28 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Vancouver’s Transit Plan”

  1. A question here for anyone who might know anything about this:


    There’s a mostly empty park and ride on Center Street in Tacoma by Highway 16- right it, it seems to be only used by carpools, because the only route that serves it is the infrequent Route 52. It is built right next to Highway 16, through, and seems to be located for a highway flyer stop. Does anyone know if that was the plan?

    1. It was closed when they did some freeway work in the area. And they moved the ramps that were next to the Park & Ride but I haven’t heard of any plans to do anything else with it. It used to be served by the 220 and the 53 (before the 220 existed) as well as the 52. It’s in an awkward location that can have alot of traffic at peak hours so making it accessible for express buses doesn’t seem that possible without a huge investment.

    1. Thanks, poncho. Good example for us. Remember, though. Greater Miami has five million people, and a lot easier terrain than ours. Also, likely railroad sections left over from the past. Not to say we’ll always stay behind. Tunneling and structure-building get faster by the year.

      As, exponentially, does our population.


      1. Agreed, though culturally Florida is not transit/rail friendly. If it works in Florida, I think we will see similar private operations across the country in key markets especially if the railroad already owns the right of way.

      2. When I lived in Florida in my 20’s. Previously, I had commuted to graduate school on my bicycle daily. So one day in May, I tried bicycling to work. My commute was just one mile.

        I was drenched with sweat and my dress shirt was completely wet after a short, flat ride in the Florida sun.

        Just one of the many reasons I choose to never live in Florida again.

  2. So has there be any somewhat official talk of a Hastings Skytrain line in Vancouver?

    Also this video makes it sound like Arbutus streetcar/light rail is likely. Everything I have seen has it in the plans.

  3. https://www.translink.ca/Fares-and-Passes/Proof-of-Payment.aspx



    There’s a long list of links on Translink’s fare enforcement policy, whose explanations are a lot more comprehensible than ours. Funny no mention of “Separate Agencies, given they’ve got three time our number. Though our printed rules don’t mention that detail either.

    Couple of unpleasant similarities. No adjustment on the amount of a fare. And extra stinker: disobey enough and chance you can’t renew your driver’s license. Newly installed gates are helping a lot. As on BART, making evasion ticket for a mistake a lot less likely.

    ST, just do it. You can afford the gates a lot more than I can afford a $124 fine for a slip-up. Would pay $124 for my monthly Senior pass to get that ride-spoiler off my mind every time I board my day’s first LINK ride.

    And for both systems, not snark but serious: what’s the robbery risk over letting possession of a pass just settle the question? Especially since you have to have the pass to risk the fine in the first place? And why our cardboard un-tappable All Day pass is stronger Proof of Payment than the ORCA card we’re being begged to buy?

    Easy, painless test. For six months, let possession itself Prove, and compare the revenues with now. Which will also save you the PR consequences when the public finds out what you don’t dare print or post. Say “Separate Agencies” once out loud, and The Seattle Times will eat you for a high calorie breakfast. The State Legislature too, especially if they quietly ordered you to do it.

    Mark Dublin

    1. One thing I keep wondering: Why are they bothering with having long-term passholders (e.g. not day pass holders, but folks up in the monthly range) tap in? Why not just give them a pass which, while it will activate any gates, etc., is just set as active for the whole period full stop but has their name on it (presuming that there’s some concern about folks “sharing out” a pass) and needs to be presented with an ID?

      1. The tap in and tap out is required to operate the ticket barriers. It also provides a wealth of information on travel habits, which helps in determining future route adjustments and needs. For the buses, everybody taps in. Provided a pass has been activated, then it really doesn’t matter if they tap in our not, the pass would read as active when checked by an inspector.

  4. I never understood the logic of stopping at Arbutus for the Broadway extension, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense just to go all the way to UBC. Like the fact that UBC iirc has some of the highest ridership in the Vancouver area. Along with the fact that in talking with people from Vancouver that the 99 B-Line is the busiest line for Translink and is in desperate need of relief.

    Also, I really want to know who in their right sound mind thought that a streetcar line for Surrey was a good idea. Does someone need to drag their city council to Seattle to show them how bad of an idea said line would be. I’m hopeful that the Langley extension will be Skytrain though when they get around to doing it.

    1. I can attest to anecdotal evidence of the 99 needing some relief. It’s every two minutes or so, and at midday so heavily crowded that I had to wait for two to go by before getting on one, and only then did I manage because I joined a crowd getting on the rear door. They have card readers at all doors on that route. For the first mile or so about 10 of us had to get off and get back on at each stop as there was no other way to let people get to the door.

    2. It’s not a streetcar. He said it won’t be in mixed traffic. It will have center lanes like like Link on MLK or MAX on Burnside. The latter is closer because parts of it resemble a highway with more speed than MLK has.

    3. >> I never understood the logic of stopping at Arbutus for the Broadway extension, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense just to go all the way to UBC.

      Yes, and it will eventually. The only reason it isn’t going that far yet is money and politics. It should be extended to UBC long before they make any major investment in Surrey, but sometimes agencies don’t do what makes sense.

    4. There was a debate whether Broadway should be Skytrain or light rail. The light rail side pointed to the lower cost and taxes. As the video said, it’s only cheaper short term, and doesn’t give as high quality transit or capacity in the intermediate years until it’s later upgraded to grade-separated rail. But I don’t think the opponents ever wanted that, and in any case they’d rather spend the difference now on more corridors or lower taxes. Apparently Skytrain won out on Broadway but not in Surrey. Some people in Surrey now apparently want to reconsider the light rail choice but Kevin Desmond, the former director of King County Metro and now Translink, said he doesn’t want to revisit the decision. That sounds like more against the idea of changing decisions than of changing modes per se.

      In a Pugetopolis context, the Skytrain vs light rail debates are more like our light rail vs BRT or nothing debates. Except that Broadway is clearly higher-volume than anything in Pugetopolis except downtown-UW, the Lake Washington bridges, and I-5 north and south.Similar debates occurred in Toronto in the 00s, although like Vancouver most of them have evolved into accepting the higher-capacity alternative.

    5. It certainly would. The reason for stopping at Arbutus is financial. It’s a long stretch through a fairly low density (by Vancouver standards) wealthy area to UBC. It’s a long way to tunnel with very little intermediate traffic or much chance of increasing density around stations. So the biggest bang for the buck was to close the gap between Commercial-Broadway Station (Expo and Millennium lines) and Broadway City Hall (Canada line) and serve the business district west of there to Arbutus Street.

  5. The video is interesting in how it says to go to driverless rail or just run buses. They really make driver-staffed light rail very non-strategic in this video!

    Maybe that’s another lesson for slow-moving streetcar advocates? Keep in mind that streetcars handle about the same capacity as an articulated bus.

    1. Al, imagine in close succession the Sea-Tac elevator, Capitol Hill escalators and the Breda buses, and you’ll pretty well have the result when same companies also get the low bid for your automated anything. and open for service on the same say.

      Just for historic continuity of opening speech, calendar should say December 7.


  6. Just a guess, Zachary, but how much experience have you had riding both buses and streetcars under average Friday pm rush hour loads? Some sit-time in every seat on a 60′ bus including extreme left front confirms Glenn’s observation.

    Compare delays re: reboarding when it’s least welcome, case should make itself. And after being part of enough standing loads to judge…..experience just mentioned will take care of that too. And another comparison.

    On a system at least three years old, notice difference in ride quality between the two modes. In cartoons and standard PR pics, those rubber-tire pavements look like brand new polished red glass. The cracks don’t start to show- and be felt- ’til a few years later. Patches? Usual budget replaces them with bumpier patches.

    Not saying I know whole answer on this one. Just from experience, steel rail runs smoother longer, under heavier loads, than buses. But it’s been forty years since I heard radio personality Max Ferguson impersonate Prime Minister Diefenbaker, and about ten since I saw Cathy Jones imitate Ann Coulter while calling herself “Heather”.

    So must defer to you on motivating Canadian politicians go anywhere, let alone Seattle, to go observe streetcars. However, events are falling more rapidly your way by the minute. Rather than usual travel modes that will subject you to savagely humiliating border treatment because you are indistinguishable from returning Americans, Kenmore Air will splash you down less than a block from the South Lake Union Trolley.

    Your comparable term of romantic affection also has four letters, but starts with an “H”. Since the line shares lane space with Bus Rapid Transit, at rush hour you can get a firsthand comparison of standing loads between streetcars and buses for several rides. But now the trip gets informative. The Downtown end of the car line is half a block from Westlake subway station, and an eight minute ride to the International District by either light rail or hybrid bus.

    Where you can board the First Hill Streetcar, from which you will see everything that can and so does get in the way of a streetcar in your half hour ride to the Capitol Hill LINK station. God, elevators, and escalators willing, five minutes later, if your ride two more inbound stops to University Street station, critical decision will click into place. Immediately consult your smart-phone navigator and locate the following.

    1. The Pike Brewing Company.

    2. The Road Dog Brewery Tours’ main office.

    3. The Copperworks Distilling Company.

    All a few blocks’ walk from First Avenue. Whereupon any of your people who’ve spent fifteen minutes in Toronto will suddenly exclaim: “Why don’t they just connect a (just checked Wikipedia why an American better say ‘Blooming’) streetcar line to the other two?” Will wager some reserved lanes and pre-empted signals will then turn your delegation pro-streetcar like a New Democratic Premier takes to water!


    Looking forward to meeting the plane. BTW, our Rapid Ride buses and all our new trolleybuses are New Flyers. Might want to mention Seattle top Bombardier, too.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I’ve been wondering what the new buses were, and Metro hasn’t updated their vehicle page in several years to any degree I could find. Thanks, Mark.

      1. Ness: Just type in “King County Metro BRT Buses”, and go to:


        Finding out that for an increasing number of things, just ask for anything you want, and you’ll find out everything you want to know. Though you also have to factor in what-all about yourself that Mark Zuckerberg has already told the whole population of the galaxy.

        Whether you want to know who-all knows. Personally, sleep much better for knowing that a whole universe of predation knows I don’t have any money. And for the former and probably present chief of the KGB- probably thought he’d poisoned the source before it got released.


        But for bus types- a treasure chest. Would buy a season ticket for performances pro-Russian Crimea would let me drive one shift on this one:


        ‘Til we get Snoqualmie Pass wired, we can give the tour guide a work permit for the Route 7.

        Just type “crimean trolleybus line” and look down list ’til you find “excursion.” Amid hundred else. Can also find really cute Finnish nazi if you just type that in. Great streetcar system in Helsinki too.

        Happy browsing, Just remember how many animals end up dinner for something that doesn’t.


  7. Hey, Zachary, really need to apologize. From age ten ’til late college, one of the best things about living around Detroit was having Canada across the river. Saw a lot of it on family vacations. And really loved Max Ferguson- my father recommended him to me when I was like 13. And also Rick Mercer. And Cathy Jones. Ann Coulter really has it coming. So nothing but affection for Canada.

    Visited Toronto several times, very much impressed with the streetcars there, though granted, at rush hour, anything in mixed traffic might as well not have wheels. Drove trolleybuses, and our dual-power fleet- very proud of the way we started our light rail in increments when we couldn’t finance it whole.

    Which did leave me with sense that with some effort and imagination, passengers can be kept moving where all logic decrees they’ll be stuck. First Hill Streetcar on Broadway- performance presently inexcusable, especially since it was supposed to compensate a large area for fact that a subway station could not be built.

    But worst of blockage could easily be turned around. Just reverse priority between automobiles and streetcars as to which one waits, and which one moves. South Lake Union, pretty much same. First Avenue looks like we’ll have some reservation and pre-empt. However contested. Little spelling matter- I spent some time in East Africa, and am into North Country border ballads.

    So justified retaliation: I was born in Texas. Take it from there.


    In late 1960’s, very tempting not to come back across the river. Real fear now that Canada will build an absolutely gorgeous wall to defend itself, completely financed by massive donations and 27-7-365 labor from a mobilized population.

  8. My experience with Vancouver is 1990 to 2006, so most of these lines did not exist. The first trip we went up in a car to visit a church in Cloverdale (then rural Surrey). We went downtown Saturday evening and walked around Granville Street, and I was fascinated by one entrance. “What is this?” I asked. My friend said, “It looks like a subway station.” I had not seen a subway before except once on BART. I picked up the information phone and asked how often the trains run evenings, afraid it would he half-hourly and we’d be stuck somewhere. The rep said every five minutes until midnight. So we got on a train (finding the no-turnstyle proof-of-payment strange). After a while we saw a large pedestrian area and I asked somebody, “What’s that?” and they said Metrotown. “What’s Metrotown?” “It’s a mall.” So we got off and my friend looked for a gift for his sister, and then we went back downtown.

    Several other times I visited the same church but took Greyhound. The Skytrain only went to Scott Road, just east of the Fraser, like UW Station now, so we met others there and got a carpool to the church.

    In 1998 I started visiting some other friends in Yaletown, next to downtown. I took Greyhound up, Skytrain to Granville, and walked to their place. My friend lived in a condo and owned a video store in a nearby condo, and the people around all lived in nearby condos that were incredibly cheap, less than $100K. Sometimes I came up for bands that played just south of the Broadway Skytrain. It was clearly one of the best urban cities in North America. The Skytrain had been built out to King George and the Millenium Line, but I didn’t have much to do out there. A couple times I took flights out of Vancouver, which were cheaper than Sea-Tac. The Canada Line didn’t exist but a Granville B-Line did. They had set up B-Lines for planned Skytrain lines. That was my expectation for what ST Express should later be like. It wasn’t fulfilled because the B-Line ran every 10 minutes while ST Express was every 30-60 minutes.

    Once I took the Hastings bus — which was a regular trolley bus then — from downtown to the city border, and transferred to a diesel bus to continue to SFU. Coming back I took another 20-30 minute bus to Metrotown. That was SFU’s connections then. Now it has a B-Line to downtown, and a 2-mile gap to a Skytrain station.

    The last time I went to Vancouver in 2006 I stayed with a third friend in southeast Yaletown. The Olympic Village redevelopment and Yaletown waterfront parks were all finished by then and another good pedestrian area. But it was a longish walk to Granville Station. It’s where the Canada Line runs now.

    I’m glad that Vancouver has made its transit network more complete than when I was there. It’s a microcosm of my experience in Seattle where at first there weren’t any trains or RapidRide or ST Express, then there were some, and then there were more. Although of course Seattle’s comprehensiveness is much lower than Vancouver both before and after.

    Two more anecdotes. If you take a bus to 4th Street, a few blocks north of Broadway, you find yourself in Kitsilano, a neighborhood of lowrise duplexes. This shows how you can pack a lot of people and walkability without ruining the quiet low-key residential character of the neighborhood. Wallingford and north Ballard should be like this! Then you come upon Kitsilano Beach, a well-used sandy beach. With a long bike/ped trail going several miles along the shore to Jericho Beach and the Spanish Banks, and beyond that UBC.

    As for Cloverdale, if you take Greyhound it uses the truck border crossing and goes up Highway 15, right past Cloverdale. Over the years it has gotten suburban, like Bonney Lake or Maple Valley perhaps. The southeast light rail alternative to Langley would cross Highway 15 two miles north of there. I’ve never been to Langley, although I’ve met a few people from there. In the early 00’s it was “way out”, like Issaquah had been. I don’t know how big it is now.

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