Thursday, September 17, 2015

Lack of transit service threatening Regional Growth Strategy

One of the key pieces of Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy is to accommodate 40% of new residential housing and 50% of employment growth within Urban Centres. The strategy also calls for 28% of residential and 27% of employment growth along frequent transit corridors. The map below shows both Urban Centres and current Frequent Transit Development Areas.

Map of Urban Centres, Frequent Transit Development Areas, and the Frequent Transit Network in Metro Vancouver. Select map to enlarge.

By concentrating growth in these areas, the pressure to develop in agricultural and rural areas of the region will be reduced. If you live outside of an Urban Centre or Frequent Transit Development Area, you also benefit by having closer access to transit, shops, services, and employment.

As noted in a recent Metro Vancouver Regional Planning Committee presentation, there has been limited uptake of Frequent Transit Development Areas throughout the region. The major challenge is that we don’t have the funding to expand the frequent transit network. Properly funded transit is a tenet of our Regional Growth Strategy. Without transit, there will be pressure to develop in agricultural and rural areas. At the same time, there will be increasingly limited ways out of congestion which will limit people’s access to jobs in the region.

On the topic of transit, the following maps show how well Urban Centres are served by transit today. It is no surprise that transit service coverage is poor in Langley. This is due to the auto-oriented built form of the area which is a result of a lack of transit funding to improve service. 200th Street will become a Frequent Transit Development Area if funding can be secured to improve transit.

Maps of frequent transit service coverage in Urban Centres. Select maps to enlarge.

Our region’s future is tied directly to transit funding. Will we have an accessible region with opportunity for everyone? I don’t know because I’m uncertain that the province and our mayors will be able to find a way to end the decade long impasse around transit funding in our region.

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