The City of Vancouver is determined to lay a subway line along the busy Broadway Corridor, extending the SkyTrain system from Commercial Drive to UBC.

While some are calling for a cheaper light-rail system for Broadway, Vancouver transportation director Jerry Dobrovolny says that an underground SkyTrain is the only viable option.

“The SkyTrain recommendation from the city engineering department, made to council Tuesday, firmly shuts the door to the light-rail option that one group of transit experts believe would be cheaper and more practical than a SkyTrain line,” reads an article in the Globe and Mail.

“But Mr. Dobrovolny was insistent that a light-rail system just can’t handle the huge volumes anticipated in future years along Broadway, the province’s second-largest employment centre after downtown Vancouver,” the article continues.

An official press release from the Vancouver Mayor’s Office outlines four main points on why an underground SkyTrain extension is the way to go:

  • A subway is the only technology that can meet Broadway’s ridership needs
  • A subway could handle 20,000 people per hour, compared to just 7,000 for a streetcar
  • Transit volumes would double on Broadway if rapid transit capacity was added
  • A Streetcar would require 90 per cent of parking spots removed along Broadway, along with turn restrictions at 90 per cent of intersections. It would also be at full capacity on day one of opening.

The municipal government goes on to contend that a subway line for the Broadway Corridor would benefit the entire Metro Vancouver region, not just the City of Vancouver, because:

  • 50 per cent of trips to UBC and the Broadway Corridor are from outside Vancouver
  • 2,000 transit passengers are passed up at Commercial Broadway station during rush hour
  • The Broadway Corridor is the second biggest job centre in British Columbia

So now the city must wait on a decision from Translink to see if the regional transit authority agrees that a Broadway line should be the region’s next major transit project (and if funding for such a project would be at all feasible).

“Surrey is anxious to get light-rail transit connecting three of its town centres to its existing SkyTrain line,” the Globe and Mail article points out. “UBC is lobbying to make sure that a Broadway extension, whatever system is chosen, goes all the way to the campus.”

While some may disagree that the Broadway Corridor has the greatest need for transit expansion, it’s certainly hard to argue with the fact that the area is one of the region’s busiest.

For more on this, be sure to read the Globe and Mail article in its entirety here.

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