One of Kitsilano’s best-known community activists believes that any transit expansion planned for the Broadway corridor should be “safe, friendly, and affordable”.
“One of the ways to get people out of their cars”¦is to have a system that’s affordable,” Mel Lehan, a member of Business and Residents for Sustainable Transit Alternatives, told the Straight by phone. “One of the biggest problems and one of the biggest concerns we have is rapid transit—so SkyTrain technology.”
The provincial government and TransLink are funding the multi-year UBC Line Rapid Transit Study to look at options for building rapid transit along Broadway between Commercial Drive and UBC. The City of Vancouver, UBC, the University Endowment Lands, and Metro Vancouver are all partners in the study. No deadline has been set for the selection of a plan, but this year the two government sponsors will evaluate options and seek public input.
Last September, UBC Design Centre for Sustainability senior researcher Patrick Condon told the Straight that the $2.8 billion the province pencilled into its 2008 Transportation Plan for a 12-kilometre rapid-transit line from Broadway Station to UBC would make it “the most expensive system we’ve had to date”.
Lehan said he’s hoping the province “is backing off now”.
“Now that they’ve made all the phony promises and reality sets in, they don’t have the money to build this,” he said. “It’s such a waste, because if Patrick Condon is right, we could have trams throughout the entire Lower Mainland at the same cost it would be for a 12-kilometre Broadway line.”
At its transportation and traffic committee meeting on January 19, Vancouver city council received a 23-page report containing basic guiding principles for the Broadway corridor planning. Council has scheduled a special meeting of its planning and environment committee for Friday (January 22) at 9:30 a.m. to hear from speakers, including Lehan.
COPE councillor David Cadman told the Straight he was not upset with Vision Vancouver councillors for bringing forward the report with little notice.
“We need to begin looking at this,” Cadman, who personally favours a fast-bus system with a dedicated bus lane, said via cellphone.
Regarding Lehan’s funding concerns, Cadman stated, “Certainly what it [a lack of provincial funds] will give is a lot more time to figure out how to do this thing right. I think, hopefully, there has been the learning that the way that it was done along Cambie was not right.”