Last push made to save Vancouver streetcar
The Interurban 1207 rode the B.C. Electric Railway but was shut down in 2011. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BCER.TRAMS.BC.CA/MATTHEW LAIRD)
A group dedicated to preserving transit history is making a last push to save the Downtown Historic Railway that was shut down in 2011 because of high costs and low ridership.
Transit Museum Society member Matthew Laird said on Sunday his organization would get to keep one or two of the trains for another five years, but won’t receive the $50,000 in annual city funding it used to get to operate the line.
The tram had, since 1998, connected Granville Island to Science World. The trams themselves had served for about a century, when they operated on the B.C. Electric Railway.
A report requested by Vancouver city council was returned this past weekend. City staff determined in their analysis that passenger service operations should end for good.
Coun. Geoff Meggs said the “novelty ride” tram couldn’t even pay for its own electrical costs through farebox revenues.
“This was a heritage railway and it was not a test of a modern streetcar or tram system,” he said.
“It’s about as tough to find common points between the interurban and a contemporary streetcar system as it is between a Model-T and a hybrid-electric car today.”
Laird said the museum is now trying to find a partner to provide the same funding Vancouver used to subsidize.
He said one of the trams, the 1207, is supposed to return to its owner in Oregon if the tracks shut down. However, that tram is also the only remaining made-in-B.C. streetcar of its kind.
“Returning it is losing a piece of B.C. history,” Laird said.