Congestion Crisis

Well Zwei told you so, the failure to plan for an affordable public transit alternative for the car has helped create this crisis and no one in charge seems to understand what the real transportation problems are in the region.

While Victoria and regional mayors squabble about who is going to tax whom and by how much, those in TransLink’s ivory towers have done little, except plan for more SkyTrain. Yet for all the SkyTrain we have built and planning so far, has achieved little except spend over $9 billion in the process.

Failed transportation policy.

TransLink’s transportation philosophy has been to connect city centres by light metro and those who wish to use ‘rapid’ transit had to takeAi?? a bus to the R/T, then, if one did not work in a city centre, take a bus from the R/T to where one wishes to go. To be successful we had to operates a massive amount of buses to feed the light-metro system day and night at a considerable cost.

This policy is fraught with problems including the high cost of bus operation; the the thorny issue that buses are very poor in attracting ridership; and the issue of transfers, especially forced transfers, deterring potential customers.

Added to this is light-metro itself; very expensive to build and very expensive to operate and today has proven inferior to modern light rail, yet TransLink wants to keep building with light-metro and when forced to plan for light rail, designs it as an expensive poorman’s SkyTrain.

Etched in stone planning.

Our transit planning is etched in stone and no one is willing to say it must take a different direction or change altogether. Rapid transit (SkyTrain) is planned to subsidize land developers, building massive tower blocks at major transit station locations. Already, land assembly is happening along Broadway and under the guise of “densification” and is deemed good planning by academics, think tanks, politicians .

But something is badly amiss………….

…………. but as the preceding chart shows, despite a $9 billion plus investment in SkyTrain and the Canada line, regional travelAi?? mode share via the car has remained unchanged at 57% and transit use has risen a mere 3%, in twenty years! Transit has not taken cars off the road and congestion and gridlock continue to grow.

There is a cure for congestion, but it is strong medicine and it is not higher car fees or road pricing, unfortunately the medicine is too strong for our current crop of politicians and planners and until there are plans for a large light rail network servicing both major destinations and residential areas, providing the all important “seamless journey” for transit customers, gridlock and congestion will continue to grow unabated.


Heavy congestion looms as hundreds of thousands more vehicles expected to clog Metro Vancouver roads

Ai??By Elaine O’Connor, The Province February 2, 2014

Cars and buses crawl along West Georgia Street in Vancouver during a recent afternoon rush hour. A new study projects that 700,000 more cars will be on Metro Vancouver roads by the year 2041.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PROVINCE

If you think traffic is bad now, wait until there are 700,000 more vehicles on Metro Vancouver roads.

Those estimates reflect the number of new vehicles we could see on our streets in the next three decades, according to a 2013 Business Council of B.C. study.

The report, Congested and Nowhere to Go: Congestion, Road Infrastructure, and Road Pricing in Metro Vancouver, projects that Metro Vancouver alone could see ai???an additional 1.4 million residents by 2041 which, by 2011 estimates, could result in 700,000 more vehicles vying for road

ai???I was amazed at the number, so much so that I had to do it again,ai??? said study author Jonathan Arnold, an SFU masterai??i??s public policy student.

ai???New roads just arenai??i??t keeping up with the increase in

B.C. has seen 470,000 additional vehicles hit the streets between 2002 and 2012, according to ICBC statistics, while the population grew by 524,000. If the trend holds, it could mean another half a million cars on B.C. roads by 2022.

The question is how to convince owners to leave these cars in their driveways. To date, the answer has been more transit and roads.

Transit investments such as the Canada Line and Port Mann express bus appear to have had an impact, TransLink ridership hit 239 million trips in 2012, up six million from the year before. But transit may remain a second choice where speed and convenience lag. Last yearai??i??s ai???share the roadai??? race between car, bike and transit commuters saw transit users come in dead last.

The provinceai??i??s massive Gateway Program ai??i?? including the billion-dollar Port Mann Bridge, Cape Horn Interchange and Highway 1 upgrades ai??i?? aims to decrease congestion. Yet critics argue road improvements just create ai???induced demand,ai??? quickly re-clogging roads.

ai???You pave your way into a future where you can never get out,ai??? said UBC professor of urban planning and public health Lawrence Frank. ai???No oneai??i??s ever built their way out of congestion, you build

One alternative is road pricing.

The Business Council of BC report noted drivers donai??i??t cover two-thirds of the real costs (including environmental) of car commuting, which is ai???artificially cheap in terms of money, and artificially expensive in terms of

To remedy that, Robin Lindsey, UBCai??i??s Sauder School of Business professor of transportation economics points to high-occupancy toll lanes (HOT lanes). They allow access to HOV lanes for a price that rises as road congestion rises, and theyai??i??ve been successful in Stockholm, Singapore and Melbourne.

ai???If you want quick, reliable trips by car, you need some form of road pricing,ai??? Lindsey said.

Long-term traffic changes will also result from urban planning and social engineering strategies. Metro Vancouverai??i??s regional growth strategy land use policy encourages transit, car-sharing, cycling and walking, and building denser transit-accessible ai???complete

Yet gridlock isnai??i??t a foregone conclusion. Experts point to demographic, social, economic and technological interventions that could drive transportation future in a whole new direction.

Andrew Ramlo, executive director of the Urban Futures Institute, said one factor limiting future gridlock is simply self-regulation. As it becomes ai???more and more expensive (in terms of time and gas) to be in your car, you are going to seek

Ramlo added car-license data may not represent cars on the road. In his own two-car family, both cars usually stay parked: he and his wife bike or walk to work.

Lindsey stresses the driving habits of future generations are also subject to change. Some studies indicate youth arenai??i??t buying cars or getting their licenses at the rate of their parents, preferring transit in part so they can use social media during commutes.

Plus, thereai??i??s no way of knowing the of future impact of gas prices.

ai???Another game-changer is the impact of technology and driverless vehicles,ai??? Lindsey noted.

Google is already testing driverless cars which could radically alter road capacity, as three times as many can fit on roadways, due to faster reaction times requiring less space. And they can be rented per trip, reducing car ownership.

More voluntary opting out may come from health conscious commuters who eschew the car to save their health. For every hour a day spent in a car, a personai??i??s propensity to obesity increases six per cent, according to research by Frank, director of UBCai??i??s health and community design lab. Some 700,000 more cars on Metro Vancouver roads by 2041 combined with an aging population could be a public health nightmare.

ai???Its an ominous prospect,ai??? he said. ai???The heath costs are so


One Response to “Congestion Crisis”
  1. eric chris says:

    Crooked politicians and developers are making money from zillion dollar sky train projects under the pretence that sky train lines reduce vehicle use. I’m resigned to the fact that only legal action against these swindlers in the form of a class action lawsuit from drivers being gouged to build the sky train lines – will change things here. TransLink has obviously failed miserably and is out of tricks to pump up ridership after its latest gasp: its universal welfare-transit pass for all college and university student in Metro Vancouver in the fall of 2011:

    This is the reason for the very slight increase in transit ridership in 2012 – more joy rides by students until 3:30 am. Rumours have it that transit ridership fell in 2013. Can anyone confirm this?

    Vehicle registrations have soared by 470,000 over the last 10 years to almost match the population growth (524,000 people) over the last 10 years. This rate of growth is more than before TransLink. Gulp.

    Transit, especially by TransLink, does not reduce road congestion. Research shows that creating more road space increases driving. This same research shows that putting drivers onto transit does the same thing. In other words, transit frees up road space to attract new drivers or makes existing drivers, drive more (U of T, 2009). This paradox has foiled attempts by politicians hoping to use transit to reduce road congestion. Sky train lines and rapid bus routes by TransLink have only increased transit costs and income taxes.

    TransLink is grossly over funded right now. It is really hard to see how more funding for TransLink to keep doing things wrong might be right.

    How did TransLink manage to suck us into a discussion on how to raise taxes for transit rather than into a discussion of who at TransLink is going to be held accountable for the disaster at TransLink? Any fool can spend billions of dollars on sky trains or subways and then add soot blowing and harrowingly loud (incorrectly specified and not fit for purpose) diesel buses (worsening respiratory disease and cardiovascular illness) on the roads to get people to and from the sky trains and subways.

    It takes talented engineers to move more people faster and for less money (than sky trains or subways) on trams removing the harmful diesel buses from the roads to dramatically reduce both operating and capital costs. Let competent and ethical engineers design ground based transit (trams) to make transit affordable to build, maintain and operate. Then, taxpayers might be willing to pay for more transit. TransLink is a spoof and can blink off.