Phasing The Broadway Subway
March 11, 2013
Post edited after comment number 3
I have noticed that Translink has made public on Monday its full study , which looks pretty comprehensive, so I have to swallow back some chuncks of this post, to recognize this fact. An important figure from this study is how the line affect ridership region wise, and more especially the busiest segment of the Expo line:
2041 AM peak transit flow on on the Broadway-Commercial / Main-Terminal segment
|Business As Usual||23,104|
The above illustrates that not extending the Millenium beyond VCC Clark, impose a cost on the Expo line… just to be able to cope with the demand on its busiest segment. This cost can be eventually tremendous,  has advanced number above $1 Billion to upgrade the Expo line capacity above 20,000pphpd.
Lot of activities on the Broadway subway front those days:
- A KPMG study financed by the City of Vancouver
- The finding of what is presented as a Phase 2 of the UBC line rapid transit study: One year study for a 9 pages pamphlet :
Isn’t it pathetic?No, now Translink has made available the full 406p study on its site 
- A Vision’s campaign for the Broadway subway, with its Town hall meeting sunday March 10th
The results of the KPMG study are unsurprisingly aligned with the buyer expectation, City of Vancouver. Nevertheless, the study addresses an important global economic aspect of why rapid transit is needed, and we will have probably the opportunity to develop on this aspect in the future
The March 10th Vision town hall meeting, or Broadway subway Rally
A gray hair, subway hostile crowd was out in full force at the St James Community Hall in the heart of Kitsilano, and was seeming to set a pretty dominating adversarial tone for this meeting. It turn out that the Geoff Meggs presentation  was able to keep their ire under control. After that, the “anti subway” lobby was not really able to come with any constructive comment/question: Usually sarcastic, and more often that not fear-mongering and deriding UBC students.
The refreshing voice of one of them was in fact framing the debate:
- The young from UBC, representing and wanting to be the fuel of the future of the regional economy vs
- The gray hair, living on over-inflated real estate, contemptuous of everything West of Alma, and East of Arbutus, and representing a past era.
- It needs to make sense from a Transit network perspective to allow to leverage the new line, and provide an efficient reworking of the bus network
- More well access to tunnel could be necessary
- Duplication of starting cost and acquisition of expensive machinery like tunnel boring machine (TBM)
- The drawback is that we can have a sleeping investment not generating revenue, if we end up to build unused tunnels
In that sense, this meeting probably achieved its key objective. Some tried to make the case for an LRT, based on the premise that for a subway, you can have many LRTs. Geoff Meggs admitted that he has to believe the Translink engineer more than the “engineer” Patrick Condon (the champion of this idea).
The Phasing of the Line
Richard Campbell questioned about that, and it is probably the only way to see this line someday as well as the best way to move forward as suggested before and potentially enable to defer technology choice west of Arbutus to a later date. Below some useful numbers from an Ottawa study ; which are relatively inline with a Parisian study ; for the matter relevant to the Broadway Subway:
|Component||Ottawa Cost ||Paris Cost |
|Twin bored tunnel (3m radius)||$45M/km|
|Single bored tunnel (4m radius)||€25M/km|
|Underground Station (up to 30,000pph)||$40M||€32M|
|Open air Station (up to 30,000pph)||€27M|
The total leads to a $2Billions for the Broadway line, adding a 50% contingency fund as assumed in , brings the cost to $3Billions, not including rolling stock and land acquisition.
The numbers suggest that a first phase VCC Clark/Arbutus could come at a $1.3Billion price tag.
For matter of comparison, the 6km extension of the metro line 14, including 4 new stations North of Paris, in a arguably much more complex typology, is costed at €1.2Billion .
 estimates a first phase ending at Arbutus, costed at $1.5B and states that:
The economic assessment of phasing RRT is positive with a benefit:cost ratio of 2.7, vs. 2.3 if built to UBC initially.
Phasing can arise some challenges,
if tunnel is done in several phases
So it is fair to examine the idea to build all the component potentially requiring a TBM in a single phase, and defer later investments at an ulterior date.
The twin tunnels option should also be considered as a starting default point, not as a political statement, like it seems to tend to be done in Vancouver. Considering the topography and traffic level, a cut and cover method could be applied reasonably as soon as West of MacDonald under 10th avenue. This method properly deployed doesn’t need to be despised on the ground of a bad experience, and is still routinely used around the world, including under temporary decks :
The advantage of it, is that it allows a good phasing of the line in the vicinity of Arbutus.
It is also possible that in the case of the Broadway line, especially East of Arbutus, an single large bored tunnel accommodating stacked tracks north of Broadway could make sense, since, taking account of the topography, it could allow a better access to platforms in both directions:
It is worth repeating that there are host of options, and none should be despised on pure political ground, and the one selected should be on the ground of best value for the $.
 It was in fact a rehash of a presentation done by the Vancouver engineering department to city council: Broadway Rapid transit, November 27, 2012
 Development of a downtown Transit solution and network implications, MacCormickRankin Corporation and Delcan, April 2008
 Prolongement de la ligne 4 du metro parisien, Lot 1, des techniques variees pour un lot complexe et delicat, V. Dore, B. Bizon, F. Billon, S. Leroux and L. Petit Jean. Tunnels et Espace souterrain, Nov/Dec 2010.
 UBC Line rapid transit study: Phase 2 Evaluation report Steer Davies Gleave, August 2012
 Expo line upgrade strategy SNC Lavalin and Steer Davies Gleave, September 21, 2010
 Arc express Etudes, insertion de traces, impact sommaire et redaction du DOCP, Setec Tpi, Xelis and Ingerop, 2009
 Metro ligne 14: Prolongement de St lazare a mairie de St Ouen, April 2012