Yippee, Vancouver Is Number One!

So?

What else is new?

The provincial and regional governments have spent over $9 billion on three mini-metro lines that have done nothing to alleviate congestion; it will be déjà vu with the Evergreen Line and TransLinks still wants more taxpayer’s money to do the same thing again, hoping that it will work this time.

It won’t and until politicians stop building mini-metro to appease developers and as a tool to win elections and as the transit system fails congestion in the region will increase.

Building more highways and bridges will not solve a thing but instead create more road space that will attract more cars, more cars just increases gridlock and the problem gets worse.

The solution is an affordable 300 km or more light rail network servicing the Fraser Valley, providing an affordable transit network that will provide a quality alternative to the car.

Until civic and provincial politicians get their collective heads out of the ground and admit that; “we have been doing it wrong for the past 33 years“, nothing will change, except longer commute times and a transit system that will be unaffordable for the average customer.

Vancouver’s politico’s have always wished that their city to be considered world class by having extremely expensive subways, now their wish has come partly true – they have world class gridlock.

Vancouver edges out Los Angeles for worst traffic congestion in North America: index

By Tiffany Crawford, Vancouver Sun November 6, 2013

Metro Vancouver traffic jams are the worst in North America, according to a quarterly ranking by a global navigation company.

The 2013 TomTom Travel Index released Wednesday shows the Vancouver region has edged out Los Angeles by one per cent for the No. 1 congested city. It claims that Vancouver travel times were 36 per cent longer at peak hours than during non-rush hours.

The Amsterdam-based company says it uses real-time data from millions of its GPS customers to track traffic flow. The company then uses a computer program to compare travel times during non-congested periods with travel times in peak hours.

The difference is expressed as a percentage increase in travel time, and the report takes into account local roads, arterials and highways.

Choke points in Vancouver include entrance roads to bridges such as the Knight Street, Oak and Lions Gate bridges, as well as downtown roads such as Georgia, Dunsmuir and Seymour.

Vancouver’s congestion has increased 2.8 per cent in comparison to the index’s 2012 second-quarter findings when the congestion rate was 32.7 per cent, the report says.

Among Canadian cities, Toronto ranked seventh in the index and Montreal placed 10th out of 169 cities surveyed worldwide.

TomTom says the cumulative delay for average commuter with a 30-minute trip is an extra 93 hours, or more than 11 working days, spent behind the wheel each year.

Richard Walton, chair of the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation, has previously cautioned that the TomTom report data could be skewed if people using the navigation systems are using them because they are on the most congested routes.

ticrawford@vancouversun.com

 

The top cities for traffic congestion in North America are:

 

1. Vancouver

 

2. Los Angeles

 

3. San Francisco

 

4. Honolulu

 

5. Seattle

 

6. San Jose

 

7. Toronto

 

8. Washington

 

9. New York

 

10. Montreal

Comments

6 Responses to “Yippee, Vancouver Is Number One!”
  1. eric chris says:

    Sky train and rapid bus (99 B-Line, for instance) by TransLink are serving the minority of transit users living far from home and commuting long distances for work or school. This results in the vast majority of drivers simply getting in their cars to travel short distances to work or school. You are better off providing transit for short distance commuters and telling long distance commuters to drive.

    Instead of offering trams or LRT for 75% of the commuters traveling short distances, TransLink is offering sky trains and B-Lines for 25% of the commuters traveling long distances. As a result, Metro Vancouver has the worst road congestion because drivers are not going to take 20 minutes to reach a sky train or B-Line stop when they can drive to their destination in 10 minutes.

    I’ve explained this to the mayors and TransLink but it doesn’t seem to be sinking into their heads – or they don’t want to accept it. Fundamentally, the concept of regional transit (sky train or B-Line) is flawed. You pay for transit twice to operate shuttle buses in parallel to the sky trains and B-Lines which have stops too far apart for many commuters to reach by foot.

    Screw fast transit by TransLink (sky trains and B-Lines) – if you want fast, drive. You have to scrap sky trains and B-Lines and go with LRT or trams to improve transit here. This will slash the transit costs by one-half and provide better transit service for the majority of commuters to mitigate road congestion in the process.

  2. Haveacow says:

    Guys this whole Tom Tom thing is completely useless. The fundemental methodology is fatally flawed. Measuring driving time is useless unless you have mapped out the routes taken (route assignment). Using travel times as part of portfolio of data including traffic counts on perticluar routes, weather, construction data, then allowing a truly meaningful way of compairing different cities and actually matching compairable things then you have somthing useful. The scare tactics that TOM TOM uses are for selling their product and not for accurate transportation comparsions.

    What Tom Tom does is compare travel times between the top peak period and the lowest congestion period (usually after midnight), gets the percentage time difference between the two periods, then compares cities. By the way they only do this on one day, 4 times a year. What could be useful is if they just stayed with this data and did not to try and compare cities. It would compliment what cities already do. Comparing different cities overall traffic level with this method is meaningless. It would only be compairable if the basic low congestion period was the same in every city but its not, it never is and it couldn’t be. If any traffic/planning deparment in N.America did that, as a sole measure of congestion their traffic planning would be endlessly critizised. Just to use this as a starting point, traffic counts in cities are usually done over, at least a week or sometimes up three weeks at the point being measured, not one day. Most cities have decades long proven mathmatical models to compare and contrast with actual traffic counts and large numbers of traffic diaries given to drivers too follow and marked down using statistically consisitent and accurate methods. Traffic assignment is done carefully and checked against historical norms and appiled geographically, where Tom Tom does not do any of this.

    There are very few traffic studies that compare cities against each other because unless you a apply a geograpphical route that has road and highway segments that perform the same per defined consistent role in each city’s transportation system, then compairing different cities becomes meaningless. That ‘s why there are so few studies that compare data between cities because it is highly complex and very time consuming (expensive). Compairing traffic data on Hastings St. in Vancouver to Warden Ave. in Toronto for example and then saying that, Vancouver is worse because the travel time difference between the peak time and low traffic point is higher is meaningless. Warden Ave. has a completely different role in Toronto’s Transportation network then Hastings St. does in Vancouver’s. They also do not identify what kind of traffic problem each city has. The Greater Toronto Area lies within the Greater Golden Horshoe Region (Toronto’s Outer Commuter Shed and generally what is covered by GO Transit) This region has a popoulation of just under 8 million people and the nature of it’s traffic congestion is fundamentally different than in Greater Vancouver. Toronto’s congestion is much more compareable to LA’s Traffic issues (according to my friends and planning colleagues) because it is a system wide capacity issue. Congestion is not just at choke points and high volume routes like in Vancouver. In Toronto and LA, ALMOST ALL OF THE MAIN ROUTES, CHOKE POINTS, HIGHWAYS AND ARTERIAL ROADS are close to capacity during peak, it doesn’t matter where. In the case of Toronto, many traffic routes evening peak goes to almost 8pm monday to friday. There is also a considerable weekend morning and afternoon peak periods on Saturday and Sunday as well. Not to say Vancouver doesn,t have traffic issues it has some fine ones however, I can tell you that the day to day and hour to hour traffic that LA and Toronto areas endure are on a completely different scale and complexity than what occurs in Vancouver.

  3. eric chris says:

    @Havecow, all I know is that in Seattle, it took me 10 minutes on the 405 to travel what it takes me 40 minutes to travel in Vancouver (traffic lights every block or two). Not having freeways gives Vancouver its cozy small town feel but it comes at the cost of greatly increased travel times and vehicle emissions.

    Good thing that Vancouver doesn’t have a real economy and there isn’t the large work force that you have in Seattle. Come to think of it, not having freeways here is likely the big reason for Vancouver failing to attract many large corporations.

  4. Haveacow says:

    Eric the real problem is whether cities like Seatle can maintain these highways. Yes Vancouver definitely does not have the Freeway mileage that most American cities it size generally has. One reason cities in Canada generally do not have the same mileage is that we didn’t have the massive 3 prong (federal, state and local government) support from multiple agencies fiancing highways like the 405. Remember originally 10% of the federal component of Interstate Highway funding came from the defence budget. The Interstate System was about building military defence highways not just moving cars and trucks (like the Autobahn System in Germany). Their budget flexibility lets certain levels of government redistribute other transport money to these multi lane highways because it fills the same defined role. Like in the 60′s and 70′s billions were removed from US government federal grant programs to help rebuild freight train lines to expand highways because they technicially did the same jobs (moving freight) so the powers that be could state that, the money being spent would really help move more freight, they just did not tell anyone they changed the mode.

    However 60 years on, the freeway system in the states is either falling apart or is slowly being dismantled in some cities to rebuild neighbourhoods virtually destroyed by these highways original path. In many cases these “Road Diets” that these areas undergo often find that many of them (freeways) were not needed and simply spread induced demand. The roads that trully are heavily used in most American cities often are now in a state semi repair because grants that fix the road right of way don’t fix the bridges or on/off ramp structure. Is there going to be enough money to fix these highways? What I think will probably happen is what was predicted almost 30-40 years ago by planners and egineers working for the Federal Highway Department in the US. Only the absolutely crticial roads will be maintained and the others will be allowed to disappear because the country can’t afford to draw away money from multiple sources forever to keep this monster (The American Freeway and Interstate System) fed. Unless Americans suddenly except huge tax increases to pay for them I see many of these roads disappearing.

    Also since the late 90′s the total amount of mileage Americans drove began to decline and still does. According to the US government up to 1 in 4 Millenlials don’t even have a driver licsence let alone a car. Both Ford and GM have mentioned this and they believe that this is not a statistical blip. They blame the Internet because one the main reasons young people used to get a drivers licesnece was social not just a technical need to go somewhere, now you can use your phone and Facebook to meet your friends. This is on top of another noticed trend is that, these young people are moving back into the cities for the walkable neighbourhoods and complete streets. They are also not moving out to the burbs as much when they get married and have children because they discovered these neighbourhoods also have schools and thanks to the charter system set up by Republicans it’s cheaper to fix the older school then build new ones.

    The trends show that a fundamental change is starting here in Canada as well. Like the US, Canadians have been driving less and less and like in the US, it also started before 2001. Its a change in how we commute and where we live because thanks to cities like Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary and Toronto (Stoned Mayor aside) where walkable is the new in thing. That small town feel, village lifestyle you mentioned is more desired then a house in a suburb where you have to drive everywhere and for a lot of people (including me and my family), not having to drive the kids to school, park or community centre for whatever they are doing is highly desireable. The New Urbainist movement is capitalzing on it and making money off it.

  5. Sean says:

    I would like to get the numbers clear. How many kilometers count as short distance? How many kilometers count as medium distance? How many kilometers count as long distance?

  6. eric chris says:

    @Sean, the median distance commuted in Vancouver is five kilometres, and anything less than this counts as a short commuting distance – too short for sky train and rapid bus having stops located kilometres apart in distance. If Vancouver had trams, I might occasionally take transit but am not going to take a bus to a sky train station to ride locked up in a tin can running 10 metres above grade.

    I have only been on the sky train twice since 1995 and the second time was to appease a GVRD engineer who wanted to ride sky train to inspect heat exchanges which turned out to be the wrong specification for the slurry application and ended up costing the GVRD (taxpayers) a few million dollars. As far as I know, the heat exchangers are still out of service and collecting dust.

    Vancouver not having freeways is fine with me but our back alleys with speed bumps are a poor alternative to freeways, and a few underpasses and overpasses to keep traffic moving wouldn’t be a bad idea because my neighbours driving BMWs, Corvettes, Porches, SUVs and Mercedes will never ride sky train.

    I live in Vancouver and either cycle to work here or fly out to work on location. I have never in my life commuted more than 30 minutes daily to work for any extended duration and have not stepped on a TransLink bus in three years. Seeing as driving results in fewer carbon emissions than transit by TransLink, I feel good about driving, instead, on weekends, and on the occasional weekday.

    Vancouver to Surrey is a long commute. If I had to work in Surrey, I would rent a room near the work and stay there during the week for three or four days because I have better things to do with my life than to spend three to four hours daily in a car or sky train and bus, since you asked.