Broadway needs SkyTrain rather than light rail, Vancouver city staff & Translink trot out the same old, same old.

Broadway needs SkyTrain rather than light rail, Vancouver city staff say

By Yolande Cole, November 27, 2012

Vancouver city staff believe a subway SkyTrain line to UBC is the best way to meet the growing demand along the Broadway corridor, outweighing the option of a light-rail system that they say would not accommodate the transit needs along the busy route.

Vancouver transportation director Jerry Dobrovolny told city council today (November 27) that staff have ai???major concernsai??? about the anticipated impacts of a surface rapid transit system west of Arbutus Street, and see a subway line as the best mode to meet the projected growth in trips along what they say is the busiest bus route in North America.

ai???Weai??i??ve tried very hard and weai??i??ve looked at it for years, to see if there was a surface solution west of Arbutus, and our conclusion today is no there is not a surface solution west of Arbutus that moves the number of people that need to move in that corridor, without tremendous impacts on the corridor,ai??? Dobrovolny told reporters following his presentation to council.

Those anticipated impacts include turn restrictions on over 90 percent of the intersections along the corridor, removal of over 90 percent of the parking spaces, narrowed sidewalks, the removal or replacement of street trees, and ai???an entire reconstruction of the street corridorai???, according to Dobrovolny.

Long-term city policy has identified rapid transit along the Broadway corridor as a priority, he noted. Council has also identified a tunnel SkyTrain along Broadway to Arbutus Street as the preferred rapid transit option.

ai???This project has been identified as a priority for decades,ai??? he said. ai???The time for a decision we feel is now. And itai??i??s important to understand that a major project like this could take five years or longer to be realized, in terms of design and

Broadway currently sees over 100,000 people moving down the corridor daily, and approximately 2,000 passengers are passed by full buses during the peak morning hours at Commercial-Broadway, noted Dobrovolny.

ai???What that tells us is that transit capacity is not there to meet the job and population demand that currently exists in that corridor,ai??? he told council, noting the number of passengers travelling along the route is anticipated to balloon faster than projected.

Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs said todayai??i??s presentation clarified why staff believe a subway is the preferred option over a light-rail transit system.

ai???I think thereai??i??s been a lot of interest in the LRT from people who are very committed to transit, and if the cityai??i??s going to keep going ahead on the bored-tunnel option, citizens need to know why staff take a strong position, so we got a lot more clarity on that,ai??? Meggs said in a phone interview with the Straight.

ai???I think itai??i??s also important from a regional perspective to underline why weai??i??re proposing a technology which superficially looks more expensive, but we believe would deliver more in the long run, by a country mile,ai??? he added.

The ai???high-levelai??? estimated cost of an underground SkyTrain from VCC Clark to UBC is $2.8 billion, according to Dobrovolny. The price tag for an initial phase of subway construction to Arbutus Street is estimated at $1.5 billion.

City manager Penny Ballem noted the operating costs of a machine-operated SkyTrain are lower than a driver-operated LRT.

ai???SkyTrain is one of the only technologies in the world that actually costs less to deliver than the revenues it receives once itai??i??s built,ai??? she told council.

University of British Columbia officials indicated they remain concerned about guaranteed funding for the rapid-transit line all the way to the west-side campus.

ai???Weai??i??re still concerned that once the funding discussion has been held, that if there is not enough money to make the solutions as proposed happen all the way to UBC, that we might get stranded with buses running between Arbutus and our campus, which is the one solution we really donai??i??t want,ai??? Pascal Spothelfer, the vice-president of community partnerships at UBC, told the Straight in a phone interview.

Derek Zabel, a spokesperson for TransLink, said the authority is currently conducting a study that will identify and evaluate various possible solutions for the transit corridor, which will be followed by a ai???regional dialogueai??? with municipalities. He expects results of the study to be released early in the new year.

According to city staff, over half the trips made along the Broadway corridor to Central Broadway or UBC originate from outside Vancouver.

Meggs said from Vancouverai??i??s point of view, the next votes on the rapid transit issue should take place at the regional level.

ai???All transportation investment is regional, so youai??i??ve got to make the argument to all 22 municipalities that they have a stake in the outcome..because rapid transit is expensive,ai??? he said. ai???But in this case, at least half the riders are from all over the region, so this is something citizens in every municipality would benefit


6 Responses to “Broadway needs SkyTrain rather than light rail, Vancouver city staff & Translink trot out the same old, same old.”
  1. Justin Bernard says:

    The Tyee answer the question we LRT supporters ask: Why is LRT costs so inflated in Canada?

  2. Richard says:

    Maybe the same reason why subways cost around 3 times as much. Condon and other LRT advocates also typically to forget to include the cost of the trains needed to actually carry the numbers of riders expected. For the UBC Line, 160,000 are expected. With the expensive land needed for the rail yard, that adds hundreds of millions to the cost. Unless you expect people to just walk on the rails.

    Zweisystem replies: I am sorry Richard, but like your friend Rico, you are full of it. I suggest you read a book on the subject because you are woefully ill-informed.

  3. Malcontent says:

    Really if SkyTrain was so awesome why is hardly anyone using it.? Isn’t there like only 5 that are actually still running? One is just basically an airport shuttle I believe too. I may be wrong…

  4. Bibi Khatoon says:

    @ Richard, some men are so dumb, who do you think you are to make such an crass statement as you have?
    Of course the all figures that Light Rail consultants & experts post are for a total package, including vehicles.
    It’s only the children, employed by Translink to rubbish anyone who is opposed to the party line who could come up with that statement.

  5. Red frog. says:

    SkyTrain and its cousins (France’s VAL, Japan AGT) are called outside Vancouver an automated Light Rail Transit system. its capacity is not that much different from the capacity of LRT used in Europe but also Portland and Seattle.
    The Alstom tramways (Europeans don’t use th name is all tramways for use, whether the yare small or big ones) that are used in many towns –not just in Europe either–are 44 metres long and carry 300 passengers (the Bombardier tram used during the 2010 Winter Olympics was 32 metres long and carried 178 passengers).

    There are trams in Budapest that are 54 metres long (Siemens Avenio) and can carry 340 to 380 passengers depending on the width. Their biggest model is 72 metres long and can carry 500 passengers.
    Both the LRT in Portland (Siemens S70) and the Japanese made one in Seattle run in a pair of 2 cars. these pairs are 58 metres long and carry 344 passengers in Portland and 400 in Seattle.

    They have no problem in Europe, Japan, North-Africa etc. running trams in busy street…but then in many towns some car lanes have been purposely eliminated–even in streets away from tram lines—to reduce pollution and the dependance on cars. major streets don’t allow parking at all and other streets have been turned, starting 40 plus years ago, into car-free zones. YET businesses along all these streets are doing just fine.

    Saying that SkyTrain saves money because it has no drivers is too cute for words when once can see TransLink staff all over the place. And there are staff in the control room, plus the police etc.

    It is interesting that we have such high fares and 3 zones.
    Portland recently changed to 1 single zone, with a monthly pass for $100. All towns in France, except Paris, that have trams–even Lyon that has also 4 subway lines and 2 cog rail lines– only have 1 zone and charge–per month– from 53 Euros in Lyon to 33 Euros in Bordeaux.
    Even Paris is cheaper than SkyTrain. A monthly pass for zones 1-5 cost Euros 101,13 and a pass for zones 2-5 cost Euros 80…EVEN if it was the same as a 3 zones pass in Vancouver , Paris transit is much bigger.
    Paris is planning to have only 1 zones by the way (they went down from 8 to 5 and no the Greater Paris hasn’t shrunk..

    Toronto monthly pass is $ 126. Montreal monthly pass cost $ 75,50…TO and Montreal of course have subways..real sizes…

  6. political_incorrectness says:

    If LRT is so great, please tell me how you will mitigate construction along Broadway with service disruptions to transit and vehicles. Skytrain can carry more than 100k people per day. LRT simply would not be able to handle the demand due to having drivers of all the vehicles and requiring vehicle spacing. Skytrain underground is the only way to go.

    Zweisystem replies: Lots of misinformation here. If LRT were to be built on Broadway, construction would proceed at a pace of 30 or so metres a day, with site preparation, no storefront would see disruption lasting longer than two weeks. In Nottingham, UK, there was a compensation package for local merchants, that if LRT construction blocked access for more than two weeks, they were able to collect compensation if they could prove a loss of business.

    Modern LRT has a potential capacity that is the same or greater than SkyTrain. There are examples of light rail (operating at a tram or streetcar on-street) in Europe carrying well over 30,000 pphpd!At best, SkyTrain has proven to carry about 12,000 pphpd.

    Sounds like you have been listening to the Vancouver Engineering Department, who have absolutely no knowledge about LRT and spout 1950’s myth as though it were fact.