Next to the Surrey LRT project, this is the next largest of the planned transit projects in the Mayor’s Council plan. This is also the planned project with the most profound effect on how I personally travel in my daily life and it will have a huge effect on my workplace in Kitsilano.
Broadway SkyTrain Extension
Back in 2002, the original Millennium Line was built from the Expo Line’s Columbia Station in New Westminster and circled north and west via Lougheed and Brentwood town centres on its way to Commercial Drive. A few years later in 2006, the line was extended by one station west at Vancouver Community College – Clark Station. What many people don’t realize, though, is that all of the current Millennium Line was simply Phase One. Phase Two, or the Port Moody-Coquitlam (PMC) extension of the line, was supposed to be built a few years shortly after the Millennium Line, but the provincial government changed its mind (that seems to be a repeating story in the history of transit in Vancouver). Finally after 14 years since the opening of the Millennium Line, the former PMC Line will open for operation in Fall 2016 as the Evergreen Line.
Then there was Phase Three. Phase Three is a westward extension of the Millennium Line along Broadway all the way to the University of British Columbia (UBC). The Mayors’ Plan hopes to fulfill part of that extension by taking the Millennium Line west to Arbutus Street. The fate of this extension is at stake in the upcoming Transportation and Transit Plebiscite. The extension will finally connect the central core of Broadway to the rest of the Millennium Line.
Currently, North America’s busiest and most crowded bus route, the #99 B-Line takes the brunt of the commuter crush along Broadway west of Commercial Drive. The #99 is so busy during rush hour the bus constantly passes up people along the route. At Commercial and Broadway where the bus starts, I often have to wait 3-4 buses before I get on board (but I’m looking for a seat). The #99 is already at the fullest logistical capacity along Broadway. Broadway transit riders are ready for rapid transit to deliver them to and from work and school.
Going from east to west, every planned station will serve a future or current need. The potential first stop of the extension is Emily Carr University. The Emily Carr University of Art & Design isn’t there yet, but they are planning to move away from Granville Island to a new campus on Great Northern Way in 2017. Currently, the joint-venture Centre for Digital Media is already there. But a whole new post-secondary campus will be popping up in the False Creek Flats. There’s no better transit commuter than a university student and lots of them.
The second station going west would be Main Street-Mount Pleasant. The Millennium Line would go underground after Emily Carr via a giant bored tunnel. The train would snake its way uphill towards Mount Pleasant. Mount Pleasant and Main Street are one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Vancouver. There are many little independent shops that can be found along Main Street. New developments in the area are going bring more people who will likely need transit to travel around town.
Cambie and Broadway is the core of the Central Broadway area. The Central Broadway area is the 2nd largest collection of jobs outside of Downtown Vancouver. When the Canada Line opened the City Hall-Broadway station here in 2009, developments all around Cambie and Broadway popped up to serve all the new commuters and residents. With a Broadway SkyTrain extension, a vital gap in our rapid transit network will be filled. A major east-west line will finally meet up with a major north-south line. It’s already a major transfer point at Cambie Street. It will become even more important if the Millennium Line serves this neighbourhood.
At Oak & Broadway, we find the closest stop to Vancouver General Hospital, the BC Cancer Agency, and the medical precinct surrounding it. The area around Oak & Broadway has the largest collection of medical offices in the region. This is where Vancouver comes to see their doctors and all their other medical professionals. I often find myself in this area for medical appointments. Currently, I arrive here by the #99, but a SkyTrain would get me here a lot quicker.
Granville & Broadway is the heart of the South Granville area. It’s a major shopping stretch that has become quite high end in recent years with the arrival of American retailers like Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Sonoma Williams, and Restoration Hardware to name a few. There are also smaller retailers thrown in the mix. A large collection of home decor and furniture stores are found here. Also, the heritage Stanley Theatre is found just a few blocks south of Broadway on Granville. This stop would also be the closest rapid transit stop to the popular Granville Island. It is quite a walk down the hill to Granville Island, though.
Lastly, the Mayor’s Plan would bring the Broadway SkyTrain extension to Arbutus Street. Arbutus would be the only stop in the large Kitsilano neighbourhood. The stores along 4th Avenue would be a quick walk away from Arbutus and Broadway. Kitsilano is chock full of 4-5 storey apartment buildings – both old and new. The Arbutus B-Line stop is not the busiest of the #99 stops, but there are at least 20 people waiting for the bus when I go home after work.
Speaking of work, my workplace would be almost at the doorstep of a new SkyTrain station. A lot of people I see rely on transit and it would make it much easier for people to come to my office. It would be really good for our business. For my personal commute, it currently takes about 45 minutes with B-Line and SkyTrain combined. Before the B-Line had a stop at Arbutus Street, my commute was 55 minutes. With a Broadway SkyTrain extension, I hope my commute will be shaved down to about 35 minutes. That’s 10 more minutes of sleep in the morning. That also means I get home 10 minutes earlier for dinner. A Broadway SkyTrain extension would be a godsend for me.
There is a huge need for rapid transit along Broadway. An extension of the Millennium Line can happen sooner than later if Metro Vancouver votes Yes in the upcoming transit ballot. Estimated capital costs are currently $2 billion and annual operating costs are $22.3 million.
The ballots will be sent out by March 16, 2015 and residents of Metro Vancouver will have until May 29, 2015 to mail in their votes. Voting YES for a 0.5% increase in the provincial sales tax will cost the average household only a 1-2 hundred dollars a year, but it will provide financial stability for a great variety of transportation projects that will transform Metro Vancouver. A YES vote will benefit your mobility and my mobility in the region. Please vote Yes to better transportation.