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Are streetcars a fit for Vancouver?

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – With NPA Councillors proposing to re-start streetcar service in Vancouver, manufacturer Bombardier is showcasing their latest light rail transit cars on Granville Island.

The technology will be used in Toronto, and some people see the system as a good choice for the west coast.

After touring the sample streetcar, many people are anxious to bring them to Vancouver.

“Non polluting, tons of room, very comfortable, I think with this you can replace those diesel buses, and move on.” John Young tells News1130, adding he used street cars a lot when he lived in Ontario.

He was among several people walking around Granville Island, Saturday, supportive of the NPA’s plan for a return of the historic streetcar service on the south side of False Creek. It was last seen in 2010.

“To start off with the Olympic Village and Granville Island is an absolutely perfect way to start,” says Young.

“I think it was fairly effective during the Olympics and brought people onto Granville Island that couldn’t get here in their cars,” claims cyclist Jo Skinner, who admits she still has some concerns about trains travelling at street level with other vehicles.

“If people are going to use it then yes, it makes sense. But are people going to use it? That’s the question that I don’t know,” asks Daniel Rasmussen. “It might be helpful between the two sites but I don’t know how much traffic actually runs between the two areas to make it justifiable.”  Still he sees potential. “Rail tracks are there, so why not?”

NPA councillor Elizabeth Ball says the old False Creek streetcars would cost $100-thousand to get rolling again, an idea she’s taking to council next week.

In the motion, Ball and fellow NPA councillor George Affleck say the city has spent millions on the preservation of the railway, including the initial purchase of the land from Canadian Pacific Railway and upgrades prior to the Olympics.

They want city staff to provide short-term and long-term financial and operational options for the railway.

The motion would need Vision approval to pass.