Is it time to bring back streetcars to Vancouver?

As I’ve mentioned before, I am working for PlaceSPeak, an online consultation platform.  We recently launched a new survey to gauge interest in returning electric trams to the streets of Vancouver.  Here is some more information.  If you live in Vancouver and you are interested in transit issues, I urge you to take the survey!

 

Streetcar City 2050

The City of Vancouver is exploring the use of streetcars as a key element of our transition to more sustainable transportation modes. But if streetcars are to be reintroduced in today’s economic climate it is important that they are planned in a thoughtful, evidence-based manner that includes public input.

With this in mind, PlaceSpeak teamed up with Patrick Condon at the University of British Columbia (UBC) to gauge the public’s interest in restoring streetcars—and associated amenities—to our city. As part of this effort we are conducting a survey to gauge residents interest in the reintroduction of streetcars and associated amenities.

Historically, Vancouver began as a streetcar city with electric trams connecting neighbourhoods and the downtown core. By the 1920s, however, the introduction of the car proved so powerful that they quickly became the preferred mode of transportation. In fact, Vancouver’s original streetcar grid left such a strong imprint that many arterial streets continue to thrive. Indeed, if you ask a resident where the heart of their neighbourhood is, they will likely name the former streetcar street at its center.

A 1940's PCC streetcar in Vancouver

In recent years, B.C. citizens have been struggling to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the air. In our province transportation produces more GHG than any other sector, and the bulk of that comes from the ordinary activity of residents travelling through the city each day. In Vancouver, we have also been figuring out how to incorporate ‘livable density’ as we plan a sustainable, affordable, and livable future for our residents.

Streetcars may be able to help with both. According to Condon, one part of the solution may be returning to our ‘routes’ and reintroducing streetcars to Vancouver:

Vancouver is slowly on track to meet our 2050 goals for reducing GHGs. We walk more, bike more, use transit more, and our cars less and less. But to make the next big leap requires us to think now about electrifying the transit system. It won’t help if we all use buses if those buses belch diesel fumes. Streetcars are one solution; and for many streets the cheapest one available. Our city grew with the streetcar. It might grow more sustainable with it again.

“Density without transit is just dense”, says PlaceSpeak CEO Colleen Hardwick:

For Vancouver to meet its environmental goals while accommodating forecasted population growth it is crucial that we diversify our transit options. Streetcars are the missing link in our transportation infrastructure.

Olympic Line Streetcar in 2010

Find out more and take the short survey at www.placespeak.com/streetcarcity2050

Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.

Comments are closed