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Sullivan vague on Vancouver streetcar details

Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan said a downtown streetcar line could cost $100 million but was vague on when that system might go into place or where the funding would come from.

The Mayor made his remarks following today’s announcement that the city will be teaming up with Bombardier Transportation to operate two modern streetcars during the 2010 Olympics.

Sullivan said he hopes the trains demonstrate Vancouver’s commitment to sustainability and set the stage for an integrated streetcar system that would extend all the way to Stanley Park.

“It’s an important first step,” he told reporters and city officials underneath the Cambie Street Bridge. “We hope to be able to build the entire downtown streetcar project.”

But when pressed for details on when that initiative would actually go into place, the mayor skirted the issue.

“The funding that will be required has to be worked out,” he said.

Asked where the estimated $100 million for the project would come from, Sullivan said he has been meeting with the federal and provincial governments but wouldn’t give any specific details.

All he would say was that he hoped the demonstration project – entitled The Olympic Line – Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar – would generate widespread enthusiasm for streetcar transportation.

“This will get citizens excited about rail technology,” he said.

From Jan. 21 to March 21, 2010, two modern streetcars will run 1.8km from Granville Island to the future Canada Line Olympic Village Station at Cambie and 2nd. The line will follow the same route as the Downtown Historic Railway.

Both trains will be on loan from Brussels and will most likely return to Europe after the Olympic Games are over, the Mayor said.

Costing $8.5 million, the demonstration project budget includes $500,000 from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation which owns and runs Granville Island.

Sullivan said the idea of an integrated streetcar system has been tossed around city council for the last two decades.

Vancouver used streetcars extensively from the late 1800s until the system was scrapped in 1958.

Geoff Dembicki is a staff reporter for The Hook.

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