KPMG Report on a Broadway Subway
The Kates Peat Marwick Group was commissioned by the City of Vancouver to report on a proposed extension of the millennium line underground to UBC.
The report, which was presented at a Vision sponsored public meeting, is as much a work of fiction as Pinocchio or Moby Dick.
Quotes from the Executive Summary with rebuttal
“Commercial and Broadway, the busiest transit hub in the region”
Nowhere near close! Georgia/Dunsmuir and Granville is busier by a factor of at least two. The granville trolleys, north and west vancouver arterials, expo line, and Canada line all converge there.
“The busiest bus corridor in north america”
Absurd! In Vancouver alone the whole broadway corridor ranks only 3rd behind granville and burrard. The 99 without the trolleys is in a 3 way tie for 6th place with main street and 4th avenue. Georgia and 41st avenue each have 1,000 more passengers, and burrard and granville streets downtown each carry twice as many passengers in the peak direction as the 99. Even the deas tunnel buses have nearly the passenger capacity of the 99, with cornwall not far behind. Gagliardi Way at S.F.U. has 500 more peak passengers than the 99. All measurement peak period, peak direction, point of the largest passenger load
“Increase in employment and population”
Rezonings are creating a population explosion along the Canada line, and throughout the olympic village area. But 10,000 new condominiums are being approved with a ratio of parking spaces to suites on average of 1:1. From science world, through olympic village, to 49th and cambie high rise condos as sprouting up at every MUST also buy a parking place for $35K. Any discussion of population increase in the Region must take into consideration sea level rise. Please see separate page.
Since everyone is pressured into owning, transit will get minimal additional patronage. Such as does occur would be overwhelmingly peak travel into the core using the section of the Canada line which is already at 60% of line capacity. Why should anyone think that Council and staff’s current policy of “One Cowboy, One Horse” would be any different on the broadway corridor? A recent approval at arbutus and broadway was 1:1, an absolute contradiction to a ‘walking village’ policy statement specific to that block.
“The UBC-Broadway corridor is already at full transit capacity during peak hour”
Absolutely not! Burrard street at georgia carries twice as many people. Corrective measures for broadway are listed elsewhere on this page.
“Estimated 500,000 passups per year”.
True. But the maximum wait time observed on a sample day was 8 minutes. Compare this to 6 minute intervals for the Canada line on number 3 road. This is deliberate policy of Translink because they want the subway. City of Vancouver repeatedly echoes this number in formal Council reports. Adding 5 articulated diesels to change the service interval leaving commercial between 7:45 and 8:45 from 3 minutes to 2 minutes would slash this number, limiting wait time to under four minutes, ;less than any rail line except the expo
The best solution to the passups is to implement a B94. This super-express from commercial and broadway, to VCC-Clark, via 4th to the diesel loop at UBC would eliminate the Passups on broadway at commercial, fraser, and main in the a.m. This has been explained to Translink by e-mail, twice. Simply add half a dozen single unit diesels in the a.m. peak, increasing as volume increases
No capital cost would be incurred because buses and drivers from the north shore or ocean park are available at the right time. The p.m. peak has not been studied, it likely does not peak as sharply.
Acceptable alternatives would be to stack the articulateds and have them leave with 70 passengers, the next one pulling in immediately. Translink has been previously advised of these options, with supporting data. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
“Serious inconvenience of increasing gridlock ….”.
City of Vancouver and Translink have been advised of several ways to reduce gridlock. What is needed on the broadway corridor is to designate major intersections: macdonald, burrard, granville, cambie, and main. At these intersections there should be no left turns, recessed pedestrian crosswalks, and 6 second pedestrian lights.
At the remaining 25 red lights on the 99 route, greenlight the b-lines, convert to 6 second pedestrian lights, have a minimum wait of 25 seconds for a pedestrian push-button light. Some pedestrian education and enforcement would be needed. And of course slow the growth of cars through less residential parking in new condos.
On all corridors with 2,000 or more peak commuters, the default should be bus lanes on both sides from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Exceptions can then be made. As an example, the bus lanes on broadway end at 6 p.m. causing great delays for transit riders. Rush hour in the City does not end at 18:00 hours.
“Serious inconvenience of …………………… lack of transit capacity”.
$1.5 B, is the cost of a bored tunnel from macdonald to UBC. As previously presented to the Mayors Council, $1B is enough to purchase all the additional rolling stock which will be necessary to increase the capacity of transit into the central business district to match a 50% increase in business activity and population. Lack of transit capacity on the 99 is a matter of policy. No other route is called a ‘sardine line’. Why are 99 passengers sardined? As the recent audit report stated, attributed to municipal councils, empty buses map the suburbs where people choose to drive.
“The UBC-Broadway Corridor is the critical geographic connection between U.B.C. and Vancouver’s central business”
Absolutely not! A quick look at a map will show that Chancellor and 4th avenue is shorter, more direct. There are fewer red lights, and the traffic congestion is not as bad. The 44 express connects the diesel loop to georgia and burrard via 4th in 30 minutes. The speed of this service was cited on http://www.UBC.ca
A broadway subway with a transfer to the Canada line at broadway would take 27 minutes to street level. Given a choice between having a no connection trip or saving 3 minutes, a visitor to Vancouver would take the direct route. Another logical person would take whichever route goes closer to their downtown destination.
The 44’s time can be cut to 25 minutes by decongesting burrard street downtown as detailed in material presented to City Council and the chief traffic engineer. Greenlighting the B-lines on 4th avenue: the 44, 84, and 94; would also help. Eliminating left turns from 4th to burrard would redirect some motorists to the cloverleaf of the underutilized granville bridge. The 6 second pedestrian light is needed in places.
“The corridor is unique in that it intersects the major north south and east/west rapid transit lines, Canada Expo, and Millennium”
A critical misconception by all proponents of the broadway subway is that the expo and Canada lines can handle the anticipated growth in transit travel on broadway, whether by bus or with a major construction project.
With due respect to the contrary opinion held by senior Translink staff, the expo line leg eastbound from broadway and commercial is at capacity. Trains are at 120 second intervals, not much can be shaved from that without trains starting to back up. Multiple platforming of stations at broadway and eventually at metrotown will help, but nothing which can be done with the expo line would handle the capacity resulting from business and population growth envisaged in this report.
The Canada line is at 60% capacity. A B43 on 41st avenue or B49 on 49th to metrotown bypasses the entire section from 41st to downtown. This makes far more sense than expanding anything on broadway.
“.. would connect Vancouver via rapid transit to Richmond, Burnaby, Surrey, New Westminster, Coquitlam,”
Those connections already exist.
“Alternatives such as expanding bus service .. do not have the capacity to meet the growth.”
Of course there is the capacity! What is lacking is the will.
The 99 now operates at 3 minute intervals, 2 minute intervals pose no problem. The 99 line currently uses 40 articulated diesels. Adding 50% to capacity would require 20 more. The capital cost of 20 articulated diesels is no more than the cost of 1 millennium skytrain train.
Translink and City staff are focused on major construction projects and are neglecting, that’s right neglecting, the bus system in the City of Vancouver.
A detailed plan to handle the growth in demand relative to the downtown peninsula was e-mailed to Translink. Long term plans including the arbutus busway or rejuvenating an accelerated B98; the B43, B94, 481; and B-lines on kingsway and from VCC-Clark to downtown in order to offload intra-City passengers from the expo line; have also been emailed to Translink.
City of Vancouver staff must take an assertive approach to prioritizing transit on every corridor with peak passengers above 2,000 per hour. Their current policy is that a bus is just a bigger car, one which does not pay the City for all the curb space its bus stops and bus lanes consume, in contrast to cars which feed meters. Eliminating the 99 would free up curb space for parking meters. Articulated buses with 3 sections are another option for new equipment.
Something which no one seems to mention is where do the passenger trips terminating at UBC originate. UBC has files of students, faculty staff; 90% of these people. Simple analysis by postal code would show the distribution. A similar study should be done of those boarding the 99 (and 94) at commercial.
“An analysis of Vancouver’s position … as a world class technology hub … ‘Transit infrastructure weak’”
Having lived in Houston TX; visited Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Sydney, and Washington; the writer can’t imagine how any analysis could have reached this conclusion, and the report offers no reference, merely “An analysis”.
Tokyo, Beijing, London, Paris, New York, Moscow, and Brussels have more highly developed transit. But they are not saddled as Vancouver is with the U.S.A.’s addiction to the automobile, and most have 5 million people. The U.S.A. has reworded Descartes, “I drive my own car, therefore I am”. Or as Julius Ceaser would say today “I own, I drive, I conquer”.
This addiction manifests itself in Vancouver Council’s recent approval of 10,000 residential parking places on the Canada line, and its intention to add 10,000 more residential parking places in of all places, the downtown peninsula, right between our two busiest transit corridors, burrard and granville.
Burnaby plans to add 20,000 cars at willingdon and lougheed, as congested an intersection as you can find; and right on the millennium line. The brentwood mall rezoning has been approved with a car for every suite. Later on the same developer will apply to do the same thing at lougheed mall. Will yaletown south or developments along the evergreen line allow non car owners to purchase a suite without parking? Unlikely.
The ministry of transport has added 6 lanes at port mann, intends to add capacity over the fraser at deas, refused for years to put the braid-corvalth bus on the original port mann, and published a report in 1995 quoting a “technical report” which stated that twinning the lions gate “Would not add to traffic on local streets in the west end”. Incredible!
UBC has been running a major fund raising campaign to fund research and education. $1B has been donated by alumni and friends, the goal is 1.5. If offered a choice between $1.5 billion to spend on research and education, or a subway, what college board of governors would conceivably choose a subway?
Conclusion. KPMG’s report should be shredded. A proper transparent report, supported by data, conducted by a truly independent body, not one commissioned by those whose minds are already made up, is needed. This would probably bury the UBC subway once and for all. Then reasonable debate, based on actual data, can commence on what the City’s rapid transit needs are.
First for consideration, the English Bay expo line. 40,000 people in a one square mile area have the slowest transit in the Region. They need a fast connection to downtown, one not impacted by every special event, increasing congestion, and the evening rush to lions’ gate . Two stations west of Burrard, one on robson, one on davie. Cost would not be even $200,000,000.
Next for consideration, millennium to downtown Vancouver.
This document makes multiple references to correspondence with and presentations to Translink, and to the City of Vancouver, at various levels. The data from these will be added to the document on www.VancouveRRR.ca as time permits.