May 7, 2014

When Vancouver had LRTs.....

There is a constant back and forth in Vancouver about what to do next. There is a giant need to get more capacity along the Broadway corridor to get better public transit access to UBC. That's all fine and good, but we're talking Vancouver here and there are two golden rules when it comes to anything traffic related in this city:

  1. It should not interfere with car traffic.... at all!
  2. It should not cost anything (additionally).

Of course both are completely ridiclous. You cannot build public transit on a shoe string budget, and road space is limited, so something will have to give.

There is also another problem in Vancouver: Skytrain.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's an excellent people mover and Bombardier did a bang up job showing it off at Expo '86, but as a public transit system it's an utter failure. And this is why they will continue to sink money into it.

Quite simply put, my favourite solution for the connection between Commercial and UBC is an LRT based system, at grade, with their own right of way (ROW). Broadway is six lanes wide, two of them are mostly used for parking during the day, so road capacity is there. But it won't happen, because... Well, Skytrain. Most people keep telling me that LRTs won't work. They either try the argument that there is not enough road and passenger capacity (neither is true), or that they couldn't move as fast or as often as the Skytrain can.

I admit, they are somewhat correct that you can shoot a train on it's dedicated ROW without any intersection more often down the line, but if you only bring half the capacity to the table then you're still not going to do better than a properly designed LRT.

The other argument against LRT then is usually that we can't afford to lose the road space. As I pointed out earlier, along Broadway that's pretty much bullshit. Even other major roads could afford to give up two lanes, if there would be the will to actually commit to public transit in the lower mainland.

Then again, Vancouver had it once, then they tore it all out as the video below will show:

On second thought. Considering how much they mess up road projects, maybe it's good that we will just try to bury the Skytrain for a whole lot of money that nobody has. At least that way I won't be reminded on a daily basis just how they messed it up.