Thursday, October 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mobility in Metro Vancouver. TransLink looking to encourage positive trends, discourage increased driving.

Since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency in March, TransLink staff have noticed emerging trends around mobility in Metro Vancouver. They have been thinking about how to support trends that will have a positive impact on people’s quality of live while discouraging trends that will have a negative impact on people and the environment.

Reduced transit ridership
Buses travel within general traffic lanes meaning that they get stuck in congestion. To speed up travel-time for bus riders, TransLink staff is looking to speed up bus service along key corridors in partnership with municipalities. Some ways to speed up bus service include putting in bus priority lanes along corridor and queue jumping lanes at busy intersections.

Increased walking and cycling
To encourage the increase in walking and cycling, TransLink staff is looking to work with municipalities to rapidly create more safe bike lanes. TransLink staff is also considering supporting municipalities to create “slow streets,” and improve walking safety at some of the most dangerous intersections in the region. TransLink staff also want to increase the use of e-bikes by partnering with municipalities to provide shared e-bike charging, and to lobby the province to include e-bikes in the BC Clean Energy rebate program.

Increased driving
Some people who used to take transit have now purchased new vehicles. The current concern is that an overall higher percentage of all trip will continue to occur via single-occupancy vehicle as we recover from the pandemic. This will lead to increased congestion throughout the region, increased pollution, and increased GHG emissions.

To reverse this trend, TransLink staff is looking to encourage mobility options such as carpools, vanpools, car sharing services, taxies, and ride-hailing.

TransLink staff will continue to work on policies to discourage driving during the busiest times of the day. This includes working with municipalities to develop a region-wide framework for on-street parking pricing and allocation.

Increased remote work and remote learning
To encourage remote work and remote learning, TransLink staff is looking to make the agency a clearinghouse for information about remote work and learning. TransLink could play a role in lobbying the province and feds to create policies that incentivize people and organization to continuing working from home.

Increased e-commerce
E-commerce delivery can have negative impacts on parking, congestion, and emissions. TransLink staff is looking to work with municipalities to create a region-wide approach to urban freight delivery. TransLink staff would also like to work to encourage deliveries via low emissions vehicles and cargo bikes.

Increased unemployment & household financial strain
The cost of transportation is a large component in most household budgets. Ensuring that transit remains safe, convenient, and low-cost are key goals for TransLink as we emerge out of the pandemic.

To learn more, please have a look at the report, “Transport 2050: Progress Report on COVID-19 Impacts and Opportunities on Long-term Planning.

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