Vancouver advocate wants a West-End subway

Vancouver advocate wants a West-End subway
Photo: Vancouver West End. From Wikimedia Commons - Socceronly
Photo: Vancouver West End. From Wikimedia Commons – Socceronly

This is one I will have to go “huh” at, because the writer brings up a very interesting and very legitimate point.

Although I think Surrey at this point has a greater need due to increasing car use, I’ve experienced transit on the West End (the densely populated area on the western end of the downtown Vancouver peninsula) and I will have to agree – it sucks.

West End transit is very slow and exceptionally inconvenient, and cannot be relied on by those who want to travel around on a timely basis. Robson, Denman, Davie and Granville are almost always clogged by traffic, and this is part of why buses in these areas are often delayed. These are the four major streets servicing the West End area – and about the only streets with bus routes, meaning capacity can be and is an issue. Unfortunately, these major streets are very narrow and few and far between, leaving light rail/streetcars as a not very viable option for the West End on Davie, Denman or Robson to increase capacity. Mixed-traffic streetcars would have trouble navigating the undivided four-lane roads in mixed lanes, which have no turn lanes and are restricted to two lanes during off-peak hours as parking takes over curb lanes. Extremely restricted roadway capacity and parking space for on-corridor business in the area means taking away lanes for either buses or light rail is not an option.

A streetcar/LRT line down Pacific Blvd and Beach Avenue remains a last possibility, but probably stands to bring little or no travel benefit, because of its longer and indirect route with no improvement in connections to important destinations or hubs downtown – such as bus terminals, Waterfront Station, and others. A streetcar on this corridor has actually been proposed as part of Vancouver’s streetcar proposal, but only as far as Granville; it would not extend to the West End or English Bay.

West End Map. From CityTalks website.
West End Map. From CityTalks website.

The issue with the West End is that it is simply far too dense for the local infrastructure in every way. It’s an issue that I am familiar with as this issue is present everywhere in my hometown city of the Manila, Philippines – where the city’s high density is serviced with very much underbuilt transportation infrastructure.

It seems logical to think that the only solution left for the West End is a grade-separated subway rapid transit extension. However, a subway would be far too disruptive of a priority based on the needs in other areas of the region. So, that leaves this as a matter to be discussed – and a great matter to bring up in advance of an election where transportation funding will be a primary debate topic. It should remind us that, let alone the transit problems that have been brought up and are priorities (like Surrey and the Broadway corridor), there are other problems to address that should be priorities but have not been made as priorities – and that’s how serious the issue of transit need is here in Metro Vancouver.

Forget the Broadway Line, let’s jump on the English Bay SkyTrain line

On the Georgia Straight, by Stephen Hui

After the Evergreen Line is finally completed, TransLink’s next big project could be light rail in Surrey or some sort of rapid transit in Vancouver’s Broadway corridor. One option the regional transportation authority isn’t studying is an extension of the Expo Line in downtown Vancouver.

At the Straight, we get all sorts of reasonable and far-fetched proposals in our inboxes. This proposal is one of them, but I’ll let you decide how realistic it is.

Frank Jameson, who has a barely-there site called Vancouverrr, wrote in to say: “The Expo Line should come to English Bay.” He wants to see a new tunnel bored under the West End, and he plans to make it a provincial election issue.

This tunnel would carry the Expo Line to two new stations: Mount Robson station at Cardero Street and English Bay station at Bidwell Street. Presumably, this means the first station would be at Robson and Cardero streets and the second would sit near English Bay Beach.

It’s not clear whether the Expo Line would split into two branches (English Bay and Waterfront) at Burrard Station. Perhaps a new English Bay line could have separate trains, requiring a transfer at Burrard.

The rationale? Jameson says the English Bay area has the “slowest transit service” in the Lower Mainland. Fireworks and festivals also disrupt bus service in the area. And, you know, lots of people live there. “We deserve better transit. We want a subway,” he writes.

So, over to you. Is it time for the SkyTrain to pull into English Bay?

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.