Streetcars more viable for Vancouver: UBC study

A new rapid transit line along Vancouver’s Broadway corridor to the University of British Columbia would cost taxpayers 15 times more than it would to build a streetcar line along the same route, according to a new report.

The report by the UBC Design Centre for Sustainability is based on above-ground transit systems in the U.S. and European cities.

Researchers found a streetcar rail system would not only cover more ground at much less cost to taxpayers, it would also have the potential to improve the quality of life in affected neighbourhoods by making a smaller environmental footprint, in comparison to a subway-like system.

Redevelopment of the Broadway corridor is part of the province’s $14 billion plan to expand transit lines in the city over the next 10 years. The plan includes an Evergreen Line to the Tri-Cities and an extension of the existing Expo Line through Surrey.

When you look at what it would cost to build a streetcar system, the $2.8 billion earmarked for a SkyTrain route to UBC looks too expensive, says Professor Patrick Condon, one of the authors of the study.

Based on the amounts of money that are being discussed he suspects TransLink is leaning towards a 12-kilometre underground subway system.

But a streetcar system would pay for itself within two decades, he said, and should be seriously considered as an option for Vancouver.

“I don’t think (a streetcar system) has been given serious consideration (by TransLink),” he said.

The report shows the historic streetcar system that operated in Greater Vancouver in the early 1900’s for more than 60 years could be rebuilt and expanded to meet the needs of transit users in Vancouver today.

Conducted by Professor Patrick Condon, Sigrid Gruenberger and Marta Klaptocz, the study was completed at the Design Centre for Sustainability in partnership with the School of Architecture.

First published June 6, 2008  –  ctvbc.ca

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