Vancouver city staff reject NPA’s streetcar network proposal

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      A proposal from NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton to fast-track a downtown streetcar line was shut down by City of Vancouver staff today (September 22), who said the city shouldn’t pursue the project independently of TransLink.

      The streetcar proposal came up during a city council discussion on the 2012-2014 capital plan, when COPE councillor David Cadman asked city staff whether the project could be funded through the three-year plan.

      “It’s not a project that the city would pursue on its own – it’s a project that has to be pursued integrally with TransLink,” said city engineer Peter Judd, in response to repeated questions from Cadman.

      Judd added that the city’s focus and priority is on a Broadway corridor strategy.

      “The Broadway line will have a far higher improvement and impact on transit use than the streetcar,” he said.

      City manager Penny Ballem said while the streetcar idea is something that city councils of the past have discussed, she noted it would be “a very significant capital expenditure”.

      “It would be a challenge for us, and almost not feasible to try and find that within our existing plan,” she said. “To actually even remotely consider that it would be a question of incurring more debt.”

      “This is something that we don’t want to close doors in the future, but we’re a long way from being able to seriously consider putting this in place,” Ballem added.

      Anton wasn’t discouraged by the answers from city staff.

      “The streetcar is my priority - I am very confident that the streetcar can be built,” she told the Straight in an interview. “The reason it’s being framed in that way is because this council has given no direction and no support for a private partnership. I believe it can be done with private partnership.”

      “If you bring that element into it, and if there were to be other grants from other levels of government, which is possible, and which I intend to pursue vigorously, I think those answers would change quite dramatically,” she added.

      Anton announced Wednesday (September 21) that if elected mayor, she would establish a task force within 60 days to begin work on fast-tracking the streetcar network.

      The proposed network would run from Granville Island to Waterfront Station.



      @ Judd

      Sep 22, 2011 at 7:57pm

      Can't streetcars be used up Broadway?

      Save Vancouver

      Sep 22, 2011 at 8:27pm

      The clock is ticking down on Penny Ballem's reign of terror at city hall anyway. All the blatantly political appointees need to be swept out the door in favour of a professional city staff.


      Sep 22, 2011 at 9:23pm

      Most of the city staff do not know what their doing in the first place especially transportation, just wait for the Election and Vote with your brain this time!


      Sep 23, 2011 at 12:22am

      Whoops, another NPA idea falls flat!

      Emily Cat

      Sep 23, 2011 at 7:37am

      So the NPA criticizes a $5k student food program yet supports spending $200-million on street car that nobody needs?

      No more crazies in city hall

      Sep 23, 2011 at 7:48am

      Peter Judd and Penny Ballem have lost sight of one simple fact. Bureaucrats don't set policy, the people, as represented by the council they elect, set policy. Bureaucrats are supposed to carry out the policy decisions made by council regardless of their personal opinions.


      Sep 23, 2011 at 8:33am

      Lets remember that environmentally friendly technology of electric transportation is to the benefit of all citizens, but privatization of the system is only to the benefit of a few investors and paid dearly by the oblivious majority. This is a repeat of the Canada Line.

      There is no reason why the city could not borrow the capital investment, rather than give the service to the for profit partners.

      Dr Octagon

      Sep 23, 2011 at 10:51am

      @ Judd

      Like the streetcars on 5th Avenue or the Champs-Élysées you mean?

      A tunnel-bored subway is the only sensible solution for the Broadway-UBC corridor.

      Ray V

      Sep 23, 2011 at 5:26pm

      Engineers look at the most practical and cost effective solution to a problem.

      Judd seems to have few screws loose. Transit is awful to UBC.

      Show me how creating havoc for another mass transit project taking another decade to complete is a good idea.

      A fix is required, today. Do what can be done today for the money available.

      Evil Eye

      Sep 24, 2011 at 7:22am

      Streetcars are light rail vehicles or trams that operate on-street in mixed traffic.

      Today, modern streetcars can have a capacity up to 350 persons (Budapest's Caterpillars) and can achieve capacities in excess of 30,000 pphpd during peak hours. This more than the maximum theoretical capacity of SkyTrain and twice as much as the maximum capacity of the Canada line.

      The record capacity for a streetcar line is in Karlsruhe Germany, where a record peak hour capacity exceeds 40,000 pphpd on the main tram line through the city centre!

      Today, a modern streetcar can be a streetcar, a light rail vehicle or even a passenger train, like the now famous tramtrains in operation in Europe, on a single transit route, giving a seamless (no-transfer) journey, that has proven to attract the motorist from the car..

      The streetcar has come a long way since the simple PCC cars of the 1930's and Vancouver's engineering staff seem to be ill read on modern public transportation philosophy.

      It's time the boys and girls at city hall read some books on the subject.