Rapid transit on booming Broadway Corridor: can anything less than Skytrain carry the load?

With the Broadway Corridor and Surrey the two most obvious gaps in Metro Vancouver’s transit network, it’s critical to determine what regional needs must be served in each case and then what transit solution is best suited to the task.

As I argue in this article in today’s Sun, “city-shaping” investments like LRT may make sense in Surrey, but they fall short of the challenge in an existing corridor like Broadway, the second-largest business district in the province, where at least five potential stops have job and residential density today that is comparable to the most heavily-used stops on existing lines.

And, of course, at least half the existing riders are coming from outside the city, including Surrey, to reach jobs and destinations all the way from Commercial Drive to UBC.

That’s why Vancouver’s engineers have concluded that a bored tunnel Skytrain is the best long-term solution to the corridor’s needs. Others will differ, of course, but it would be good to see LRT advocates tackle the conclusions of Vancouver staff head-on. It’s reasonable to ask “where will the money come from,” but also to ask what benefits would be foregone if the replacement for rapid bus is inadequate to the task.

Can anything less than Skytrain really do the job?