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UBC Line Rapid Transit Study

Commuters on a crowded bus on Broadway

Broadway is an important regional corridor and critical to our economy. It is home to the largest university and hospital in the province and the largest job centre in the province after Downtown.

The corridor is already home to over 85,000 people and 100,000 jobs and is expected to grow significantly over the coming decades. Transit service in the corridor is unable to keep up with the number of people that want to take transit today, let alone handle the future growth. Full buses pass by thousands of people every day, discouraging transit use in the corridor.

The UBC Line Rapid Transit Study will explore different ways to improve transit services in the Broadway Corridor between Commercial Drive and UBC. The study is being co-managed by the province and TransLink with the City of Vancouver involved as one of five partner agencies.

Related projects and policies

February 28, 2013

A new KPMG report, "The UBC-Broadway Corridor - Unlocking the Economic Potential," explores how to capitalize on the growth of this essential economic and transit hub.

Current project status

For the current status of this project, visit the TransLink UBC Line Rapid Transit Study:

Phase 2 – Option development and evaluation

Spring 2010 – Mid 2012

In Phase 2, the shortlisted alternatives have been further developed and evaluated. TransLink has held two rounds of public consultation during this phase.

The first round of public consultation in Spring 2010 led to the addition of a seventh shortlisted alternative.

The second round of public consultation in Spring 2011 featured a more detailed discussion about the design of the seven alternatives.  The results of this consultation helped the study team update the designs and finalize the evaluation.  The Study is currently nearing completion of Phase 2.

Phase 1 - shortlist identification

Summer 2009 – Spring 2010

In Phase 1, 200 potential routes and three rapid transit technologies (Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), Rail Rapid Transit (RRT) were identified for the UBC Line. These route and technology combinations were reviewed and reduced to a shortlist of six alternatives.

Report and studies

Related plans and policies

Rapid transit in the Broadway Corridor has long been considered a key component of the region's transportation future, and is referenced in both City and regional strategic planning documents, including:

  • Transport 2021 (1993)
  • The Vancouver Transportation Plan (1997)
  • The Vancouver-UBC Area Transit Plan (2005)
  • The Provincial Transit Plan (2008)
  • Transport 2040 (2008)
  • Vancouver's Rapid Transit Principles for the Broadway Corridor (2010)
  • Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy (2011)

Beyond the B-Line

In 1999, TransLink and the City of Vancouver jointly funded and directed a study exploring rapid transit options in the Broadway Corridor. Alternatives were compared using a variety of factors, including customer service, cost effectiveness, and environmental and community impacts. Based on the study results, the City and TransLink recommended that the Millennium Line be extended in an underground tunnel west to Granville with a rapid bus connection to UBC.

Since then, ridership in the corridor has grown even faster than expected, due to job and population growth on the corridor, innovative programs such as U-Pass, and overall regional transit growth.

Roles and Responsibilities

TransLink’s UBC Line Rapid Transit Study is a multi-year technical study that will identify and evaluate rapid transit alternatives for the Broadway corridor from Commercial Drive to UBC. The study is jointly funded by the Provincial Government and TransLink. These agencies are ultimately responsible for the final decision. 

The City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, UBC, the University Endowment Lands, and the Musqueam First Nation are directly involved as partner agencies. Specifically, City of Vancouver staff:

  • Ensure that the City’s full range of interests are identified and addressed in the study
  • Provide input for the technical analysis of the alternatives and review findings
  • Help direct and inform the public process
  • Advance City-endorsed planning principles for rapid transit
  • Participate in all subcommittees established for the study.

Vancouver’s rapid transit themes and principles

The following themes and principles will guide City staff in the planning and implementation of this rapid transit line. City Council unanimously approved these principles for the Broadway Corridor and UBC Line Rapid Transit Study on April 22, 2010. 

Environmental sustainability

  1. Significantly support greenhouse gas reduction and related environmental targets and objectives established by the Province, regional agencies, and the City.'

Financial affordability

  1. Provide an affordable, cost-effective, and timely rapid transit solution for both construction and operation over the long term.


  1. Provide transit capacity, service quality, and system resilience to support existing and future transit targets and objectives.
  2. Integrate rapid transit with walking, cycling, and local transit, while accommodating goods movement needs.

Urban development

  1. Serve existing and planned land use including major destinations, and help shape future land use policies including higher densities where appropriate.
  2. Provide a consistently high standard of urban design and amenity, and significantly improve the public realm for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.

Economic development

  1. Promote a diverse, healthy and green economy, improve local access to major commercial and institutional destinations, and support the concentration of jobs on Central Broadway.

Social, community, and business

  1. Address the needs of local and regional transit users, neighbours and adjacent communities, and businesses.
  2. Minimize and mitigate construction and operation impacts.
  3. Provide opportunities for meaningful engagement of stakeholders and the general public.

Project background

A growing regional corridor

Broadway is a regionally important and growing corridor.

  • Over 85,000 people and 100,000 jobs are located in the Broadway Corridor with 30% more people and jobs expected by 2041
  • The number of people who live or work around Central Broadway’s B Line bus stops are comparable to that of Metrotown Station, the busiest rapid transit station in the region outside of Vancouver
  • Central Broadway – between Main Street in the east and Burrard Street in the west – is the second largest employment centre in the province after Downtown Vancouver.  Half of all people working in Central Broadway come from outside of Vancouver
  • Regional destinations like Vancouver General Hospital (the largest hospital in the province) and UBC (Western Canada’s largest university), lack sufficient connection to the regional rapid transit network and other important regional destinations. 49% of all westbound B Line passengers are destined for Central Broadway (including VGH) with 38% continuing on to UBC

The needs of today and tomorrow

Transit services in the corridor should handle the number of passengers today and accommodate long-term growth.

  • There are over 110,000 transit trips on Broadway buses every day. This is comparable to the amount of people using the Canada Line today.
  • Travel times on the 99 B Line are unpredictable which discourages transit use in the corridor (25-45 minutes depending on time of day).
  • Transit service on Broadway is at capacity for much of the day. Even with conventional bus services every 2 to 3 minutes, over 2,000 passengers are left behind at Commercial Broadway Station every morning.

Environmental targets and economic growth

Improved transit is key to realizing ambitious provincial, regional and local environmental targets and to encourage economic growth.

  • Environmental targets can not be met without significant expansion of transit on Broadway.
  • Improved transit service will encourage economic growth in Central Broadway and provide more efficient regional links to centres of innovation like UBC and VGH.  For example, research at UBC has generated 137 spin-off companies, with 95% based in the province resulting in more than $4 billion in sales and 40,000 person years in employment.
  • Rapid transit is needed in the Broadway Corridor to serve the people and businesses of today and tomorrow.

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More ways to contact us

Contact Rapid Transit

By mail:
Rapid Transit Office,
City of Vancouver
Suite 320 - 507 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 0B4

In person:
6th floor, Crossroads building
507 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC

Visitors report to Client Services on 5th floor


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Last modified: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 09:46:21

Study documents