Friday, July 30, 2010

Choices and food for thought regarding Public Transportation

Our family moved into Langley from Burnaby in 1978. In 1978, the roads were not as congested as they are today and there was reasonable public transportation. Now in 2010 there are a lot more people and our roads are congested.

Earlier this summer, my wife and I took a river cruse from Amsterdam to Budapest and I observed the public transportation in the different areas. Amsterdam had a great public transportation and a lot of their ideas would work well in the South Fraser.

Public Transportation in Amsterdam starts with modern and fast passenger trains that bring people in from the outlying areas. Some passenger rail stations are also next to the Rhine Canal which is also used for public transportation. Outside of the passenger rail stations were three choices of transportation. First were bicycles that people could park outside of the passenger rail stations free of charge. At one station there were three huge parking ramps that we in North America would use for motor vehicles, but were filled with bicycles. These three ramps were still not enough to accommodate all the bicycles and there were bicycles all around the rail station as well. At the station, there was also a place to rent bicycles and the bicycles did not have to be ridden back to the rail station. The company that rented the bicycles had offices all over Amsterdam and a rider could leave the bicycle at any one of them. Riding a bicycle around Amsterdam was relatively easy since the bicycle lanes which were actually a separated from motor traffic. The bicycle lanes even had their own traffic signals.

The second form of transportation just outside the passenger rail station in Amsterdam was what we would call streetcars and what they are called trams in Holland.

There were a large number of these trams that went all over Amsterdam for a reasonable price. These trams ran with electric overhead wires with metal rails around them that looked like they could not fall off. When we used the tram, it was relatively fast, very comfortable and went down the middle of the road. Another good point was that there was only about a minute or so between trams and even though these trams where going to different places no one had to wait long.

The third form of transportation just outside the passenger rail station in Amsterdam was buses which were just on the other side of the trams. There did not seem to be as many buses and I did not see many public buses in Amsterdam. I saw more tourist buses than public transportation buses on the whole entire trip.

There did not seem to be many motor vehicles around the passenger rail stations in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam seemed to have the best transportation system of any other European city or town we visited which had fairly good systems themselves.

We did see a taxi driver in Budapest get a little annoyed and that was a very small incident. Motor vehicle drivers in the places we visited seemed to be patient, courteous and cautious. There was no real road rage and surprisingly we never heard even a horn honk. In the European places we visited, there were very few if any right turns and I was informed that in most cases right turns are illegal.

The Rhine, Main and Danube rivers and canals from Amsterdam to Budapest are used for used for public transportation as well as commercial transportation and recreation purposes.

Every place we visited had an extensive use of bicycles and there was a lot of rail based transportation.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Transportation Stats

I stumbled upon a report called Commuting in America III which was put out by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. The report looks at the long term trends in commuting patterns in the US since the 1960’s. I encourage you to read the whole report, but there are a few highlights worth mentioning. Travel patterns have changed from suburban to central city commuting to more suburban to suburban commuting. Also, immigrants are more likely to take other forms of transportation besides a single-occupancy vehicle. Looking at the US on the whole, the mode share of the single-occupancy vehicles continue to rise while transit has a mode share of about 4.6%. Though it is not all doom and gloom. The report points out that large Metro areas have transit usage far higher than the national average at about 12%
Just as vehicle users do not drive unless there are roads, transit users cannot ride unless service is provided.
This got me thinking about Canada and lead to the very useful Place of Work Highlight Tables from the 2006 Census. Canada is a very urbanized country with 51% of commuters living in Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa – Gatineau, Edmonton, Québec City, and Winnipeg metro areas. Transit mode share in these regions represent 16% of all trips on average. I looked at the smaller communities and noticed many had high walking mode share. While a policy of improving and expanding public transit is essential for our large Canadian centres, a national policy should also be developed to encourage walking and other forms of active transportation like cycling in smaller areas. Of course all non-driver forms of transportation are dependent on land-use, so a strong local commitment to smart growth communities is also required. That could be aided by senior government funding programs that support infrastructure for smart growth communities.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Golden Ears Bridge

I missed this opinion piece last week in the Langley Advance, but I thought it was worth a mention. Called "Coming into its own", Monique Tamminga speak about the impact the Golden Ears Bridge has had on travel patterns in its short one year life.
While it always seems to be smooth sailing across the bridge, even at the height of rush hour, it’s being used more than many of us realized. When it shut down, traffic to get onto the bridge on both sides of the river backed up for blocks and blocks.

Choosing to take the Port Mann bridge as an alternative lead to absolute gridlock on the freeway, even before rush hour.
I've talked about this before, but this is another example of the gaseous nature of transportation. If you build more travel facilities like new or expanded roads, separated bike lanes, or rapid transit you actually end up creating new trips. The Albion Ferry carried 4,500 vehicles per day while the Golden Ears Bridge now carries 22,300 vehicles per day with a toll. People will change their travel patterns based on the travel options provided. The Golden Ears Bridge has created many new economic opportunities since its opening and it's likely that the South Fraser Perimeter Road Freeway and expanded Highway 1 will have a similar effect in our region. The question remains: what are we doing to incentivize public transit in the South of Fraser? With the current funding issues at TransLink, I fear that we are encouraging more auto use not less.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Portland Light Rail Funding

It would appear that transit funding has been shook up a bit in light rail capital of the US Portland. TriMet, Portland's transit agency, has opened up three new light rail lines over the last decade and has relied on a funding formula of 60% from the federal government. The region had counted on the same funding formula for their proposed 12km Portland-Milwaukie light rail line, but only received 50% funding. According to an article in DJC Oregon:
The 7.3-mile light rail project, as planned, would cost $1.47 billion. The FTA will pay $735.8 million of that amount. The light rail line would run through Portland State University, the South Waterfront, Southeast Portland, Milwaukie and North Clackamas County and would include a bridge over the Willamette River.

The FTA also cited increased demands from its New Start program, which would fund the project, as well as a fixed budget.

“While the good news is they’ve committed on the other side, we have less money for the project,” said TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch. “We’ll have to recalibrate the project to some degree.”

The Portland-Milwaukie project is the first Portland-area project to exceed a cost of $1 billion, Fetsch said. The project is more expensive than previous projects, Fetsch said, in part because it includes construction of a $135 million bridge and because the route goes through established neighborhoods, which makes acquisitions costs higher.
It is interesting to note that this is the first light rail project to cost over $1 billion in Metro Portland which would speak to the cost effectiveness of light rail. Portland has 84.3km of light rail compared to Metro Vancouver's 68.7km of SkyTrain. One of the interesting parts of the proposed project is a transit bridge that would accommodate bikes, pedestrians, streetcar, light rail, and buses only over the Willamette River.

From TriMet

It will be interesting to see how TriMet comes up with the missing $147m of funding for this project.

Monday, July 26, 2010

$77.7 billion needed for US transit systems

The US Federal Transit Administration released a report in June called the National State of Good Repair Assessment. The report looked at 5307 urban and 5311 rural transit agency in the US. It looked a bus and rail related assets and all support infrastructure. It found that 30% of all systems where in a state of good or excellent repair, 41% of systems were adequate, and 29% of all systems where in a state of marginal or poor repair. It is estimated that $77.7 billion would been needed to bring all systems to a state of good repair and an "annual average of $14.4 billion in normal replacement expenditures would be required to keep that backlog from getting larger."

It is interesting to note that this does not included any expansion of systems and really points to the level of underfunding of transit systems in the US. I suggest that you check out the full report.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cycling Update in Township

The Township of Langley has been working on updating their cycling network plan for some time now. I saw some of their original work last year and now they are putting the final touches on the plan before it goes out for public consultation. The Langley Chapter of the VACC has been in communication with Township of Langley staff on the plan and it is great to see that the municipality is reaching out to advocacy groups for advice. I have posted up the draft route concept map to our document archive, and I suggest that you take a look at it.

Township staff are currently collecting feedback from stakeholders and plan on starting the public consultation process by mid September with things wrapping up at the end of this year. If the 30-year plan is approved, they will create an action plan that will initially look at “low hanging fruit” project like road restriping before going on to the more costly projects.

For more information and to join the discussion I suggest that you join the Langley VACC's Yahoo Group.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rubber to Rail in Winnipeg

Back in April, a City of Winnipeg committee recommended that the city study using light rail instead of buses for their rapid transit network. This was interesting because the city is currently building a busway. Last month, the committee endorsed light rail over buses (BRT) and yesterday Winnipeg council voted to build light rail as the preferred option for rapid transit in the city. According to the CBC:
A light-rail system also has the potential to stimulate development of infill neighbourhoods along its corridor, Katz said at the time.

Katz has also said there are environmental benefits to encouraging more use of public transit, and light rail is the incentive needed to get diehard drivers out of their vehicles. A report was commissioned in April to study the two options and recently came back recommending light rail.

Katz has said Phase 1 would remain a bus rapid transit route and not be turfed in favour of light rail. However, light rail will be pursued for Phase 2 and all other expansions of the rapid transit system. The Manitoba government has already committed money for a bus-based Phase 2.
This is a big win for light rail in the home town of bus builder New Flyer Industries and is a testament of light rail's able to shape neighbourhoods and travel patterns. Shout out to Brandon Yan for sending me this story.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

200th Street Growing Up

As reported on Langley Politics, there was a big win for smart growth, mixed-use development along the 200th Street corridor in Langley.

Back in July 20, 2009, Township council approved stand-alone commercial development going forward along 200th Street (between 76th Avenue and 80th Avenue) before mixed-use development. This was a huge blow to sustainable development along the 200th Street corridor and would have set the gears in motion for a unsustainable future. This area is called the Jericho Neighbourhood.

The official plan for this neighbourhood was sent back to staff and on June 15, 2010 SFOT delivered a presentation on how limiting commercial floorspace and building mixed-use is better for sustainability and better for the local economy.

Council must have taken our presentation to heart because around a year from the original unsustainable vote, they "voted unanimously (moved by Bateman, seconded by Ferguson) to give third reading to the Jericho subneighbourhood plan with two amendments suggested by staff. The developers of the commercial area at 80th and 200th will have to build residential at the same time, and small scale commercial uses will be added, at grade, next to the public plaza." I hope this is a trend for development along the 200th Street corridor.

Also interesting from the Langley Politics post is council's new found appetite for high rise development. This is certainly good news if we want the rest of Metro Vancouver to pay attention to our transit needs. High rise towers are certainly not needed for the density or pedestrian environment required for streetcars or light rail. This could be done with mid-rise development along arterial roads like 200th Street and 208th Street with walk-up apartments and row houses along collector roads in the standard grid pattern, with single family houses spread through the mix. My fear for Langley is that this region seems to equate high rise towers with rapid transit, and without at least a few of the towers we are likely to get light rail sometime in 2080. Even Abbotsford has high rises.

Either way, I think Township Council should be commended for supporting mixed-used along 200th Street.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mixed-use means more money for munipicalities

So I found a very interesting blog post on Switchboard about an article in the The Charlotte Observer on mixed-use developments and tax revenue. Not surprising, mixed-use development outperforms big box and malls on a revenue-per-acre basis in Sarasota, Florida.
“[But] big box stores such as Walmart and Sam’s Club, when analyzed for county property tax revenue per acre, produce barely more than a single family house; maybe $150 to $200 more a year, [Sarasota Smart Growth Director Peter] Katz said. (Think of all those acres of parking lots.) Among retail properties, the biggest per-acre property tax revenue in his county, almost $22,000 per acre, comes from Southgate Mall, the county’s highest-end commercial property with Macy’s, Dillards and Saks Fifth Avenue department stores. That’s not so surprising.

“But here’s the shocker: On a horizontal bar chart Katz showed, you see that zooming to the far right side, outpacing all the retail offerings, even the regional shopping mall, is the revenue from a high-rise mixed-use project in downtown Sarasota. It sits on less than an acre and contributes a hefty $800,000 in tax per acre. (Add in city property taxes and it’s $1.2 million.)”
I blogged last year, during the height of the recession, how in Denver housing pricing dropped everywhere expect the transit friendly urban core which was a slight increase in price.

Mixed-use, smart growth development is good for the environment, good for people's health, and good for city coffers. It a shocking that mixed-use isn't building itself!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Long-form Census

If you didn’t know already, the federal government has decided to replace the mandatory long-form census that 20% of all household receive with an optional voluntary national survey. In the news, there has been much said about how the quality of information will be affected by this change as people will now be able to opt-out of answering the questions. According to an article on
Municipalities use information gleaned from long-form questions on how people get to work and where they work to plan bridges, roads and public transportation projects and budgets, says Derek Cook, research social planner with the City of Calgary.

"We may never again get neighbourhood level statistical data and what the hell are we going to do if we don't have neighbourhood data? How are we going to plan?" he says. "It's like taking a carpenter's hammer away and asking him to go continue to build the house."
Census information is critical to transportation planning and is only one of two data sources that are used to get a snapshot of our transportation system in Metro Vancouver (the other being the TransLink trip diaries). Without the census data, we will lose the ability to drill down to the neighbourhood level and get maps that compare population density, rail infrastructure, and mode share for example. Census data shows up in almost every report on transportation and land use in the region and we have even used this information on this blog. The information in the census is used by almost all local governments to gain a understand on their jurisdictions in order to provide targeted services and infrastructure. I’m sure the debate on the importance of long-form census data will continue and I’ll certainly be monitoring it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Waste Not - Talking Trash

We (Metro Vancouver) produce over 1.4 million tonnes of waste each and every year. What we do about this waste should be of great concern to all of us. I reached out to City of Langley Councillor Gayle Martin last week because I wanted to know more about the Solid Waste Plan that Metro has been working on. Gayle was gracious enough to reply to my e-mail with her vast amount of insight and wisdom on this topic. I'd like to thank Gayle for her hard work on the Metro Board and for encouraging Langley City Council to unanimously support Waste to Energy. Cllr. Martin's information helped me greatly and encouraged me to join Township Cllr. Grant Ward on a trip to Metro.

Last night I attended Metro Vancouver's final public session on our region's proposed Solid Waste Management Plan. This was the 33rd public meeting on the subject. Full details can be found on the Metro Vancouver website's waste planning section that I have linked. Metro should be commended for the extent of public input and work done on this file.

The Metro Boardroom was packed to capacity and despite extra chairs being brought in, there were still many people left standing. This is a HOT topic. Metro has been trying to plan and deal with our waste and replacing the Cashe Creek Landfill since 1985. After all is said and done, Metro has several options or a combination of options to deal with our solid waste:

1. Continue to use landfills like Cashe Creek and Burns Bog - Bury our garbage in the ground
2. Educate people and move towards zero waste
3. Increase composting of food and related "organic" waste
4. Increase all recycling efforts and turn our waste into new products
5. Incinerate the waste to create energy (electricity) that can be sold
6. Encourage re-use of things we buy so that new things are not purchased all the time

Everyone agrees that recycling efforts must be increased. I would think that most people would also support the composting of organic waste. Some oppose Waste to Energy Incineration because they are concerned that particulate matter and gasses will enter the sensitive Fraser Valley and Lower Fraser Valley Airsheds which Metro Vancouver also has an air quality plan to address.

After I had my ears full of proposals and debates last night, one message rang very loud and clear in my head. Burying our garbage is appalling, disgusting, not sustainable. Something needs to be done in a BIG way to stop it.

Apart from all the experts and special interest groups, the most powerful message for me was a simple one spoken by Ray Cameron of the Ashcroft Indian Band. He passed three large trucks destined for the Cashe Creek Landfill on his journey from Ashcroft to Burnaby for the meeting. He traveled all that way to tell us that this huge pile of garbage, as well as the leaks in this landfill, have his people concerned. Even if Cashe Creek was shut down today, it would take at least 15-25 years before the methane and other gas emissions from this landfill would cease. Ray Cameron said, "We don't want your garbage anymore." He talked about how this trucking of garbage to his community has been "imposed" on his people.

I don't know about the other people in the room, but Cameron's message just hit me in my heart. While I am very careful to recycle everything I can at my home and constantly seek to reduce my waste to the landfill, I never connected all those garbage bags in my neighbourhood to other people like those in Ashcroft. People who have our waste products IMPOSED on them.

In Langley we are allowed two 80 litre containers of garbage per week. If I put out one full container that is abnormal. Usually my garbage amounts to about 40 litres. In the Township you can pay $2.00 per bag for stickers that allow you to dispose of more garbage. I see the two 80 litre containers and the extras with stickers in my neigbourhood every week. To be fair to them, I also see my neighbours also putting out large quantities items for recycling. One thing is sure, our consumerism is not a "victimless crime".

Matthew Sasaki and Ben West from the Wilderness Committee (see website) were on hand to provide their input to Metro Vancouver. They encouraged more recycling and reuse, showing slides that they say prove that more energy will be expended during the WTE process and that the ash byproduct will be toxic. They oppose incineration and had the large sign (picture above) that read, "Burning Garbage Stinks". Another man that has lives very near to the current Burnaby incineration facility stated that he does not smell anything nor has witnessed evidence of emissions from this plant. It should be noted that several scientific studies refute claims that WTE plants emitting poor air and produce toxic ash.

For the record, I (personally) support Waste to Energy (WTE), but with some caveats:

1. The WTE facilities must scrub their emissions to the maximum extent possible.
2. The WTE facility must ensure the ash end-product is not toxic.
3. This ash will not be dumped in the Burns Bog Landfill. It should be used in road paving, etc.
4. We must educate and move towards zero waste despite all WTE efforts.
5. We must have several WTE facilities (or many).
6. We must make industrial/commercials sites more accountable for recycling their waste.
7. We must deal with recycling or handling construction waste.
8. That we ban the use of food and other containers that aren't able to be recycled.

I know there are some strong opinions out there on these issues, but we need to do something new. Airsheds are impacted today with all those trucks hauling our garbage around our communities and out to Cashe Creek. WTE facilities can scrub emissions and reduce greatly their impact on the environment. With P3 partners not taking the cheap way out and governments insisting they do things the right way, we can be well-served.

I also like the mass composting idea using Gore Covering. This is a Gortex material that seals out emissions from the composting site and allows for the mass composting of large amounts of supermarket, food processing and institutional organic waste products. You can learn more about the Gore Cover here.

Ontario is moving towards WTE and this is one company looking to do it the right way. Some of our municipal councillors from BC have visited this site. Business people from Covanta Energy and union people looking to work there, were out in force for last night's meeting. They want to build a WTE facility in Gold River. You can learn more about Gold River and Covanta here. But again, trucking our waste to Gold River is just as bad as trucking to Cashe Creek. Gold River should serve local area needs and we should have local WTE facilities to reduce trucking.

I like what some of the speakers proposed. One suggested that we pile all our garbage in Queen Elizabeth Park and then have parents take their kids there. When the kids ask what this all is, we could tell them this is that Christmas gift from 2005, etc. Another man suggested that we all duct tape our garbage cans closed for a few weeks and be forced to sort things out and find ways to recycle and reuse our waste.

New technology has come on the market that will allow the average household to use technology to effortlessly compost organic waste right there in your kitchen and all odour free! This product and others are affordable and will allow you to replace that nasty garburator in your sink. It is on my wish list and I hope to have one of these or similar around my home one day. Metro also has this neat website to help you do a Trash Audit and tips to reduce your waste.

I'll close with an impression that even today I cannot clear from my mind....

"We don't want your garbage anymore. Don't continue to impose this on my people"

-- Ray Cameron, Ashcroft Indian Band

Calgary Light Rail

These last few days, I've posted about the sprawling, single-family housing, and large ecological footprint that is Calgary. In a city like Calgary you'd think that light rail would be a complete write-off, but the city has the third busiest light rail system in North America after Sistema de Transporte Colectivo Metrorrey and the Toronto Transit Commission. The system is so busy that they are renovating all the stations to accept four-car articulated train sets.

Looking east on 7th Ave SW in Caglary

Looking west on 7th Ave SW

Calgary's key to successes in light rail is three fold. In downtown Calgary, they have promoted the use of light rail by having some of the highest parking rates in Canada. They have also promoted high-density development at the same time in the core. Second, the have a park and ride system at all their suburban light rail stations to promote people driving to light rail where bus service may not be convenient. Finally because they didn't waste money on needless grade separation, a downtown tunnel, or opulent stations, they were able to extend the system to the edge of the city. Every time I travel back to Calgary, the system has grown. If Calgary can have a successful, cost-effective light rail system and be the most sprawled city in Canada, just think of the success we could have in compact Metro Vancouver.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Urbanism in Calgary?

There is a neighbourhood in south-eastern Calgary called McKenzie Towne. According to the developer's website it is "an old-style neighbourhood with bustling High Street shops and classic homes featuring welcoming front porches" and an example of New Urbanism.

Entering McKenzie Towne

Unfortunately, the example only pays lip services to New Urbansim. Yes there is a "high street", but it's more in the fashion of urban village shopping malls like areas of Park Royal Mall in West Vancouver. There is no mixed-use and no office space. In fact, the following map from the East McKenzie Area Structure Plan from the City of Calgary shows that the community is not very walkable which is one of the most important parts of New Urbansim. You will notice yellow circles on the following map. The salmon areas are the commercial areas. The smaller circles are the 5 minute walking distance that most average people are willing to walk. The larger circles are the 20 minute walking distance which is the limit that most people would ever think of walking. As you can see, only about 1/3 of the neighbourhood is walkable. The community also lacks a proper street grid which further reduces walkability as the pedestrian does not have a direct route to her destination.

Click Map to Enlarge

Another interesting fact about McKenzie Towne is that it has a minimum density of 7 units per acre (upa). In the Langley Willoughby neighbourhood density starts at 6 upa to a maximum of 20 upa. 6 - 12 upa is required to support light rail. The City of Calgary, to it's credit, has planned for two light rail stations in McKenzie Towne. This is more than can be said about TransLink in Langley Township.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Calgary Series - Single Family Housing

One of the interesting things I noticed on my recent visit to Calgary was the design of the houses in suburban Calgary in a particular development called McKenzie Towne. The development has about 12 designs to choose from, everything from classical to English Countryside. With such strong differences and limited design, it highlights the inauthenticity of the neighbourhood. Of course the most telling view is comparing the front of the houses to the side and back of the houses.

Surprising this area is claimed as New Urbanist. I'll go into detail about this tomorrow.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Calgary Series

Last week, I was in Calgary for a bit of a mini-vacation. I used to live in Calgary and the relentless expansion of the City over the last decade is truly mind boggling . Where there was once nothing, there is now kilometers of single-family housing. Equally impressive is the City’s recent push to add more multi-family housing with everything from row homes to towers in the downtown area and around their light rail stations. This stuff didn't exist when I was living in the city. It is surprising that they are still designing the edge of the city from the “How to go bankrupt with infrastructure maintenance” handbook and still increasing the square kilometers of the city.

This turns into...

...this in south-eastern Calgary.

Calgary has the largest ecological footprint of any Canadian region and has a land area that is about double the size of Metro Vancouver with half the population. Calgary could grow with infill development and still accommodate 100 years of growth! I took some pictures of Calgary that I’ll be sharing over the next few days.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Light Rail and Redevelopment

I found an article in The Salt Lake Tribune about light rail and the economic grow that it will spur in the community of Murray (in the Salt Lake City region of Utah.) According to the article, the city contracted a Portland development firm and a Portland architectural firm to evaluate the potential in their downtown core.
“In 10 or 15 years, mass transit will play a critical role in the future success of this valley for economic and environmental purposes,” said Murray Mayor Dan Snarr.

But Murray will be particularly well-positioned, Snarr said.

“We’ll have the only platform-to-platform transfer from one train to another,” he beamed, referring to the city’s current light-rail TRAX stop and its future FrontRunner South station connecting Salt Lake City to Provo.
Back in Ottawa, the National Capital Commission (a crown corporation) is already working on station design for the yet to be finalized light rail in that region. According to the Ottawa Citizen:
But now the NCC is running ahead of the train, so to speak, in seeking to help the City of Ottawa design the stations that will make up the proposed light-rail system. The projected $2.1-billion rail project has 13 stops, a number that coincidentally corresponds with the number of Canadian provinces and territories. The NCC has mused about a design competition that would showcase, in a thematic way, the different regions of the country.
Finally in Toronto, another report has come out recommending road pricing to help fund transit and reduce congestion. According to the National Post:
The Toronto City Summit Alliance says tolling highways such as the 400 series at a rate of 10¢ to 20¢ per kilometre would relieve “congestion hot spots” while promoting the use of public transit — but acknowledges the existing transit system would require an overhaul.
PS: Check out the Toronto City Summit Alliance website for the full report and other information.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

News Brief

First off, another independent report has cleared the scientists at the center of the supposed "Climategate" that happened last year right before last year's Copenhagen Summit. According to an article on AP:
The inquiry by former U.K. civil servant Muir Russell into the scandal at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit found there was no evidence of dishonesty or corruption in the more than 1,000 e-mails stolen and posted to the Internet late last year. But he did chide the scientists involved for failing to share their data with critics.
In the New York Times, there is another article on how light rail drives economic development. This time in car capital LA:
The Expo route has spurred development proposals from major companies, including Hines, an international firm based in Houston, and Casden Properties, a leading Los Angeles developer of multifamily properties. In Santa Monica, Eileen P. Fogarty, the city planning director, said there was tremendous demand for any site that was located no more than a quarter-mile from a station. “People will comfortably walk a quarter of a mile,” she said.
Back in Winnipeg, the Mayor of that city is ready to replaced his bus rapid transit system even before it's up and running next year! According to the Winnipeg Sun:
Though the city is well into construction of an initial bus rapid transit (BRT) roadway from the south section of downtown to a site near the intersection of Pembina Highway and Jubilee Avenue, Katz stressed on Friday that it’s time to change gears toward a rail-based system — or even “LRT-lite” — that will attract more riders and provide a far better bang for the buck.

“The reality is that we need a long-term, sustainable rapid-transit system. And it’s been proven that LRT gets people out of their cars. BRT doesn’t. That’s just a fact,” Katz told the Winnipeg Sun. “It increases ridership. We already know it increases residential and commercial development.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

South of Fraser - Number One Transit Priority

I came across an article in Black Press' BCLocalNews website over the power shift that is happening from Vancouver to Surrey. For too long Surrey and the South of Fraser has received little attention when it came to transit. Over the past few years things have been improving with increased bus service, but we still have along way to go out here to get transit parity with the rest of the region. According the Jeff Nagel, Metro Vancouver's board voted to give South of Fraser rapid transit expansion priority over Vancouver transit expansion at their June 25th meeting.
Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie tried to amend the motion to put the Broadway extension on equal footing, but the board rejected the idea, saying priority for the Surrey extension fits the region’s growth strategy.

“It wasn’t well-received,” Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said of the amendment.

“Vancouver needs to embrace the rest of the region and the enormous needs the rest of the region has.”
Have the tided changed for the South of Fraser?

Monday, July 5, 2010

BC gasoline consumption up 10 percent

The Sightline Institute, who researches public policy best practices for sustainability in the Cascadia region (BC, Oregon, and Washington), has released a report that looks into gasoline consumption.

In BC after a decade of decreasing fuel consumption, there was a 10% jump usage. Ironically enough, the green Olympic Games were responsible for the largest spike in fuel consumption in at least the last 30 years. According to the report, our carbon tax helped keep the fuel spike from being larger.

Download the whole report from Sightline's website.