Two previous postings – https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/why-the-valley-interurban-must-service-abbotsford-international-airport-yxx/ and – https://railforthevalley.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/why-the-valley-interurban-must-service-vancouver/ talk about long distance rail travel from Vancouver, East to Abbotsford, YXX, and Chilliwack and one must think of amenities for the transit customer. The proposed interurban service must be user-friendly from the start, to gain a solid consumer base and a ‘Bistro‘ car, serving light refreshments maybe the ticket to make a long journey more enjoyable and give the service some panache; offering something different.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, German transit officials, in order to attract ridership, offered ‘Bistro‘ trams with small kitchens to serve light snacks, coffee, and even beer and wine. The ‘Bistro‘ cars were widely accepted where used, but the first ‘Bistros‘ were converted from old stock, though making many a long tram journey more pleasant when one could sip a coffee or have a breakfast croissant, were cramped and somewhat uncomfortable. Later, larger articulated ‘Bistro‘ cars came with toilets, tables at some seats, and other amenities and have become an icon on transit systems with longer routes. Karlsruhe Germany is a good example where ‘Bistro‘ cars ( and observation cars) operate on some routes as long as 210 km. The following video clip shows a bistro tram on the inter-urban line which links Düsseldorf and Krefeld in Germany.
The proposed Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban service should consider having a ‘Bistro‘ car for the the 90 minute plus service. Certainly, offering snacks and fresh coffee on the service would be very user-friendly and a positive in attracting customers. It could even be call a ‘Starbuck’s‘ or ‘Blenz‘ car if they were so interested in operating the service. Today’s modular construction of light-rail vehicles makes it easier than one would think, in designing (some modular cars have a ‘Bistro‘ module) and building a Bistro.
So, is a ‘Bistro‘ car on the menu for Rail for the Valley’s plans? If not, maybe it should be, it just might be the ticket to sell the project to the politicians and the public alike!