BCIT to UBC and Picnics In The Park

First published in 2009. Updated 2014, 2016 and in 2019


A Wee Bit Of Local History

In early 1996, during BC Transit’s meaningless public consultation period for the Broadway Lougheed Rapid Transit Project which later morphed into the Millennium Line, Zwei received a phone call from an European Transit specialist, who worked for Asea Brown Boverai (later absorbed by Bombardier Inc.) regarding the project.

The European transit specialist, wanting to make contact with those planning for light-rail, had phoned BC Transit to arrange a meeting regarding the then proposed Broadway/Lougheed LRT project and was given Zwei’s phone number instead!

After his initial shock and displeasure being fobbed-off by BC Transit, the transit specialist entered into a long conversation with me on transit issues in the region and how modern light rail could help solve them. To make a long story short, he proposed a classic European style tramway for Broadway, with stops every 500m to 600m, going from BCIT to UBC, replacing all Broadway bus services and a second line via Main Street, Hastings St. to Stanley Park, that, he claimed would double present bus ridership on the two routes within two years, providing enough fare revenue for the tram to operate without any subsidy, with fares covering not only operating costs but most or all debt servicing costs as well. By doing so, a private company could build and operate the light rail line at no or little cost to the taxpayer.

The rest is history as they say and the SkyTrain Millennium Line was built instead and is subsidized by over $100 million annually!

The Light Rail Committee Proposes the BCIT to UBC and Stanley Park Light Rail Project.

In late 1996 the Light Rail Committee (now defunct) proposed a bold Broadway light rail plan: a tram/light rail line from BCIT to UBC via the Lougheed Hwy., Broadway, 10th Ave. and University Blvd. with a second line via Main street to Hastings Street to the Aquarium in Stanley Park. The plan consisted of lawned reserved rights-of-ways and on-street running; priority signaling on traffic calmed Broadway and Hastings Streets; tram/streetcar stops every 500 metres; a single track Vancouver General Hospital Loop via Fraser St., 10th Ave. and Cambie St., providing front door service to the hospital.

Commercial speed would be about 20 kph to 25 kph (depending on the number or tram-stops per km.) and the construction costs in the region of $25 million/km to $35 million/km; maximum hourly capacity of 20,000+ persons per hour per direction using modern low-floor trams.

Signaling would be line of sight with intersections and switches protected by local signaling. Headway’s could be as low as 60 seconds in peak hours.

What the LRCs plan would do is service many important transit destinations (UBC, BCIT, VGH, downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park, etc.), while providing economy of operation by replacing all bus services on Broadway and many in Vancouver, thus reducing operating costs by about half. Further economies are made by using existing masts and span wires along the proposed transit routes. The new LRT would be merely seen as the reinstatement of streetcar service by modern articulated trams, operating on 21st century rights-of-ways.

The concept of a private operator, by securing private financing to build the line at no or little cost to the taxpayer must be looked at by politicians. This type of P-3, not to be confused with the Canada Line scam, would see little or no subsides from government, unlike the Canada line which is heavily subsidized by TransLink by over $110 million annually.

The plan would reduce Broadway to one lane of traffic in each direction (passive traffic calming) except in areas of mixed operation, while keeping the all important on-street parking for local merchants. The plan would have offered a minimum of three transit routes: BCIT to UBC; BCIT to Stanley Park; UBC to Stanley Park.

The plan incorporates modern European light rail and tram practice; lawned reserved rights-of-ways, modular cars, high capacity, passenger comfort, and affordable cost. It was not to be, as the Glen Clark NDP government, for reasons that can only be speculated, dismissed LRT out-of-hand and went for a truncated SkyTrain light metro line, the only metro in the world that went nowhere to nowhere.

Now the City of Vancouver and TransLink are demanding a $3.5 billion dollar subway under Broadway.

It is time to again to consider again a BCIT to UBC and Stanley Park light-rail network, that could cost the taxpayer little or no money instead of a $3.5 billion subway to Arbutus or a $6 billion plus subway to UBC that ignores transit concerns East of commercial Drive.


One Response to “BCIT to UBC and Picnics In The Park”
  1. Kevin says:

    The City of Vancouver had a plan to build street cars or LRT to Waterfront station from false creek with extensions to Stanley park, yaletown and arbutus. In 2010, City borrowed some bombardier LRT from Belgium for a few months trial. Main and hastings streest would be good routes for LRT similar to Toronto. In 2016, City for the arbutus railway from CPR for $50 million and use it for a bike route.

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