Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Will the real investment please stand up...

Someone recently told me that when people talk about spending money on roads, it's called an investment, but when talking about transit, and other non-auto improvements, it's called a subsidy. While this might seem like 1960's style thinking, it's still happening today.

Example: A politician would be unelected if he proposed system-wide tolling on all roads in the Lower Mainland, but no one would blink if transit fares went up. (which they do every year.) Why is that? It seems that in this era of climate change and "going green", the car is still king. All other modes of transportation are still an afterthought. Matthew Claxton of the Langley Advance wrote an article on bus options and unreliability here in Langley. Its an interesting read on the Langley bus system, and its inability to attract people out of their cars. The second article was carried by the Advance, and is also about another form of alternative transportation, specifically biking and the lack of proper, wide bike lanes. (I have always been a fan of separated on-street bike lanes.)

You would think that these forms of transportation would get large sums of funding to help equalize and give people real transportation options out here. Sadly, all we are getting is SkyTrain by the time I'll have kids the same age as I am today. Our governments must invest in biking, walking, transit, and supporting programs. To be provocative, maybe it's time to end the auto subsidy.

I'll leave you with one final thought. I cannot think of a single memorable, and highly desirable, area in this region that was built around the auto. White Rock and Fort Langley were built with walking in mind. While areas like Downtown Vancouver, and even North Vancouver, were built around the streetcar. So when we talk about in investment, walking and transit are the true lasting investments in the well being of the region.

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