The only rapid transit system that should connect the busy Commercial and Broadway hub and the University of B.C. is a $3 billion subway, the city’s director of transportation told council Tuesday.
Jerry Dobrovolny said council has been on record since 2000 as supporting a SkyTrain tunnel at least to Arbutus before connecting to a bus system.
Extending the subway to the university is a new direction for council and the city’s planning staff, which continues to put pressure on TransLink to build a subway.
“Our feeling is a subway all the way to UBC is the best approach,” said Dobrovolny, noting buses on the route are over capacity and adopting a light-rail system would mean an overhaul of the Broadway corridor.
He said a light rail transit system would mean major changes to roads, the narrowing of sidewalks, removing parking spots, priority signals for light rail and a spike in traffic to neighbourhoods.
A bored tunnel would create less disruption on the street and see construction only at stations, said Dobrovolny, who didn’t reveal what a light rail system would cost from Commercial-Broadway to UBC.
Dobrovolny provided statistics that showed estimates of 100,000 people are expected in the Broadway corridor by 2040.
Two thousands transit users per morning rush hour are passed up by buses at the Broadway-Commercial hub, he said. While many people have no option but to use transit, Dobrovolny noted 60 per cent of trips along the corridor are made in a motor vehicle. Another 21 per cent use transit and 19 per cent walk or ride a bike.
A rapid transit system along Broadway would likely double the use of transit, as the city experienced with the opening of the Canada Line where ridership shot up 70 per cent, he said.
In October, city council passed the City of Vancouver’s 2040 transportation plan, which aims to have two-thirds of all trips done by foot, bike and transit by 2040.
Dobrovolny told council at the time the key to achieving the goal is the operation of an underground rapid transit system along Broadway that runs at least to Arbutus.
Also in October, the mayor’s council on regional transportation gave the provincial government and TransLink an ultimatum to work out a long-term funding plan. The mayors have said they will cancel the agreed-to $30 million property tax hike, if the government and TransLink can’t settle on a deal by Feb. 28.
TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis told the Courier earlier this month that he wants a rapid transit system built along the Broadway corridor but wouldn’t speculate on when it will be built and how it will be paid for.
The provincial government’s transit plan estimated in 2008 that it would cost $2.8 billion to construct a 12-kilometre line from Broadway station to the University of B.C. It cost $100 million per kilometre to construct the Canada Line.