TransLink begins public consultation on UBC SkyTrain extension

Apr 20 2021, 10:01 pm

Planning for the extension of SkyTrain reaching the University of British Columbia’s campus has reached a new phase of public consultation.

TransLink is currently seeking feedback that will help guide potential route and station locations for extending the Millennium Line further west from the future Arbutus Station to UBC, as well as other priorities and considerations for such a project.

The public transit authority states it is currently in the process of technical planning for the UBC extension, working closely with the provincial government, Metro Vancouver Regional District, City of Vancouver, and First Nations.

In 2025, the Millennium Line Broadway Extension reaching Arbutus Street will open, upon which the remaining journey from Arbutus to UBC will be made by a shortened 99 B-Line route.

However, the 99 B-Line will reach capacity in the peak hour upon the Broadway Extension’s opening in 2025, and it is expected the segment of the potential Millennium Line from Arbutus to UBC could see 130,000 passengers per day by 2050.

UBC also anticipates its on-campus daytime population — students, dormitory residents, neighbourhood residents, staff and faculty, and visitors — will increase to 130,000 by 2050 from 80,000 people in 2019.

ubc skytrain translink

Illustration of the corridor for the UBC SkyTrain extension. (TransLink)

Fundamentally, SkyTrain is deemed as the only rapid transit option that could meet the corridor’s future ridership demand beyond 2050. For this reason, in early 2019, both Vancouver City Council and TransLink’s Mayors’ Council approved the planning of SkyTrain technology for the remaining journey reaching UBC.

The SkyTrain extension to UBC is expected to see a combination of underground and elevated segments, and its station locations will roughly replicate the 99 B-Line stops. Previous analysis indicated a Millennium Line trip from UBC to Commercial-Broadway Station would take only roughly 20 minutes, which is about half of the current travel time on the 99 B-Line.

The potential route options will take into account First Nations-owned, high-density developments — including the Jericho Lands and the areas within the University Endowment Lands (UEL) — to support transit-oriented uses.

skytrain rupert station

SkyTrain Rupert Station. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

In early 2020, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the City of Vancouver, UBC, and theĀ Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Development Corporation (MSTDC).

MSTDC is behind the 90-acre Jericho Lands redevelopment, with preliminary planning for this project suggesting some space could be set aside for an on-site subway station.

As well, the Musqueam First Nation are some of the largest landholders within the UEL. They are currently building their 21-acre Lelem development with 2,100 residential units on Block F of the UEL (southeast of University Boulevard and Toronto Road), with the first phase slated for completion this year.

Over the very long term, University Golf Course will also become developable lands for the Musqueam First Nation. Under the 2008 agreement with the provincial government, the Musqueam gained the 120-acre UBC Golf Course, but this site must remain for golf course uses until 2083.

UBC SkyTrain

Route map of the potential SkyTrain Millennium Line extension to UBC. (UBC)

No funding for the UBC SkyTrain extension project has been secured, but there is real potential for significant federal funding. The next stage of detailed planning work and a business case was slated to start in 2020 at a cost of between $30 million and $40 million, but this was delayed due to COVID-19.

TransLink’s online survey on the UBC SkyTrain extension project will remain open from now until May 14, 2021.

This survey is being performed concurrently with the broader online survey for the Transport 2050 planning process of creating a new 30-year regional transportation plan that identifies the next expansion priorities. For Transport 2050, the public transit authority is considering a combination of SkyTrain and street-level LRT and BRT options for a number of corridors across Metro Vancouver.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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