“The Olympic Line – the streetcar returns to Vancouver”
http://ow.ly/us7H The Olympic Line is a temporary 1.8km run (but i’m excited!)
History of the streetcar in Vancouver
For almost 70 years, Vancouver had an extensive electric streetcar network operated by the B.C. Electric Railway Company that extended from the west side of Vancouver (near today’s UBC campus) through downtown Vancouver and east to Boundary Road.
The network was built in 1890 and continued to operate until 1958, when Vancouver’s streetcars were replaced by trolley buses and gas/diesel powered buses. On February 28, 1958, car 1231 was the last passenger vehicle to roll on B.C. Electric track, from Brighouse to Marpole to the Kitsilano car barn.
The Olympic Line – the streetcar returns to Vancouver
While TransLink, the regional transit authority, is responsible for public transit in the Metro Vancouver region, the City of Vancouver is leading efforts to bring back streetcars to Vancouver.
The Olympic Line – Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar – is a state-of-the-art, accessible and sustainable transportation project that will connect Granville Island to the Canada Line Olympic Village Station (Cambie Street and West 2nd Avenue) during 60 days of celebration between January 21 and March 21, 2010. Transit trips on the Olympic Line will be free.
Vancouver’s partner in this project, Bombardier Transportation , will bring two modern, accessible streetcars on loan from Brussels, Belgium to Canada. Bombardier will also operate and maintain the vehicles during the demonstration project. The Olympic Line will run about every six to ten minutes on approximately 1.8 kms of dedicated track.
The demonstration streetcar will extend the regional transit network during the 2010 Winter Games and decrease the number of private vehicles, motor coaches and transit diesel buses to and from Granville Island.
The City of Vancouver is investing $8.5 million to upgrade the Downtown Historic Railway (DHR) infrastructure, which includes a $500,000 contribution from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), owner and operator of Granville Island.
This funding will be used to replace the aging and deteriorating DHR rail infrastructure between Granville Island at Anderson Street, and West 2nd Avenue at Cambie Street (which is also the location of the Olympic Village Canada Line rapid transit station).
The investment creates the opportunity to demonstrate Bombardier’s modern low-floor streetcar technology in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Games, while ensuring the continued future operation of the heritage railway after 2010 and making an investment in a future potential streetcar service along the alignment.
This sustainable transportation showcase is an important first step in realizing the City of Vancouver’s vision for the future of the streetcar – a clean, sustainable public transit option for which Vancouver believes the day has once again come.
A vision for the future of the streetcar in Vancouver
It’s simply not possible to build enough roads and accommodate enough vehicles to carry people around Downtown Vancouver, and so communities need to look at innovative options – supported by significant density in the False Creek and downtown areas – for public transit. Streetcars are quieter than buses, have more interior space, larger open windows and – as they run by electricity – produce no fumes that can affect passing pedestrians.
Streetcars are only one element of a sustainable transportation system that also includes walking, biking, buses and rapid transit. Vancouver’s vision for the future Downtown Streetcar is that it will be an integrated part of the regional public transportation network, one that will require the support of senior levels of government and TransLink to operate.
The Olympic Line is an important rail link between the Canada Line and Granville Island that supports CMHC’s efforts towards more sustainable modes of transportation to Granville Island, by allowing them to gauge the long-term importance of the streetcar as part of the regional transit system.
The Downtown Streetcar will ultimately provide a direct connection to two regional rapid transit lines – the Canada Line and the Expo Line. It could also ultimately be expanded to connect with the extension of the Millennium Line (West Broadway) and to destinations such as Stanley Park, UBC, and south along the Arbutus Corridor.
A future Downtown Streetcar would also extend the regional transit network to connect major destinations in the metropolitan core, including Granville Island, Stanley Park, Chinatown, Gastown, Yaletown and the Stadium district.
Get more information and background on the City of Vancouver’s vision for the Downtown Streetcar Project.