Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Stewarts of the Road/Transportation Choice

So, the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University released a report titled The 2007 Urban Mobility Report. Here is the big conclusion from the report: congestion is getting worse. That makes sense considering that in many of the areas studied, transportation spending has been lopsided. Does that sound like the South of Fraser? Public Trans-what? Anyway, the report also makes some recommendations. We should use what we already have more efficiently. This means doing thinks like congestion toll (which has worked great in the both the USA and the UK), freeway ramp metering, better accident response, etc. It talks about changing travel patterns. We can do this by allowing flexible starts at work for the 9 to 5er, and by having more community centres. This is something the GVRD has been trying to do with their regional centres (the GVRD really needs more teeth if they want to see this implemented). Regional centre give people more options when it come to where they work, shop, and play. The report is also pretty big on transportation choices. This is something we need desperately. The report says that transit plays a big roll in congestion reduction. The report mentions building more road and transit and also removing bottlenecks. You must remember when building more roads, it only makes sense when there are other options in place already. In an area like Surrey or Langley, roads are the only was to get around. If you build more general-purpose roads without other measures already in place (like LRT and better buses), the roads will fill-up faster than the time it took to build them. The Alex Fraser bridge is a prefect example (and there are countless examples in North America). Within 6 months it was packed, and there wasn’t a noticeable effect on any of the other river crossings. We also need to be very careful with removing “bottlenecks.” Some “bottlenecks” are truly bottlenecks, and once corrected everything runs smoother. Fraser Highway comes to mind. But, others will create new bottlenecks once they are “fixed”. A certain big highway project comes to mind. The report concludes by stating that we will always have congestion. New York has been congested since the Victorian era. Transportation is a complex matter and we need complete solutions to mitigate congestion. In a region of all roads, more roads are not the answer. We need quality public transit. We need to make better use of our current roads. We should only carefully consider new road projects once the other pieces of the puzzle are in place. Of course maybe we are looking at transportation the wrong way, maybe we could be taking about accessibility instead…

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