all the other options against.

I didn’t get to stay and hear how the different stakeholder groups (city staff, business groups and resident groups were thee, from what I could see) reacted to all of these, so I’m dying to hear what the preliminary reaction is.

By the way, in case you’re wondering when this will all come about, don’t hold your breath. TransLink planner Mike Shiffer wouldn’t even hazard a guess as to a date for me, since, as he rightly pointed out, it’s hard to set dates when you don’t have any kind of funding mechanism defined yet.

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