Vancouver Wants Another Subway!

Vancouver politicians want to pull a fast one on regional taxpayers.

What seems to be pure politcal theatre from a city council which has not one clue about public transport nor the financial implications of “rapid transit”, want to plan for another rapid transit line.

The ruling Alphabetical Party of Convenience has to be seen doing something while they do nothing, but still maintain the need for a subway.

This is a city that can’t even operate and maintain Stanley Park’s miniature railway.

In BC, Rapid Transit is a nebulous term that can mean anything from a heavy rail metro to a express bus that operates every 15 minutes.

Rapid Transit, a Wiki definition:

Rapid transit or mass rapid transit (MRT), also known as heavy rail or metro, is a type of high-capacity public transport that is generally built in urban areas. A rapid transit system that primarily or traditionally runs below the surface may be called a subway, tube, or underground.  Unlike buses or trams, rapid transit systems are railways, usually electric, that operate on an exclusive right-of-way, which cannot be accessed by pedestrians or other vehicles. They are often grade-separated in tunnels or on elevated railways.

Vancouver wants another subway (they have a by-law forbidding elevated construction) and that will be costly!

The sad fact is, no one really cares, simply because so few use transit, 12% to 14% of the regional population use transit and that expanding Highway one is now the provincial governments number one transportation concern. Then add the Broadway subway to UBC, rapid transit to the North Shore, old Zwei will long be dust before any rapid transit happens on Hastings.

The CoV wants a Hastings St. subway!

The CoV wants a Hastings St. subway!


Vancouver City Council endorses rapid transit for Hastings corridor


8 Responses to “Vancouver Wants Another Subway!”
  1. Haveacow says:

    I get it, it’s human to want more of something that you deem as useful. To be fair, the Skytrain has worked reasonably well for Vancouver over the years attracting ridership. For a middle sized North American city (2 – 5 million area population) the ridership is good. But, all these new lines people want for Vancouver have two gigantic issues with them.

    1. The Skytrain is a city to suburb or suburb to suburb based rail rapid transit system (Light Metro). Like with the Expo Line extension to Langley, the potential line they are talking about is a regional distance based line and functional exceeds what can be affordably serviced with Skytrain operating technology. In other words, yes the Skytrain operating technology can do the job but it sure isn’t the most efficient or cost effective tool for regional distance based rapid transit. The explosion in capital costs for the Langley extension is a case in point.

    2. Capital costs vs the potential construction gue. Right now even if the Langley extension gets built at all, the extension of the Millennium Line from Arbutus to UBC sure looks like the next big job in the Skytrain construction basket. It’s costs are going much higher than previously thought and like it or not, that will have a big long-term financial effect on anything the system does after that. The longer and more grand the next series of Skytrain projects are, the longer they will be waiting in the que, for the now confirmed, shrinking amounts of federal and provincial funding.

    Something to think about.

    Remember, the new head of Translink is looking at cost cutting and developing a lot more surface BRT busway projects in the future, instead of Skytrain extensions. The reason, you can build a lot more km’s of surface busways, for a heck of a lot less, than you can extending Skytrain lines. You may want European or Asian levels of Light and Heavy Metro construction funding but fewer and fewer mortgage holding, property tax voters want or are capable of paying for that.

    In the last two and a half decades or so, voters would generally vote for the politicians that spent government funding for things they want, like infrastructure. However I’m now old enough to remember earlier times, the 1980’s to mid 1990’s where many voters, mostly Conservative but not always, voted for the politicians that cut spending. They gave large majority governments to politicians who actually cut spending by the greatest amount. The “1995 Common Sense Revolution election victory” by Mike Harris’s Conservative Party in Ontario comes to mind. I have noticed, that this type of political movement is becoming more popular again, unfortunately. The more they plan to cut, the higher their pole numbers get. The longer this type of outlook is supported, the less and less likely future Skytrain extensions become.

  2. Hastings says:

    This website is misreading the news again. Vancouver is not asking for a new subway on Hastings. It is just asking for a new rapid transit line. It could be a street level line like LRT. Putting it in a tunnel would increase costs. The ABC party was created after the NPA could not get re-elected. The NPA were big supporters of bringing back streetcars to Vancouver. Mayor Ken was part of the NPA. The NPA wanted a street car line around false creek and around downtown. Extending this down Hastings street would be a good idea. The city need to work with Translink to do this. They could start with creating a proper BRT first to speed up express buses on Hastings. Then upgrade it to something like LRT or street car.

    Zwei replies: From what planet are you from? After the Expo line, the city of Vancouver passed a bylaw that basically said all new rapid transit built in the city must be in a subway. Therefore rapid transit, in the CoV vernacular means a subway.

    The NPA did not support LRT and in fact no CoV government supported any form of LRT since 1986.

    From my google maps, Hastings still has the “express wires up for Hastings, thus putting express trolley buses would be one of management, the kit is there!

  3. zweisystem says:

    I would like to add, the Broadway-Lougheed “rapid transit” project was originally a light rail project and light rail was deemed not “rapid transit” by the CoV.

    When the NDP formed TransLink, as an inducement to Vancouver Councillor and GVRD Chair, George Puil, as an inducement (Puil was to be the CEO of TransLink) to sell their flip flop from LRT to then called ART (SkyTrain), the ultimate inducement for support of ART was that the”THE PROVINCE WOULD PAY TWO THIRDS THE COST OF ANY ART PROJECTS WEST OF COMMERCIAL DRIVE” and as TransLink put the cost of a Broadway subway at one third the cost of ART to build (actually the real cost was one sixth the cost to build) Puil and the CoV signed on for ART.

    As the now called Millennium Line continues in the Grandview Cut and terminated between Glen and Clark Drive (the Premier at the time was Glenn Clark) contrary to the existing by-law.

    The millennium Line was so expensive that it was built in two parts, the existing Millennium Line and the Evergreen Line which became the Millennium Line after completion.

    The CoV went so far as to force abandonment the Vancouver heritage railway which trundled around False Creek (it was largely funded by Bombardier as an inducement to build with ALRT) after the massive and internationally recognized success of the Olympic Line, using modern trams during the Winter Olympics! The fear was an apples to apples comparison with ART!

  4. Hastings says:

    The millennium line was built after the expo line, and it is elevated. The Broadway extension is elevated for the first 1 KM to Fraser street.

    The city of Vancouver has plans for a street car network and just waiting for funding to complete it. The Olympic line was a demonstration of what could be done with the railway right of ways it purchased from the CPR. The purpose was to get funding from government to complete the street car plan. Nothing has happened yet. Only the city of Vancouver purchased the land for it. The priority right now is to finish the millennium and expo line extensions.

    The City’s staff submission into Translink’s Transport 2050 Regional Transportation Strategy process
    included the Downtown Streetcar network concept.

    The city of Vancouver wants a street car network. It is up to Translink and other governments to fund it. It is just been put on hold for now.

    Zwei replies: So much fake news. The Millennium Line actual grade separated section is about .7 km and is elevated because Broadway is about 30 metres higher than the line at Glenn Drive.

    As for your streetcar musings, sorry, nada. I know the guys fighting for a tram/streetcar for Vancouver and no one at city hall is interested. News releases are politcal documents, strictly to espouse fake news.

    As for the Expo Line extension, there is a growing movement within the Metro that it isn’t the best way to ultimately spend $5 billion to $6 billion for 16 km of line. There is also growing concern that there will be no federal money for the the completion of the subway to UBC. TransLink has fired a trial balloon to abandon the Langley extension and instead use it for the subway.

    Two big, big issues, the Ukraine War and the war in Gaza, may see the cost of cement increasing dramatically (from a US transit bulletin) and because of this, the cost cement may increase 10% to 15% in the next year and with the masses of amount of cement needed for MALM expansion, the costs may yet again increase. The other big problem is sand because one needs sand to make cement and sand, believe it or not, is becoming a scarce commodity, further increasing costs.

  5. Haveacow says:

    I would have liked a streetcar line or two in Vancouver however, there is a saying in Ottawa’s City Hall, “If your project wasn’t nailed down before 2019 and Covid, it’s now dead!”

    With all the changes in senior government funding priorities after Covid plus the sudden and jarring increase in inflation because of the financial recovery and the Ukraine war, projects that were looking for funding before Covid and are still unfunded, are probably never going to see the light of day. Unless your project was already a major community project with city wide importance and is highly sought after by private companies and outside entities, like the Skytrain extension to UBC, your project is most likely now gone.

    Also projects that were funded but have not started yet, like Skytrain extension to Langley, are increasingly being “delayed”, which means, its quietly being killed off or going to be severely cut back, due to capital cost inflation. Their funding no longer covers their total expected capital costs and no senior level of government is going to increase the funding to cover the new costs.

    Zwei replies: There are several rumours abound about future transit planning and why TransLink is now going to heavily invest in rapid bus as they believe it will attract new ridership, which, personally, I doubt.

    The big issue is funding and it is apparent, with current events a “use it of lose it” rumour is gaining traction. Evidently, the cost for a viaduct across the Serpentine Valley has increased dramatically.

    The other issue, is that Valley politicians are more and more warming up to the idea of reinstating a passenger rail service on the former BCE. TransLink is spending a bundle on several social media platforms singing hosannas about the new car order replacing the MK.1’s.

    I also have been told that a senior TransLink bureaucrat who was outright by a valley mayor about ridership on the Langley extension versus the RftV plan, dithered far too long and later admitted that the RftV plan would probably attract more ridership but as it cannot operate any greater than 20 minute headway’s, they were not interested.

    There is a more but, keeping my powder dry, except to say TransLink is worried, very worried that the funding rug may be pulled out from under them.

  6. Haveacow says:

    I have seen surface BRT and surface LRT work very well at generating ridership. Yes, LRT generates more passengers than BRT. I have no doubt that Tram-Trains work very well, Karlsruhe’s dire need to build an underground tunnel to move the huge number of trains and passengers through their downtown is proof of that.

    Beyond my personal involvement with the BRT in York Region (VIVA and its Rapidways) the shear advantage of surface BRT/LRT is cost. Although the cost is creeping up, surface LRT is usually 1/2 to 1/3 the capital cost of even a surface Skytrain extension and between 1/3 and 1/4 the cost of the above grade Skytrain line extensions.

    However, the latest estimate by York Region Transit is truly eye popping, using 2023 dollars YRT claims that $6.5 Billion will build over 132 km of Rapidway (medium capacity surface busways) in York Region. Whereas Metrolinx is currently building just an 8 km extension of the Yonge Street Subway into York Region for $6 Billion. Yes, a km of subway moves more than a km of busway but wow, 132 km of busway. Even if they are off by 10% to 20% it’s still a stunning statement. Keeping in mind York Region has already built 34 km of busways between 2011 and 2020 for only $1.8 Billion, the price includes the buses.

    Also we were moving up to 10,000 passengers/hour/direction with painted bus lanes downtown on Albert and Slater Streets during the height of the peak periods here in Ottawa, before we switched over to an underground LRT tunnel. Proof properly done, real BRT can attract quite a few passengers.

  7. Haveacow says:

    Forgot to mention, the surface busways York Region are building are relatively easy to convert to surface LRT when needed. They simply just didn’t have the passenger numbers to justify LRT when the system was being planned in the early to mid 2000’s.

  8. zweisystem says:

    What Translink is pretending to be BRT is in fact B-Line express bus service, operating largely on HOV Lanes, with a service of at least 15 minutes. I have been told, contrary to what TransLink claims that “raw boarding” are being used to give the impression that ridership is bouncing back post Covid, but there is a big but. Many services have been cut back and bus frequency has been reduced, giving the impre3ssion of over crowding, when in fact with previous bus service, there was not. TransLink does not volunteer the more important “linked trips”.

    Surrey has a population almost as large as Vancouver, yet its transit services pale in comparison and what improvement being made will be used, there is no doubt in that, but again a big but, auto use is increasing as the regional demographic is changing as businesses flee the “high rent” Vancouver to areas with cheaper rent and poorly served by transit.

    Also of interest is your statement; “Also we were moving up to 10,000 passengers/hour/direction with painted bus lanes downtown on Albert and Slater Streets during the height of the peak periods here in Ottawa………………..” as compared to the CoV’s claim that Broadway was the busiest transportation corridor in Canada, no North America, when in fact it carried fewer than 4,000 pphpd in the peak hours!

    I still chuckle at how the SkyTrain faithful still blindly support a 1970’s light metro that no one wants and only 7 such systems sold, with now only 6 in operation. The current spin by TransLink is that the MK.5 cars (tarted up Mk.2 Innovia cars) are a new design, which they are not. The only difference I see is larger vestibules and anew front end. Most tram manufacturers offer up to 10 front end designs to suit the needs of its customers!

    I do not think Alstom is spending a penny on the system and, especially with the need to ramp up arms production, I think the proprietary light metro system will be quietly dropped from production.

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