If there is one thing that we are good at in Metro Vancouver, it is putting together studies on transportation planning, regional transportation governance, and the interaction between land-use and transportation systems.
When funding isn’t available to accomplish what is needed, in Metro Vancouver, we do another study. The action of completing a studying makes it seem like we are moving forward, even if we are not.
Take transit for example, there is a broad consensus at the local level on what needs to happen. Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy, the Mayors’ Council Transportation Vision, and TransLink’s Regional Transportation Strategy lay out what needs to happen to maintain the livability of our region and expand transit service. All these plans have been recently updated.
Another thing that we seems to be obsessed with is studying and changing the governance model for TransLink/regional transportation delivery. While regional growth and transportation plans do need to be updated from time-to-time, our region needs another TransLink governance study like I need a hole in the head.
Right after the majority of Metro Vancouver residents voted No to funding our transportation system with a 0.5% sales tax, the Metro Vancouver Board passed the following two resolutions:
That the GVRD Board direct staff to investigate options for Metro Vancouver to increase its role for advocacy and planning in transportation;
That the GVRD Board direct Metro Vancouver staff to work with the TransLink Mayors’ Council to prepare a report that investigates alternate governance structures for the delivery of public transit within the region including perpetuation of the current TransLink governance structure and a public utility model similar to the current water and liquid waste utilities.
This is yet another governance study on the delivery of regional transportation services in Metro Vancouver. The study that Metro Vancouver is starting to initiate will answer the following questions:
- How can transportation planning, operating and financing best be undertaken to achieve a wholly integrated land use and transportation plan and system?
- What are the characteristics of an effective and sustainable transportation system that we hope to achieve and/or optimize in the Metro Vancouver region
- What governance model can best allow land use planning to drive decisions about the transportation system? What role should key bodies (i.e., TransLink, Mayors’ Council, Metro Vancouver) play?
- In the short term, how can we optimize the transportation system within the governance structure as it currently exists?
- Over the longer term, what changes to the governance model help to achieve a broader range of characteristics of an effective and sustainable transportation system?
Honestly, we can study how to deliver a world-class transportation system six ways from Sunday, but the real issue in Metro Vancouver isn’t our regional plans, its funding those plans.
Until the provincial government and local governments in Metro Vancouver come to a consensus on how to fund transit and other regional transportation infrastructure, all the studying in the world will not cause more SkyTrain or light rail lines to be built.