Stephen Rees's blog

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

NDP opposition to twinning Port Mann Bridge is off track

with 3 comments

The Province: Leader – Sunday

the reality is that for thousands of hard-working Lower Mainlanders there is not now, nor is there likely to be in the near future, any reasonable alternative to using their cars to get to work

Exactly. I could not agree more. Which is why the NDP is not “off track”, becuase they have been calling for more money for transit now, not bridge twinning and more freeways in the next decade.

People moved out to the suburbs, because the lack of density in Vancouver (outside the downtown core) made living closer to their jobs unaffordable. Then the jobs moved to the burbs too as industrial and port lands were converted to condos. Places like Coquitlam and Port Moody were developed because rapid transit was coming – but has still yet to be started! Surrey and Langley developed into car oriented suburbs – simply because there was no credible alternative.

Why will twinning the Port Mann make any of this any better? It won’t, and it can’t. It simply reinforces the pattern we now have. Which is not working very well and will become much worse and less affordable, and the environment will not get any better either.

The NDP has finally adopted the strategy that the LRC has been promoting for some time. Which has been shown to work elsewhere – and which can be implemented here and now. A queue jumper lane on the south side of the bridge for buses only. A direct route from North Surrey to Coquitlam. In terms of the amounts of money needed to build a new bridge and widen the freeway, this is dirt cheap and will be effective, because at long last the people who now have to drive have a realistic option. The demand is there now. More people can cross the bridge, because on a bus you can carry many more of them using the existing facility.

All you have to do is change the “is not likely to be” part of the equation. Which is why Gordon Campbell’s “green” posturing is so depressing. There are a lot of things the provincial government could do now at little cost that would be very effective – none more so than investing in transit. Not boasting about the $50million already promised (many times) most of which goes to replace existing, clapped out buses, but real transit expansion, real on street priority (converting existing lanes to bus and cycles only). They don’t even have to be hybrid or hydrogen buses – the current generation of clean diesel is still much better (and much cheaper) per passenger kilometre than the current fleet of cars and light trucks at low occupancy rates.

The crunch will be finding garage space to keep the buses in – and people to operate them. Not insuperable problems for a government determined to change current trends, but not in any of the BC Liberal plans.  But could be if the NDP get back into power.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 2, 2007 at 10:41 am

Posted in Gateway, transit

3 Responses

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  1. Gateway = congestion

    Richmond News

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    The Editor,

    Re: “Steves joins Gateway protest outside Gore appearance,” the News, Sept. 28.

    We will stop Gateway, if we know what is good for the livability of our bio-region. Enhance your sense of place for a moment. We have one Earth and one place to call home. Putting profits before people is unacceptable at this scale. As residents we must express the desire for a quality of life that puts greater focus on the society and environment and less on greedy corporate interests. We have an option to cancel the Gateway idea now and redirect the funding to our public transportation system, before the congestion worsens in a world where Gateway increases road capacity.

    Burnaby has a mayor and council who are leading their city to fight the Gateway plan, if you can call it a plan. Richmond has a lone city councillor in Harold Steves, who is aware of the consequences for Richmond if Deltaport continues with expansion and the thousands of acres of farmland are destroyed. We applaud him for his crusade and I personally thank him for speaking to the crowd of us supporters who braved the rainstorm to welcome Al Gore with a rally against the B.C. Liberals’ Gateway “plan.”

    History lesson: The original port in Delta failed its environmental review but they built it anyway. The latest expansion would actually use land that originally was supposed to mitigate the original development. This reminds us of Einstein’s Theory of Insanity, which was that repeating the same action over again expecting different results is the definition of insanity. The port would destroy what is left of the fish habitat and the bird flyway. No thanks, Minister Falcon.

    The Garden City lands are connected to the Gateway infrastructure developments and our island community is being tricked into supporting growth in an unsustainable manner. Let us all wake up and demand better leadership.

    Michael Wolfe,


    Stephen Rees

    October 2, 2007 at 12:35 pm

  2. This is written by Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail today (Tues October 2):
    Time to grab a placard and slow climate change

    I’m not sure how long the link will be valid. Quote:

    I’m starting to think this is what everyone in this country may soon have to do: Grab a placard and hit the streets. I think most people in this country are way out in front of the politicians on this issue. And if our national leaders are reluctant to do anything serious about the problem, then Canadians need to send the message that they have to. That we won’t be embarrassed and ashamed by our contribution to global warming any longer.

    If it takes marching to be heard then marching it shall be.

    I wish Mr. Mason would actually acknowledge that Gateway is wrongheaded. The closest he comes is “the protesters said [the Gateway project] accommodated carbon dioxide emissions, not diminished them.” He offers no opinion of his own.


    October 2, 2007 at 12:58 pm

  3. The NDP joined the Port Mann debate two years late. Thanks for coming out. Frankly, I think they’re useless. If they’re any use at all, we’ll have to hold our noses and drag them incompetent and screaming through this.


    October 2, 2007 at 2:36 pm

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