Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Parking Time

One thing that most communities have in abundance is surface parking lots. If you read this blog regularly, you will know by now that I’m not the biggest fan of the asphalt.

When the City of Langley was working on their Downtown Plan, they did an inventory of asphalt and found that a large area of Downtown was covered in it. They even had a map that outlined parking lots in black. It was meant to show that we are not using our land to its fullest potential.

City of Langley Casino Parking

Today’s surface parking lots can be tomorrow golden mind for development, but there are a few things we need to do that I’ve already posted on: basically building should front the street. What was interesting to hear of recent was that as part of the development application process, as well as the artist’s rendered side view of sites, they also include a top-down view. This will allow planners, council, and the public to have a better understanding of site coverage. That may led to improved development decision making.

What will be interesting to see is how the Township of Langley plans to deal with the Cineplex movie site surface parking and how the City of Langley will deal with the casino surface parking. What I believe will happen is a new road will be built across both sites to break up the parking lots to provide access for hopefully new, mixed-use buildings.

While need to accommodate (not cater to) the auto in the South of Fraser while we wait for better transit. We can do much today to ready our sites for transit in the future. We can start building with the pedestrian and bicycles in mind today.

Cineplex Parking Lot in Langley Township

Monday, June 29, 2009

Holland Park

As I tweeted earlier today, Holland Park in Surrey (between King George SkyTrain and Central City) was designed by the same people that did the Langley City Spirit Square band shell in Douglas Park. Douglas Park has a multi-phase plan that was developed as part of the Spirit Square design process. It would see water-features, a more formalized structure to the park, and strong tie-ins with the Fraser Highway One-way section. Sadly the City of Langley doesn’t have any current plans to “finish” Douglas Park. This is different than Holland Park in Surrey

It would seem Surrey did the opposite of Langley City and designed the park, then added the “spirit square”. It was impressive to see the amount of people that where using Holland Park for more than accommodation. It is a great urban park. Today was the first time I actually walked in the park, though I saw its construction almost from start to finish while riding the SkyTrain every weekday. Enjoy the photos!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Light Rail Everywhere

Maybe those people out East do know a thing or two… In a vote of 15-1, the Regional of Waterloo, Ontario approved a light rail line for the region of 478,121 people.
The initial proposal for a light-rail system had the first phase serving the main transportation corridor in Kitchener-Waterloo, using existing railway lines and on-street lanes to carry trains along 14 km of track to ten stations between Waterloo and Kitchener
The cost is $790 million or $56 million/km; dirt cheap compared to $233 million/km UBC SkyTrain!

So since Surrey and Langley have over 500,000 people, where is our light rail?

Picture of the Day

In celebration of one week of the 595 bus service linking Langley with Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Joint Meeting

Last night I attended the joint meeting of the Township of Langley Recreation, Culture & Parks Advisory Committee and the City of Langley Parks, Environment, Recreation & Culture Committee. It was at the new Langley Events Centre/Willoughby Community Centre. I have to say that this is a pretty impressive building. Coupled with the surrounding fields/park, it should serve the community for many years to come. On the sustainability front, it has a great storm water management system.

If there was one criticism I could think of, it would be that a large section of the site is dedicated to parking. The parking requirement is a result of the location and nature of the park and events centre, but my hope is that as the area around the centre grows some of that space can be put to other uses and the parking converted to structured parking. That would, of course, be several years down the road.

On the joint meeting front, we went through some of the major recreational and cultural projects and events that are going on in the Langleys. The Langley Events Centre was front and centre, but other projects included upgrades to the McLeod Athletic Park, Aldergrove Athletic Park, ToL Spirit Stage, 2010 BC Games, Canada Day, The Douglas Park Spirit Square, Al Anderson Pool, and Aldergrove Festival Days.

One interesting issue that was brought up was the fact that the Township manages bookings for all fields in the Township, City, and School District of Langley. Currently there is a user for Township fields, but not City fields. The Township wants to see the City implement user fees on City fields to make both the Township and the City field policy consistent. Fees can run anywhere from a $1 an hour to $30 an hour, so the fees are nominal.

Another interesting item is that a company called ERA is planting tree for free in municipalities in exchange for about 100 years worth of carbon credits. Both the City and Township of Langley have such contracts. It was noted that both government may need to be vigilant to ensure that ERA is keeping the planted trees maintained and not letting them die (which is apparently happening).

Finally, I brought up the idea of an integrated bike trail/lane network in the Langleys. I wanted to know if each municipality was working on securing senior level government grants to improve our cycling infrastructure. Currently there isn’t too much going on, but hopefully that will change.

It was great to be at the new events centre and it is a real value to have committees from both the Township and City of Langley come together and share ideas. I hope this happens again soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Holy Traffic Batman

So talk about inducing traffic. In the one week since the Golden Ears Bridge has been opening it has carried 12x (55,000) the traffic as the Albion Ferry (4,500) daily. I’m going to bet that many of these trips are new trips, but of course I don’t have any data. What will be more interesting to see is the affect the toll will have in a month’s time and if there will be any change in traffic volumes. Also interesting will be to see the effect, if any, on the other bridges in the region. Anecdotally, I know I have now travelled to Maple Ridge when I wouldn't have otherwise. Also, I have a co-worker who now goes shopping in Langley which he didn't a few weeks ago.

The Golden Ears Bridge wasn’t build as congestion relief, but as a way to connect communities. The big question is will the positive externalities out way the negative externalities.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fraser Valley Transit Study Open House

There are Open Houses all this week for the Fraser Valley Transit Study:

Monday, June 22, 2009
5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Mission Leisure Centre
Rooms 4A and 4B
7650 Grand Street, Mission

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
University of the Fraser Valley
Room B121, Abbotsford Campus
33844 King Road, Abbotsford

Wednesday, June 24, 2009
5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
University of the Fraser Valley
Room A201, Chilliwack Campus
45635 Yale Road, Chilliwack

Thursday, June 25, 2009
5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
District of Kent Municipal Hall
7170 Cheam Avenue, Agassiz

More information is at: http://www.srtfv.ca/. Thanks to Corey Newcomb for pointing this out...

Digging into the Data

Last week Joe blogged about a new snapshot series from the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD). Today, I would like to dig a bit deeper into the information.

Not surprisingly, in the FVRD most trips stay within their communities of origin. There are two main factors for this. First about 60% of all trips are “personal business” (running errands, etc.). Only 28% of trips are for getting to/from work/school. The 28% number is important though, because while the 60% is spread throughout the day, the 28% usually travels at very specific times of the day (aka rush hour).

Also interesting is that both Abbotsford and Mission have a higher percentage of people heading to Metro Vancouver than traveling to other communities in the FVRD for work. Of those trips, over half are heading to Langley and Surrey. As the following map shows, there is a strong case for building high quality transit (like light rail) between Abbotsford, Langley, and Surrey. Also, the West Coast Express should be beefed-up for better service on the North side of the river.

It would also appear that Chilliwack is very self-contained.

The fact that 60% of trips are for “personal business” mean that we need to look at ways if making it easier for people to leave their car at home while running errands and going shopping. Giving people mixed-use, transit-friendly development options will go a long way to giving people that choice. The real key is to then connect these developments together with a better transit, cycling, and walking network.

While many communities have about a one job per person in the workforce ratio, It doesn’t necessarily translate directly into "everyone that lives in the community work in the community." About 40% of all commuter trips, in Langley City and Abbotsford, travel less 5km. In the Township that number is about 25%. The following graph shows the percentage of people that work in their city of residents.

As a note, in 1996 71% of people worked and living in Abbotsford. In the Township of Langley, that number was 46%. There has been a steady improvement since the 1990's. It would be interesting to see the new stats for the Township and City of Langley. Ether way, we need to be providing a light rail backbone for transit in the South Fraser and Fraser Valley.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Updated Society Information

In an effort to be totally transparent, we have updated some of our society information including our board’s terms of reference and code of ethics. You can download the information from the document archive.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Transit Cuts in America

To follow up about transit cuts in the US from my previous posts this week, I found a site called Transportation for America that is keeping track of transit cuts in the US and even includes a map. On the Canadian front, it seems that Calgary Transit is cutting $1 million from their budget. It would appear that Canada hasn’t been affected as much as the US yet by transit services cuts yet...

View United States of Transit Cutbacks in a larger map

Thursday, June 18, 2009

West Coast Express

Well, a friend of mine and I decided to try out the West Coast Express and new Golden Ears Bridge this morning. Though taking the 502 and SkyTrain from Langley Centre is way faster, it’s always fun to be 10 minutes late for work and try out new things. I had some observations from the trip.

First the Langley side of the Golden Ears Bridge is definitely less freeway-like and more multi-modal. TransLink was even smart enough to build a queue jumper lane for buses to bypass the eventual congestion at the approaches of the bridge. This is the same kind of lane that is on the George Massey Tunnel, and for some reason was not practical for the Port Mann Bridge. The Maple Meadows side of the bridge was definitely more freeway like, but the design geometries of the road reminded me more of the parkways of the early 20th century and an improvement compared to the standard issue wide-shoulder, all asphalt MoT roads that our province is so fond of. It doesn't make you want to drive 100km/h. Anyway, I find it funny that the Golden Ears is billed as a “Goods Movement Bridge,” I saw one “Goods Movement” vehicle. The rest of the users of the bridge were the evil single occupancy vehicle.

My WCE ticket cost me $13 for a return trip because I got a discount for having a normal TransLink pass. The West Coast Express is a great (pricey) service, with its on-board washrooms and coffee bars, and I hope they can expand the services for people on the north side of the river. It reminds me of a tiny-town version of Caltrain in the San Francisco Bay Area that runs all day, every day. I hope we can get to that level of service.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Exciting New Website

Corey Newcomb is a young planner with the Fraser Valley Regional District. Corey and a team at the FVRD have been busy producing this excellent website with a graphic statistical presentation on life in the Fraser Valley. 

The Regional Snapshot Series is excellent and the first snapshot produced is on transportation. More will be coming on land use and various community aspects of life. I wanted to post up on the blog here every graphic from the transportation report. I've held myself back and included a small sampling. You can view the remainder by clicking on the Commuting and Places of Work link here. Keep in mind that some data is still from the 2004 Translink Trip Diary and it will be very interesting to see the new data that should be out within the next year or so.

Here is some interesting info from the 2006 Census. It shows that Township of Langley commuters travel only about 12 kilometres to their work.

Enjoy the new site and feel free to post your comments here to encourage Corey and the FVRD team to provide more of this GREAT stuff.

Tax and Spend

I would appear that I’m now writing a series on Portland. Today I would like to focus on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per capita and public transportation. According to the book that I’ve now finished, Portland saw a drop of VMT per capita of 1.5% between 1993 and 2001. Portland was one of the only regions in the US to experience this drop. Metro Vancouver is also another place that experienced a drop of VMT that made it an exception in Canada. It is with this in mind that I wanted to look at transit funding.

It is clear that there has been a shift to public transit over the last little while and people are begging to see improved service, but sadly agencies in the US are cutting service like there’s not tomorrow. It seems that as more people are taking transit, less money is available for it. This is completely wrong. Let’s look at some reasons why.

Portland is usually proclaimed as transit paradise, and over the last decade there has been great improvement to transit in the region. That all changed this year. With the failing economy, TriMet was forced to cut 8% of its budget and apparently there are more cuts coming. TriMet receives 54.5% of its revenue from self-employment tax and payroll tax. With unemployment on the rise, less revenue is available. TriMet will need to find new revenue sources.

In Metro Vancouver, we face a similar funding issue. Besides fare, fuel tax and property tax are the two largest sources of revenue for TransLink. Vehicle taxes cannot be relied on for transit funding because as more people take transit and drive less, we end up with needing more service with less money. What is different about TransLink is that unlike TriMet, which receives 15.3% of its revenue from federal and state grants, we get 0%. If TransLink received 15.3% of its revenue from the provincial and federal government, we’d get an additional $140 million a year… Anyway, TransLink is working on finding extra money, but I believe that senior levels of government will need to step up.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Portland and the Urban Growth Boundary

One of the things you hear time and time again is that an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) or, in our case, the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is primarily responsible for high real estate prices. I’ve been reading a book on Portland called, funny enough, The Portland Edge. The book looks at the various myths and truths about planning and urban form in that region. It points out that in a study of UGB’s and regions across America, UGB’s play a small role in high real estate prices. The most important driving force in pricing is the desirability of an area.

One of the keys to providing affordable housing in a desirable area is to ensure that there is an affordable housing policy in place. Also, the promotion of secondary suites and a mix of housing type will provide housing options at different price points. A great way to provide affordable housing is for governments to own and/or buy land when the value is lower, then work on deals to help that land support an affordable housing policy. Portland, for the most part, failed to pick up land before the value increased. Smart Growth BC and many other organizations have great resources on affordable housing.
Critics who focus on the impact of the UGB as a land market constraint that unfairly drives up housing price would like to leave out the impression that Portland planners and policy makers are simply passive observers if the rising prices. Those who claim that the price increases are attributable to market constraints resulting from planning policies should explain the 80% increase (in 1999 dollars) in home prices reported values during the 1970’s when Portland’s population declined by 4.1% with a corresponding loss of 482 homeowner housing units. There certainly was plenty of undeveloped land readily available within the city in the 1970s. (Chapter 9)
This was also before the UGB was established in the region. So if anyone tells you that the ALR is why housing cost so much in Metro Vancouver, you can tell them that it has more to do with desirability and land speculation. And isn’t that the story of development in the whole history of the region.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bridge Celebration

By this time tomorrow, thousands of vehicles per hour will be taking advantage of the new Golden Ears Bridge. In fact, the bridge can handle more vehicles per hour than the Albion Ferry could handle all day. It all equates to some big changes for the region. One thing that I found odd about this whole project is that TransLink (the transit agency) didn’t allow for any future transit only lanes. The only reason that I could think of is that by having it all general traffic, the private operator will be able to maximize on revenue. One could argue that it is in the best interest of the private operator to ensure that the bridge is being used as much as possible. This is different than 200th Street that will have one of its general travel lanes converted for transit only in the future (that is the current plan anyway).

To celebrate the opening of the bridge, Blogger Joe, took some picture of the opening festivities. Like the Lions Gate bridge opened up the North Shore for development, the Golden Ears Bridge is opening up Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Around Town

I took a few pictures last night around the New Westminster Area and the King George SkyTrain Station Area. I took some pictures of the towers that stopped being constructed around King George SkyTrain. I was told recently that Concord Pacific had taken over the project, and they might be completing all the towers as originally planned. I would think that if you had money, now would be the perfect to time get things done for a deal. Also, I got some shots of the modern TELUS microwave tower in New West, and a project that is trying to move some heritages house to make way for commercial development in the Uptown Area. FYI: I’ve added more pictures of the City of Langley’s Spirit Square Set. The grand opening is today... Happy Weekend!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Goodbye Kevin

Well, we have a new Minster of Transportation. Her name is Shirley Bond and she comes from Prince George. It will be interesting to see what perspective she will bring to the whole issue of sustainable transportation in Metro Vancouver. Being born and raised in the Okanagan myself, I can tell you that the Interior and Northern BC’s transportation issues are very different than the issues in Metro Vancouver. One thing I noticed when I first moved to Metro Vancouver was the condition of the roads and infrastructure in general. It was all very shinny and in great shape. Most other parts of the province have to deal with road and infrastructure that are in less than ideal shape. I remember when the province got out of the rural road maintenance business in the 1990’s. Some road where basically turning into gravel. And then there was the experiment of not paving roads, but seal coating them. Anyway, I digress... The point is roads in the Interior are in need of some basic maintenance.

Areas like Kelowna need major investment in public transportation. Kelowna area has over 160,000 people and an aging population. How about a streetcar from Orchard Park Mall thru Downtown to the Mission? Was Shirley appointed to give the appearance of a voice from “the rest of the province” for transportation and infrastructure? Will she support light rail and sustainable transportation for the South Fraser? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

TransLink and Money

This very in-depth article appeared in the Surrey Leader about TransLink and the Provincial government titled "Victoria blocks path to improved TransLink: CEO"
The provincial government is the main obstacle to Metro Vancouver getting the transit system it needs for a livable future, TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast says.

The head of the region's transportation authority says that while opinion remains split on exactly how to raise the money, a broad consensus is emerging that an aggressive expansion is needed, costing an extra $450 million a year in new revenue.
Prendergast says area mayors, business groups and virtually everyone else he's talked to back him on that point.

"There is one party still at the table I think that is in doubt as to whether $450 million is necessary. And that partner is the provincial government," he told civic leaders at a recent forum.
Adding my two cents worth, TransLink paid $63.4 milllion in debt servicing last year and has over $1.7 billion of debt. I’ve been told that most of that cost has to do with SkyTrain. So that begs the questions, is SkyTrain killing TransLink?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Douglas Park Spirit Square

The mildly controversial, $815,000 Douglas Park Spirit Square in the City of Langley will have a grand opening on June 12th. I’m very excited to see the project completed for a few reasons. First, Downtown Langley didn’t have any formal gathering place for events, protests, etc. The square will bring this to the city. Also, and I know this was the controversial element, Douglas Park was pretty much grass with odd travels running through it. It was pretty much serviced as the “back yard” of the apartment building that back onto the park. The addition of a band shell will help make the park more of a civic centre of Langley. There is one disappointment: I don’t think the band shell goes far enough. I was part of the design charrette for the square. The end goal of the process was to see a more formal park that went right to the street on Douglas Crescent with water feature, more pavers, etc. While on the south side of the band shell an earth berm was to be constructed to give a natural seating area for events. Also, the lighting and planting in the park was going to be updated and formalized. I would love to see Douglas Park become the heart of Langley, a destination for people. I would also like help reinforce and support the Langley Downtown Master Plan. I took some pictures of the square last night...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Portland Book Time

So, I have started reading a book called The Portland Edge: Challenges And Successes In Growing Communities. So far it has been a great read. It looks at the successes and challenges in Portland, Oregon on livability and sustainability. The Metro Portland area has a strong history of regional planning, and the book examines this in some detail. I would recommend that you read this book if you want a fair account of the region's past, present, and future. It also covers some of the more controversial topics like affordable housing and the region’s quasi-government Portland Development Commission. One of the interesting figures in the book was something called the Ladder of Citizen Participation. You can read more about it, but it got me thinking about what level of citizen participation we have in the Metro Vancouver region. I personally believe that we are somewhere in the “degree of tokenism” levels. Some agencies are better than other.

I would say that the Ministry of Transportation, for example, would be at the Informing level, while TransLink is at the Consultation level… Anyway, read the book!

Picture Time

I thought I would share some photos with you. The first are from the mixed-use, big box retail area on Cambie Street in Vancouver.

The second set are from the San Francisco Bay Area and include many transit pictures of Muni, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), and AC Transit among others. Enjoy!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Drinking on the 502

Because TransLink now has a liquor license this young lady, like countless others, has decided to crack open a cold one...

Langley Centre Bus Loop

Happy Friday! I thought I would share some information and news about the Langley Centre bus loop. As you know, the bus loop isn’t the most safe feeling or inviting place. One of the reasons for the lack of comfort is the fact that the loop is around a derelict mall. To truly make the bus loop a safe and inviting place, the mall site will need to be redevelopment into a mixed-use building. That would help ensure that there are always legitimate users and eyes on the loop.

Anyway to help in the meantime, the City has installed new bus shelters, lighting, and also they will be piloting a to be city wide street recycling program starting at the loop.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hawaii Looks To Community Rail To Bail Them Out

Hawaii's unemployment rate has doubled in the past year. 6,000 construction jobs lost across the state and 3,000 union members without work, things are not well. To make matters worse, the State of Hawaii is dealing with a multi-year deficit of $2B, while the City of Honolulu gets their heads around a $50M deficit! What can turn it all around for them? RAIL.
So how much of an impact can a rail project have you ask?
The State of Hawaii and the City of Honolulu now pins its hopes, dreams, money and jobs on city's rail transit system. Some thought it would never be built given the financial condition of the government, but officials say:

“The only real hope that we have on the horizon in my mind is rail,” City Managing Director Kirk Caldwell said.

Dozens of Waipahu residents gathered Wednesday night at the second of three community rail station workshops to discuss transit and give input.

“If it’s going to bring jobs to Hawaii its going to keep the money in Hawaii,” Waipahuresident Ty Cullen said.

Some of the residents expressed concern over whether the rail is actually going to be built considering the state of the economy but city officials say...

“We have collected about 400-million through the surcharge, the federal government, Dan Inouye said there’s somewhere between 1-billion and 1.5 billion that will be forth coming,” Caldwell said.

“Without a doubt its the project that couldn't come quicker,” Pacific Resource Partnership Kyle Chock said."

So how much of an impact can a rail project have? 6,000 carpenters and 11,000 construction jobs directly and indirectly, as well as architects, engineers, design consultants and a host of others. This is an elevated system like our SkyTrain and you can read more about the project here.

Maybe it will take an economic disaster before we see light rail transit in our area? The canadian federal government is certainly spending more money on rail and transit now that they have in a VERY long time. 

Last night at the Township of Langley's Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) meeting (which I am a voting member of), I spoke passionately about selling Langley as a light rail transit manufacturing hub. Some of my fellow committee members wanted to keep the industry broader, but I felt it is better to have some goals and focus. We compromised and left LRT manufacturing in the draft work plan to council, but will be looking to lure a number of industries based on current needs and future predictions. I'm hoping I can find someone that can speak on business growth for green industries that include LRT and have them make a presentation to the EDAC. Please e-mail me if you know of anyone that is good and with great credentials to speak on such topics. 


Good afternoon, I thought I would share some pictures that I took at Waterfront Station yesterday. Work is coming along at integrating the Canada Line into Waterfront Station. You can see that they already have the signage for the Canada Line posted up (even though it is taped.) I have to say that I really like the “new look” signage that TransLink is using at the stations they have updated. I wonder when they will replace the signage at Broadway Station as it is temporary and was put up over two years ago. It you have a look at the signs at Broadway, they are make out of cheap corrugated plastic; not like the heavy duty stuff they now have at Waterfront Station and Columbia Station.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A General Motors Atonement?

The Tyee has this interesting article by Crawford Killian that suggests General Motors (GM) can atone for their past sins (building huge gas guzzlers), and finally make a contribution to our society and its future by becoming a massive light rail manufacturer. 

We here at South Fraser OnTrax love the idea and since the visit of LRT expert Brent Graham last year, we have been speaking with everyone we can about the idea of turning some of Langley's industrial space into a Light Rail car manufacturing hub. Our location in roughly the center of all the LRT cities is perfect. I am a commissioner with the Township of Langley's Economic Development Commission (EDC) and when I suggested this item be added to the work plan, it received a warm reception from all those present. I believe it will be addressed in the broader work plan.

Township Council and Mayor Rick Green are all supportive of Light Rail Transit. Councillor Mel Kositsky wants to ensure someone other than the Township pay for it. Councillor Kim Richter has said she fully supports SFOT in our advocacy, but has raised questions about the costs of LRT at several council table discussions. 

Richter recently attended a sustainability conference in Portland, OR. Perhaps she had opportunity to use the streetcars and MAX line in Portland, and see the possibilities for herself.   In any case, we look forward to ToL support on this initiative that will take some time to get off the ground. The first step will be to contact LRT producers and query their interest. Brent Graham told us that several European manufacturers would like to have a North American base of operation. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Power and Driving

There are two interesting news articles that I saw this morning that are worth sharing. The first article is from up in Bella Coola which is 479km west of William’s Lake. Anyway, the community is currently not connected to the power grid with the rest of the province. Power is currently provide by diesel generators. They are looking at a converter to run-of-river, but with a twist. One of the problems with our current power system is that it needs to be designed for peak power use. This means that at some points of the day we aren’t producing peak power because we don’t have any way to store it. Well, according to the article from CanWest they will convert all the energy available during non-peak times to hydrogen, so it can be used during peak times. This is like a hydrogen battery. It would be interesting to see at what scale this could be done in the future because it will be able to provide us with more energy out of our current infrastructure. And it’s always better to use exciting infrastructure.

In other news Winnipeg's Centre for Sustainable Transportation (we’ve blogged about them in the past) has an article in the Winnipeg Free Press about how drivers underestimate fuel consumption and idling time.
Leaving the car at home for short trips is a staple of green commuting advice, but it didn't seem to matter in the study. Half of the 20,000 trips logged were 10 minutes or less, and of those, about 5,000 were for trips that capped at six minutes. Drivers also made a lot of trips for just one purpose, said Zdan, like going to the bank or grocery store on separate occasions.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Passenger Rail Continues to Make News at The Tyee

Monte Paulsen over at the Tyee continues his series on passenger rail. Today's installment includes extensive quotes from John Vissers and I.  Once again Paulsen hits the nail on the head with his knowledge of the New Westminster rail bridge challenges, Washington State not taking BC very seriously when it comes to passenger rail, and the Canadian federal government focus on the Greater Toronto area and their transit needs. Here's some quotes from the article.

"So let's pose the question: If we were building a new north-south rail line in the 21st century, would we run it along the shore of the Georgia Strait, as was done in the mid-1800s? Would we purchase thousands of hectares of the most expensive waterfront real estate in the Pacific Northwest? Would we wind our new track around rocky outcroppings and bridge it across coastal wetlands?"

"Or would we look at the less expensive and less environmentally sensitive flatlands to the east? Would we look for a route through Surrey and Langley, perhaps crossing the American border somewhere near Cloverdale?"

"That is the obvious alignment," said John Vissers, who speaks for a citizens group called Rail for the Valley. "There aren't all that many possibilities for high-speed or higher-speed rail corridors across the Fraser Valley."

"I like the Portland model where you have streetcars and then you have the MAX line," agreed Joe Zaccaria of South Fraser OnTrax.

"That's the way I see passenger rail in the valley working. You'd have local streetcar systems, each of which connects to a regional spine," he said. "That regional spine would need only three stops: Abbottsford, Langley, Surrey."

Sustainable Living in Northern BC

A friend of mine, thinking of me, took the following pictures when she was up in Smithers, BC. Sometimes in the Lower Mainland, we forget that there is more to the Province than ourselves. I checked out this group's website and one of the things they are working on is a community bike program.

The 595

In celebration of me being a bus-pass-carrying commuter for a year now, I forget to buy a June pass. Thank goodness for a certain 24/7 convenience store this morning and a walkable Downtown Langley...

On that topic, I got a hold of the new 595 bus schedule. It looks like the 595 will be a 30 minute service running between about 5am and 9pm on the weekdays, and 7am to 9pm on the weekends. During West Coast Express times, the bus is timed to meet up with the WCE at Maple Meadows station. Right now, I take the 502 on 53rd Ave at 6:36am and get into work right at 8:00am. If I were to take the WCE and new 595, I would catch a 6:43am bus from Langley Centre and get to work at 8:20am. Sadly that would make me late for work, so I won’t be able to take the new service. I would image that the people in Walnut Grove will love the new bus as it gets them into Vancouver faster. Some interesting notes on routing: this bus will take the 203rd overpass. It would appear that TransLink is putting all their new routes over it. Also, the 501 and 595 will run within minutes of each other, so there really won't be improve frequency on the 200th Street corridor.