Taking the SkyTrain to UBC

As you know, the UBC Board of Governors has endorsed the university’s new strategic plan, Shaping UBC’s Next Century in principle, as UBC embarks on our next century as a leading public university.

Shaping UBC’s Next Century focuses on three themes that we believe are critical to society today: inclusion, collaboration and innovation. (You can read the plan online, or download it at https://strategicplan.ubc.ca/).

All three themes call for improved connectivity with the rest of the region, and one key way of achieving this is fast, frequent, high-capacity transit service stretching from the university to Coquitlam, meeting demand well into the future and enabling the university and the region to achieve shared goals of sustainability, livability and affordability. Recognizing the need for improved transit, the Board of Governors also approved UBC’s advocacy strategy to secure a rapid transit line to the Vancouver campus.

TransLink and all levels of government are already committed to extending the Millennium Skytrain line from its current terminus at VCC-Clark to Broadway and Arbutus. UBC is advocating that the line be further extended to the Point Grey campus, rather than have UBC-bound passengers transfer to buses at Arbutus.

If committed, the extension could be in service as early as 2028. The alignment and station locations for the extension would be determined through the planning and design of the system, but as part of that work, UBC is exploring the potential for two stations on our Vancouver campus; one to serve the heart of the academic campus and one to serve the growing community of south campus.

The need for rapid transit beyond Arbutus is clear. Just look at the current situation:

  • More than 80,000 trips per day to/from UBC are on transit (52 per cent of all trips to the campus)
  • More than 1,000 buses per day flow through UBC Bus Exchange
  • UBC-Broadway is the busiest bus corridor in North America (more than 100,000 people/day)
  • Increasing congestion and overcrowding is leading to slower 99 B-Line speeds every year (now averages 20.7km/hr.)
  • More than 500,000 pass-ups occur every year on UBC-Broadway corridor
  • 70 per cent of transit trips to and from UBC are on corridors that, with the Millennium Line extended to campus, would be served by rapid transit.

The benefits of extending the Millennium Line to Point Grey are many:

  • It connects UBC to the region, helping our residents, faculty, staff and students move back and forth with ease.
  • It lets us improve housing options for our faculty, staff and students.
  • The convenience, speed and comfort of rapid transit would encourage people to use transit, with benefits both to the environment, commuters and residents.

You can learn more about UBC’s proposal at https://ubc.ca/rapidtransit. I encourage you to get involved in TransLink’s public engagement processes to make sure this important project is identified as a near-term priority. The next stage of consultation for the phase to Arbutus (details are here) begins April 30th).

Best wishes

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor