Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BC Budget

So the BC government release their 2009/10 budget and three-year outlook yesterday. I wanted to point out the three-year capital spending for transportation projects.

Roads
– Gateway program $368m
– Rehabilitation $438m
– Interior and rural side roads $150m
– Oil and gas rural road improvement program $94m
– Mountain pine beetle strategy $90m
– Highway 1 – Kicking Horse Canyon $44m
– Sea-to-Sky highway $44m
– Okanagan Valley corridor $69m
– Cariboo connector program $60m
– Other highway corridors and programs $398m
Total $1755m

Transit

– Canada Line Rapid Transit Project $60m
– Evergreen Line $195m
– Rail rapid transit projects $76m
– Buses and other transit priorities $186m
Total $517m

Other
– Airports and ports $24m
– Cycling infrastructure $17m
Total $41m

Total spending $2,313m

As you can see, road building takes up the vast majority of capital spending in the province. What I also think is interesting is the Ministry of Transportation (and Infrastructures) statements on their solutions to climate change and congestion:

Climate Change

Transportation accounts for about 40 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the province; automobiles alone account for 16 per cent and strategies for reducing emissions must entail significant investment in transit infrastructure and services, and cycling facilities. Initiatives are also required to reduce emissions from buses, trucks, trains, planes and ships. The main focus will be on reducing fuel consumption through the development and adoption of new emission standards and through incentives to encourage the deployment of new technologies.

Urban Population Growth
Alternatives to single-occupant vehicle use are required to support the development of denser communities to accommodate urban population growth. The Provincial Transit Plan targets market share for public transit of 17 per cent for metro Vancouver by 2020 and 22 per cent by 2030, up from 12 per cent in 2008, through the provision of a world class transit network. Denser communities will encourage further transit and will facilitate walking and cycling as alternate travel modes. Volatile, but generally rising fuel prices will also change travel behaviour and shift mode preferences away from single-occupant vehicles.
Also interesting is this statement:
The Province has taken the lead on a number of transit planning initiatives that will be used to identify the infrastructure expansion requirements: for the residents of the Fraser Valley, the potential to use the Southern Rail corridor; for residents of Vancouver Island, a Regional Transit Study for Greater Victoria and an assessment of the E&N corridor along the east side of the Island… In addition, the Province and TransLink are co-sponsoring detailed planning work to evaluate alignment and technology options for the UBC Line and the Surrey Expansion.
It seems to me that the Fraser Valley and Surrey are being treated as two different projects. Looking at the providing rail service in Abbotsford and Chilliwack without making it a part of a larger strategy that would include Surrey and Langley would be doomed to be a 2090 Transit Plan.

1 comment:

bregalad said...

While this blog and many of its readers would prefer to see Gateway money put into effective transit services that would free the existing roadways for increased truck traffic, we need to remember that this is a province-wide plan. It addresses specific issues like the pine beetle devastation, access to the natural resources that provide jobs to our rural areas and improvements to a provincial highway system that quite frankly is embarrassing in many places. BC is much more than just Vancouver and Victoria.

At the same time I must agree with most observers that the province does not have and never has had a comprehensive plan for public transit in Metro Vancouver. The plans that were generated by other groups have been systematically ignored in favor of high priced "boutique" transit that hasn't done anything to reduce automobile dependence.

Back in the early 1980's the government should have had a look at the existing rail network and relatively flat roadways and come up with a light rail network for the future. This would have been the blueprint for development and halted or dramatically slowed the sprawl that has occurred in the valley. Friends of government would no doubt have purchased land and made a killing by developing and re-selling it, but that always happens anyway. Successive governments would have altered the priorities and built certain lines before others, but if they stuck to the original "flat" corridors the network would have grown predictably, quickly and inexpensively. We could have hundreds of km of light rail in place today had any of our Premiers had the guts to reject SkyTrain.

It should be a major embarrassment to decades of BC politicians that Calgary's light rail system carries more people than SkyTrain at a fraction of the cost and that their network will soon be more extensive than even the most ambitious 2040 plans for SkyTrain.