Archive for June 24th, 2010

Notes on – Broadway merchants want light rail not SkyTrain down business corridor – meeting

June 24, 2010

A few thoughts on Tuesdays meeting put on by BARSTA regarding transit issues on Broadway or what Zweisystem calls the ‘Broadway Follies’.

First though a comment on Vancouver’s pedestrians; my god does anyone in Vancouver, including pedestrians and cyclists obey the rules of the road? Driving in Vancouver reminded me of some sort of perverted pinball game were people blindly walk across the street against the prevailing road signals. No fewer than five intersections on Tuesday did pedestrians (including one matron with a pram) attempted to cross the street on a red light. This is pure suicide, yet it seems to have become everyday practice in Vancouver.

It was nice to meet the feisty Susan Heyes, who took on TransLink over cut-and cover construction and won. Also it was good to meet Patrick Condon, Vancouver’s streetcar man, who explained to ‘Zwei’ how he did his study and ‘Zwei’ was impressed. Stephen Rees is always worth the price of admission, as he knows the transit game in the Metro area so well.

The panel did their shtick and the audience were very receptive about light rail/streetcar. There were a few die-hard SkyTrain supporters in the audience and the three most notable were:

  1. An older lady who wanted much higher density along Broadway, for what ends, she did not elaborate.
  2. A UBC student who wanted a ‘fast’ subway so he could commute from Coquitlam to UBC to save money by not renting closer to the university.
  3. A lady who claimed she lived on Cambie St., sang hosannas about the Canada Line and then stormed out of the meeting and drove away!

Donna Dobo and BARSTA have done their homework and with the panel on Tuesday night, are well advised on the issue. I will offer the following unsolicited comments:

  1. DO NOT get involved with the ‘free transit’ debate as it doesn’t work. It has been tried elsewhere and has failed miserably in attracting the motorist from the car.
  2. BRT or bus rapid transit costs more to operate and only slightly less costly to build than LRT. BRT systems seem to failed to attract the all important motorist from the car.
  3. Do not let city engineers get their way and take off parking on Broadway. All this means, for all their hype and hoopla, is that their transit planning concedes that they will not attract car drivers to transit.
  4. All new LRT lines being built also involve traffic calming, either passive or active, reducing auto capacity on Broadway is passive auto calming.
  5. The speed issue for transit is a non issue as all transit lines are as fast as they are designed to be. Because a surface LRT system will have stops every 500m to 600m versus a subway with stops every KM. or so, the commercial speed of LRT will be about 10 kph slower than metro.
  6. If a subway is built, electric trolley buses on Broadway will be replaces by smelly and health threatening diesel buses. Diesel particulate is a carcinogen.
  7. Unless the Broadway subway is built to regular heavy rail subway standards, the capacity of a SkyTrain subway and LRT would be about the same.
  8. City staff should really try to educate themselves on light rail, I continue to be absolutely appalled by city planners and engineers who are absolutely clueless on the subject, despite modern light rail being the most popular form of ‘rail‘ transit in the world.

Also sad to say is the the so-called intelligentsia at UBC still carry on with their puerile anti-LRT stance and still treat professors who champion cheaper and just efficient light rail as some latter day Luddites. It’s a sad statement on an institution which, it seems, has lost its way.

In conversation with the intrepid Susan Heyes, it seems through her research, the real cost of the RAV/Canada Line to date is about $2.8 billion – not including compensation or court cases. Also, it seems several people were quietly compensated by TransLink over RAV/Canada line construction, but somehow, their names have been blanked out on documents received from (not so) Freedom of Information!

An interesting night, a full house bodes well for BARSTA’s efforts in the future!

For the original news article: