Evergreen Line is job one, despite Broadway potential

Yesterday’s council decision to endorse Translink’s UBC Rapid Transit Line study (item 4 here) means Vancouver riders may be able to consider options to relieve the crisis on the B-Line as early as the summer.

(Council also asked staff to consult with Vancouver residents on the principles guiding the study while work continues.)

A Translink stakeholder meeting Monday at the Plaza 500 heard updated evidence that the Broadway corridor remains by far the best transit option in the Lower Mainland and could quickly pay its own way.

Ridership on the B-Line — more like a trip in a cattle car many days — is so high it rivals existing light rail lines elsewhere in North America. Thousands of riders are passed by daily.

With another Translink funding deadline approaching in September, it’s urgent to make the case for Broadway, but not at the expense of other regional priorities. I agree with council’s policy that the Evergreen Line must be the first regional priority.

That’s why the headline writer at News 1130 got it wrong when he wrote that there’s a “battle looming between Vancouver and other regions over priority of rapid transit.”

There the only battle is with Victoria to find the funding solution to meet the entire region’s needs. Until we resolve that, Evergreen won’t get built and Broadway will remain the best unbuilt rapid transit opportunity on the continent.

Here’s the text of the News 1130 story, with a Surrey separatist twist at the end:

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The City of Vancouver is making plans to ensure a rapid transit line along Broadway to UBC is given top priority–ahead of other regional transit improvements.
But not everyone thinks Vancouver’s plan should be at the top of the transit list.Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs says the density surrounding the Broadway corridor would more than pay for itself.  “There already are more people riding on buses, jammed on buses, hanging on straps on buses, watching buses drive by them, than we need to justify the line.”
But Ray Hudson with the Surrey Board of Trade says the Evergreen Line and more service south of the Fraser used to be a priority and should still be a priority.  “Soon, we will rival and even pass the population of Vancouver, and yet we are certainly the very poor ‘country cousins’ with respect to these kinds of services.”
Hudson says some business owners he’s heard from are wondering if separating from the Metro Vancouver regional district might be the way to go to finally see some transit improvements.