Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Vancouver says goodbye to Olympic streetcar

with 26 comments

STIB3050 with the removal truck

"They're coming to take me away!" Brussels tram visiting Vancouver passes the truck that will transport it on the first leg of its homeward journey

I spent an hour or so yesterday on the Olympic Line, despite the drizzle and gloom, to say goodbye myself. The Globe and Mail has an article today that says the Mayor is not enthusiastic about promoting the downtown streetcar.

“I am open minded but we have to be pragmatic here and work with our transportation partners,” Mr. Robertson said

and I must say I agree with him. Suzanne Anton tries to  make the case for a City only P3, but that seems to me – and other commentators – unrealistic. Not that I am against streetcars – for Vancouver or other parts of the region. Just that when the Evergreen Line is the priority and the Province looks likely to step in and force some new local funding formula on the region, I cannot see the City’s taxpayers being supportive of this scheme.

The G&M does not mention the Downtown Historic Railway at all, which I think is a pity, since that will be operating with the old Interurban cars once again, and will have benefitted financially from the Olympic Line. Bombardier made a significant donation reflecting the number of volunteer hours that TRAMS members operated the Brussels cars.

Bombardier's cheque for $22,550 to TRAMS

Bombardier's cheque for $22,550 to TRAMS

While only the section between Granville Island and Cambie Street was upgraded, I hope we will see service restored as far as Science World before too long. Of course, this service won’t be free, or included in any Translink ticket, but it will still be an asset to the City, its visitors and residents. In Britain, community railways are showing how there can be alternative ways of providing services that are not necessarily commercial (the only ones that a P3 ought to be considered for). There are also many preserved railways in the UK, some of which now also provide regular community services as well as what we call “fan trips”.  It may be too much to hope that brand new low floor trams can be financed here for such a service, but San Francisco runs a very successful tourist oriented line using refurbished streetcars. And there are plenty of examples of heritage streetcar lines elsewhere. No one expects these things to make money!

$8.5 million was a great deal of money to spend on a short length of track, and one of the justifications used by the Vancouver engineers was that the line had to be upgraded for safety reasons in any event, and would still be useful for many years for the Heritage cars, even if nothing else happened. And, of course, the Starbucks building still blocks the route that used to connect this line to the Arbutus line – or the tentative extension to Vanier Park shown on the TRAMS map.   Of course, if the same metric is applied to the rest of the previous route to Science World, the probability of seeing any service that far also shrinks very quickly.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 22, 2010 at 10:53 am

26 Responses

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  1. It was definitely a fun experience driving these modern streetcars, a change from the historic interurbans.

    It was also a huge honour, being able to drive the first public run of the Olympic Line back in January (after the VIP train departed Cambie) and the final run last night.

    Remember to continue writing your politicians at ALL levels to pressure for a return of streetcars in Vancouver.

    And if anyone knows a benefactor with deep pockets who’d like to help restore a PCC style streetcar with TRAMS, please contact us. Charitable tax receipt available!

    Thank you all for coming out and riding with us and we’ll see you in the summer on the DHR.

    Matthew Laird

    March 22, 2010 at 11:15 am

  2. The downtown streetcar plans, from what I have seen, are rather questionable, except if it is to be a strictly tourist line; but it will be a lot a money for a trolley.

    Vancouver’s Engineering Dept., from what I can recall are decidedly against any streetcar or LRT project that would use dedicates routes on city streets and that $8.5 million spent on that short length of line was a message to Vancouver’s politicos: Build a streetcar and we will bankrupt the project.

    As for the downtown streetcar being a P-3; um – no, there is no profit. Mind you if one wants a true transit P-3, try a BCIT to UBC LRT/streetcar on Broadway and 10th Ave., with a line through downtown Vancouver to Stanley Park. That’s what the transit planner from Europe told me in the mid 90’s – a BCIT/UBC/Stanley Park LRT/streetcar could and would invite a true Design/Build/Operate system, with very little or no tax money needed at all.

    But not here, our politicians love to build light-metro that continually drives up taxes and fares. Go figure!

    Malcolm J.

    March 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm

  3. I am really going to miss the two wonderful street cars and It was one of my favorite Olympic experiences. I guess the only way I can see them will be booking a trip to brussels in the near future. (tears!)

    I once again must say that the people who decided to tear up the old streetcar system really was a true shame as this city would really have benefited from having them on our streets.

    Jim

    March 22, 2010 at 4:25 pm

  4. Of note, SF’s market st. heritage streetcar line is considered regular MUNI service. They even canceled 2 bus lines that mirrored the route, with the understanding that the streetcar would provide better service (with its ROW) with the same fare.

    Recently, MUNI tried to implement a special fare for heritage line alone, not seen on other tram lines. Fortunately, this was canceled after a public outcry.

    If anything, I do like vancouver’s DT streetcar planned route as locals will find it useful too (there is no similar bus service, ROW has been established in some sections already). I really wouldn’t want my tax dollars to be spent on a transit route that will function mainly for tourists and not increase people’s mobility.

    And on a side note for those who gripe about translink, SF is seeing severe cuts in service due to a failure to provide a funding plan. translink isn’t perfect, but I don’t like the alternative in SF.

    http://www.humantransit.org/2010/01/san-francisco-the-fuse-has-been-lit.html

    mezzanine

    March 22, 2010 at 8:33 pm

  5. A note:

    All US transit systems are facing funding shortfalls, due to the very bad economic times and high unemployment and California has been hit particularly badly.

    Stimulus money being offered in the USA, does not go for operation costs, but new build transit systems, many of which are heavily gold-plated, with local politicians, spending federal money without much scrutiny!

    zweisystem

    March 23, 2010 at 5:37 am

  6. I also read somewhere that many transit taxes in the US are sales taxes, which suffer more in a recesssion than a tax levied as a property tax.

    Ron C.

    March 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm

  7. Streetcars/trams/LRT make the most sense where they can replace buses. That way operating costs aren’t an issue. On the high demand routes Malcolm suggested LRT would likely turn a profit. How often do you hear about transit making money?

    David

    March 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm

  8. @ David,

    I am unsure how if you take any bus route and install tram infrastructure and run tram on it how it will improve on costs. I’m sure it will improve on the neighbourhood feel, but your tram investment is for neighbourhood appeal instead of improving mobility. take the #26 bus (joyce, champlain heights, 29th Ave). It runs almost always with extra capacity, with no pass ups on the ~ 10 yrs i have used it. It runs on streets without much traffic without any ROW. How will a local service tram help with that? How would the massive infrastructure investment give us results? If you use the tram to redevelop – is that the plan for the neighbourhood?

    trams do have higher capacity, but what happens if translink decides to run the tram at lower frequency?

    The DT streetcar route makes sense in that it provides a new service 9no buses run on it) on a ROW that is partially established (they have it blocked off to cars by the coal harbour co-op).

    If anything, the only translink service that is able to break even is skytrain.

    http://www.city.ottawa.on.ca/residents/public_consult/tmp/lrt/vancouver_en.pdf (page 23)

    mezzanine

    March 23, 2010 at 2:11 pm

  9. @ Mezz

    SkyTrain is subsidized by over $230 million annually and not all of it is for debt servicing! Without accurate ridership counts, Translink can’t claim it break even on operating costs.

    If my memory serves me well the transit services that operated at a profit were the express bus services that went directly to downtown Vancouver, now mostly gone with the advent of the Canada line.

    zweisystem

    March 23, 2010 at 3:27 pm

  10. Given that Translink operates an integrated system, with many people buying system wide passes, and a lot of transfers between routes and modes, these claims about parts of the system being “profitable” are impossible to substantiate. It requires too many assumptions about revenue allocation.

    Translink also does not cost out its routes so there are no commonly accepted ways of allocating overhead or shared costs to different bus routes.

    Stephen Rees

    March 23, 2010 at 3:53 pm

  11. Fair enough. Perhaps with smart cards, translink will be able to provide more accurate trip/fare data to see our strengths and weaknesses.

    I would agree that the DT streetcar would be nice to have, but lesser of a priority than the evergreen or broadway lines. Perhaps if the city wanted to pursue this alone (referendum on capital funding on the next ballot?) and intergrate fares with translink like the west van blue bus network, this might be do-able in the near-term.

    The # 26 bus is likely a bus route that requires more subsidy, in order to service more dense areas of champlain heights, and a poor route to convert to tram, unless you are doing it for development purposes.

    mezzanine

    March 23, 2010 at 4:30 pm

  12. “SkyTrain is subsidized by over $230 million annually and not all of it is for debt servicing! Without accurate ridership counts, Translink can’t claim it break even on operating costs.”

    And yet you can claim it doesn’t break even in the previous sentence. Really, the best you can claim is that there may or may not annual subsidy in addition to the debt servicing.

    Richard

    March 23, 2010 at 6:06 pm

  13. […] Stephen Rees’s Blog -Vancouver says goodbye to Olympic streetcar […]

  14. Couldn’t they repaint the trams and hide them behind a hedge and claim we never borrowed any trams. Then fain that we can’t understand belgian?

    I’d like to see the trams stay, but in all seriousness…

    JP

    March 23, 2010 at 9:21 pm

  15. “On the high demand routes Malcolm suggested LRT would likely turn a profit”

    David, do you have also a picture of Malcolm above your bed?

    “How often do you hear about transit making money?”

    it is common knowledge that all LRT and only are making money..
    and nasty people like me giving some counter example are cherry picking gold platted LRT by corrupted politician and anti-LRT engineer.

    voony

    March 23, 2010 at 9:34 pm

  16. The question of funding the trams is a good one that needs to be looked at. These systems will never be set up as a regional network within the lower mainland. These will provide local service, and therefore we have to ask if Translink is the proper authority to lead the construction of these systems (and fund their construction)

    The proposed downtown streetcar with traverse 3 major redevelopments within Vancouver, SEFC, NEFC and the Main street, Quebec Corridor. These three areas will want to support employment within the downtown core, including the increasing commercial development on the east boundaries of downtown.
    These really are city benefits, and it might be time for the cities to actually fund the infrastructure such as rail corridors, if it wants to reduce vehicle trips, and vehicle ownership.

    Surrey as a city approaching Vancouver’s size, and a much bigger industrial tax base to rely on, should looking at the same ‘Surrey only’ solution using light rail as a shaping tool for its metro core and communities.

    But then we create another host of problems, namely:

    Taxation as cities can only depend on property taxes, so do we increase the powers of taxation of cities, and risk the situation in American cities with cumbersome tax regime.

    Operating costs, cities could build these systems, but it would still be ideal for the region to operate them under one system, increasing Translink’s real deficit problem.

    As for my two cents, I would support the city of vancouver going to the voters to get funding for building the streetcar system.

    JP

    March 23, 2010 at 9:35 pm

  17. Oh for crying out loud people…

    The reality is that senior levels of government always seem to find money for new construction but never contribute a penny to operating those services.

    When a new service is added to the system it increases operating costs.
    When a new service replaces existing services operating costs may, in some cases, go down.

    The BCIT/Downtown/UBC triangle is a place where replacing buses with trams would improve service without adding to the operating cost burden.

    It’s called getting more bang for the buck, a concept that some of you obviously don’t understand.

    The Downtown Streetcar would not replace a bus and therefore does not make sense from a people moving standpoint, but that was never the goal of the project. The City of Vancouver sees it as a way of connecting attractions in the city, some of which suffer from poor access. I support the streetcar on that level and with the belief that if it’s done properly it could prove the viability of LRT in other parts of Metro Vancouver. If a “tourist” line can be built and operated economically, then it should be a no-brainer to build LRT on high traffic commuter routes.

    David

    March 24, 2010 at 10:04 am

  18. ^ I am still unsure of your plan as listed above. I assume one of your legs goes from UBC along 41st connecting eventually to BCIT.

    -Are you suggesting replacing the #41 with local service tram at the same freqency?
    if that is the case, the cost of drivers should be equivalent with buses, but ottawa, victoria and translink (b/c translink now has to also put up capital funds nowadays) are paying a lot of capital costs to replicate bus service. You may increase capacity, but you will not move people faster for such immense costs.

    -Are you suggesting putting in LRT type service along the 41?
    Actually, IMO i think this is do-able, long term. I do think that LRT type service would be appropriate for the 41 in the future. I am unsure how full the 41 and 43 are now, but IIRC, the C-line is putting pressure on the 41 and 49 routes. If that is the case, i am unsure if they could halt local bus service, but i can see LRT on 41 in the future.

    mezzanine

    March 24, 2010 at 11:00 am

  19. THE QUALITY OF THE RESULTING URBAN SPACE

    I tested on this site an idea that seemed obvious to me a year ago when a friend and I entered 3 schemes for the City of Vancouver’s FormShift contest.

    “The quality of the resulting urban space” will be the new common ground for testing coordinated actions among city design professionals, the private sector, and all four levels of government (including the regional level). Until we have engineerings & planners thinking about how to design good streets—good streets to live on, to sip coffee on, walk on, as well as drive—good urbanism will elude us in our region.

    Of course, I resist outright the notion that engineer can’t design. My sense is that design is exactly what good engineers do.

    We are living a shift in paradigm about our attitude towards the public realm. In the old paradigm, good engineers won and then held on to every inch of R.O.W. they could get their hands on. Success was measured in surface asphalt. A six lane street with one-directional loading in the morning, and the same in the afternoon, was better than a four lane street. In the new paradigm, the need is to take cars off the six-lane and four lane arterials, make pedestrian crossing distances work, and enable pedestrians to jay-walk when it is safe to do so.

    The only way to do that is to introduce either BRT or LRT on the center of the arterials we want to calm. SkyTrain need not apply since it blights the neighbourhoods and delivers none of the revitalization benefits for the street of the BRT/LRT dedication.

    RESIDENTIAL ON THE ARTERIALS

    The litmus test for a new paradigm arterial is to combine a high volume of trips with environmental conditions that will sustain family homes fronting. That requires a mix of private vehicles, and only certain kinds of transit.

    A case in point for residential “fronting an arterial” in the old paradigm is a single family home fronting Clarke Street from the 60’s all the way up to 12th Avenue. The bridge went up in the 1970’s, zoning never changed, the road section was widened, and property values—I would think—plummeted. The single houses along that stretch look as if they have been under siege for forty years. The homes have turned all living activity to the rear yard—away from the traffic speed, noise and soot leaving the front yards nearly abandoned. To varying degrees, the same conditions can be observed at single houses fronting all of Vancouver’s arterials, and arterials elsewhere.

    For a look at what “fronting an arterial” looks like in the sunset years of the old paradigm, cross the spanking new overpass in Port Coquitlam. Note the bad road design on the south side before being horrified by what the engineers have come up with on the north side. There, single family houses fronting the arterial have been outfitted with an 8-foot fence some 20-feet away from their living room picture windows, up against a 5-foot sidewalk that I predict nobody will ever use. I wonder how property values are doing there?

    In the new paradigm, residential intensification can convert those formerly “damned” single family lots along the arterials by a gross density factor of 5x to 10x, and still retain single lot ownership, and human scale. We would not become a city of strata title holders. A ball park estimate of intensification along the Vancouver arterials shows that we would double the existing population. The ball park estimate for new tax dollars flowing into City Hall without having to upgrade infrastructure is very, very rosy.

    On the north side of the PoCo fly over, we would have designed a town center, and bought up all the lots, then re-sold at a tidy profit after rezoning. If this sounds too Imperialist, then do the rezoning first, and let the market place do the flip.

    THE TRAM ON THE ARTERIAL

    Fronting the arterial in the new paradigm looks like the Olympic Line. Trams are relatively silent and noiseless. They represent an unique opportunity: Balancing the “ecology” of the street by taking automobiles off the road, then returning many times more capacity in the form of tram trips (BRT on the routes with lighter ridership).

    It is surprising to see how difficult it is to come up with transit numbers we all can agree about. This is particularly strange, since we are talking about performance measures, concrete and measurable stuff, not the nether world of beauty and taste. Or are we? The taste for this system or that seems to be wagging the dog a great deal of the time.

    Old paradigm engineers seem interested in holding on to power, by whatever means. That’s okay, because new paradigm engineers will be communicating openly and transparently, so the difference will become increasingly apparent—as is happening on this blog.

    I have settled on the 20 million rides per year figure the Evergreen LRT 2006 report provides. Making the wrong assumption that the rides would be distributed evenly over 365 days, returns a conservative figure of about 60,000 trips per day for LRT.

    I use the figure of 10,000 vpd per street lane. Thus, a six lane street has a capacity of about 60,000 vehicles per day. LRT might reduce that six lanes by 2 or 3 lanes, with benefits accruing to the local neighbourhood in the form of cars being taken off the road. Most of that lost capacity is likely commuter traffic, travelling at peak, and most likely to use LRT in the first place. The level of service of the street every other time of day remains essential unchanged.

    Furthermore, there is a “trip balance”. The 20 to 30,000 vpd that we remove are compensated by 60,000 tram trips daily.

    The real change is that with reduced width the street becomes a safer and cleaner (healthier) environment.

    ON BROADWAY

    “a BCIT to UBC LRT/streetcar on Broadway and 10th Ave., with a line through downtown Vancouver to Stanley Park.”

    Malcolm J

    Broadway is a further test for this concept. While there is residential along Broadway, and likely all new projects would be mixed use in character, what Broadway really represents is a unique kind of “high street” in our city.

    It is what Burrard Street, or Georgia Street should have been had Hamilton’s CPR plan for downtown shown more vision. Even compared to the platting that we see on the west end, the CPR platting of the 500 acres granted the CPR on the downtown peninsula could not have been more ham-fisted.

    Broadway is the first street to break away from that. With an east-west orientation, it has what the north-south arterials lack: a sunny side of the street the whole day long. We’ve remarked here that on the 1.3-mile stretch from the BowMac sign to the old billboard onto of the Lee Building at Main Street, the street is concave, presenting the opportunity to design a special precinct that would be visible as we approach from either end, as we naturally fall toward the centre.

    Due to advantages of location, location, location, this part of Broadway has developed with a kind of auto-oriented shopping bazaar feel to it. The most remarkable thing of all perhaps is that, despite the high volume of traffic, street life of some kind recalcitrantly clings on. In my opinion that life is waiting to explode in the manner we saw on Granville Street during the “Olympic Miracle” (advantage Broadway: it will not be a bar strip).

    There are neighbourhoods or “quartiers” that can sustain intensification all along the Broadway corridor. Looking further ahead, Broadway is the north point where all the north-south arterials connect.

    ON HASTINGS

    The best test for the case of transportation implementation increasing property values and triggering local intensification will be Hastings Street. Vancouver’s historic neighbourhoods plug into the Hastings urban spine like grapes hang from a vine.

    If we take stock of the amount of quality residential land within walking distance of Hastings Street all the way to the eastern city limits, add near derelict industrial land from the previous urbanization, and throw in the conversion of the port lands, then we soon realize that this is one of the most significant corridors in the city.

    (Malcolm, David, I want that Stanley Park streetcar to go all the way to Brighton Park behind the PNE too, if possible).

    THE NEW DEAL

    “Streetcars/trams/LRT make the most sense where they can replace buses. That way operating costs aren’t an issue. On the high demand routes Malcolm suggested LRT would likely turn a profit. How often do you hear about transit making money?”

    “The BCIT/Downtown/UBC triangle is a place where replacing buses with trams would improve service without adding to the operating cost burden. It’s called getting more bang for the buck…”

    David

    The mechanics of implementing trams on Hastings and Broadway are identical, thanks to Bartholomew’s widening of the latter to 1.5 chain or 99-feet. Furthermore, I anticipate redevelopment sites to set back from the street 10 feet (similar to the set back that was imposed on Robsonstrasse) on both Broadway and Hastings.

    The combination of adding tram trips while removing car trips will have positive results along the mostly residential fronted arterials. However, on our “Great Streets”, Hastings and Broadway, the results will be revolutionary. This is really is a “new deal” for our neighbourhoods that we really have not been able to imagine until the Olympic Line came to False Creek.

    On Hastings, I have dubbed the stretch that passes through the so-called DTES the “Miracle Mile”. The combination of street revitalization along Hastings, tram ,implementation, and neighbourhood intensification in the historic neighbourhoods, does have the power to transform the place from its current and downtrodden image to a sparkling string of waterfront neighbourhoods.

    By the way, before that experiment is over we will have come to realize that harm reduction and social housing, like transit, is really a regional issue.

    On Broadway, the transformative power of combining transit implementation with street revitalization and neighbourhood intensification will give us for the first time a district that will be equal parts entertainment, shopping, and just plain a lot of fun to be in at anytime we make our way there.

    I call the BowMac-Main stretch the “Green Mile” because I cannot envision a greater transformation from automobile domination to neighbourhood urban spine in our entire urbanized areas. The resulting quality of the urban space would be sustainability writ large. I think the people energy in the resulting urban space would be in the order of what we experienced in the downtown streets during the “Olympic Miracle”. We really have had nothing like right now.

    Lewis N. Villegas

    March 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm

  20. “SkyTrain carries the most people – 10,000 to 25,000 per hour – compared to 6,000 to 10,000 for light rail and 2,000 to 3,000 for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

    The region has existing B-Line express bus routes – including Vancouver’s busy Broadway corridor to UBC – but none are as advanced as the type of BRT service Busby envisions.”

    Quote is from Surrey Leader article

    http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/news/88966702.html

    Where we also find out:

    “A parallel process is underway to flesh out a rapid transit plan for Vancouver’s Broadway corridor.”

    The article hits all the right notes except one: the connection between transit planning and community planning is not so obvius. When discussing the SRY/Interurban, a key point is to point out that would be a way to develop walkable neighbourhoods in lands that are currently underused.

    Lewis N. Villegas

    March 25, 2010 at 4:45 am

  21. @Mezzanine.

    I’m not on the 41 or 43 every day. But whenever I have been on the 41. Other than late at night. The bus is usually at least 60-70% full during non-peak. And I have seen pass ups on it before. The 43 can be just as full.

    The problem with the 43 is it only runs during peak and it only comes ever 10 minutes. Compared to the 41 which comes every 5 minutes during peak. So you can constantly find yourself waiting at a bus stop for the 43. But a 41 comes along and your not sure if you should take that one or wait for the 43. I feel a lot of people take the 41 because it happened to be along first.

    41st Ave would be a good street for either a LRT or a BRT. Even if it was a B-Line. Something that was frequent and ran all day.

    Paul

    March 25, 2010 at 11:46 am

  22. Because regional transit is already taken care of by the Millennium line and the WCE, a debate over a tram line on Hastings (or Commercial-Victoria) wouldn’t be burdened by competing local and regional transit objectives. Hastings does not have the complications we have seen in the discussion of the Evergreen line and a Broadway line over speed and reliability. This debate would be over the allocation of space for transit, cars, and people as well as the cost and why a regional transportation authority should pay for a project aimed at better city building.

    A debate where the interests of transit and urbanism are aligned against a motordom point of view is better than a debate where regional transit trumps urbanism.

    Hastings has long stretches with the rhythm of a streetcar suburban strip, especially Hastings-Sunrise and Burnaby Heights. But these districts are separated from eachother and from this Miracle Mile through the DTES by the industrial lands near Clark and by the PNE/Highway 1. A Hastings tram would bridge these gaps, and could be the initial line in a network that could extend up Commercial and Victoria, two strips with the same rhythm as Hastings.

    Redeveloping industrial port lands is probably a discussion best kept separate from the one over trams and urbanism. The distance between the port lands and Hastings is mostly greater than quarter spacing anyway.

    mike0234

    March 25, 2010 at 1:32 pm

  23. Actually the best route to BCIT is Broadway to Willingdon, a route that suffers from the parallel Millennium SkyTrain line. I’ve tried to think of solutions to that problem and haven’t been able to settle on any.

    If Harcourt/Clark/McPhail et al had just left Millennium as LRT we’d have a line all the way from UBC to Port Coquitlam by now. Having one successful LRT line would’ve ensured Canada Line was LRT via Arbutus all the way to Steveston and we’d probably have LRT in Surrey/Langley too.

    41st is a narrow street in many places, but is the best of a bad lot for a southern E-W route. The first step must be to secure funding and cooperation from the City of Vancouver to convert the 43 to a B-Line.

    Only when the combined 41 and 9x service fills would a tram be implemented. At that point I would recommend the eastern end be in New Westminster. At Joyce and Kingsway I would turn east along Kingsway to Central Park. Two choices would then be available: stay in the middle of Kingsway or run under the SkyTrain line to Buller and then along the former streetcar line (currently a cycling path) to Edmonds/Kingsway.

    The goal would be to serve eastern Burnaby and uptown New West. I’ve always thought that we made a mistake routing SkyTrain along the old Interurban line east of Buller instead of using the disused streetcar route instead. Doing so would have taken the train to the people and left the interurban route available for inter-city express service or other future expansion.

    The route or routes through uptown New West aren’t something I want to speculate on because I’ve never lived there and rarely have any need to visit. I do know that most of the streets there are narrow so instead of trying to make a tram work in mixed traffic a possible solution would be to close a street and convert it to tram/bicycle/pedestrian only. I’m sure Lewis would like that idea.

    David

    March 25, 2010 at 2:51 pm

  24. Let’s throw another log on the Hastings Streetcar fire. An underwater cable connects Seattle with SFU Harbourcenter. The data transfer rates that can be achieved with a direct pipe, I am told, are very high. That pipe can extend east as far as Templeton Drive, two blocks west of Nanaimo, and not further.

    Abandoned right-of-ways have been the darlings of fibre-optics networks. A Hastings Streetcar roadbed could be part of delivering this service for 4 km east of Harbour Centre, past the Miracle Mile, and almost to the doorstep of our other historic neighbourhood, the Hastings Townsite (Nanaimo to Renfrew; shoreline to Adanac St.).

    Combining fibre optics with tram would give Hastings the kind of competitive advantage that might attract significant investment. Enough to turn the DTES around. Certainly, having good transportation would make the Five Pillars Strategy—ours would be new fifth pillar—work a heck of a lot better.

    Lewis N. Villegas

    March 25, 2010 at 11:15 pm

  25. The vintage street car system is way more fun. I hope they restore the railway all the way to Science world again. We used to ride the train from Chintown to Granville Island and back every weekend in the summer. Bring it back!

    Mark

    March 30, 2010 at 6:57 pm

  26. The Downtown Historic Railway will be back this summer. The old interurban cars will be returned shortly – and the Belgian PCC car is being refurbished. It never reached Chinatown – the furthest it got was Science World

    Stephen Rees

    March 30, 2010 at 7:03 pm


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