Thursday, January 7, 2010

Road good to a point, but better transit needed

Todd Litman at the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has written an interesting report on the economy and transportation. It's a 97 page report that I encourage you to read. He made the following conclusion:
-Parking subsidies are generally an inefficient way to support downtown economic development. More efficient parking management is generally more cost effective and beneficial overall.

-High quality interregional highways support economic development, but once this basic highway system exists, expanding its capacity to reduce congestion has negative as well as positive impacts. By stimulating automobile dependency (fewer travel options) and sprawl it tends to reduce transportation system efficiency and increase external costs such as parking costs, accident risk, and pollution damages.

-Mobility management strategies tend to increase transport system efficiency and
economic productivity, reduce specific costs such as traffic congestion, accidents and consumer costs, and provide basic mobility for non-drivers. Such strategies tend to be particularly beneficial if implemented as an integrated program. Many of these strategies reflect basic market and planning principles, and so tend to increase productivity and economic development.

-High quality public transportation provides many economic benefits and so can be cost effective, provided there is sufficient consumer demand and supportive transport and land use policies.
So what does this mean for our region? One could argue that with our current/in-construction highway network that we have more than a basic highway network, and any further projects will have a diminishing return on investment. It would also appear that we should be looking into things like congestion pricing, HOT lanes, and other traffic demand management strategies. In the South of Fraser, we need improved public transportation full stop. On the topic of parking management, the City of Langley may want to look at metered parking instead of 3 hour free parking to promote economic activity in downtown Langley. In the City of Vernon (about 30,000-40,000 at the time) when I was growing up, we had meter parking downtown plus a paid four-story parkade.

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