Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Maps of Streetcar and Interurban Network

To sound like a broken recorded, I highly recommend that anyone interested in the history of public transit, streetcars, and interurbans in BC read Henry Ewert's The Story of the B.C. Electric Railway Company.

On that note, I have posted some of the many maps from the book. These maps represent the transit system in its hayday during the 1930's and 1940's.

As you can see, Vancouver had a very well developed streetcar system.

If you take a close look at the streetcar route numbers, you can see that they mirror some of our current trolley bus route numbers.

You can thank the streetcar and interurban systems for creating many of the cherished and people-friendly neighbourhoods in our region that exist today. The vast majority of these neighbourhoods were located alone these lines.

The Fraser Valley Interurban that we would like restored.

I find it very ironic that we tore up our streetcar and interurban systems in North America in the 1940's and 1950's to make room for the auto, only to start rebuilding them again (at a much higher cost) starting in the 1970's until present. Today we are realizing that we must place a greater importation on public transit if we are to see reductions in green-house-causing gases. Cities like Toronto were truly lucking in bypassing this costly mistake.


Anonymous said...

I'm reading that book right now with a mix of happiness and dismay--looking at old trains makes me happy, but knowing what we lost 60 years ago makes me angry!

Joe Zaccaria said...

And to think that pride and a rush for roads and cars caused them to pile the old streetcars under the Burrard Bridge and burn them as a last act of arrogance. Now we suffer from traffic-choked roads that diminish our quality of life, with no significant options available to us.

Unknown said...

Those are beautiful maps.

When I see the streetcar lines up Lonsdale and to Lynn Valley -- some of the steepest and longest hills I know of in the Lower Mainland -- it's obvious that 200th Street will be a piece of cake! Not that I have any doubt, as that issue has already been addressed ;) But for any skeptics, look at what we were doing way back then! Jordan, I empathize with your sentiments... Let's be the generation that rights this wrongdoing.

Unknown said...

Interestingly enough, in North American culture, the street-car & light-rail (SkyTrain) technologies are considered "old" and far too costly to introduce or retrofit into existing infrastructures.

Heavy rail (West Coast Express) is an expensive and limited service technology.

These two examples are also big polluters where the environment is concerned. Whereas the 'new' technology in North America is gearing towards BRT (Bus Rapid Transit).

BRT's cost a fraction of what light & heavy rail do and the infrastructure is already there; no need to retrofit or construct anything.

BRT's also come in greater than 80 foot long vehicles which make it comparable to that of LRT's. They can also be hybrid drive vehicles (that is to say, trolley technology in city & alternative fuels on the highway).

Its time to give up the ghost on rail and realize we are NOT built on the European model here, therefore rail will never establish itself as it has in Europe.