Desiring a Streetcar

Translink, our regional transportation authority, is in the second phase of community consultations for the UBC Rapid Transit Line. If you didn’t participate in the first round, now’s your chance. It looks like Translink is entertaining seven possibilities ranging from more express buses along Broadway to the University of BC (UBC), to several versions of light rapid transit. Patrick Condon and his team at the UBC’s Design Centre for Sustainability make a strong case for installing a tram system like the one in Portland, Oregon. A similar streetcar system would be fifteen times cheaper than the $2.8 billion slated for the twelve kilometre extension of the SkyTrain line to the university. For those of you who don’t live in BC, SkyTrain is our above ground light rapid transit system. With the whole budget, the region’s entire historic streetcar line could be restored and expanded! The UBC study cites ample examples around the world of how streetcars are much better for business and street life. This type of system optimizes the relationship between land use and transportation, creating a more sustainable community. Yet, the street car option is not on the table. How can that be?

With the recent Canada Line experience and the devastating effects construction had on the Cambie Street businesses fresh in our minds, I hope that people will voice their opinions now. There are several ways you can participate: a webinar, in person workshops and questionnaires. I plan to be at the Tuesday night workshop in Kitsilano to express my strong desire for the streetcar.


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