NPA's Suzanne Anton vows to fast-track downtown streetcar network in Vancouver

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      Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton wants to resurrect Vancouver’s downtown streetcar network.

      During an announcement today (September 21) outside Olympic Village Station, Anton said if elected mayor she would accelerate plans to connect Granville Island, the Olympic Village and Science World to Chinatown and Waterfront Station through a streetcar network.

      According to the NPA, the network would be funded through a public-private partnership, with costs estimated at about $81 million for the track, and another $21 million for the purchase of six streetcars.

      “There may be some future resources available in the capital plan for various things, but I will not be proposing Vancouver taxpayers pick up all these initial capital costs, even though the citizens of Vancouver will reap the benefits,” she said.

      The P3 proposal was panned by Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs, who said priority should be placed on a transit strategy for the Broadway corridor.

      But Anton argued the streetcar network could be in done in addition to the construction of the Broadway rapid transit line. She said while the NPA would look to TransLink as a partner to integrate the streetcar network into the regular transportation system, they wouldn’t be expected to be an investor.

      “It’s something that we would certainly look at,” TransLink spokesperson Ken Hardie told the Straight by phone in reaction to the proposal. “We would need to look at the technical aspects of it.”

      Hardie said the route and infrastructure of the trial streetcar used during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games is “already factored into a number of our alternatives for a rapid transit connection towards UBC.”

      “The concept of a streetcar is still alive, in terms of TransLink’s thinking and planning,” said Hardie.

      According to Anton, the city already owns the streetcar right-of-way from Granville Island to Waterfront Station.

      “We can do the street car today - it’s ready to go,” she said. “The studies just need updating, the land is here, we can get going on the streetcar.”

      “Land assembly is usually the hardest thing in the project,” she said “It is the easiest thing in this project - it has already been done.”

      Anton said the streetcar could be used as both a commuter line and a mode of transportation for tourists. She added the city could stand to benefit from increased property values along the streetcar line, which she argued would “pay for itself” within a decade of operation.

      “The City of Vancouver, as you know, has a very strong interest in selling those condos at the Olympic Village,” she said. “Imagine if there’s a streetcar station in front of them.”

      The proposed acceleration of the streetcar line would begin with steps including the establishment of a project task force, and a call for expressions of interest from potential private-sector partners.

      “We’ll be looking for partnerships with the government of Canada in particular, because it connects Granville Island and Canada Place,” said Anton.

      Vancouver city council approved plans for a downtown streetcar line in 1999. In 2005, the city released a report that recommended the first phase of the route run from Granville Island to Waterfront Station. Additional phases of the network would extend to Stanley Park, Pacific Boulevard and Arbutus Corridor.



      James G

      Sep 21, 2011 at 2:38pm

      Fun, worthwhile and ecologically sound. For the second time (and I mean in a lifetime) I must say,
      Well done, NPA.


      Sep 21, 2011 at 5:02pm

      How about more taxi licenses, so you don't have to wait an hour to get one?

      That would fix the problem, drive down taxi rates to the point they'd actually be affordable to use regularly, and bring in more revenue to the city instead of debt.


      Sep 21, 2011 at 5:21pm

      I'm glad to hear the NPA hasn't gone totally car-centric.

      The streetcar project would be a great addition to Vancouver, but I'm not impressed by the P3 nature of the NPA's proposal.

      I also think this absolutely needs to be done with Translink. It doesn't make any sense for Vancouver to operate it outside of the public transit network.

      Rob Roy

      Sep 21, 2011 at 6:08pm

      It is one of those ideas whose time has come again.

      Look at the success of the streetcars on Market Street in San Francisco -- particularly the vintage cars so beautifully refurbished -- and you have a sense of what's possible here.

      The trolleys in downtown Toronto are equally viable and effective.

      Excellent idea.


      Sep 21, 2011 at 6:08pm

      Geoff Meggs is right, we need to follow up on providing adequate transit services along Broadway. The NPA is clearly confused. Suggesting transit to support the Tourism Industry when local users don't even have proper transit is foolish.


      Sep 21, 2011 at 6:39pm

      @JamesG, "ecologically sound" means not opposing bike lanes.

      they want this project to be a public-private partnership? we know how those work out. the private folks make tons of money and we are stuck with the bill.

      also, the picture of the NPA in this story looks like they are at a funeral.

      Save Vancouver

      Sep 21, 2011 at 6:43pm

      Smart idea, the Olympic Village sorely needs this.


      Sep 21, 2011 at 7:11pm

      The Olympic Village was also a P3 and "ecologically sound".

      James G

      Sep 21, 2011 at 9:19pm

      I supported bike lanes but I have found and much to my disappointment that in spite of what their fiercest proponents seem to indicate, that they neither restore virginity nor put one in line for a Nobel Prize.

      Fiona Phillips

      Sep 22, 2011 at 4:52am

      A streetcar on this route would be brilliant but I do think the need for a Broadway underground line and a light rail service to Delta, Tsawwassen and the ferry terminal is more pressing. Of course would love to have it all... but what should be the focus first, from an environmental emissions point of view?