Why Vancouver Light Rail is Taking so Long

LRT is like deja vu all over again. Do we want it? Do we need it? Why would we want it and what are its benefits? Light rail transit is an idea whose time came and went, and is trying to make a comeback.

Vancouver used to have it: back then it was called the streetcar. As a transit system, it served the city well. Set out as a grid, it allowed riders to easily get from point A to point B – a grid that has helped shape the creation of many of the city’s favourite neighbourhoods.

Streetcars put people on the streets and along the way injected life into Kerrisdale, Dunbar, Kits, Cambie, Main, Granville, Kingsway and Hastings Streets. From 1890 to 1958, BC Electric built and operated interurban trains and streetcar lines throughout Metro Vancouver and into the Fraser Valley.

By the 1940s, the Lower Mainland followed the rails-to-rubber trend that was sweeping throughout North America. Buses – some were electric, most were diesel powered – replaced the streetcar.

Four decades later, SkyTrain was introduced and it has helped move people over long distances and quickly. However, for some urban planners, SkyTrain is not seen as a community builder. Rather, they see it as an expensive people mover.

Patrick Condon says LRT compliments a larger transit network, it saves taxpayers money and it puts people on the street, and has the potential to shape the communities it serves – all of which begs the question: why has it taken so long for us to get back to a good idea?

We invited one of LRT’s strongest local advocates, urban designer, planner and professor Patrick Condon of the UBC School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture to join us for a Conversation That Matters about why it’s time to turn our attention away from Skytrain and back to LRT.


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Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future

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