Broadway subway won’t bring big towers, Vancouver mayor says

Mayor Gregor Robertson wants to see Vancouverites rally in support of senior-government funding for a subway along the Broadway corridor.

“It is critical for Vancouver,” Robertson said in a speech to the Urban Land Institute today (May 6).

“Just as people did years ago raise their voices in opposition to an onslaught of freeways right through into the downtown, I think we need to do a similar step of raising our voices to get rapid transit.”

This week, Vision Vancouver released its first video of the election campaign, citing the party’s advocacy for the Broadway subway line.

“It’s something that we need to fight for, and that’s part of why I want to run for another term as mayor,” Robertson told reporters.

During his speech, the mayor referred to a subway along the busy corridor as “the single best thing that we could do for our environment and we can do to livability and [the] economy in Vancouver right now”.

According to a city staff analysis of TransLink statistics cited by Robertson, a Broadway subway would have 250,000 trips on its first day of operation, and 50,000 car trips would be eliminated as people switch to transit.

Currently, about 200,000 people live and work along the corridor, with growth of another 150,000 people expected over the next 30 years.

“It would have dire consequences for our region, and for land use right through the centre of Vancouver, if we don’t have this investment,” said Robertson.

But the mayor noted he doesn't want to see the rapid transit line accompanied by “massive towers” along the route.

“As long as I’m the mayor, we’re not going to see that happen,” he stated. "I think we've got a lot of zoning in place already that's going to lead to lots more growth along Broadway, and at this point accommodating that growth without overwhelming the residents I think is essential."

Green councillor Adriane Carr said that’s not what’s on the books in terms of the growth strategy for the Metro Vancouver region, noting there has been a push for densification along the Canada Line stations.

She added city council hasn’t made a decision on the best form of rapid transit all the way to UBC.

“What I want to see is a public process,” she told the Straight by phone.

“I’m really tired of seeing ideas be sent to the public after being very well developed, and then the public has to react to them…That’s not the way to do planning, and it’s not the way to generate public support for something.”

Robertson’s speech to the Urban Land Institute also touched on issues including community amenity contributions, which the mayor said he is opposed to scaling back.

“They’re not just figures on a spreadsheet,” he stated. “They are the York Theatre on Commercial Drive…the new childcare spaces at Woodward’s or the YWCA, they are a new library in Kensington. There’s a very direct investment that comes from the CACs.”

Comments (29) Add New Comment
Gregor, you have zero credibility. No one believes anything you have to say.
Rating: +40

Mayor Gregor needs to take his act out on the road---permantly. This is hilarious!
Rating: +3
Amazing how the mayor is asking for the public's opinion. Our opinion never seems to matter so why does he bother to ask for it.
Rating: +27
Save Vancouver
Sure Gregor. Just what you told Mount Pleasant, Marpole, Oakridge, Grandview-Woodlands.

What a bullshi++er.
Rating: +24
Hahahaha, if you truly believe this, boy do I have a bridge to sell you!
Rating: +11
It's quite surprising that there aren't more towers on broadway already... but if anything will fertilize their growth, mass transit is that nutrient! Of course, building more towers out at UBC would dramatically reduce the number of commuters along that corridor.... oh wait! There already are big towers out there! But they aren't for students, but rather rich people who would never take transit.
Rating: +31
The Mayor needs better advisors. A subway is far from being the greenest solution. Modern light rail is. At a fraction of the price, better for communities (more frequent stops) comparable travel time and far better capacity. Say goodbye to West Broadway independent businesses when the subway comes to town.
Rating: -2
Schnitzey Pretzelpants
I don't see a continuation of a subway line as being the best solution at all. Skytrain was a bad idea that we're pretty much now stuck with.

A much needed mass transit system on the Broadway corridor is our opportunity to at least augment our existing systems with a far-better solution: street cars in designated lanes - something akin to Portland, is a far better solution, and furthermore it would allow for expansion of the system to service the downtown core in a few key areas where it could then link up with Sky/Canada Lines.

What is more, it wouldn't require anywhere near the level of disruption to business and residences when being constructed.
Rating: -20
TransLink's own ridership figures show that the Broadway bus routes 9, 14, N17 and the 99 carry about 31,570 trips a day, how the hell that translates to 250,000 trips on the subway on opening day?

Subways are notorious for not and I repeat not attracting the motorist from the var because they are inconvenient, with forced transfers and long distances between stations. Studies have shown that trips 7km and less are faster using surface transit than a subway.

What the real story is; that after spending $9 billion on three mini-metro lines, we haven't taken a car off the road. In 1994 the mode share for the auto was 57% in the Vancouver metro region and today, 20 years later, the auto mode share remains at 57%.

A subway is being planned because the planners know of the complete failure of the present transit system to reduce auto use and congestion and are keeping the roads clear for cars! Why bother spend the money.
Rating: -8
What's wrong with more towers along Broadway?
Rating: +5
It states that the number of people will grow but we won't be putting in places for them to live? Also light rail has more stops so my 30 min commute will turn into an hour?
Rating: +24
What a liar, typical fool for pushing crap like this. Go look up and down Cambie - what's happening? TOWERS! that's right.
Rating: -6
As someone that lives on the Broadway corridor, it is ridiculous that we haven't increased density along here. We should be building towers all along the major transit and commercial areas of our city. Housing prices are driving people out of the city and the only want to stop this is to increase the available housing stock.
Rating: +14
El Gato
Councillor Carr needs to figure out if she's a de facto NPA rep or a bona fide environmentalist.
Rating: +3
its called transit oriented development. Vancouver is a major city. quit living like it is 1960
Rating: +7
i don't know how anyone could argue that light rail is a better option. More stops, less capacity than subway, taking away whole lanes from an already crowded "lol" says, we are no longer a small town. There should have been a subway to UBC long ago. Density is not a bad thing, including towers, though, of course there are other options too! If people stopped being so obsessed with preserving their completely exclusive (non-green) single family home neighbourhoods, towers would be less necessary. Let's push for fee simple row housing! Or how about less set back from the street? More public parks and community gardens in combination with mid rise apartment buildings. This will allow us to grow into a more community minded, more fun, and vibrant city. Not to mention more affordable! Not all of us (almost none of us) can afford to live in houses! And I say this as someone who grew up in a SFH on the west side. It's time to change our way of thinking. As long as nimbyism prevails, developers will also prevail, as extremism breeds extremism, especially if land is scarce and there is no other option to increase density than to build a highrise.
Rating: +5
I think we should save money and retain the beautiful view by constructing an aerial tram system to run between Commercial and UBC.
Rating: -6
@ Jo

Actually, more stops for LRT attracts more transit customers, as the further spaced stops for a subway will deter ridership. If you journey is less than 7 km, it will be faster to travel by tram.

The capacity issue is a wee bit thorny because TransLink and the CoV have been telling porkies about LRT capacity. Light Rail actually can handle much more capacity than SkyTrain! SkyTrain's present capacity is constrained by those short 80 metre station platforms and to increase capacity for SkyTrain, beyond what is presently being carried, every SkyTrain station platform must be extended by at least 40 metres. This will cost at least $1 billion and even that will make SkyTrain capacity match modern LRT's!

Again it must be restated, despite being on the marker for over 35 years, only seven SkyTrain type systems have been built and only three are seriously used for urban transit. LRT beats out SkyTrain every time for speed, capacity and customer friendliness. It's time Translink's and the Cov's planners and engineers read a book about modern light rail, they may learn something.
Rating: -7
Hi Zwei,

You really should actually read the Expo line capacity study if you intend to talk about it. The 5 car option increases Expo line capacity to 25,700pphpd for a cost of 1 billion. This does not expand the 80m platforms but does rebuild the stations to increase circulation and access (the cost of station upgrades already needed and underway at Main/Metrotown/Commercial etc is included in that number). Also included is buying the trains and the extra cost of operating the extra trains for 30 years. Another thing included in the number is signalling and power upgrades, many of which are required anyways and some of which are being done now (power rail replacement etc.).
Rating: +3
More tall glass people storage units along a once attractive Vancouver street? Nah.
Rating: -6


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