If Cambie Street grows as hoped, City of Vancouver will lose big bucks – From The Vancouver Sun

As stated before many times, rapid transit development in Vancouver, especially the Millennium and RAV/Canada Lines, has been about development and not moving people. The hype and hoopla of TransLink and the mainstream media that the Canada Line is carrying 94,000 riders a day ignores the fact that all except about 10% of the Canada Line customers are former bus riders that have been cascaded onto the metro. 10% new ridership on a new transit system is about on par with other new transit systems being opened, thus making the Canada Line just average. There has been no discernible modal shift from car to transit, despite the claims of some media types, as most of the new ridership is made up with $1 a day students with U-Passes; elderly gamblers going to the River rock Casino; and former taxi users going to YVR.

As predicted, the raison de A?A?tre for the Canada Line was property development, for it is very easy to scream ‘densification’ and ‘rezoning’, when a very expensive metro is built and local government is desperate to findAi??Ai??more Ai??Ai??riders, so the the transit agency can ‘cook the books’, so to speak with high ridership figures. But, densification may backfire big time on Vancouver, with a vast loss of revenue, where taxes from businesses will decline and will not be made up from increased residential property taxes, which means an increase in property taxes for all in the city. In fact, Vancouver property owners will get a double whammy of higher property taxes and higher TransLink taxes to fund the hugely expensive metro system. Vancouver City and provincial politicians have brought this upon themselves by demanding gold-plated metro and subway lines on routes that do not have the ridership to sustain them instead of planning for affordable light rail. The big question now is, will the same people who blundered along, forcing the construction of the Canada Line metro, will do the same with the Broadway subway scam?

Will a Broadway SkyTrain subway be the final straw that breaks ‘Translink’s (read taxpayer’s) back?

From the Vancouver Sun.

If Cambie Street grows as hoped, City of Vancouver will lose big bucks

Canada Line corridor merchants can expect to get clobbered, again

By Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun June 18, 2010

The proposed rezoning of Cambie Street properties served by the new Canada Line may cause economic hardship that erodes or outweighs any potential benefits.

Because two likely results will be to undermine City Hall’s finances while once again clobbering the merchants who took such a hit while their street was torn up for construction.

The story is complicated, especially because allowing greater density in areas served by better transit will create an initial surge in revenue for the city.

But this will come at the expense of existing businesses in existing premises along the Cambie corridor. And when new developments inevitably start to rise in response to proposed rezoning, City Hall’s windfall will quickly turn into a loss.

To understand why, consider how differently business and residential properties affect the city’s financial health.

About 92 per cent of assessed properties in Vancouver are residential, leaving just eight per cent commercial A?ai??i??ai??? a number that is steadily declining as the city increasingly becomes a place to live but not to work.

This relative handful of business properties pays half of the city’s total property taxes. Yet the cost of services they use A?ai??i??ai??? streets, police, fire protection and such A?ai??i??ai??? adds up to only a quarter of City Hall spending.

Thus for every $2 businesses pay in property tax, the city spends just $1 in return, leaving a 50-per-cent “profit” the city can use to subsidize homeowners. And subsidize they do, spending about $1.50 on residential services for every $1 in residential property tax.

So what does this mean for Cambie Street redevelopment?

Peter Forward, an associate with the property tax consulting firm of Burgess Cawley and Sullivan, walked me through a detailed look at a representative sample A?ai??i??ai??? a cluster of seven buildings, mostly one-storey community retail blocks, just north of the Canada Line’s King Edward station.

The city’s annual “profit” from these buildings A?ai??i??ai??? the amount of money it can expect to have left over after all property taxes are collected and all services provided A?ai??i??ai??? will be:

– As things stand: $87,385

– With rezoning: $148,315

– With redevelopment: $41,974, or less than half as much as now.

Multiply these figures by the number of properties that will be similarly affected up and down the Cambie corridor, and the impact on civic finances is huge. Not to mention the impact on the tax bills of tenants in the Cambie buildings.

Here’s how Forward arrived at his numbers (I’ve rounded them for ease of reading).

As things stand

The land on which the seven buildings sit is assessed at $15 million and the structures are pegged at $4 million, for a total of $19 million.

The business tax rate A?ai??i??ai??? which in Vancouver is five times higher than the residential rate A?ai??i??ai??? will generate tax bills totalling about $175,000.

Based on city-wide averages, the cost of services for these businesses is $87,500. This will leave an additional $87,500 to be spent on other things.

With rezoning

The maximum allowable height of buildings on each lot will rise to at least six stories. This means the maximum square footage of new buildings will be twice what’s allowed now. Since assessments are based on “highest and best use” (what could be on each lot, rather than what’s actually there), the assessed value of the land will double to $30 million. Even if the old buildings are treated as teardowns and assessed at nearly no value, the total of $30-plus million will be more than 50 per cent higher than the assessed value today.

The new assessments mean businesses in these same old buildings will see their tax bills soar, as will city revenue. The new total will be $296,000, up from $175,000.

Even though there’s no logical reason for the cost of serving the same businesses in the same buildings to rise, Forward generously assumes the city will spend more to keep them happy. So he designates $148,000 of the new tax total as consumption cost. This leaves a surplus of $148,000, up from $87,000 now, that the city can spend on other things.

With redevelopment

If new buildings on each lot housed one floor of commercial tenants and five floors of residences, the total value of land and buildings would soar to $140 million A?ai??i??ai??? more than nine times what it is today.

But with only the commercial occupants paying the business rate, and with the residents paying just a fifth of that, the total tax revenue would rise to only about $550,000 A?ai??i??ai??? just over six times more than today. Of this, $317,000 would be paid by the ground-floor businesses and $233,000 by residents.

With businesses paying twice as much in tax as they consume in services, their portion of the tax bill would generate surplus revenue of $158,000 A?ai??i??ai??? a nice increase for the city. But with residents’ tax bills adding up to only two-thirds of the cost of services they consume, they’d create a “loss” of $116,000.

This would leave a net surplus of $42,000 for the seven properties, or less than half of what’s left over today.

In other words, a snazzy redevelopment project for this little bit of Cambie A?ai??i??ai??? just what the city is aiming for with its Canada Line-related plans A?ai??i??ai??? will cost the city tens of thousands a year in forgone revenue.

And as other parts of the street are similarly redeveloped, the annual losses will soar to hundreds of thousands, and then millions.

Not to mention the plight of those poor Cambie merchants A?ai??i??ai??? the very ones who went through hell and back during the Canada Line construction. They can look forward to sharply higher tax bills in the short-term, and the longer-term prospect that their premises will fall to the wrecker’s ball.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Cambie+Street+grows+hoped+City+Vancouver+will+lose+bucks/3173772/story.html#ixzz0rInN7jii


16 Responses to “If Cambie Street grows as hoped, City of Vancouver will lose big bucks – From The Vancouver Sun”
  1. Richard says:

    If you actually bothered to read the article carefully, you would have realized that the issue is with redevelopment along the street at currently allowed densities, not rezoning for higher densities. Rezoning for higher densities, the article states, would bring in a profit.

    Ironically, redevelopment at currently allowed densities is exactly what Patrick Condon is proposing on streets all around the city with his streetcar everywhere scheme. If this article is correct, then a streetcar network all around the city would likely result in much lower income to the city.

    A LRT would have triggered redevelopment as well and would be more likely just to trigger redevelopment as opposed to higher density rezonings. The bottom line is that for Cambie or Broadway, LRT or streetcar would fair no better and likely worse than light metro.

    Zweisystem replies: Actually you are wrong. LRT would not spur development because of its much cheaper cost, it would not spearhead development to try to increase riderhip. SkyTrain and RAV is built to spur development – LRT is built to economically to move people. Simple and straight forward.

  2. Robert in Calgary says:

    Hello from Calgary and a first time poster here.

    Good lord, of course LRT would also spur redevelopment. Sir, you views seem to be quite naive.

    I’m a passionate advocate for LRT here in Calgary. -But- I take a mostly positive approach and play from strength. You seem to take the opposite approach, a self-defeating way to get to your goal.

    Instead of your continual trashing of Skytrain and Translink, you would be better off working on making the funding pie bigger and get your project part of it. Whether you like it or not, Skytrain is the main player.

    If your main goal is just in gaining satisfaction from writing rants…..

    Despite my LRT advocacy, I’m also realistic enough, and know Vancouver well enough to know that LRT is not the answer for the Greater Vancouver area.

    Can you picture a five or six car LRT train moving along Broadway every two minutes as part of the traffic! If you’re going to go with a separate ROW, for the money involved, better to go Skytrain or full-scale Subway.

    You also have the bad habit that because you get the last word, you’re always right. It makes for a poor blog.


    Zweisystem replies: Quote: “Can you picture a five or six car LRT train moving along Broadway every two minutes as part of the traffic.” Actually two MK 1 cars are about the same size of 1 Calgary LRV and two MK 2 SkyTrain cars are about the same size of a Portland LRV. So operating a 6 car train of MK 1’s is about the same size of a 3 LRV set regularly operated in Calgary and a 4 car train of MK 2’s is about the same size of a Portland 2 car LRV set, which are regularly used in both cities.

    Auto’s and commercial vehicles travel at about 2 second headways on Broadway, so what is the problem with 2 minute headways for LRT? I would like to remind you that the trams will not be operating in mixed traffic but on Reserved Rights of Ways, which are amply shown on this blog.

    Quote: “If you’re going to go with a separate ROW, for the money involved, better to go SkyTrain or full-scale Subway.” Wrong, a Reserved Rights of way costs a fraction of a grade separated RoW, yet provides the same level of service; why spend 4 or 5 times more for the same level of service?

    Quote: “I’m also realistic enough, and know Vancouver well enough to know that LRT is not the answer for the Greater Vancouver area”. Really, why? what makes Vancouver so different? Why hasn’t another city in Europe or North America, follow Vancouver’s foray with light-metro? In fact the Metro Vancouver areas only option for ‘rail’ transit is light rail as we can’t afford metro.

    Sorry for having the last word, but your statements are without foundation.

    If you have read what I have said, speed of a transit system is not the prime reason for attracting ridership, overall ambiance, ease of use and accessibility are more important to attract ridership. I never said that speed was unimportant, speed is just not the most important.

  3. Robert in Calgary says:

    Hmmm. Can you “pin” to the home page, your manifesto of what your precise vision is, urban and suburban? …and funding ideas perhaps?

    You’re helping me make my point. Sprawling Calgary is so successful with LRT that three cars aren’t enough. We needed four car trains eight years ago when I addressed city council on the topic. I believe Vancouver’s population density is on the order of four times greater than Calgary’s.

    A six car train of SD-160’s would be 162 yards, 4 cars would be 108 yards.

    Calgarians don’t like the idea of spending two or three hours a day traveling to work/school on transit. Speed matters here!

    Is it fair to say that the residents of the Lower Mainland want -mobility-?
    I break that down into two tiers. First are speed, frequency, reliability.
    Next is destinations, minimal or quick transfers, safety.

    I believe you’re on record as viewing speed as…..unimportant?

    Why not Vancouver you ask? To start, there’s already another system in place that most people are so happy with they want MORE of it.

    Your vision of LRT for Broadway is spending money that doesn’t get the job done, pure and simple. Speed matters here!

    If you want to turn Broadway into a transit only mall, the outer tracks for local service, the inner tracks for more of a express service to UBC…..

    To achieve your goals you need to make friends of the people you’re turning off. That’s your biggest challenge.

    ps – 10 cent increase in gas tax approx $200 million. $200 million from vehicle registration fee, $250-300 million from bridge tolls, $100 million from property taxes. Lets call it $750 million a year.

    $15 Billion over 20 years, put aside $5 billion as a cushion.
    Work with $10 Billion, sell prov. and feds on a specific building plan and get binding agreements to match the $10B over 20 years turning it into $20 Billion plus the $5B cushion.

    “we can’t afford metro” someone said……..

    Zweisystem replies: First, I must assume that you are from the SkyTrain Lobby as you use the same arguments – arguments that have fallen on deaf ears in North America and Europe. Speed is a non-issue as any transit system, be it LRT, SkyTrain, or metro is as fast as it is designed to be. Yes of course the gas tax canard; sorry that isn’t going to fly as the gas tax is falls into government’s general revenue and is used to out to many government agencies, etc.

    Also I find strange that Calgary’s LRT, which has consistently carried more customers than SkyTrain and has daily ridership only dreamed of by transit operators in North America, is not mentioned.

    Since LRT can be as frequent as SkyTrain; can be affordabley built to more transit generators than SkyTrain thus increasing customer mobility without transfers; and is more reliable than SkyTrain, it is the first choice of transit operators around the world. I’m sorry, your tired SkyTrain rhetoric is short on facts and long on myth.

    If you have read what I have said, speed of a transit system is not the prime reason for attracting ridership, overall ambiance, ease of use and accessibility are more important to attract ridership. I never said that speed was unimportant, speed is just not the most important

  4. Robert in Calgary says:

    Zweisystem, I have no control over what decisions you make. I only know you from your deportment online.

    I was making a honest attempt to have a discussion. To try and nudge you into a more positive and realistic approach.

    In my research I have also made visits to Paul Hillsdon’s site. He had a couple of items in April which made the case for Skytrain on Broadway and the rather glaring and obvious flaws in the LRT case. Is he also casually dismissed as part of the evil and nefarious “Skytrain Lobby”? He also recently wrote about bridge tolls.

    I clearly mentioned Calgary, it’s odd you missed it. Of course, based on my expertise, you’re not advocating anything like Calgary Sir!

    What will impress people about LRT?

    Is it “Wow, that was fast” or “Wow, that was slow and so European”

    My advice, which you won’t take, support Evergreen, UBC, -and- Guilford Skytrain -and- lobby for a LRT line connecting Richmond Centre with Langley Centre via Scottsdale and Newton – plus perhaps, a leg from Newton to Guilford. (and lay out how it’s to be funded)

    Approx. 40km + 10km, an useful route at an effective price that would expose a lot of people in the GVRD to the benefits of how -fast- LRT can be. Calgary’s initial line, excluding downtown was 10.9km long.

    If I were honestly part of a Skytrain Lobby, I would love having someone like you around.

    Relentless negativity, fights a war against a popular system, misreading your target audience, stands by a bad proposal, unwilling to adapt ideas or methods to reality of the situation and unwilling to look for win/win scenarios.

    You want to achieve a goal, yet you’re packing around so many self-defeating habits. Even supporters of RFTV are making public comments about you being a liability. It’s time for some self-reflection.

    regards, good luck and farewell,

    Zweisystem replies: C’est la vie. Answer this one question please: Why, after being on the market for over 30 years, only seven such systems have been built, all sold in private deals with ample federal financing, not one SkyTrain system being allowed to compete directly with LRT? Answer that and you will begin to see why SkyTrain is a dated and now obsolete transit system.

    As for speed of a transit system, the fewer stations or stops per route km, the faster the commercial speed; studies have shown that best distance between transit stops in an urban setting is about 450m to 600m apart – stops further apart deters ridership and ridership and satisfied customers is all what public transit is about isn’t it. Maybe not for the SkyTrain lobby where speed is king and customer satisfaction takes second prize.

  5. Kenny Wu says:

    You don’t seem to be recognizing that speed and customer satisfaction are directly linked. If the LRT is stopping as often as the #9 trolley, and even in a difficult-to-attain ROW, then why do we need LRT? the #9, with traffic signal optimization, and articulated buses, would be enough, at least for the time being.

    SkyTrain fits the needs of UBC students wanting fast service home, commuters on streets that intersect with Broadway, and fuels accessibility to Broadway merchants near the major intersections, as well as supplements convenient access to merchants further away, by continuing bus service.

    Additionally, your accusation that if RRT was implemented, trolley buses would be replaced by diesel using air-polluting buses (note: not this post) is simply overkill. Translink made the choice of not reinstalling trolley wires on Cambie Street. Looking at the popularity of that service, it is the right choice. This is not necessarily the case with Broadway, where, with the entire length being lined by commercial areas, re-installation of wires would be worthwhile

    Zweisystem replies: Let’s face facts, except for Vancouver, upgrading a bus line to a full scale metro is to reduce operating costs due to the efficiency of rail transit. With a metro and retaining the trolley fleet sees no efficiencies at all, rather a compounding of operating costs. If a metro is built, just like Cambie St., the trolley fleet will be replaced by infrequent diesel bus operation.

    What I find most disturbing is that many people supporting metro want a limited stop express service so it can carry people living quite far out have a fast trip to their destination while at the same time ignoring local transit customers with a ‘second prize’ bus service. If a subway is built on Broadway, stops will be about every km. apart and the total trip time via subway to UBC for a metro will only be, at best, 5 to 7 minutes faster than LRT, while real travel time maybe not as fast as all! Do you spend $3 billion to $3.5 billion on a subway to save 5 to 7 minutes travel time for very few transit customers, while at the same time providing a poorer transit on the surface? I doubt it.

  6. Robert in Calgary says:

    Time for a quickie…….at least I hope it’s quick.

    Kenny is right, and in what seems to be your penchant Zwei, you’re on the wrong side.

    The pressing need on the Broadway corridor is -rapid transit-.

    A milk run LRT obviously doesn’t fill that need. Spending money to replace a milk run bus with milk run streetcars while ignoring the rapid transit need is silly.

    Zwei, your personal vision may be to force everyone to accept “slow transit”…..Lets face facts! You live in a region where mobility, time, speed and frequency do matter to people.

    What -I- find most disturbing is your need to create problems where there aren’t any and then flip around to badmouth the common sense solutions.

    Whether LRT or RRT, when a rapid transit line is built for Broadway, the street will not suddenly empty. Broadway is a busy corridor. Broadway will continue to be a people busy place. Random musings that Broadway will be given “second prize” bus service is another eye-rolling out of thin air assertion.

    If customers of the route 15 on Cambie think service every 12 or 15 minutes isn’t enough, then they should lobby for more.

    You should advise Miss Dobo to support Skytrain. Fight to minimize construction upheaval. Present ideas for transit funding. Lobby to get the Downtown streetcar plan funded as a complimentary part of the Broadway corridor project and get a Broadway route added to that streetcar plan.

    ….and how about a limited stop LRT rapid transit route from Metrotown to UBC via 49th Ave/SW Marine. But hey!……that’s me and my positive approach.

    ps…love the “very few transit customers” eye-roller at the end. Yes, those B-Line buses are always so empty 🙂


    Zweisystem replies: No one has answered my question: “What are the traffic flows on Broadway?” What I see is a profound ignorance of public transit mode, brought about by decades of inept planners and engineers, who bothered little to inform themselves about public transport.

    There is no such thing as rapid transit; it is a bureaucrat speak used to describe transit to politicians. Metro and light rail are two different transit modes built to solve two different transit problems. A SkyTrain subway would be very poor in attracting ridership and the high costs associated with metro and the lack of ridership growth would bankrupt TransLink; but then transit finace is never thought about by the SkyTrain lobby, never has been and never will be.

  7. David says:

    That’s right Robert, the B-Line buses are packed even though they are slower and less reliable than “milk run” LRT would be.

    BTW, when can we expect the extra $3 billion to build your preferred solution under Broadway? I’m sure zweisystem can provide you with a mailing address for the cheque.

  8. Robert in Calgary says:

    Hello David,

    What are your ideas to increase the “money pie”? Do you have any????

    Can we all agree that in the end, the money comes from the pockets of individuals? Most will be from residents and visitors in the GVRD, some will be from the rest of BC and some will be from Canadians outside BC.

    The question is – in what ways will that money be gathered?

    Here’s my list –

    10 cent increase in gas tax – approx. $200 million per year

    Vehicle registration fee – $200 million per year

    phased increase in property taxes to produce – $100 million per year

    Bridge Tolls – between $250 and $300 million per year, ***although Paul Hillsdon calculated a $2.50 toll could produce up to $450 million.

    Here you are David, four options that give you the choice of between $0 and close to $1 Billion a year.

    How about a hotel tax? How much could that produce?
    How many meals are sold every day in GVRD? How much money would a 10 cent tax per meal sold produce in a day, a year?

    David, whining may give you some sort of short term charge, more ideas can actually produce a solution and get things built. I enjoy that charge a lot more! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Zweisystem replies: Unlike PST-less Alberta, the average BC resident is taxed considerabley. Why tax people more to pay for gold-plated metro systems, when one can build LRT with the revenue we presently get from taxes?

  9. David says:


    If SkyTrain is such a good idea why didn’t anyone in Alberta build with it? Could it possibly be that your governments realized that they could move just as many people using just 1/5 the money?

    Like Zweisystem said, we already pay enough taxes to build a perfectly good rail transit system. If you were paying as much for transit as we do, you’d be upset too.

    Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you move here and experience it for yourself? If you own property in Calgary it’s probably good for a down payment in one of our lovely suburbs. We have lots of jobs in the tourism sector just waiting for enthusiastic folks like you. Of course they only pay $8/hr, but look on the bright side, low income British Columbians will be getting rebates that will more than offset the 12% HST.

  10. Robert in Calgary says:


    A big Thank You for the invitation!

    Along with my enthusiasm, I’m also positive, creative, a real idea guy with a good sense of moving forward in transit planning. Earlier in the year a top manager described me as the most determined person he has met!

    However, $8/hr doesn’t quite cut it. :-S

    I’m thinking, that on the coast, a top executive spot would suit me more….perhaps with Translink!

    Hmmmm…..”Executive in charge of Funding and Construction of Skytrain instead of LRT” >:)

  11. David says:


    Despite living in a city with one of the most successful LRT systems in the world you’ve learned absolutely nothing about planning or implementing rail transit. Sadly that would make you a perfect fit at TransLink.

  12. Robert in Calgary says:


    Considering how little you actually know about me, that is quite an ignorant comment for you to make.

    You’ll excuse me if I put my “aw shucks” side away for a moment.

    Frankly David, I have put LRT issues on the agenda here in Calgary. Up to and including spending my own money to publish my own reports.

    When people describe me as the most determined person they’ve met, there is a fair bit of truth to back it up. And good golly! Folks in Calgary see me as very well informed on things.

    You stay where you are, complaining…the poor overtaxed soul, suffering at the hands of Translink and the so, so unsuccessful Skytrain and the evil Skytrain Lobby.

    Meanwhile, I will continue to use a positive approach and genuine knowledge to actually GET THINGS DONE!


    Zweisystem replies: TransLink has no more money to build with SkyTrain as the Evergreen Line languishes unbuilt and any thought of a $4 billion subway under Broadway is nothing more than a pipe-dream. I find it absolutely tiresome that the SkyTrain lobby refuses to accept the fact that the proprietary light-metro is obsolete. Who builds with SkyTrain?

  13. David says:


    If you’ve really been paying attention to the transit scene in Calgary then you know that it’s possible to build something with equal people moving capacity to SkyTrain at a tiny fraction of the cost.

    For you to then come here and suggest that Vancouver continue to spend 5x as much to get the same result is offensive and insulting to our intelligence.

    You may return to gloat when Calgary opens its first SkyTrain line.

  14. Robert in Calgary says:


    Insulting your intelligence? What about Paul Hillsdon? Jarrett Walker? Yonah Freemark? How many citizens of the GVRD are insulting you for sharing the view I have? How about visitors to the Olympics who say how great the Skytrain is?

    Here’s an alternative view. A lot of people in the GVRD……will find it quite insulting that when the conversation is about putting rapid transit on the Broadway corridor, some people push an obviously inadequate idea for surface LRT.

    David, if you publicly put forward or support a bad idea, you better expect to get criticism.

    A few years ago, one of my brothers tried to kill himself. As we worked through the details, we were perplexed by how he didn’t pick any of the obvious and less lethal alternatives to deal with his situation.

    The reason was – his thinking had narrowed to such a point he didn’t see the other alternatives and the only “logical” option he saw was suicide.
    I see the same style of narrow thinking here and I find it to be sad.

    When I spend my money to put out a professional looking report, the material inside has to be up to snuff as well.

    I have to be the toughest critic of my ideas, my logic and my math. I’ve invested the time on the ground exploring the Broadway corridor from a transit perspective, how about you?

    Now, what about lessons from Calgary? Low density and car culture Calgary where LRT is a huge success. Where trains of three car SD-160’s are packed and we needed four car trains a decade ago.

    Using 2006 figures, Calgary, in area is 6 times larger than the City of Vancouver while Vancouver has a population density 3.7 times larger than Calgary. The City of North Vancouver is at 2.5 times, New Westminster at 2.4 times, Burnaby at 1.5 times, Port Coquitlam at 1.4 times, and Richmond which has population density about equal to Calgary’s. Whether you approve or not, these people want mobility in the region, not just a small radius of where they live.

    The Calgary metro area is 1.7 times larger than the GVRD while the overall GVRD population density is about 1.24 times larger than the Calgary metro area.

    We run LRT as Rapid Transit, not local service. We made a trade-off in downtown. Surface running to get more lines built. Plenty of people travel through downtown and surface running is a major slowdown. Downtown is a PITA and huge bottleneck. The sooner we can start tunnel construction, the better. With some small exceptions, all our routes have been “easy routes”, that’s a huge plus.

    Rapid Transit works better with less level crossings, the fewer the better. On the NE line, the number of crossings between Memorial Drive and McKnight Blvd. is viewed as being a key mistake and a negative for the transportation network in the area.

    On Broadway, your serious choices are Skytrain, elevated or underground, LRT, elevated or underground or full scale Subway. The Expo Line, Canada Line and Millennium Line are facts of life. Evergreen will be added to the east end. Based on the needs and the facts at hand, a Skytrain extension is the best and logical choice for Broadway.

    Your comment “…at a tiny fraction of the cost.” is pie in the sky fantasy. Ultimately, it is your choice to maintain the fantasy or not. Paul Hillsdon’s view is more grounded in reality.

    Surface LRT is fine for Broadway as a local service, as a compliment for more regional rapid transit service provided by Skytrain. I’ve presented suggestions for win/win scenarios. You can either consider them or ignore them, but Surface LRT as Rapid Transit, puleeeeze!

    One or two car “trains” sharing the road with traffic and crossing all the roads between BCIT and UBC in an urban, high density, busy, busy, busy corridor with a major destination at the far end and running every 30 seconds on a 18.5m route? (Burnaby, 12km if GN Way) Oh yes David, I’ve learned the lessons of Calgary and I also know GVRD better than you think. A surface LRT proposal as a replacement for rapid transit is silly. And I think my list of like minded people will be rather long. One “oops” of any nature on the street and the 30 second headway turns to dust.

    Zwei stated on June 25th – “As I said before, if average ridership exceeds about 15,000 pphpd, then a subway must be considered. Broadway will never have this type of ridership.”

    4 car New Mark II’s pphpd capacity – 19,100 at 108 seconds, 23,200 at 90 seconds, and 27,840 at 75 seconds

    With longer platforms –
    6 car New Mark II’s pphpd capacity – 28,710 at 108 seconds, 34,800 at 90 seconds, and 41,760 at 75 seconds

    Here’s what I would like to see on the Broadway Skytrain corridor.

    Three routes, UBC/Waterfront/Lonsdale, UBC/Douglas College and UBC/Surrey 6 car trains at 90 seconds providing pphpd capacity of 34,800 might come close to handling the crowds. Supported by a high-tempo local service in whatever form.

    (at the very end, as a lark, I took Calgary’s current pphpd, around 9,000 and multiplied by Van’s pop. density of 3.7 over Calgary, getting 33,300)

    It would be nice to have a fourth route, UBC/Richmond, and two sets of tracks with two routes per set.

    Just like in Calgary, the traffic is there, waiting for service. Success begets success. Whether you folks approve or not, Skytrain is a huge success. Zwei won’t provide the service so of course the Broadway ridership will never be there. You look at the price tag and claim outrage because you have an antipathy to Skytrain. I look at the long-term investment , the service, and dare I say, the livability of the region. The livability of the neighbourhood is another issue to be addressed.

    This doesn’t exclude LRT, either as rapid transit or local service. You just have to make a better and more positive case for it.

    Here’s a challenge David.

    You, Zwei and Patrick Condon come to Calgary and hold a press conference. Announce how Calgary should approach LRT. Propose a surface LRT along MacLeod Trail with stops every 400-500 meters or so. This means the South line will go from 11 stations outside downtown to somewhere between 32 and 36. Inform Calgarians that once the new and improved LRT line is completed, the old South line will be shut down because you guys have decided that things like speed and time are “further down” the list of priorities of “most people”.

    Then we’ll arrange some public appearances for you where you’ll have a chance for “intense face-to-face feedback”.


    Zweisystem replies: Calgary’s C-Train maximum theoretical capacity (4 car trains) 33,000 pphpd. Please don’t play the capacity game as both LRT and SkyTrain will ultimately have equal capacities, as it all in the math. Robert, much what you say is certainly debatable and please show me a study where speed of a transit system trumps all in attracting ridership. I have personally challenged anyone from TransLink to a fair and open debate about LRT and SkyTrain and for the past decade TransLink refuses. But you never answered my question and the reason is simple, it blows you entire pro-SkyTrain rhetoric out of the water. As for Paul Hillsdon & Jarrett Walker, like yourself, they know very little about public transit and even less about light rail. Instead of writing not too well thought out replies, try reading some of the posts and learn.

  15. mezzanine says:

    “please show me a study where speed of a transit system trumps all in attracting ridership. ”

    Speed isn’t the most important factor, but pretty important nonetheless…



    “Much of Muni operates in mixed traffic, which lowers
    its speed and reliability, two factors that reduce
    cost effectiveness and the ability of Muni to attract
    In Muni’s case, LRT costs 34% more per passenger trip than
    Muni bus. In other words, it is less cost effective for Muni to
    move passengers by LRT than bus, exactly the opposite of
    what is expected.

    Faster vehicles can carry more trips per hour, which reduces
    the number of vehicle service hours required to serve those trips.”

    Zweisystem replies: Thank you for confirming that speed is not the prime factor in attracting ridership and if you have cared to read what I have written in the past year and a half, you are actually supporting what I have said. Your statement support LRT, which by operating in a ‘Reserved rights of way’ provide faster commercial speeds on simple on-street routes.

  16. mezzanine says:

    @Zwei: “.Your statement support LRT, which by operating in a ‘Reserved rights of way’ provide faster commercial speeds on simple on-street routes.”

    But does your vision agree with what broadway merchants want?

    “We are concerned that Translink is studying a heavier version of light rail that is more than we need, is the wrong scale for the neighbourhood, and more expensive than necessary. ”

    quote from Donna Dobo, Director WBBA

    Zweisystem replies: I have talked to Donna Dobo, the merchants know very well what they want.