There has been much discussion about upgrading transit between the Broadway and Commercial sky train station and UBC. TransLink has shown 7 options to upgrade this vital Vancouver transportation route. These range from simply adding more buses to building a mostly underground sky train line.
The prices range from $300 million for new buses to over $3 billion for the underground train option with several mixes of light rail transit options along Broadway costing over a billion dollars.
The problem with all these options is the route.
Broadway is one of Vancouver’s busiest streets, it has hundreds of businesses employing thousands of people that would all be adversely affected by the 3 years construction would take. There are also water and sewer lines that would have to be relocated, creating disruptions along 8th or tenth avenue where they would have to be relocated, adding to the cost.
Politicians speak of light rail transit like it is the holy grail, but running this type of transit along the packed streets of Broadway would be a disaster. The result would be either traffic reduced to one lane each way or the loss of parking for the businesses along the route, as the street can not be widened. Even with all the construction chaos and reduced lanes or parking, only 6 minutes travel time would be saved at most and probably less as the more crowded streets would slow traffic.
Is there a better option than the 7 so far proposed?
Yes, I think there is, option # 8.
The option I propose is a combination of expansion of the Millennium line to Cambie street at the Olympic Village station and rerouting some of the buses currently running between the Broadway and Commercial station and UBC.
Continuing the Millennium line to the Olympic Village stop at Cambie street and 6th is a logical conclusion to the line as it ties all 3 rail lines together and would be the least expensive way to do it.
Having the lines meet at 6th instead Broadway reduces the congestion on Broadway while allowing for buses to run along 4th avenue to UBC as well as along Broadway. The result will be 2 new bus routes running in circles in opposite directions in a loop from UBC to Cambie street and back.
One bus will run east from UBC along Broadway and make a left turn at Cambie and another left at 6th avenue in order to stop at the Olympic village station. The bus will then head west, returning to UBC along 4th avenue.
The second bus route will run east from UBC along 4th avenue to Cambie at 6th , then it will turn right, travel up Cambie and make another right turn at Broadway and head west back to UBC.
The combination will result in at least a 6 minute reduction in the commute time due to the shorter bus route, a reduction in buses running between Commercial and Cambie and no business killing construction and chaos along Broadway, along with a saving of some $3 billion, as it will only cost about $300 million to extend the Millennium line to Olympic village. At a time when all governments must show fiscal responsibility, this option would provide the biggest benefit for the least cost and inconvenience and could be done in far less time than any of the other rail options while costing the same as simply adding more buses.