Stephen Rees's blog

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

Patullo Bridge Repairs to take 4 weeks

with 6 comments

The recent fire on the southern approach to the Patullo Bridge means that the removal of the burnt section and its replacement with a new structure will take about four weeks I picked this up from the Straight. There is  information on the Translink webpage but oddly no press release. Jeff  Nagel is also on line with a longer version of the whole story

The closure represents a unique opportunity to study how travel patterns adjust to changes in network capacity. It is probably unlikely that Translink itself will start collecting data – just because it will be caught up in operational concerns. And anyway data collection has never been a very high priority there. But people will adapt their travel patterns. Not all the trips will continue to be made – it is not just a question of diversion, which is what the highly unrealistic regional transportation model assumes. Some trips will divert and probably take longer. Others will be rescheduled – already the timing of the counter flow at the Massey Tunnel has been changed to adapt to people who leave earlier in the opes of avoiding the worst congestion. But many trips will be substituted – by combining trip purposes, changing destinations, and people trying to work from home when they can, or working from another location such as a client’s office instead of their own.

Translink  decided to promptly ban cycles on SkyTrain to provide a bit more space on board. To me this look s like a simplistic kneejerk over reaction. Maybe ban bicycles between New Westminster and Surrey for starters – but system wide? Is it really going to be so bad on the emptier bits of the Millennium Line? One of the managerial “benefits” of not having any data  is that you do not need to work hard to justify or examine decisions. You just make an assertion based on “professional judgement” or “experience” and no one else has the ammunition to criticise it.

Translink also does not have a lot of spare capacity lying  around idle at the peaks either – people or equipment – buit at the shoulders it would be possible to  strengthen service. It is just that the system itself is so hidebound there are few arrangements to make that work. But it is likely that the people and buses on the streets will be a bit slower and more overtime will get worked.  But for example as someone suggested on one one of the list serves putting in an emergency queue jumper on the south side of the Port Mann to run a special bus service is just a nice pipe dream. It would require a lot of inter agency co-operation and initiative. Nah – not gonna happen.

When other places have lost critical capacity there have been cities that did manage to collect some data. And nearly all of it challenges the conventional wisdom. Traffic does not “have to be accommodated” – is does expand and contract to meet changing circumstances – because it is not just a simplistic mechanical formula – it is people who are creative and imaginative (even if the institutions do their level best to suppress that on that whole) and they do adapt quickly.

My sympathy extends to all those who come across employers who will not let them change their workplace or work hours (and there will be plenty of those).  It would be nice to hear from people who have been able to adapt. It is not scientific by any means but we can use the comments space here for something different. So I am going to reserve it for people who are invited to write about how this affects them – and how they were able to adapt. And also to those who can identify the constraints that they found against change.

No other comments on this post will be allowed to remain. So no arguments about the cycling decision – and none abut how the region would have been better if we had LRT . We have done that one here to excess.

Please take the time to reply and tell us how the Patullo closure affects your trip making

Written by Stephen Rees

January 19, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Posted in Transportation

6 Responses

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  1. I jumped on the 7am skytrain @ Columbia and it wasn’t very crowded yet.

    I wonder who will board the 4:30am car! It just drove by! Woot!


    January 20, 2009 at 4:40 am

  2. Stephen thought you would like to know, although bet you could have predicted. Everything is supposed to be backed up due to the Patullo being closed, but the really interesting thing is I travelled my regular route along the South Fraser existing infra structure, which the government claims is so congested they have to spend billions on a freeway and I did not spend any extra time in traffic or travelling to work. Made it from Surrey to Richmond Centre in 45 minutes, or a bit less. The tunnel was not even very bad. Wish they would stop planning to waste money on this useless freeway. Will see if things change on Tuesday. Mondays tend to be lighter.

    Bernadette Keenan

    January 20, 2009 at 4:48 am

  3. My wife who drives to her work at 4th and Arbutus, on my urging took the bus, because i thought there would be a a lot of traffic at the Massey Tunnel. Took the 602 at 6:30 AM and arrived at Broadway & Granville at 7:00 AM.; arriving at her place of work 40 minutes before opening!

    Not only did she not notice more traffic at the tunnel, barely anyone on the bus knew the Patullo Bridge was closed!

    Malcolm J.

    January 20, 2009 at 6:39 am

  4. My eastbound commute to Chilliwack from Vancouver over the Port Mann was unchanged timewise, although there may have been slightly higher volume on the bridge deck itself.


    January 20, 2009 at 8:07 am

  5. […] issues offer an alternative view. No one doubts the short-term pain, but The South Fraser Blog and Stephen Rees suggest motorists will find alternate routes or change their travel patterns given some time. […]

  6. The whole transit thing is odd in our city. My fiance normally skytrains ( is this a verb now?) into Vancouver from surrey. a 25 min drive from our home, then 45 min to downtown. She works near Georgie and Burrard.

    On Wednesday I had to be on the north shore in the morning, so i drove her to work. It took us 30 minutes total to get from Guildford area to downtown…and this is with one less bridge??

    Makes one wonder why anyone would attempt transit in our neighbourhood.


    January 23, 2009 at 12:32 pm

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