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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for October 4th, 2006

Vancouvers VitalSigns 2006: Highlights

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Vancouvers VitalSigns 2006: Highlights

 “The Livable City – top priority for improvement: Public transportation

72.7% of all commuters drive private vehicles

7% are passengers

11.5% take public transit

6.5% cycle

1.9% walk “

The statistics have not changed very much in the ten years that I have lived here. Considering how much is collected from taxpayers in this region now, compared to ten years ago, I think it quite reasonable that we should be asking why there has been so little progress. BC Transit was funded by a 4c per litre gas tax and the hydro levy. The gas tax is now 11.5c, the hydro levy remains, property tax to the GVTA  now averages $91 per home, and there is the new parking tax, as well as much higher fares.

Most of the revenue goes to two items – transit operating cost (70%) and debt service (just under 20%). So you would think that transit operating cost would come under fairly close scrutiny – or at least that Coast Mountain Bus Company (who provide most of the service ) would be at least required to demonstrate that they are competitive with other service providers. After all, not so long ago there was a four month bus strike over the right to contract out – which Translink won, but you would be hard put to discern any benefit apart from one minor concession on wage rates for Community Shuttle drivers. Essentially, after the strike, labour peace was bought by huge concessions to the CAW.

Translink does not pay a great deal of attention to mode share (the statistics in the table at the top of the page). They prefer to talk about the numbers – ridership and service hours – because they are large numbers, which sound impressive. But the region has been growing rapidly and there are more people here and hence more trips. The “market share” for transit has hardly changed at all despite the opening of the Millennium Line, the introduction of B Lines and West Coast Express. B Lines actually get most of their ridership from existing bus users. Note that the replacement trolleybus fleet is 227 vehicles – compared to the existing fleet of 240. That’s because the 98 and 99 B line are carrying people who used to use the Granville and Broadway trolleybuses. Recent rapid transit investments have really had very little effect on transit’s market share. A new market for commuter housing has opened up in Mission, which was not exactly what the regional growth strategy had in mind.

What issues need to be addressed to improve our quality of life?

Transport/congestion 12%

Improve transit/lower fares 8% 

Written by Stephen Rees

October 4, 2006 at 1:55 pm