Is it time to bring back the streetcar to Vancouver?

Both Stephen Rees

and Voony

The motion has been launchedAi??by Vancouver-based online consultation platform PlaceSpeak

Vancouver is currently exploring the use of streetcars as a key element of our transition to more sustainable transportation modes. But if streetcars are to be reintroduced in todayai??i??s economic climate it is important that they are planned in a thoughtful, evidence-based manner that includes public input. With this in mind, PlaceSpeak teamed up with Patrick Condon at the University of British Columbia (UBC) to gauge the publicai??i??s interest in restoring streetcarsai??i??and associated amenitiesai??i??to our city.

Historically, Vancouver began as a streetcar city with electric trams connecting neighbourhoods and the downtown core. By the 1920s, however, the introduction of the car proved so powerful that they quickly became the preferred mode of transportation. In fact, Vancouverai??i??s original streetcar grid left such a strong imprint that many arterial streets continue to thrive. Indeed, if you ask a resident where the heart of their neighbourhood is, they will likely name the former streetcar street at its center.

In recent years, B.C. citizens have been struggling to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the air. In our province transportation produces more GHG than any other sector, and the bulk of that comes from the ordinary activity of residents travelling through the city each day.

In Vancouver, we have also been figuring out how to incorporate ai???livable densityai??i?? as we plan a sustainable, affordable, and livable future for our residents. Streetcars may be able to help with both. According to Condon, one part of the solution may be returning to our ai???routesai??i?? and reintroducing streetcars to Vancouver:

Vancouver is slowly on track to meet our 2050 goals for reducing GHGs. We walk more, bike more, use transit more, and our cars less and less. But to make the next big leap requires us to think now about electrifying the transit system. It wonai??i??t help if we all use buses if those buses belch diesel fumes. Streetcars are one solution; and for many streets the cheapest one available. Our city grew with the streetcar. It might grow more sustainable with it again.

ai???Density without transit is just denseai???, says PlaceSpeak CEO Colleen Hardwick:

For Vancouver to meet its environmental goals while accommodating forecasted population growth it is crucial that we diversify our transit options. Streetcars are the missing link in our transportation


One Response to “Is it time to bring back the streetcar to Vancouver?”
  1. I. K. Brunel says:

    One wonders why people keep referring trams as streetcars, in North America? The name streetcar, for many, hearkens back to a time of creaky wooden body affairs, that lunged forward in jerks and sparks.

    The modern tram and light rail is altogether a different matter, grassed reservations, smooth riding and ease of use makes the modern tram a first rate affair.

    In North America (which seems to be 40 years out of date), transit planners believe that the more you spend on transit, the better it is. Subways and viaducts are built on routes that just do not have the ridership for viable operation.

    I believe this is what the conundrum Vancouver faces, the politicians believe that expensive subways are to go, but the tax payer is growing weary of subsidizing the SkyTrain edifice. That the simple tram, could do a better job at moving people, is lost in the fog of base racketeering and land speculation, that has endeared the SkyTrain metro system to so many.

    Vancouver, it seems, is the little city that can’t.

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