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? ………………….?


4 Responses to “Speaking of the Arbutus Corridor…………..”
  1. eric chris says:

    If the existing rail tracks of the Arbutus corridor are utilized, the construction of tracks at grade along Broadway makes it possible to run one tram loop between the Canada Line and UBC. At present, no more than 10 trams are necessary at peak hours to meet the maximum demand for transit. Trams can travel in one countercurrent loop along Broadway and West 6th Avenue while trolleybuses can travel west on Broadway and east on West 4th Avenue. Indirectly connected to the Canada Line, which ties into the Expo Line and Millennium Line in downtown Vancouver, the tram loop in turn is connected to all of these lines and is able to match or exceed their passenger capacity.


    Construction of the tram loop takes two short years and primarily replaces the dysfunctional 99 B-Line service at a modest capital cost of about $300 million. This saves $21 million annually by reducing service hours for bus routes between the Canada Line and UBC.

    Guaranteed municipal bonds paying 3% interest can finance the tram loop, and the bonds will be snapped up by people who are now earning 0% in their savings accounts from banks. No taxes are necessary for the tram loop. In about 18 years, the tram loop breaks even and starts earning $21 million annually in revenue. I don’t see any downside to immediately going ahead with the tram loop making money, improving service and increasing capacity.

    Hypothetically, let’s say that the sky train (ST) line which TransLink and Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vancouver are trying to extend to UBC is the ultimate choice and can’t be beat as far as transit goes. It costs $3 billion in additional taxes just to construct and increases service hours for buses to increase operating costs, significantly. Busing along ST lines is commensurate with the capacity of the ST line. If ST replaces the 99 B-Line route on Broadway and doubles the capacity of transit, annual operating costs for busing approximately double from $15 million to $30 million, too, along Broadway. In any case, it doesn’t look as if funding for this is going to be made available any time soon, and more dreaming about ST to UBC in the far distant future is a dead end holding back transit in Vancouver, at present.

    Mr. Smith goes to Washington to fight corruption. Heard of it?


  2. eric chris says:

    I’m going to throw up now and go to sleep. TransLink has started its relentless feel good stories about its awesome ST/CL in time for the big push for ST to UBC when we start reading about the maxed-out 99 B-Lines in two weeks after UBC starts…


  3. Alex says:

    So, from Light rail experts… WHAT exact solution could work on the Arbutus corridor… from what I can see, there’s only one set of rail tracks, hence unless they add another, it could only be used for 1-way transportation, no?

    Like starts on 70th at 7am, gets to False Creek at 7:30 and back? Assuming a 30mins commute with stops along the way? Honestly, even at such limited capacity, it won’t be such a bad idea. I am just not sure how useful it is to compete with Canada Line, and probably would be more of a local commute option, or tourist attraction, unless they added another track along side it.

    So, assuming they’d be using the only available tracks, what sort of tram/street car is compatible with this? Can it be run by electricity, or it should be Diesel due to current limits?


    < strong>Zwei replies: The geometry for the Arbutus Corridor, was for two track and indeed in the interurban days it was two tracks until Marpole. If LRT were to run again, it would require new tracks and the raw cost of tracks and overhead is anywhere between $6 million to $10 million a kilo. As the rights of way would cost $100 million, the cost of the 11 km. Arbutus would be from $166 million to $210 million (less than the cost of 1 km of bored tunnel) not including cars, stations and shops.

  4. Maricris says:

    For your consideration:- we aerlady have many bus services form almost all areas in Doncaster/Templestowe/Bulleen direct to the City,- there is an existing bus service to Box Hill for trains, the only downside is that it does not run when you get back at Box Hil by train at night,- there is a night-rider service from the City late at night,- it is well known that readily available anonymous transport (train and tram support to bus and taxi) does attract more criminality into an area. Something we do not want.The money spend on the now x-ted time of a study could have paid for an extension of bus services.