Public Transportation System Enhancements

The charrette proposes using the implementation of three transit lines to support the intensification of the Vancouver Historic Quartiers, and the revitalization of Main Street, Hastings Street, Chinatown, and Japantown.

By returning the walkability to the Historic Quartiers we will restore their urban functioning. Transit implementation will take commuter trips off the road; return Water-Powell, Cordova, and Prior-Venables to local function; significantly reduce car pollution; and rebuild Hastings and Main Streets as historic urban spines. Transit will carry commuter trips into the city; connect local residents with the Central Business District, and all other transit friendly destinations. Revitalization of Hastings and Main Streets should take place at the same time as transit implementation.

1. Hastings LRT

LRT with up to 200,000 ADT (average daily trips) modeled on the 2010 Olympic Line running at street level in a revitalized streetscape.

  • This level of public investment will trigger private sector investment along Hastings Street.
  • Hastings LRT capacity will carry all commuter trips on Water-Powell, Cordova, Hastings, Prior-Venables and First Avenue (95,000 ADT).

2. Main Street BRT

BRT with up to 100,000 ADT running articulated trolley buses with signal priority on dedicated lanes in a revitalized streetscape.

  • Fast and efficient service using conventional vehicles can be achieved by redesigning the R.O.W and changing road space allocations.
  • Main BRT capacity sufficient to carry all vehicular trips (42,000 ADT).

3. False Creek Streetcar

Streetcar service with a capacity of up to 100,000 ADT running on existing rail R.O.W., and at street level in a revitalized streetscapes along Powell Street, B.C. Hydro R.O.W., and Pacific Boulevard.

  • Connects: Kitsilano, Granville Island, Canada Line, Main Street LRT, VCC-Clark Millennium, Hastings LRT, Japantown, Expo Line, Sports Stadiums, Canada Line, Burrard Street, and Stanley Park.


Note: The tracks on the south side of False Creek connect through Kitsilano to the Arbutus corridor; cross the Fraser River to Richmond on an existing bridge; and run on existing Inter Urban right-of-way as far as Chilliwack.


Design Characteristics

For this report we used the following capacity ratings for automobiles, BRT and LRT:

  • 200,000 ADT = Expo Skytrain*
  • 200,000 ADT = 1 Olympic Line LRT (occupies BRT lanes or replaces 2 lanes of traffic)
  • 130,000 ADT = Canada Line*
  • 100,000 ADT = 99 B-Line Broadway*
  • 100,000 ADT = 1 BRT  (replaces 2 lanes of traffic)
  • 60,000 ADT = Millennium Line*
  • 60,000 ADT = 6 lane arterial (Knight Street on blocks north of the bridge)
  • 10,000 ADT = 1 lane of traffic


*Source: Peter Judd, Director of Engineering, City of Vancouver, speaking at SFU Harbour Centre 29 may 2011.

BRT/LRT Implementation

The Charrette uses transit implementation to:

  1. Revitalize arterial streets;
  2. Revitalize Chinatown and Japantown;
  3. Re-design arterials to reduce the number of traffic lanes and the volume of traffic making arterials suitable for fronting residential intensification.
  4. Trigger private investment and residential intensification along the routes.
  5. Enhance urban environment by introducing tree median separations functioning as “islands of safety” for pedestrians, and increasing carbon sink effect in the quartier.
  6. BRT/LRT takes up two car lanes, removing up to 20,000 ADT, yet returns up to 10x more trips.
  7. Notes

1. BRT—bus rapid transit—trolley buses, single and articulated, running on hydro electricity, emission-free, silent engines. Noise & Pollution: rubber tires on pavement; hydraulic door mechanisms. Stations are in the centre of the R.O.W. Station spacing: one half-mile or 800 meters.

2. LRT—surface light rail transit—“The Olympic Line”, single and double trains running on the street surface rails, using hydro electricity, emission-free, silent engines. With a café car, trains run “rogue” on railroad R.O.W.s as commuter rail.

3. ADT—Average Daily Trips.

© Lewis N. Villegas, Vancouver, January 2012.


Transportation is part of the regional system, and should form part of neighbourhood planning from the outset.

Regional systems

Regional systems evolve within either natural, or human-made boundaries, connecting cities, villages, suburbs, rural areas, parks, and wilderness at scales far beyond the reach of human perception.

Regional systems provide growth boundaries and land reserves; protect wilderness; integrate water, sewer and waste management; carry power and communication grids; implement transportation; and provide for education, health care, and social housing.

System planning at the regional scale, and urban design at the scale of the quartier, should proceed in tandem in order to maximize sustainability, quality of life, and return on public investment.

Lewis N. Villegas, “The Gastown Principles”, March 2011.