The Works

New Starts: Vancouver’s Big Transpo Plan, Spain’s Rail Opens Up, D.C.‘s Streetcar Routes

Mayors of Vancouver and nearby cities have unveiled a $7.5 billion regional transportation plan, Spain’s development minister announced that the country will open up its tracks to private operators, and Washington, D.C., appears to not even be studying the best streetcar options.

D.C. streetcars

D.C.‘s streetcar network is at least a year behind schedule. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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Metro Vancouver Mayors Unveil Transpo Plan
At the end of last week, Metro Vancouver’s mayors unveiled a 10-year transportation plan, which will now be sent to the province for approval, and then ultimately to voters next June. The flagship proposal of the $7.5 billion spending plan is a $1.9 billion subway beneath Broadway, in Vancouver, host to North America’s busiest bus route, which terminates at the University of British Columbia.

The money wouldn’t be enough to extend the Millennium underground line all the way from the current Commercial Drive-Broadway station to UBC, but it would get riders half way there, to Arbutus Street, with the rest to be completed later.

The rest of the money would be spread around the region, with the second-largest city, Surrey, getting a $2.1 billion light-rail system, with two lines in the first seven years and then another within five years after that.

The rest of the region would also be blanketed with more frequent bus routes, with 25 percent more service in total. This includes 80 percent more night bus service, 200 kilometers of new limited-stop routes, and 2,700 km of new bike routes (nearly 300 km of which would be “fully traffic-separated routes”).

Cars aren’t left out either. The money would also go toward a new Patullo Bridge, with the option to widen it to six lanes.

Private Operators Planned in Spain
Spain is the world’s most efficient high-speed rail builder, and now the country’s development minister has announced a plan to allow private operators access to the national network, both on conventional lines and high-speed routes (of which Spain has the most miles on Earth after China).

The Railway Gazette reports:

The winning bidder would be able to operate services for a period of seven years on the Levante network of conventional and high speed routes from Madrid to Albacete, Valencia, Castelló de la Plana, Alacant and Murcia.

According to [Development Minister Ana] Pastor, the new operator would be free to set service levels and fares, with RENFE’s train leasing subsidiary to provide it with rolling stock while it sources its own fleet. At the end of the seven-year period, the Levante network would be fully opened up to competition.

D.C. Unveils Next-Gen Streetcar Routes
Washington, D.C.‘s would-be streetcar network is in disarray. The first line, on H Street Northeast and Benning Road, is at least a year (depending on how you count) behind schedule, and funding for future phases has been thrown into jeopardy.

And now, another problem has emerged, writes a tipster:

Putting the specific [north-south] route decision aside, they will be looking at eight types of options as far as lane allocation, which they list as A through H.

These are for varying widths of streets, but none of the methods that they propose are dedicated and center-running. They only have dedicated lanes in one example, and it is curb-running, which one would assume isn’t truly dedicated because folks would need to jump into the right lane in order to make right turns, which would be a problem in congested areas with pedestrians blocking turns. So they are completely ruling out the gold class option for this project, and basically spiking the study by not even including it in the environmental review to study. Assuming they go through downtown either at Chinatown on 7th or McPherson on 14th, there will be heavy traffic and without a dedicated lane I can’t imagine the streetcar will be of much use; the same problems would exist with this that would with the “One City” line had they not proposed the K Street Transitway to go along with it.

The options to be studied for 60- to 70-foot roads can be found here and here, along with options for 40- to 50-foot roads and 30- to 40-foot rights-of-way.

The Works is made possible with the support of the Surdna Foundation.

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Stephen J. Smith is a reporter based in New York. He has written about transportation, infrastructure and real estate for a variety of publications including New York Yimby, where he is currently an editor, Next City, City Lab and the New York Observer.

Tags: washington dclight railsubwaysstreetcarsvancouver

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