Regional Transportation Vision—Broadway

On June 12th, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation approved a Vision for regional transportation in Metro Vancouver. The Vision includes both a strategy for the next 30 years and a detailed list of investment priorities for the first 10 years once funding becomes available.

The Vision is contained in a document called Regional Transportation Investments—A Vision for Metro Vancouver. That document, a brief Highlights document and other material are available here.

This post is about the Vision’s proposal for rapid transit in the Broadway corridor.

The 10-year investment plan calls for the tunnelled extension of the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark to Arbutus and frequent B-Line bus connections continuing from Arbutus to UBC. Enhancements to the present B-Line service are contemplated, to ensure efficient transit operations. This will be the first phase.

The longer term vision includes rail rapid transit from Arbutus to UBC. The Vision leaves open whether this would be a continuation of SkyTrain from Arbutus or a Light Rail connection. It is contemplated that during the design process for the first phase, all stakeholders will work together to determine how and when to complete this second phase.

A number of hurdles must be cleared before the extension of the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark to Arbutus can become a reality:

  • New revenue sources for TransLink must be approved in a region-wide referendum. A date has not been set for the referendum, but it must be held no later than June 30, 2015.
  • The agreement of the provincial and federal governments to each pay one-third of eligible expenditures must be obtained. In his letter of February 6, 2014 to the Chair of the Mayors’ Council, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure stated that the provincial government is prepared to commit to funding one-third of major new rapid transit projects, subject to the funding fitting within the provincial capital plan. He also agreed that the provincial government will advocate for matching contributions from the federal government.
  • TransLink must enter into a partnership agreement with Vancouver under which Vancouver will be responsible for the incremental cost of any tunneling beyond that required for technical or functional reasons. This agreement will set out reciprocal commitments by TransLink and Vancouver with respect to land-use assumptions and actions, investment in connecting municipal infrastructure and direct financial ontributions.

It is often assumed that the main reason for rapid transit on Broadway is to move people to and from UBC. However, central Broadway is an equally important destination. A Broadway Corridor Origin-Destination Study (2010) showed that 47% of the passengers boarding the 99B-Line at Commercial-Broadway are travelling to central Broadway whereas 44% are travelling to UBC. When this and other factors are taken into account, it is evident that the greatest need for rapid transit in the Broadway corridor at the present time is in the eastern segment between VCC-Clark and Arbutus.

While a disappointing conclusion for many, the need for rapid transit in the western segment of the Broadway corridor is not considered as urgent as the need for transportation improvements in other parts of the region. The Mayors’ Council had to weigh the competing proposals for improvements and was able to reach consensus on the most pressing needs of the region. One of those other improvements is a new B-Line from Joyce-Collingwood to UBC via 41st Avenue.

The extension of the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark to Arbutus will be of major benefit to those who travel to and from UBC. It will shorten the travel time in the busiest part of the Broadway corridor, do away with pass-ups, and provide a more comfortable ride than do buses. So, even though this extension is not all that was hoped for, it will nonetheless be a significant improvement over the present transit situation.

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