That Burrows article in the Straight about a Broadway rail line seems to have pushed some buttons.  Zweisystem at Rail for the Valley says, “If Vancouver wants a subway, let Vancouver taxpayers pay for it!”  And Jordan Bateman at Langley Politics says,

a South Fraser light rail line should be the next transit priority, not another gold-plated SkyTrain in Vancouver. If Vancouver is as concerned about urban sprawl and car culture as they claim, they should be pushing to get transit into Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford. That’s where the most gains can be made; that’s the low-hanging fruit when it comes to battling climate change and air pollution.

I think the animosity in these reactions is a mistake.  I understand how easy it is to feel like other regions of metro Vancouver are getting transit goodies that your own region isn’t, but sub-regional sniping isn’t doing anyone any good.  We all want more and better transit for the entire region.

But I also think there’s no particular reason to think the “low-hanging fruit” is all south of the Fraser.  The buses on the Broadway corridor are at capacity during peak times right now.  In fact, they’ve been at capacity during peak times for a while.  They’re actually over-capacity for some parts of the day.  (Details here: pp. 86-87.)  As I’ve talked about before, this isn’t a problem that Translink can solve easily by putting more buses on the route.  With three-minute headways, a few red lights in a row is enough to pile up three B-Lines up end.

But what does it mean if Broadway’s at capacity — and sometimes over capacity — right now?  It means that there’s people who want to take the transit on Broadway, but who don’t because the buses are too full.  Add capacity to the route — with light rail or a subway — and all of a sudden there’s room for more people on transit.  Why wouldn’t that count as low-hanging fruit?

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