Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Looking into the crystal ball: COVID-19 and the future of transportation in Metro Vancouver

With the response to the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in many people working from home, school operating virtually, and the unemployment rate at 13.4%, both transit and driving is down in Metro Vancouver.

These things are changing as we prepare to enter phase 3 of BC’s Restart Plan. As our economy restarts, the number of trips that people are taking is increasing. Our roads are busier and transit ridership is starting to recover.

Until there is wide vaccination, community immunity, or broad successful treatments, COVID-19 will continue to impact both our transportation systems and economy.

Once there is a path forward for COVID-19, just like in past pandemics, we will revert to a pre-COVID-19 state.

As this timing is unknown, TransLink has been working on how to address the impacts of COVID-19 on our transportation network over the next few years. Some of the impacts include:

  • Reduced transit ridership
  • Increased driving
  • Increased walking and cycling
  • Increased unemployment

In response, TransLink is evaluating opportunities to ensure that our region remains livable, and that people continue to have a variety of safe and convenient transportation options.

To promote transit usage, TransLink is continuing to move forward with its Safe Operating Action Plan. Beyond that, it must continue to make sure that transit remains convenient and reliable. This means that it remains important to roll out transit priority measures throughout our region. An example of a recent priority measure is the bus lanes on 203rd Street and Fraser Highway.

Transit funding is heavily dependent on user fees unlike other modes of transportation in our region. The conversation needs to continue on creating a new stable funding formula for transit that is less dependent on gas tax and fares.

I’ve noticed more people walking and cycling in Langley City; this is something that is occurring throughout Metro Vancouver. To ensure that active modes of travel remain a preferred choice, TransLink will need to double-down on its partnership with municipalities to roll out more comfortable, safe walking and cycling routes. An example of a project that TransLink helped fund is the rebuilding of 203rd Street from Grade Crescent to Michaud Crescent.

As our economy continues to recover, TransLink is concerned that some previous transit riders will switch to driving. This would cause an increase in congestion and pollution in our region. Besides ensuring that walking, cycling, and transit continue to be preferred travel options, work needs to be done to discourage unnecessary driving. At the same, the province will need to continue to support the migration to EVs, including building-out charging infrastructure.

For more information about the short- and mid-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, please read “Transport 2050: Covid Impacts and Opportunities” in the latest TransLink Board meeting agenda.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

There are way more things that could be done. But it is unlikely much will be done in Metro Vancouver Transit compare to other Canadian/US cities.
It is all because of bad governance model and waist of money by TransLink 8 operating companies.

Cheers Nathan Davidowicz