Monday, May 31, 2010

Keeping the public in public transportation

One of the best things about our transportation system in Metro Vancouver is that it is managed by one regional agency: TransLink. No matter what form of public transportation you take and no matter where you are in the region, there is one fare system and one coordinated network. People from all over the world come to see how well this model works. Another good thing about our system is that it is publicly owned. This allows for more emphasis to be given to safety, accessibility, and overall transportation policy. I’ll get back to that point in a moment, but first I wanted to use Scotland as an example of confusing public private transportation.

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and has a population that is similar to Metro Vancouver. Up until 1986 all public transportation was operated and owned by SPT, the regional transportation authority. Margaret Thatcher decided to privatize bus service at that time, so today “essentially anyone with a bus and a public service vehicle license can set up as a bus operator. All they need to do is register the route they want to operate with the Traffic Commissioner. There are about 100 different bus operators running services within the Strathclyde area.” The kicker is that the public agency still needs to run subsidized bus service to cover service gaps in the private network. They also maintain all bus stops and bus stations. The public is stuck with the cost centers while the private operates get to make the cash. Taking a bus can be very difficult as each bus operator set its own fare and regional transit passes from SPT work on most, but not all buses. The system certainly works, but it is less than ideal. Privatized and deregulated rail was an even bigger boondoggle.

In 1994 the Conservative government decided to completely privatize the British Rail network. All the private operators formed a company called Railtrack that looked after rail infrastructure, capital projects, and timetable coordination. Under the private company, rail infrastructure was not renewed as it should have been and on-time performance declined. There were three fatal rail accidents in 1997, 1999, and 2000 that caused the Labour government to buy back Railtrack from the private sector and essentially nationalize the rail system again. Network Rail which is a “private” company (much like BC Ferries is a “private” company) now operates the rail system. Back under public control, safety has improved, on-time performance has improved, and infrastructure is being renewed as all of Network Rail’s debt is guaranteed by the federal government. Private operators still own the rolling stock and provide end-user service, but the services are coordinated under the National Rail brand.

When it comes to natural monopolies, it makes sense to have public control or strong regulation. Image if every road in BC was owned by a different company with its own rules. We are lucky in Metro Vancouver to have a public body that can look after our transportation system in a coordinated manner. Certainly having private operators is not an issue (Canada Line, Golden Ears Bridge, Community Shuttles in Langley), but completely privatizing, deregulating, and split up our transportation system would be a fatal mistake if the UK is any indication.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A two day summit or transit for 100 years?

If you've been following this blog, you know that Toronto's Transit City Program which would have built $9 billion in light rail was slashed to $4 billion by the Ontario provincial government. You may also be aware that the federal government is spending $1.1 billion on the upcoming G8/G20 Summit's security which is more then our entire Vancouver Olympic Security budget! This has one city mayor a bit upset according to the Toronto Star:
“Would we use $1 billion to build a Finch LRT (light rail transit) to serve the neediest people in Toronto, to create 10,000 jobs, to build public transit for 100 years, or would we use it for security for a two-day event in Toronto?

“If they can spend a billion dollars on a 36-hour event, there is money in the federal and provincial treasury to build Transit City, to build it now; there’s money to meet our other priorities like affordable housing,” Miller said.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Light Rail good for Economy

It has been no surprise that light rail is not only good at getting people around, but is good at providing an economic boost to an area. Just go to downtown Portland and see how a town with 11.4% unemployment has a growing, thriving downtown core. In 2008, Joe blogged about a 1.6 mile streetcar line that would generate some $388M in new development and create more than 700 new jobs.

In Ottawa, two studies say that light rail line will "generate $3 billion in economic stimulus and create 20,000 person-years of employment during construction alone." It will also reduce OC Transpo's (the transit operators)operation costs by $100 million per year.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rationalizing Transit

In a bit of positive news, it appears that the Olympics has really opened people up to the idea of taking public transit. According to TransLink, March saw a 19% increase in ridership over March 2009. SkyTrain saw a 70.6% increase, SeaBus saw a 18.9% increase, and buses ridership grew at the rate of 2.5%. It is not surprising as choice riders don't take buses.

Speaking of buses, according to News 1130 the majority of the new March riders are from South Surrey and White Rock. This is a bit ironic considering that cash-strapped TransLink is "rationalizing" transit service, giving more bus service to overcrowd routes and less service to under-preforming route. According to the Delta Optimist:
Civic politicians are concerned TransLink may be planning to reduce bus service between South Delta and the Canada Line station in Richmond.

The transportation authority's plan to control costs has made that scenario a possibility, according to municipal staff, which told Delta council TransLink hasn't made clear how it intends to meet its cost savings goal.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kelowna, Sprawl, and HOV Lanes

This long weekend I was back in Kelowna, my Birthplace. I haven’t been there for about 4 years, and I’m amazed at the amount of sprawl they have built in such short order. Living in Langley, it makes our sprawl look like compact, complete communities! Kelowna and West Kelowna proudly have the two largest Wal-Mart Supercenters in Canada and have so much commercial floor space that some stores are moving from one Power Centre to another, leaving empty buildings behind. I even saw a few businesses that have gone belly-up in Power Centre Land. It’s not all bad news thought.

Kelowna is also embracing mixed-use in its downtown core. There are now more new mixed-use buildings in downtown Kelowna, then when I lived in the Okanagan (for the first 18 years of my life.) More are on the way. Also the Province actually removed a general purpose travel lane on Highway 97 through Kelowna for HOV/Bus Lanes. They are also building a B-Line type bus service from Downtown Kelowna to UBC Okanagan where all student have a U-Pass. You can now take public transit from Downtown Kelowna to Downtown Vernon which is something you couldn't do when I was growing up.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Health and Transportation

There is a great post on the National Association of Railroad Passengers Blog about health and transportation that is worth reading, but I think this graphic sums it up pretty well.

Edinburgh Tram (Streetcar)

In the 1950's, almost all of the streetcar systems in North America were ripped out and replaced by bus service. This was know as the Great American streetcar scandal. We had our own in Vancouver when BC Electric dismantled the system and burned the streetcars under the Burrard Street Bridge to save money on paving streets. Anyway in Edinburgh, Scotland, they also ripped out their system in the 1950's. I believe that the wholesale dismantlement of streetcar systems was one of the greatest mistakes that western society did. Only 50 years later, streetcar systems are once again being built all over the world. In Edinburgh, I took some pictures of their new streetcar that will be put into service in 2012 - 2014. They are constructing a new 18.5km line.

Outside the new streetcar

Inside the new streetcar

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pedestrian Zones

One of the first things I noticed when I was in Scotland was how there seemed to be a better sharing of public space between the motorist and the pedestrian. In many of the villages in the Highlands, (people living in the towns and villages have car parking on their property) normally there is a public parking lot on the edge of town and you are expected to walk around the village core.

Pedestrian Zone in Fort Williams, Scotland (POP: 10,000)

In the larger center, many of the important high streets (shopping areas) have pedestrian only zones for the majority of the day. These streets have shoppers, protesters, and performers: the streets are alive! Of course, as you can see from the pictures below, there are provisions for commercial delivery. Also, pedestrian zones are only done of select sections of streets.

Pedestrian Zone in Edinborough, Scotland (POP: 500,000)

Glasgow, Scotland (POP: 2.3 million)

Back in the 1970's, many urban planners tried to create pedestrian only zones in North America, but ended up messing things up and killing business. They put them in places that didn't have the pedestrian volume or alternate access for shoppers (ie: public transit). In Vancouver, I can think of two streets that should have pedestrian only zones in certain sections: Robson Street and Granville Street. Closer to my neck of the woods, the one-way section of Fraser Highway would be a great place to try a pedestrian only zone during select times on the weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

News Update

So this might seem like a small thing, but it is a really big deal. The US Federal Department of Transportation signed a new policy statement on pedestrians and cyclists on March 11. It seems that more and more in the US, government are waking up to the idea of roadways that accommodate all users equally and safely.
The DOT policy is to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems. Because of the numerous individual and community benefits that walking and bicycling provide — including health, safety, environmental, transportation, and quality of life — transportation agencies are encouraged to go beyond minimum standards to provide safe and convenient facilities for these modes.
In other news, earlier this year I blogged about a hacking incident that some media and climate change deniers called "Climategate": email messages from two climate researchers were hacked conveniently before the Copenhagen Summit. Because of these emails, the deniers claimed that climate change isn't happening and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was a sham.

On April 14th, the University of East Anglia (home of the hacking) released a report from their independent Scientific Appraisal Panel that stated they "saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it."

On March 31, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee issued a report that found:
We are content that the phrases such as “trick” or “hiding the decline” were colloquial terms used in private e-mails and the balance of evidence is that they were not part of a systematic attempt to mislead. Likewise the evidence that we have seen does not suggest that Professor Jones was trying to subvert the peer review process. Academics should not be criticised for making informal comments on academic papers.

Even if the data that CRU used were not publicly available—which they mostly are—or the methods not published—which they have been—its published results would still be credible: the results from CRU agree with those drawn from other international data sets; in other words, the analyses have been repeated and the conclusions have been verified.
So with the next United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Mexico this December, let's hope our governments can act before it is too late.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Separated Bike Lane in Brussels

Not surprisingly, in Brussels there are separated bike lanes all over the city. The lanes were separated from automobile traffic by something like this (cheap):

Or like these few pictures that I took when I was there:

Note the small cyclist information sign on the right

I was thinking to myself that we really aren't going to see a huge increase in cycling until we provide the facilities that make people feel safe. Imagine being a pedestrian without crosswalks or sidewalks on the Fraser Highway: you wouldn't be a pedestrian for long.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Olympic Line Streetcar?

So, one of the mini-quests on my Europe holiday was to get a few pictures of the Olympics Line streetcars in Brussels. I wasn't really surprised, but never-the-less amazed at how important streetcars (trams in Eurospeak) are to the transportation system. In North America, we see the streetcar as something between a bus and light rail, but that thinking may be wrong.

In Brussels, streetcars form part of the backbone of their transportation system. Yes they have 4 metro lines and 50 bus lines, but they also have 19 streetcar lines! Did I mention there is under 2 million people in the region?

Bus stuck in traffic

It really is amazing how flexible streetcars are . They operate in the metro system and on separated right-of-ways (going faster than the traffic). They also operate with mixed traffic. I think we should scrap SkyTrain and even what we think of as light rail. In this tight economic time, we should be embracing the streetcar for it efficiency, speed, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. Portland's streetcar cost about 100 time less than SkyTrain.

Streetcar in private right-of-way

Streetcar operating in Metro Tunnel

Also interesting to note is that they actually have leather seats and hand-rails on the streetcars. (And I thought they just souped-up the cars for the Olympics.)

PS: They had no fare gates that I saw in Brussels.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Social Engineering at its Best at Quattro 3

I recently had an opportunity to meet Mr. Charan Sethi of the Tien Sher Group of Companies (the developer of Quattro 3) in the Whalley area of Surrey. Many members of the general public think that developers are simply cash-grabbing money grubbers that are only concerned with the almighty Loonie. While a few bad apples seem to spoil the bunch, Charan Sethi is just not that kind of developer.

I knew a little bit about Quattro and their latest Quattro 3 offering from the press and some information I obtained from presentation centre staff. What I did not know was that Charan Sethi has one huge passion for doing the right thing and making Whalley a model community. Charan “gets it”. I could have listened to the man and his vision all day and our time together just flew right on by.

Charan believes firmly that developers in an area like Whalley have a social responsibility to attract people that will change the neighbourhood in a positive way. You can throw together some cheap units, cash out and leave, or you can stay and become a “social engineer”. Charan has clearly taken the social engineering path.

Quattro is a development built on a foundation of quality and affordability. It is a delicate balance to provide quality materials and furnishings, while keeping the price within reason for an area like Whalley that is in transition. As I walked the property with Charan from Quattro 1 over to 2, he was constantly pointing out features that he sprang to upgrade.

Firstly, the buildings are architectural interest built into them from the exterior with crafted top edgings in place of simple square corners. Every run has an inset or other unique feature. Many of the accent items like the decorative overhang of the parkade were specified by the architect to be of wood materials. But it became evident to Charan that black painted steel would be more attractive and much more durable. The decision was simple and the steel that I saw was very attractive. Of equal quality is the playground area, which is a community amenity. The playground features cushioned groundcover, heavy-duty equipment and safety rails. As a CPTED practitioner I was thrilled to see that Charan sought professional Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) advice and the outdoor common space is a model as a result. At Quattro 2, Charan provided $30,000 in additional property enhancements AFTER it was already turned over to the Strata. What developer does that?

Expensive paving bricks replace cheap asphalt driveways to the parkades and even the refuse area (read garbage dumpster) was being treated with a very classy wooden gate as we walked the grounds. Once inside the very secure Quattro 2, my eyes were treated to a Yaletown-style foyer with sleek, club-style dark Formica panels with glass accents. Just off the main lobby was a gym and community room (there is one in each building from Quattro 1-3). Quality gym equipment filled this room. I asked my friend, Township of Langley Councillor Grant Ward to join me. Grant just could not resist hopping on the huge, heavy-duty elliptical machine with those two new knees of his. The only quote I can attribute to him was “wow” and we heard that often as we toured the property.

When its all said and done, Charan Sethi and his Tien Sher Group will invest over over $800M in new development in Whalley. Charan is planning some high-rise towers on the old Flamingo Hotel site just across the street from Quattro 3. The commercial podium and several buildings on that site will receive an expensive green roof treatment. Speaking of green, Charan has provided bike storage in each Quattro buildings. No big deal you say? How about 12 very affordable studio suites that leverage Skytrain just 10 minutes away to eliminate parking stalls? But as Charan wouldn’t be content to stop there, he committed to the City of Surrey to provide 2 car share vehicles at his expense for this building.

Charan has a few more social engineering tricks up his sleeve. He saw that in other developments the presence of large balconies resulted in everyone in the complex remaining within their space. So, Quattro 3 will have Juliet balconies to encourage people to gather outdoors in the lush landscaped common area ground with lawn furniture to chill out or read in. With many young families moving into Quattro, the playground is well-used. Charan’s “social planning” was inspired by the piazzas of Italy where Italians gather after work and enjoy the outdoors until the wee hours of morning. I recall my visits to Rome and how remarkable it was that working people could stay out in the piazza until 2 or 3 in the morning on a work night!

Charan can't wait to continue his vision with future developments in the Whalley area as he works on crafting the Yaletown of Surrey. Not just high-rise suites with a view, but even some garden apartments to help people age-in-place will be coming to future Tien Sher developments. Until then, the display centre at Quattro invites you to see their display suite and options for interior furnishings. All tasteful and professionally designed. I couldn't help but photograph almost everything I saw that day. So instead of a few photo inserts I thought you might enjoy the slide show of the Quattro experience.

We are planning another "Sustainability on the Edge" event for possibly October, 2010. I've asked social engineer and developer Charan Sethi to keep October free as much as possible and be one of our special speakers. Keep watching this blog as October draws nears. You will not want to miss this one!

In the mean time, check out the display suite and visitor's centre at Quattro 3 for yourself. More information can be found here.

Official Community Plan Change

We have been following the development of the City of Langley Sustainability Charter since February of this year when the City hosted its first open house. The City's Official Community Plan (OCP) will have an amendment bylaw introduced for public hearing on May 31, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at Langley City Hall. I will be there to show my support. The proposed changes to the bylaw will include GHG reduction targets (16% below 2007 level) derived from the City’s new Community and Corporate Energy & Greenhouse Gas Emissions Plans. It will also include reference to the City's Sustainability Charter which is still being worked on. 16% is a modest number, but the local government doesn't have control over transportation which as the single largest contibutor to GHG emissions in BC.

You can download a copy of the OCP changes from our document archive.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Meeting Last Night with TransLink

Last night, we had a great meeting with Vincent Gonsalves who is the Community Relations Coordinator from TransLink.

He gave an overview of the services that TransLink provides: from buses and SkyTrain to the major road network. I suggest that you listen to the audio and view the presentation at the bottom of this post.

What I really found impressive was his overview of TransLink's public consultation process. Many people believe that the TransLink public consultation process is nothing but a sham. I have to disagree. I was part of the South of Fraser Area Transit Plan and over the last few years, I've seen the service improvements that we identified. Remember it was the provincial government that decided to build SkyTrain for the Millennium Line and Evergreen Line, TransLink and the region picked light rail.

Besides the province's 30 year love affair with SkyTrain, the real problem is the lack of funding for the agency. This goes right back to day one when the government of the day canceled the vehicle levy. If TransLink is going to be able to improve transportation in our region, it will be the province that will have to solve the funding issue. I know that politicians won't like it, but unless they plan on hiking the gas tax or property tax all that's really left is some sort of road pricing. Until then, TransLink is in a holding pattern.

Anyways, we had a great meeting and both Joe and I look forward to continuing being a part of the Surrey Rapid Transit Study process.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

OnTrax Meeting Tonight

Our next OnTrax meeting is tonight. We have the pleasure of having Vincent Gonsalves who is the Community Relations Coordinator from TransLink presenting at our meeting. He will be speaking on TransLink, TransLink's plans, and the public consultation process. There will also be a question and answer period after his presentation. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, May 12th from 7pm to 9pm
4th Floor - Yorkson Creek Meeting Room
Township of Langley Civic Facility
20338 65 Avenue

6:45pm – 7:00pm Self-Registration /Greeting
7:00pm – 7:10pm Quick Group introductions
7:10pm – 7:12pm Introduction of Vincent Gonsalves
7:12pm – 8:00pm Mr. Vincent Gonsalves
8:00pm - 8:15pm Q & A
8:15pm – 8:25pm Break / Final Discussions with Mr. Gonsalves
8:25pm – 8:45pm Call to Order - Reports
8:45pm – 8:55pm Other Business / New Business

Download a copy of the agenda

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Smart Cards and Fare Gates

I just got back from a whirlwind tour of the UK and Brussels in Belgium, and now I have a bunch of things to post about public transit. Today I wanted to talk about smart cards and fare gates.

As you know, the provincial government will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on installing fare gates in our transit system as they claim it will reduce fare evasion and make people feel safer. In Europe, fare gates only seem to be used on the old systems like the 100+ year old Glasgow Subway and London Underground. All the other systems I was on work on the proof-of-payment system, just like TransLink today. Even the UK National Rail system works on a proof-of-payment system! Fare gates are old school and I don’t know why we are installing them. On the matter of feeling safer, station attendants are part of the solution. At most rail station in the UK, there was a station agent that helped out with issuing tickets and minded the station. No amount of fancy cameras or fare gates can make up having a person at a station. I say that the provincial government should scrap the installation of fare gate, and just hire attendants at key stations in our system. We could use the capital money saved for things like light rail in the South Fraser, for example.

On the matter of smart cards, I think they are a good idea as they allow for more flexible ticketing and really help when you have multiply public transportation agencies in the same region. We are very lucky in Metro Vancouver to have only one public transportation agency. Most regions in the world have fistfuls of public transportation agencies. Sorting out the different fares and rules between the systems is confusing. Smart cards really make transit easier in these regions as it sorts everything out for you. For Vancouver, smart cards could allow for the use of distance based fares which many see as more fair than the current 3-zone system. You simply tap you smart card when you get on the system and tap when you get off. Here is a picture of a smart card tag station in the Seattle Downtown Transit Tunnel. Note the lack of fare gates!

The very cool bus/light rail tunnel in downtown Seattle

Orca smart card tag station in their fare gate free system

Close up of smart card tag station

Monday, May 10, 2010

OnTrax Meeting on Wednesday

Our next OnTrax meeting is coming up this Wednesday. We have the pleasure of having Vincent Gonsalves who is the Community Relations Coordinator from TransLink presenting at our meeting. He will be speaking on TransLink and the public consultation process. There will also be a question and answer period after his presentation. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, May 12th from 7pm to 9pm
4th Floor - Yorkson Creek Meeting Room
Township of Langley Civic Facility
20338 65 Avenue

Thursday, May 6, 2010

National Train Day in USA

This Saturday is National Train Day in the USA. I thought I'd mention it now because sometimes you can get some great deals from AMTRAK if you act fast around this date. I've written before about my trips out of the Fairhaven Station in Bellingham, WA several times. It's a great place to travel out of if you live in the Fraser Valley.

AMTRAK has established this website for this year's National Train Day. Last year I traveled on National Train Day and it was a party-like atmosphere at almost every station along the way. Surprisingly they list activities at other Washington State stations, but not Seattle. The Portland, Oregon station has a special event that you can view here.

There are also some great pictures of old and new trains, as well as this article from AMTRAK's ARRIVE Magazine. US Vice President Joe Biden rode the rails up and down the US east coast with an estimate of 7,000 round trips during his career. The Obama administration has been putting considerable stimulus monies into rail as many of you know. It's interesting to note that an AMTRAK employee told me shortly after the election that when the presidential election results were announced, a few former executives at AMTRAK resigned because they knew that under Obama they would actually have to work towards improved passenger rail service.

Living in the Valley I don't even bother to look at Via Rail's website much. Their was a time a couple of years ago that their search engine didn't even show Vancouver to Seattle train service. It's a sad state of affairs for our national rail service and we can only hope that one day money will be invested in it and we can have our National Train Day here in Canada in a real way. Until then I will continue to depart from BEL and give AMTRAK my train fare. For that I get exceptional and friendly service, good food, fresh drinks and a stress-free ride to Seattle or Portland. I would love to do the coast to California one day via AMTRAK. A worthy goal for the future!

Happy National Train Day to you!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More on Quattro 3

I promised more sustainability info on the Quattro 3 development in Surrey that was launched on May 1st. Here it is:
  • All of the Quattro buidlings (1-3) are set into grade and therefore do not have excessive land requirements. This allows for more green space on the property.
  • Quattro 3 offers more homes on the same footprint as the other Quattro buildings. But as Quattro 3 is a five-story building and Quattro 1 & 2 are four-story, Quattro 3 gains the higher density.
  • Quattro 3 suites have Low-E coating on glazing (glass windows, doors, etc.), fluorescent lighting in some common areas including corridors, and energy efficient appliances.
Here's the sweet spot as I see it. You are nearby to two SkyTrain stations and in a walkable neighbourhood that allows you to visit the super market and other shopping and services. the Quattro community is built on land that previously provided NO usable public land. It now offers the Quattro community green space with parking and an outdoor atrium - all amenities that did not exist before Quattro. If you are looking for a new home, check out Quattro. At some point very soon I hope to visit their presentation centre and check it out for myself.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Quattro 3 in Surrey - Location, Location, Location

I've been looking to write about a new development in the City of Surrey and just have not had a free moment. I plan to do a couple of posts on QUATTRO because it is worthy of some note here. I am also awaiting slides from that Active Transportation forum I attended because I want to provide some visuals for you.

We will highlight sustainable and/or transit oriented developments here from time to time. We are not getting money to do this (we don't!), but as advocates we feel we need to recognize quality developers that buy into the vision that the people who read this blog support. So, let's look at Quattro for a bit...

Back in 2008 part of this nearly-completed development burnt to the ground. The developer took his time to assemble a quality product and this past Saturday May 1st, Quattro 3 was launched. In the heart of Surrey City Centre this development is very transit oriented and walkable. Quattro 1 and 2 sold out within hours of their launch. Sales of Quattro 3 have been brisk and I believe this is due to people getting over their love affairs with automobiles and looking to public transit and walkable neighbourhoods.

I thought in this post I would keep it short and perovide this area map to show just how walkable and transit-accessible Quattro really is. See for yourself:

How would you like all of these amenities in your back yard? What you may not realize is that Mayor Dianne Watts and her administration have dedicated a City of Surrey Economic Development section JUST for Surrey City Centre and as most know, she has committed to relocate Surrey City Hall to this area. You've heard the phrase, "Don't Mess with Texas"? I say, don't mess with Surrey. Watch this space as we examine more details about this exciting development at Quattro 3.

If you know of a transit-oriented or sustainable development in your area, please e-mail us with some info and a URL and we will check it out and investigate including it here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

TransLink Planning Process May Change

Today's Province Newspaper carries an article that in the print addition carries a planning headline and in the electronic edition has another. You can read it here. I'm tired of reading negative, after negative story on every news topic, so I'd like to focus on the positive.

"Transportation Minister Shirley Bond is more interested in getting things done than in how they are done. That’s why the TransLink legislation she introduced Thursday changed the rules on how the transportation authority does its planning, she says. Instead of having to detail funding for a 10-year plan, the amendments will simply require TransLink to show every year how it will pay for the next three years of its operation."

I think this sort of planning is a huge step in the right direction and one that is based more on reality. I've seen detailed 5 and 10 year plans in business that are totally unrealistic and worthless. I worked for a large corporation that loved them. As a member if the senior management team, I found the entire exercise just plain silly. Good on Minister Shirley Bond for applying some common sense and good business logic. TransLink needs to become more business minded.

With regards to public oversight I would just say that I'm all in favour of oversight and public participation. But I'm seeing more and more in the municipal setting that when it comes to technical issues, staff get kicked around by people who are not engineers, nor have the years of technical experience. I believe as in the corporate world there is a place for a Board of Directors and then public discussion as plans are made technically ready. I'm sure others here will disagree with that, but I'm seeing the harmful affects of this other system on our community.

The short of it is, better planning by TranLink equates to a better transit system for all of us. Right on Minister Shirley Bond!