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

Archive for the ‘Vancouver’ Category

TransLink on track for record-breaking ridership

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Source: TransLink on track for record-breaking ridership

I was expecting to actually see the Press Release and the stats from Translink instead of just a link, but this is easier than all the copy and paste I was going to have to do otherwise

Written by Stephen Rees

July 26, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Weekly Photo Challenge: Bridge

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The photo is of the Lions’ Gate Bridge across the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver BC taken in November last year.

On flickr I have more than 500 pictures with “bridge” in them. But this one had an instant appeal – both visually and also because it has a good story.

The original 1938 bridge looked a bit different – it was rebuilt in 2000 – 2001. There was a longish period of discussion over what should be done which did not just involve the bridge deck but also its approaches – through Stanley Park to the south and very busy roads it connected to in North and West Vancouver. There was much resistance to widening the causeway through the Park, but also great concern over how much traffic the areas around the bridge approaches could deal with. The deck has three lanes of traffic with a reversible centre lane to help cope with peak demands, but queueing for the bridge has long been – and still remains – an issue. Basically, while a lot of people wanted the crossing to be faster, there was no additional capacity available on both sides to allow for a wider bridge. Basically, we knew where the queues were going to be, and there was no desire to seem more of them.

Replacing the bridge deck, and linkages to the suspension cables, all took place while the bridge remained in service. The deck now has a nice smooth curve to it, replacing the former “bump” where the two ramps met in the middle. The sidewalks were also widened, and access for bicycles made much safer. This is in contrast to what seems to have become the default position in British Columbia, where road infrastructure is constantly expanded – and traffic then increases to fill the space available. The hope now is that with a much delayed change in the provincial government, the current plan to build a huge cable stayed bridge over the lower Fraser River will be abandoned in favour of a more realistic solution, the way that the challenge of the aging First Narrows bridge was dealt with. It isn’t actually necessary to build a new bridge to replace the tunnel, as refurbishing the existing sunken tubes and adding another, to carry a railway, is a cheaper and more effective solution, and poses much less threat to the ecologically sensitive Fraser estuary.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 5, 2017 at 10:48 am

Weekly Photo Challenge: Evanescent

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evanescent = any fleeting moment in time

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I used to do more sunset pictures than I do now. That’s because the longer we live here, the taller the trees around us are – and the less of a sunset I see. But these moments of clouds underlit by red light after the sun has gone down behind the hills of the Islands are indeed fleeting. In order to catch them I have to have a camera to hand – and stop whatever I am doing. I don’t sit gazing out of the window very much, especially in the early evening. But when the light changes, if there’s a glimpse of a red cloud, I drop what I am doing and try to find a clean space of window without a bug screen in front of it. Before the light fades.

This one was fairly recent, but it only got put into the MacBook last night when I was uploading the pictures of a day out. I was going to look for something “evanescent” in them, but this is better I think.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 24, 2017 at 9:46 am

Translink Liveries

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This post started life as a comment. Back in 2007. Originally the links in the comment went to a site called fotopic.net which ceased operations in 2011. So I went to my flickr stream to see if I could find similar illustrations.

So why did I “need” this? Becuase of this in my inbox this morning

The pingback was to this post and was from this article . It is nice to see that old stories from this blog continue to have some utility. And now this new post can be the source of reference to the old article and my comment under it.

For a while Translink had plain white buses: this was for buses ordered in the period of transition from BC Transit, before the new blue and yellow livery was decided on.

Translink P8101 Braid Stn New Westminster BC 2002_0114

Many remained in service in the old red, white and blue of BC Transit.

Translink P3105 D40HF Braid Stn 2002_0612

Note that black paint has been added to to window pillars and on the upper part of the doors. This was peculiar to the Vancouver transit system and was not added to BC Transit buses operating elsewhere.

Translink P4226 Pitt Meadows BC 2006_0908

This was the standard livery in Translink’s first iteration. As the fleet went through its usual maintenance cycle the older buses were repainted white with a blue and gold set of stripes.

TL S058 on C93 Williams Rd 2004_0811

Community shuttles had a variation on the paint scheme.

Translink R8076 D60LF on 98 B Line Richmond BC 2007_0708

The B Line had its own variation, with a blue front to help intending passengers spot the difference from regular services. This was very similar to the BC Transit B Line livery, which had a red rather than the gold swoosh.

Translink B8010 D60LF Broadway at Commercial 2008_0114

Of course that did not stop artics in regular livery being used on the B Line. A number of regular bus services needed the capacity of articulated buses to meet the surge of demand caused by the introduction of U Pass as UBC and SFU

E40LFR 2270 Howe at Smithe 2007_0827

When the new trolleybuses started being delivered they carried this new black and grey livery with the blue stripe converted to a swoosh and the black being expanded on the front and onto the upper panel – not just the window surrounds. New diesel and natural gas buses were similarly treated.

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The Novabus did not get nearly as much black paint as the New Flyers, and I think looks the better for it.

S351 on C21 Beach on Burrard at Dunsmuir

But the new Shuttle buses did

R9222 R9247 Bridgeport Stn

The high floor Orion highway coaches used on the express routes got their own yellow livery. This is the first version.

R9282 Burrard Station #602 Tsawwassen Heights

Later versions have grey on the lower panel. This one was photographed at Burrard Station: the introduction of the Canada Line saw these services cut back to Bridgeport Station in Richmond – which is where the previous picture was taken.

Xcelsior bendy on 41st at Arbutus

The most recent variation has also reduced the amount of black paint with grey on the front and sides and is, to my eye, more pleasing.

The last one on the lot

This was a variation used in West Vancouver for a while.

West Vancouver Blue Bus 1204

This is what they use now. There is so little blue visible that the words BLUE BUS have to be added above the bike rack in large, friendly capital letters.

BC Transit 9270 Abbotsford

BC Transit now uses this livery instead of the old red white and blue.

BC Transit 9067

Though in 2015 it could still be seen in Victoria – here on a British built Transbus (Dennis) Dart Plaxton Pointer delivered in 2000.

And, by special request, here is a preserved bus in the old BC Hydro Transit livery

BC Hydro Fishbowl

Photo by Michael Chu on flickr

2040 at Marpole 20080407

And I think this one may be earlier. I am told that in the bad old days buses got repainted with each change of government into the colours of the ruling party – but that can’t be true can it?

Written by Stephen Rees

April 28, 2017 at 10:21 am

Posted in transit, Vancouver

Tagged with ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dense

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Vancouver Aerial

This is a photograph of Vancouver’s downtown, which in recent years has become – in terms of urban development – one of the densest parts of the region. This was the result of a set of inter-related planning decisions, to allow for towers, closely spaced, and mainly for residential use. This was a departure from the way other places kept downtowns for other, non-residential uses. This has allowed for much greater choices in terms of how people get to and from work – and other activities. In most modern cities, built since World War II, the plan has been to allow for most use of cars, which has created large swathes of low density suburbs. Traditionally, prior to motorised transport, cities were designed to allow for most trips to be completed by walking. Railways and streetcars allowed things to be spaced out a bit more, but the greatest impact was the use of the personal automobile. Most North American cities are now turning away from this pattern of development and rediscovering the benefits of urbanity. (Most European cities made that choice much sooner – to retain the amenities and cultural significance of their central areas. ) Not just better energy efficiency, and cleaner air – though both are worthwhile improvements – but in greater interaction between people. More sociability, greater opportunities to meet other people – more culture, more entertainment, more choices of where to go and what to do.  Indeed the pursuit of higher densities remains a central plank of urban and regional planning – the subject matter of most of this blog – made possible by increasing the choices of transport open to residents. More trips that can be made without needing a car, by walking, cycling and public transport. That produces happier, healthier places. It doesn’t just protect the environment it increases economic activity.

Note too that one important lesson of developing a dense urban core is that green spaces – that’s Stanley Park in the foreground – can be successfully protected and made available for many more people to enjoy, rather than the large areas that get fenced off to keep people out in low density suburbs and exurbs.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 29, 2017 at 9:26 pm

No cycling on the bike path

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This is Kits Beach “It’s between the parking lot path and the Boathouse restaurant, due west of the tennis courts” (Anthony Floyd). The picture was taken by me on Monday January 9, around lunch time – and posted to Twitter. In fact this entire post is crowd sourced from Tweetdeck.

In the summer there are signs on both sides of the concession building asking cyclists to dismount due to the heavy foot traffic between the beach, bathrooms, changing rooms, concession, first aid/lifeguard station, restaurant etc.

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This is a crop from the official bike route map of the City of Vancouver – and the picture was taken just to the right of the letter k in “Kitsilano Beach Park” (courtesy Jens van Bergmann)

This is like putting “no driving” between the road and parking lot. (Anthony Floyd)

“No cycling” sign on official bike path? Can we please get this sorted out (Jens van Bergmann) to the City and the Park Board

The City responded “Thanks guys! I’ve sent an inquiry over to Active Transportation team via case 8965477! ^BP” – and once we get a response that will be added here

Incidentally while I was sending the picture and caption to Instagram I saw someone cycle past the sign, blythely ignoring it. There is another sign like near the path to the beach and the Biennale’s chair exhibit.

And one comment might be worth noting from Instagram user Colin M Stein “Misquoting Jack Nicholson’s 1989 Joker: “This Park Board needs an enema.””

UPDATE

No Cycling sign

This is by the entrance to the Parking Lot of the Maritime Museum.

From Twitter on January 27

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Written by Stephen Rees

January 9, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Granville Island 2040: Phase 3

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I went to the “Open House” on the Granville Island 2040 plan this afternoon. This was not an open house format in any sense I would use. There were three longish identical presentations during the day with an opportunity to ask questions or make comments at the end of each. A few display boards were in the Revue Stage Lobby – so this one was the leftmost of the icons in the image above “Draft Directions”. Apart from these boards, there were no materials being distributed nor is there very much on the Granville Island web page. It may be that the presentation may be made available there later as there was a tv camera pointed at the presenters. I did not stay for the comments and questions.

The theatre was by no means full: I estimate around 70 people were present and I do not include staff or presenters in that number.

The presentation was made by Darryl Condon of the architecture company HMCA retained by CMHC. While there were several others at the two top tables, on the stage, facing the audience none of them gave formal presentations but were available to answer the comments and questions.

I am not going to simply report all of what the presentation covered as I expect that the draft plan will be available in due course. The vision of that plan will include the idea that GI is a “zone of public possibility” which will acknowledge both its history and the collective creative potential of its users. The principles governing the development include

  • public good has priority over market forces
  • an increase in diversity of users
  • social and environmental resilience
  • a place to learn and be challenged

There are others too.

Among the ten key goals are #6. Pop up culture (currently the Island’s offerings are very static) #7. Reduce the dominance of private cars

Strategies

As you might expect I was most interested in what is being termed CarLite. Access is a critical issue, and reducing car use depends on increasing the availability of alternatives. Currently 1/4 of the Island is roadway or parking. There are 980 parking spaces on east side and 300 on the west (Granville Bridge being the middle). There is a declining use of cars to get to GI (increases in walking, cycling and use of ferries were reported in an earlier post) The aim is to make the west side car free, while maintaining access for deliveries, people with disabilities and drop off and pick up of passengers. This is expected to produce more vitality and activity. Many places have already made significant progress in prioritizing pedestrians e.g. The Rocks, Sydney; DUMBO and Times Square, New York. It is also intended to increase the amount of nighttime activity following the examples of Amsterdam (which has a Night Mayor) and Brixton which has a Night Market.

I want to intervene here to point out that despite the commitment to increasing inclusiveness, there was no mention of the very successful Richmond Night Markets.

It was also noted that the present arrangements allow little access to the water, and a number of suggestions were offered as to how to increase this including sales from boats or places to “dip your toes in” False Creek. The Public Market will be expanded to be more than a building: it will become a precinct with open air stalls, food trucks and the like. There is also a commitment to make greater use of the many “in between spaces”. With the reduction of car park spaces, there will be a greater opportunity of large flexible spaces and mixed use.

The two most important pieces from my perspective were what is now being called Alder Bay Bridge

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The display map in the lobby was nothing like the present proposal, which is now designed as both a curve, landing further north west and not crossing at the narrowest point. This will allow for use by pedestrians and cyclists, protect the “sanctity of the green space” and link to an enhanced path along the northern edge of the island.  Examples of curved bridges as art pieces with sculptural quality were shown but not identified.

Frank Ducote photo

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Frank Ducote photo

Two alternatives were shown for an elevator connection to Granville Bridge. The bridge now carries 6 bus routes, with an effective average 2 minute wait time for a bus between GI and downtown, but getting to GI now is actually not that easy. So an elevator to midspan bus stops makes obvious sense. What makes much less sense is the City proposal of a median “greenway” on the bridge. Any pedestrian would, I think, prefer a view of the water and the scenery rather than of lots of traffic. (One idea I have seen that was not shown is a walking deck beneath the car deck.) An elevator to a median bus stop would require structural alterations to the bridge. So if there were two elevators, one for each direction of bus service, they could be built outboard of the structure. They might even be temporary initially as a proof of concept, but more elaborately could include a wider sidewalk and bumpout bus stops – again my thoughts not what was shown.
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This was also in the lobby but not mentioned in the presentation.

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This survey was for people who had attended the presentations, and will not be on line for long. But CMHC is encouraging further input

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Thanks to Frank Ducote for the pictures taken of the presentation

UPDATE May 24, 2016

The final report is now available as a pdf file. The elevator is in but only one and to the median of the bridge – assuming the City goes ahead with its middle of the road greenway. The new pedestrian/ bike bridge on the eastern with its seductive curve is also retained: a straight bridge would be a lot cheaper but would bring more through movement to an area current Island workers want kept quiet. Except for shows and concerts, outside of working hours.  The Olympic Line gets a nod but is left up to the City. There is quite a bit about the need to generate revenue and no expectation of more federal funds.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 3, 2016 at 6:08 pm