False Creek streetcar’s future is brightening

The Bombardier cars now preparing for service in False Creek, as seen in their native Brussels.

The Bombardier cars now preparing for service in False Creek, as seen in their native Brussels.

Those two Bombardier Olympic streetcars scheduled to run along the south shore of False Creek during the 2010 Games are nearly ready to start service, but the campaign to keep them after the Olympics is already under way.

Bob Ransford makes a good case for the line in today’s Sun, but until recently, Translink refused to give the project any consideration whatsoever, leaving the city on its own to find financing.

That may be changing, however, with indications that Translink is prepared to consider the contribution the line could make to ridership on a proposed extension of the Broadway Skytrain line, now in the early planning stages.

If so, it may be time for engineers to consider this example, provided by local rail expert Brendan Read, of a very low-cost streetcar line in Dallas that relies on vintage streetcars much like the current heritage streetcar set-up in Vancouver. (Even that project, however, has been hit by the city’s recent budget cuts.)

The Dallas system runs on a mix of funding sources generated by memberships, local businesses and endowments. The heritage cars, of course, are a far cry from the state of the art trains being showcased by Bombardier, which feature leather seats and wood trim to coax riders out of their cars.

After the Games, the Bombardier cars are expected to return to their home in Brussels, but not before they give several hundred thousand Olympic celebrants a taste of modern urban transit.