Thursday, December 2, 2010

SFU & City of Surrey Transportation Lecture Program: Tough Choices

Over the past two months, I had the pleasure of attending the SFU & City of Surrey Transportation Lecture Program. The program was based on a similar program that has been running in Portland for the last 20 years to engage the local community. The Surrey Program provided us “with a comprehensive introduction to Transportation in the Lower Mainland with a particular focus on Surrey. You will learn about a wide range of transportation issues from regional planning of development and land use through to the day-to-day operation and management of our transportation systems.” We heard lectures from professional in the field from the City of Surrey to TransLink to the Province. The program built up to a final presentation that we had to prepare for the class on transportation.

I did a presentation with Brandon Yan on Complete Streets which you can download from the Course Materials section of the program’s site. While all the presentation where great, there was one that stuck in my mind called “Tough Choices to Enhance Sustainable Mobility Within Surrey and Metro Vancouver.” It struck me because this presentation basically outlines everything that the little voice deep-down tell us we need to do, but we haven't. Bill Lambert, David Walters, and Zaira Hernandez pointed out the following objectives for a sustainable transportation system and the “tough choices” to obtain the goals.

Objective 1 ‐ Travel Options (Light Rail, Frequent Bus, Cycling,etc)
Tough Choices
-Build transit priority lanes, queue jumpers, & transit signals in order to provide timely and reliable transit services with time advantage over autos.
-Require municipalities to TDM and parking policies (unbundled parking, high rates, parking for carpools, limit supply, parking maximums, removal of parking on arterial roads in peak periods) and TOD plans for funding for transit enhancements.
-Above requirements would be prerequisites for federal/provincial/regional funding of rapid transit services in a municipality.

-More expensive to travel in car alone –vehicle levies, tolls, parking charges distance related insurance, gas tax etc.
-Faster by transit than car in many corridors.
-Households able to save ‐$10,000 minimum annually.
-Reduce energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, auto property insurance costs and roadway infrastructure build/maintenance costs.
-Provide any more attractive choices for travel and opportunities to workand live closer together–fewer trips.

Objective 2-Sustainable Funding for Sustainable Travel and Land Options
Tough Choices
-All day tolls on new and old main bridges adjusted for time periods generating $2.5 billion annually.
-Toll funds dedicated to special fund only for improvements to regional and local sustainable modes‐transit and active modes‐pedestrian and cycling improvements.
-Formation of regional economic agency to pool tax funds from regional industrial/business parks in order to invest in sustainable areas for employment.

-Reduce congestion and its $1.5 billion travel delay costs in Metro.
-Reduce auto trips and greenhouse gas emissions.
-Increase reliability/reduce time of auto travel.
-More expensive to travel in car alone.
-Provides more attractive options for travel throughout region by transit and other active modes.
-Able to more effectively market Metro Vancouver to world for job growth.

Objective 3 ‐ Growth Limits and Municipal Changes
Tough Choices
-Designate hard lines for new growth and auto transportation infrastructure, and reduce growth nodes in Metro Regional Growth Plan to be strictly enforced by a combined regional/provincial body.
-Provide regional funding from bridge tolls to fund preparation of Transit ‐Oriented Plans on at least 50% of stations on BRT and RT lines receiving federal/provincial or regional funding, and use value capture taxes as part of their implementation.
-Approve a provincially negotiated plan to reduce the number of municipalities in Metro Vancouver from 21 to 4.

-Much easier to implement land use and TDM measures, and plan/build transit network and transit priority measures.
-Will facilitate getting TOD plans prepared along new BRT/RT facilities and implemented.
-Provide more sustainable limits to growth than proposed Metro Vancouver Growth Plan.

While you may not agree with everything they propose, the key point is this: We can complain all we want about the lack of transportation choice in our region, but until we send our politicians the signal that we are ready to change how we price transportation, nothing will change.

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