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

Archive for December 17th, 2006

Sorry… Not in Service

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Sorry… Not in Service
Why Vancouver is waiting longer than ever for public transit details
Posted on Dec 14 2006

According to TransLink officials, the number of buses running on Broadway is already at full capacity, and adding any more would only increase congestion and delays. While Anton says TransLink needs to expand the Millennium Line further West and bring in a streetcar service downtown, the city’s top priority now is to build a rapid-transit line along the East-West Broadway corridor.

But when and how TransLink will ever be able to afford that remains a mystery. After approving the $1.9 billion Canada Line in 2004, TransLink’s next priority is the $970 million Evergreen rapid-transit line to Coquitlam. However, TransLink is still $400 million short of being able to start building that project, with no funding sources in sight. With only 12 per cent of Vancouver commuters using public transportation, compared to over 20 per cent in Toronto and Montreal, public-transit advocates say it’s time for the provincial and federal governments to step in and start filling the funding gaps.

“The demand is there, it’s just we don’t have the supply; and the reason for that is the historical lack of funding from senior governments,” says Deming Smith, manager of policy and communications with Better Environment Sound Transportation (BEST), a Vancouver-based non-profit organization.

Yes, but it’s not just that, is it? Others like to blame the emphasis on expensive rapid transit. SkyTrain and now the Canada Line are very expensive but do tend to attract senior government funding. Buses just don’t seem to get their attention. (Of course the same amount of money spent on surface LRT would have gone a lot further and helped to reduce traffic but that tram has gone.)

But I still think that UPass is to the cause of the sudden bloom in demand and I think that was entirely predictable. And the planners must take a lot of responsibility for the “revenue neutral” policy that ignored the impact on costs and capacity. The UPass deal should have included funding for additional buses and the new pass should not have been introduced until the essential additional bus capacity was provided. Boosting ridership on system already creaking under its peak load was simply irresponsible.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 17, 2006 at 10:10 pm

Posted in Transportation