Millennium Line UBC Extension
TransLink conducted public engagement on a potential Millennium Line UBC Extension from April 19 to May 14, 2021. Thank you to everyone who participated. The Engagement Summary Report is now available. Please check back with us for project updates, including possible future public engagement opportunities.
About the Project
With the upcoming SkyTrain extension to Arbutus to be completed in 2026, TransLink is studying a potential connection to UBC.
Why Study a Potential SkyTrain Connection To UBC?
TransLink is studying a potential Millennium Line UBC Extension to better connect the region and meet transit demand all along the Broadway Corridor today and well into the future.
Accommodating Existing Demand and Preparing For Future Demand
The 99 B-Line bus route on the Broadway Corridor is the busiest bus route in Canada and the United States. In 2019 (pre-COVID), the 99 B-Line route on the Broadway Corridor moved up to 60,000 customers per day. Articulated buses ran every two to three minutes at peak times. It is also one of the region’s most consistently overcrowded bus routes. Overcrowded buses lead to longer and less reliable travel times, and also longer wait times due to bus bunching. This reduces the overall attractiveness of transit compared to driving
The Broadway Subway Project (BSP) will address existing demand and accommodate future demand that exceeds what bus-based transit in the Broadway Corridor can deliver. The BSP, scheduled to open in 2026, will extend the Millennium Line from VCC—Clark SkyTrain Station to Arbutus Street.
With increasing number of jobs, residents, and students, it is estimated that in 2050, a Millennium Line UBC Extension could carry 130,000 people per day, more than double the number of passengers on the entire 99 B-Line corridor today. SkyTrain is the only technology that can accommodate this level of transit ridership on the Broadway Corridor and allow for future expansion.
Connecting the Region
The potential Millennium Line UBC Extension would benefit people across the region. UBC is a major destination for people from all over Metro Vancouver and it is one of the largest employment centres in the region.
In 2019, the UBC campus had a daytime population of approximately 80,000 people with 20,000 employees, over 50,000 students, and 10,000 residents. UBC’s daytime population is expected to increase from 80,000 in 2019 to 130,000 by 2050. Students, faculty and staff commute to UBC from across the region.
With a SkyTrain extension, over one million people would be within a 60-minute transit trip to UBC. Better connections between UBC and the wider region will allow for better access to more housing options. Half of the riders on a SkyTrain extension to UBC would be expected to come from outside of Vancouver.
An extension would improve travel times and opportunities to access housing, higher education and jobs, as well as recreational and cultural centres, such as parks, beaches, museums, and theatres. It would connect regional employment centres, health precincts, research centres, and innovation and technology hubs. Increased transit connectivity between economic centres will help to support job growth and economic prosperity in Metro Vancouver.
Anticipated Benefits of a SkyTrain Extension to UBC
Improves reliability and travel time: Address issues on the region’s busiest and most consistently overcrowded bus route. A SkyTrain extension would reduce the travel time between Commercial—Broadway and UBC by half (compared to bus), saving transit customers more than 20 minutes per trip.*
Meets future demand: Demand will continue to grow along the Broadway Corridor to UBC. It is expected that by 2050, a Millennium Line UBC Extension could carry 130,000 people per day.
Creates a sustainable transportation choice: Reduce vehicle use by 3,000 car trips during peak times and support sustainable transportation options for existing and new homes.
Expands economic opportunity and access to jobs: Connect over 1 million people within a 60-minute trip to UBC and spur economic activity around all stations.
Supports opportunities for Indigenous peoples: Provide improved access for Indigenous-owned developments and communities, including at the Jericho Lands and areas within the University Endowment Lands.
* Comparison includes Broadway Subway Project extension and a potential UBC extension.
What's Happening Now and What's Next?
An initial concept of station locations (known as the Regional Base Scope) was presented and was endorsed by the Mayors’ Council and included the following:
Stations at Macdonald, Alma, Jericho, and at the UBC Trolley Bus Loop (UBC 1a)
Passive provision for possible extension and potential future infill station within design
The Millennium Line UBC Extension is identified in the Transport 2050: 10-Year Priorities to advance as a priority project. The next step is to work collaboratively with senior government and partners to advance the project to the full business case stage.
How Did We Get Here?
More than ten years ago, TransLink partnered with the Province, City of Vancouver, the University of British Columbia (UBC), University Endowment Lands, and Metro Vancouver on the UBC Line Rapid Transit Study, which looked at more than 200 possible options with different rapid transit technologies and alignment options between Commercial—Broadway and the University of British Columbia's Vancouver campus.
In 2014, the Mayors' Council 10-Year Vision recommended an extension of the Millennium Line from VCC—Clark to Arbutus, and that portion of the project is now funded and moving forward as the Broadway Subway Project. The vision also recommended advancing analysis for a rapid transit connection to the University of British Columbia.
Since late 2017, TransLink has been collaborating with the City of Vancouver and UBC on updating key information about a SkyTrain extension to UBC, including ridership and costs.
The resulting Rail to UBC report concludes that a SkyTrain extension of the Millennium Line will provide enough capacity to meet demand beyond 2045 and is expandable to meet the longer-term transportation needs of the region.
In February 2019, the Mayors' Council recommended SkyTrain as the preferred technology to extend rapid transit to the University of British Columbia. This endorsement of the report allows TransLink to use funding allocated in the Phase Two Investment Plan to do more technical work.
In October 2020, the Mayors' Council stated its intention to complete Transport 2050 and to refresh the 10-Year Vision in 2021-2022. These efforts will identify rapid transit network priorities that may include a potential Millennium Line UBC Extension.
In 2021, TransLink engaged with stakeholders, Indigenous Nations and the public to seek feedback on different aspects of the project. In addition, TransLink has and continues to undertake technical planning work to help confirm the objectives of a potential SkyTrain extension, and evaluating possible route options and station locations.
2010: UBC Line Rapid Transit Study looked at more than 200 technology and route alternatives to meet demand.
2014: Mayors’ Council Vision recommended extending the Millennium Line from VCC—Clark to Arbutus, and to continue analysis on an extension to UBC.
April 2018: UBC Board of Governors approved a strategy to support SkyTrain to UBC, including a potential financial contribution from the university.
2019: Rail to UBC Rapid Transit Study provided updated analysis of ridership, technology and costs, and concluded that SkyTrain would provide capacity to serve demand beyond 2045.
Jan. 2019: Vancouver City Council endorsed TransLink’s recommendation for SkyTrain technology to UBC.
Feb. 2019: Mayors’ Council endorsed SkyTrain technology and approved the work that we are undertaking today.
Oct. 2020: Mayors' Council stated intention to complete Transport 2050 and to refresh the 10-Year Vision in 2021 to 2022. These efforts will identify rapid transit network priorities that may include a potential Millennium Line UBC Extension.
April-May 2021: Public engagement took place seeking feedback on familiarity with planning for the project, values regarding the proposed project, criteria to assess potential route and station locations, and level of support for a potential SkyTrain extension to UBC.
We are working closely with the Province of BC, City of Vancouver, the University of British Columbia, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwxw̱ ú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation), Metro Vancouver, and the University Endowment Lands (UEL).
April 2022: The Mayors’ Council approved the Regional Base Scope for the potential future line and the Millennium Line UBC Extension is identified in the Transport 2050: 10-Year Priorities to advance as a priority project.
Public engagement is a key component of rapid transit planning. From April 19 to May 14, 2021, TransLink undertook public engagement on the proposed Millennium Line UBC Extension. During the engagement, TransLink sought feedback on the priorities, opportunities, and considerations regarding a potential SkyTrain extension to UBC, and the criteria to help assess potential route and station location options. To learn about the feedback we received, read the Engagement Summary Report.
If TransLink is asked to create a business case for the Millennium Line UBC Extension, further consultation opportunities will be planned.
If you have any questions about the project, please email us at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does COVID-19 and the impact it has had on transit ridership change your planning for this project?
While public transit use declined in 2020 and early 2021 due to COVID-19, it remained an essential service. Work and travel habits may change for some in the coming months and years, but we expect transit ridership to return to — and surpass — pre-pandemic levels as the region prepares to welcome more than one million more people and approximately 500,000 new jobs by 2050. That is why we are looking ahead and planning for the future.
Why are you studying SkyTrain and not LRT or streetcars?
Past studies, including the UBC Line Rapid Transit Study from 2010 and the Rail to UBC Rapid Transit Study in 2018 confirmed SkyTrain as the preferred technology to provide capacity to meet demand in 2045 and meet the long-term transportation needs of the region. In February 2019, the Mayors’ Council endorsed TransLink’s recommendation to pursue SkyTrain technology and approved the current work that is underway.
How many stations would there be and where would they be located?
There are four stations identified in the initial concept of the Regional Base Scope. Those stations would be located at: Macdonald, Alma, Jericho, and the UBC Trolley Bus Loop and include provision within the design for possible extension and potential future infill station.
Were other stations and alignments considered?
In our initial screening of alignments, TransLink considered different options for how to connect between Arbutus and UBC. Some alignments were not given further consideration because of heightened risk, technical feasibility, increased impacts, decreased project benefits, or increased costs. For example, alignments along W 4th Avenue and W 16th Avenue were initially analyzed, but due to longer alignments, technical complexity and risk, fewer project benefits, and comparatively higher costs, these alignments were removed from further consideration.
What would an extension to UBC cost and who would pay for it?
There is a range of cost estimates based on cost differences between elevated and below-grade segments for a potential Millennium Line UBC Extension. More work needs to be done to refine our designs and analyze costs. As with other major capital transit projects in the region, it is anticipated that the project would require federal and provincial funding.
What are the key milestones for a SkyTrain extension from Arbutus to UBC?
The Mayors’ Council has both approved the Regional Base Scope for stations on the potential future line and included the Millennium Line Extension to UBC in the Public Draft Transport 2050: 10-Year Priorities to advance as a priority project. If decision makers direct TransLink to undertake additional work, the next step would be to develop a business case, which is required to seek project funding and approval before proceeding with further engagement opportunities, procurement, and construction.
How does this work relate to other planning processes happening in this area?
As we analyze the potential for a future Millennium Line UBC Extension, we are working closely with the Province of BC, City of Vancouver, UBC, Musqueam Nation, Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Metro Vancouver and the University Endowment Lands, including participating in the City of Vancouver’s processes for the Broadway Plan and future of the Jericho Lands, and participating in UBC’s process for Campus Vision 2050.
Is SkyTrain proprietary technology?
SkyTrain is not proprietary to a specific manufacturer. There are multiple manufacturers with the ability to construct vehicles and components for TransLink’s SkyTrain system. Procurement for rail infrastructure and SkyTrain vehicles go through a competitive bidding process. This process would be similar for all types of transit technology.