Transit Planning In Metro Vancouver – Where Have We Gone Wrong?

The release of TransLink’s $400,000.00 Fraser Valley Transit Study continues over three decades of transit denial by politicians and bureaucrats alike. The SkyTrain driverless light metro system has brought with it, the seeds of a regional transportation debacle, where the invented claims by the SkyTrain lobby has infected all regional planning, including the universities with the automatic metro myth. With this voodoo transit planning so entrenched in the region, Vancouver has become alone in the world pursuing a strictly automatic metro transit philosophy.

Recent postings from so-called ‘professional engineers’ (whichAi??I only have their word for it) not only shows an ignorance about modern public transit philosophy, but a desire to spend the taxpayers money with wanton abandon, which I belive insults the profession.

A question which I have always asked; “when did UBC or other local universities, include urban transportation in their syllabus?” In Europe of course there are whole faculties devoted to urban transit, granting degrees, but not in BC.

The planning faculties at those very same universities also must accept part of the blame as they also do not give courses in urban transportation, and what isAi??taught is so dated it is next to useless. The recent UBC inspired Streetcar Symposium in Vancouver a few month back was a good example, where those supporting streetcars or light rail, could not define the mode. This was most singular, having a symposium on streetcars but failing toAi??define what a streetcar is!

What must change?

First, a new degree granting facultyAi??of Urban Transportation must be created,Ai??independent ofAi??the Engineering and the Planning Faculties. StudentsAi??would beAi??taught the modern aspects of urban transportation, combined with a good historical base of various transportation modesAi??that have been used for public transport.Ai??This would give an independent view of urban transport problems and viable solutions to curb gridlock and transit chaos, so common in cities around the world. Graduates would have a working knowledge of LRT in its various forms (streetcar/tram/LRT) as well as heavy rail metro, light-metro,Ai??mainline commuter trains; buses (BRT/GLT); ferries and even the private auto.

Secondly, we must consider transit customer wants, with the ability of the taxpayer to pay for it. In simple terms, the transit customer wants to be taken from where he lives to where he wants to go efficiently and affordably and the taxpayer doesn’t want to feel like a ‘Milch cow’ to fund outrageously expensive transit projects. In most cases the transit customer wants his/her transit on the pavement and ready to use and the ability taking it in a seamless (no-transfer) journey.

Thirdly, politicians must approve new transit schemes that are good for the transit customer and not what he/she thinks will win an election, or use transit monies to enrich political friends and land developers.

To date, building hugely expensive SkyTrain light-metro has skewed our regional planning to such a point that it is all but worthless and has created the SkyTrain myth that rapid transit (SkyTrian) is built solely to increase density and one must have massive density to sustain rapid transit.

If the region does not change its present course, the region will bankrupt itself building hugely expensive SkyTrain style light-metro linesAi??which in the pastAi??have done little in providing an affordable alternative to the car.

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