Patrick Condon highlights cost of Broadway transit

A senior researcher at the UBC Design Centre for Sustainability says that a proposed rapid-transit line along Broadway would be “the most expensive system we’ve had to date”.

Patrick Condon bases this on the provincial government’s 2008 Provincial Transit Plan. In it, the B.C. Liberals called for $2.8 billion for a new 12-kilometre rapid-transit line from Broadway Station to UBC.

“It’s about twice as expensive [per kilometre] as the Canada Line, and it’s about 15 times more expensive per kilometre than a system which, I think, shows a lot of promise, and that would be a European tram system,” Condon told the Straight by phone.

Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs called expanding the SkyTrain along Broadway a “city priority”.

“But I don’t think it can get ahead of the Evergreen project,” Meggs told the Straight. “I don’t think the regional consensus is there for Broadway until they have the Evergreen Line at hand.”

Meggs said he has no idea how much the Broadway project would cost. “We already have a high-speed line ending at the Millennium Line at VCC–Clark,” he noted. “It just makes sense to complete it somehow, either over to the Canada Line or, better yet, take it to Arbutus. It could be the hub of a future extension down the Arbutus corridor or over to UBC.”

Initially, Non-Partisan Association councillor Suzanne Anton told the Straight she didn’t want to get “embroiled” in a debate over whether SkyTrain expansion along Broadway should take priority over an Evergreen Line to Coquitlam.

“They both have to get built,” Anton said. “The Broadway line serves a need that’s already there, and once it was built, it would immediately start pumping operational dollars back into the system. In other words, it would be a net benefit to the system and not a net cost.”

At its Friday (September 25) meeting, the Metro Vancouver board will vote on a motion to advise TransLink that its 2010 10-year base plan, which calls for “Drastic Cuts”, is not in line with the region’s goals. The motion also states that TransLink’s upgrade and expansion program, which would require additional funds of up to $450 million per year, supports regional planning priorities.

“And I fully expect that it will be endorsed by Metro on Friday,” Meggs said.




Sep 24, 2009 at 8:00am

A european-style tram system on the broadway corridor would be a mistake - we need skytrain there, to broadway-city hall at least, if not to UBC.

Consider trams for less intensively used corridors - south false creek for instance.

Evil Eye

Sep 24, 2009 at 8:04am

And a 12 km. LRT line would cost no more than $400 million. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.


Sep 24, 2009 at 1:12pm

Condon really needs to stick with Landscape Architecture. That is what he is a professor of. He doesn't have a clue about transportation This is one of the busies transit corridors in the region. A street car along Broadway would be a joke. It would provide worse service than the current combination of express and local buses. Who cares if it 15 times less expensive. Spending anything on a street car along Broadway would be a waste of money.

Educated Taxpayer

Sep 24, 2009 at 4:50pm

The tram system that could be attained for the same cost of the skytrain line would serve the city in a much more effective way. Far more people would benefit from such a system than from a straight-shot high speed line, because the network would be reachable on foot by the residents in the affected neighbourhoods. We must consider this much more intelligent choice.

Pri$e Tag

Sep 24, 2009 at 4:55pm

Evil Eye, you need to read this through more closely; the cost for this new line is not $400 million, it's $2.8 Billion! Do you realize what a difference that is? How much money $2.8 Billion is? That is a huge pile of cash. Smarter transit now!

Evil Eye

Sep 24, 2009 at 5:17pm

SkyTrain has proven in revenue service that it doesn't have the capacity, durability, or the flexibility of a European style tramway. The Canada Line needs at least $1.5 billion spent on it before it will be able to surpass the capacity of a $25 million/km. LRT!
The Expo Line needs over $1 billion more spent on it so it can match the capacity of a $25 million /km. European style tramway.

The public have been lied to, for far too long by the SkyTrain lobby and not one penny more for TransLink until they start planning for affordable light rail.


Sep 24, 2009 at 8:27pm

if you put a surface tram on broadway, you'd pay a lot of money on track and infrastructure to get marginal gains in ridership and speed.

"Streetcars that replace bus lines are not a mobility improvement. If you replace a bus with a streetcar on the same route, nobody will be able to get anywhere any faster than they could before. This makes streetcars quite different from most of the other transit investments being discussed today.

Where a streetcar is faster or more reliable than the bus route it replaced, this is because other improvements were made at the same time -- improvements that could just as well have been made for the bus route. These improvements may have been politically packaged as part of the streetcar project, but they were logically independent, so their benefits are not really benefits of the streetcar as compared to the bus. "

if cost was the biggest issue, instead of skytrain or lrt, you can build a special trolley bus express along a reserved ROW on broadway.

Evil Eye

Sep 24, 2009 at 11:07pm

Talk to real transit consultants, not TransLink or City of Vancouver charlatans, we could build a new light-rail system, from BCIT to UBC for about $25 million/km. $25 mi./km. - $400 million would buy us 16 km. of LRT, savvy?

Until real experts and consultants are used, the oh so tired bureaucrats within TransLink and the City will still pervert all planning to support SkyTrain!


Sep 25, 2009 at 10:33am

It's time that politicians stop controlling things they no expertise in. Toronto just spent $1.5 billion on new street cars (trams)... why? Because they work just great! Skytrain is nothing but 18th Century locomotives trying to solve 21st Century problems. There ARE more advanced technologies out there... check out what other cities and countries are doing...

Old Battles

Sep 25, 2009 at 11:59am

Please people, stop cherry picking examples from other cities. While Toronto is planning street car and LRT, they are also talking about subway expansion as well. To suggest that one of the busiest transit corridors in the region could be served by a streetcar is ridiculous. LRT might work but does it really make sense to force everyone to transfer at Broadway-Commercial. Probably not. The SkyTrain-LRT debate was worth having years ago for Broadway but the decision has been made to go with SkyTrain for better or for worse. Stop fighting battles that have been lost years ago.