British Columbia

Plan to build SkyTrain to UBC moves another step forward with council endorsement

At a meeting Wednesday, Vancouver's mayor and council voted 9-2 to move forward with the design and consultation process for building a rapid transit line to the university.

Vancouver city engineer says it's the only acceptable option for needs of Broadway corridor

The UBC extension would build on the Broadway Subway line to Arbutus, which is expected to open in 2025. (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

Vancouver city councillors have endorsed a plan to extend SkyTrain access to the University of B.C.

At a meeting Wednesday, mayor and council voted 9-2 to move forward with the design and consultation process for building a rapid transit line to the university.

In a presentation to council, city engineer Jerry Dobrovolny described SkyTrain as the only option that meets the needs of the Broadway corridor.

"My very serious concern is that, as a region, we are making these rapid transit decisions far too slowly," Dobrovolny said.

He also argued the project is critical if the city wants to meet its goals for greenhouse gas reduction, saying, "there are no other projects that we could bring forward that would have this impact."

The proposed SkyTrain extension would build upon the Broadway Subway line, which will connect VCC-Clark station to Arbutus Street and is expected to open in 2025.

Crowded bus routes

A report from city staff points out that the train would connect Western Canada's largest university to its largest hospital, Vancouver General.

As it stands, the 99 B-Line bus route along Broadway is already the busiest bus route in Canada and the U.S., with 17.4 million boardings annually. The five most crowded bus routes in the region are in the Broadway corridor.

Last week, the TransLink Mayors' Council voted unanimously to consider a new report arguing that SkyTrain would be the best way to improve transit to UBC. Other options like light rail and bus were taken out of consideration because of predictions that they would be over capacity within the next 15 years.

The proposed connection to UBC would include four new SkyTrain stations. (City of Vancouver)

It's estimated that extending the line from Arbutus to UBC would cost somewhere between $3.3 billion and $3.8 billion, before inflation, and a plan for funding the project has not been hammered out.

At Wednesday's city council meeting, a UBC representative said the school is willing to contribute capital funding and, potentially, land to the project.

Only COPE's Jean Swanson and the NPA's Colleen Hardwick voted against the motion to proceed with planning the new line.

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