Thinking Radically About UBC and the Subway

March 1, 2013

The big news on Thursday was Vision Vancouver and UBC getting into bed together to push for a $3 billion subway system along Broadway.

There is no doubt that Broadway is hellishly busy for a few hours each day; and I have no doubt that Translink’s figures showing tens of thousands of people are left at bus stops each day while full buses go by are accurate.  But why does that call for spending so much money, especially when there are other priorities such as a lack of truly affordable housing?  Why don’t we think more radically?

For example, Broadway is NOT that busy during much of the day.  These technology companies and UBC — who seem to be the targets for this subway — don’t need to operate on a 9 to 5 schedule.  They can easily reschedule their activities so that employees and students are travelling outside the rush hours.  This would not only reduce the morning and evening crush, but would spread the load more efficiently across the transit system.


We could move large sections of UBC to, say, the Post Office building downtown, and the Emily Carr site on Granville Island.  This would spread the transit load geographically and, at least in the case of the Post Office, would build upon existing transit infrastructure.

We could reduce — perhaps not eliminate — car traffic along Broadway.  This would allow for much faster transit and make it easier to adopt an at-grade LRT system for a significantly reduced cost.

We could adopt some or a mix of all of the above. Let us think more about this before we pour our cash into an unnecessary money-pit hole in the ground.  We could save ourselves billions of dollars and years of inconvenience.


March 1, 2013

“The first day of spring was once the time for taking the young virgins into the fields, there in dalliance to set an example in fertility for nature to follow.  Now we just set the clocks an hour ahead and change the oil in the crankcase.”

–   E.B. White, “Hot Weather”


Happy St. David’s Day!