April 28, 2014

Jane’s Walk 5: Alternative to Broadway Subway – May 3, 4

This route could accommodate a ground level Light Rail Transit system at a lower cost and a more rapid construction program than a Broadway Subway. This bike tour is 7 kilometers long, and will cover the eastern half of the route.  Along the way, we will stop at important places and discuss the pros and cons of this alternative concept.


An alternative to the Broadway Subway


May 3 or 4, 2014
10:00 am

Walk Leader: Adam Fitch

Meeting Place: VCC station


More here.

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  1. Quite interesting, but wasn’t one of the primary arguments against Light Rail the fact that it wouldn’t be able to meet capacity?

    1. It would not meet capacity while running on Broadway due to the limited headway one can use at crossing intersections. The main problem with the route of this walk is that it throws away the primary benefit of better access to central Broadway. We cannot assume that the purpose of the line is to only serve the endpoints at Arbutus or UBC.

    2. Caleb, you are correct that the TransLink study determined that a BROADWAY streetcar would not provide the same capacity as a Broadway Subway, because of congestion on Broadway. But this proposal is not for a Broadway LRT, it is for a CPR RoW / 16th Ave LRT.

      Actually, the benefit of this route and concept is that it will ADD capacity. In my estimate, it will nearly double the capacity, compared to a Broadway Subway.

      The reason it would do so is that designed properly, an LRT can have equal or greater capacity to Skytrain. And if the Broadway B-99 line is left in place, then the capacity of the two routes together would certainly be greater than a Subway alone. You can be sure that if a subway is built, the B-line will be discontinued, as has most bus service on Cambie, Kingsway, and Lougheed, compared to before the advent of rapid transit services.

      As to Alan Robinson’s point about serving Broadway or not serving Broadway, I have several responses:

      1. the Broadway subway stations would be so far apart that they would not serve Broadway all that well. Look at our other lines.

      2. By decongesting Broadway, this concept would help Broadway

      3. Most riders on the B-line ARE heading to UBC, not Broadway

      4. For workers at VGH, for example, a short walk up from 6th Ave, or a shuttle bus ride, would not be much worse than what they would have from a subway station at Cambie and Broadway or Oak and Broadway. I doubt that the Broadway Subway plan will provide for a VGH stop half way between Cambie and Oak.

      1. It’s time to let this one go. It does not make sense.

        1. The Broadway stations would be much more useful to Broadway users than stations along the rail line. From Cambie to Main, they aren’t even close to Broadway and would be totally irrelevant to Broadway transit. The Canada Line needs a station at 16th, but otherwise it does serve Cambie. Just look at the low ridership on the Cambie 15.

        2. In order to decongest Broadway, you would have to show that some Broadway traffic would actually use it. A doubtful proposition. This also assumes that the only transit goal on Broadway is to empty out crammed buses. But that isn’t the only goal. Many people, me included, want something more, fast, frequent, reliable transit.

        3. Even if you are right that most B-liners are heading to UBC, why would these people use this line? The meandering route with several sharp turns will not be very fast. It’s quite possible that the time benefit of avoiding some Broadway traffic will be entirely lost. Riders living along Broadway, of which there are many, will stay with the B-Line. Expo Line users are not going to switch to the Millennium Line for one stop and then switch again. They will continue to use the B-Line.

        4. A station at Broadway and Cambie would be much more useful to VGH users than a station at Willow and the rail line. First, it is actually closer to some areas of the hospital, and second, it isn’t up a great honking hill. If the B-Line remains in place, all the VGH traffic will remain on the B-Line.

      2. Adam,

        1) The Broadway stations for any Rapid Transit almost certainly will be the same as the B-line stops. It works fine, any more stops and travel time increases (access time would decrease for some riders with more stations but most riders will benefit from the B-line stop spacing as witnessed by the ridership difference between the #9 and the B-line.
        2) Your route won’t decongest Broadway because it does not serve Broadway and for a lot of UBC traffic it will probably still be faster to use the B-line than detouring up to 16th.
        3) It is well established that significantly more than half of the ridership (closer to 2/3) on the Broadway buses is East of Arbutus, it is not difficult to find this information. In addition the future development potential along Broadway is way way greater than 16th.
        4) Actually I would think between an Oak station with an exit on 10th and a new Canada line station at 33rd VGH could be pretty well served.

        Your statement about using your route and keeping the other routes should tell you a lot about why this is such a bad idea. In what world is doubling your operating costs a good idea? What we want is more service at less price (like the RRT option or to a lesser extent LRT on Broadway). Your route would not only double the number of vehicles we would need at any time it would serve fewer people so those vehicles would be less full and require greater subsidy. Because your route is longer it would also require more vehicles and drivers to operate than LRT on Broadway.

        If you feel LRT is superior because you are afraid of tunnels, fear not the Translink study found LRT would still be able to provide adequate capacity along Broadway. What the study warned is that by 2030 or so it would have sufficient ridership that signal priority would become unreliable. This could be remedied with additional grade separated crossings….of course that costs extra so we probably should just go with the obvious choice and build a Skytrain tunnel, even if it offends your biases.

        The Rapid Transit needs to be on the route with the ridership potential. Your route is not. The Rapid Transit needs to be on Broadway (or 10th with station access on Broadway).

        Adam, this is a very, very bad idea, please let it die so it does not take away from options that have a chance.

  2. A LRT makes no sense in a dense city as it bisects a city, is difficult to cross and deteriorates land values along the line. Look no further than Edmonton or Calgary. BAD IDEA.

    LRT makes sense only in light industrial area or rural areas, which does not really exist in Vancouver for the Broadway corridor. An above ground track after a tunnel makes sense perhaps west of Blanca or Alma if routed through the federal military barracks along Chancellor Blvd. / 4th Ave to UEL.

    UBC also needs two subway stations, one at the current busloop and one in the emerging high density district south of 16th, presumably tunneling under Wesbrook. A major design flaw by UBC as this today isn’t even in the plan.

    Tunnel is the only option that makes sense along Broadway, or if money is not there then a high speed bus on a dedicated Broadway lane with signal priority.