Before the weekend, Voony and Tessa made some excellent points I want to follow up on.  One of the arguments that keeps popping up against the idea of a Broadway subway is about its cost.  It’s not just that it would cost a lot — although of course it would.  The argument is that the money spent digging a big hole on Broadway wold be better spent building a lot of light rail south of the Fraser.  For the cost of 13 kilometers of subway on the Broadway corridor, you could build ten times that much surface-level light rail.  Why not do that instead?

I have some worries about how to ensure transit-oriented development around new rail lines, but I’m happy to put those aside for now.  Because what I really don’t get in this argument is the word “instead.” Why does this have to be an either/or deal?  Why would we want to pay for light rail in the Valley with money earmarked for other transit development? Why can’t we just advocate for more transit everywhere?

Voony did some excellent work over the weekend to put this in perspective.  He figured out just how much the Campbell government’s put into building major new highway infrastructure south of the Fraser and major new transit infrastructure in the city.  Go read his whole post, because it’s eye-popping, but here’s the upshot.  The provincial government has spent nearly three times more for every driver in the region than they have for every transit user.  That’s per driver, so the fact that way more people still drive than take transit is irrelevant.

The South Fraser perimeter highway is going to cost $1.1 billion.  Why not use that money to build light rail south of the Fraser?  So if you want light rail south of the Fraser “instead” of something, why have it “instead” of a subway on Broadway?  Why not have more light rail “instead” of more highways?