Building a subway line along Broadway is the wrong way to spend infrastructure funding from the federal government if Vancouver is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions says one UBC professor.

Justin Trudeau plans to spend $60 billion over the next decade on transit, infrastructure, and green projects. About $2 billion will come Vancouver's way every year, predicts Patrick Condon, an architecture professor at UBC.

Transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and the only way Canada can reach its emission targets, given budget constraints, is if it "electrifies the transit system" said Condon. 

"If you spend all your money on one small short piece of transit system, that necessarily means you can't spend much on the rest of the transit system."

He argues trams and trolley buses have the dual benefit of being both cheap and green and the money saved could be used to electrify more of the transit system.

A subway line down the Broadway corridor would cost $300 to $500 million per kilometre of track to build, according to Condon.

In contrast, a light surface rail line would cost about 10 times less than that. Condon says the Olympic tram line that ran in Vancouver during the 2010 games cost about $30 million per kilometre.

'Do something different'


The Olympic line street car ran during the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. ((CBC))

The 99 B-Line that runs along the Broadway Corridor is the busiest bus route in the region but building a subway line to replace that bus route is a mistake, said Condon.

"I think in our region we have a problem shifting away politically and practically, from our adherence to the SkyTrain system to finally do something different."

Business owners along Broadway have pushed for a surface tram in recent years. 

In fact, the Expo SkyTrain line, built in the early 1980s, was originally meant to be a surface light rail line before the idea was dismissed in favour of the SkyTrain model, according to Condon.

To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: UBC prof says Broadway subway shouldn't be priority.