A lack of creativity means Olympic streetcars are packed up and sent back to Europe
With over half a million riders in less than two months, Vancouver’s Olympic Line streetcars which ran between the Canada Line station and Granville Island were an overwhelming success. It didn’t take the public very long to fall in love with them, but thanks to a lack of creativity and the absence of political leadership, the City of Vancouver is putting them on a ship and sending them back to Europe.
During the last term of council the NPA majority voted to invest $8 million dollars to upgrade the tracks to help turn the streetcar into a reality. During the Games the people voted with their feet to say this was a great investment. So why is Mayor Robertson and his Vision crew throwing up their hands and saying there is nothing they can do to keep the line running beyond the Games?
It’s my understanding the City of Vancouver has yet to place a formal request to senior levels of government to keep the Olympic Line operating. That’s right, rather than actually request funding, Vision simply chose to put a motion before council asking that the feasibility of the line be studied – yet again. In politics they don’t call that leadership, it’s called followship.
If Robertson was really interested in keeping the Olympic Line open, why has he done virtually nothing since being elected in 2008 to save the line? He's had plenty of time to explore private sector partnerships to see if some new model could have put before Translink for consideration.
The NPA’s Suzanne Anton has been raising concerns about the Olympic Line shutting down for weeks. My colleague Mike Klassen also documented how the Mayor dropped the ball on this one, as did urbanist/Sun columnist Bob Ransford last weekend. In today’s Globe and Mail, reporter Ian Bailey also explores this topic and quotes the Mayor as saying:
I am open minded but we have to be pragmatic here and work with our transportation partners...It will take years to bring back.
It doesn’t take a lot of creativity to write up a Request For Proposal and post it on the City’s website. Perhaps the Mayor has simply been too busy hosting Olympic delegations to address these matters. That’s why we got our legal department on the 17th floor of CityCaucus Tower to write one up for him. Here's what they came up with:
Request for Proposal
Proponent: City of Vancouver
Project: Keep the Olympic Line operational and seek to expand it to Science World and eventually to Yaletown and Stanley Park.
Background: The neighbourhoods surrounding the Olympic Line are some of the densest in North America. It has been proven that transit operations can be extremely profitable in high density neighbourhoods.
One of the premiere developments in the area is the former Olympic Athlete’s Village on Vancouver’s waterfront. Based on population trends and ridership projections, it is expected the operator could expect to turn turn a profit from day one. An $8 million capital investment by the city has upgraded the existing track.
Scope: The City of Vancouver is seeking a private partner to develop a strategic plan to operate and maintain the Olympic Line. In partnership with the City, this P3 project would seek funding from senior levels of government to help expand the line beyond the current Canada Line terminus.
Timeline: Submit your proposals before the end of April 2010.
There you have it. If the Mayor and his crew want to keep the Olympic Line running, perhaps they'll take our draft RFP and post it on the City's website. It may not work, but it sounds a lot more promising than simply asking for another feasability study.
- post by Daniel