Is rapid transit a key factor to unleashing a city’s economic potential? A new report from accounting giant KPMG indicates that this is certainly the case for Vancouver, British Columbia’s Broadway Corridor. The Corridor is a ten-kilometer stretch of roadway that spans the length between historic Commercial Drive and the largest university in Vancouver, the University of British Columbia. The Corridor is important economically, providing thousands of jobs, hosting the largest hospital in the province and contributing billions annually to the local economy.
The province of British Columbia has recently launched a study into the future of public transportation in the area. The Corridor is already North America’s busiest bus route, with thousands of people being left behind by full buses each day. It increasingly seems that the only sustainable future for the Broadway Corridor is to create a rapid transit line, similar to the Canada Line built for the 2010 Olympic Games, but this comes at a cost to taxpayers and small business owners alike along the Corridor.
While a more effective transportation system would certainly bring investment to the area, local business owners are fearful that months and possibly years of construction along the Corridor would cause them to go out of business like many of their counterparts on Cambie Street during construction of the Canada Line. At this time the extent of impact construction would have on businesses is unknown, as urban planners contemplate which type of train line would work best for the Corridor. Depending on the design of the transit system, ranging from light rail transit to a high speed underground subway system, the construction and operation of the line could cost anywhere from $350 million to more than three billion.
And so begins the classic debate between spending now or spending later. As Vancouver becomes increasingly limited in its ability to expand physically, it seems as though the value of effectively moving people from one area to another will become a vital component with regards to growing economically, being labeled as "livable" and becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020.
How does your city respond to growing populations? How can a city encourage transit use when the system is already overworked?
Credits: Images courtesy of Shannon McDonald. Data linked to sources.