Three trolley routes begin years-long detours for Broadway Subway construction this month

May 5 2020, 6:42 pm

There are more bus service disruptions starting this month for select trolley routes in Vancouver, but these changes are completely unrelated to COVID-19.

On Monday, the public transit authority set Monday, May 18 as the date when three trolley bus routes running through the Central Broadway Corridor in Vancouver will begin years-long reroutes. These changes were planned years in advance to accommodate the forthcoming construction of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line Broadway Extension to Arbutus Street.

Since spring 2019, construction crews have been installing trolley lines along West 12th Avenue from Arbutus Street to Granville Street and from Oak Street to Cambie Street, as well as along Macdonald Street between West 4th Avenue and West Broadway. This work reached completion earlier this year.

Vancouver trolley bus wires West 12th Avenue

New trolley bus wires on West 12th Avenue in Vancouver. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

Using the new infrastructure, the following trolley reroutes and changes will remain throughout the entire duration of subway construction, until the subway opens for service in 2025:

  • 14 Hastings/Downtown/UBC
    • Moving Route 14 onto 4th Avenue and Macdonald Street. Route 14 will no longer serve Broadway between Macdonald Street and Granville Street or Granville Street between Broadway and 5th Avenue.
  • 16 29th Avenue Station/Arbutus
    • Moving Route 16 onto 12th Avenue between Arbutus and Granville. Route 16 will no longer serve Broadway between Arbutus Street and Granville Street or Arbutus Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue.
  • 17 Oak/Downtown
    • Moving Route 17 onto 12th Avenue between Cambie and Oak Street. Route 17 will no longer serve Broadway between Oak Street and Cambie Street or Oak Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue.

In addition, while Route 9 Alma/Granville/Commercial-Broadway/Boundary will continue to follow its existing route, it will use conventional diesel buses instead of the trolleys. Some early morning trips to Alma Street from Fir Street will also be made to fill the gap from the detoured Route 14.

The 99 B-Line will remain fully operational on its current route along Broadway.

Upon the subway’s completion, the new trolley wires will remain in place as permanent fixtures to provide the trolley system with some operational redundancy.

Millennium Line Broadway Extension trolley

Map of trolley bus reroutes during construction for the Millennium Line’s Broadway Extension. (TransLink)

The trolley rerouting is necessary as the overhead trolley lines will be impacted by construction, and these fixed buses offer less maneuverability around the construction obstacles. Although a tunnel boring machine will be used, about a city block’s length of excavation at each of the five station sites on Broadway will be necessary to construct the underground stations.

Two lanes of traffic will be maintained in each direction for buses and other vehicles at the station construction sites, except for the intersection of Broadway and Main Street due to the narrower street width.

Along other areas of Broadway on the subway route, three lanes of traffic in each direction will be retained, including one lane each way to buses.

Curbside street parking will be banned 24/7 during the construction period to allow for the efficient movement of buses and all traffic.

The subway will add about six kms of new routing to the Millennium Line, extending west from VCC-Clark Station to the new western terminus station at Arbutus Street. Other stations are located at the intersection of Thornton Street and Great Northern Way, as well as where Broadway intersects with Main Street, Cambie Street, Oak Street, and Granville Street.

The Cambie Street station will be a seamless expansion of the Canada Line’s Broadway-City Hall Station to allow for direct transfers between the Canada Line and Millennium Line platforms.

Although there are new fiscal realities emerging out of the pandemic, the provincial government has confirmed both SkyTrain’s Broadway Extension and the new Pattullo Bridge will proceed as planned.

The provincial government is managing the delivery of both projects, and will hand over the SkyTrain extension for TransLink to operate upon completion.

The primary construction contractor was chosen for the Pattullo Bridge project early this year, and the same is expected soon for the subway. Construction on both projects are scheduled to begin later this year.

One other non-coronavirus change to the trolley network, also beginning on May 18, will be the use of trolley buses instead of conventional diesel buses on Route 41.