From the Tyee On Line NewsPaper: Vancouver’s Street Car Gift: Keep It?


An interesting article from the Tyee.

Vancouver’s Street Car Gift: Keep It?

To the delight of tourists and locals, the Olympic Line streetcar has been delivering people smoothly from Athlete’s Village on lower Cambie Street to Granville Island since Jan. 21. A Bombardier Flexity Outlook on loan from Brussels for the duration of the Games, the streetcar was an instrumental part of Translink and the City of Vancouver’s plan to keep cars off the road and control traffic during the games.

It’s been both convenient and surreal to have a Euro-sleek streetcar around, but alas, it’s only an experiment.

The “demonstration streetcar project” will run until March 21, according to the City of Vancouver’s fact sheet on the temporary streetcar line. After that, any further life of the Olympic Line will be determined by the success of the streetcar during the Olympics and Paralympics and, of course, the presence of funding needed to make the streetcar line permanent, said the fact sheet.

If it is made permanent, there are tentative plans to extend the Olympic Line into a full downtown streetcar line that would drive passengers from the current Granville Island final stop through downtown, extending all the way to Chilco Street in Stanley Park. In between, the proposed route would connect with Science World and Waterfront Skytrain Stations, connecting with both the Millennium Line and the Canada Line.

Reporter Justin Langille went to find out what Vancouver citizens and those visiting our city had to say about a small transportation project that could become a major part of Vancouver transit in the near future. Is it worth the investment?

Should we keep it, or lose it?


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to “From the Tyee On Line NewsPaper: Vancouver’s Street Car Gift: Keep It?”

  1. Justin Bernard Says:

    Keep it, and show the residents of BC that LRT can work just as well, if not better than Skytrain.

    Zweisystem replies: Justin, read the article’s comments section, there are some very unhappy remarks being made against the TTC’s streetcars.

  2. mezzanine Says:

    “Zweisystem replies: Justin, read the article’s comments section, there are some very unhappy remarks being made against the TTC’s streetcars”

    Who are you and what did you do with the real zweisystem? 😉

    Zweisystem replies: Zwei is here, we just had a massive troll attack!

  3. David Says:

    Regarding the TTC – streetcars will be slow if forced to operate in mixed traffic with no signal priority in a city where the private automobile is worshipped by people with an elevated sense of self importance.

    The Olympic line, and its planned extensions to Yaletown and Stanley Park, is a city initiative based on a mix of False Creek “sustainable living” residents and tourism. The routes are long enough to thrill visitors yet short enough to make them practical for locals. The cable cars in San Francisco are packed with tourists, but they take hundreds of residents to and from work too.

    I have always supported the Downtown Streetcar project and if the BC Lottery Corporation ever cooperates I would even contribute some of my own money, but a substitute for high capacity transit on Broadway it is not. Along with modern low floor trams, the city envisions restored heritage vehicles running on portions of the line.

    At best the route along the south shore of False Creek could offer a low cost parallel right of way for express services such as tram trains from the valley. Apart from a short stretch through the Olympic village there would be no on-street operation between the valley starting point and Granville Island making it a strong candidate for Zweisystem’s UBC liner. From there the tram train could either take the existing Arbutus route up to Broadway or operate on 4th Avenue as a second Kitsilano LRT route.

    Zweisystem replies: Actually LRT (streetcars operating on a reserved rights-of-way and with priority signaling) on Broadway would almost be as fast as a subway. Faster acceleration and deceleration and shorter dwell times than a subway, would increase commercial speed. SkyTrain’s high commercial speed is due to long stretches of ‘station free’ (stopping free) from Metro Town to New Westminster. What many people don’t know, that there is provision in the track design to add four more stations, which would decrease commercial speed.

    In Europe, commercial speed of a transit system is never a point of discussion with new travel times, convenience is!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I wanted to check it out but I didn’t know where it was and thought it was for athletes only… Grumpy over in the comments section there seems pretty rational.

  5. David Says:

    Olympic line will remain open and free to use until the end of the Paralympics so go try it out. I may take the kids for a ride this weekend.

  6. oldtechnology Says:

    I’ve taken it , no different from a traditional tram as far as speed and ambiance is concerned. Though it uses a glorified (and expensive) train car. I found it puzzling that North America transit agency labelled them as “streetcar” to make it sounds like new futurist technology.

    However if you like the “romantic” tram-ride you will want the city to keep it.

  7. David Says:

    Streetcar is a North American term that probably originates from rail car and denotes one travelling on track around which a street was built.

    It may be an old idea, but one that has proven itself capable of moving modern crowds efficiently and affordably, something more “modern” technologies like SkyTrain have not.

    oldtechnology seems unable to grasp concepts such as living within your means, operating profitably and providing a convenient alternative to driving.

  8. mezzanine Says:

    Skytrain and tram/streetcar are different tools used for different reasons.

    skytrain compliments the proposed vancouver tram. and both are important for vibrant cities.

    ” Few on either side make the crucial point that a driverless system will be able to run frequently even very late at night, early in the morning, whenever you want to travel. Light rail, bound by labor costs, will always be pressured to cut frequency outside the peak period.

    As an urbanist, I want to see vibrant cities that are full of activity for 18 if not 24 hours a day. Isn’t that a good reason to be interested in a service that really can run every 4 minutes at midnight?”

    Zweisystem replies: “Skytrain and tram/streetcar are different tools used for different reasons.” Yes they are, as SkyTrain is a transit system designed to cater for passenger loads exceeding 15,000 pphpd. As SkyTrain costs about the same to build than a regular metro, transit authorities build with metro. So comes the demise of the light-metro brand. This is something many American and Canadian planners do not understand as they pursue ‘pie in the sky’ transit schemes.

  9. David Says:


    Trying to bring better urbanism to Vancouver is a laudable goal, but spending additional billions on a regional commuter system seems to be at odds with that. Isn’t reducing travel distances a big part of the urbanism you talk about? If so why do you continue to support a transit technology focused on long distance commuters? Why do you continue to support spending billions where hundreds of millions would not only provide equivalent daytime capacity, but also yield a more friendly pedestrian environment and encourage more compact communities?

    As for running trains every 4 minutes at midnight, London is a vibrant world city many times larger than Vancouver yet it’s rail transit network shuts down earlier than ours does.

    I guess I’m not an urbanist. I think residents are entitled to a good night’s sleep, something I found nearly impossible in Vancouver’s west end. I also think Vancouver was a better place to live in 1975 than it is today.

    Zweisystem replies: Mezz forgets that automatic transit systems must shut down at night for servicing, not so with LRT.

  10. oldtechnology Says:

    “So comes the demise of the light-metro brand.”

    To be fair, while skytrain may be a too-expensive proprietary light-metro, it is just one kind of them. Keep an eye on the other side of the Pacific, the so-called light-metro (aka Medium capacity system in Asia) were just kept getting built, and all of them are automated and fully-segregated just like Vancouver Skytrain.

    Hong kong South Island Line, approved, 7km, target ridership < 200000/day
    Macau Light Rapid transit, proposed
    Singapore Circle Line MRT, partly completed 2009 and will open more portion in stages
    Taipei Neihu Line, completed 2009

    More lines in China fit the criteria of light metro will be up coming!

    Zweisystem replies: The reason why light-metro is popular is that there is the mass of population to support the mode. Also in Asia, most transit lines must be elevated due to the Monsoon rains and subsequent flooding, which would make at-grade and underground transit problematic, to say the least.

    There is another issue that comes with automatic metro systems – technology and many countries, including China’ acquire technology from expensive automatic metros.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: