The Transit Pyramid

The Transit Pyramid provides a stepped upgrade path for 0-GHG transit occupying the same amount of road space. Upgrading from bus to Modern Tram achieves 30x more service. Safely integrating trams between tree medians the arterials are revitalized as ‘neighborhood spines’ supporting higher levels of social functioning.



Red lines identify routes shown in a Translink Network that can add capacity simply by moving transit technologies up the Transit Pyramid. At the top of the Pyramid the Red lines turn to Blue. A staggering amount of capacity is delivered by the Blue lines with Levels of Service that double Skytrain capacity. Yet, building Modern Tram (the Blue lines) costs 12x-less than either Skytrain in a tunnel, and Canada Line. And 6x-less than Skytrain elevated on viaducts. Today, Translink operates only at the bottom two levels of the Transit Pyramid. We identify this as the  key problem for transit in our region. And stress that the Housing Crisis—not Transit—is the number-one issue facing our politicians.


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The Transit Paradox: Building Transit Adds More Congestion

What if building Towers-and-Skytrain is the problem?


My first three decades in professional practice have seen politicians, professionals and educators in the region where I practice make up their minds that building the city was all about choices in transportation technology. For them urbanism has been dumbed-down to building transit and towers, with the density bonuses collected from the towers used to help pay for the transit. Needless to say, this Faustian bargain has not worked out. The more transit we built the worst the road congestion gets. That is a paradox that needs explanation. It turns out that 85% of the trips generated in this ‘new urbanism’ are car trips. Transit only captures about 15%.

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Four Proposals for Reversing the Housing Crisis

Building skytrain-and-towers silenced the discussion about building affordable housing. With housing in Greater Vancouver 12x over median household incomes its time for that conversation to start up again.

SKYTRAIN-AND-TOWERS (LNV Webbimage, 2018).

When Expo ’86 opened its doors to the public the cost of houses in Vancouver was at par with median household incomes. In the ensuing 32 years house prices have risen to hover 12-times above median household incomes. It is time to examine what went on, and what went wrong and how our governments can fix it.

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The Sprawl Fallacy: Failed Regional Plans in Greater Vancouver

The ‘Sprawl’ Fallacy & Why Mega-Density Kills Affordability

WHAT IS URBAN S-P-R-A-W-L-?-?-?-?-?-?-?

Three planners walked into a bar in Vancouver and bumped into an old class mate from the School of Architecture. She greeted them by holding up a page from a transportation report (pictured above) and proposing a contest: A free round of cocktails if anyone in the group can satisfy all the others with a concrete and measurable definition of ‘sprawl’.

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The Great Vancouver Housing Crisis

This just in: The RGS triggers the Great Housing Crisis! Prices are 12-times over median incomes. Affordability tops out at 3-times. Who is steering the ship?

HONG KOUVER (LNV Webbimage, 2018)

Runaway inflation in land values have triggered a Housing Crisis in Greater Vancouver. House prices in the city and in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (or Metro) have been pushed into the stratosphere. Median family incomes are up 1% over the last 11 years. Yet housing prices have risen a whopping 400% over the same period to stand 12-times over median family incomes. The Canadian dream of owning a home has been put beyond the reach of the middle and working classes. The crisis exposes major flaws in government planning at the most senior levels. The RGS/Livable Region Strategic Plan call for building skytrain-and-towers while restricting land supply. Efforts to jump start the economy after the 1980s recession got us here. Now, nobody seems to know how to get us out. Many mayors didn’t even mention the crisis during the recent elections with predictable results.

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Electric Cars Expose Major Flaws in Vancouver’s Regional Plans

The RGS and the Livable Regions Strategic Plan plan to reduce GHGs by 66% by 2040. Instead they have triggered a housing crisis lifting prices 12-times above median household incomes. Anything above 3x is considered unaffordable.


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The Density Fallacy: Don’t Need Towers to add density

In the City of London government mega-projects combine with private sector towers to keep real estate prices beyond the reach of the average citizen.

NEW LONDON SKYLINE 2026: Architectural rendering as advertisement—paid by The London City Corporation


The notion that we have to build towers to achieve high density is a fallacy.

We have built high density neighbourhoods from human-scale products for centuries. One of the best examples is the West End of London, build in the Georgian period. Canadian examples can be reviewed here.

Towers are necessary to generate towering profits. Combined with public sector maga-projects like the Elizabeth Line, they spike land values and create massive congestion.

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SCSH: The Sunshine Coast Super Highway

A 300 km trip along a modern road linking Campbell River with West Vancouver could take just 2.5 hours and vault the BC economy into the sustainable future.

The SCSH linking Campbell River with West Vancouver travelling over upgraded roads (yellow dots), new highways (blue lines) and 5 new bridges [click map for hi-resolution image]


A new 300 km Sunshine Coast Super Highway linking Campbell River to West Vancouver would take 2 hours 30 minutes to traverse travelling at 120 k.p.h. (dry road posted speed limit) or about the same time it takes to ride the ferry between Vancouver and Victoria. Providing free charing points for electric vehicles along the way would turn it into a Super Highways. Built on upgraded local roads, new highway segments and 5 new cable suspension bridges the SCSH promises to do more than just ferry cars and trucks around the Salish Sea. It can be designed to trigger economic development, end the affordable housing crisis in British Columbia, carry fibre optics to remote locations, create an electric rail corridor, modernize transportation and build sustainable urbanism.

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A New Approach to Density in Vancouver

2009 Form Shift Vancouver, Design Competition, entry by the author

We have gone a little ‘Condo Crazy’ in Vancouver for the last 20 years. Podium-and-Tower can work Downtown. However, when it comes to the neighbourhoods, and the historic neighbourhoods, loud vocal opposition from local residents is clamouring for a new approach. Continue reading “A New Approach to Density in Vancouver”

The Skytrain-and-Towers Urbanism

Skytrain and Tower Urbanism has been blighting our neighborhoods since Day One. As more Skytrain lines build, the conditions multiply.


In the Greater Vancouver region (also known as Metro) has have been buildIng Skytrain since the 1986 Class B Expo was hosted in the city that year. There are two lines: Expo and Millennium, the latter going into operations around the year 2000. Expo handles some 230,000 trips per day; Millennium only 60,000, or about one quarter the trips for the same system. What most people have forgotten, or chosen to ignore, is that the towers date to the same fair.

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