Thursday, May 8, 2008

Transport 2040

As you may be aware, Translink is working on Transport 2040. This is their 30-year service plan, and is a sort-of update to Transport 2021.

Here are some interesting facts from their Backgrounder document:
The average commuting time has been decreasing in Metro Vancouver. In 1992, the average round trip travel time was 70 minutes, which decreased to 68 minutes in 1998 and 67 minutes in 2005. In other large metropolitan areas in Canada, the average round trip travel time has been increasing over the same period.

Age of Major Transport Infrastructure:
New Westminster Rail Bridge: 104 years
Pattullo Bridge: 71 years
Massey Tunnel: 49 years
Ironworkers Memorial Bridge: 48 years
Knight Street Bridge: 32 years
SkyTrain Expo Line: 21 years
SkyBridge: 19 years

It would seem to me that it’s high time that someone (hint: the federal government) replace that New Westminster Bridge. It would open up rail options in the Lower Mainland as well as provide a much needed safety improvement. (I hope a barge never hits that bridge.)

What was also interesting is the views of the BC Chamber of Commerce on transportation.
Road infrastructure in BC, as in many other jurisdictions, is considered a public good and therefore is heavily financed by the taxpayer. In the absence of effective price signals such as tolls, as well as other mechanisms to influence behaviour such as High Occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, and appropriate and available transit options, there is inevitably an increase in single-passenger vehicles and use, which then leads to congestion and bottlenecks.

Efforts to plan and allocate public funds towards improving road and parking facilities, in an ongoing attempt to avoid congestion, tend to make insufficient use of other transportation alternatives. In many cases, zoning regulations impose minimum standards of road and parking services, and impose de facto regulated automobile dependency. Significant growth in vehicles also gives rise to congestion at peak traffic hours on major thoroughfares, in business districts and often throughout urban areas.

The Chamber recommends that TransLink:

1. Make it a prerequisite of these visions that there is a need for investment in public transit to provide viable alternatives to single passenger vehicle travel.
2. Commit to funding transportation infrastructure investment through mechanisms that are equitable, efficient and reflect basic traffic demand management principles.
3. Create, in conjunction with business, a tolling policy on transportation infrastructure, and examine the use of tolls and other innovative funding programs as a sustainable funding mechanism and a key traffic demand management tool.
It is very interesting to note that the BC Chamber of Commerce thinks that the BC Government should reevaluate its tolling policy.
The Chamber believes that the global trend is towards an acceptance of the necessity of tolls as both a provider of long-term sustainable funding for transportation and transit investment, within the concept of ensuring that the user pays, as well as the most efficient traffic demand management system that is available.

The Chamber understands there is likely to be significant public resistance to comprehensive tolling. However, we also believe that public acceptance of tolls would be possible if quality transit options are made available from the start. Initial tolls can fund the inevitable start-up costs and can be adjusted to keep traffic at targeted performance for the benefit of the public and business.
I have always been a supporter of road pricing and I'm glad to see that the BC Chamber agrees.

1 comment:

Light Rail Guy said...

A new three track (up - reverse - down) Fraser river rail bridge would enable 'rail' transit to service East Delta & South Surrey/Whiterock via the BN&SF RR; Central Fraser Valley Interurban via the SRR of BC; and an express rail service to Hope, via the CNR.

That Translink hasn't even considered this, shows that the organization couldn't plan for an outhouse, they could not even understand its function!