Broadway merchants want light rail not SkyTrain down business corridor
A coalition of merchants and residents opposed to the building of a SkyTrain line along Vancouver’s Broadway corridor rolled ahead with a meeting Tuesday to discuss alternatives.
About 120 people packed the meeting held by the Business and Residents Association for Sustainable Transportation Alternatives (BARSTA) at the St. James Community Square in Kitsilano.
Donna Dobo, a business owner who attended, is concerned that she will be “squeezed out of business” during construction.
Dobo has been operating a costume store called Just Imagine at the Broadway Avenue location for 22 years. “Business is good, but I don’t know if I could survive three to four years of construction with no foot traffic,” Dobo said. “A tunnel construction with huge craters would completely destroy us.”
Broadway merchants, such as Dobo, are concerned that SkyTrain construction like the Canada Line on Cambie Street would be detrimental to business. She, along with a contingent of like-minded merchants, would rather opt for a street-level electric system with stops to encourage passengers to use Broadway’s shops.
Several Cambie Street owners are involved in a class-action lawsuit for damages, claiming the decision to use a cut-and-cover construction method instead of a bored tunnel resulted in problems that hurt businesses. Mel Lehan, a Kitsilano resident and co-founder of BARSTA, said he remains very concerned that a “transit system will be imposed” upon them without consultation. “I think [TransLink has] already decided to build a SkyTrain,” Lehan said.
But TransLink’s Ken Hardie dismissed the notion. “I honestly don’t know where they got that idea that a SkyTrain is the front-runner,” Hardie said. “We are looking at a variety of options.”
Hardie said a complete list of options for the 12-kilometre extension between Commercial Drive and the University of B.C. will be given to city council within the next two weeks. “We’ve been doing consultations with the community in a very robust manner,” Hardie said.
Although a cost analysis will not be completed until the proposals are submitted to city council, Hardie said he hopes that the UBC and Surrey lines will be extended within the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, Jerry Dobrovolny, assistant city engineer of transportation, confirmed that council passed a motion in 2008 stating a preference for the bored-tunnel approach under Broadway or 10th avenues.
Despite the rising concern over the future of the Broadway corridor being raised, transportation economist and regional planner Stephen Rees assured the meeting’s attendees that worrying is all for naught. “TransLink can’t afford to build anything right now . . . They can’t even afford to run more lines on the already overcrowded Canada Line,” said Rees, a former planner with the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority.
Citing the non-existent Evergreen Line and other proposed projects, Rees advocated TransLink look at creating a regional transportation system that includes outlying, rapidly growing cities like Surrey and Langley. “It’s very scientific. It’s very interesting but it’s not real,” he said of TransLink’s proposals. “They can’t afford to build anything here any time soon.”
On June 22nd, at St. James Community Square 3214 West 10th Avenue at Trutch, a public meeting will take place concerning the building of ‘rail‘ transit on or under Broadway. What is of no great surprise, Translink has vastly ‘ramped’ up the cost for building modern light rail, with needless over-design. This is the tired old trick that plays so well in the Vancouver region, gold-plate a light rail project with so much needless engineering, that the costs of construction near that of its much more expensive cousin, light-metro (RAV & SkyTrain).
From a 2009 BARSTA (Business and Residents for Sustainable Transit Alternatives) document …….
……. which shows the cost of a VCC/Commercial Drive to UBC, streetcar costing $370.7 million yet LRT built on the same route would cost almost three times as much as $998.7 million or almost $1 billion!
The difference between LRT and a streetcar is the concept of the reserved rights-of-ways (RRoW) and priority signaling at intersections; then why an almost three-fold cost of construction for LRT?
The answer is simple; gross over-engineering by planners and engineers to artificially increase the cost of LRT to make it as expensive or more expensive than elevated SkyTrain or subway transit options! In other parts of the world, this is known a professional misconduct, but in Vancouver it is business as usual!
Vancouver already had a demonstration LRT line – it was of course, the temporary Olympic Line, which operated on a full RRoW, using two Bombardier Flexity tram cars, borrowed from a delivery to the Brussels tram system. It is the RRoW, which can be as simple as a high occupancy lane (HOV) with rails or as elaborate as the Arbutus Corridor, which allows modern light rail unfettered operation, with operational parameters on par with light-metro!
By using the concept of the RRoW, station/tram-stops every 500m to 600m, with priority signaling at intersections and using the current power-poles and span wires now used by the trolleybuses, we could keep the cost of of a VCC/Commercial Drive LRT under $450 million or just slightly more than a basic streetcar line! Or better yet, a UBC/BCIT/Stanley Park LRT, costing under $1 billion, which would offer even more convenient destinations for the transit customer and would offer a real alternative to the car!
The powers that be, just do not want modern LRT operating in Vancouver and continue to over-engineer and gold-plate light rail/streetcar projects to make them unaffordable and unattractive to politicians, taxpayers and residents.
The following is a quick primer for those advocating for modern light rail on Broadway.
- Capacity of modern LRT and streetcar/tram can exceed 20,000 persons per hour per direction.
- The capacity of a modern modular tram/LRT car now exceeds 350 persons.
- Modern LRT is 100% accessible for the mobility impaired without the need of expensive stations, elevators and escalators.
- Speed of a transit system is not the prime factor in attracting ridership, rather the overall ambiance, accessibility and ease of use are more important than speed. In fact it the the combination of many factors that attracts ridership to a public transit system.
- Priority signaling does not cause traffic gridlock at intersections. In fact, the light sequence for a tram/auto intersection at an intersection is much less than an auto/auto light controlled intersection.
- Modern LRT/streetcar/tram is one of the safest public transit mode in the world.
- Transportation capacity on Broadway will be increased by about 18,000 pphpd, by using a LRT/tram in one traffic lane per direction.
- Businesses along a streetcar/LRT route see about a 10% increase in business.
- There will be substantial operating costs savings by using LRT/streetcar instead of buses. One modern tram (1 driver) is as efficient as 6 to 8 buses (6 to 8 drivers).
- Modern LRT is very flexible in operation and could carry freight, as in Dresden, operate vintage trams and streetcars, or be used by specialty operators like a dinner tram.
- There is no truth that by building LRT will take away curb parking for local merchants, this is a decision by Vancouver’s Engineering Department to scare away support for LRT.
- Tram stops would be between 500m to 600m apart as studies have shown that the greatest amount of ridership for a LRT system comes within 300m radius of a tram line.
- Signaling on a Broadway will be ‘line-of-sight’ with local signals for intersections/crosswalks; switches; and areas of limited visibility/ Line-of-sight greatly reduces the cost of installation.
- LRT/streetcar can maintain minimum headways (time between trains) of 30 seconds.
- A ‘peak-hour’ 3 minute LRT/tram service (20 trips per hour), with cars having a capacity of 250 persons, would offer an hourly capacity of 5,000 pphpd. Operating 2-cars in multiple units (no added driver) effectively doubles the capacity to 10,000 pphpd. A 2 minute headway (30 trips per hour), using 2 car sets would offer an hourly capacity of 15,000!
UBC Broadway Transit Community Meeting
“No Cambie Fiasco for Broadway and West 10th”
A meeting for residents & local business representatives from across our city:
- Learn about sustainable alternatives for Broadway
- Review current TransLink and City positions and policies
- Make your voice heard about Broadway transit and the communities along it
7:00PM – 9:00 PM – Tuesday, June 22, 2010
St. James Community Square 3214 West 10th Avenue at Trutch
Take the TramBy Michael MillerFriday, 11 June 2010
Why in 2010 does it often take twice as long to get from the North Shore to the Five Towns than it does to get from Mineola to White Plains? Cars are choking our roads, gas prices are threatening our economic viability. We need alternative ways to move around this county. It’s time for the trolleys to return.
Modern, supercool versions of streetcars, trolleys and trams are making a welcome comeback in American communities, some of which look very much like Long Island. One major turning point was the opening of the excellent Portland (Oregon) streetcar system in 2001. Then, last year, five communities (Dallas, Detroit, New Orleans, Portland and Tucson) got a total of $178 million in competitive federal stimulus grants to begin building or expanding street lines.
Twenty-two communities in the United States, some as suburban as you can get, are drawing up blueprints for streetcars or are putting rails on the ground. Here’s the list: Arlington (Virginia); Atlanta; Baltimore; Boise; Charlotte; Cincinnati; Columbus (Ohio); Dallas; Fort Lauderdale; Fort Worth; Grand Rapids; Kenosha (Wisconsin); Lake Oswego (Oregon); Little Rock; Los Angeles; New Orleans; Providence; Sacramento; Salt Lake City; San Antonio; Tucson; Washington, D.C.
Arlington and Fairfax counties in Northern Virginia, two of America’s best-known suburbs, plan to split the costs of building a 4.7-mile streetcar line, running every six minutes during rush hour. Lake Oswego, outside of Portland, is one of America’s most affluent suburbs, with a high median household income. If they can visualize something better for residents than crawling along the turnpike smacking their hand against the steering wheel and sighing, then so can Long Islanders.
At least 14 more communities are seriously planning to make plans.
Look at video and photos of Portland, Oregon’s trolleys. There’s video all over the web. The Portland streetcars are beautiful. They’re sleek, modern and colorful. They’re even designed to be easily accessible to people with strollers and wheelchairs. Some Long Island governments want to spend federal stimulus money on road projects and parking garages. Portland wants to spend the money on extending the trolleys another 3.3 miles. Dozens of American municipalities are thinking of replicating what’s been happening in Portland. Zero municipalities are thinking of replicating Long Island’s transportation model. The future is speaking.
The rap against financially-workable public transportation in the suburbs has usually been the low population density. Portland’s population density is 4,288 people per square mile, which is less than that of Nassau County (4,652), less than half that of the Village of Mineola, less than a third that of the Village of Hempstead and only slightly higher than that even of the Village of Garden City. This isn’t your grandfather’s Nassau County.
But just so you don’t think this is all about playing with trains or feeling good about ourselves for being really green, you should know this about Portland. Since the streetcars came, 53 percent of downtown development occurred along the streetcar line. Private investors, knowing a winner when they see it, have put $3.5 billion into the line. Surveys estimate that about 30 percent more people ride in the streetcars than would have ridden buses if that was the only option.
Trams can move people between malls and industrial areas to local downtowns. If done well, they can become a local economic engine that helps maintain this as an area to which people want to move, work and raise families.
In the past, many Long Islanders considered the existence of any kind of public transportation to be a threat to the affluence and autonomy represented by a single-family house in the suburbs. Most Long Islanders and potential Long Islanders my age and younger do not share these fears. There were trolleys on our main roads throughout the first quarter of the last century, when the Long Island suburban dream was born.
There can still be a suburban dream here, but it can’t be the dream of 1960. Not anymore. We need a better, more adaptable dream that will sustain a high quality of living. Trolleys can be part of what comes next.
Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government.
The following article could be of interest for those promoting the “Return of the Interurban“.
From Railway Technology.com
Key Data:Name – Sonoma-Marin Area Rail ProjectLocation – North Bay corridor, CaliforniaRoute – Cloverdale in Sonoma county to Larkspur in Marin countyLength – 70 milesEstimated Investment – $590mOperator – North Coat Railroad AuthorityConstruction Begins – 2011Scheduled Completion – 2014Speed – 50mph (80 kph)Rolling Stock – 14 DMUs new stock
The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District (SMART) is constructing a 70-mile passenger rail road along the existing Northwestern Pacific Railroad (NWP) right-of-way (ROW) in the North Bay corridor of California. The NWP is owned by the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA).
The project also includes the construction of a bicycle / pedestrian path parallel to the railway line. The rail line and bicycle / pedestrian path will pass through two counties in North Bay, California – Cloverdale in the north of Sonoma County, and Larkspur in Marin County.The Sonoma-Marin rail transit project aims to provide multi-modal and fuel efficient alternatives to reduce traffic congestion on Highway 101, the only north-south transportation facility in North Bay.
Around 80% of the commercial, educational and residential facilities in North Bay are located on this corridor.
The project is expected to reduce car trips on the highway by 1.3 million and offset greenhouse gases by 124,000lb a day.
“The project is expected to reduce car trips on the highway by 1.3 million.”
The project’s feasibility studies and environmental impact certification were completed in 2006 with the assistance of Louis T. Klauder and Associates Engineering Services (LTK).
The supplemental environmental impact report (EIR) was certified in 2008. The contracts for the design and engineering of the 14 train stations valued at $11.3m were approved in December 2009. The main contractor is Winzler & Kelly.
The SMART project is estimated to cost $590m, which includes $499m for the rail line and $91m for the bicycle / pedestrian path. The annual operating cost will be $19m. The project will be financed through local sales tax revenues, regional bridge toll funding, and state and federal funds.
Sales Tax Measure Q, which is a 0.25% increase in sales tax, will fund 60% of the project. Measure Q was approved by 69.6% of the voters in Marin and Sonoma counties during the elections on 4 November 2008.
The construction of the project is expected to commence in 2011 with train service scheduled to begin in 2014.
Sonoma-Marin rail transit project details
The project is expected to provide a seamless transportation network of buses, ferries, bike paths and side-walks connected to a centralised rail line.
“The project aims to provide multi-modal and fuel efficient alternatives to reduce traffic congestion on Highway 101.”
The project includes the re-laying of the tracks, the construction of a maintenance facility on either of the two stops (Cloverdale or Windsor), the reconstruction of two tunnels, 59 bridges and the operation of 14 stations – nine in Sonoma County and five in Marin County.
Stations in Sonoma County are Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Windsor, Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa Railroad Square, Corona Road (Petaluma) and Downtown Petaluma. Marin County stations include Novato North, Novato South, Marin Civic Center, Downtown San Rafael and Larkspur.
Two rounds of public workshops were conducted in February and April 2010 to take public opinion on the design and amenities required at the stations. The aim was to cater to all the needs of different communities living along the corridor.
The commuter service trains will operate at a 30-minute interval in the peak hours (morning and evening) during week days, making 14 round trips and a 30-second wait at each station.
According to environmental studies on the SMART project, around 5,300 passengers per day will utilise the commuter service, while the bicycle / pedestrian service will attract another 7,000 to 10,000 people per day. There will be a provision for boarding bicycles on the train.
Rail transit infrastructure
Stations along the corridor will be designed to accommodate existing feeder buses and shuttle services, along with park and ride facilities in a few selected suburban stations. In order to further reduce congestions in Santa Rosa, Pataluma and San Rafael cities in the downtown areas of the North Bay, stations at these places are being designed with no park and ride facilities.
The bicycle-pedestrian pathway will have 54 miles of Class I pathway and 17 miles of Class II pathway improvements. The Class I pathway is a separate and exclusive path for bicycles and pedestrians with minimised cross flow. Class II is a small lane for one-way travel.
“Around 5,300 passengers per day will utilise the commuter service.”
There are two existing tunnels in the project corridor – Puerto Suello Hill Tunnel at San Rafael and Cal Park Hill Tunnel between San Rafael and Larkspur. These tunnels will be rebuilt to a 1,000ft length with adequate lighting, ventilation and water lines for fire protection.
Most of the 59 bridges are timber open deck or timber ballast decks. These will be replaced with concrete decks.
Sonoma-Marin area rail transit rolling stock
The Sonoma-Marin area rail transit will use heavy diesel multiple unit (DMU) vehicles in this route. DMUs have engines installed under the passenger compartment, which eliminates the need for large locomotives.
SMART is planned to operate with a fleet of 14 DMUs and serve six trains in this corridor.
Proposals were invited in April 2010 for the manufacture of the train. The contracts are expected to be awarded by the end of 2010, with fleet delivery scheduled in 2014.
SMART will be operating one, two or three car-set DMUs. With a proposed speed of 79mph, they are expected to maintain an average speed of 46mph. These sets will have a dual cab facility that will allow the trains to run in reverse direction as well as avoid the need for turnarounds.
Heavy DMUs measure 85ft long, 10ft wide and 15ft high, and have a seating capacity for 150 passengers.
Sonoma-Marin rail transit signalling and communications
Signalling is based on the automatic block signalling concept that allows the train to operate at a speed of 80mph. A block signal has a combination of track switches that are interconnected to avoid conflicting train movements. The automatic signals ensure the safe movement of trains travelling in the same direction.
Ottawa LRT funding approved
The Canadian Federal Transport Minister John Baird has announced CAD600 million in funding for the City of Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit plan. The money would go toward the CAD2.1 billion first phase of the project, which includes 12.5 kilometres of light rail from the Tunney’s Pasture transit station in the west to the Blair station in the east. A 3.2-kilometre tunnel will run between LeBreton Flats and the University of Ottawa, with four underground stations.
It is expected that the plan in cooperation with a redesigned bus system will yield up to CAD100 million in annual operating cost savings, beginning in 2019 and the removal of more than half the buses from the central area causing a reduction of the city’s fuel consumption by 10 million litres annually, and, a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 38,000 tonnes per year.
Details can be found at ottawalightrail.ca