UBC brass pleading for leadership from Vancouver on transit file

Post by Mike Klassen in


UBC is pushing Broadway corridor transit riders to get heard

There is much to talk about on the topic of rapid transit these days, but we'll weigh in this afternoon with a message that should be of great concern to both the City of Vancouver and its surrounding boroughs. For the sake of the economic future of Vancouver it is imperative that there is decisive action on rapid transit out to UBC. That action is not coming from Vancouver City Hall.

While there are many things that we discuss here on CityCaucus.com concerning the governance of Vancouver, there are few issues that bring our blood to a boil quicker than the failure to act in any substantive way on the matter of expanding rapid transit in this city.

We wrote several times urging Vancouver to take even the gentlest step toward securing a future for the Olympic Line streetcar. The response from City Hall was to surrender to fate. Not a single iota of concern expressed publicly on how we might keep that line in operation. No RFPs sent out for a private partner. Nothing. Zero. Silence.

The concern of a much greater magnitude, however, is the absolute lack of any initiative around rapid transit to UBC. Premier Campbell threw the UBC Line idea down before the spring '09 election as a regional priority. Some minor effort at public consultation ensued, but nothing concrete. The Broadway corridor is the busiest bus transportation route in North America! Between 100,000 and 150,000 move through here by transit per day. Buses are reaching their limit.

Furthermore, 25% of the City of Vancouver's economy is generated in this corridor. Investing here is an investment in the economic vitality of the city.

Read the headlines and what are you hearing about transit? First, politicians in the south Fraser region are being heard louder. Second, we're hearing Gregor talk about trains, but it's the wrong train. He's talking about a second train to Seattle via Amtrak. What's worse about the second piece is that he's apparently claiming credit for the federal funding which came through on Wednesday. Our sources say that all Gregor did was go right to the media, and in doing so proceeded to annoy the federal government – again.

More than a few people noted to us that Gregor seems more interested in getting transit down to the USA than across the city he's supposed to represent.

The top brass at UBC are seeing the writing on the wall, and it looks like they've had enough. This week UBC's Vice-President of External Relations Stephen Owen sent out a campus wide email bulletin urging the help of other campus residents to get their voices heard on the future of rapid transit. The numbers, as Owen explains, speak for themselves:

One of the consequences of our success is that the buses to campus are now incredibly full, and many transit riders are ‘passed up’ because no more passengers can get on the buses.  For example, about 4,000 99 B-Line passengers are left behind at bus stops between the Commercial Drive station and UBC during the morning peak period.

UBC's AMS Society has begun an online campaign as a last ditch Hail Mary pass to get the transit priorities for Vancouver and UBC back on the radar of decision-makers. The website is located at http://ubclinenow.com/ and anyone can submit their comments to it.

It still amazes us that such a clear and urgent issue affecting the future of Vancouver falls behind Vision's conspicuous effort applied to chicken coops, Amtrak trains, and separated bike lanes. Moving people is costly and complex, but it also requires leadership that Vancouver clearly lacks.

Here's the email from Stephen Owen below in its entirety.

-----Original Message-----
From: message@ubc.ca
Sent: October 13, 2010 10:48 AM
Subject: UBC Broadcast E-mail: Regional Growth Strategy and Transportation

To the UBC Community:

In the latest draft of its Regional Growth Strategy, Metro Vancouver has suggested that a rapid transit system does not need to go beyond central Broadway to connect to UBC.  This draft bylaw also does not identify UBC as an important centre in the region.  UBC is concerned about this and the Board of Governors will be formally responding to Metro’s request for comment.  We feel the Regional Growth Strategy should recognize UBC’s importance as a major regional centre which requires a connection to the region’s rapid transit network.

We want to let our community know about this, because so many of you have made a commitment to ride transit (or would like to!), and the Regional Growth Strategy could materially affect your journey to work or school.

UBC’s students, faculty and staff have made tremendous strides in transforming our campus into a leader in sustainability.  One of the biggest successes is the switch from using cars to using transit to get back and forth to campus.  Our transit ridership has increased from 19,000 trips a day in 1997 to nearly 60,000 trips a day in 2009.  The students’ commitment to UPASS is a big part of this, but so is the commitment of our faculty and staff.  Today, 31% of our full time faculty and staff use transit to get back and forth to work.  This is extraordinary.

One of the consequences of our success is that the buses to campus are now incredibly full, and many transit riders are ‘passed up’ because no more passengers can get on the buses.  For example, about 4,000 99 B-Line passengers are left behind at bus stops between the Commercial Drive station and UBC during the morning peak period.

The Broadway corridor has 100,000 transit trips a day, which is similar to what is carried on the Canada Line. The Province and TransLink have recognized the need for improved transit service on the Broadway corridor to UBC and are studying options for rapid transit.

Metro Vancouver is requesting public input on their draft Regional Growth Strategy.  If you would like to comment, please contact http://public.metrovancouver.org/planning/development/ strategy/Pages/Questions.aspx before October 22, 2010.

If you would like more information, please contact Joe Stott, UBC Campus and Community Planning, 604-827-5157 or by e-mail joe.stott@ubc.ca.

Thank you,

Stephen Owen
Vice President, External, Legal and Community Relations

UPDATE: For more info visit the following Facebook pages...

- post by Mike


Don't worry... gregor will just see fit to toss a separated bike lane down broadway... that will solve the problem right?

Agree, although it's not just Vancouver.

The lack of coordinated plan for transit in the region is deplorable. Be it Vancouver or anywhere else, no city and no political party has done a good job with this.

Transit is critical now and will become even more important as we move forward. We sprawl out in the suburbs on the promise of more transit, but it never comes...

This one gets me frustrated. Such a broken system with an unaccountable translink and the province pouring billions into highway expansion. RIDICULOUS.

The thing that always surprises me is that trams were an affordable option a century ago, so much so that in many places they were the product of private enterprise, whereas now at Olympic Line prices the per kilometre cost would bankrupt Croesus.

That said, anyone who has lived in one of the European cities where they provide the backbone of the transit service will know their potential for resolving so many of our transit problems. Of course, in the words of the Irish guide, if you want to go there you shouldn't start from here - the land of half assed freeways, Bombardier subsidizing vanity projects and (dare I say it!) bike lanes useable half the year.

How do you efficiently and affordably provide commuter access to a big town (UBC) from a small city? And how do you persuade the tax payers of that small city they should be paying for it?

@Boohoo. Glad to see we agree on a few points :-) Actually, the provincialism of the region on transit has been longstanding, but overall we are pretty lucky to have a regional authority like Translink. I understand that many metropolitan areas are not as well served.

@David Hadaway re: funding. The MOU recently signed by the Province and Council of Mayors hints at a solution to the funding problem. See the actual MOU here - http://bit.ly/9v6HfN and scroll down to item 3. d. which states:

"A means of capturing some of the increase in land value created by the provision of rapid transit along the region’s strategic corridors."

In other words, governments are willing to engage in a little land speculation as a means of funding transit. The "lift" of town centres may get us the rapid transit we deserve.

"(dare I say it!) bike lanes useable half the year."

You can say it David, but it would be inaccurate. Bike lanes are usable year-round in Vancouver, save for the occasional snowfall, and even that's not much of an impediment for a regular commuter cyclist.

The Metro directors have already correctly set the priorities for rapid transit and the extension to the south of Fraser communities will take a higher priority over the Broadway route to UBC. Metro got it right.

Yes build the skytrain out to Hope. That will help to reduce urban sprawl. Not! Who the hell is managing this transit system anyway!!! We need rapid transit to UBC now. Most of the students who travel that corridor are from Surrey and Langley anyhow. Check out the stats.

Maybe the solution is to stop thinking monopoly on transit and let either a private company or UBC itself to operate bus service on Broadway. UBC has something close to tax power with dues collected from students that would allow it to fund Broadway bus services if it wanted to or was allowed to. Unfortunately the needs of customers will always come second to political considerations under the current rules, and people who want service and can pay for it will continue to have to beg. We've seen success in moving other complex networks from monopoly situations to competitive innovation (telecom, air travel). The busiest bus route in North America would be a good place to start experimenting for the 21st century.

No one is talking skytrain to Hope. Childish exaggerations serve nobody.

The line to UBC is needed, but so is rapid transit in the suburbs. It doesn't need to be skytrain. Light rail, some kind of west coast express, rapid (separated) bus, whatever.

There are conducting a study now on the alternatives here:


But it's all kinda moot when at the same time as these studies we're letting the provincial government spend billions of dollars expanding highways, building brand new ones, bigger bridges, etc... It's insane. Yet barely a whimper from blogs like these (of any political stripe). I know the focus is on Vancouver, but an issue like this is impossible to confine to one city. What happens with regards to transportation in Surrey most certainly impacts Vancouver.


still A decade long wait for UBC Line...by 2020

First, evergreenLine constructions next spring still funding gap issues not solve extend before April fool until next premier arrives...after compass smartcard by 2013 a year later evergreenLine finally runs by 2014 than a year grace period in 2015 than finally UBC Line construction from 2016 to 2019...than after 2020 surrey to Langley before 2020 olympicLine as well...compare calgary & Toronto & Edmonton all have rapid Transits to universities except vancouver...

Check out BCWineLover.com!

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