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Trolley wires are being reinstalled along Granville Street

You might have noticed already, but the Trolley Overhead division from the Coast Mountain Bus Company has started reinstalling the trolley wire back on Granville Street.

Today, the crews were working on the stretch from Robson to Davie Street on Granville. I went out this morning to catch this video of a crew rolling out one of the wires that the trolley buses eventually attach their poles to—watch the back of the truck carefully and hopefully you can see the wire rolling out behind them. (The video colour’s a bit weird because I hadn’t figured out the settings: sorry!)

Where’s the second wire, you might ask? Well, there was a second crew following in another truck, rolling out the other wire. Wires are made out of bronze, and when they’re operational, they carry 600 volts of direct current (don’t ever touch them!)

The whole reinstallation project got underway on March 29, and is eventually slated to finish by August 30 once all the installation, testing, and commissioning is complete. By the way, can you believe we haven’t had trolley service on Granville since April 2006?

Here’s a couple more photos of the Trolley Overhead crew, where you can better see the wires rolling out.

The trolley overhead crew rolls out wire along the street. Can you see the wire behind the truck? (Click for a MUCH larger version!)

The trolley overhead crew rolls out wire along the street. Can you see the wire behind the truck? (Click for a MUCH larger version!)

Another shot of the Trolley Overhead crew on Granville Street. You can see the other crew in the distance behind them!

Another shot of the Trolley Overhead crew on Granville Street. You can see the other crew in the distance behind them!


  • By 420, April 14, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

    Yay! Looking forward to seeing buses back on Granville. There really needs to be a way of serving the downtown when there are disruptions around the Art Gallery.

    Too bad it won’t be ready for 420.

  • By peter b, April 14, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

    No!!!! say it isn’t so… Granville was so much more pleasant with out the long string of trolleys snaking through it all day long.

    Can nothing be done??? How about running just alternate trolleys on Granville???

  • By Derek Cheung CMBC, April 14, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

    Peter b,

    How does one tell the public that if they just missed one bus, the next one will be going down another street?

  • By andy lam, April 14, 2010 @ 8:24 pm

    when coast mountain bus company reinstalling the trolley wire back on cambie street near future?

  • By novusgordo, April 14, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

    Andy: A couple years after the Canada Line was approved, TransLink reversed its original plan and decided that the #15 would *not* be re-electrified. So there won’t be wires on Cambie.
    Now, at this point, the plan is to put the wires back on the Cambie Bridge, so that the #17 can cross False Creek there instead of on Granville, but… does Jhen or Derek or anyone have any clue when this might happen?

  • By Chris, April 14, 2010 @ 10:51 pm

    Too bad. The Granville Mall would have been an excellent pedestrian street.

  • By ;-), April 14, 2010 @ 11:34 pm

    In the YouTube video I can hear a distinct ring a 0:18 seconds…. what caused that? Did one of the workers strike a something?

    From what I hear about Granville, it’s designed to be multi-purpose. It can be a pedestrian mall, like on weekends and festive evenings, but can revert back to buses and cars when needed.

  • By ;-), April 14, 2010 @ 11:35 pm

    Have a look at this link for more information…

  • By Brandon (CMBC), April 14, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

    @;-) It looks like a worker puled a cord which dinged the red fire bell. You can see it just to the right of the worker on the lower level. Seems like they are doing this when they come to the hangars.

  • By George Nazos, April 15, 2010 @ 2:11 am

    Peter and to others whom it may concern,

    The trolley wire was only removed to allow construction of the RAV line below. Trolleys (and the #50 diesel) were always slated to return to the Granville Street downtown corridor. This is the primary corridor for transit vehicles in the downtown sector hence no passenger cars allowed (passenger cars were allowed temporarily while the construction phase of the Canada Line was taking place).

    Trolleys are clean burning and the amount of stop and go from transit buses in this condensed area is benefited from trolleys which won’t pollute toxic diesel for human consumption.

    Further, the Seymour Street and Howe Street arteries are not as ideal for transit vehicles (these are the streets the trolleys and certain diesels have used during the construcion of the RAV), particularly, the proximity of a wide commercial-type vehicle to some sidewalks and the requirement to keep automobile and light passenger truck traffic moving along these said arteries.

    -George Nazos

  • By Derek Cheung CMBC, April 15, 2010 @ 4:26 am

    The gong is the primary means of communication between the two linemen on the platform and the driver of the line truck. Rather than yelling down to the driver, a single gong means STOP.

  • By Ron H, April 15, 2010 @ 10:18 am

    Wondering why the new trolley line are hanging from lines from pole to pole. Why their not hanging from single pole like some of the newer trolley line like marine drive and places on kingsway.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 15, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

    novusgordo, Ron: I’ve passed your questions along and am awaiting a response. Stay tuned!

  • By David, April 15, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

    There were plans to extend the Marine Drive wires all the way to Victoria Drive so buses on the Fraser and Victoria routes could be added/removed more efficiently. Is that still going ahead some day?

    Will there ever be changes to the trolley system to make it easier to load buses onto the Nanaimo route? There are many intersections where the trolley lines don’t permit turns so getting from the depot to Nanaimo station must involve negotiating a complex maze and it must waste a big part of each driver’s shift.

  • By john d., April 16, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    Getting a trolley to the Nanaimo route, it follows this route: Oak, 41st, Victoria, Kingsway, loop around to Slocan, 22nd Ave., Nanaimo to Nanaimo Station to start as a 7 Dunbar. I don’t know what happens at Dunbar, if it loops around or if it can go elsewhere.

  • By Derek Cheung CMBC, April 16, 2010 @ 8:20 am

    Ron H

    Span wires are typically used instead of mast arms on narrower streets, as it is easier and cleaner looking. Wider streets require longer span wires, and this is when mast arms are considered.

    As for deadhead routing to/from Nanaimo Station, the Kingsway/34th/Slocan/22nd Avenue wires were once used by the Nanaimo trolley in revenue service (the terminus was Slocan & Kingsway) prior to 1986 when SkyTrain service began and the Nanaimo trolley was truncated to Nanaimo Station.

    To build new overhead (presumably straight along Nanaimo from Kingsway) would be cost prohibitive considering it wouldn’t be used by revenue service, and for only a few coaches starting or finishing service.

  • By Nathan Davidowicz, February 19, 2020 @ 9:55 am

    In case you dont know Vancouver City Council voted against trolley wires on Nanaimo between Kingsway and 24th. way back in 1985.
    We should get a fleet od Electric battery buses to replace all trolley buses by 2028.

  • By ;-), April 16, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    The only additional #20 trolley wires I’d like to see is the short-turning facility at Hastings at Commercial. Running down Woodland and Franklin, it would allow the artics to avoid downtown congestion during the rush hour and weekend festivities. This was described in the 2007 transit plan.

    This abbreviated route would be great for reliable service and serve as a training route.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 16, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

    David: here’s the answers from CMBC planning.

    1. The extension of trolley wire to Victoria Drive along Marine Drive is tentatively scheduled for late 2011 (pending funding).

    2. There are no current plans in the next two years to install new trolley wire around Nanaimo Station.

  • By Sean (CMBC), April 16, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    Jhen, just curious, how many staff work for the Trolley Overhead department?
    Are any of the flag persons employed by CMBC anymore, or are they all “contracted out”?

  • By Bill Kinkaid, April 16, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

    john d, there are wires all along 41st past Dunbar to Crown, so Dunbar buses can easily deadhead along 41st.

    How about this one? The 16 deadheads south on Earles from 29th Avenue Station, but instead of turning right onto Kingsway from Earles the wires take the bus east along Horley to (I think) Moss, and thence to Kingsway. Anyone know why there isn’t a simple direct connection from Earles onto Kingsway?

    And Jhen, is there any plan in the works to extend service on Victoria (or elsewhere) south of Marine to Kent?

  • By Derek Cheung CMBC, April 17, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

    Bill Kinkaid,

    The 16 Renfrew used to go southbound Earles, then Horley, Moss, Kingsway to northbound Earles which was the terminus outside the old Canada Dry plant (now Purdy’s Chocolates).

    The 16 was truncated to 29th Avenue Station after SkyTrain opened in 1986.

    Again no need to add new wire for essentially a few coaches per day going into and out of service.

  • By 电车大圣, April 17, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

    How is the ridership on 15-Cambie during the post RAV era?

  • By Harry Douthwaite, April 17, 2010 @ 9:52 pm

    Maybe, the route 15 should be a heritage route henceforth? There’s over a dozen buses in the TRAMS heritage fleet, and they only see service once in a blue moon. London (The host of the 2012 Olympics, I might add!) has their routes 9 and 15 allocated to heritage Routemaster buses. Maybe 15 ‘Cambie’ could follow a similar path? If there’s a shortage of buses for the idea, Translink has plenty of old New Flyers, and BC Transit has plenty of MCI Classics…

  • By zack, April 19, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

    I don’t get one thing though, there are trolley overhead wires on 41st ave, but no trolleys serving the area. There were some rare moments when I saw an “Out of Service” E60LFR, but the route along 41st is only being used by diesel buses.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 19, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    Bill Kinkaid:
    I asked CMBC planning about your question re: wire further past Marine Drive… and I’m told there are no plans for this wire extension in the foreseeable future.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 19, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

    Sean: I’m sending your question along for an answer. We’ll find out soon I hope!

    I’ve passed your suggestion on to our transit planners at CMBC… a very interesting idea!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 19, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

    I’m told by CMBC planning that we are noticing reduced loads owing to the Canada Line, so we’re now currently thinking about how to best deploy the service for the future.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 19, 2010 @ 3:10 pm


    Here’s the answer from CMBC planning.

    Since the trolley wires on 41st Ave only go as far as Crown, we require the diesels to travel all the way to UBC on the #41. The trolley wire is there so the trolleys can deadhead to Dunbar more efficiently.

  • By LB, April 20, 2010 @ 11:31 am

    I too am sad that buses will be returning to Granville!

    I know it was always the plan, but I don’t think anyone anticipated the success that granville would turn out to be as a pedestrian street. I love that there are buskers in the middle of the street, people hanging out, people playing music – post olympics people have discovered that it is the place to be.

    Apparently I just desperately want a pedestrian street, and I have one, and it’s going to be taken away. Transit has been rerouted on Howe/Seymour for two+ years, so I would suggest that that is working.

    Once TransLink has spent the millions to hang the trolley wires on Granville, it will never be a pedestrian street again, except perhaps on special occassions/weekends. That’s awfully sad! =(

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 20, 2010 @ 11:42 am

    Aww! Well, sadly all I can recommend is telling the City about it — the scheduled work is already underway as planned with them.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 22, 2010 @ 5:25 pm


    Here’s the answer to your question.

    Work on Cambie will start after completion of Granville restoration. Per our schedule, we target to complete restoration of Cambie network by end December 2010.

    Also, as you mentioned in your original question, this refers only to the Cambie Bridge part: the rest of Cambie St will not be rewired. (Just wanted to clarify in case somebody read this out of context :)

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 22, 2010 @ 5:26 pm


    Here’s the answer to your question.

    There are currently two trolley supporting systems in our overhead network. Ohio Brass system is an American system supporting the overhead system from span guy wire between two trolley poles. The another one is called K&M system, European method, hanging the wires from a mast arm pipe. The OB system was used on the Granville St. before the construction. It was agreed that what was removed should be restored back the way it was.

  • By Derek Cheung CMBC, April 23, 2010 @ 7:34 am

    The use of mast arms or span wires is independent of the use of OB or K&M hangers.

    We have many instances of OB hangers with mast arms, and K&M hangers with span wires.

  • By Dave 2, April 23, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

    re: Since the trolley wires on 41st Ave only go as far as Crown, we require the diesels to travel all the way to UBC on the #41. The trolley wire is there so the trolleys can deadhead to Dunbar more efficiently.

    Not to argue with your source, but back in the day there indeed was trolley service on the #41. Trolleys ran from 41st and Crown to the old Joyce Loop at 41st and Joyce, though every other bus was a diesel that ran from UBC to Nelson & Kingsway next to what is now Metrotown. This continued even after Skytrain in started 1986…isn’t that why there are trolley wires up to the new Joyce loop at the station? They’re not used anymore afaik

  • By Vancouver, April 25, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

    It’s about time…Buses and cars need to be separated to make buses move faster. To those people that complain, Granville has wider sidewalks than other streets.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 26, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

    Thanks for the clarification!
    I’ll see if there’s any follow up on the Joyce loop trolley wire.

  • By Paul, April 29, 2010 @ 2:19 am

    In regards to 41st and having trolley wires but not really being used. I’m not positive but I believe they were originally put in not because they wanted to put a trolley bus on 41st although they can. But because they needed a way to get the trolley buses to and front the old depot at oak and 41st.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 29, 2010 @ 9:46 am

    Dave 2:

    I sent your note along and here’s the response from CMBC planning.

    This is true, there is trolley overhead to Joyce Station that is no longer used on a regular basis since the #41 is a diesel.

  • By Jimmy, May 27, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

    On Hastings Street, between Main St and Kootenay Loop why is there a second overhead wire in both directions?

  • By Jimmy, May 27, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

    And no trolleys are using them

  • By Charles, May 28, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

    Why is there a second overhead trolley wire between Main Street and Kootenay Loop in both directions on Hastings Street and no trolley buses are using them ?

  • By Nathan Davidowicz, February 19, 2020 @ 10:05 am

    You never heard of 34 Hastings Express? The oly express non stop service from Koot. Loop to Main and Hastings.
    Now they have non stop express on 104ave from Guildford to Surrey Central. We need lots of these types of routes.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, June 1, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

    Jimmy: CMBC planning tells me that it is passing wire for any NIS (Not In Service) buses heading back to the depot, or into service.

    Charles: I surmise that it’s probably the same answer as to Jimmy’s question, but I’ll go and check to be sure.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, June 2, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

    Charles: as suspected, the overhead is there for the Not In Service buses to pass the in service buses.

  • By Eric B, June 2, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

    True, the second set of wires on Hastings is now used for NIS buses, but until 1997, it was used by in-service trolley buses as the Hastings Express. Such buses operated non-stop between Main and Kootenay.

  • By Charles, June 9, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

    Will there be any overhead trolley wires like the Victoria Dr and others be extended past SE/SW Marine Dr into W/E Kent Ave North/South?

  • By ;-), June 10, 2010 @ 1:09 am

    I caught some of the discussions about transit service proposals on Kent a decade ago when the 29 Elliot ran along Marine for a brief while, until it was discontinued because of poor ridership.

    When West Fraserlands was constructed, there was some interest to have transit. However, Kent avenue is too narrow to support buses today and residents don’t seem to be too supportive of giving up their Kent street parking.

    East Fraserlands has promised to keep the streets wide and have incorporated transit in it’s construction. However, what’s not clear is whether the roads are designed for a full diesel or articulated buses.

    At this time, many nearby Harrison residents are very protective of loop. East Fraserland is focusing on the 100 and 26, but who knows where it will be 5 years ago.

  • By ;-), June 10, 2010 @ 1:15 am

    Here’s a city of Vancouver council report that may be of interest when there was proposed route changes on the 29th. It does mention about service interest Marine South, but it also mentions residential concerns….

    Residents basically boycotted the #29 service until it met its death with low ridership.

  • By Shawn, June 21, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

    Why is there a trolley wires down on 22nd Ave. from Nanaimo and then it turns to Slocan Street all the way to Kingsway where no trolleys use them?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, June 22, 2010 @ 10:27 am

    Shawn: here’s the answer from CMBC planning.

    Currently, that wire is used by NIS buses returning to the depot. It was originally installed to allow the Nanaimo Street service to turn-around (at Kingsway). When Nanaimo Station was built and provided a turn-around at the Station, this section was no longer used by in-service trolleys.

  • By Charles, June 25, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

    Why is there trolley wires on Earles Street from 29th Ave then it turns east on to Horley Street then it turns and go south on Moss Street then turns on to Kingsway then turn back north onto Earles Street?

  • By Charles, June 25, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

    Also why is there wires on 41st Ave and the 41 buses are running as diesel buses?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, June 28, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

    Charles: here’s the answer from CMBC planning to both your questions.

    Before there was Skytrain at 29th Avenue Stn, the 016 Renfrew/Arbutus line used to go south along Nootka continue Earles L/Horley R/Moss R/Kingsway R/Earles and terminate at NB Earles FS Kingsway. The wires remain today because when the 016 goes back to VTC, he goes via Kingsway.

    Trolley wire is on 41st Ave so the trolleys can deadhead to Dunbar more efficiently. Since the trolley wires on 41st Ave only go as far as Crown, we require the diesels to travel all the way to UBC on the #41.

  • By Charles, June 28, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

    Will CMBC reinstall the trolley wires back on Cambie Street in the future?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, June 29, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

    Charles: Trolley wire will not be reinstalled along Cambie Street. However, the plan for 2010 is still to re-install the trolley overhead on the Cambie Street bridge allowing us to put the #17 Oak/Downtown/UBC back to its’ original routing (pre Canada Line construction).

  • By Charles, June 30, 2010 @ 10:16 am

    Why is there trolley wires on 43rd Ave from Victoria Dr then it turns right on to Beatrice St then turns on to 41st Ave and why is there wires on 50th Ave from Fraser St then turns right onto Frederick St then turn right on to 49th Ave then turns back north on to Fraser St?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 6, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

    Charles: Here is the answer from CMBC planning.

    The wire is there to allow our Service Delivery staff to short-turn the trolley service if necessary. For example, if there is a delay due to an accident, we are able to get the buses back on schedule by short-turning some of the service.

  • By Jimmy, July 18, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

    Why is there an abandoned turn around starting at Kingsway at 34th Ave turns right on to 34th Ave then turns right on to Slocan then switches to 2 wires with one turning left and the other continueing straight on Slocan?

  • By Eric B, July 18, 2010 @ 7:21 pm

    @ Jimmy: Those wires are not abandoned. They’re being used to bring Nanaimo Street trolleys to and from regular service via Slocan. See Jhenifer’s response to a related question on June 22 @ 10:27 am.

  • By Jimmy, July 21, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

    When the bus 16 deadheads to VTC, why don’t the wires go all the way to Kingsway instead they turn left on Horley then right on Moss then it turns onto Kingsway?

  • By Eric B, July 22, 2010 @ 8:07 am

    @ Jimmy: This setup was related to the pre-SkyTrain routing of the 16 Renfrew, which terminated on Earles NB at Kingsway.

    See also Derek Cheung’s response to the same question on April 17 @ 1:39 pm and Jhenifer’s response to the same question on June 28 @ 4:12 pm.

  • By Jimmy, August 6, 2010 @ 12:38 am

    Dave 2

    I think that the old Joyce Loop wires are taken down, you can find a photo of the old Joyce Loop in service on

    if you look at it on google maps in street view, it is now currently being used as a 7 eleven parking lot

  • By Paul, August 12, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

    Thank you for those pictures of the location of the Joyce
    loop Jimmy. The photos both place the location of the loop slightly south of Kingsway on the east side of Joyce behind the current 7-11 parking lot and now the site of a condo. Please visit for a free map of the electric railways in Vancouver and across Canada.

  • By Fred, September 9, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

    Was there a terminus called Renfrew Loop?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, October 18, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

    Fred: Not sure… the planner I spoke to said Renfrew Station is the only “Renfrew” exchange they know of. Can anyone else help out?

  • By Eric B, October 19, 2010 @ 9:05 am

    There was a Renfrew Loop on Broadway; it was used as a terminus for the 9 until the mid-1990s, when it was removed for the tech-park development that’s there now.

  • By Glenn Dickson, March 2, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

    Is there any reason why trolley service was remove from Cambie Street before and after the train line to Richmond was built? It should have remained a trolley route. I appreriate that the city of Vancouver kept and upgraded its Trolley bus system using the new technology Flyer coaches which are versatile and a comfortable bus to ride on. I only wish Edmonton and Calgary had refurbrished their trolley system because of the rising cost of petrolium fuels. Thank you.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, March 4, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

    Glenn: I’m still looking into an answer for you. Soon!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, March 4, 2011 @ 5:42 pm

    Glenn: And here is the answer from TransLink planning now.

    With the construction of the Canada Line, all the trolley overhead on Cambie had to be removed. With reduced service levels due to the addition of Rapid Transit and the costs of replacing the overhead and additional cost of trolley buses, the business case did not support the additional expenditures.

  • By Sam, November 4, 2014 @ 1:38 am

    Hope it’s not too late to post here
    I’m asking if translink has any plans to extend their trolley network?

  • By Nathan Davidowicz, March 29, 2020 @ 4:58 pm

    1. Renfrew Bus loop was on the southeast corner of RENFREW AND bROADWAY

  • By NATHAN DAVIDOWICZ, March 29, 2020 @ 5:01 pm


Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » The May Buzzer is now out! — June 16, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

  2. The Buzzer blog » Trolley service returns to Granville Mall on Tue Sept 7 — August 11, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

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