Monday, March 1, 2010

The Transit Games

I have to say that the last two weeks have been lots of fun. Working downtown, I was able to catch some of the party of these games during the weekday. And of course, I went downtown on the weekend. Even Langley shared in the spirit. I regularly saw the 502 from Aldergrove half-full of Olympic volunteers. If I could say anything about these games, it really was the transit games.

From the beginning of our Olympic bid, the plan was to get people throughout our region on transit and it worked! Sure there were some lineups and even some hot tempers, but all in all it was a very good experience. I have to thank the people of TransLink (and all the operating companies) for a job well done. In fact, I actually got home in better time on transit during the games than regularly due to the added transit service (even on the 502.) It’s sad that these enhanced services are going away. If there was one transit gem during the games, it would be the Olympic Line streetcar that ran between Granville Island and the Olympic Village Canada Line station. Talk about traveling in style: leather seats, wood paneling, and even leather straps to hold onto when standing. The Olympic Line streetcar really opened people’s eyes to what transit can be. You don’t have to break the bank to have good quality services. I hope people's experience on the streetcar will translate into more streetcars being built in our region and the South Fraser. It will be interesting to see how this factors into the transit funding issue currently facing our region. Will people be willing to pay more money for improved service and expansion? Vancouver actually closed down major roads and things worked great. Getting around in a car wasn’t even that bad. I had to drive around for work during the games and experienced very little delay. So let’s get on with building transit, as the games proved, it's worth every penny.

Many have called this Olympics the friendliest games ever and commented on the party atmosphere downtown. This is not chance, but almost by design. Vancouver has a strong sense of place and downtown is all about the pedestrian. Even without the games, downtown Vancouver draws you in. This should be a reminder to our politicians in the South Fraser that building around people is better than building around the car.

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