UBC A Capella: Transit to Town

Here’s a cute promotional video to support the Yes vote for the current transit plebiscite. It’s been featured on other blogs, but I thought it worth posting here. It’s a small group of UBC students singing “I Get Around” with a transit bent.


Transportation and Transit Plan 6 – 41st Avenue B-Line

Project #6 is another university bound B-Line in the Regional Transportation Investments that will transform Metro Vancouver as we know it.

41st Avenue B-Line (Joyce Station to University of British Columbia)

41st ave bline map

This route is of personal importance to me. I took a bus out to UBC during my uni days and endured many 1-hour bus rides along 41st Avenue. The 41st Avenue B-Line would be another express bus upgrade. This route is currently served by both #41 and #43 buses. The #43 is the current express bus that only runs during rush hour.  I would hope a new B-Line along 41st Avenue would bring all-day, frequent, limited-stop service to 41st Avenue.
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My Health, My Community

my health my community logoMy Health My Community is a new non-profit partnership between  Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, Fraser Health and the eHealth Strategy Office at UBC.  It is running a survey to learn more about our lifestyle, environment, and neighbourhoods affect our health over time. The information gathered will be used to shape programs and community services in the respective health authorities.

my health my community screencap

If you are 18 years or older and live within the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (which includes Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore, and Sunshine Coast) or the Fraser Health Authority (Burnaby, Delta, Surrey, Tri-Cities, and the Fraser Valley all the way to Hope), then you are eligible to participate in the survey.  It takes 10-15 minutes.  You can also sign up to win prizes if you so choose.

Visit https://www.myhealthmycommunity.org/ for more information about the project and the survey.

UBC-Broadway & Surrey Rapid Transit


Is it just me or does transit news only ever get released on Fridays?

On Friday, the papers were abuzz again about the UBC Broadway Rapid Transit corridor.  A KPMG report prepared for the City of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia pushes for a fully underground rapid transit line connecting UBC to the Broadway-Commercial area.  Outside of Downtown Vancouver, the Central Broadway Corridor is the second largest employment centre in the region.  UBC is the largest transit destination outside of the downtown core.  So in terms of need, the UBC-Broadway corridor should have top priority.

It’s not a very pretty map, but it illustrates how the Central Broadway area is home to the most jobs next to Downtown Vancouver.

Of course, life is not so simple when politics and public funding are involved.  The case for a UBC rapid transit line is convincing and I think few would argue against the need for rapid transit along West Broadway.  Vancouver already benefits from the Expo, Millennium, and Canada Lines.  The Tri-Cities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody are about to get the Evergreen Line.  The most neglected area for transit in general is South of the Fraser.  Surrey currently is served by 4 stations along the Expo Line.

Surrey may not be the second largest employer in the region, but it is the fastest growing municipality in Metro Vancouver.  It has a definite need for transit, but in a very different form.  The City of Surrey is looking to create an light rail transit (LRT) line.  The TransLink site has some possible design alternatives.  The LRT 1 alternative probably covers the most ground with a rail option.


The need for both rapid transit projects is clear.  The UBC-Broadway line would serve a pre-existing and heavily used transit corridor.  The Surrey LRT would help the fastest growing city in Metro to grow in a more transit oriented fashion.  Both are important to the health and sustainability of Metro Vancouver.

It comes back again to funding.  Who is paying for these projects?  TransLink is caught between the city and provincial level.  The province doesn’t want to look like they are taking money from the rest of B.C. to pay for “Metro Vancouver” projects.  The cities are adverse to raising property taxes any further to pay for expansion and operations of TransLink.  Mayors like Delta’s Lois Jackson are ready to pull out of Metro because her area is under-served by transit.

There have been calls for a national strategy for cities.  The US and many other nations have such strategies, but our federal government has not done much in terms of these overriding national strategies in urban issues, housing, and transportation.  There is absolutely no national plan for any of those issues. Again, it’s the funding hot potato that keeps being bounced from government to government.

The likelihood of projects like the two aforementioned rapid transit projects are not very likely to get off the ground.  Many people talk about the need for such projects, but governments and taxpayers alike are not very willing to put their money in these important projects.  Until then, our infrastructure deficit will continue to grow and we’ll still be driving all around Surrey or crushed like sardines on the 99 B-Line along West Broadway.  And that’s quite a shame.

Memories on Transit 2 – the 80’s Broadway milk run on #9

Before the SkyTrain ever plied the rails in Vancouver, life on transit was, well, slower.  If anyone had to travel along Broadway, there was only the #9.  The 99 B-Line didn’t start running until the late 90’s, so there was no quick way across town.

I was a kid back in the 80’s.  And my brother and I had to head out to UBC.  It was so long ago, I don’t remember why we were heading out that way.  We lived out in East Vancouver.  So East Vancouver to UBC was pretty fast by car.  Without a car, though, you’d have to take the #9 milk run across town.

It was a very hot summer day.  Vancouver buses don’t have air conditioning now and they definitely didn’t during the 80’s.  You just open the window and hope the bus keeps moving to create enough of a breeze.

We got on the bus at Rupert and Broadway.  I don’t remember much being at that intersection back in the day.  It was already noon from what I recall.  The bus was a now-decommissioned white trolley with the red and blue BC Transit trim.  The destination sign was the large yellow words on black.  That’s a classic now.

Photo credit: Tim Deakin

The interior of the bus are the classic bucket seats with vinyl red upholstery.  The vinyl was great for sliding around on, especially when buses made a sudden stop.  In the summer with shorts, though, the seats could be pretty sticky.

I’m sure the ride from Rupert Street all the way to UBC wasn’t over an hour long, but the ride felt like it took forever.  The midday sun was blazing.  The only seats left were the window seats on the sunny south side.  The heat definitely added to my distorted sense of time.  It probably also didn’t help being a young kid and anxious to arrive at our destination.

I wonder if anyone ever takes the #9 from end to end anymore.  With the 99 B-Line now in place along Broadway, I know I wouldn’t. Perhaps, though, there’s still some who prefer the slower trolley because they feel it’s a more comfortable ride.

Good Reads 2 – A Convenience Truth

From the desktop of Gordon Price. I will have to download this new book from Condin et al when I get home.

Price Tags

Another Fall book – this one from Patrick Condon’s shop at UBC: a collaboration by 20 student landscape architects and planners who in only 13 weeks produced a detailed 2050 vision for a sustainable City of Vancouver.

Seventeen students combined to do a 2050 plan for the City of Vancouver. The City of Vancouver is considered by many to be North America’s most sustainable city. ith growth pressures unabated, and with housing never less affordable, the big question looms: what next? This is where this book comes in. It contains the answers provided by a team of young visionaries. They discovered that as the city becomes more efficient, more diverse, more intensely utilized, and more equitable, it also becomes a more and more convenient place to live.


Patrick comments:

It is my pleasure to promote this book, a book emanating  from a new generation of urban thinkers.

Along the way…

View original post 238 more words

High-Tech Bike Storage Facility Opens in Buchanan Tower

High-Tech Bike Storage Facility Opens in Buchanan Tower.

Universities have always been places of innovation.  So it’s nice to see UBC have some brand new fangled bike racks.  Too bad UBC has always been way out of riding radius.  Even biking to work is a long stretch for me.  I’m not in the favoured 5 km radius from work.  Fun looking racks, though.  The article also says that Buchanan’s inner courtyard has been renovated and will add a little splash in the middle of Buchanan.

The two-tier racks inside can hold a total of 96 bikes. Weighted mechanisms leveraging an hydraulic spring ensure that even the slightest cyclist can slip a bike into a slot on the top level with minimal effort, literally guiding it into place with a couple of fingers.

The steel structures were made by Urban Racks, a local firm that also supplies the newly installed inverted-U bike racks for the City of Vancouver. The company has a reputation for innovative design and its racks are popular with cyclists all over North America.

Photos are copyright of Spencer Kovats.

Rapid transit for Surrey

The recommendation, included in Metro's new 2040 Shape our Future draft regional growth strategy, suggests TransLink give priority to connecting Surrey city centre to other growth neighbourhoods following completion of the long-awaited Evergreen Line, which will link Port Moody, Coquitlam and Burnaby.

Metro Vancouver pushes rapid transit for Surrey, not UBC — Vancouver Sun.

Put this under the category of “not a new idea.”  Most people who have followed urban development in Metro Vancouver know that Surrey is the fastest growing city in the Metro region and that it’s transit system is woefully inadequate.

Whenever we talk about transit South of the Fraser, a lot of people seem to promote more and more SkyTrain for Surrey.  This may not be the most cost effective way to go for a fairly low density municipality.  It’s true that the city is trying to consolidate residences and jobs in several town centres in Newton, Cloverdale, and more, but most of the city is not dense enough to support what SkyTrain offers.  SkyTrain is a costly automated people mover that does not become cost-effective and cost-efficient until you reach certain density levels.

What I am happy to hear is that Surrey city council is looking at some other alternatives.

Surrey Coun. Judy Villeneuve said her city is in desperate need of more transit, especially as it’s set to become the second largest metropolitan region in the province. The city is developing its town centres to become more transit-dependent, she said, while also looking at alternatives such as light rail, heritage rail and more community buses.

Surrey city council will visit Portland in October to consider that city’s transportation system, Villeneuve said, and will lobby the federal government for more infrastructure funding.

Portland would be a good place to look at how light rail can be implemented.  I think that Surrey should also consider bus rapid transit.  We know how successful the 99 B-Line has been in driving ridership through the Broadway corridor.  The 98 B-Line was also a very popular ride.  We know that Marpole businesses sorely miss all those transit riders that used to shop in Marpole on their way home.

York Region Transit \ VIVA

The other place that Surrey should look at is the York Region of the Greater Toronto Area.  The York Region is made up of all the suburban municipalities immediately north of the City of Toronto.  These cities include Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughn, and Newmarket.  It’s a collection of Bus Rapid Transit routes that connect all the city centres of the York Region cities.  Sound close to what Surrey wants to accomplish?


from Wikipedia, by Vivanext

Because of York’s proximity to Toronto, there was a lot of talk about extending the subway.  The subway will eventually happen (for Vaughn Corporate Centre), but subways are expensive and the York Region needed a quick solution.  Bus Rapid Transit in the form of Viva was the answer.  In a very short time frame, the York Region set up 4 to 5 Viva routes.  A quick and relative cheaper solution to congestion and poor transit service.  Bus Rapid Transit is not the end all of the story for Viva.   There are “rapidway” construction to give priority lanes and more to the Viva buses.  There is the Spadina line extension from Downsview to Vaughn.  And there is talk of building LRT in conjunction with the TTC along Jane Street and Don Mills Road.

I really think the Viva model is worthwhile investigating for Surrey and Metro Vancouver.  Set up Bus Rapid Transit to have a quickly improved transit scenario with limited stop service between town centres.  Then eventually as ridership builds and town centres build-up, light rail may become a viable mode of transport.  If down the road things become very successful, then SkyTrain could even enter the picture.  But please do Bus Rapid Transit now to get folks South of the Fraser some decent transit.

UBC Broadway Debate

TransLink started their newest consultation last week.  The UBC – Broadway corridor has been studied to death over the past 20 years, but here’s our latest manifestation.

TransLink has opened up their Be Part of the Plan website to comments and feedback.  They have provided 6 alternatives showing 6 basic routing options with a mix of 3-4 four different technology options.  Check out their Alternatives page for a summary.

I’m going to focus on just 2 of the alternatives that interest me the most and the one alternative that could happen in conjunction with a rail transit line.

Rail Rapid Transit

The first alternative that I am talking about is the Rail Rapid Transit (RRT) option.  This is TransLink’s naming for the SkyTrain option.  They offer two routing options.  One option runs directly from Commercial-Broadway station along Broadway.   The other option runs from the current end of the Millennium Line at VCC-Clark station along Great Northern Way with an eventual turn towards Broadway before Main Street.  Then the option runs along Broadway and 10th Avenue the rest of the way.

Rail Rapid Transit (i.e. SkyTrain) option

The first option of starting the new UBC line from Commercial-Broadway is a complete waste of infrastructure.  I don’t see the sense of orphaning VCC-Clark as a little stub in the middle of nowhere.  It only makes complete sense to extend the Millennium Line from where it is now.  Otherwise, we wasted a lot of money on a lonely station at Vancouver Community College.  So if we go with Rail Rapid Transit, it should be Bombardier’s automated light rail SkyTrain technology.

The cost of extending SkyTrain is likely the most expensive option and will likely involve tunneling along the Broadway corridor.  So if costs become an issue, the line may have to be truncated somewhere.  The minimal extension should go to at least Broadway-City Hall station at Cambie St.  Without linking up with the Canada Line, then we will have a noticeable gap in our system (Human Transit has gone into a lot of detail about “the gap”).  Ideally, the SkyTrain would run the whole distance to UBC.  I think this makes the most sense in terms of our current infrastructure and for speed and attractiveness of the service.

Combination Alternative

I think this alternative is the most creative of the 6 alternatives.  It is a combination of SkyTrain built as mentioned above, but only to Arbutus St.  Then the rest of the way would be covered by a light rail line all the way to UBC.  The light rail line would also run from Arbutus and Broadway all the way to Main Street Station via a routing along False Creek South including connecting to Olympic Village station along the Canada Line.

LRT/SkyTrain Combination Alternative

I like this stroke of creativity, even though I don’t think it’s the best choice in the long term.  It provides some hope to having some sort of transit along False Creek South to meet up with the Olympic Village, Granville Island and Kitsilano.  Whether it is true LRT with speeds comparable to SkyTrain, or “streetcar”, which runs like a bus on rails, is yet to be determined.  It looks like the media, however, have consistently labeled the LRT alternatives as streetcar.  I think it’s a very misleading nomenclature in this case because it doesn’t fully encompass the possibilities with LRT technology.

LRT can run like a streetcar similar to what Toronto has.  Streetcars run along the street amidst traffic.  That means streetcars would be like a bus and would make frequent stops.  A higher speed LRT can be separated from traffic on its on right of way (surface, elevated, or underground).  This setup would be similar to how Seattle’s new Central Link is run for most of its route.  Or, we can even have a mix of slower streetcar service combined with faster separated right-of-way service.  This would be similar to the way Portland’s MAX runs, which is quick outside of the downtown core, but runs at streetcar speeds downtown.

So how effective this option would be depends on the speed at which they determine to run the LRT portion.  Obviously, if the LRT runs separated on the surface or underground from Arbutus to UBC, then it will be a very effective and quick service with only one transfer needed.

Best Bus Alternative

The Best Bus alternative is about beefing up bus service along routes parallel to Broadway.  Essentially the service of the 4, 44, 84, and 33 would be beefed up along 4th and 16th Avenues.  I think this is the lowest cost option, but not the most preferable to providing rapid transit service to the Broadway corridor.  It would be my hope, though, that the service of these buses would be beefed up regardless of what happens with the rail construction along Broadway.

My Choice

Amazingly to my own surprise, I would like pick SkyTrain all the way to UBC as my choice of technology.  This would be the most expensive way, but it is the fastest, most convenient, and most frequent of all the service options.  It also makes use of the existing Millennium Line up to VCC-Clark instead of wasting it.

However, if money becomes a huge obstacle, which I suspect it will, then I would like to see something like the combination alternative.  It’s hard to say how effective this alternative would be until they decide how to implement the LRT portion of the route.  Price could also be pretty high if everything will be tunneled including the LRT part.

In the past, I have been very supportive of LRT options, but I think for this corridor, SkyTrain will the best alternative from a system/regional perspective to provide the best service.  LRT has its place, but I think a rapid east-west service at frequent 2-4 minute service like SkyTrain is the best for Broadway.  LRT will definitely find its place in the rest of Metro Vancouver (Surrey and Langley) where densities won’t support SkyTrain.

Green Waste Collection

S.F. composting, recycling becomes law Wednesday

The article above is from San Francisco, but I’m not really going to talk about San Francisco in particular.   The new law in San Fran gives us food for thought for us in the Lower Mainland, though.  For one, I have never have thought much about green waste collection or composting.  I’ve tried my hand at composting before, but it was a lot of work and hard to keep on top of it.  I think you have to be either a serious greenie or a serious gardener to really be into composting.

In terms of green waste collection, we don’t have any here in the City of Vancouver.  However, there are two examples of organic garbage collecting in the Lower Mainland.

Port Coquitlam is expanding their green waste program this November:

Starting November 2, 2009, Port Coquitlam residents who receive waste collection services from the City can put all leftover food scraps and food-soiled papers into their green waste carts. That means residents will be able to put meats, dairy, bones, soiled pizza boxes and other items into their green waste carts, in addition to yard waste and vegetable and fruit scraps.

Port Coquitlam Green Waste Collection

Port Coquitlam Green Waste Collection

That seems impressive to me because there are not many such collection programs around.  If Gregor Robertson is serious about Vancouver being a green city, he should follow PoCo’s lead in instituting a green waste program.

One other example of a green waste collection program is UBC.  I have a friend who moved into some of the new residences on the Endowment Lands and he’s been dumping all sorts of kitchen scraps into UBC’s collection program. I’ve seen him toss bones, meat, and even clam shells into his bin.  After trying composting at home, I know I couldn’t dump any dairy or meat products into the composter, but my friend just tosses all sorts of things in.

Keeps me wondering why the rest of Metro Vancouver hasn’t followed suit yet.  Organic waste is probably huge in our city, but only 2 jurisdictions seem to be ahead of the curve and taking all sorts of table scraps.  I hate dumping food, but it happens more often than I’d like.  If I could throw my scraps into a ‘green bin’ instead of the regular garbage, I’d be happier.