The Canada line. What’s not to like?

It’s hard to believe there was (and still is, in some circles) a whole lot of controversy over the building of the Canada line (formerly known as the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver, or RAV line) extension to skytrain.

I’ve been over by the airport quite a bit over the past few weeks. A taxi straight to downtown costs about $26 if you’re lucky (not including tip). There are buses, of course – but if you’re going anywhere that requires a transfer, you’re looking at at least an hour travel time wherever you want to go off the main streets. I want a cheaper, faster way to get where I’m going.

Convenience: it’s not quite priceless, at $1.35 billion. Still, it’s better value for the money than the gun registry (Oops, sorry. I’m not sure how that little partisan snipe snuck in there).

9 Comments so far

  1. Matt (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 9:35 pm

    Curious about its effects on various sectors of the local economy, I asked a cab driver about his opinions on the Canada Line a few weeks back. “Are you afraid it’ll hurt your business any?”

    “Nah,” he said. “99% of the people who hire cabs to and from the airport are from out of town anyway, so they’re probably going to keep taking cabs. The new rail line is for the locals, who have to put up with at least two different bus routes right now. Those are the people the lack of decent transit to the airport were hurting.”

    I was surprised. Overall, I agree that it’ll make for a faster, cheaper, and easier commute between downtown and the airport and Richmond, but didn’t expect it to be so broadly supported.

  2. Chris (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 11:34 pm

    I think controversy with large public projects is unavoidable. I don’t think you’ll ever find a multi-million dollar project that will universally be accepted.

    I’m a big fan of the Canada Line. I’ll support any public project that encourages people to give up their cars and take public transit. If you want controversy and waste of money, you should check out the Gateway Project. You could build 2 more Canada Lines with that kind of money. Shame its being wasted on expanded highway capacity.

  3. Sean Orr (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 1:37 am

    Oh maybe that there was a graded right of way already down the Arbutus Line, or that they promised a bore tunnel then switched after public consultations to cut and cover, or that it’s being built by war profiteers. Maybe.

  4. Ryan Cousineau (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 8:17 am

    Sean: an at-grade right of way would have meant a debilitatingly slower travel time.

    As for the whole tunnel bore versus cut-and-cover, the arguments are pretty straightforward: 3 months of pain for 100 years of gain. Never mind the construction cost differences (which are huge), the system works better with a shallow tunnel.

    Matt: I’m glad the cabbie supports the Canada Line, but I bet he’s in for a bit of a surprise. As these sorts of transit lines become well-known in other parts of the world, they tend to become the default means for travelers to get in and out of the airport.

    There will always be some people with too much luggage to even try, so I don’t think the cab drivers will be out on the streets anytime soon.

    Here’s a notable point, though: SNC-Lavalin is going with a completely different drive system than previous Skytrain lines (rotary induction motors driving the wheels rather than the linear induction motors (LIM) of the earlier Bombardier-built cars). It will be a notable test to see which drive system is less problematic. The LIM is less efficient and imposes some guideway maintenance issues, but has no moving parts (!). Well, except the train.

  5. Jeffery Simpson (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 10:22 am


    Actually my friend with the LIM motors the trains don’t move, the world around them moves they stay stationary. It’s very Star Trek.

    I am of course full of crap.

  6. Ryan Cousineau (unregistered) on March 9th, 2007 @ 3:27 pm

    Jeffery: You are less full of crap than you might think.

  7. Jewel Goodwin (unregistered) on March 9th, 2007 @ 7:52 pm

    Though the construction is a bit inconvenient, I have to say I am 100% in favour of the Canada Line. I used to work in Richmond, and the bus routes from Vancouver to Richmond are horrible. There are too few busses that don’t go often enough, and take ridiculously long routes. I remember one of the concerns with the Canada Line was that they would cut down the trees on the Cambie Boulevard – which they are not doing. And I agree, three months of pain is worth the gain.


  8. Sean Orr (unregistered) on March 13th, 2007 @ 2:02 am

    Do you know how many buses you could buy AND still have a LRT down the Arbutus Line? Nobody is opposed to rapid transit, its that the Province pushed the project down Cambie to suit their interests.

  9. Graham (unregistered) on March 13th, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone objects to sustainable mass transit. My problem, like many in town, is the bait-and-switch method the contractor pulled, and the total lack of resistance City Hall put up for it.

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