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

Sneak preview inside the Olympic Line – Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar

with 48 comments

On Thursday, January 21, the Olympic Line – Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar – will begin service following a launch celebration hosted by the City of Vancouver. In advance of the launch, Bombardier and the City of Vancouver invited a small group of media and bloggers for an “exclusive sneak preview” of the BOMBARDIER FLEXITY streetcars and to meet one of the operators who will be driving the streetcars.

from Brussels for Vancouver

Well, exclusive of some but not exactly “an exclusive”. It will be on CTV News tonight, and bloggers Mike Klassen and Rebecca Bollwit will be covering it too. Tomorrow and Sunday the Sun and Province will catch up as well. I cannot say I was impressed by the questions that were being asked by the now in bankruptcy protection main stream media reporter – he seem surprised that a streetcar did not have a steering wheel! But, to be fair, conversation with their photographer showed that there is someone on their staff who understands transit. It’s a shame he does not get to write about it.

Full frontal

For a sneak preview they were not able to actually run the streetcar. This is was great pity – since the other car was running for driver training, which means there will be moving pictures. I suspect that issues of liability and lack of qualified staff might be the reasons. I would like to be able to report that the ride was smooth and quiet – though you can judge for yourselves when  you hear the video of the exterior noise anyway.

Media gathering

It ought to be very smooth indeed. The City of Vancouver has spent $8m on 1.8km of track upgrades. For that money I would expect an excellent ride, and certainly when comparing the old and new track at the east end of station at “Olympic Village” you can see the difference.

Old and new rail

Heavier rail, concrete ties (“sleepers”) and insulated Pandrol® rail clips as well as some significant amount of new ballast. CMHC also kicked in $0.5m – and some money got spent on upgrading the power line and building a new station. But it is still single track, with a 150m passing loop. Another $50 to $60m would be needed to get a workable system going into downtown – and the City is still looking for funding partners. Unlike Portland OR, who were so convinced that streetcars were the answer, they paid the whole lot themselves for the first segment.

Inside the tram

Bombardier were being coy about how much they are spending – but it includes lease payments to STIB the cars’ owner, to cover things like lost fare revenue, as well as the considerable shipping costs from Europe to the Pacific North West. While in town here, Bombardier has invited its customers (and, I bet, prospects too) to come over and experience the ride for themselves. Bombardier are also going to make a donation to the Transit Museum Society – who run the line – to reflect the large number of volunteer hours. 32 people have volunteered to drive the trams including Bernie Eide – a former CN/BC Rail driver who was on hand to talk about the car and the history of streetcars in Vancouver. I will spare you that, but I will be interested to see how much of what he says survives in the MSM coverage. He says that it is “an amazing ride” – but I hope he is not comparing it to his usual ride in a freight train locomotive.

Leather seats, of course, attracted a lot of attention. I doubt that anyone will notice that actually leather is probably a lower life cycle cost alternate to some of the cheap plastic normally seen on North American transit seats. The interior ambience is certainly very pleasant and yes, it does have “that new tram smell”. The cars are actually new and so far unused in service in Brussels – although others of the same type are running there now.

Bench seating

The FLEXITY streetcars will provide a free service, 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, between January 21 and March 21, 2010 between Olympic Village and Granville Island. The service starts at 9:30am next Thursday – with, of course, all the usual ceremony and cvic dignitaries, as well as some Olympic athletes. Bombardier were quick to point out that their spending on the project is in addition to their olympic sponsorship, but nicely complements it.

My  video needs some attention before it can be posted here in the meantime here is Mike Klassen’s

Written by Stephen Rees

January 15, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Posted in Transportation

48 Responses

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  1. One correction, it’s the Transit Museum Society (

    We are very glad to be partnering with the City and Bombardier on this project by providing bodies to operate the cars, and wish to thank Bombardier for their generous donation to the society to continue restoration work on our numerous wheel and rail vehicles.

    Matthew Laird

    January 15, 2010 at 2:43 pm

  2. Noted and corrected

    TRAMS were not represented at the event

    Stephen Rees

    January 15, 2010 at 3:03 pm

  3. Nice photos Stephen. “He seem surprised that a streetcar did not have a steering wheel!”: That is something I thought of trains when I was a 5 year old.

    Andrew L.

    January 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm

  4. They look great! I look forward to riding them..


    January 15, 2010 at 3:24 pm

  5. […] more photos of the preview today in my Flickr set. Stephen Rees was there today as well and he has a post up here. Enter to win two tickets to Taste BC an annual wine & local food fundraiser presented by […]

  6. That is one narrow tram!


    January 15, 2010 at 3:48 pm

  7. Thanks – looking forward to the videos.

    Ron C.

    January 15, 2010 at 4:31 pm

  8. I heard on the radio today that the cost of the SkyTrain faregate/travel card project is now getting close to $200 million (I have forgotten the exact figure) and instead of putting in faregates, etc., take the money and invest in a downtown streetcar!

    I believe the Flexity modular cars come in three widths and because of Brussels narrow loading gauge, these cars are somewhat narrower than what can be used in North America. the narrowest width is, of course, for European metre gauge tram systems.

    In theory, the Flexity tram can operate in lengths greater than 50 metres, as can Siemens Combino and Alstom’s Citidis modular trams.

    It’s too bad that these trams will operate on a route the virtually no one will see them in operation.

    As for the ‘steering wheel’ commnet, sometimes I just like to bang my head against the wall.

    Malcolm J.

    January 15, 2010 at 4:37 pm

  9. Torturous as it may seem, a ride from SkyTrain or Millenium to Canada Line, and then off at Olympic Village and on to the sexy Bombardier streetcars, and back, is one heck of a good family trip with friendly options for lunch at the Public Market.

    The real issue here is whether the “Powers That Be” will drop their default preference for expensive and anti-urban SkyTrain for this LRT alternative.

    The Green Line could be in operation in months, trams could be running on extant Arbutus and Interurban extant R.O.W.s, the Broadway transportation question could be put to rest, and a Hastings Streetcar running from Stanley Park to the PNE could be part of the answer of what the Olympics did not get done—the revitalization of the so-called downtown eastside.

    Lewis N. Villegas

    January 15, 2010 at 11:18 pm

  10. I don’t notice, on the photos above, the small validating boxes (for tickets and smart cards) found by all the doors inside many European trams(the ones in the Paris T3 trams are the smallest I have seen so far). Did they remove them in Brussels before sending the trams here? it would have been interesting to have a look at them.

    I noticed, when using the Seattle LRT system last fall, that it doesn’t have them in the trams either but that was before they introduced the ORCA card.

    I prefer the Alstom Citadis, with its custom made front (different for each town), but would be happy to have any modern tram!

    Red frog

    January 16, 2010 at 1:05 am

  11. […] [CBC] Poverty Olympics to be held in Vancouver days before 2010 Winter Games [The Georgia Straight] Sneak preview inside the Olympic Line – Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar [Stephen Rees's Blog] INTERNATIONAL A cleaner future [San Francisco Chronicle] Cultivating Failure […]

    re:place Magazine

    January 16, 2010 at 1:29 pm

  12. Not that I would want to go off topic, but:

    “The Green Line could be in operation in months, trams could be running on extant Arbutus and Interurban extant R.O.W.s, the Broadway transportation question could be put to rest, and a Hastings Streetcar running from Stanley Park to the PNE could be part of the answer of what the Olympics did not get done—the revitalization of the so-called downtown eastside.”

    With the exception of the surrey interurban ROW, you would be replacing trolley bus routes with trams. What would be your objective of that? redevelopment? travel times? transit acceptance by more of the public?

    The Downtown streetcar already runs down a rail ROW, and extends to areas not served by bus to its future route.


    January 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm

  13. Hi Stephen
    Nice pictures!
    I had a chance to ride it today on a sneak peek tour with TransLink. I can say that the ride is very smooth and it arrives at Granville Island before you know it. There are a few pictures at Transport 2000 BC’s page.

    Matthew Buchanan

    January 17, 2010 at 12:47 am

  14. Thanks for the report. It looks very good, BUT…..

    has any one considered a cost benefit analysis?

    The city has spent $8m on upgrading just under 2km of existing track. How much would it cost to build completely new double track streetcar lines? Answer anything up to $30m dollars per km. It would cost hundreds of millions of dollars that no one can afford at the moment.

    I’m all for electric transit, but there’d be much better value in spending a fraction of these costs on upgrading and extending the existing trolleybus system. Trollybus extensions would only cost say one twentieth of the streetcar line. Have you seen the Swiss Megatrolleybus, being introduced in Geneva and Zurich? It has 3 sections, is 24m long and has near tram capacity.

    How about getting a demonstrator of Swiss trolleybus and running it along Broadway, maybe as a B99?

    Martin Wright

    January 17, 2010 at 1:11 pm

  15. Didn’t know about the mega trolleys. They look great!

    Click to access vkd.pdf

    Trolley buses may also be able to handle steep hills around Vancouver better than trams, like the one on tenth avenue from Alma. I can see this as BRT on Broadway as a low cost option, and eventually as BRT on 41, with the wires extended to UBC.

    I do think Vancouver can establish a permanent tram (eventually) along the old ROW on the olympic line. IIRC, the tram ROW has already beeen planned thru SEFC. The eventual route planned by the COV seems good (no similar bus route, Pac Blvd is wide enoguh for a ROW) and if we ever get access to Arbutus, we can run a line down there.


    January 17, 2010 at 11:19 pm

  16. The track, the city laid for the trolley was built to a mainline railway standard (certainly wasn’t to a light rail standard), with heavy rail, cement ties, and Pandrol clips! With the city engineering department involved, one can bet there was was much gold-plating of the project. In Europe, tramway construction, track and overhead, can be built for about $5 million/km., with recent construction in Helsinki, being a good indication of track laying costs.

    The industry standard for LRT to climb grades is 8%; in Sheffield’s trams climbing 10% grades and did so without problem, except for abandoned cars, during the recent blizzards; and of course in Lisbon, their trams climb 13.8% grades has have done so for almost for over 80 years.

    Grade on Alma – 9% and the old streetcars operated quite well, with few problems and that without automatic sanding or anti-wheel-slip control which are standard on modern trams, streetcars, and or LRV’s.

    Malcolm J.

    January 18, 2010 at 7:15 am

  17. In the 1990s Bordeaux (France) had buses with 3 sections. They were regular buses, not trolleys but the ride must be comparable. It was just awful in the back (the 3rd section). As for the capacity, they carried far less passengers than the Alstom Trams that have replaced them.
    I know that many people have a fixation on buses but in countries where LRT are used they have attracted riders that didn’t take buses before. Trams have a glamour factor that buses, no matter how long, definitely don’t have. This is actually why I became a LRT fan. I visited Strasbourg in 1995 and was bowled over by their (then) brand-new tram. It didn’t look and ride anything like the traditional trams I had used for years in Europe and Toronto. Since then I have seen and used trams in quite a few towns in a couple of countries.
    I wish that people criticizing trams would actually see and use a variety of modern trams first.
    As for their price, I find it scary that we supposedly can’t afford a tram line in Vancouver when a town like Le Mans-France (300 000 w/suburbs can).
    The following is from the Le Mans 24 hrs car race info: “Circuit Access:
    The new Le Mans tramway opened in November 2007 and seemed to make a big difference to the amount of traffic in and around the circuit. The tramway provides a very convenient, inexpensive means to access the circuit at Antares. The majority of our hotels are within walking distance of a tramway stop. …Within our hotels descriptions, we offer our recommendation for the easiest access to the circuit”

    Red frog

    January 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm

  18. @ mezzanine. Thanks, you saved me writing a long post. there might just be a case for building the existing proposal, but it will be very expensive. for the same money you would get much more extensive sections of electric BRT.

    Here’s a YouTube clip, showing the megatrolley going round a tight turning loop. the poster even says “look out Vancouver” in the script at the top right!

    Martin Wright

    January 18, 2010 at 1:17 pm

  19. @Martin Wright – how fast can those things go? Are there issues with safety in wet weather? It looks like a lot of mass to be controlling using rubber-on-asphalt traction.

    Chris S

    January 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm

  20. Three section articulated trolley buses may look cool. but they are expensive and heavy on maintenance. The trouble is, as Mr. Frog points out, is that a bus, is bus, is a bus and that a tram attracts ridership that would not otherwise take a bus.

    To get buses to compete with LRT, they must be guided, which then means the cost rise dramatically, the other problem is with operational costs, where trams can operate in multiple units, buses, even guided bus, cannot.

    If bi-articulated buses (are they legal to operate in BC?) were to operate, a very expensive rebuilding of the overhead must be done, for improved service.

    The bi-articulated buses in Europe (Asia is another story altogether) are for transit routes that have heavy peak hour ridership, with relatively light ridership the rest of the day, that do not warrant a tramline being built.

    There has been a lot of study done in Europe (Example: Bus or light rail: making the Right Choice – Hass-Klau) over the past 20 years regarding transit mode, tram or bus, and despite the cheer-leading by the bus types, buses operating on heavily used routes just can’t compete against trams, that is why 136 new tram systems have been built in the past 3 decades, despite the preponderance of BRT & GLT systems.

    In Europe, before a new transit line is built, the promoters of the scheme have to accurately predict the modal shift, from car to transit, with penalties if the targets are not met.

    Buses just do not ‘make the grade.’

    Malcolm J

    January 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm

  21. Well, actually a trolleybus can attract passengers to transit. Trolleys are percieved to be clean, and quiet, which they are.
    I would definitely support upgrading some heavily used bus routes to ETB’s.
    For the record, I have ridden the Zurich Double ETB’s as well as the trams. The ETB’s have nowhere near the capacity of Zurich’s trams. Not even close. Zurich’s newest trams the “cobra” are 36m long, and the tram routes are very frequent. ETB’s can never match the capacity of a tram.

    Justin Bernard

    January 19, 2010 at 6:13 am

  22. And 36 metres is getting to be a “short” tram. Many trams are between 40 and 55 metres.
    Siemens longest one is 72 metres long though I don’t think they have sold one yet (trams manufacturers make a couple of basic modules then assemble X modules depending on a town needs. Trams can be extended years after they went in service, as needs arise)
    for photos of trams in various towns see:
    I assume that many of you are familiar with Portland transit.

    Red frog

    January 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm

  23. […] event and there are quite a few videos online for some lucky few who got to ride the rails early.  Stephen Rees and the Transit Fan from re:place magazine seem to be two of the lucky online writers who got a […]

  24. Regarding Stephen’s query in the video about rail weight, it’s 115 pounds per yard, same as the Millennium Line and Canada Line. That used to be adequate for mainline railways in North America, but today’s freight railways typically use 132 lb/yd or higher on mainlines.

    Tramways can get by with less. Croydon Tramlink in the London suburbs uses 49 kg/metre, which translates to about 100 lb/yd.


    January 20, 2010 at 1:13 am

  25. Dublin LUAS extended their Red Line trams from 30m to 40m.
    Dallas DART added a low section to their LRVs recently.

    Justin Bernard

    January 20, 2010 at 5:56 am

  26. Trams are attractive in a quaint sort of way, but they are no substitute for high speed mass transit. They “interact” at street level with pedestrians and cars, they are relatively slow and they just can’t carry enough passengers per hour to be effective. They are neighbourhood transportation, and that’s about it. I would far rather spend the money needed for true mass transit. Why some people always feel they have a better idea, I do not know. Trams are no “greener” than SkyTrain.

    Norman Smith

    January 20, 2010 at 3:57 pm

  27. Norman, I have to disagree with your opinion that trams are no greener than SkyTrain or “true mass transit” systems. From my understanding of this issue, Trams are not only greener, they are also more cost-effective and more flexible in their operation. Greener because they take road space away from cars and if designed properly, make streets a more pedestrian-oriented and pleasant place. Cost-effective because construction costs are substantially lower. Hypothetically, more routes could be built and reach more people. Flexible because unlike Skytrain or Canada Line, they are able to operate at grade (on the road), elevated or underground (Seattle’s new Link light rail being an example:

    I believe that Stephen and some of his readers on this blog argue in favour of trams, versus Skytrain, is because they have a thorough and, in my opinion, better understanding of this issue.

    Andrew L.

    January 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm

  28. @ Andrew, I disagree with your view that there is something intrinsically better about trams than skytrain, trolleybuses and regular buses. All these modes are like tools in a toolbox. Some are better for a particular job than others.

    Having tram/LRT is no guarantee of success along a corridor, you have to put the same evaluation in place to make sure you maximize your investment.

    Slowing traffic down? For a really cost-effective way of doing that, just close a lane and add pedestrian enhancements. A nice solution here in vancouver is the addition of bus bumps and real-time info signs on main street. With articulated trolleys we are able to carry more people faster.

    Cheaper? Not compared to a bus or trolleybus. Trams do have more capacity than a bus though.

    Scaleability? – you can have that with LRT/tram, but you also have that with bus/BRT. And remember that if you want to have more pedestrian element, you have to slow down the tram. If you want faster corridor, you have to remove the train from pedestrian interaction to run it safely and impose more barriers that impede neighborhood effects. Seems obvious, but a lot of proponents of LRT that post here cite both speed and pedestrian-friendliness, but do not highlight the trade-offs. (ie, you cannot have a lot of both at the same segment at the same time.)

    And I’ll leave you with 2 posts from Jarrett Walker’s blog. A thought-provoking one that has been making it around…

    “Streetcars that replace bus lines are not a mobility improvement. If you replace a bus with a streetcar on the same route, nobody will be able to get anywhere any faster than they could before. This makes streetcars quite different from most of the other transit investments being discussed today.

    Where a streetcar is faster or more reliable than the bus route it replaced, this is because other improvements were made at the same time — improvements that could just as well have been made for the bus route.”

    And since 1997, Portland has built or expanded 4 LRT lines and built a downtown streetcar. The effect on transit versus car mode share for commuting? Surprisingly little…

    Skytrain is not needed everywhere in vancouver. The corridor and impementation is important – just look at the detroit people mover. It is expensive on a capital basis, which is why the reason to use it is so difficult. But at least for evergreen and broadway i think it is needed.


    January 20, 2010 at 10:35 pm

  29. Norman, it is neighbourhood transportation that attracts passengers. Not a super-fast system with a few stations as possible. Skytrain for it’s size only manages to attract around 200,000 passengers as day, probably because riders still have to travel a fair distance to their destination. Calgary’s LRT system attracts more riders than the Skytrain.
    LRT can be integrated in the streetscape. Good luck trying to integrate a concrete elevated structure with massive stations. LRT makes more efficient use of the streetscape, SkyTrain does not. LRT is the favoured mode for many cities around the world. Skytrain technology has largely been relegated to people-mover systems in airport. If Skytrain technology is so great, why is Toronto upgrading their line to LRT? Why did Bombardier have to re-branded the technology 3 times? Skytrain technology is an expensive system that fails to deliver, and the proliferation of LRT systems around the world is proof of this.

    Justin Bernard

    January 21, 2010 at 5:41 am

  30. Bringing Calgary’s LRT into this conversation is not really helping the case that a “neighbourhood transportation” system with frequent stops and built into the streetscape is somehow going to deliver better performance than the existing Skytrain system.

    Calgary’s C-Train operates in the medians of major aterial roads, the median of a freeway and following a rail right-of-way, with stations spaced up to 2km or more apart in some cases, and stations as elaborately built as any Skytrain station. The C-Train operates to a mostly Light Metro standard in almost all areas, requiring construction of major interchanges on all three of its branches. All of the branches converge on downtown (unlike Skytrain where only one branch goes downtown) where it enters an exclusive transit mall (7th Avenue SW). The C-Train’s success (by far the most successful light rail system on the continent and most aren’t even comparable to Skytrain in ridership terms) has to do with the fact that Calgary has pursued policies of restricting downtown parking and concentrating employment in the downtown core. Calgary’s downtown parking is now the most expensive in the nation and the second most expensive on the continent, which is acting in effect, as a congestion charge. The C-Train is littered on all three branches with Park and Rides which were free up until last year and are still ridiculously cheap compared to downtown. In short, instead of making a genuine and massive shift to transit, Calgary has simply made it very expensive to do anything other than take transit into its central business district. It is these policies that have made the C-Train so successful, not the notion that the C-Train is some sort of community orient, street friendly transportation system. It is anything but and under the conditions outlined anything from buses in exclusive rights of way to Swann Boats cruising down the Bow River would have phenomenal transit figures. A Skytrain type system would have delivered equally impressive results.

    Moreover, Calgary is now engaged in the expensive process of upgrading, extending platforms, full station rebuilds, considering a downtown tunnel, and building a new branch which will have elevated and buried stations. If Calgary fails to make these upgrades ridership will almost certainly stagnate as the system is virtually at capacity. Whereas the Skytrain system (Canada Line excluded) requires what are only comparably minor work (such as the improvements to Commercial-Broadway) in order to facilitate increases in demand.

    LRT is a wonderful technology which will hopefully proliferate across the Lower Mainland in the form of successful streetcar routes, replacing highly congested bus routes and improving local transportation. It may well be used in Light Metro formats such as Calgary’s along Hastings and in Surrey. However, the Skytrain has a role to play in all of this to, as the backbone network for the region.

    Stephen B.

    January 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm

  31. Andrew L., I suggest a wonder along #3 Road in Richmond. They have done an excellent job on the pedestrian space under the guideway. If surface LRT would have been chosen, the sidewalks would have been closer to traffic and there would likely not have been room for the separated bicycle path. As a bonus, the guideway provides rain protection for peds and even southbound cyclists.

    Also sections of the BC Parkway and the Central Valley Greenway are built under sections of the SkyTrain lines.

    With surface LRT, there will always be battles between space for sidewalks, parking and bicycle lanes. Many of the great pedestrian streets in the world are built on top of subways including La Rambas in Barcelona.


    January 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm

  32. Stephen B: There is always an easy way to expand the capacity of a LRT system when it reaches capacity: build a parallel line on another street. Since LRT is relatively cheap to build the cost of doing so is low compared to building a parallel SkyTrain line. Measures like extending platform lengths and tunnelling should not be necessary until there are no more parallel streets to build light rail lines.


    January 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm

  33. The inescapable fact is that more and more cities around the world are building trams, even those, like Paris, that have a good enough Metro system.
    Of course in Paris, as in many towns around the world, they aren’t afraid of cutting back–often drastically–the number of car lanes on some major arteries and putting a tram there.

    At any rate it shouldn’t be a question at all of either SkyTrain OR LRT. Osaka, Tokyo, Kobe etc. have subways, commuter trains used as city transit within the city limit AND automated Light rail transit (similar to VAL. Not like SkyTrain, but close enough for the average user). Milan, Barcelona, Bilbao, Lyon, Marseille etc. have subways and LRT

    I used the Bombardier tram by the way. I still prefer the look of the Alstom Citadis but was quite impressed by the Bommbardier Flexcity.

    Red frog

    January 21, 2010 at 7:31 pm

  34. I think Portland’s new downtown LRT mall is at right angles to the older LRT corridor – not sure how the priority will work.

    Ron C.

    January 21, 2010 at 10:03 pm

  35. Stephen B., I have nothing but to commend you for writing such a nice post.

    Adrian Leung

    January 21, 2010 at 10:24 pm

  36. Andrew:

    I am not sure where you are getting numbers, but LRT is not relatively cheap to build. At least not LRT of any capacity.


    January 22, 2010 at 4:17 am

  37. Good discussion. Thanks for the detail on the C-Train Stephen.

    I’m looking forward to getting a ride on the Olympic Line while it runs. Has anybody seen a prelim budget to build out the city’s expansion vision through Chinatown, Gastown and out to Stanley Park?

    I’m not convinced that the Yaletown spur is a great idea, but otherwise it looks great.


    January 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

  38. @Andrew. I agree. Case in point. Seattle. Nice system. Not cheap in the slightest.


    January 22, 2010 at 10:34 am

  39. Enlighting post from Stephen B.

    Also redFrog has written:
    “Of course in Paris, […], they aren’t afraid of cutting back–often drastically–the number of car lanes on some major arteries and putting a tram there”

    but the unfortunate true is that Paris has put tram on some of its major arteries without reducing the number of car lanes at all.


    January 22, 2010 at 9:38 pm

  40. Great post Stephen B.

    While the Canada Line SkyTrain does not use the same rolling stock as the Expo and Millennium SkyTrain lines for all intents and purposes they all function the same. In that light the SkyTrain network is easily moving somwhere in the neighbourhood of 350,000 to 375,000 passengers per day. Moreover, as anyone who rides SkyTrain can attest it is crowded at almost all hours of the day and night, so the question of its ability to attract passengers is not in any doubt.

    What makes SkyTrain attractive is its frequency, speed, reliability, hours of operation, and the simple fact that it travels where people want to go. SkyTrain is our NYC subway, our TTC subway, our Paris Metro, our Montreal metro, and our Belin S-bahn. It is the transit backbone; high speed, high capacity, long hours, frequent and dependable.

    LRT/Trams are outstanding. They are a pleasure to use, enhance streetscapes better than any other mode of transit, can be relatively inexpensive to build and cost effective to operate. The Olympic streetcar is wonderful and I have taken huge pleasure in seeing fellow citizens express simple joy at seeing it come round the bend and then marvel at how nice it is inside. “This is nicer than our house!” was one choice quote I overheard. Another was a child who asked his mom why the buses “were not so nice”. No kidding.

    SkyTrain has a huge and important role to play in the life of our city and there are a few routes that still need to be built, like extending the Millennium Line through Central Broadway to Arbutus, and in time to UBC itself. LRT/Trams have an equally huge and important role to play along streets like Main and Commercial Drive, along the Arbutus corridor, and around and through downtown as proposed for the downtown streetcar.

    East Vancouverite

    January 22, 2010 at 9:45 pm

  41. see
    Obviously the tram run in what was car lanes before. The “lawns” around the tracks in some areas weren’t there before. These lawns, found in many other French towns with trams are only a few inches of soil over a concrete platform. The proof that car lanes were taken away (deux voies automobiles supprimées) is found'Ile-de-France
    look at the photo
    the original Boulevard ran between the buildings in the background, obviously, so whatever space is now taken by the tram tracks and stations was used by cars before.

    is a preliminary design sketch. Believe me, before the tram there was way more than 2 lanes for cars in each direction!

    Red frog

    January 23, 2010 at 12:44 am

  42. […] Rees blog has an article about the two Bombardier Flexity trams loaned from Brussels for operation in Vancouver during the […]

  43. May be car lane was in the middle of the road before, but they have been relocated on the side not reduced…

    Here is how was looking the Boulevards before the tramway (here boulevard Jourdan)

    do you see more than 2 car lanes per direction?
    (the lanes on the right are bus lanes)

    compare with your picture:
    Sure it was a reorganization of the space, but not a major reallocation of it…

    and that is even for the green component: lawn has been the trade for lost trees.

    It doesn’t means I don’t like the new configuration, but just to say that the new configuration brought no dramatic change in term of road sharing and, especially in term of car lanes, and that is the point.


    January 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm

  44. Again me 😉

    to answer Redfrog reference:

    I have been to the section mentioning the “alleged: suppression of car lane: “deux voies automobiles supprimées”, but read also footnote 17 relative to this assertion: which states it is not true.

    Ironically, I think the urban myth relative to the suppression of car lanes on the Parisian boulevard has been spread out mostly by tramway opponents (that is probably the reason why this reference is still in the french wiki also referencing a rather irrelevant material from Le Figaro, a notorious french anti Parisian tramway newspaper,).

    We get away from the topic of the post, but I was thinking useful to stop some urban myth…

    Sorry for the off topic


    January 24, 2010 at 6:36 pm

  45. I guess that we have to agree to disagree… but we will agree to go back talking about Vancouver..
    At any rate the separate bus lanes in the photo, as all bus lanes in Paris separated from car lanes by a low divider, only go back to the summer of 2001. I have been to Paris regularly for over 40 years and do remember what a crowded mess all Paris avenues were.

    Red frog

    January 24, 2010 at 11:01 pm

  46. […] See more info here. […]

  47. […] The busiest day of the year was January 21st with 1,263 views. The most popular post that day was Sneak preview inside the Olympic Line – Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar. […]

  48. […] n’a pas encore renoué avec le tramway moderne, exception faite pendant deux mois où une ligne de tramway (streetcar) de 1,8 km de long à voie unique, réalisée de toute pièce sur une ancienne plate-forme de voie ferrée, a fonctionné du 21 […]

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