British Columbia

SkyTrain, not LRT, best option for rapid transit to UBC: TransLink staff

A report going before TransLink's Mayors Council on Thursday says LRT would be costlier as it would likely run into capacity problems by 2045.

Report going before Mayors Council on Thursday says LRT would be at capacity by 2045

The report found that SkyTrain would be the most reliable option when it comes to being on time. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

A new report drafted by TransLink staff says an extended SkyTrain line — not light rail or an improved B-Line bus service — would be the best way to extend rapid transit to the University of British Columbia.

The report, which is going before the TransLink Mayors Council on Thursday, looked at different transit options as well as ridership demand forecasts and costs.

Staff considered four main options:

  • Optimized B-Line bus service
  • Light rail from Arbutus to UBC
  • Light rail from Main-Street Science World station to UBC as well as LRT from Arbutus to UBC (two parallel lines)
  • SkyTrain from Arbutus to UBC

The study axed the bus and parallel rail options because they'd either be overcrowded or over capacity by 2030 and 2045, respectively.

Vancouver commuters board the 99 B-line bus during rush hour on Sept. 7, 2017. Many UBC students take the busy bus line to get to the university. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

The SkyTrain wouldn't be immune to overcrowding, but staff said the issue could be better managed by running trains more frequently and using longer trains.

The report also found that SkyTrain would be the most reliable when it comes to being on time.

In Phase Two of TransLink's 10-Year Vision, which has already been approved and funded, the extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line west toward UBC only reaches Arbutus Street. That project, which will tunnel underneath Broadway and is slated to carry 5,100 more passengers an hour in each direction than the bus service it will replace, is expected to be finished by 2025.

The report said extending the line beyond Arbutus Street to UBC, as highlighted in the study, would cost between $3.3 billion and $3.8 billion, before inflation. It hasn't been decided whether that line would run underground or on an elevated track.