Streetcars to Return to Vancouver, BC

Apparently the learning flows both ways between Portland and Vancouver. Inspired in part by Portland’s example, Vancouver is planning a new Streetcar line.

19 responses to “Streetcars to Return to Vancouver, BC”

  1. Atlanta learns from Vancouver, Vancouver learns from us. I wonder what we can learn from Atlanta? Maybe how to be more business-friendly?

  2. Good to hear they’re going ahead with this! There’s a tourist streetcar on that route now (the section from Granville Island to Science World), but it could really use a real streetcar. Granville Island is a very busy and very inaccessible place, and a streetcar straight there from the Skytrain would be a big help with this.

  3. Apparently the learning flows both ways between Portland and Vancouver.

    Don’t you mean Charlie Hales, streetcar salesman, “flows both ways between Portland and Vancouver.”

  4. JK,

    If you have something constructive to contribute to the conversation, please add it. Otherwise, please don’t.


  5. Aaron Says:
    You mean Charlie Hales, visionary. Right, Jim? What will you do when Charlie becomes mayor?

    Hold on to your wallet as he spend us the rest of the way to bankruptcy.

    BTW, did you happen to notice that Trimet is running out of money for bus service because they spent too much on toy trains?

    We need a thread on Trimnet’s spending priorities: Trains vs bus vs private cars for the needy. Also jitneys.


  6. Looking at the article, I noticed something they left out when they said Modern Streetcars in Melbourne. They forgot to mention that Melbourne never abandoned their streetcar network, but they did modernize and expand the fleet over the years. Also, about the time Vancouver junked their PCC cars, Melbourne was winding down production of the W-Class streetcars, in production since the 1920s at that time. 50 of the later model, the w5-W7 are still in service. Also, Streetcar network in Melbourne still has good patronage, it is even privatized, like a lot of public services in some of Australia. The 4 Melbourne Streetcars that King County Metro have in storage while they look for a new maintenance barn to be built for them, are of the 1927-vintage, W2 model.

    Now I could go for Jitneys, but not in the style that some might want, as in the ones that would speed ahead of streetcars in the old days and steal passengers. Now there are some uses for Shared Taxis(another name for jitney), especially in areas where even regular buses would not go, and for night owl bus service. King County Metro has a handful of bus routes that operate only in the very early morning hours between 3 and 5 AM. The 81,82,83,84,85,86 as well as the 280 Suburban Night Owl that circles the lake, augmented by 2-3 trips on the 7 and 174(theoretically making them 24 hour routes). What the 80s and 280 do is combine sections of some routes, missing entire areas. Now perhaps from 12-6AM there could be uses for a shared-taxi. I recently had an early morning job at a temp agency, and had to be at the job-site at 6AM. Now thanks to Congress messing around with DST last year, it is daylight much earlier, in fact it was creeping over the Cascades when I caught the 7-OWL at 4:20AM! Several months ago, I would have taken the cab because it would have been too dark and too dangerous switching buses in Downtown. I considered doing it for another temp job last month, but was afraid of missing the connecting bus, 3 blocks from where the 7-OWL stopped, and have to wait a half-hour.(Ended up taking the taxi.)

    Now I agreed with a Seattle Post-Intelligencer story a few weeks ago on the lack of taxi’s in the city. Now before those against regulation scram that the taxis need to be deregulated, it is the taxi industry that is against issuing more medallions. In 1979, a more libertarian-minded City Council embraced the deregulatory spirit of the day, and deregulated the taxi industry. By 1990, responding to various complaints ranging from dirty cabs, to out of date vehicles, to bad driving(which regulation seems to have had no effect on the lattter either), the city froze the number of medallions/liscenses at just over 600, and ended deregulation. SOme parts of the service are better, but they have had to handle higher fuel costs lately. Fares have been raised once, plus a fuel surcharge that is pro-rated with benchmarks and triggers. Every time the price of gasoline is reaches a 50 cent per gallon increment, the fuel surcharge is up 50 cents. Now it is at $1.50, as regular held above $3.40 per gallon for 14 days. The regular fare is $2.00 to turn the meter on, and $2.00 per mile.

  7. Oops, the Meter Drop was $2.50 not $2.00. Also, forgot to mention, there was a flat rate fare mandated, from the Downtown Seattle hotels to the Airport, $28.00. Now of course taxi drivers even under regulated schemes might congregate at major destinations. STITA taxi hangs out at the Airport all the time, others can been seen forming long lines at King Street Station and Colman Dock.

  8. JK said:

    “Don’t you mean Charlie Hales, streetcar salesman, “flows both ways between Portland and Vancouver.”

    >>>> Yeah, and Charlie Hales, RAILFAN? Why was he called “Choo Choo Charlie?” I get the feeling we have a lot of these in the process here in Portland.

  9. Nick –

    This “railfan” myth is tiresome. I’m sure most pilots are aviation fans, and most teachers are fond of education. I know some musicians that are particularly interested in music, beyond anything else. That doesn’t automatically invalidate their opinions.

    Enough of deriding particular individuals… how about sticking to talking about policies?

    – Bob R.

  10. Thanks, Bob.

    And while we’re at it…. the next person who uses the term “toy train” had better explain why they don’t also use “toy bus” or “toy car” or “toy boat” or “toy plane”. Talk about wearing your anti-rail biases on your sleeve.

  11. Getting back to the topic…

    Relative to other transit options, it makes eminent environmental and economic sense.

    I find it interesting that Vancouver would consider a Streetcar given the “environmental” and “economic” sense:

    1. Vancouver has a large trolleybus system. So there is no environmental benefit towards a Streetcar (they both use the same power source).

    2. Streetcar has proven very expensive to build and operate. Maybe Vancouver will charge a premium fare to recoup some of the costs; Portland has not which has created the double-whammy of a high operating subsidy (due to low farebox recovery).

    Now, I’ve only been in Vancouver a couple times so I’m not familiar with the route to know if it makes sense from a ridership perspective (compared to existing transit options), but the argument for Vancouver’s Streetcar seems to be lacking, given what already exists.

    Portland, of course, pulled its trolleybus service in the 1950s, but Portland also refuses to seriously consider alternatives to diesel powered busses, so at least Portland can in theory use the environmental argument (despite using PGE as a power supplier, receiving much of its generation from the environmentally-questionable Boardman coal plant and numerous natural gas plants.)

  12. If ever there was a product that can sell itself, Portland Streetcar is it. With growing ridership, increasing private investment, and a positive public respone to its unique urban ambience, Streetcar pretty much sells itself.
    No wonder 50 other North American cities are looking at similar projects. Streetcar is yet another tool for the rebuilding of cities that were depopulated by the post war freeway madness.
    What’s not to like?

  13. Numerous cities have developed commuter rail projects that “sell themselves”, but where’s Portland?

    And numerous other cities have acquired environmentally friendly, high capacity diesel hybrid busses that sell themselves. Portland? Portland? Bueller?

    What’s not to like: A cost of several million dollars per mile. Someone has to pay for that cost. Operating costs that are four times that of a bus. Right now I’m paying over $3M annually to fund Streetcar operations that is taken out of TriMet’s bus operating budget and translating to less bus service in the suburbs. THAT is what I don’t like. When Portland decides to repay TriMet for those funds, and TriMet then reinvests in quality bus service, I’ll like Streetcar.

    When Streetcar passengers pay their $2.00 to ride the train, I’ll like Streetcar. When the City of Portland decides that it is OK to not pay to ride the bus (just as most Streetcar riders do not pay a fare), I’ll like Streetcar. When all of the private investment for Streetcar pays their fair share of property taxes like any other property owner in Portland (and more, because they supposedly want the Streetcar), I’ll like Streetcar.

  14. Aaron Says:

    Atlanta learns from Vancouver, Vancouver learns from us. I wonder what we can learn from Atlanta? Maybe how to be more business-friendly?

    Or like how not to become a gigantic sprawling hellscape that spreads into three adjacent states? Take it from me, I spent the first 20 years of my life there. If being business-friendly means bending over backwards to attract corporate offices while completely neglecting the central city, building 16-lane highways, and choking on smog, maybe we shouldn’t try to go that route. We could, however, learn how to enjoy a successful baseball franchise and brew up some nice sweet tea.

  15. We can learn from Atlanta’s mistakes, too. And maybe we can borrow their MLB franchise for a few years :)

  16. We can learn from Atlanta’s mistakes, too. And maybe we can borrow their MLB franchise for a few years :)

  17. SO the rapid-rail system built with Federal Money that would have gone to Seattle has gone to waste? It was probably just marginalized by the continued investment in freeways. I am surprised Atlanta has not dismantled the system. There is one group that thinks the CTA lines on the Kennedy, Eisenhower, and Dan Ryan Expressways in Chicago could be replaced by more lanes, reducing them to just the Loop in Downtown. The CTA suffers from internal problems, including the lack of dedicated funding.

    Chicago is one city that may have made one of the worst mistakes in history. They had the largest streetcar network in the country, it used around 5000 cars to run their schedules, but they were caught unprepared by purchasing not enough PCCs early on, and were facing a massive problem with car purchases, because they had too many to replace, and the manufacturers were leaving the marketplace. So they traded in most of the PCCs, and used the motors and other components for El Cars, which was being expanded with lines running in the medians of the new expressways.

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