UBC line: The Adam Fitch proposal

March 15, 2013

Contribution to the debate:

Adam is sharing an illustration to support his proposal, which has been the object of a Sun column:

A LRT line roughly following 2nd, then the Arbutus railtrack up to the 16th avenue

A LRT line roughly following 2nd, then the Arbutus railtrack up to the 16th avenue


As many, the Adam’s proposal apparently assumes that the main demand is on UBC. It is worth to mention that the numbers ran by Translink suggests that the highest demand is on the central Broadway portion [1]

2041 ridership prediction AM peak WB in the case of the RRT line

2041 ridership prediction AM peak WB in the case of the RRT line – source [1]

The Translink ridership predictions west of Arbutus (4000pphpd) is in fact less than a third of the one predicted on Central Broadway

This finding effectively strongly question the relevance of a subway west of Arbutus, or at least justify a phasing of the subway construction, a solution we have started to investigated in our previous post. In fact [1] has studied 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


[1] UBC Line rapid transit study: Phase 2 Evaluation report Steer Davies Gleave, August 2012

9 Responses to “UBC line: The Adam Fitch proposal”

  1. Rico Says:

    Although in a perfect world it would go straight to UBC I am OK with a phased approach. I am even OK with the combo option although it did not score as well. Lets just build it already.

  2. Kyle Says:

    Considering to Arbutus is roughly half the distance from UBC to VCC, it would be better to build say a BRT between Cambie and UBC and RRT Between VCC and Arbutus, with the funds saved spent in Surrey or as a Canada Line Extension in Richmond or across the Burrard Inlet. Something worth thinking about.

  3. snowystar Says:

    Now, this is a late comment.. Anyways, two things I want to point out:

    1. The graph represents AM rush hour demand. However, we all know that most student commute to UBC are done outside of rush hour. In the report, it state that peak trips across the UBC screenline occurs at 8:30-9:30, rather than the 7:30-8:30 rush hour used. Normally, daily demand is approximately 11.65 peak hourly demand. However, for UBC, the daily demand is 16.45 peak hours due to the extra off-peak demands.

    2. The graph shows westbound load only. But for people live in the west side of Vancouver, most of them don’t go west to go to work – they go east. This explains why most of the stations are pretty dead in the west side.

    • Voony Says:

      yes, but it is the peak demand, which determine the adequate size of a system…the fact the UBC demand peak outside the other demand is a good new in the sense it can smooth out the peak demand.

      IThe fact that people leaving West of arbutus will probably take the train east bound is a good news too, but it is very improbable they are able to generate greater demand than the one bounded to UBC.

  4. MB Says:

    Here is one major component that will jack the costs dramatically or outright kill light rail on West 16th:

    These are 3-foot diameter trunk mains that cannot in any circumstances have railway tracks overlain on them for many reasons, least of all quick access in case of a rupture or leak.

    There is also a major gas main on West 16th x Blenheim. Moving these utilities would add tens of millions to the cost of building a streetcar route west of Arbutus, let alone on any other arterial where major utilities exist.

    As usual, everyday conditions such as underground utilties are ignored by too many light rail aficiandos who toss out construction figures like candy to children. I too thought W 16th would make a great tram route (when connected to Arbutus – King Edward – Kingsway etc. all the way to New Westminster) until I dodged utility construction crews for several months on W 16th and Kingsway and realized that even a billion dollars added to the overall cost to reconfigure 20 km of utilities on these arterials for light rail would likely not be enough.

    Then there is the unmet ridership of today, let alone tomorrow, and service levels required to meet the demand in future on Broadway and at UBC, issues I am not convinced surface rail can ever address short of severing 30 existing very active crossings and relocating all major underground utilities.

    These alternatives to a full Broadway subway just don’t add up — and in fact are just pie in the sky — when you truly attempt to address the realities on the ground. It’s a far better process to suggest light rail be located where it will actually work and be truly affordable, and that is not possible until important documents like maps of utilities are researched. Until that is done, then there is just too much energy and time devoted to defending the indefensible.


  5. […] there are clearly no benefits to Central Broadway riders – which actually make up a significant majority of the current 99 B-Line’s ridership, as opposed to UBC – and the West Broadway business district is missed as well. In what would […]


  6. […] See also, UBC line: The Adam Fitch proposal […]

  7. Kyle Z. Says:

    Okay, you’ve destroyed adam’s proposal to have skytrain on 16th, now please destroy my proposal to have Skytrain on 5th avenue:
    https://257vancouver.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/how-to-get-skytrain-to-arbutus-for-474-million/

    • Voony Says:

      thanks for the invite:

      Your alignment has some merits, it is the cheapest one to extend the M line to the Canada line, but it is pretty much it.

      The Broadway subway needs to address several issue to maximize its use

      1/ Very High demand on the central broadway corridor: Your alignment doesn’t address it, which prevents retirement of the 99B line. The VGH area noticeabily becomes out of the catchement area of the subway.

      2/ good connection with the local bus routes
      the Broadway alignement allows seamless connection with the bus 9, providing fine grain service on Broadway while allowing to retire the 99B. it also connects with all the NS route.
      yours alignement prevent all of this. you even gratuitously locate a station on Ontario#5th ruining the bus connections with the Main bus 3,8,19.

      3/the catchement area of the alignment is poor at best…
      draw a 1600m strip centered on our alignment: that is your catchement area:

      3.1/ most of it falls in the water…

      3.2/ In practice, the catchement area need to be reduced by the elevation change (see footnote of the Burrard bridge post ), and your alignement requires lot of elevation change to reach central Broadway..making it probably out of reach for practical purpose (a reason also your alignment in practice doesn’t connect with Granville buses)

      3.3/ You also provide redundant coverage: the catchement area of your Main station is virtually the same as Main#Terminal station.

      in conclusion, you offer to build a line

      1/ offering way much less RT coverage than the Boradway one,
      2/ disconnected of the bus system
      3/ not going to place where people want to go

      …and cutting access to the waterfront by an at grade alignement along 5th avenue, along other unfortunate urban design impact.

      Translink could have ran a quantitative cost/benefit analysis on this,
      but I guess the above are the reason why Translink has not pursued with such a proposition…

      regarding your idea to not run Transit in the middle of Highway.
      here you touch on street design matters, disconnected of Transit choice.

      A Broadway underground skytrain, could allow a redesign of Broadway as a 4 lanes + bike lanes and wide streetwalk bld.


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