UBC Graduate Research

Lessons from the Olympic Line Archambault, Silas


For a sixty day period, the Olympic Line – Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar, carried passengers between the Canada Line Olympic Station and Granville Island. The demonstration presented a unique opportunity to find out who was taking the streetcar, why, and where they were going. Seizing upon this opportunity, we surveyed four hundred and fifty five riders. The results are analyzed according to several planning objectives: passenger experience, sustainability and health, connectivity, and accessibility. In some ways, the results confirm previously held assumptions. However, there are some key surprises. The ability of the streetcar to draw individuals out of their cars and the overall positive impression of the mode are positive signs. Though not suitable to all contexts, streetcars may yet be a missing link of the comprehensive transit service. The technology may help the greater Vancouver region meet municipal and regional planning objectives. Key Findings 1) Eighteen percent of all passengers surveyed were riding for work or school. 2) Over twenty percent of those surveyed had taken the streetcar ten or more times. 3) Eighty two percent of those surveyed live in the Greater Vancouver region. There was little difference between Olympic and Non-Olympic periods. 4) Forty six percent of riders took the streetcar because it was more convenient or quicker than taking another mode. 5) Only seventeen percent of passengers used an automobile to get to or from the streetcar. 6) Thirty percent of riders would not have made their trip if the streetcar did not exist. 7) Sixty percent of passengers were traveling with at least one other person. The median party size was two. 8) Nearly eighteen percent of parties had children with them. 9) Ninety six percent of all passengers had a positive impression of the streetcar. The more an individual rode the streetcar, the more positive the impression. 10) The sixty day demonstration prevented 27,000 automobile trips. Streetcars make sense for Vancouver. They have helped to shape the city in the past, and contributed to the legacy of a dense, vibrant and livable city. The ability of streetcar technology to integrate with the built environment and the greater transit network is perhaps unparalleled by any other mode. Facing a future of energy insecurity, climate change, and other contextualizing factors, streetcars represent a pragmatic and idyllic investment for the Greater Vancouver Region.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International