President’s Column: 4 9 10 25 33 41 44 49 84 99 258 480

If I were a gambling man, these would be my numbers. Emblazoned on the fronts of buses that carry more than half of all travellers to and from UBC Vancouver now, they’ve transported us a good deal closer to the sustainability jackpot. But what’s at stake now is bigger than UBC, and our lucky numbers can’t get us where we need to go on their own steam. Allow me to set the scene…

We’re standing on the UBC-Broadway corridor, waiting for the 99 B-Line. Stretching from Commercial Drive westward to the University, the corridor is BC’s second-largest employment district, providing more jobs than the next eight largest town centres combined. That includes a quarter of Vancouver’s tech sector employment and 40 per cent of the city’s health care jobs. It’s Western Canada’s largest health care precinct; millions of British Columbians visit VGH, UBC Hospital and the BC Cancer Agency every year. And the economic potential here is enormous. Linking health care, life sciences, the technology industry, and UBC’s research enterprise, the corridor has the makings of a technology hub on par with Toronto’s MaRS district, San Diego’s CONNECT, or London’s Tech City. Already, BC’s tech industry is the second-fastest creator of new private-sector jobs and growing more than twice as fast as the rest of our economy.

Here comes the 99. Better stand back: it’s not slowing down. The size of two regular buses, it’s packed to capacity. The next one’s not stopping either. Or the next. We might be here a while.

The corridor is the busiest bus route in North America. Every day, 110,000 people travel it by transit, half of them from outside Vancouver. And every day, 2,000 of them are passed by full buses. That’s half a million pass-ups a year. Factor in the additional 150,000 residents and workers expected over the next 30 years and, well, you get the picture: an exploding hub of innovation and creativity with the capacity to attract talent, businesses, and venture capital to this region; home base for our technology industry; the health sciences hub for the whole province; and the main artery connecting the city to UBC’s $10 billion economic clout, 150+ spin-off companies, research power and knowledge capacity… all choked off for want of a way to get from A to B.

The solution? Rail-based rapid transit running from Commercial and Broadway to UBC, connecting the Expo, Millennium, Canada, and Evergreen Lines to the corridor. Car traffic and bus capacity are maxed out now, and the streetcar some are suggesting wouldn’t be able to handle the growth that’s coming. On the day it opens, a UBC-Broadway line will have more riders than the Canada Line. With the future of BC’s economy top of mind, the decision is as clear as the need. The numbers speak for themselves, and whatever happens next, luck will have nothing to do with it.

Metro Vancouver Map

“The UBC-BROADWAY CORRIDOR is the KEY GEOGRAPHIC CONNECTION between Vancouver’s central business district, UBC, and regional business centres and communities in Metro Vancouver.”

“The corridor already has many of the attributes of LEADING GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY CENTRES – proximity to a leading university, nearby business and financial services, a technically-skilled workforce and a high quality of life. However, it is MISSING HIGH‑CAPACITY TRANSIT.”

Source: KPMG study released by the City of Vancouver and UBC on February 28.

“An analysis on UBC-Broadway Corridor transportation usage has found that 40 PER CENT of UBC’S 60,000 DAILY COMMUTERS start their trips in communities outside of Vancouver, underscoring the regional need to improve the corridor’s STRUGGLING TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE.”

Source: AMS Press Release, April 11 2013.



  1. Todd Mundle says:

    Your map is sorely lacking in “major educational institutions” on the other side of the Fraser River. Kwantlen Polytechnic University has campuses near the city centres of Richmond, Surrey and Langley, yet the institution has been left off of your map. It can’t be a matter of size as you’ve included Langara and VCC in the map.

  2. Nancy Knight says:

    Thanks for the comment and you are right! The map is not complete for all post secondary institutions in the region. The map was prepared by the City of Vancouver in support of the KPMG study. Nevertheless, UBC recognizes the importance of all post secondary institutions to the future of the province, and hopefully the rail-based rapid transit network will connect all of the PSI’s together and to other important regional sectors.

  3. Christine Wasiak says:

    Thank you President Toope ! You have articulated bravely what many of us who live on this corridor and work at one of its endpoints have known for many years. I passed a calculation on to a Trek administrator many years ago. Just calculate 25% of UBC’s workforce being late by one 1/2 hour twice per week.
    Yipes !
    Now add all of the new residents at the Village at False Creek who work or study at UBC. These are realities and thank you for your pragmatic assemblage of this issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please be aware that comments submitted through this form will appear publicly below this article. Comments may also be published in future print issues of Trek magazine.

Comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.