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UBC Line: webinar reminder for Apr 4, 2011, plus notes from the first two workshops

Passengers boarding a 99 B-Line bus.

One reminder and two workshop recaps from the UBC Line Rapid Transit study!

Webinar takes place Monday, April 4, 2011

Jeff Busby, TransLink's Manager of Infrastructure Planning

A quick reminder that we are holding a webinar for the UBC Line Rapid Transit Study next Monday, April 4, 2011 from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. PST. Tell your friends!

Jeff Busby, TransLink’s Manager of Infrastructure Planning, and Erin McConnell, our Manager of Corporate Communications, will talk about the preliminary design alternatives, criteria and initial results in their evaluation, plus the feedback we are looking for. There will be lots of time for questions!

You can do a few things in advance of the webinar:

  • pre-register on our webinar page
  • do a bit of homework: see our main UBC Line page to review the alternatives and evaluation information, so you’re familiar with the topic
  • and submit your questions in advance in the blog comments. (You can ask during the webinar too, but advance notice helps ensure we get to the most popular inquiries! Use the Like comment function to vote on questions you’d really like answers on.)

And don’t worry if you can’t attend the webinar, either — we’ll record it and the video will be available after the event, just as we did for Surrey. We’ll also make sure to answer all questions that don’t get covered in the online session.

Notes from the first two workshops

Our consultation team sent me this update about how the first two workshops went, in case you were wondering! (The first workshop was on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at the Masonic Hall, and the second was on Thursday, March 31, 2011 at UBC’s Ponderosa Centre.)

A snapshot of the UBC Ponderosa Centre workshop.

About 60 or so people attended each night to have a say in the design of the options for the future UBC Line and their evaluation.

Each workshop began as an open house, with Jeff Busby, the project director for the UBC Line Rapid Transit Study, then leading the group through a short presentation to explain what kind of feedback his team needs to update the designs and finalize the evaluation for this phase of the study.

Participants then broke into small groups for three, 30-minute rotations to have greater discussion about each of the designs and the evaluation.

Over the two nights, we have heard a variety of perspectives and ideas on how to refine the designs, and important feedback to consider in the evaluation. Here is a summary of just some of themes we are hearing:

  • The impact of street-level options (that’s BRT and LRT) on the street, including parking impacts
  • The impact of all the alternatives on the urban experience and the importance of good design
  • Feedback on how to reduce costs of the RRT alternatives.
  • Most participants so far generally agree with the evaluation criteria. Some specific input includes more emphasis on greenhouse gas emission benefits, greater consideration of cycling impacts and the importance of evaluating the options with the regional context in mind.

Lots of discussion is also taking place online, and people are submitting their feedback in our online questionnaire. We will be summarizing what we’ve heard this week into session notes, and will let you know when those are available.


  • By Jimbo, April 1, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

    Thinking about the seven options, meanwhile check out this Youtube video compilation of cars running into lightrail trains in Houston!

    “Metro’s Greatest Hits”

  • By Dave, April 2, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

    Consider for a minute at how busy Broadway is on a daily basis and how “attentive” the average Vancouver drivers are, and then combine it with a Street Car that runs along the middle, you get some smashing results.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, April 2, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

    I hate LRT and/or street cars. I remember riding the C-Train. We would sit there and wait for cars to get out of the way. The trains literally had the right of way, but the cars just kept going around gates, or something like that.

    In other situations. I seem to recall trains literally being at the stations, waiting for cars to get out of the way, but not letting people on, because the trains had technically departed already. If you can’t stand it when bus drivers do that, then you’ll go crazy when trains do it.

  • By Joe, April 3, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

    Let’s not forget the traffic has to go somewhere if Broadway becomes 1 lane in each direction. It’s not like all the cars will just disappear. It’ll get nasty on Grandview and King Edward.

  • By David Arthur, April 4, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

    Eugene: Calgary’s suburban-focused system isn’t really the sort of line you would get if you put trams on Broadway. For all that people celebrate its high ridership, its builders approached it as a cheap way of getting a SkyTrain-type system rather than embracing the strengths of surface-level transport and designing accordingly.

    For example, a tram is generally slower than a metro train, but it’s also easier to get to (because you don’t have to go up or down, through station corridors, or around corners to get to a station entrance). That makes it more amenable to community-scale hop-on-hop-off services. There’s also less of a financial incentive to omit stations, and it supports Jane Jacobs’s ‘eyes on the street’.

    There are lots of great systems in Europe, that in some cases have even been a lot more successful in building ridership than the newer generation of metros. Houston, for all that drivers there seem to be rather strange, is actually one of the better examples in North America, though I’ve also heard good things about Minneapolis.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, April 4, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

    @ David Arthur

    O-o-oh, okay. If I understand you correctly, its strength is in serving the local community, and not an express type of service, although it could be done that way. It would be better to say, “Street cars are faster than walking, and reduce congestion.”, as opposed to “Street cars are faster than the car, and reduce congestion.”. Yeah, I could support something like that for focusing on town centres and downtown cores. It could have the potential to connect the nodes. Do I understand you correctly?

    Maybe something like this should be dealt with at the community levels. I think that Translink and the cities should focus on intercity connections like the Evergreen line, and whatever in Surrey.

  • By David Arthur, April 5, 2011 @ 9:55 am

    Eugene: Yes, that’s certainly a large part of their benefit, but with reserved lanes and the appropriate priority measures (which can be done a lot better than Calgary has) they can still be significantly faster than cars. The thing about Calgary is that they were actually imitating the Frankfurt model, where high-capacity trains run like trams in the suburbs, but then go underground in the city centre – but they were too cheap to build the tunnel.

    Vancouver was definitely right to build fully separated metros for the Expo and Canada Lines rather than anything like Calgary, and in the long term probably for the Millennium Line as well. From the current state of affairs I’m wholly in support of extending the Millennium Line at least to meet the Canada Line, but I’m not yet convinced either way as to whether it should continue underground through to UBC, or connect to a tramway that would support the sort of local usage that West Broadway already sees.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, April 5, 2011 @ 11:10 am

    @ David Arthur

    I see. Again, I could support what you describe. I think that I would need to see some actual political will power to give buses the right of way, before we decide on street cars or grade separation. As long as the street cars have the real right of way, and not just legal right of way, then there will be no problems. Also, I am very uncomfortable with the idea of drivers running the trains. In the event of a strike, we are forced to find another way. I appreciate what the SkyTrain staff did during that strike, but I felt that they were doing it out of good will, which isn’t enough assurance for me.

    What do you recommend for the Evergreen Line?

    Extending the Millenium Line to the Canada Line seems to make sense, because it would reduce transfers, and it’s not much further down the road. It bugs me that we’re using out of date technology, but still. As I proof read this, I thought of the idea that they should have built the extension for the Olympics.

    As for the remainder of the route, I don’t know what to think, so I will wait to see what other people say.


  • By David Arthur, April 5, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

    Eugene: I definitely agree about priority for buses as well as trams. Earlier today I was looking at this video of a busway in the Netherlands. Obviously an urban road wouldn’t work quite the same way, but it’s a good ideal to be reach towards.

    I don’t really know Coquitlam, so anything I can say about the Evergreen Line is very abstract. I sympathise with the desire for a transfer-free ride into the city, especially given that the Millennium Line doesn’t itself go downtown. But I also worry that Vancouver could end up with the same repeating ‘just one more extension into the suburbs’ mentality that has destroyed transport planning in Toronto. I also find myself wondering if they might not be able to do more for the area by getting West Coast Express running all day and eliminating the arbitrarily higher fares – residents of similarly placed suburbs in Europe generally use a high-quality commuter railway rather than getting a metro either directly or via a tram link.

  • By David Arthur, April 5, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

    The URL of the video seems to have been stripped by a spam filter, but if you search YouTube for ‘ Almere Bus-way: Suburban Junction ‘ you’ll see the video I mean.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, April 5, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

    @ David Arthur

    I also don’t know much, but I truly believe that they should do it in a way that doesn’t require the train to continue on. The branching that occurs at Columbia and Bridgeport is very frustrating, since it dilutes the frequency. It would be nice for the train to have the technological option to carry on, not be required to.

  • By David, April 5, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

    I’m disappointed at several things I’m reading. The worst being that people continue to think that long distance commuting should be catered to and supported with billions of public dollars. The majority of #9 and #99 passengers do NOT get on at Commercial nor should they.

    The talk of cars hitting trams is only relevant because many so many drivers in this region need to learn how to drive properly. Don’t blame the tram for your own incompetence and/or lack of due care!

    Contrary to what is claimed above removing lanes from Broadway will reduce the number of car trips in the city. A percentage of trips will shift to another mode, another destination or simply won’t happen.

    It’s sad to think that if saner heads had prevailed in the 1990’s we might already have rail transit all the way from UBC to Coquitlam. It’s mind boggling that the mistake was not only repeated, but compounded with the Canada Line. At least the Millennium Line is roughly the correct route. Canada Line picked the street with the lowest ridership, the big chunk of basalt to build around and combined that with the highest cost technology. I’d complain about the station sizes and locations, but I wouldn’t have put anything on or under Cambie.

    I may not be able to get to any of the in-person consultations, but I do have to ask how BARSTA thinks a tram with twice as many stations could be done with half the money and in half the time proposed by TransLink?

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, April 5, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

    @ David

    Am I talking to 2 different Davids?

    First of all, what message are you sending to people about long distance travelling? You’re telling them to take a car. Many Vancouverites do not even appear to be open to the idea of moving the events and activities closer to people. It is just beyond words. Just as people can move to the suburbs, which results in a worse system for us all, people can also move destinations further away from the people, which results in a worse system for us all.

    Secondly, the point of the cars hitting trams wasn’t to blame the technology. It was really blaming the culture, although the phrasing may not have been so obvious. The freedom and privilege of blaming the drivers brings me very little enjoyment and happiness, when I’m stuck there in between point A and B. I totally agree that it’s the driver’s fault, but that won’t get me to work on time. I already sacrificed my time to get on transit. I want to see the public and the drivers pony up and start giving us better service. Should we ever have express routes or grade separated service? I agree that street car technology can be wonderful, but when it is put in the hands of idiots, it can contribute to a net loss. The left coast is just too self serving.

    Just the other day, I gave out my name and phone numbers to bear witness to a driver who was harassing a bus driver. The driver wouldn’t give the right of way to the bus. Yeah, I admit that we’re keeping the bus even though the car driver is at fault, but obviously our system doesn’t prevent the driver from behaving that way. People just love trains so much that they’re willing to get in the way.

    If I recall correctly, a long time ago, a Vancouver police officer pulled in front of street car of the Downtown Historic Railway. When 1 of the volunteers told him how wrong this was, the cop just flashed his badge, as if that made a difference, and then drove off.

    As the saying goes, this is why we can’t have nice things.

    If we really want street car technology, then I propose that we use those tracks on Granville Island to offer a hand cart service. If that hand cart service can interact safely with the traffic already there, and not be hindered with long waits, then we move towards electrified street car service. If that works, then we start testing it out downtown or on Broadway. Start off cheap and easy, and then move towards bigger projects. We already know that the technology works, but are we really ready to interact with it? Our schedules depend on cooperation from everybody.

  • By David Arthur, April 5, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

    Agreed fully about cars hitting trams. What you need to understand about Houston is that there’s a right-wing pressure group there who realised that their usual arguments against public transport weren’t working, and so they decided to focus on crashes instead, and try to make the trams look silly and dangerous. Houston’s crash rate is indeed higher than the U.S. average, but only because it has more on-street tracks than the U.S. average, and the crashes are mostly caused by illegal left turns.

    I’m convinced that Broadway could be a great tram street. It all comes down to the actual ridership profile: trams would be great for local residents making short trips, but if there are lot of people coming from the eastern suburbs, a transfer-free SkyTrain connection is probably the way to go, assuming the money exists.

  • By Jimbo, April 29, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    I’m afraid that Vancouver will convinced by the cheapness of building a street level system and then be disappointed with it, just like Seattle is with the street-level portion of their downtown to airport Link system.

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  1. UBC line rapid transit act 2 « Voony's Blog — April 4, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

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