Friday, June 22, 2012

...Meanwhile, Back in Vancouver...

While New Westminster has a tough fight on its hand to get TransLink, the Province, and neighboring municipalities to reconsider their 6-lane Pattullo plan, what's Vancouver doing?

Removing roadspace for vehicles on a large scale.

Car traffic in Vancouver's downtown has declined steadily in the last decade. They are now talking about tearing down the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts and replacing them with park space.

They are talking about removing 2 car lanes from the perenially under-used Granville bridge and putting a nice pedestrian/bike pathway in their place.

[the plans for the Granville Bridge]

Of course, Vancouver can do these things, because it owns the infrastructure in question, and the infrastructure is entirely within VCR city borders. The Pattullo, as regular readers will know by now, is owned by TransLink and connects Surrey to New Westminster. So doing anything with it is at least three times more complicated because you have to get three parties to agree.

Parallel to Vancouver's situation, New Westminster's own car traffic is also decreasing - by this I mean, car trips originating inside City borders. The overwhelming majority of our traffic comes from outside. And, because we're not the final destination of that traffic, our options for dealing with it are a bit differrent from Vancouver's. The best thing New West can do is to get its neighbours better transit!
Meanwhile, South Surrey's Park'nRide locations are packed full (illegal parking is an issue) and more spots are needed. Surrey's continued growth depends on improving transit, but because of TransLink's financial woes (largely due to political interference by the Province), everything is grinding to a halt. And that is really too bad, because easing congestion does not require that large numbers of people take transit - it only requires about 10% of people to shift in order to see a real difference in traffic flow. Mind you, that transit needs to be high quality, dependable, and rapid - whether SkyTrain, rapid buses with dedicated lanes, or light rail. Luckily, we've already got SkyTrain across the Fraser!

On the flip side, widening roads as a way out of congestion is doomed to failure (and I'm pretty sure TransLink understands this, even if commuters and Provincial Transportation Ministers don't). This means that taxpayers - those who drive, as well as those who don't - get far more bang for their taxpayer buck if it gets spent on rapid bus service than on more pavement.

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