92% of Metro Vancouver residents support UBC SkyTrain: TransLink survey

Oct 7 2021, 1:26 pm

Most residents across Metro Vancouver support TransLink’s proposal to extend the SkyTrain Millennium Line further west to the University of British Columbia campus.

Based on the newly released results of TransLink’s survey on the project conducted in Spring 2021, 92% support the UBC extension in a public survey that saw over 15,000 respondents — one of the highest response rates yet for the public transit authority.

A concurrent representative poll conducted by a third party saw 67% of 1,000 adult participants support the project. TransLink says its public survey was analyzed by Kirk & Co. Consulting, while the research poll was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights.

Nearly 2,300 comments were made by respondents that they have “a desire for the project to be completed as soon as possible; it is overdue.”

There were also a high number of comments on supporting increased density for transit-oriented developments along the route and around stations, especially for affordable housing and commercial developments.

Respondents also stated the extension should be built with the future in mind, including the ability to expand to meet future demand, and allow the stations to be integrated with future developments.

As well, comments were made on suggested station locations, with respondents naming sites that essentially duplicate the 99 B-Line stops. This includes Macdonald Street, Alma Street, and Sasamat Street, which would serve West Point Grey’s retail village. Sasamat Street was the second most mentioned station location, aside from comments related to stations at UBC.

Respondents made suggestions for two UBC stations — one station serving the core academic campus, and the Millennium Line’s new terminus station to the south near Wesbrook Village. Some suggestions were also made to have UBC fund at least a portion of the project, which is already a serious consideration by the university.

As well, suggestions were made for a station serving the Jericho Lands, where local First Nations have plans to develop the 90-acre site into a high-density, mixed-use neighbourhood. On their part, the First Nations owners have previously suggested they could provide the land required for a station.

When it comes to station designs, respondents made comments that public washrooms, multiple station entrances, and bike parking should be included.

TransLink states it is working directly with the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation as part of a partner working group for project planning.

UBC SkyTrain

Map of a possible concept for the route of the Millennium Line extension to UBC. (UBC)

The public input will be considered for further project design and planning work, including potential routes and station locations.

More public consultation will be held if the Mayors’ Council provides TransLink staff with direction to proceed to develop a business case for the project. In early 2019, both Vancouver City Council and the Mayors’ Council green-lit a continuous SkyTrain extension as the technology of choice for the extension reaching UBC. However, it came short of providing funding for a business case.

TransLink previously estimated the cost of the development of a business case that allows for detailed planning is between $30 million and $40 million.

In July 2021, both the federal and provincial governments announced they would each fund 40% of the cost of detailed planning and business casework, with TransLink covering the remaining 20%. At this time, no funding has been committed for the multi-billion dollar cost of building the extension.

This project would be a seamless extension from the Millennium Line’s 2025 terminus at Arbutus Station, reaching a length of about seven km if it were to end near Wesbrook Village.

Construction is currently underway on the $2.8-billion, six-km extension of the Millennium Line with six new subway stations from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street.

When the Broadway subway opens in 2025, TransLink expects the 99 B-Line’s truncated route from Arbutus Station to UBC will reach capacity during peak hours. The extension from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Station alone is expected to see about 130,000 daily boardings upon opening — more than twice the existing 99 B-Line.

Previous analysis indicated a Millennium Line trip from UBC to Commercial-Broadway Station would take only roughly 20 minutes, about half of the current travel time on the 99 B-Line. The eastern segment from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Station will be about 11 minutes.

A continuous one-train ride trip from UBC to Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station, without any transfers, is about one hour.

In recent years, a number of polls on the same question have been conducted by other entities, with each producing findings that show a similarly high level of support for the Millennium Line extension to UBC, including 91% in the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s 2021 Mustel Group poll, 82% in UBC’s 2018 Research Co. poll, and 81% in a 2020 poll self-commissioned by Research Co.

 

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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