Common Sense & FastFerry’s

Common sense.

Common sense: something that TransLink, the City of Vancouver, the Mayor’s Council on Transit, TransLink and its CEO, Premier Horgan and is entourage lack.

Common sense: the industry standard for customer flows on a transit line needed to even think of building a subway is 15,000 persons per hour per direction.

Common sense: the actual customer flows on Broadway, under 4,000 pphpd, based on TransLink’s schedule of peak hour 99B-Line service of 3 minute headway’s or 20 buses per hour per direction.

Common sense: huge subsidies must be paid for subway operation on Broadway, which operating costs will be in excess of $40 million annually.

Common sense: realizing what a “FastFerry” fiasco is, before it happens.

Common sense: moving out of Metro Vancouver due to high taxation to fund politically prestigious “FastFerry” style transit projects, that do little to offer a transit alternative, except bleed the taxpayer dry.

The Charleroi Metro, built but never used and remains semi abandoned to this day. Subway operation cost too much for the operating authority and the stations, tracks and infrastructure never used.

Viewpoint: Subway Follies


March 19, 2018
by Patrick M. Condon

Transportation infrastructure influences the shape of cities for centuries. The road pattern of ancient Rome still provides settings for a thousand sidewalk cafA�s, long after most Imperial buildings have crumbled to dust.A�Yet governments seldom think carefully about how their transit decisions will influence future city form and the quality of experience enjoyed bya��or inflicted ona��our children and grandchildren. This is evident in Vancouver, where I am a professor of urban design at the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Along part of the citya��s Broadway Avenue corridor, current officials insist on building an absurdly expensive ($400-million per kilometre, and rising) subway. Why? Ostensibly because ita��s faster, doesna��t conflict with street traffic, and is theoretically capable of moving more people. But other high-capacity surface rail options can be had at less than a fifth of the cost.A�Toronto also has donned blinders in insisting on an as-yet-unfunded $3.5-billion one-stationA�subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line. Their choice is especially shocking given an earlier provincial government offer to pay for a high-capacity surface light rail system to serve the same district. Toronto is leaving billions on the table to satisfy its urge for a subway, seemingly compelled by a desire for Very Big Things.

subway, Toronto, Vancouver, LRTThe alluring high-speed underworld. Photo by Aaron Yeoman.

This is sad, because both cities once enjoyed extensive surface rail transportationa��systems that served not just one corridor, but many. Both Vancouver and Toronto are examples of North American a�?streetcar cities,a�? built largely between 1890 and 1930, when migrant workers flocked to them and electric streetcars that served every arterial in the city. The legacy of this system is all around us. Both cities have a a�?sense of placea�? derived from their low-rise linear corridors that are now some of the most attractive and vibrant neighbourhoods. These residential districts have been fertilized by the street railway system that served them. Surface rail provided an even number of customers for each street section, insuring a similar distribution of commercial and then cultural services everywhere. The system induced a perfectly walkable density, with a symbiotic relationship between the customers and streetcars.

So if surface rail works efficiently and affordA�ably, then what is the impetus behind such a costly venture as a multi-billion-dollar subway extension? Well, follow the money. Around every station will sprout a forest of high-rise condo towers, both to supply the astronomical need for density needed to both feed and justify the subway, and the development taxes needed to pay for it. Our future cities will boast shimmering necklaces of these towers strung along our rapid transit system. But what of the vast majority of residents who will live far beyond a ten-minute walking distance of the stations?A�For the cost of one short piece of subway, you could provide high capacity, comfortable, surface rail for an entire city. This more evenly distributed approach would capitalize on the huge investment made in the last century to create these a�?streetcar cities,a�? and would reinforce the qualities of the neighbourhoods that we hold dear.

City builders are now faced with a choice: we can construct a few expensive subway lines to serve largely unaffordable tower districts, while outlying neighbourhoods depopulate and their commercial streets decline. Or we can capitalize on what already existsa��the above-ground worlda��with a surface-transportation system that strengthens the existing structure of our cities, and restores urban enclaves that are more walkable, affordable and sustainable.

Which kind of city do we want?

Could this be the fate of the Broadway SkyTrain subway?


One Response to “Common Sense & FastFerry’s”
  1. eric chris says:

    Excellent article by Patrick, whoever takes the run at mayor for COPE in Vancouver is going to pick up the sea of disenchanted voters who aren’t thrilled about the destruction of communities in Vancouver from development for rapid transit by TransLink. Mayor Patrick Condon, Vancouver has a nice ring to it.
    Wipe out rental units. Create condo buyers. Lose affordable housing.

    There is the distinct impression that certain mayors in Metro Vancouver are puppets on the end of strings pulled by developers using them to wipe out rental units to create the market for high rise “condos” along rapid transit lines. Losing 50 low rise affordable rental units to build 300 unaffordable high rise condo units (with much parking to add lots of cars to the roads) loses 50 affordable rental units and puts many cars on the roads.

    If rental units along rapid transit lines by TransLink aren’t demolished in Vancouver, they take away the market share for high rise condos. Some former renters can afford to buy condos replacing the rental units, but maybe they are fine renting and don’t want the hell of dealing with strata councils. Problem is though that most renters are at the stage in their life where renting is it.

    Renters rent because they don’t have the disposable income and cash flow to buy condos doubling or “morbuling” the cash flow required to live in Vancouver. Many young and old people in Vancouver live on very limited incomes and can’t afford to buy the 459 square foot condo unit (starter with no balcony) costing $700,000. So, they end up being displaced from Vancouver. In the following excellent documentary “Vancouver No Fixed Address” by Knowledge, David Suzuki asks what kind of society pushes out its young and old people in Vancouver? One that TransLink created for rapid transit, that’s what.


    “Commuting hours on transit each day to get to class is a fact of life for many Vancouver college students. But the inconvenience is causing a brain drain as some students switch to schools outside the region, a survey of Langara College students revealed.”

    “Others, like second-year arts student Vivian Thieu, also expressed relief in being able to avoid taking the SkyTrain during peak periods. It’s crowded, especially during the times when school ends, she said. It takes forever to get on the platforms, and it’s hot and sweaty [it sucks and it’s slow]”.

    Who’s to blame for the housing crisis? TransLink, plain and simple. No TransLink. No rapid transit. No condos. No worries.

    Broadway subway by TransLink is part of the “plan” to replicate the “success” of the Cambie subway for more high rise condos destroying Vancouver. Step one: dismantle TransLink. Step two hear that tram.

    “Hear that sound. There’s a voice to be found …”

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