Monday, April 23, 2018

Population projections show critical need for Fraser Highway Light Rail

Last week, I posted about population growth in our region based on the latest information available from the Metro Vancouver Regional District. One of the significant shifts is population is the migration of people who currently living in Vancouver and Burnaby, towards Surrey and Langley. What will the population in our region look like in the next 20 years? The following map shows the projected population by 2041, including the change in population from the latest census.

Projected population growth between 2016 to 2041 in Metro Vancouver, by area. Select map to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver.

What I like about this map is that it breaks population figures down by urban contiguous areas. Cloverdale and Langley will have a similar population to the Tri-Cities. Surrey will eclipse Vancouver in population starting in 2041.

The South of Fraser will see close to 390,000 people move-in over the next few decades. How we design our transportation systems and communities will be critical to ensure that our region doesn’t grind to a halt. Building mixed-use town centres that are walkable and bikeable, connected by high quality transit will be a must. Just as critical will be to ensure that the majority of jobs are located near transit.

One of the transit projects that I’m most anxious to see open is light rail connecting Downtown Langley to Downtown Surrey.

Last week, UBC started pushing for an extension of the Millennium Line to their Point Grey campus. I’m all for more transit service everywhere in our region, but I also know that the current 10-Year Transportation Vision doesn’t include a SkyTrain extension to UBC. Funding being limited, I always have a bit of a concern that the South of Fraser will get the short end of the stick.

If additional funding becomes available to support building light rail along King George Boulevard, along Fraser Highway, and SkyTrain all the way to UBC, that would be great news. If the funding envelope stays the same, I hope that all levels of government will stick to the current 10-Year Transportation Vision. I believe that sticking to the vision is important, not just because I live in Langley, but because of the sheer number of people that will be moving to the South of Fraser over the next two decades.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fraser Highway B-Line: Street redesigns will make buses faster and more reliable

In 2019, B-Line bus service will be running along Fraser Highway between Surrey Central and Downtown Langley. The B-Line service along Fraser Highway will have the following benefits:

Fast and Reliable

  • Stops spaced about 1 kilometre apart (compared to around 200 metres apart for current bus service)
  • High-capacity articulated buses
  • All-door boarding
  • Street redesign to make buses faster

Frequent

  • Every 10 minutes or better during peak periods
  • Every 15 minutes of better other times of the day

Available all day

  • Run from at least 6am to midnight, 7-days a week

Easy to find

  • Buses and stops have a different look
  • Stops have next bus digital signage
  • Route information inside of buses

One of the keys to ensuring that the Fraser Highway B-Line is fast and reliable will be to redesign some elements of that street. This can include things such as bus lanes, queue jumper lanes, signal prioritization, turn restrictions, and curb extensions at bus stops. TransLink will have funding to implement some of these measures, but will need the support of municipalities to support these changes.

A bus priority lane along King George Boulevard. Source: https://twitter.com/SkyTrain4Surrey/status/644307139792535552

TransLink information provided in the agenda for the upcoming Mayors’ Council meeting states that “we can get better B-Lines —and better ridership growth potential— if municipal partners are willing to cost share and/or make bold changes” to roads. This will result in faster and more reliable bus service that will require fewer buses which means “buses freed up can be reinvested for even higher frequent” service on B-Line routes.

One of the things to keep in mind is that even a half-full B-Line bus is the equivalent of 20 passenger vehicles. One bus clears up a lot of road space. The following video illustrates the point.

As a regular transit rider along Fraser Highway, I am looking forward to B-Line service. I will be supportive of municipal measures to help ensure that this service is fast and reliable.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

People leaving Vancouver and Burnaby for Surrey and Langley

Our region is continuing to grow, and by 2041 an additional 1 million people will call Metro Vancouver home. The Metro Vancouver Regional District does detailed analysis of growth projects, breaking down the components of growth into several categories.

The components of growth include natural changes, meaning the number of births in the region subtracted by the number of deaths; inter-provincial migration between provinces; intra-provincial migration in BC; and inter-municipal migration within the region. The following graph shows the components of current growth, and forecasted growth for our region.

Components of Metro Vancouver population growth. Select chart to enlarge.

What is clear is that people who immigrate to Canada will be the driving component of population growth in our region. Historically, Vancouver would accept the most new people to Canada, but Surrey is starting to take the lead.

Immigration by municipal distribution. Select chart to enlarge.

People who live in other provinces and territory are a smaller component of population growth in our region.

When it comes to migration within BC, more people living in Metro Vancouver will be leaving the region for other parts of the province than vise versa. The most interesting graph to me is the migration of people that currently live in our region between municipalities.

Inter-municipal migration in Metro Vancouver. Select chart to enlarge.

Between 2001 and 2011, there was a significant net flow of people from Vancouver and Burnaby to Surrey, Langley, New Westminster, and Maple Ridge. I have to wonder if housing prices and job opportunities have something to do with that flow.

Subregional population projections to 2041 and beyond. Select chart to enlarge.

The end result is that with both immigration and migration within Metro Vancouver, Surrey and the South of Fraser will increasing become the new centre of our region.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

First look at proposed fare increases to pay for transit improvements

Back in March, the federal, provincial, and local governments came to an agreement on how to fund two-thirds of the three-phase, 10-Year Transportation Plan. The plan will among other things see B-Line bus service introduced in all parts of the region including down Fraser Highway, light rail in Surrey, and a SkyTrain extension along Broadway. This will be a generational investment in public transit, local roads, and active transportation. For more details, please read an earlier post. One of the ways that this investment will be funded is with an increase in transit fares.

Starting in May, TransLink will be holding a series of public consultations on the transportation plan. One of the items covered during the consultation will be the fare increase. The following table shows the proposed pricing structure for all fare products over the next decade.

Proposed fares increases over the next decade by type. Select table to enlarge.

As the preceding table is a bit dense, the following table shows the change in price only for adult Compass Card fares and monthly passes.

2018 2027 Change
Store Value
1-Zone $2.30 $3.20 $0.90
2-Zone $3.35 $4.50 $1.15
3-Zone $4.40 $5.85 $1.45
Monthly Pass
1-Zone $95.00 $121.00 $26.00
2-Zone $128.00 $165.00 $37.00
3-Zone $174.00 $225.00 $51.00

As a regular transit user who has a three-zone adult pass, the proposed modest increase in fares is reasonable, considering the amount of new transit service that will be introduced throughout the region.

TransLink is currently doing a review of the three-zone fare structure. It will be interesting to see how these proposed fare increases will look if the agency decides to move towards a distance-based structure for SkyTrain and SeaBus fares.