News / Vancouver

Love it or hate it, subway still Vancouver’s No. 1 choice for Broadway

If you’re reading this while crammed onto the 99 B-Line, the city probably doesn’t have to convince you Vancouver needs a $3-billion subway along Broadway to UBC.

But it will be tough for city hall to persuade both the province and residents along the proposed line that a subway is the best option to improve transit along North America’s busiest bus route.

To keep transit in the spotlight before the provincial election, Mayor Gregor Robertson and Coun. Geoff Meggs pitched the subway to a feisty crowd of about 300 at a Vision Vancouver town hall meeting in Kitsilano on Sunday.

There were mixed reactions to research suggesting a subway would be the best long-term option with the least impact on the neighbourhood.

Opponents questioned why the city doesn’t expand bus service to UBC along other routes or choose the less expensive LRT. Canada Line construction had a disastrous impact on small businesses, they said, and a subway could entice developers to build condos in the predominately low rise and single-family home neighbourhood.

“What I see when I go to Cambie is big box stores,” 32-year area resident Valerie Clark said. “I don’t want my neighbourhood ruined because some students out there for four years don’t want to stand in line.”

Yet it’s not about the wait – the buses are so packed that students are often passed, UBC student representative Tanner Bokor said. The students will consider helping with funding, Bokor said.

Robertson and Meggs were quick to say the line also serves thousands of tech and healthcare professionals.

City research found a “very significant majority support a big investment in a subway,” Robertson said. In an unscientific poll on the mayor’s Facebook page, 92 per cent of 1,166 responders supported the subway.

“Improving transit out to UBC is going to be disruptive no matter what we do,” Robertson said. “We won’t be able to make everybody happy in this.”

Ultimately, the city has no decision-making power as the province holds the purse strings. Any Lower Mainland transit projects will require a substantial federal funding.

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