Public Meeting Re: The Arbutus Corridor

The Arbutus Corridor: A Way Forward?


You might think that there’s no solution to the conflict over the Arbutus rail corridor. Canadian Pacific Rail wants $100 million for its right-of-way. The City of Vancouver has offered $20m. Neighbourhood gardens, longstanding although trespassing, have been ripped up just before harvest— and election— time. Trains, moving or stored, are coming.

But maybe there is a solution. Seven years ago, one of Vancouver’s most extensive and inclusive public consultation and design processes produced a report that recognized the railroad’s financial interest, the neighbourhoods’ recreational interests, the city’s transportation interests, and a potentially reasonable way to pay the costs without turning the Arbutus Lands into another downtown. That report has been forgotten by almost everyone. On September 4th, City Conversations is bringing it back for public discussion.

To explain the plan, we’ll have Ken Cameron, a member of the distinguished Advisory Panel for the process and report, and Claudia Laroye, Executive Director, Marpole BIA. We’ve invited other representatives of neighbourhood groups, the City of Vancouver, and CP Rail. Our presenters will briefly frame the topic. Then it’s your turn to question, challenge, opine and be part of the conversation! You’re welcome to bring your lunch.


Thu, 04 Sep 2014 12:30 PM


Room 1600
Harbour Centre
SFU’s Vancouver Campus
515 W. Hastings

The seamless (no transfer) journey – Transit’s Holy Grail!

A repost from 2009 – updated.

Route 5 (tramtrain) travels from Worth t0 Bietigheim-Bissingen, through downtown Karlsruhe.

It has been long known that the seamless or no transfer journey is the ‘ticket’ to attract customers to public transit as it is well understood that one could lose upwards of 70% of ridership per transfer, even intermodal. On older tramways and streetcar systems, many lines offered more than one service, providing the all important seamless journey to many destinations. Cities that abandoned their streetcar and tramways in favour of subways, forced many customers to first take a bus to the metro and then for many, transfer back to bus again. Many transit customers found that the car provided the seamless journey and with the added advantage being easier and less time consuming to use.

Though transit officials were aware of the problem of loss of ridership due to transfer, little was done to improve the situation until a very dramatic event happened in 1993, in Karlsruhe Germany. When Karlsruhe’s first two-system (Zweisystem) or tram train line opened, replacing one major transfer point (commuter train to tram) at the main train station, ridership surged way beyond expectations! Weekday ridership on the tram train increased 423% in just a few weeks.


Before LRT                 Commuter train                          After LRT                                  % increase

Weekdays –                     488,400                                     2,064,370                                     423%

Saturday  -                         39,000                                         263,120                                      675%

Sunday   –                             6,200                                         227,478                                    3,669%

Total –                               533,600                                      2,554,976                                      479%

(Albtal-Verkengesllschaft Karlsruhe & ABB Henchel)

Since Karlsruhe’s dramatic increase in patronage on their tram train system, European planners have put great emphases on the all important seamless (no-transfer) journey and designed new transit lines, not as feeders to subways or regional railways but as stand alone transit lines servicing major destinations, even in competition with other transit modes.

The lesson of Karlsruhe should not be lost on the advocates for the return of the Valley interurban service, who want the new service to terminate at Scott Road SkyTrain Station and compel those who want to go to Vancouver to transfer to SkyTrain. The all important seamless journey from Vancouver to Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack may just provide the ridership to make the new service successful!

Streetcars and LRT, A Quick Primer

First published in the RftV blog in 2011, it is still pertinent today.

Updated to August 2014.

The silly season continues in the Vancouver region, with TransLink desperately trying to persuade regional mayors to levy more taxes to mainly pay for the Evergreen SkyTrain light-metro line and a SkyTrain subway under Broadway.

The following is a quick primer on streetcars, LRT and SkyTrain.

Question: What is the difference between LRT and a Streetcar or tram?

Answer: Today the difference between LRT and a streetcar/tram is the quality of rights-of-way, where a streetcar operates on-street in mixed traffic, light rail operates on a reserved rights-of-way (R-O-W), such a boulevard or a streetcar/tram only HOV lane on-street, which gives LRT an unimpeded transit route and faster commercial speeds. Today, there is little difference between a tram/streetcar and light rail vehicle except for motor size.

Q: What is SkyTrain?

A: SkyTrain is a proprietary unconventional light-metro system system first marketed by the Urban Transit Development Corporation of Ontario, which is now marketed by Bombardier Inc. , with one half of the patents held by SNC Lavalin. SkyTrain is considered an unconventional railway because it is powered by Linear Induction Motors and is incompatible to operate with any other transit system, save itself. The Canada Line metro and SkyTrain are incompatible in operation. There are only 7 “SkyTrain” type systems in operation around the world, despite being first marketed in the late 1970′s and the number will be reduced to 6 when the TTC will soon replace the Scarborough RT, with either LRT or a subway.

Q: What is light metro?

A: Light-metro was originally supposed to bridge the gap of what old streetcars could carry and what ridership would justify a heavy-rail metro. Modern LRT has made light-metro almost obsolete by bridging the bus – metro gap at a far cheaper cost. Automatic (driverless) light-metros, with its higher construction and operating costs just can’t compete against modern LRT.

Q: Is SkyTrain cheaper to operate than LRT?

A: No, SkyTrain costs about 40% to 60% more to operate than comparable LRT operations. Also the provincial government subsidies SkyTrain at about $250 million annually.

Q: How fast can LRT operate?

A: Generally speaking, LRT can operate as fast as its R-O-W will permit. Streetcars or trams, with stops every 300 to 5oo metres generally have smaller motors giving maximum speeds of 60 to 70 kph, while LRT has larger motors, giving speeds of 80 to 110 kph.

Q; TransLink claims that Skytrain is faster than LRT?

A: SkyTrain seems to be faster than LRT because TransLink has designed SkyTrain to be faster by having fewer stations per route km. Fewer station on a transit route attracts fewer customers.

Q: How much does LRT cost to build?

A: Light rail can be built as cheaply as $5 to $7 million/km using TramTrain; $15 to $25 million/km. for a streetcar; $20 million/km + for light rail. TransLink has always gold-plated light rail with all sorts of added costs to drive up the cost of construction to be as close to Skytrain it can.

Q: What is the capacity of a light rail vehicle (LRV)?

A: Today, the capacity of a transit vehicle in North America is put at 5 persons per metre length of vehicle. In the past a transit vehicles capacity was put at all seats filled and 4 persons per metre/sq., but this calculation doesn’t address the fact that in North America people are bigger, that there is a constant movement of people entering and exiting the vehicle and that most customers demand seats.

Q: What is the capacity of LRT and/or streetcar line?

A: The capacity of a tram/streetcar line is dependent on vehicle size and headways. In Karlsruhe Germany, the main tram route through the city was seeing peak hour capacities in excess of 35,000 persons per hour per direction, which is 5,000 more than the maximum theoretical capacity of SkyTrain! The line is now being relocated in a subway, but it does show the threshold that demands a subway today.

Q: What is TramTrain?

A: TramTrain is a tram/LRT vehicle that has the ability to both operate on mainline railways or streetcar track. Since being introduced in 1994, there are now 3 times as many TramsTrains in service that SkyTrain type systems.

Q: What is BRT?

A: BRT or bus rapid transit is a bus that operated on its own guideway or bus way, either guided or not. True BRT costs about 30% less to build than modern LRT, yet has not demonstrated any real advantage over LRT. BRT lines mainly seem the political way of tarting up express bus service and trying to sell it to the public as rapid transit. in most cases, the public are not fooled.

A reserved rights-of-way enables LRT to obtain commercial speeds of that of a metro.

We Must Welcome The 21st Century

Not really about urban rail, but still important for the planned Chilliwack interurban.

Railways need to emerge from the 19th century into the 21st and the federal government must emerge from its 18th  Laissez faire mentality.

If France, the UK, and Germany can operate trams, in mixed traffic, on mainline railways, Canada can do it too. The lack of political guidance and mandate  with our railways, largely paid for the the government of Canada either by cash or land grants, only hurts the public. Railways, too often operate in an 19th century ennui, which many in the industry and abetted by government, feel that they can freely do so.

Why should the taxpayer, once again fund expensive transit solutions when affordable ones are so many, utilizing existing railway infrastructure.

The Valley interurban transit project and the Island E&N Railway come to mind. Why spend a paltry sums on workhorse transit solutions when prestige mini-metros can be had for ten times the cost.

Lac Megantic was a fiasco ready to happen. The government allowed it to happen.

From the Huffington Post.

Oil By Rail Is In Desperate Need of Clean-Up

Railways are transforming North America’s energy sector and are, coincidentally, helping to save Canada’s bacon.

That’s because the train infrastructure has helped bypass the pipeline bottlenecks that threaten to impede the oil booms underway in the U.S. and Canada. The political flashpoint has been the Keystone XL scheme, delayed due to Washington’s green politics for five years, but opposition exists against all pipeline and refinery projects in both countries.

The facts are, by the end of next year, three times the amount of oil (nearly 800,000 barrels per day) that Keystone would have carried will be shipped by train out of Canada and North Dakota’s vibrant shale oil region to refineries everywhere.

In fact, a recent Congressional Research Report noted this and suggested that oil by train may render Keystone unnecessary.

“Increasing cross-border movements of crude oil by rail on existing track does not require State Department approval, so such an approach seeks to avoid regulatory delays. While the potential volumes associated with rail transportation of crude could be lower than pipeline volumes, they could still be significant. Some analysts have suggested that oil-by-rail volumes could be large enough to make a major new pipeline project like Keystone XL unnecessary,” concluded the report.

Train transport is two or three times’ pricier than pipelines, but even so has already travelled way down the track in a handful of years. The result is more spills — not to mention the catastrophic Lac-Megantic derailment in 2013 that destroyed a town and killed 47 people — and dramatically enhanced governmental attention to the issues surrounding rail transport.

(Interestingly, the tragedy illustrated the inter-dependence of the two countries: the train was owned and operated by a third-rate U.S. railway company, partially owned by the Quebec Pension Plan; the oil was from the North Dakota Bakken oil play and the customer was New Brunswick’s Irving Oil.)

At a hearing in Washington, federal figures showed that four times’ as much oil has been spilled as a result of derailments in 2013 as occurred in the previous four decades. This is in part because traffic has increased exponentially.

Years ago little oil travelled by train. But by 2013, they carried one million barrels a day of U.S. oil production, equivalent to the total Bakken output. This year shipments are likely to total 1.5 million barrels per day — an increase that has resulted in insufficient capacity to haul coal and some farm products. Several U.S. utilities in the U.S. have cut back on power because their coal inventories are not being replenished quickly enough.

The story’s similar in Canada. From a standstill in 2008 oil producers moved 200,000 barrels per day by trains in 2013 and are forecasted to ship 700,000 barrels per day by the end of next year. That’s not the limit either. Rail loading capacity for oil tankers in Canada is expected to hit 1 million barrels per day by next year and 1.4 million barrels a day in 2016.

The Congressional report surmised that if Keystone is never built, the railway option will be more needed than ever. “In its ongoing review of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, the State Department has argued that, if the pipeline is not constructed, additional oil-by-rail capacity will be developed instead.”

The environmentalists are just as opposed to rail as to pipelines or refineries and political battles have sprouted everywhere to prevent the building of smaller versions of Keystone or expansions of existing lines. Another new argument is that oil trains will become major terrorist targets as they travel through populated areas.

The facts are that any infrastructure is a target. The real issue is to clean up both the industry and radicalize government oversight.

The Lac-Megantic firebomb resulted in criminal charges against the railway and several employees as well as a mega-lawsuit against Ottawa for its pathetic supervision and inadequate rules. The culprit railway ran on a shoestring but should have been banned altogether from operations. Instead, it limped along saving money by cutting maintenance and crew.

Worst of all, the train company — now bankrupt — was allowed to operate with virtually no insurance, some $17 million in liability. This was negligence on the part of governments: any railway should be legally required to carry catastrophic insurance. Lac-Megantic has run up a tab of $200 million in just physical damage.

It took a tragedy to get both countries to impose new rules: they must swap out old tank cards for newer, safer ones; must improve trackage; must travel at lower speeds and must be inspected more often.

But additionally, I believe that railways should pay for this extra oversight and that railway unable to afford catastrophic insurance in the hundreds of millions per incident should not be allowed to operate. This will weed out the fly-by-night operators who operate unsafely.

Then the sector must be revamped. The train business has been allowed to remain a 19th-century technology run with 19th-century mentality by workers without credentials. Aviation, by contrast, is heavily supervised and operated by licensed personnel with professional expertise and constant surveillance.

For the moment, the critically important oil industry has been saved, but if governments aren’t as tough as nails in their demands and dealings with the railways, then all bets are off.

Alstom Appitrack – Would Broadway Be A Good Candidate?


Alstom’s fast automated tracklaying technology, Appitrack, was chosen as the Innovation of the Year at the 2011 Light Rail awards held in London on 5th October.

The system allows for limited excavation depths in order to speed up track-laying time with the ability to lay up to 200 metres of track per day, compared with just 50-60 metres using conventional methods, and therefore reduce project costs. Appitrack also as low noise levels and is applicable to all types of track surfaces and with all types of equipment.

Alstom has used Appitrack in the tramway projects recently inaugurated in Jerusalem, Reims, Algiers, and on the second line of the Orleans tramway that is due to enter service in 2012. It was in Orleans in March 2011 that Appitrack set a world track laying 403 metres of single track laid in one day, the equivalent length of almost four football pitches.

Let us see, 200 metres of double track a day translates into 1 kilometre of track a week. In theory, a 20 km line of on-street LRT could be laid in 20 weeks!

Again and not to upset the SkyTrain types, in theory we could reinstate a LRT/streetcar line from Boundary to UBC easily in one year. This means minimal disruptions for adjacent businesses where tram construction would only affect their businesses for a maximum of time and certainly not the three years of hell suffered by Cambie St. Merchants with the construction of the Canada Line cut-and-cover subway.

Memo to TransLink: The LRT future is very friendly.


Continued Angst Over The Arbutus Corridor

The cries of, “shock and disbelief”, and hand wringing by those trespassing and keeping gardens on the CPR owned Arbutus Corridor is laughable. The media is now showing pictures of teary eyed children who weep for their lost beans and figs.

Enough please.

The Arbutus Corridor debate actually started with this quote at a transit meeting in Vancouver in the 90′s.

We are the people who live in your neighborhood. We are dentists, doctors, lawyers, professionals, CEOs of companies. We are the crème de la crème in Vancouver. We live in a very expensive neighborhood and we’re well educated and well informed. And that’s what we intend to be.

The Arbutus Corridor was always earmarked for light rail, but a small and very well politically connected contingent of West side types got then premier Gordon Campbell to fund a now $2.5 billion Canada Line subway in Vancouver, supposedly taking transit off the table for the Arbutus Corridor negotiations.

The CPR did not want to play this game and asks for a reasonable sum of $100 million for the 11 km, 22m wide route that starts in Marpole and ends at Vainer park.

The City of Vancouver has only offered $20 million and refuse to budge.

After the line was mothballed in the early 2000, after the sole customer on the line, Molson’s Brewery ceased using rail, the many people backing onto the Arbutus trespassed regularly and acted as squatters building unlawful gardens.

Flash forward to may 2014 and Molsons brewery is rumoured to greatly increase beer production for export and once again may want to use rail to move its product.

The CPR sent a letter to the Arbutus Line neighbours telling them to dismantle the unlawful gardens or they would be dismantled by the CPR, as survey crews were seeing if rail transport was viable.

Now the wrecking crew has come and its goodbye gardens.

The following is a Facebook post by transit activist Peter Finch probably is closer to the truth than the wailing and moaning by the creme de la creme.

I told them so.

As a gardener, I fully understand and appreciate the emotional energy that went into building these beautiful gardens. However, I have always maintained that as good neighbours, and as part of an inclusive and responsible community, gardeners should always be careful to do it right, do it legally.

Did any of the gardeners ever approach CPR about the use of the land? NO, they didn’t.

Canadian Pacific Railway has really been forced to take action. They were denied the ability to sell off the land, and were directed by the Supreme Court to keep the property as a transportation corridor. While it was certainly the railway’s hope to sell the property. they must have realized at some point that their failure to maintain it as such created a huge potential liability for them.

If not maintained, anybody who is injured while trespassing can obviously sue the CPR for negligence. In order to be insurable, the railway has to re-establish its presence and restore the property to its legal zoned use–just as any property owner would have to do.

Legal gardens within the City of Vancouver have to carry liability insurance of $3 to $5 million, and some of them pay taxes–this is all dependent on where the gardens are located. The gardens along the Arbutus corridor were paying neither insurance, nor rent, nor taxes, and they had no permission to be there at all.

“Mayor Moonbeam” calls the CPR “bullies.” What’s wrong with this picture?

CPR has done a very poor job of public relations, but they are entirely in the right.

Whether CPR has a customer or not, they have a responsibility as a good corporate citizen to maintain their holdings according to City zoning, and according to the regulations set by Transport Canada.

Cut-and-dried simple.

And How Much $1.6-1.9 Billion of Skytrain Will Buy You in Greater Vancouver?

As the title indicates, in the Waterloo region in Eastern Canada $1.6 to $1.9 billion will buy 37 km of modern LRT plus assorted transit technology and at least 10 km of BRT.

One observation made by Haveacow is; ” this LRT system as it begins will not have the carrying capacity of the Skytrain system………”, which I would like to add that capacity can be increased incrementally by adding more modules to the trams, as in done in Europe or purchasing new vehicles.

Here is how the flexibility of modern light rail is exploited; a new transit system can be made cheaper by purchasing smaller cars and as ridership increases, capacity can be affordably increased by adding more modules to the tram, instead of buying more complete trams.

A note from Mr. Cow.

Just a little note from Haveacow in Ottawa. Officially pre construction  activities start today in the Region of Waterloo. Waterloo’s 3 main lower tier municipalities, The City of Waterloo, The City of Kitchener and The City of Cambridge (Formerly Berlin: due to a name change during the first world war, for obvious reasons), are beginning construction in several places throughout the region. Just a reminder, they are starting Phase 1 which will includes, 19 km of LRT in Waterloo and Kitchener as well as 17 km of Adapted BRT from Kitchener to Cambridge, in an attempt to build up transit use in the southern part of the region to threshold LRT ridership levels. This will mean during phase 2 that, the LRT line can be extended another 17-18 km to downtown Cambridge.
The LRT line known as the ION Line will be in several different types of Right of Way varying from abandoned and underutilized rail lines, private off street rights of way and segregated on street rights of way to segregated former traffic lanes. Tracks will run in a double track configuration for most of the line and operate in single track configuration on several, one way street couplets in the denser urban cores in Waterloo and Kitchener.
The Adapted BRT Line will be in on street and highway shoulder lanes. It will include no fewer than 6 intersections with que jumping lanes, specialized stations and signal control at every intersection on the route to favor transit vehicles. This capability is not just for the ABRT vehicles but all of Grand River Transit’s bus fleet. However the majority of the ABRT line will operate in mixed traffic in a express bus (Lite BRT) configuration. Grand River Transit already has a lite BRT system of express buses known as the I XPRESS BRT System which has been very successful at building up transit use in this Region of only 500,000 people. They fully intend to continue this system and have several of the existing routes feed the LRT system. Some new routes are also planned independent of the LRT system.
During phase 2 not only will the ABRT system be upgraded to LRT but more BRT infrastructure will be added all over the region to aid the express Bus system and transfers to the LRT line. The Grandlinq Consortium will build, maintain and operate the system for Grand River Transit. Phase 1 will include 14 Bombardier Flexity LRV’s (5 section vehicle, 30 meters long) operating in single car trains with 60m long platforms.Ten of the LRV’s will be operating at peak. Phase 2 will add a minimum of 10 cars and a supplemental order of up to 20 LRV’s is being planned if 2 car trains are needed. The cost of the LRV purchases is being kept down because they are piggy-backing on LRT orders from Toronto for the Eglinton, Sheppard and Finch Avenue LRT Lines. Up to 50 ABRT buses are also being purchased for the project as well by Grand River Transit.
The total cost of phase 1 is $818 million and funding from all 3 levels of government has been done and delivered. The expected cost of phase 2 is somewhere between $600-800 million depending on specifics of the design and scope of the project. The Region of Waterloo is raising taxes by 1.2% to cover future costs of operations and supplemental  vehicle and technology purchases. With several tax reductions already on the books the total tax increase region wide is about 0.7 %.
As I have said before, this LRT system as it begins will not have the carrying capacity of the Skytrain system however, it doesn’t need to yet. They will over time more than likely upgrade the system’s capacity and increase the connectivity of the entire transit network. The LRT connection in phase 1 to the Kitchener GO train line to Toronto and the possible connection to the Milton GO Train Line during phase 2 at Delta in Cambridge is part of the province’s connectivity plan for the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe Region, population 8.7 million and growing (the outer commuter region of Toronto). This has been an important plank in the plan trying to keep traffic growth in check in the province of Ontario. Compared to even a decade ago the growth of transit use in this region has been impressive and a good model to follow if you want to grow transit in a mostly suburban location like the area south of the Fraser River in Greater Vancouver. They have done it realistically and carefully and for the most part, cheaply in an area that, has had some very challenging economic ups and downs. They still have a way to go but they are moving forward. By the time phase 2 is complete they will have likely spent upwards of $1.6-1.9 Billion and created 37 km of LRT as well as a great amount of supportive transit technology and no less than 10km of BRT rights of way all across the Region of Waterloo for their express bus network and the transit system as a whole. Compare this to what you are likely to get in area south of the Fraser River during that time (next 25 years) and how much $1.6-1.9 Billion of Skytrain will buy you in Greater Vancouver.

The Vancouver Province Shills For The Canada Line

40 metre to 50 metre station platforms limit the Canada line train to

just two cars, severely limiting capacity.

I see TransLink is calling in its markers from the mainstream media and a staff writer (infomercial maybe) has penned a puff piece for the Canada Line.

No mention is made of the tens of thousands of students who use the deep discounted U-pass daily on the mini-metro or the number of actual people (not boardings) who use the Canada Line daily.

Questions like; “how many bus customers are forced to transfer onto the the Canada Line?” or “How many U-Pass students use the Canada Line more than twice a day?”, are avoided.

Also avoided is the discussion of real cost of the Canada Line, which is now pegged at around $2.5 billion or that the Canada line was the only cut-and-cover subway project in North America, Europe and Asia, not to pay compensation to local businesses for disruption during construction.

Not a word how the bus service from South Delta has now reverted back to pre a Canada Line schedule as the new ridership never came and a multimillion dollar ‘Park & Ride lot in South Surrey remains empty because the anticipated increase in transit use did not materialize after it opened.

What is most telling is that in North America, successful transit systems tend to be copied by other cities as transit planners and politicians like to build on success, yet no one in North America or Europe has copied the Canada line and instead it remains an international joke as it is the only heavy-rail metro in the world that has been built as a light-metro and has less capacity than a simple streetcar.

No, you don’t see the mainstream media printing that at all, rather all the public get is a heart warming fairy tale about TransLink and the Canada Line.

Sadly, the Canada Line is a white elephant, limited in capacity and too expensive to expand. No one copies incompetence, except maybe TransLink.

Canada Line turns five years old with all the signs of a success story

By Staff Reporter, The Province August 17, 2014

he Canada Line is celebrating a major milestone.The Richmond-YVR-Vancouver rapid transit line, which opened to great fanfare on Aug. 17, 2009, turned five years old on Sunday.

The well-used line, completed three months ahead of schedule, has drastically changed Richmond’s downtown core and Vancouver’s Cambie Corridor.

The Canada Line has transformed Richmond, with its four stations along car-choked No. 3 Road, into a more walkable city.

It has transported millions of passengers to and from Vancouver International Airport to city centres, and has helped enable the construction of a new designer outlet complex by the airport authority near the Canada Line’s Templeton Station.

The $2-billion line has also spurred growth along Cambie Street: Construction for the massive Marine Gateway project — which will include condos, office towers, restaurants, and a movie theatre complex — is currently under way, while further north, future shops, offices, and mixed-used developments are slated to replace blocks of boarded-up single-family homes.

Despite naysayers who doubted TransLink’s original ridership projections, the Canada Line has been wildly successful.

The 16-station line was expected to hit an average of 100,000 passengers per day by 2013, but surpassed that mark in 2010. By 2011, it cleared 116,000 passengers, reaching 124,000 by 2012.

The figures are a boon to TransLink, which had guaranteed to subsidize ridership shortfalls if the line, built as a public-private partnership, drew fewer than 100,000 riders per day.

Construction of the Canada Line wasn’t without controversy.

The project’s cheaper yet disruptive “cut and cover” method crippled many businesses along Cambie.

One retailer, Susan Heyes, who operated a maternity clothes store in Vancouver, sued the consortium that built the Canada Line and was awarded $600,000 in damages. The judgment was overturned by an appeal court.

Speaking of the Arbutus Corridor…………..

A Marpole bound interurban crosses 41st. Please note trolleybus and the overhead.

……. why TransLink will never support LRT on the Arbutus and why the City of Vancouver wants the ‘Arbutus” for a glorified bike lane.

Evergreen Line is said to cost no more than $1.4 billion for just over 11 km of line and the Canada line was to have cost no more than $1.3 billion, but at the last count, the real cost for the 19.2 km line is now said to be approaching $2.5 billion, with evidence from the Susan Heyes lawsuit that the real cost of the Canada Line may have exceeded $2.7 billion!

A $100 million for the 10 km Arbutus corridor or $10 million/km is a bargain! Then add tracks and overhead at $6 million to $10 million/km and cars at about $5 million per copy ( used trams are much cheaper) and we could have a viable LRT line on a route which has more density (that Vancouver holy grail density) than Cambie St., for a cost of less than $500 million!

TransLink and the City of Vancouver are deathly afraid of light rail on the Arbutus because it would have far more capacity than the hugely expensive Canada Line at a fraction of the cost.

How so, you say?

Simply, to reduce costs on the Canada Line, which costs were soaring out of control, the scope of the mini-metro project was greatly reduced. The Canada Line stations have only 40 metre to 50 metre long station platforms and can only accommodate two car trains. This greatly limits the Canada Line’s capacity to about 7,500 persons per hour per direction!

Compare this with Toronto’s proposed LRT station platforms.

Or Ottawa’s now under construction LRT station platforms.

Please note: One Alstom tram for Ottawa is 8 metres longer than a pair of Canada Line EMU’s!

One can easily see that the Canada Line, in spite of all the hype and hoopla in the mainstream media has less capacity than a modern tram or streetcar and this is the big fear of TransLink’s and the City of Vancouver’s transit planners and engineers.

Light Rail, even in the guise of a streetcar or tram, costing at least a fifth to build than the Canada, could offer a much higher capacity.

So here is the real story of the Arbutus Corridor, not gardens or the creme de la creme, rather we could be modern light rial very cheaply and carry more people than the Canada Line subway.

Does anyone at the Vancouver Sun understand this? The Courier? ………………….?

Lotus Land In Shock with the CPR Reactivating The Arbutus Corridor

The Arbutus corridor Interurban near 37th

The Arbutus corridor debate continues and Zwei has a made a few observations.

  1. Has anyone in the media ask Molsons if they want to once again use the railway for both delivery and export?
  2. Has anyone in the the media reported that the CPR has paid taxes since the rail line was mothballed?
  3. What liability risk is there for the CPR if someone injures themselves on the line?
  4. Has the media reported that the Arbutus line was doubled tracked until the late 1950′s, hence no WW II victory gardens were on the right of way?
  5. $100 million for the 10 km Arbutus Corridor ($10 million/km) is a bargain if a LRT/streetcar/tram line were to use it, considering that a Broadway SkyTrain subway will cost about $200 million/km!

From the Vancouver Sun.

Pete McMartin: Urbanization: Who’d have guessed? Kerrisdale as a bastion of Marxism

By Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun August 16, 2014

A Canadian Pacific Rail police officer, right, directs residents Sarah Myambo, left, and Mila Rakhmetouline off the property for their safety as they try to salvage items from their community garden after workers destroyed and removed it on a stretch of abandoned CP Rail line in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday August 14, 2014. The once-abandoned 11-kilometre-long Arbutus Corridor has been used by residents for many years as a greenway where community gardens were erected. The removal of the gardens is the culmination of a growing dispute between the rail company and the City of Vancouver over the value of the land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck


The latest tempest in a pea plot emanates from — where else? — the westside, home of the ever-embattled.

If it’s not one thing with westsiders, it’s everything. While most of Metro Vancouver endures measures of growth that are completely transforming huge swaths of the urban landscape to no outcry whatsoever, westsiders continue to make news with what seems to be their permanent state of apoplexy over the smallest of problems.

In the recent past, they have voiced their displeasure, to much media coverage, over the establishment of a single bike lane, a park pathway, modest densification along an arterial route, the only social housing complex for recovering addicts to be built west of Main, housing demolitions (as if that hasn’t happened in every neighbourhood in the city), the invasion of offshore real estate buyers … and not having a moat to keep the rest of the world at bay, although possibly I made that last one up.

Whether it’s the sense of enclave that privilege engenders, or the unstated but deeply held conviction that money should talk and a lot of money should do the loudest talking, the creme de la creme seem to spend much of their time complaining about how their world is curdling around them.

And that now includes gardening.

Or rather, as I see it, trespassing.

For over a decade, gardeners have appropriated for themselves small parcels of land alongside the CP Rail tracks that traverse the Arbutus Corridor. Westsiders walk their dogs there and park their cars there, too.

It’s private property, yet those gardeners have paid not a single penny to CP for the privilege of establishing their gardens on it. CP has up until now allowed it, probably out of disinterest more than anything.

This was also property that in the recent past was being considered as one of the candidates for a mass transit corridor through Vancouver, the proposal of which westsiders fought hard to stop. And successfully did so. Instead, the line was built down Cambie.

Yet while they blanched at the idea of a transit line going down the Arbutus Corridor, or, for that matter, anything going down it, the locals were fine with the idea of trespassing on private property so they could grow snap peas or walk their dogs. In effect, they seized the means of production. Who could have guessed that Kerrisdale would emerge as a bastion of Marxism?

So, when CP ordered the clearing of the gardens — which I am assuming is its latest move in its high-stakes game of poker with the city government — it was cast as the big bad capitalist bully.

Why couldn’t the railway have waited, critics bemoaned, until the gardeners reaped their harvest? Didn’t it realize that one of those gardens it was demolishing was the Vancouver Montessori School’s, planted to educate children about — and I quote from the garden’s press release — “life-changing processes of the seed-to-table process, the environmental impacts of their food choices and the various cultural celebrations connected to food”?

And this, too, critics pointed out: The federal government gave that land to CP for free in the 1800s! And now the railway wants the city to pay a king’s ransom for it? Outrageous!

Well, no, it’s not outrageous. It’s business. CP’s responsibility is to get as high a rate of return for its stockholders as it can, not to ensure a high yield of tomatoes for the green thumbs of Kerrisdale.

If that means trying to force the city government’s hand three months before a civic election — a city government that CP has no love for, given their court battles, and the city’s zoning change that devalued the CP land by tens of millions of dollars — I wouldn’t be surprised if it did so.

Digging up the gardens was not a deft public relations move. Corporate backhoes levelling the gardens of retirees and schoolchildren is the kind of stuff that makes newshour producers salivate. So visceral. So easy.

But it isn’t. This is a hard-headed negotiation. The city wants to buy the land from CP for significantly less than what CP wants to sell it for.

Meanwhile, those gardeners have had use of CP’s land for free for over a decade. That’s a lot of harvests under their belts. How much would it have cost them, I wonder, if they had had to pay for that privilege?