Stephen Rees's blog

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

Busway outcry leaves transit scrambling

with 3 comments

Victoria Times Colonist

A couple of things here for the residents of Metro Vancouver to envy. First they still have effective control over their transit system – it is the Mayors who sit on the Regional Transit Commission who will make the decisions, and they will have to face the electorate. Secondly, there is still effective public consultation. Most of the article is about how the Commission and staff need more time to consider what they heard. Here of course what consultation does take place is perfunctory and there is no evidence that anything anyone says is heard let alone acted upon.

[Saanich Mayor Frank] Leonard said he is in favour of bus rapid transit, light-rail rapid transit, reducing car traffic and getting people into other options than their cars, but he concedes those are motherhood issues. “The high-level stuff is straightforward, it’s the details [that are the issue],” he said. “And I don’t know if holding open houses and workshops will ever lead to [business owners] coming out in favour of the project.”

But perhaps if they heard about places where reducing car traffic has actually helped retailers and increased their takings they might agree to a trial. All over the world city centres have watched as retail trade has been sucked out to the suburban shopping centres, malls and big boxes. And the most effective response has been to reduce or even eliminate through traffic from shopping streets. This creates a much nicer environment for shoppers, who tend to spend more time and visit more shops when they do not have to deal with lots of vehicle traffic, which makes crossing the street time consuming and makes the place noisy and smelly. Of course I am talking about urban places mostly outside of North America. In most of the US, conventional town centres (“downtown”) have been allowed to die, much to the Walton family’s enrichment.

does have Blanshard Street to take the through traffic. Government Street is traffic calmed but remains open to cars. Business owners fears are real to them, but they protest too much. What is needed is better access and a better environment for all. Not lots of cars and on street parking

Written by Stephen Rees

April 6, 2008 at 7:18 am

3 Responses

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  1. An example from North America, Denver’s 16th Street Mall is a 25 year success. It has a free shuttle serving its 16 block length. I don’t think it has any other transit running along it though.


    April 6, 2008 at 11:28 am

  2. It is a mistake to plan for BRT, then later convert to LRT, one should ‘bite the bullet’ and build with light rail immediately as conversion cost could be very high. The Ottawa busways ultimately cost more than originally planned for LRT, making it uneconomic to convert.

    Malcolm J.

    April 6, 2008 at 5:59 pm

  3. The Ottawa busway is one of the most elaborate in my experience. There are large stations where buses can overtake and occupy one of several bus stop locations. The entire thing is grade separated with freeway style access and egress ramps.

    Its major achievement is the ability to get a one seat ride for a lot of passengers from many origins. there very few systems that work like it anywhere. Most rapid transit requires transfer to and from distributor/collector services. It had worked well for a long time and only now is it being looked at askance, mainly because in the beginning it did not get into downtown but put the buses back onto regular streets.

    BRT works well in many places where rail was not affordable. The plan in Greater Vancouver was always based on ICTS with upgrades as ridership increased.

    Stephen Rees

    April 6, 2008 at 7:28 pm

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