Monday, January 16, 2017

Vehicle kilometres travelled flat between 2009 and 2015 in Metro Vancouver

Over the weekend, I can across an interesting study from Pacific Analytics Inc. when doing some research on the Internet about transportation in our region. The name of the study is “‘Greenest City’ Vehicle GHG Emissions: An Assessment.

The study looks at vehicle kilometres travelled within the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver. Vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) is a good indicator of how many people are driving on our roads. The higher the VKT, the more vehicle traffic there is.

The author of the study points out that the VKT/GHG Forecasting Model that Pacific Analytics used was developed over the last decade for the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Environment, and TransLink. The author of the report calls into question some of the City of Vancouver VKT data as seen in the following chart. Pacific Analytics’ model is the grey and yellow lines while the City of Vancouver’s data is the hashed black line.

Average VKT in Metro Vancouver and the City of Vancouver. Select chart to enlarge.

What is interesting to me is that their model shows that VKT in Metro Vancouver has been essentially flat since 2009. While VKT has remained flat, the regions population has grown by 9% or 212,907 between 2009 and 2015.

To put this into perspective, Metro Vancouver has absorbed the population of Abbotsford and Chilliwack combined without a real increase in VKT. This means that people were not travelling as must and/or walking, cycling, and taking transit more. There has been an increase in transit ridership between 2009 and 2015.

In 2016 and beyond, will VKT increase, stay the same, or decline. While the price of fuel plays a factor in how people get around, so does how we design our communities, and the diversity of transportation options available.

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